Wednesday, February 28, 2007

the top 10 gals: definitely not whitney...

I don't know if the guys threw any gauntlets last night, but they did deliver more than just filler, leaving tonight's women with more of a challenge than they had last week. But, considering the performances turned in last week, they should not be worried about being overshadowed, except, perhaps, by Antonella, one of their own, who's been dogged by online photo controversy.

The gals, after week one, pretty much have separated themselves into two groups: the probable advancers and, well, the others. This week they start to show a few cracks, making the final six field easier, and at the same time more complicated, to predict.

And Pickler will be here tomorrow. YAY! Keli-Mari!

But anyway, there they are, subject to rewind, review and revision and, as usual, from worst to first:

Antonella Barba (Because You Loved Me). No mention of her tough week, but she says she's picking a better song this time to dedicate to her brother. And then she chooses CELINE?? Note to Antonella: THAT WAS STUPID. I didn't think she could suck worse than last time. My bad. And Simon agrees with me. Thank you Simon. And she has the guts to compare herself with Jennifer Hudson. Gurrrl, that could get you bitchslapped.

Alaina Alexander (Not Ready to Make Nice). Alaina makes her mom cry even before she takes the stage. (It was a sweet dedication.) Then she proceeds to make the rest of us cry, trying to take on a song far too big for her. Simon likens her performance to Randy trying to run the 100 meters. Please Simon, stop flattering Randy. He would run out of gas after two strides. Who are you trying to fool?

Haley Scarnato (Queen of the Night). Haley does Whitney. Note to Haley: THAT WAS STUPID! And she plays more backup than the backup singers, which the judges quickly call her out on. She's not bad, better than last time, but she's no knockout. And she's no Kelly Clarkson. And Simon breaks her heart when he tells her so.

Jordin Sparks (Reflection). Oy, Jordin has moments of brilliance coupled with moments of absolute horror. Every time I think she's going to bring it through, she hits a clinker. Randy damns her with the faint praise of "it wasn't your best." Paula tells her she's a good human being. Ouch. Simon says she has massive potential. He's right. Vote Jordin! I [heart] her.

Stephanie Edwards (Dangerously in Love). Oooo. It's hard when I don't like the song even by Beyonce. Personally, I was bored. Randy suggests she try to be Stephanie rather than someone else. Paula tells her she's great, and Simon concurs with Paula. I abstain from the vote.

Leslie Hunt (Feeling Good). Leslie says she realizes that "less is more" on the tiny eyeball stage, so she promises no "flapping" with her dedication for her late Grampa. So she scats and jazzes the same Michael Buble song performed the night before. Simon's right when he says she's simply being left in the dust, through no real fault of her own, but compares her to vanilla ice cream in a dish filled with ripple.

Sabrina Sloan (All the Man that I Need). Okay, so Sabrina also tackled Whitney, but at least she's got the talent to try. NOTE TO GIRLS: STOP IT! Simon assures her she'll be back (which means she'll probably get the boot), but suggests she STOP with the Whitney/Celine/Mariah attempts. Oh Simon, we've been suggesting that for years, and they still don't listen.

Gina Glocksen (Alone). Gina gets the lead-off position, usually a killer, and decides to take on Heart for her boyfriend. Wow, she starts really low, but powers through the end. Paula invokes the holy name of Underwood to remind us that Carrie sang the same song two seasons ago. Yes, Paula. We remember. Randy and Simon say it was a good choice of song (I agree), but Simon tells her to dress more "edgy." Note to Gina: cover yourself again in tattoos next week and see what he says then.

LaKisha Jones (Midnight Train to Georgia). This is for Gramma, she says, who luvs Ryan Seacrest. Well... And it sounds nothing like the Pips version. It sounds like a LaKisha version. Excellent and wonderful as we've come to expect from someone who may have peaked in the first episode. Simon critiques her wardrobe. (Who died and made him Mr. Blackwell?)

Melinda Doolittle (My Funny Valentine). Melinda takes this song and turns it into a song I've never heard. And never enjoyed quite as much. Randy says HAWT (what else?), Paula applauds her phrasing (I applaud Paula), and Simon says it's the best performance so far in the competition (and I don't disagree). She's my pick to win the whole thing, and she just bolstered that belief. Wowzer.

So what did we learn: DON'T SING WHITNEY.

