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Idol Chit-Chat
This is your place to discuss all things "American Idol." The performances, the judges, the past contestants — it’s all right here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Top 10 Girls: This Round Goes to Melinda...

Last week, the girls had nowhere to go but up after a dreary show with the guys. But since the guys brought it this week, the pressure was on. And some handled it well, while others cracked.

But one thing’s for sure. The battle of the dueling divas just got more interesting…

Here are my results:

Gina Glocksen, “Alone”: 12
This was probably a little harsh because I gave her a two in song choice. Never sing a song that another “Idol” contestant rocked the house with—in this case, Carrie Underwood.

Alaina Alexander, “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice”: 9
Here’s another tip: Stay away from songs currently on the charts. Not that it made any difference in this case since hardly any of it was on key.

Lakisha Jones, “Midnight Train to Georgia”: 18
It was nice to see Lakisha’s fun side and she’s still phenomenal; but my problem with this song has always been that there’s not enough of a chance for the contestant to showcase their voice.

Melinda Doolittle, “My Funny Valentine”: 20
Sorry, Constantine. No one is going to remember your version after this. Holy cow!

Antonella Barba, “Because You Loved Me”: 10
I gave her an extra point because she hit the high note at the end, but I almost took it away for her weak Jennifer Hudson argument for Simon. I don’t remember Simon being hard on Jennifer, other than for her clothes—which he was usually right about. And as I suspected, there was no mention of the pictures.

Jordin Sparks, “Reflection”: 17
Poor Jordin. She let the show’s stupid dedication idea get the best of her as her emotions messed up her singing a little bit. But she pulled it out in the end and the judges LOVE her—even Simon. I thought the arrangement really didn’t do her any favors either.

Stephanie Edwards, “Dangerously In Love”: 16
She reminds me of Latoya London from season three—and that’s not a bad thing. But the timing of this song sounded a little off.

Leslie Hunt, “Feeling Good”: 11
This is the same song A.J. did last night and he actually did it better. That scatting was atrocious—although it did produce Simon’s best joke of the night when he said it sounded like Paula talking.

Haley Scarnato, “Queen of the Night”: 15
Haley’s voice reminds me of Jodi Benson, the voice of “The Little Mermaid.” She has a nice voice, she’s just not street enough to pull off this song. However, I appreciated what she was trying to do so I gave her high points on song choice and she’s got great stage presence.

Sabrina Sloan, “All the Man That I Need”: 12
When will these girls learn to stop singing Whitney? It wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t great for me.

So who’s going home? Clearly Antonella needs to go, but I think she’s got a really strong fan base, so she could end up staying. I think Alaina’s days are numbered, however, after butchering a current song. If Antonella doesn’t go, the second spot is a toss-up between Leslie and Haley.

And in the competition between Lakisha and Melinda, this round goes to Melinda…

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Guest Coach Scoop!

Here’s some new information on the performers that will be appearing on “Idol” this season…

It will be Bon Jovi, not just Jon Bon Jovi, who will be appearing. The contestants will perform Bon Jovi songs (Good luck trying to top Chris from last year!) and then Bon Jovi will perform its new single on the results show. Bon Jovi has not yet released a date.

And yes, Jon was a little irritated when they only announced him, according to “Access Hollywood.” Interestingly, Jon says he has never watched the show…

When Gwen Stefani appears (reportedly on March 28th), the contestants will be singing not only Gwen songs, but also songs that have inspired her. That’s good, because I’d really hate to see one of the contestants try to break out “Hollaback Girl.”

They’ll probably try to make that a group sing…

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The Latest on Antonella...

Remember Amanda, Antonella’s best friend who didn’t make it through to Hollywood? She’s sticking up for her friend in the midst of the racy pictures scandal...

It seems that the most X-rated photos (which I won’t describe) are in fact hoaxes and are not Antonella. Amanda says the other racy pictures are Antonella and that they were made for a calendar for an ex-boyfriend. Speculation is that the boyfriend may have released the pictures, though his friends deny it.

Votefortheworst.com is also sticking up for Antonella because it has already chosen her as the worst female singer. You can find their proof that the pictures are not her on the website.

