Thursday, May 24, 2007

listen to the single...

Jordin's first effort, soon to be heard in supermarkets everywhere.

And while you're there, check out AOL's list of the top 20 Idol performances - evah - and tell me if you think they're on crack.

For instance, Daughtry's Wanted Dead or Alive better than Clarkson's Stuff Like that There? Elliott's Open Arms better than all of his others?? Blake's You Give Love a Bad Name over Clay's Bridge Over Troubled Water??? Pickler on the list but Tamyra Gray isn't????

And tell us if you'll buy Jordin's single.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

it's finale time: a SIMULBLOG!...

The sixth season is over. Or it will be in about two hours. And the end is welcomed, but not before we are treated to whatever is in store before we crown Jordin or Blake and certainly not until we've critiqued and criticized every single syllable.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And this is a simulblog, which means I'm typing as the action is unfolding with publishes at every significant break, so if you're not in the eastern time zone and you want to be surprised, this is not the place to be. But come back and rehash all of the happenings later. It looks as though the shoutbox [again] is down for maintenance on a results night, so please feel free to chat in the comment thread.


Ryan asks if we'll crown the beatboxer from Seattle or the sweetheart from Arizona as the sixth season finale, the "night we've all been waiting for" gets underway.

She was just 17, and you know what I mean... It only takes three minutes to be reminded that she's just 17 in the opening duet. The show finally got the Beatles catalog cleared. And I'm not sure if that's a good thing.

And it only takes five minutes to cut to a remote performance by Gwen Stefani, because she has a new single out. Of course she's in an undisclosed location, so none of the idols is accompanying her, but this season hasn't been about them anyway, so why should the finale be any different?

I already am not liking this.

Coke thanks me for drinking. No problem Coke. I've been drinking all season.

Kelly Clarkson is home!! I love Kelly. Her new single not so much. But it's good to see her.

It's Golden Idol time.

Catagory: Best Presentation. Nominees: three auditioners, all of whom I have chosen to forget. But I do remember Margaret, the lady in yellow. Now I want to forget her again.

I am not liking this.

The guys take the stage, obviously setting up Smokey Robinson. And he takes the stage with the guys as backup for a Miracles Medley. I am liking this part.

After a commercial or 17, Blake gets to take the stage with Doug E Fresh for an all-out beatboxing competition. In the first 30 seconds Blake has more fun than he had in all of last night.

Golden Idol. Category: Most Original Vocals. Three auditioners. Don't remember. Don't care.

The girls take the stage, setting a place for Gladys Knight. I hope these girls are taking notes.

David Hasselhoff is [again] in the audience. Tissue alert.

Ryan stands in the audience to introduce Tony Bennett, who didn't get to perform earlier this season because he was sick. But I have to ask: Does Constantine Maroulis show up at every Idol taping? Just asking.

Golden Idol. Category: Best Buddies. Jonathan & Kenneth!!

Melinda, who used to sing backup for the Winans, looks splendid standing in the middle of BeBe and CeCe.

After the Ford commercial, the kids get their Fords. Can Jordin drive? She's only 17.

Carrie Underwood returns to reprise her I'll Stand By You from the Idol Gives Back special, but all I want to know is what the hell is she wearing?

Clive Davis appears and speaks. Blah... blah... blah...

After the commercial break, to recapture the Idol Gives Back experience, we get a return visit from the best part: the African Children's Choir. This time, though, they don't have to share the stage with Josh Groban.


Then it's Green Day. Boy, do they have a tough act to follow.

After a commercial or 312, Taylor Hicks comes out of the oval to sing his new song Heaven Knows. I like the song, and I like Taylor, and I like seeing the old folk. But, considering the finale has historically been about the kids in the cast, and we've seen about 15 minutes of them in the past 90 minutes, this is quite probably the worst finale ever.

And with that Jordin appears, paired with Ruben Studdard. These two could make a hit single. Seriously.

After a commerical or five, Ryan introduces Bette Midler, who sings Wind Beneath My Wings, terribly I might add, and for no apparent reason. Yep. That does it. Worst. Finale. Ever.

Coke thanks me for drinking again. How do they know?

It's time for a tribute to Sgt. Pepper, kicking off with Kelly Clarkson, followed by Taylor Hicks, who introduces Carrie Underwood, who is joined by the women, before calling Ruben Studdard, who is backed by the guys. The kids are then given the stage. Very nice. Very very nice.

After a gazillion votes cast, after Randy says Jordin will win, after Simon says Jordin will win and after Paula babbles on, Ryan gets the sealed envelope and hands the Idol crown to Jordin, who sings her crappy winners song, but this time starts crying with the first note, rather than just at the end. Her mom cries too. Her comrades sit on the stairs at her feet until her last note when they surround her.