This is a tough one, another basic flipping of the coin, but here goes:

Who I want: Alaina and Antonella (kick her out twice, just for the JHud thing)
Who should: Antonella (twice) and Alaina
Who will: Haley and Leslie

Tomorrow four more dreams die. And the Pick is back! See you then.

Don't forget to vote in the sidebar and leave your predictions in the comment area! (Comments are NOT saving. Hopefully they will be back up soon.) They seem to be back.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

the top 10 guys: getting better...

The top 12 guys came through last week like a vacuum on a carpet. In other words, they totally sucked. Week two of the semi-finals give the 10 remaining to shake off the nerves and save their faces or to prove to the voting nation that sucking is about the best we can hope for.

And they didn't do badly, certainly better than last week, but then sitting cross-legged silently on the stage would have been an improvement. They're still not in the ladies' league, but at least they're not waving any white flags.

But anyway, here they are, my initial impressions, subject to rewatch, review and revision and, as always, from the worst to the first.

Sanjaya Malakar (Steppin' Out). If he weren't so cute, I would probably have walked out of the room during this performance. He changes up the appearance with pulled back ponytail and hat with a big band song, but has the passion of a tree stump. Randy calls it a bad high school talent show performance. Randy is being kind.

Brandon Rogers (Time After Time). Brandon admits he's worried about singing a slow song, dedicated to his gramma. He should have been. Randy says it's boring. Yeah. It was. But because I adore Brandon, I know he'll not let me down next week. Vote Brandon so I can have a next week!

Jared Cotter (Let's Get it On). Jared says he's gonna challenge himself, because Simon told him too. And he gives a decent karaoke performance of the number. Simon invokes the memory of "The Love Boat." I always like when he agrees with me. (Note: it's only the second number of the night, and I'm already wondering what Paula drank for lunch.)

Nick (Vote For) Pedro (Fever). Nick decides to test me by singing a song I detest. I give him credit though for putting the song through a different spin cycle, one that has Simon snapping his fingers and for returning to the genre that sets him apart from the others. Simon disses his clothing and tells him he needs charisma. Where does one buy charisma anyway?

Phil Stacey (Missing You). Well, Phil still hasn't figured out that a good song has a successful beginning to go with the middle and end, and to top it off, they let him begin the show. I am not liking this week's performance as much as last week, even though Randy calls him "hawt," and Paula pretty much echoes Randy. Simon nails it when he calls Phil "unoriginal," but in comparison with the other guys, Phil's karaoke is more than enough.

AJ Tabaldo (Feelin' Good). AJ chooses a song I'm not familiar with, but it's becoming clear that the guys are taking last week's criticism to heart. I wouldn't put this performance on my iPod or anything, but the judges give him appropriate props for stretching beyond the typical (and increasingly more expected) cruise ship karaoke bar tripe.

Sundance Head (Mustang Sally). Finally Jason justifies being in the top 40, much less the top 20. Randy falls all over himself, Paula falls all over Randy and Simon, while not cutting him at the knees, tells him he can do better.

Chris Richardson (Geek in the Pink) Oh geesh. What happened to the guys all sticking to songs I recognize? Alas. But I liked it, even though I didn't understand more than three words and the bouncing and non-stop lyrics seemed to render him a bit out of breath. Randy says HAWT, Paula mumbles and Simon says best of the night. Okay, I'll say one of the six best, but not quite the best.

Blake Lewis (Virtual Insanity). Blake says he's singing for his mom and his really cool dad. And he sings a song that I've never heard so I have nothing with which to compare it. So, standing alone, I think the performance was FAB. Randy agrees, so does Paula, but Simon disses two-thirds of the performance, labeling it as copycat. He might be right. I don't know. But I liked it, so I really don't care what Simon says.

Chris Sligh (Trouble). Chris says he's going to dedicate his song to the woman he married. I didn't even know he was married, and it's a touching thing. I knew I liked this guy, and he more than makes up for the snark from last week, reprising a song Taylor was known for last season. All of the judges, including Simon, give him major thumbs up. So do I.

So that's it for me. So who's taking a long bus ride home?

Who I want: Sanjaya and not Brandon.
Who should: Sanjaya and Nick.
Who will: Nick and Jared.

It's your turn. Who should and will?

The women tomorrow. See you then.


have at it...