Among the other people championing Antonella’s cause are Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell and—are you ready for this?—Hugh Hefner. Both Ryan and Simon say that it’s the person who released the pictures that they’re worried about and not Antonella. But after looking at the pictures, Hef conceded he might be interested in having Antonella pose for "Playboy." Not sure that really helped her cause…

The notoriety has definitely made Antonella a household name. Last week, she was #1 on the AOL search site—even ahead of Britney’s umbrella tirade.

You may recall that season two’s Frenchie Davis was kicked of the show when topless pictures of her surfaced online. However, those pictures were for an adult website.

We’ll see how “Idol” handles it tonight. My guess is that they’ll totally ignore it…

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Top 10 Guys: "This time it's personal..."

So after last week’s boring performances, the guys really needed to step it up. And most of them did.

But even if all of the performances were not fantastic, the show was definitely entertaining as the judges were in rare form—though I could’ve done without those sappy dedications.

But as Ryan ominously said at the beginning, “This time it’s personal”…

Here are my thoughts on our top 10 guys…

Phil Stacey, “Missing You”: 17
He actually got the first note right for a change. But as good of a song choice as it was, it still didn’t completely work for me since I thought he needed to show a little more emotion. The ending, however, was good.

Jared Cotter, “Let’s Get It On”: 14
He dedicated that song to his parents? For some reason, Jared is just not connecting with me as I thought the song was blah until the end.

A.J. Tabaldo, “Feeling Good”: 15
His dancing was cheesy, but the upbeat part of the song was really not that bad. He hasn’t really connected with me either, though.

Sanjaya Malakar, “Steppin’ Out”: 11
His voice is still gorgeous, but only he could make a song like that sound blah. However, his dedication to his grandmother may save him.

Chris Sligh, “Trouble”: 19
Other than Chris’ tendency to slur his words, this song was gorgeous.

Nick Pedro, “Fever”: 18
I really liked this, but he missed those notes in the middle. If he had hit them all, I may have given him a perfect score.

Blake Lewis, “Virtual Insanity”: 17
It was a good song choice, but I’m not sure he really nailed it.

Brandon Rogers, “Time After Time”: 14
I liked this arrangement, but he didn’t do it justice. And what was up with those weird hand gestures?

Chris Richardson, “Geek In the Pink”: 17
For some reason I wasn’t as completely enthralled with this one as the judges were. Maybe it’s because I don’t like Jason Mraz. The chorus was really good, but he missed that verse.
Sundance Head, “Mustang Sally”: 18
Yes, Sundance is back, but for some reason, I didn’t enjoy him as much as I did Chris. Maybe I’d already given up on him.

So, who’s going home? Well, clearly Sanjaya should, but whether he will is another story. I still have a feeling he’s another Kevin Covais in the making—especially with his argument that he sang that song for his grandmother. As for the other person who should go, for me, it’s a toss-up between Jared and Brandon. Jared gave an average performance of a song he could have done so much more with and Brandon gave an average performance of a really good arrangement. I have to agree with Simon that Brandon’s “feeling it” story just didn’t cut it.

The secret to this episode was to pick the right song and then dedicate it to someone like Chris R. did, not to connect the dedication with the song as Sanjaya and Brandon did. We’ll see tomorrow which one the girls do…

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Note to FOX: We get it already!

So tonight's show has just started and I'll have a complete wrap-up later, but I have to say something now...

STOP SHOWING JEFF FOXWORTHY EVERY TWO POINT THREE SECONDS!!!

His new game show is on after "Idol." We get it. Enough already!!!

Now, that I've got that off my chest, I'll be back later with my rating of all 10 guys...

British Invasion Night Set!

Peter Noone has announced that his appearance on "American Idol" is scheduled for March 21st.

That means Tuesday, March 20th will be British Invasion night for the contestants and we should see clips of Peter and Lulu (who is scheduled to appear with him) coaching the contestants...

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Whatever happened to Ebony and Jenry?

Because of the abbreviated Hollywood episodes, we lost track of several early standouts. Two of them were Ebony, the roller-skating car hop that totally outsang her two friends, and Jenry, the cutie that looked like Tyson Beckford.