And that's that for another season.

Congratulations Jordin.

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here's what we know...

The two-hour extravaganza begins tonight at 8 p.m.

All of the former Idols, excepting Fantasia who's on Broadway, will be there to perform. Green Day will be there. Gladys Knight will sing with the women; Smokey Robinson will sing with the guys.

Only the top three get duets, and Melinda's will be with BeBe and CeCe Winans. Beatboxer extraordinaire Doug E Fresh is in negotiations to will appear. Rumor has a Dreamgirls performance associated with Jordin's name, but that is squirrelly.

And yes, they're gonna milk the Sanjaya phenomenon, giving him, reportedly,
a duet (and a short platinum hairstyle) with Journey lead singer Steve Perry. (You know how we love Journey. Randy worked with them, you know.) Aerosmith's Joe Perry. You Really Got Me with that one.

If there are more credible spoilers, here's where they will be.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

this is it...

January seems so long ago, but in January May felt like forever away.

But THIS is American Idol.

Time goes quickly. And so does this show, as the last two standing battled it out in a triple songfest, each of them tackling the crappy winner's song, a redux of an earlier performance and one brand new, chosen on their own, number. They were a very evenly-matched duo, not the finest in the history of the show, as Paula suggested, certainly superior to last season's, but not quite up to Bo/Carrie.

Both Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis swam out of the Seattle auditions, the audition city that Simon slandered nearly a year ago. (Also home to faves Kenneth and Jonathan, who I expect we'll see tomorrow.) The winner, the first from a non-Southern state, will be crowned in the sixth Idol finale two-hour extravaganza Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

So, without any more embellishment or introduction, here they are, my early impressions, subject to review and revision and, as always, from worst to first:

Blake Lewis (This is My Now). Blake starts the song sitting in front of the large Idol oval, something I've never before seen, but even that isn't enough to salvage this song, which, while not close to the horrid songs of last year, just isn't a Blake song. I wish the guy, who looked uncomfortable throughout, had just beatboxed through the second half. The judges give him a pass on the song, which is obviously not suited for anyone not 17.

Blake Lewis (She Will Be Loved). I am not a fan of falsetto, and I'm not fond of Blake's. Simon questions his choice of song, speculating that it doesn't have impact enough for a finale. It ends well, but not strong enough to erase the weak beginning. Plus, I just don't like this song by Maroon 5 anyway, so I'm probably biased.

Jordin Sparks (This is My Now). Okay, so this song isn't My Destiny bad (I would link that reference, but can't bear to.) But it sounds like the clone of A Moment Like This Flying Without Wings Inside Your Heaven on a Night like This, I Believe. (Did I Make You Proud?) The 10 other Idols are each sitting in the audience, thanking their stars they're not up there trying to sing it, but Jordin does her best with it, crying through it, probably because, well, she's not fond of it either. Randy crowns her the Idol. Simon tells her she wiped the floor with her competition. That will either be her blessing or her curse.

Jordin Sparks (Fighter). Jordin is not Christina, but turns in a decent, if somewhat strident and rushed performance of this song. Simon reminds us that she's 17 (Thanks Simon; had forgotten) but calls her performance "shrieky," and says Blake edged her by a [straight and in her face] hair.

Blake Lewis (You Give Love a Bad Name). This was a hit with many during BonJovi night a few weeks ago, and I think Blake improved over that earlier effort, despite a rough vocal in spots. All three judges commend his performance prowess. Simon gives round one to him. I concur.

Jordin Sparks (A Broken Wing). Randy reminds us that Jordin is 17. (Thanks Randy; had forgotten.) Despite having difficulty understanding many of the lyrics, unlike her first round with this song, it really was terrific, better than the first time, but not quite better than the original, as Randy suggested. Round two is Jordin's most definitely.

So, who's getting covered in confetti? This season has been all about Jordin. She's been groomed, she's been pimped. And, though I think it's gonna be a close one, she's not going to disappoint the producers.

See you tomorrow. Who wins?

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finale rumors...

Looks as though tonight's format will be sticking pretty close to the traditional formula for a finale performance episode.

Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis will each sing three songs, an original choice, a reprise from this season and, of course, the dreaded coronation song.

Here are the rumored song choices and, while there has been no solid verification, they seem to be highly credible.

Blake will lead off, after having won the coin toss but deferring the choice to Jordin, and will repeat his BonJovi night selection, You Give Love a Bad Name. He will also perform another Maroon 5 number, She Will be Loved, in addition to the crappy winner's single.