While we wait for ... and watch ... the guys try their best (bless them), here's the place to chat. Talk about Antonella's photos (but remember, the porn ones have pretty much been ruled NOT HER!), talk about who's gonna bite the dust (but don't forget to VOTE in the sidebar poll first!), chat about this season in general, or rip on the poor guys as they [try to] perform.

It's up to you!

Showtime is 8 p.m. (EST).

Saturday, February 24, 2007

season six controversy #1...

Nigel Lythgoe responds to the Antonella Barba racy photo revelations.

Let this be a lesson to all young people having fun with cameras. One day you may want to be a politician. Or a judge. Or an American Idol contestant.

And "friends" aren't always friends.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

the first killings: a simulblog...

It seems a very long time since we've watched an execution on live television. But season six has to cost its first victims.

And of course that only means one thing: SIMULBLOG! I'm typing as I'm watching, so there's gonna be typos and illogical thinking, and if you're on the west coast and want to be surprised by the outcome, you might want to avoid this place for the next hour.

Because THIS is American Idol.

Ryan does his obligatory chatting, warning us that things are gonna get ugly. Then they pan to to the judges who say girl's gonna win, girl's gonna win! And they pay these judges for THAT commentary? Hell, hire me.

We then get told that this year's "helper stars" will include Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Gwen Stefani, Barry Gibb and other assorted people. (Actually I thought this was supposed to start at 9 p.m., so it took me by surprise.)

Then, of course, we get the recap of the good, the bad and the ugly from the past two nights, because we must fill an hour to shoot four people, and let Fantasia sing and sell a whole hell of a lot of advertising.

YAY! Group song! They're sowing the seeds of love! And I'm not loving it, but it wouldn't be a group song if I did.

It's time for a break...

Chris is given the chance to assure America that he loves Simon. Awww. Something in me ain't buying his clarification. But anyway.

It's time for somebody to die.


----Assassination #1----

Brandon is told he's safe. YAY!
Sundance is reminded that he sucked. But he's safe anyway. No comment.
Chris Richardson is safe too.
Nick does not look happy at all, and he's given a reprieve. YAY!
Blake and Paul stand there together, like nobody knows who's leaving.
Blake's told to take a seat and Paul gets kicked to the curb. (Hey! I predicted that!)

The judges tell him that he picked a crappy song. Well no kidding. Then they let him sing the crappy song all over again. This show is cruel.

-----End of Assasination #1----

The girls are brought to the stage and Ryan asks the same stupid question "how do you feel?"

Here we go.

----Assassination #2----

Jordin is reminded that she's great, and she's sent back to the couch.
Stephanie is reminded what she sang, and she's also sent back to her seat.
Sabrina gets the same treatment and sits back down.
Leslie is reminded that she was average and goes back to the safe area.
Melinda and Antonella stand there alone. Melinda is sent back to safety and Antonella is put through hell before being told she's okay too.

This show is cruel.

Ryan calls Amy to the stage and shoots her right between the eyes. Simon tells her she didn't "stand out." And she gets to sing again the song that got her killed and sounds as if she's gonna break down and cry any second.

----End of Assassination #2----

Season three winner Fantasia shows up, accompanied by Quincy Jones, to tell everybody she's going to star in Broadway's The Color Purple. That was about the worst-kept secret in the universe. And she sings one of the song from the show.

----Assassination #3----

The girls are back on the stage.

Haley is safe.
LaKisha looks concerned for her fate. Yeah right. She's sent back to the sofa.
Gina has tears but is told that America loves her. No more tears.
Nicole and Alaina are alone. Ryan gives both of them their reviews from last night and it's Nicole who gets the axe. (Hey! I called that one too!)

Nicole says she's had fun. Paula does the Paula thing, and Nicole, as is tradition, gets to sing again. It's just as bad as last time, but at least she's got the girls to help with backup this time.

----End of Assassination #3----

----Assassination #4----

Time for the guys.

Chris Sligh is told he's safe.
Phil is given a pass back to the sofa. And he's wearing a hat! Thanks for reading, Phil.
Jared is looking cute, and he's told to take a seat.
AJ is reminded of his reviews before being sent back to join Jared.
Sanjaya and Rudy are left alone. One is in the top four; the other is roadkill.
Rudy is roadkill. Sorry Rudy.

Simon gets all philosophical; Randy is Randy, and Paula tells him he basically didn't have enough time. Well, uhh...