Well, "People" magazine has answered the question of what happened to them...

Ebony was cut early in the Hollywood rounds. Speculation has swirled on the Internet, though, that she was cut because of her stint as a Lingerie Football League model. Ebony insists that's not the case...

Jenry says he froze in Hollywood and was cut early. He says he'll be back next year, though, which I'm sure will make Paula happy...

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Congratulations to Jennifer Hudson!


It happened, ladies and gentlemen. An "American Idol" finalist is now an Academy Award winner.

Congratulations to Jennifer Hudson for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "Dreamgirls."

In her acceptance speech, Jennifer said, "I didn't think I was going to win." I have to say Jennifer, I was doubting it myself after Alan Arkin upset Eddie Murphy in the Supporting Actor category.

In case you missed it, no, Jennifer did not thank "American Idol," but it wasn't really appropriate, quite frankly, as she gave an emotional speech that paid tribute to her grandmother. "Look what God can do," she proclaimed.

Before accepting her award, Jennifer gave a big hug to her co-star Beyonce (which the director strangely cut away from), but I'm sorry. Beyonce did not look all that happy.

Maybe she was jealous that Jennifer got to hug George Clooney, who presented her award.

And Jennifer looked gorgeous...

I'm sure that "Idol" will make mention of this on Tuesday.

Congratulations again, Jennifer, but how sad is it that we had to wait until 10:3o to see it? At least I can turn it off now...

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The Story Behind This Year's Elimination Song

As I first told you weeks ago, Daughtry’s “Home” was unveiled Thursday as the song that will accompany the eliminated contestants’ goodbye videos.

Last year’s song, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” was the #1 song of 2006. However, “Idol” reaped no benefits because Powter was signed to Warner Bros. Now, RCA/19, the official “Idol” record label, will be the beneficiary.

However, the people at 19 say that had nothing to do with the choice.

According to “Variety,” In October, Iain Pirie, head of 19 Entertainment U.S., had a meeting with 19 executive and “Idol” Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe. At the meeting, Pirie played some tracks from Daughtry’s upcoming album. When Lythgoe heard “Home,” he called “Idol” guru Simon Fuller right away and they both agreed it would be perfect.

“Home” was written by Chris and it was the song that convinced Clive Davis to let him make the kind of CD he wanted to.

However, according to “Variety,” it still hasn’t been decided if “Home” will be released as a single. It’s possible that “Over You” could be the next song released.

“Over You” is a great song (my favorite on the CD), but I can’t believe they won’t take advantage of the “Idol” phenomenon. And since digital sales are now figured in the charts, the fans may make the decision for them anyway. It would be better to save “Over You” for later.

Not that Daughtry needs any more promotion. The CD just went double platinum.

I’m curious, though, what Chris thinks of his deeply personal song—that he hoped to be released as a tribute to the troops—being used for the eliminations. Especially now that there are rumblings he’s uncomfortable with his “Idol” past…

More on that in the following post…

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Is Everything Okay With Daughtry?

Sometimes interviewers catch their subjects at a bad time, causing them to act out of character.

For example, the “Rolling Stone” interview in which Kiefer Sutherland said he longed for the day when Jack Bauer died was totally out of character and more than likely the result of a few too many drinks…

That’s why I’m not putting a lot of stock into a recent “Entertainment Weekly” interview with Chris Daughtry, although it does concern me a little.

In the interview, Chris comes off as a man having trouble dealing with his fame. He says that being away from home has put stress on his marriage. And he comes off a little cold when he cancels a Q&A session at a children’s hospital.

But most of all, he comes off as someone who has developed a distaste for everything “Idol.” At the same children’s hospital, he gets angry because they refer to him as “Chris from ‘American Idol.’” He signs a collage of “Idol” snapshots for the hospital scrapbook, but he calls the pictures “cheesy.”

And there may be other problems. Guitarist Jeremy Brady quit the band in the first week because “it doesn’t fulfill me the way I thought it would.” In other words, he couldn’t handle Chris getting all of the attention (Boy, do I hope it was the guitarist that practically ruined their “Tonight Show” appearance.).