Jordin will close the show and has chosen to repeat Broken Wing, her song choice from Martina McBride night, Christina Aguilera's Fighter and, of course, the crappy winner's song.

Rumors are also spilling in surrounding the Wednesday finale extravaganza and are including names like Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Hicks, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Doug E. Fresh, the Winans, and a Beatles medley. Don't know how much of it is true, but we still have 24-plus hours to find out.

In other news...

Paula broke her nose in a fall. She was trying to save her dog. Uh huh. That's the story.

And Nigel says they spent too much time on mentors and not enough time on contestants. Gee. Ya think?

If you come across any credible spoilers or any additional bodily injuries, post them in the comments.

UNCONFIRMED: Rumor is that the winning coronation song is This is My Now. Listen to it here.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

casting the finale: a SIMULBLOG!...

It's been a long four months, but the end is in sight as we kick off the last remaining kid before launching into that extravaganza we call the finale.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And this is a SIMULBLOG, where I'm writing as I'm watching the feed on the east coast, publishing at every break, so if you don't want to know what's happening before it happens in your living room, this is not the place to be for the next 60 minutes.

Just be sure to stop back by later to celebrate or complain with the rest of us.

Homer Simpson kicks off the show in an improvement over Ryan, who reminds us that Elliott Yamin and Maroon 5 are in the house. We get the traditional highlight reel of last night's performances in the first five minutes before taking the first of the commercial breaks.

It's almost tour time, and we get a pretty cool promo with the top ten kids all remembered. (I had forgotten about some of them...)

Ryan sits on the sofa with the kids and lets Jordin talk about her trip home. And, of course, we get to see the highlights, always a fun time watching the kids get special treatment. And just in case anyone's forgotten that Jordin is 17, she reminds them, reacting every inch the teenager revisiting her high school.

Ryan gives Jordin her reviews from the night before before telling her she'll find out how America voted...later. Gee. Didn't see that one coming.

It's time for the always-challenging Idol Challenge. Pick A!

Time for Ryan and Blake on the sofa. And we get to see his hometown celebration, complete with limos, planes, screaming girls, baseball and a special dad, who knows the words to his son's songs as well as his son does.

Blake is joined on the stage by dad, before he's thrown off by Ryan. Blake is reminded of what the judges had to say the night before before being told to go wait it out with Jordin.

It's time for Elliott and his homecoming to the Idol stage with Wait for You.

It's the Ford Commercial, where the kids really are kids before climbing into the car. Very cute.

It's Melinda's turn to go home to Nashville. She got her own very special state day - not a city day - a state day. She shoulda lowered taxes. And she got her own street. Tennessee does things nicely.

She gets her reviews from the night before, and is sent to the waiting room.

It's too bad the hometown highlights were abbreviated, but, as is this season's custom, we must make room for visiting artists. Elliott gets a pass, cause he's a returning veteran.

Maroon 5 performs, and Blake is obviously itching to rush the stage and sing along. And obviously Paula is drinking again. hee.

This is going to be one of those results that really comes out of nowhere, because there is no clear indication of who is leaving.

The kids are on the seal.

Jordin is told to step forward and is told that almost 60 million votes have sent her through to the finale. She cries and hugs the other two. Her parents holler as the crowd stands.

Melinda is told to step forward. And she's told she's going home.

It's Blake and Jordin.


She gets to see her funeral video to the sound of Daughtry and chooses to sing out to I'm a Woman.

So long Melinda!

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nigel speaks...

And he's talking to our favorite interviewer, Chuck Ross at TV Week.

A summary of Nigel's thoughts, even though he has the flu:

* He thinks this was the best final three in the history of the show. (May the Claymates find his home address) and that it was the most talent on one stage in a long time (may the Soul Patrol and the ETrain find his home phone number.)

* He thinks Blake was the best overall last night, but that both of the girls outweigh him vocally.

* He says Simon's full of it about the whole "that song is too old," that it's about the singing, not about the age of the song. But he thinks Melinda's personal choice was "too old-fashioned." (Color me confused.)

* Blake had to call Maroon 5 to get his song cleared.

* He's concerned that one of the divas may fall victim to girl vote-splitting (like he doesn't know the result already.)

* He's tired of all this talk of "age" and that, if he were voting (you mean he doesn't??) Jordin is the ideal person to become the next American Idol.

Take a listen. (I had trouble with the streaming, so you may have to download.)

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this is filler...

While we wait for Elliott Yamin, urrr, I mean the top three results show, here's a
list of seven (only 7?) Idol annoyances, compiled by the funny folks over at AOL.