And the four of them leave to, you guessed it, Chris Daughtry singing Home.

----End of Assassination #4----

Rudy plans to go out with a bang. A bang. What an appropriate term for tonight's execution episode.

Next week 20 becomes 16. See you then.

Please, discuss.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the 12 gals: saving the season...

After boring us senseless last night, the guys get to sit in the audience and watch the ladies show them how it's done, not that it's going to take much to do that.

But what starts strong, starts sliding downhill, and it suddenly dawns on me that we're all in for a very long season. And then things are rescued at the end and it dawns on me: tonight we heard the next American Idol.

What the men lacked on Tuesday, the women more than made up for. Well, some of them anyway.

So here they are, the early reviews, subject as usual to review and revision, and as always from
absolute worst to absolute first.

Antonella Barba (I Don't Want to Miss a Thing). I didn't have a lot of vocal hope for the other half of the Barbie twins. And Antonella doesn't disappoint me. Beauty can't cover missed notes. And missed missed notes. And Antonella had tons of them. She blames it on her nerves. I blame it on her. But Simon helps her by telling her she's a goner. That's usually worth a few hundred thousand votes.

Nicole Tranquillo (Stay). Oh my. What a mess. Randy calls her performance "rough." Paula says it's "out of this world." Simon invokes the killer term "indulgent." I called it painful.

Alaina Alexander (Brass in Pocket). Paula tries to soften the reviews. Simon says it's a mess. Hey Simon, I already called somebody else's song a mess. Oh okay. It was a mess. But was it a bigger mess? I don't know. I call it a messy tie.

Leslie Hunt (Natural Woman). Uh oh. Leslie hits the notes, but leaves me with a big "so what" with this song, unlike Kelly Clarkson in season one. Simon gives her the best critique when he says she looks like she's horribly uncomfortable. I, personally, was uncomfortable too. Leslie has just booked a ticket out of Hollywood.

Amy Krebs (I Can't Make You Love Me). At least we get to see the various stages of Amy's journey, since we've not been privileged so far, and she decides to sing another one of those oversung, overdone Idol tunes. The judges basically call her boring. I think she's better than three-quarters of the guys, but I have to agree. She's unmemorable.

Haley Scarnato (It's All Coming Back to Me Now). The judges are less than impressed with Haley's song choice, calling the entire performance "boring" but coming after the mess that was Nicole, she wasn't all that bad. She says the power ballads are her style and it's who she is. Who she is won't be long, though

Stephanie Edwards (How Come You Don't Call Me). Stephanie, one of the girls we've not been privy to see much of, gets the lead-off spot of death, but knocks one out of the park and shows up every single one of the guys. The judges love her, even though Randy calls her a bit pitchy. I think she's terrific. The guys, however, stifle their applause when she's told she outperformed all of them. I think that's funny. And true.

Jordin Sparks (Give Me One Reason). The judges suggest that Jordin push herself further than this number. I can't help but be surprised, because her performance pushed me over. I like this girl. I like her a lot. I give her three sugar lumps.

Gina Glocksen (All By Myself). Gina all but cements her spot in the finals with her performance, not surprisingly. She's simply terrific, whether she fully hit that Celine note or not.

Sabrina Sloan (I've Never Loved a Man). Wow. Where have they been hiding this girl? She gets the LaToya London award for best performance by an unknown woman. Wow. And wow again. If Jordin gets three sugars, Sabrina gets three wows.

Melinda Doolittle (Since You've Been Gone). I cannot begin to count the ways I love this woman, the former background singer who's determined to take center stage. She's magnificent, the judges love her, and so do I.

LaKisha Jones (And I'm Telling You). Ryan makes sure to tell everyone that this song may win JHud an Oscar, but LaKisha pretty much puts Jennifer Hudson's memory to rest. LaKisha gives a lesson on stage presence, and Simon tells the other 23 to book their flights. The girls all look really bummed after that remark. They should.

So tomorrow we'll execute four of the kids, and be treated to a visit by season three champ Fantasia. And it will be the first simulblog of the new season. YAY!

So, who's getting Melinda'd, uhhh, I mean knocked off?

Who I want: Antonella and Nicole
Who should: Antonella and Nicole
Who will: Nicole and Alaina

See you tomorrow. Now...discuss!

Video for each of them is now up at Rickey's.


the top 12 men: average is the new good...