As I said, since many of these comments were completely out of character for Chris, I think he was going through a bad time when they did the interview. But if this is how Chris really feels, it could entirely change the way his fans feel about him.

Because whether Chris likes it or not, as long as Taylor’s sales stay flat, Chris is the “American Idol” poster child of last season—even though he didn’t win

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Smitty Says, Vote For Jordin!

So now I guess we know where Jordin Sparks gets all that confidence...

It seems that Brandon and Melinda are not the only background singers in the top 24. Jordin, the 17-year-old dynamo, sang back-up for Michael W. Smith on his 2005 and 2006 Christmas tours. Now Smith is campaigning for Sparks on his website.

I find it interesting that no one has ever mentioned her background singing before. Could it be that "Idol" doesn't hold Smith in the same regard as Christina or Usher?

You can read Smitty's thoughts on Jordin on his blog at http://www.michaelwsmith.com/news-detail.php?newsid=806. There will also be more in Saturday's "Herald-Dispatch"...

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Problems for Antonella?

As if you needed another reason to be careful about what you put on MySpace, here’s another one my sources brought to my attention this morning…

Rather risqué and embarrassing photos are making the rounds on the Internet of Antonella Barba. Several of them show her topless—though you don’t see anything because of the presence of other topless girls. Others show her carousing at parties (Remember, she’s only 20.). One even features her sitting on the toilet, though everything is covered.

I haven’t heard officially that they’re MySpace or Facebook pictures, but that’s what they look like to me.

So next time you get the urge to have your picture taken while on the toilet, remember that someday you could be on the most popular show on television and that moment could come back to haunt you.

No response yet from FOX or “Idol” producers about the pictures. I don’t really expect there to be any…

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The Day After: Noonatics Rejoice!

Almost lost in all of last night’s elimination hullabaloo was the announcement of some of the artists who will mentor the contestants this season. I’m guessing the show felt it was necessary to divulge some of the names since they were already starting to leak out…

As I told you yesterday, Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani are on the list, as are Jon Bon Jovi, Martina McBride, Diana Ross, Barry Gibb, Tony Bennett and for a British Invasion night, Lulu and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.

This morning, I talked with a Noonatic, as Peter Noone’s fans are called, and she told me that Noone’s phone has been ringing off the hook since last night. Noone’s manager said it had been pretty hard for her not to spill the secret. No date has been set yet, but you know I’ll pass it on when I get it.

By the way, I should mention that Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will be in concert April 21st at 8 p.m. at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth (along with Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees). For more info, visit www.rocknrollhouseparty.com...

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Season's First Results Show: A Moment By Moment Recap

Since I know many of you don’t watch the entire results episode because you can’t handle all the stall tactics, and since many of you were no doubt watching that big Huntington High game, I thought I’d do one of my famous minute-by-minute recaps to catch you up…

I apologize for the hour delay; but I did have to say goodbye to “The O.C.”…

For the first time this season, let’s go to the recap…

8:00 Intro

8:01 Ryan walks down the steps past the 24 contestants. Chris Sligh is on the end instead of with the guys. Hmmm…Ryan says there were about 32 million votes cast last night…Ryan asks Randy if a guy can win and Randy says it’s the girls’ to lose. Simon says there are two or three guys with potential. Paula says the guys can only go up from here, which Simon says is not true…

8:02 Ryan names some of the artists who will work with the Idols this season: Diana Ross, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Tony Bennett, Martina McBride, Lulu and Peter Noone (for British Invasion night) and Barry Gibb…

8:03 Recap

8:06 Group sing: “Sewing the Seeds of Love”
Why are they letting Phil start the song? Actually, he handles it okay…That’s the best Sundance has sounded in two weeks…Wow! This is cheesy…Where did Jordin get all of that confidence at age 17?...I never thought of Tears for Fears as cheesy. Leave it to “American Idol”…Break

8:12 The eliminations are starting early…Ryan talks to the guys seated in two rows. Nick says he’s petrified. Chris Sligh says he’s concerned about his exchange with Simon and that America might think he was being disrespectful when he wasn’t, saying he loves Simon. Simon says, “I like this guy”…