Among them are the mic stand carry, the "after the break" silliness and (my personal biggest peeve) the fingers up for dialing purposes in case viewers can't read numbers business. I'm sure we can come up with more than seven.

I'll start:

Product pandering. Yes, I know that Coke is a major sponsor, but can't they just buy commercial time like everyone else? Must we sit the kids down on stools in front of a billboard? Must there be a nauseatingly red Red Room (that we don't get to see anymore)? Subtlety is a lost art. Bring back subliminal messages!!

So, what annoys you, other than bloggers asking about what annoys you?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

crunch time...

There are three left which will turn to two tomorrow and then, in exactly seven days, this most unmemorable of seasons will be, mercifully, put to rest.

But first, as Ryan says, they gotta fight for their place in that finale.

It's the traditional three-songs-chosen-by-three-paries-for-three-singers format, despite a missing in action Clive Davis. Alas. No Journey songs for R&B singers this season, just a lot of salutes to prostitutes.

The judges choose one song, the "producers" are choosing one, and the kids get a free pass to choose one of their own.

So here they are, the early impressions and, as usual, from worst to first.

Blake Lewis (Personal choice, When I Get You Alone). I don't know if I don't like this song or if I don't like Blake's interpretation, but I do know that I don't like it. Randy gives him the meh review, and Simon gives him kudos for taking risks.

Blake Lewis (Paula's choice, Roxanne). Leave it to Paula to choose a prostitution song. But whatever. Blake follows Jordin, and as a result, pales in comparison. Simon calls it a cheap imitation of Sting, and he's right, although not as poorly-performed as some of Blake's numbers over the season, it wasn't at the level I've seen from him either.

Jordin Sparks (Producers' choice, She Works Hard for the Money). Oh good. Another prostitution song. Since they didn't put the kids through a pure disco night, the producers make up for it with this Donna Summer classic, that Jordin essentially sleepwalks through until the end. Not her best effort.

Blake Lewis (Producers' choice, This Love). Blake gets Maroon 5, and a song he can insert a little beatboxing into. It's far better than his first effort, but still a bit bland, but at this point I'm not sure if it's Blake, the song, or just my taste.

Melinda Doolittle (Randy's choice, I Believe in You and Me). Leave it to Randy to choose a Whitney song after preaching for six seasons not to sing Whitney. And then he chooses a crappy Whitney song. But whatever. It seems to take for freakin' ever for Melinda to get to the belty parts, and, until she does, she seems a little off, but, once she does, she's Melinda in the purest sense of the word. The judges are unanimous in their praise, and Simon gives Melinda a first-round win. I, however, give it to Jordin by a hair.

Jordin Sparks (Simon's choice, Wishing on a Star). Leave it to Simon to choose a song few people have ever heard of, much less heard. Jordin gets to kick off the night, in the cursed first spot, and sings one of the most obscure judges song choices since Mr. Melody. She looks quite pretty and rescues this boring number. Simon disses the arrangement, claiming he likes the "pure" version better. I've heard the "pure" version. Jordin got lucky.

Jordin Sparks (Personal choice, I Who Have Nothing). Jordin pretty much recreates her performance frpm British Invasion Week. It was a good performance then; it's a good performance now. Of course, Simon again has to question the age of the song, criticizing the 17-year-old Jordin for singing a sixty-year-old song, even though he and the producers handed her songs from over 30 years ago. But whatever. Jordin's 17???

Melinda Doolittle (Personal choice, I'm a Woman). Melinda brings back this number that she performed earlier in the season, but unlike Jordin who pretty much equaled her earlier performance, Melinda brings even more sass to this one than she did earlier, giving Simon cause to tell her she's the only one who automatically deserves to advance.

Melinda Doolittle (Producers' choice, Nutbush City Limits). After comparing Melinda to Tina Turner, the producers hand her this one, even though I would have preferred River Deep Mountain High. Whatever. Melinda is simply FAB with this performance. Simon says round two is a tie. I say Simon is full of it. It's a Melinda slam dunk.

Time to predict.

Bottom three: Melinda, Blake, Jordin.
Top two: Melinda and Jordin.

So...what's your verdict?

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Friday, May 11, 2007

tuesday's songs as we know of them...

On Tuesday, as is done in all final three performance episodes, there will be no theme and no mentor. They will each perform three songs.

Each of the kids will chose a song on their own with no constraints (aside from clearance). One of the judges will choose a song for one of the contestants (which either allows the kids to shine or throws them under a bus). Clive Davis, with whom the winner may sign, will select one song for each of the three kids (which will allow them to shine or get hit by a second bus just in case the first bus missed).