Watching the opening round of the sixth season of American Idol live competition brought back chilling memories of past years, waiting and waiting and waiting for one good performance, only to have a Bo Bice or an Elliott Yamin take the stage and make me forget all about the waiting. And the ones who preceded them. The problem with Tuesday night that good performance never came.

So I guess my waiting continues until tonight. Or next week. Or next year.

Oy, where to begin.

I'm going out on a limb here to say that nerves were the biggest problem with the top 12 guys. Most of them played it safe, most of them stuck to the familiar Idol fare that we've become accustomed to, and most of them were so unmemorable that my TiVo is working overtime.

On the idealistic side, I'll say that I hope things get better. On the serious side, I'm predicting here and now that the next American Idol will be a female.

Nevertheless, here we go, here are my views, as always from worst to first, with a big old tie at the bottom.

Paul Kim (Careless Whisper). Oh for heaven's sake, enough with the barefoot schtick already. Maybe shoes will help. I had hopes for Paul after listening to some of his music. Simon called it "third rate." I agree.

Sundance Head (Nights in White Satin). Talk about a promising contestant shooting himself in the foot. I didn't think Sundance even belonged in the 24 after his horrendous Hollywood rounds and, instead of proving me wrong, the boy steps out onto the eyeball stage and convinces me that I was right. He gets the first "drunk dad at a wedding" review from Simon, but I've heard better dads. Between the off-tune "oh I love yooooo" and the awkward stage movements, I don't know which I found least offensive.

Sanjaya Malakar (Knocks Me Off My Feet). The 17-year-old is the cutest of the kids this year, but dang, did he have to start off the season with Stevie Wonder? Stevie got an entire episode devoted to him last season. Let's give him a rest, shall we? And, with apologies to Stevie fans, I really really don't like this song. And Sanjaya didn't make me like it any more. But he's so cute, I'm sure the Hello Kitty Cingular (now a part of AT&T!) phones were humming. Heck, even I got 70s flashback of boys named Cassidy during the performance.

Rudy Cardenas (Free Ride). Note to Rudy: when one is wanting to stay and not go, one should not put a big target on one's chest. But wardobe aside, what was he thinking? Aside from the props for an uptempo start instead of a sappy ballad, Randy nailed it with one word: corny.

Nick (Vote for) Pedro (Now and Forever). Sorry, I couldn't help the "vote for" thing, cause it was pretty much the only moment I smiled. I like Nick. I like his crooning style, and if he's smart, he'll follow that path, because this performance was as bland and boring as watching snow melt and his posture was so poor that it was distracting. And I usually don't pay attention to that sort of thing, but it symbolized the snooziness of the whole performance. I really hope people threw him votes, though, because, well, I like him. Now stand up straight!

Chris Richardson (I Don't Wanna Be). Chris has been getting likened to Justin Timberlake and last year's Elliott Yamin. And he's not about to, apparently, dispel any of those comparisons, choosing the Gavin DeGraw song that has been "idolized" by both Bo Bice and Yamin. And he performs it in a suit and tie? Wassup with dat? Anyway, the song is creeping onto my "please never sing again" list, but Chris is passable, and I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon. (And, too, his dad is awesome, and we need a cool dad to watch in the audience this year.)

Jared Cotter (Back at One). Jared came to the stage without much advance exposure, consequently without many pre-conceived expectations (see Sundance, above.) Randy said it "wasn't his best," but how would we know? And Simon tells him he "looks good." Oooo. That's normally the Paula kiss of death. He's no Brandon, but in a night where mediocre is good, Jared was, well, okay.

Brandon Rogers (Rock With You). Okay, I'll be honest. I can live with looking at Brandon over the next several weeks, but he can cut out the longing looks into the camera. Been there, done that, criticized it all over the place. I didn't catch the "pitchy" until a second listen, and it was that, and (again) Randy is right that Brandon (as with all of them) needs to tone down on the manic runs. But in a night of mediocre, it was one of the better performances, and he's one of the few I have hopes for.

Chris Sligh (Typical). So Chris kicks off his season by insulting Skynyrd fans, performs an obscure song and closes by kicking Simon in the (metaphorical) groin. Ouch. After six seasons of this competition, it's a pretty clear rule that contestants who want to continue refrain from attacking Simon, even when he deserves it. Despite a good performance, I fear he'll be remembered for the Teletubbies zinger. Note to Chris: shut up unless you're singing or you're in the finals.