8:13 The back row joins Ryan on the stage…Brandon—safe…Sundance—safe (?!)…Chris R.—safe…Nick—safe…I smell a trick…Blake and Paul left…Blake—safe

8:16 Paul—going home. No trick. Ryan asks Randy what Paul can do and he says choose the right songs. Paula says he tried too hard. Paul says, “it hurts”…

8:17 Paul sings “Careless Whisper.” “I feel so unsure” seems so appropriate now…Break

8:23 Ryan talks to girls in two rows…Lakisha says she’s nervous. “You never know,” she says…

8:24 Back row onto stage with Ryan…Jordin—safe…Stephanie—safe…Sabrina—safe…Leslie—safe…Melinda and Antonella left…Melinda—safe…I smell a trick…Antonella—safe. I told you. Everyone is shocked…Ryan asks Amy to join him…Amy is out…Simon tells her she needs to stand out…Amy asks if she can sing another song, but the band’s not cooperating…She sings “I Can’t Make You Love Me”…Melinda is in tears…Antonella is shocked…Sanjaya is in tears…

8:29 After the break…

8:33 Ryan introduces the American Idol challenge, a new cell phone trivia game…

8:34 Fantasia comes out with orange hair…Quincy Jones is in the audience…She tells the big news that she’s going to be starring in “The Color Purple” on Broadway…Quincy, one of the Broadway show’s producers, says she’s absolutely ready. He tries to say more but Ryan cuts him off (Yikes!). Fantasia sings “I’m Here” from the show…She’ll start April 10th…Hope she’s worked on her acting…Don’t really care for that tattoo on her chest…Simon seems completely enthralled. He’s always said she was his favorite Idol. The judges give her a standing ovation and she almost cries…Break…

8:44 Remaining girls on stage with Ryan…Haley—safe…Lakisha (Ryan’s going out of order now)—safe…Gina—safe…Nicole and Alaina left. Will Ryan have to say goodbye to his girlfriend?...No, Alaina is safe. Nicole is out. Yea! I got one right!...Ryan says this is the worst part of the week…Paula says she’s a brilliant vocalist…She sings “Stay”…Lakisha tries to get the other girls to join Nicole on stage, but they don’t go along with it and she goes back…The song still sounds like crap…Paula dances while Simon laughs at her…

8:49 The girls hug…Break…

8:52 Ryan says time is tight…Remaining guys on stage…Chris Sligh—safe…Phil—safe…Paula’s chowing down on something…Jared—safe…A.J. (out of order)—safe…Sanjaya and Rudy—one is in the top four (?!) and one is out…Rudy—out. Sanjaya is safe. He’s clearly very popular…I got another one!...

8:55 When Ryan asks for advice for Rudy, Simon says he can’t turn an okay singer into a good one. Randy says he needs to keep getting better. Paula says he has one of the best vocals and she is very, very sad…

8:56 A taped look back at all four eliminated contestants…Daughtry’s “Home” is the elimination song and it sounds great…

8:57 Rudy does “Free Ride”…He starts by saying, “I’m gonna go out with a bang if that’s all right”…

9:00 And we’re out. So Rudy, where was the bang?

So I got two out of four right as we said goodbye to Rudy, Nicole, Amy and Paul. We learned that Sanjaya has a big fan base since he was in the top four of the guys (I smell another Kevin Covais here.) and apparently, America is not yet done with Sundance. And it looks like Antonella could be this year’s Jasmine or Carmen.

So what happened to my guy Paul? He butchered a classic and I think that barefoot thing was just too weird.

The guys will sing again on Tuesday beginning at 8…

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Breaking News: Josh Gracin Coming to Town!

Josh Gracin is coming to Ashland!

He'll be here Saturday, March 3rd as part of the WTCR Highway 23 Jamboree at the Paramount Arts Center.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. You can get them at the Paramount Box Office Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

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Scoop!: Tonight's Special Announcement and Upcoming Guests?

If you can't wait until tonight for Fantasia's special announcement, keep reading. Otherwise, you'll want to stop now...

"Access Hollywood" is reporting that Fantasia will announce that she is joining the cast of "Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple." See what I mean about taking "special announcement" for what it's worth?...