Keep an eye out for this entry, because as we know (or think we do) of song selections, they'll be found here.


Personal choice: I Who Have Nothing, the song she performed brilliantly during British Invasion night.

Judge's choice: (Simon) Wishing On a Star (Rose Royce, Beyonce).


Judge's choice: (Paula) Roxanne (The Police).


Judge's choice: (Randy) I Believe in You and Me (Whitney Houston).

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we're stalking them...

Okay, so maybe we're stalking virtually, from a distance, but it's always fun to watch the three as they return home to a hero's (heroine's?) welcome.

Blake has had a busy day and still has a big day in store. Here's
some footage. And here's some new footage, courtesy of Buddy TV.

And it's
Jordin Sparks day in Glendale!

But best for us, Belmont U is welcoming back Miss Melinda, and
Jen is on the scene! (Thanks a million for the great photos Jen!)

If I hear the judges' song picks, I'll update. If you hear any song selections, be sure to holler.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

they're heading home...

But they'll be accompanied by confetti and Y signs, not Chris Daughtry. It's homecoming week for the kids which is always full of fun and frivolity, unless the kid is from Los Angeles where a parade is confined to the high school gym floor.

No inside parades this year though, as Blake is headed to Washington, Jordin is going home to Arizona and Melinda is being awaited in Tennessee.

They're scheduled to arrive home sometime Friday, where a stop at her high school, Sandra Day O'Connor High, is awaiting Jordin, followed by a motorcade escort to meet the mayor who, presumably, will read to her a fax from one of the judges, announcing one of her three song selections for next week's semifinal. (My guess: Randy.)

Melinda is being welcomed by her alma mater, Belmont University, with a free homecoming celebration, following an appearance on the local FOX affiliate. No word yet on which political figure will give her the song news from the judges. (My guess: Simon.)

And Blake will have a busy day, starting off with an appearance on the local FOX morning show, followed by a visit and performance at a local mall (always a big crowd), and ending with a parade and arrival at the Mariners/Yankees game where he will sing the national anthem. Again, no announced meetings with political bigwigs, so don't know who's giving him the bad news. (From, my guess: Paula).

If anybody's in the areas and has plans to attend any of the events, share your accounts with us.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

it's down to 3: a SIMULBLOG!!...

The longest series in the history of American Idol is coming to a close. But first we have to execute the historically-cursed fourth-place finisher. Then next week we can sit and watch as the three remaining kids are forced to sing a song chosen for them by one of the three stooges, one chosen by the main stooge Clive Davis, and one song that the kids get to choose for themselves.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And this is a Simulblog, where the action unfolds as it's airing on the east coast, so if you want to be SHOCKED, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit.

And since the shoutbox appears to be "down for maintenance" please feel free to chat using the comment thread in this entry.

Ryan brings up the fact that fourth place is traditionally cursed and hints around that we may be surprised yet again as he intros the retrospective of the night before. Followed, of course, by the random person on the street reviews that none of us really care about.

Over 45 million votes were cast, Ryan tells us before warning us we're gonna hear from Pink, undoubtedly another of the Idol Gives Back taped performances that they ran too short of time to air, and undoubtedly one more reason for me to complain.

Once back from paying the bills, Ryan starts the hype for the summer tour, alerting parents of young daughters that Sanjaya will be live and up close and personal. I'll be curious to see the ticket sales for that.

Oh. And Pink sings.

It's the FORD commercial, an homage to Sanjaya. Then it's time for the mind-bending Idol challenge. Pick B!

It's a group sing!! Or a quartet sing, more precisely, a tribute to the Brothers Gibb that starts with significant sound problems, and I'm not talking about Melinda's voice. Will somebody please stop letting the interns work the audio.

Random observation: who lets Jordin dress herself?

Ryan is sitting on the sofa with the quartet to have a little filler chat about the night before. And the kids are reminded that the remaining three will get to have their big hometown celebrations, provided none of them lives in Los Angeles, which confines its hometown celebrations to high school gymnasiums. And, of course, that means that one of them came thisclose to getting confettied, but, alas, gets to run through the drive thru at the Burger King instead.

We then get forcefed another movie promo, this time for the Fantastic 4.

And - finally - we get to learn a little about the kids. Jordin is the only one with siblings. Melinda and LaKisha both had afros as little girls. And Blake got booted from choir class.

Random observation: Somebody please buy Ryan a razor.

After the break...

Big group hug precedes the reading of the card.

LaKisha gets her reviews from last night.
Melinda gets hers.
So does Blake.
And Jordin.

Jordin is told to have a seat.