AJ Tabaldo (Never Too Much). AJ tells us he's tried out for five seasons of Idol. Wow. That's tenacity. Or craziness. I'll get back on that. He reminds me of someone, and I can't place it, but, despite the popped-up collar that shook me out of my Sanjaya-inspired 70s stupor and flung me into an 80s nightmare, I've decided I like him.

Phil Stacy (I Could Not Ask for More). The audition flashbacks remind us that Phil has an issue with beginnings of songs. And sure as predicted, he falters out of the gate, but reins in the nerves enough to surpass the mediocrity of the evening. But I can't help but wonder if anyone else was as distracted by the freshly-shaven head and ears as I was.

Blake Lewis (Somewhere Only We Know). Beatbox Blake decided to leave the Beat in the Box, in a strategic maneuver to show he's not a one-trick pony, and gave pretty much the best performance of the night, complete with backup vocals provided by dad. (I love the cool dads.) [Clarification: Dad was not actually singing back-up; he was simply singing along. I love when they do that!]

So what did we learn? Rudy needs a new t-shirt, Paul needs shoes, Chris Richardson needs to lose the tie, Blake needs to get the Beat out of the Box, Sanjaya needs to trim his hair, AJ needs a collarless shirt, Chris Sligh needs to keep quiet and Phil needs a hat.

And I need a nap.

Oh. I forgot:

So who's getting Judded? I mean booted? Remember we lose two on Thursday (four total if you count the two unfortunate ladies).

Who I want: Paul and Sanjaya
Who should: Sundance and Paul
Who will: Paul and Rudy (that opening slot is a killer)

Want to relive it? Why? Well, the videos are available at Rickey's.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

let's share...

While we're watching and voting, let's share. The worst to first will be up tomorrow.

Meanwhile have at it!


Monday, February 19, 2007

making the tough calls...

The top 12 men take center of the little stage Tuesday night as our long national nightmare of auditions has concluded and we're getting set for live competition. The women take over Wednesday and the first of this years assassinations is set for Thursday.

This year is different for me than previous seasons, as the length of auditions made me too weary (and bored) to pay close attention to, and the abbreviated Hollywood rounds kept us from getting to know many of the top 24. So to predict who's going through, based on the unusually limited amount of airtime, is a tough one. So a lot of it is gut instinct, because any one of these 24 kids could blow us away. Or blow it. Away.

With that in mind, here goes.

I think Chris Sligh is a lock for the final 12 unless he swallows the microphone, falls off the little stage or both. Or unless his one-liners, which I find endearing without being obnoxious, start grating early. But he has received a ton of pre-competition buzz, and his fan group(s) have already formed. Same goes for Beatbox Guy, Blake Lewis.

I expect Brandon Rogers to advance to the big stage, along with Nick Pedro. And I'll be surprised if the tween vote doesn't send Sanjaya Malakar through as well.

That leaves one more slot and seven guys. It's a crapshoot, and not nearly as easily predicted as in years past. But I'm going with Chris Richardson over Sundance Head and Rudy Cardenas. The others, I think, with be early-round casualties.

Now for the women. My picks for the locks are Gina Glocksen, Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones. They each have the skill, the backstories and the familiarity with voters that is so critical during the semi-finals.

Aside from Antonella Barba and her considerable airtime during the earlier episodes, the other women could pass for Melinda Lira. (For new viewers, Melinda Lira was a season four contestant, plucked out of obscurity and ended up being the first one booted because nobody knew who on earth she was.) Unless one or both of them turn in amazing performances (or get royally crucified by Simon) I see Alaina Alexander and Amy Krebs as early exitees. Same is true for Sabrina Sloan and Stephanie Edwards.

From what little we've seen (heard?) from Nicole Tranquillo, she could be this year's LaToya London. (For new viewers, LaToya was plucked from obscurity, but belted out a masterpiece to earn a spot in the season three finals.) And Antonella has the advantage of exposure, so veteran viewers know that is a plus, even if the exposure is less than positive. (How many viewers out there would like to see her advance, just to tick off BFF Amanda, after all?)

The others are simply too tough to call.

So here are my predictions before the first song is sung.