"Access" is also reporting that Gwen Stefani will appear on the show March 28th, while Jennifer Lopez will make an appearance April 11th, citing reliable sources.

Stay Tuned...

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Top 12 Women: A League of Their Own

After the universally panned show last night (regardless of what Ryan said), the girls knew they had to bring it.

And for the most part they did, making some people question the whole six girls, six guys rules for the top 12…

Let’s take a closer look…

Stephanie Edwards, “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore”: 18
This was probably a little generous, but it was so different from anything we heard last night. And I had to give her a 5 in stage presence after she fell to her knees. I also gave her a 5 for song choice, because unlike most of the guys last night, she stayed true to who she is.

Amy Krebs, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”: 14
Sorry, Amy, but Constantine closed the book on this one two years ago. She has a great tone to her voice, but there were too many runs and it was just too pitchy.

Leslie Hunt, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”: 13
Not only did Leslie have to take on Aretha, she had to take on Kelly Clarkson, who rocked this one in season one. This score is probably a little harsh, but I have to agree with Simon that she seemed completely uncomfortable. Her body movements were all over the place.

Sabrina Sloan, “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)”: 19
As I was watching her audition tapes, I was trying to figure out how she got here. She certainly answered my question. As she told Ryan, she definitely did her homework and picked just the right song. I would’ve given her a perfect score if she could’ve hit the low notes as well as she hit the high ones.

Antonella Barba, “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”: 11
Many websites have picked her as the first to go, and she didn’t do anything to prove them wrong tonight. This score may have been a little harsh because I can’t stand this song. But you know it’s a bad performance when Paula plays the “You look beautiful” card.

Jordin Sparks, “Give Me One Reason”: 19
When we first met 17-year-old Jordin, I was concerned we had another Lisa Tucker on our hands (That’s not a compliment, by the way.), but the amount of stage presence Jordin has is just ridiculous. And I love her personality, so I may have been just a tad generous.

Nicole Tranquillo, ‘Stay”: 9
What was that?! I guess she was trying to sound like Chaka Khan with all that weird intonation in her voice, but she failed miserably. And she had zero stage presence with all those weird jerky movements.

Haley Scarnato, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”: 15
When I heard Celine, I got worried, but I actually like this song—even though it gives me flashbacks to that weird Meatloaf moment in last season’s finale. The problem with Haley is that her voice is too polished, with too much vibrato. She hit all the right notes, it just wasn’t anything special. But if I was still judging appearance, she’d get a 5 for that great outfit.

Melinda Doolittle, “Since You’ve Been Gone”: 20
My first perfect score of the season. I originally had a 4 in stage presence to reflect her small lack of confidence, but after she didn’t miss a single note, I had to change it.

Alaina Alexander, “Brass In Pocket”: 13
What a horrible choice of song! With that breathy voice, Alaina had nowhere near the vocal chops to pull this one off. And I’m sorry, Ryan; but Simon was right. You were flirting with her. I had actually made that same note on my scoring sheet just before Simon mentioned it. And yes, I think Ryan was a little upset by that one. The truth hurts.

Gina Glocksen, “All By Myself”: 17
This was a nice surprise for me. She didn’t totally pull it off, but it was pretty good.

Lakisha Jones, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”: 20
Talk about gutsy! Ladies and gentlemen, you have just met your frontrunner. But remember, those theme nights have tripped up good singers before.

So who’s going home? For me, this is an easy call—Antonella and Nicole. But Amy and Leslie are also possibilities.

One thing is for certain. If things stay the way they are, this year’s winner will most certainly be a girl. Wouldn’t you love to see a Melinda vs. Lakisha finale?

I know I’m getting ahead of myself. Remember what I said about theme nights…

Tomorrow’s results show begins at 8 p.m., followed by the series finale of “The O.C.” at 9. Fantasia will perform, probably so we’ll remember who she is. Ryan promised a big announcement, but he also promised us one of our favorite “Idol” alumni, so we’ll take it for what it’s worth…

Allow me to end this post by borrowing Ryan’s close tonight…

I’ve been Angela Henderson and you’ve been great…

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Simon and Ryan Getting Nasty?