And we have to endure the hype for a new "band" show before getting to hear Barry Gibb. And he decides to sing To Love Somebody, making him now the fourth person to sing this song on American Idol. And about third best.

Melinda is told she's safe.

Random observation: would somebody please put an intern in charge of Paula's audio.

Blake and LaKisha stand arm in arm. Blake is told he's safe, his family celebrates and he gives LaKisha major hugs and she, and we, get to watch her funeral footage.

She says she doesn't want to cry, but can't keep from it. It's always sad to lose one at this stage, after they've come so far.

The crowd stands for her, as do the judges, and LaKisha sings out to Stayin' Alive, even though she didn't.

So long KiKi.

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idol musings...

There are whisperings of another fourth-place shocking boot with the name Melinda attached to them. (That danged fourth-place is a curse.) But you know what, if she goes tonight, I doubt it will set off explosions over watercoolers across the country, unlike the shameful early exits of Tamyra Gray in season one, season three's LaToya London and, most recently, the shocker of Daughtry.

My friend Dave asked a question several weeks ago, as the final round of season six was beginning. He wondered if American Idol had "jumped the shark," in response to an online article predicting the snoozefest that was to unfold as the weeks went on. I wasn't sure how I felt about the show hitting that phase of its life quite yet, chalking up my own ambivalence about season six to the residual love and enthusiasm I had felt for season five. It couldn't measure up, I reasoned, but hopefully I would become as deeply entrenched in the weekly attempts the new kids would give us as I had in all of the other seasons. Just probably not to the same extent.

The problem is that I'm as ambivalent today, heading into the final three show, as I was going into the first of five weeks of auditions. So what is up with that?

The Houston Chronicle says this is the worst season of Idol, but places most of the blame on the lackluster contestants. I appreciate the point, but I'm not going to go that far. Because, while there is somebody directly to blame, I don't think it's any of this year's cast of characters.

The four we have remaining are legitimately good performers, although each of them has had their requisite moments of suckiness, but I don't care about them. I don't care who wins. The people with whom, in past seasons, I would have passionate and sometimes explosive conversations about who was better than whom don't care who wins. Some have stopped watching.


Because the contestants aren't the stars of the show. The show is the star of the show. And the contestants are day players.

One of reasons I've always enjoyed American Idol is because, as the weeks wear on, we get to know these kids. We get to know their families. We get to know their personalities, their likes and dislikes. By final six time last year, we knew that Elliott Yamin was nearly deaf in one ear and battled diabetes. We knew that Kellie Pickler's dad was in prison, due to be released shortly and that she had been raised by her grandparents. We knew that Taylor Hicks had traveled from wedding to wedding, trying to make it as a musician in the Birmingham area. And we knew that Chris Daughtry had two adorable stepkids that he loved to death.

We knew Rocky Covington, Bucky's twin brother and we could pick out Ace Young's brother Ryan from a mile away. We waited to see if Katharine McPhee's dad - McPhather - would bawl after her performance. And Mama Yamin became everybody's mom. Everyone was familiar. And beloved.

What do we know about this group?

I know that Melinda used to be a background singer. LaKisha is a single mom. Blake is a beatboxer who does wacky impressions. And Jordin is 17. The only family member I recognize is Chris Richardson's dad, and he's gone now.

But thanks to this season, I know who Akon and Robin Thicke are. And I didn't even sign on for that.

The more we're able to get acquainted with these kids, the harder we root for them. And, despite extending the results episodes to a painful 60 minutes, the show is focusing more on becoming a variety hour than a competition. Instead of giving us a peek inside the lives and hopes and dreams of these finalists, we're given random person on the street interviews. Rather than a question and answer segment with Blake, we're treated to yet another "you're gay, no you're gay" exchange between Ryan and Simon.

And instead of celebrating the show, its history and its cast by bringing back beloved Idol contestants to hawk their current wares, we get Fergie. At least next week we'll get a visit from Elliott Yamin and, presumably, Daughtry will make an appearance the following week to perform live the going away anthem. I don't know what they've done with Taylor Hicks.

The show this season has taken a serious deviation from its successful formula, and that could very much explain the dip in the ratings from last year. I don't think it's jumped any sharks quite yet, but until or unless the producers remember how this show went from summer replacement to national cult phenomenon and make some adjustments next year, those sharks will continue to circle.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

top 4: i'm the B to your G...

We've cut the field to four and it's time for the BeeGees, (YAY!). We haven't had a BeeGees night since season two, also during the top four round, so it's long overdue that the kids pay proper respect to one of the best groups in the history of music groups.

Because THIS is American Idol.