The final twelve:

Nicole Tranquillo, Melinda Doolittle, Lakisha Jones, Jordin Sparks, Gina Glocksen, Antonella Barba, Sanjaya Malakar, Nick Pedro, Chris Sligh, Chris Richardson, Brandon Rogers and Blake Lewis.

THIS is American Idol.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

here they are...

The top 24 will take to the stage beginning next week when America begins to reduce the field to the 12 finalists.

Some of them we've been able to get to know. Others we're seeing and hearing for the first time.

First up, the guys, who will take to the small stage Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST.

And they are AJ Tabaldo, Blake Lewis, Brandon Rogers, Chris Richardson, Chris Sligh, Jared Cotter, Nickolas Pedro, Paul Kim, Phil Stacey, Rudy Cardenas, Sanjaya Malakar and Jason "Sundance" Head.

The women will follow on Wednesday, also at 8 p.m. EST.

And they are Alaina Alexander, Amy Krebs, Antonella Barba, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato, Jordin Sparks, Lakisha Jones, Leslie Hunt, Melinda Doolittle, Nicole Tranquillo, Sabrina Sloan and Stephanie Edwards.

Get to know them a bit better here.

The results show will be Thursday at nine, when we will have the first four assassinations of the new season.

So. Who's a lock for top 12? I'll have my picks before Tuesday. Leave yours in the comments.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

hollywood: don't forget the words...

So Nigel Lythgoe says there wasn't enough "good stuff" from the Hollywood rounds to merit more than one hour. Horse hockey. But whatever.

Reducing Hell Week to one hour doesn't give us much time to get a sense of who might and who won't make it far, but I'll give it a shot. Who do I think are shoo-ins to leave tonight as members of the top 24?

Melinda Doolittle. We didn't get much of a chance to see her last night, but her friend Mandisa (remember her?) has blogged that she "made it far." But even without Mandisa's help, Melinda's got some pipes.

Chris Sligh. I'm telling you, if this guy doesn't move forward, I won't watch. He's unique, he's funny and he's a great singer. Heck, after that group performance, I hope all four of them land in next week's semi-final.

Gina Glocksen. I never understood last year's fanship that Gina received, but I do now. Another year older and wiser, and she's a lock for the semi-finals.

Sanjaya Malakar. The fact that he was sadder for his sister's cut than he was happy for his own advancement just endeared this kid to me and about a thousand other people. Problem is, now I have to learn how to spell his name. And I thought Maroulis was tough.

Antonella Barba. The only survivor of the Barbie triplets. I can't believe that the producers used that much footage for somebody who's not going through.

Rudy Cardenes and Blake Lewis. I wouldn't have given either too much thought until that showstopper group number. And Lewis' beatboxing, I think, is a breath of fresh air that the producers and judges are looking for. If there's one sacrifice from that group of four, it's Tom Lowe.

And one "favorite" who I think is on thin ice is Sundance Head, who survived despite two horrific auditions. And things to be grateful for? The end of Shakira, uhh, I mean Purla, who somehow managed to make Brenna, from last year, seem charming and the bye-bye we got to wave to Matt Sato, his tears, his pimples, his cellphone and his mom. But at least mom's proud of him.

We'll find out tonight who we'll get to hear next week, as each of the remaining forty kids takes that long and loud walk to "the chair."

This game is most definitely on...


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

hooray for hollywood...

YAY! It's time for Hell Week, also known as the Hollywood audition rounds, where we will be treated to catfights, forgotten lyrics, tears, new faces and, if we're lucky, spirits which are broken.

I love the Hollywood episodes; so many memorable moments have come from them. So I think it's a shame that the producers chose this season to sacrifice their airings to bring us more of the audition tripe.

Speaking of which, I did not watch the Worst of the Best of the Rest episode. I am just tired of them, but I hear we did get to see some promising auditioners, including last year's Gina Glocksen.

But I am ready for the real game to begin. Bring it on!

*I am really hoping that I do get to watch tonight's Hollywood episode. You see, I am dead center in the middle of a blizzard, so I am praying that nothing happens to my electricity or my cable. At least until after the last hissy fit.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

san antonio: remember the door...

The locked door returned as the star of the final audition episode and continued to make me laugh. That door is a star, I tell ya. Now if people would just follow the rules of the road (drive on the right side people!), the rule of the door would be a no-brainer.

In other news, San Antonio yielded about the same level of excitement as the other cities on this year's audition trail. I give it about two yawns.