If you like to surf the "Herald-Dispatch" website as I do, you may have seen an AP article about how Ryan and Simon were getting nasty with each other on last night's show.

It pointed out the whole "sweetheart" exchange from last night and mentioned that Ryan did not thank Simon at the end of the show.

Puh-leez, you're not actually buying that, are you?

Let's remember that this is a television show and as boring as the contestants were last night, someone had to create some drama.

Now, I do think that Simon was unhappy with Chris' comments and Ryan was genuinely surprised that Simon called him "sweetheart" (as I think Simon was too), but Simon and Ryan are great friends. The two of them--along with Randy--even go out after every show. So don't read anything into their comments to each other.

However, you can bet that they'll still be sniping at each other tonight--especially if the girls are as flat as the guys...

You can read the AP article for yourself at http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/P/PEOPLE_COWELL_SEACREST?SITE=WVHUN&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2007-02-21-12-25-47...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Top 12 Guys: Two Hours of Blah...

So tonight we began the voting rounds.

But I think someone forgot to tell the contestants since tonight’s show was basically two hours of blah…

Before I get to the recap, let me explain how this works…

I rate each contestant according to the official “American Idol” scorecard from “American Idol Magazine.” The scorecard has five categories: vocal ability, song choice, personality, appearance and stage presence. Each category is rated from 1 to 5 (with five being the best) and then totaled. The maximum score a contestant can receive is 25.

However, since the new issue of “American Idol” is delayed until next month, I was forced to make my own scorecard. So I took this opportunity to eliminate the category that has proven the most controversial for me in the past—appearance. Don’t believe me? You should have seen the deluge of e-mails I got two seasons ago when Carrie Underwood got a bad score for her performance of “Alone” because I didn’t like her hair…

So, I will only be judging on vocal ability, song choice, personality and stage presence with the maximum score being 20.

Now that we’ve got the rules down, let’s see how I rated our top 12 guys…

Rudy Cardenas, “Free Ride”: 13
Yikes! I’m starting out harsh, aren’t I? It just didn’t do anything for me and I thought he slurred too many of the words. He seemed a little uncomfortable trying to dance too. I did give him a 4 in song choice, only because he didn’t choose a ballad.

Brandon Rogers, “Rock With You”: 14
I wavered quite a bit on that vocal ability score, but it was just too shaky for me to score it high. He also needs to work on his stage presence. And yes, we know he’s a background singer. We can shut up about it now.

Sundance Head, “Knights In White Satin”: 13
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a contestant choke this badly after a blockbuster audition. This score was probably a little generous since I thought the song choice was a good one to showcase his voice, if he had bothered to use it. Simon summed it up best with a cutting “I don’t like you tonight.”

Paul Kim, “Careless Whisper”: 13
Great song, but bad choice for Paul. He totally blew past the verse to get to the chorus—which was a little stronger—but then he blew the falsetto.

Chris Richardson, “I Don’t Wanna Be”: 11
Well, at least Simon agreed with me. I thought his voice sounded weird through the whole thing. It’s a good song, just not right for him.

Nick Pedro, “Now and Forever”: 15
Excellent choice of song and great personality, he just didn’t nail it. I didn’t think it was as bad as Randy said, though.

Blake Lewis, “Somewhere Only We Know”: 17
A 5 in both personality and song choice led to this score. He missed some transitions and he needed to get more into it; but it was a great choice.

Sanjaya Malakar, “Knocks Me Off My Feet”: 14
Sanjaya, you’ve got a great voice, so please use it!

Chris Sligh, “Typical”: 19
Unfortunately, Chris became the first victim of the overpowering band, which probably caused him to get off rhythm, but I thought it was a good performance. It was the first time I’ve disagreed with Simon all night. And I think he was genuinely mad about Chris’ comments; but he didn’t need to insult Chris’ weight.

Jared Cotter, “Back at One”: 14
Here’s one of those songs that should be stricken from the show. I did give Jared an extra point for nailing the falsetto, though.

A.J. Tabaldo, “Never Too Much”: 13
It was just too nasal for me and the words didn’t really come through very well. He’s got an interesting tone to his voice, though.