I've had a rough day (funerals make me pissy) so I'll make this brief and to the point.

Here they are, subject to review and revision, and as always, from worst to first:

Blake Lewis (You Should Be Dancing). Barry Gibb says he thinks Blake's beatboxing will work with this song. I think Barry Gibb is either being nice or he's senile. Blake and falsetto probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence. Randy tells Blake it was like being in a disco in some strange country. That's about the best description. In a word, it was "painful."

Blake Lewis (This is Where I Came In). Barry wonders why this song never became a hit, and hopes that Blake can make it one. I doubt that, especially if his video is a dance one. I've never heard it, and I don't choose to hear it again. Simon calls it a bizarre choice of song. Well. That's probably what Barry Gibb meant.

LaKisha Jones (Stayin' Alive). LaKisha is looking fine tonight, as she finally, apparently, got some decent wardrobe assistance, and, going third behind Blake, had a grand opportunity to make up some ground. Too bad she tossed it out the window. (Why is everybody sucking so bad tonight?) Simon says no kiss for LaKisha. But she may have a bus ticket home waiting for her.

LaKisha Jones (Run to Me). The judges tell KiKi that her second was preferable to her first. It was, but, totally blundered last note excepted, the arrangement which shifted keys midway only to shift back was disturbing enough to destroy the entire song.

Melinda Doolittle (Love You Inside and Out). Melinda gets the lead-off spot with this song, and says she's going to try to figure out how to turn a "group" song into a "single" song, even though she's got a trio of backup singers behind her. Whatever. It's probably the least enjoyable of all of Melinda's performances thus far. The judges pan her, rightfully, because now is not the time to settle for average.

Jordin Sparks (A Woman In Love). Okay, so Jordin does Streisand. I love Jordin, but she doesn't have the chops to try this one. But did you know she's 17? Again we're reminded that she's 17. Because she's 17. And for 17 it was amazing. 17. It was good, considering the quality of tonight's performances, but I won't be remembering it during season 9 when we're doing another BeeGees night.

Jordin Sparks (To Love Somebody). All three judges tell her that it was the best vocal of the first four, and it is, but it is also one of my fave BeeGees songs, so I'm a bit protective.and Jordin's audible breathiness is bothersome. And I'm wondering, understandably, why Jordin is getting the pimp anchor spot for the second time in three weeks.

Melinda Doolittle (How Can You Mend a Broken Heart). Melinda knows better than to utter the word "loser" on American Idol. Smart. This iconic song starts out predictably, but Melinda shifts it a bit on the backside and turns it into, possibly, one of those Idol performances we talk about years later.

Okay, so here I go, because we'll be doing bottom two tomorrow...

Who I want: LaKisha and Blake.
Who should: Blake and LaKisha
Who will: LaKisha and Blake.

And as much as Blake deserves to, LaKisha will be saying goodbye.

So, what do you think?


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

25 or 6 to 4: a SIMULBLOG...

In a cruel twist of fate, we've been robbed of a final five, tonight watching the field trimmed from the top six to the remaining four.


But whatever gets this show moving quickly toward the finale is good enough.

Because THIS is American Idol. And this is a SIMULBLOG, where I'm writing as the action is happening, with publishing at every break, so if you're not watching and you're not in the mood to have the executees revealed before you're ready, it might be a good idea to exit stage left. But remember to come back and complain with the rest of us.

Ryan promises no filler (ahem) in yet another 60-minute results show that is about 50 minutes too long. After all, we must make room for Jon Bon Jovi, who mentored the kids this week (acceptable) and for Robin Thicke, who has absolutely no reason to be on stage except that he has a CD to hawk. This crap is getting so old.

Highlights from last night = not filler.

Random person on the street reviews of last night = not filler.

Ryan/Judges tit-for-tat = not filler.

Random questions posed to contestants = not filler.

Ruben Studdard pitching (on tape) Idol Gives Back = I thought they gave back last week. Why are they still giving back?

Commercial = paying the bills.

Review of last week's charitable extravaganza = so not filler.

Performance by Robin Thicke, #1 on the charts = another waste of a Daughtry, #1 on the charts for a gazillion weeks, visit.

Fantasia urging people to give back with Idol = getting redundant.

And it's time to execute somebody for the first time in two weeks. After the break...

Number six is gonna bite the big one in the first half of the [excrutiatingly long] episode, getting gypped of the opportunity to close the show, the least of the traditions these kids deserve. Oh well, I'm tired of complaining.

Melinda, Phil and LaKisha are asked to the seal.
Melinda gets her reviews from the night before and after a combined total of 135 million votes, Melinda is safe.
Phil and LaKisha stand arm in arm.
They are given their reviews, and LaKisha is told she's safe.
Phil is a goner.