Out of all of the wannabes, the only one (of the ones we were privy to see, that is) that I can see advancing beyond next week's Hollywood round is Baylie Brown, the lovely girl who fears the horses will mistake her for an appetizer, adores fashion magazines and lives for the city. She insists that she's not a country music crooner, so there's no mistaking her for the Underwoods and Picklers of the world, but chooses to sing Faith Hill. Color me confused. Simon doesn't writhe in ecstacy over her vocals, but calls her commercial "with a capital C." He's right.

Ashlyn Carr has the distinction of being the first auditioner rejected then retrieved. Something tells me that if Randy and Simon had turned thumbs down and Paula had cried foul, Ashlyn would have found her way out of San Antonio. But, when Simon says foul, the girl is given a second chance. Her "ugly" facial expressions return, but, as if this was any surprise, on her second go-round, she's given a pass. She won't last long.

Neither will Hailey Scarnato, who was passed through after an adequate but unmemorable version of I Can't Make You Love Me, another one of those overused Idol songs.

But the best segment of the night, aside from my favorite door, of course, was the cousin duo of William Green and Akron Watson. I couldn't help but chuckle as Green, after butchering Amazing Grace and admitting his cousin behind him was the one with talent, staged his bogus fight with the judges and the door. I know, I know. It was probably in the script, but I laughed anyway.

And it seems that William was right; his cousin Akron was the one with talent. Enough talent to earn a golden ticket. Too bad he won't be going to Hollywood. Seems
the show dumped him without explanation just days before the Hollywood round. They do that sometimes.

In other news, the expected online petition, the first of many that we'll see this season cause we always do, is garnering signatures to bring back our favorite senior Idol, Sherman Pore. Here it is if you want to lend them a name.

Tonight: the worst of the best of the worst of the rest. Next week: HOLLYWOOD!

Let's get this show on the road.


Friday, February 02, 2007

birmingham & LA: you belong to me...

Two memories immediately come to mind from the third week of the AI auditions. I will never forget Sherman Pore, and I plan to see a lot more of Chris Sligh.

Tuesday's Birmingham audition episode, the home of Idol winners Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard and season four runner-up Bo Bice, was, as I expected, worth the effort to watch. Well, most of it anyway.

There was Katie Bernard, the newlywed, whose husband pleaded for the judges to send her away to Hollywood. Honeymoon's over. She goes, but hubby, she won't be there for very long. And, of course, there was Jamie Lynn Ward, whose backstory makes last year's Pickler tale seem like a nursery rhyme. I never did get that one straight. But I'm doubting we'll get any spinach salad and calamari from her anyway, so I'm not going through the effort of trying to memorize the tale.

Bernard Williams, on the other hand, has the potential to withstand the first few Hollywood rounds, to at least sit through the terror of the top 24 show.

But my picks from Birmingham? Tatiana McConnico, who I expect to hear in the first round of the semi-finals, which, thankfully, begin on Feb. 20. And Feb. 20 is the first night I'll be able to cast a vote. And that vote will go for Chris Sligh, I am certain. I would vote for this boy based on the dry humor alone. (The David Hasselhoff reference almost sent me off my chair.) He may not have the "look" of an American Idol, but how many of our memorable Idols came through the audition round without "the look" but carved their way into our hearts nonetheless. Sligh's gonna do that, I just know it. And here I didn't think I would pick a horse this year.

Wednesday's LA episode was a last-minute switch in schedule, apparently. (San Antonio will wrap things up Tuesday night, followed by a worst of the best of the worst episode that I will willingly skip to go to sleep.)

The producers decided to shield us from most of the best of Los Angeles, letting us peek in on Alaina Alexander's audition. (My advice to Alaina: go to school!) We were able to revisit with Brian Miller, another one of last year's Hollywood round rejects, who, as Simon said, was memorable enough to forget. And I was sighing along with Paula and guest critic Olivia Newton John after Brandon Rogers' take on You Were Always on My Mind. Mark that one down as a surefire semi-finalist.

But the episode belonged to 64-year-old Sherman Pore, who, in tribute to his wife who had lost her battle with cancer two days before, let us listen to his serenade to her: a beautiful and touching rendition of You Belong to Me that left Paula in tears. Me too. Sherman, start another petition. I want you to perform on the finale.

Oh heck. Maybe I can start the petition.

Next week: San Antonio. And filler.

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!