He gets to watch his funeral video and he proves, once again, that prophetic songs are the kiss of death on this show. He goes out in A Blaze of Glory. Ryan Seacrest told Ellen DeGeneres this week that this is the first group of kids that really and truly loves each other. I think the scene after Phil's ejection proves that to be true.

So long, Phil.

It's the challenge!! Pick C!

Jordin, Blake and Chris are told to stand, but Jordin is given an early pardon, considering the crap that they put her through last week. Chris and Blake are told to hang on for the next 15 minutes or so, cause it's time for BonJovi, and we can't let the star wait for silly Idol business.

BonJovi performs, and I actually enjoy the song. Definitely not filler.

Taylor Hicks is telling people to give back. Where in the hell were Ruben, Fantasia and Taylor last week? Oh yeah. No time for them. Outranked by Ben Stiller.

Chris says he and Blake are best buds and that he'd even go home for him. They're asked if they want to swap the results. Both say no.

And with that Chris is sent home. He gets to see his funeral footage to the sound of Daughtry, but is happy that they'll all be on tour together.

So long Chris.

Next week Barry Gibb is in the house. Last time one of the Brothers Gibb made an AI appearance, we were treated to an abundance of BeeGees tunes. But, of course, that was season two. We'll see how the three gals and the beatboxer fare.

See you then.

Please, discuss.

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sucky season?...

AOL asks the question, not me. And they're giving reasons why it does. Suck, that is.

And for once, I actually agree with AOL. And here I've been blaming it on my letdown after the great fifth season.

It's always nice to know one is not alone.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

lose one, lose another...

Jon Bonjovi is in the house, rocking with the kids. Two are gonna bite the dust after tonight, because we just couldn't, apparently, bear to execute an Idol kid while attempting to raise gazillions to feed the starving children all over the universe.

So they say they're gonna add last week's votes to this week's votes, allowing for the possibility that one of the kids who didn't place last either week to get kicked to the curb.

I hate double boots.

But THIS is American Idol.

And in a bizarre double elimination night, where the President and First Lady close show and Chris is better than Jordin, anything can happen.

But anyway, here they are, my early impressions, subject to review and revision and, as usual, from worst to first.

Jordin Sparks (Livin' on a Prayer). Jordin is second up, and apparently had a tragic hair accident on the way down the hall. Gratefully, she is the first person to admit the performance was, well, not good. It was frenetic, bordering on shrieking, according to Simon, but she accepts the unanimous poor reviews graciously, which is gonna save her. That and the body of work she's turn in so far.

Chris Richardson (Wanted Dead or Alive). Chris makes sure to let everyone know that he knows that Daughtry recorded this song last year, wisely avoiding the LaKisha remarks. And he turns in a perfectly acceptable, if a bit strident, version of this BonJovi classic. Simon gives him a half and half shot of surviving tomorrow.

Phil Stacey (Blaze of Glory). Phil says he's been practicing this song with his comb for 15 years. Practice, obviously, pays off, as he opens the show schmoozing with the audience and has a little exchange with Randy before hitting the big stage. Randy says it's his best performance aside from country week. Paula says it's the best show opener all season, and Simon tells him he'll probably not last to next week, which is sure to light a fire under his voters. Aside from Jordin, Phil is the one who's shown consistent improvement, and I think he deserves to continue to next week. That was a solid performance.

LaKisha Jones (This Ain't a Love Song). Everything that LaKisha has done wrong since her first performance she corrects, except, regrettably, the wardrobe. She kicks off her performance with an abundance of personality, answering another of those insufferable viewer questions. She then wraps her arms around the soulfullness of the number and squeezes it to near death. And, just for good measure, a beautifully-measured stop at the end earns her a kiss from Simon.

Blake Lewis (You Give Love a Bad Name). I am loving Blake's new hair color, but not as much as I loved this performance, part beatboxed, part sung, fully performed. Randy hands him the award for the most original rendition of a song. I give him the award for most enjoyable performance of the night.

Melinda Doolittle (Have a Nice Day). MindyDoo says she doesn't know how to rock. Bon Jovi tells her to "take it to church." And she does. The judges invoke the holy name of Tina Turner numerous times. I just say it was the best vocal of the night.

Okay, now the tough part. We're killing two. Or so they say. If last week taught us anything, it's not to believe what they say.

Who I want: Chris and Phil.
Who should: Chris and LaKisha.
Who will: Chris and Phil.

So? What's your gut telling you?


Thanks Rob for the awesome image!