Phil Stacey, “I Could Not Ask For More”: 18
When is this guy going to learn how to start a song? He’s got an incredible voice once he gets past the beginning.

So, who’s going home? With so many of the performances being so mediocre, it’s a close one. However, I think after a bad Hollywood round and a mediocre performance tonight, America is done with Sundance. As for the other trip home, I’d give it to Rudy, just because his performance came off so cheesy. Though I scored Chris Richardson the lowest, I think he’ll make it through and I hope Sanjaya survives so we can see him really sing.

It may be easier to pick the people who are definitely not going home and that’s Blake, Chris Sligh and Phil.

So what did you think? Just post a comment and get this discussion started.

And by the way, if you didn’t get Chris’ Teletubbies comment to Simon, it was indeed Simon who signed the Teletubbies to a record deal. He signed the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers too…

Remember, the girls hit the stage for two hours tomorrow night beginning at 8. Let’s hope they decide to actually show up…

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Clay Tries the Co-Hosting Thing Again

Some parents leave their children phone messages to wish them a good day. Some parents leave their children messages to tell them to be careful in the snow or to tell them to watch what they eat.

But my mom leaves me messages to tell me when Clay Aiken is going to be on TV.

Isn’t she the best?

And besides, if no one is going to bother to update Clay’s website, somebody has to tell me…

Clay will try the morning show co-host gig again, but this time it’s on the new syndicated show, “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet.” Clay will be co-hosting this Thursday, February 22nd. And as you can see from this ad on the show’s website, it looks like Clay is going to tackle the Kelly controversy head-on.

To find where “Mike and Juliet” airs in your area, go to http://www.mandjshow.com/where-to-watch/. The show airs in the Huntington area at 11 a.m. on WSAZ…

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Kelly rocks Daytona, but...


Last night, as part of Manic Monday, I watched (on tape) Kelly Clarkson’s performance at the “Nextel Salute to Heroes” during the Daytona 500 pre-race festivities.

And she certainly rocked the house. I just didn’t feel like she connected with her audience as well as past Daytona performers have…

Kelly started her three-song set with “Since U Been Gone.” She had some trouble with the lower notes, so she quickly switched to a higher key and did a great job with it minus the small blunder toward the end when she lost her place in the song.

She then went straight into a new song that I’m going to guess is called “One Minute Goes Fast.” If this is on her next CD, it’s obvious that she’s trying some new things—but that’s not a bad thing. I have no idea if this is her next single because no one at RCA has bothered to update her website since October. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything. She may have just chosen this one because it works well with the NASCAR theme and it will sound great on her “NASCAR: How bad have you got it?” ad.

Kelly closed the set with an excellent version of “Miss Independent.” Kelly has come a long way since that first train wreck of a performance of this song on “American Idol.”

I was hoping to hear Kelly do “Go,” but I’m guessing those of us who were hoping that song would eventually become a single are out of luck.

As much as I like Kelly (though I question her obsession with the backless tops), I still have to question this whole NASCAR thing. Last year, the entire infield was rocking to Bon Jovi—including several of the drivers. That wasn’t the case this year. I know that NASCAR is trying to reach out to a wider audience but there just seemed to be a major disconnect. Maybe it was just me…

And I didn’t really care for her NASCAR Day commercial either…

You can see Kelly perform the “One Minute” song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg-p7xaeYes.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Major News Announcement Coming Soon...

In an interview with TVWeek.com (Thanks to Derek for passing this on to me.), Executive Producer Nigel Lythoe said to stay tuned for a major news announcement in the next couple of weeks.

Lythgoe promised it would be the "biggest thing to happen to 'Idol' in five years." He went on to say that it "does include 'American Idol' and it does include America."

Hmmm...

People are guessing everything from Whitney Houston appearing to the return of a former contestant. But since the interviewer had just asked a question about the songwriting competition, I'm guessing that it has to do with that. Lythgoe has been lobbying FOX for an all-star edition of "Idol" where former contestants would sing the song finalists and then America would vote for the winner. I'm guessing that FOX has wisely agreed to go along with it...

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"How do these rumors get started..."

You may have heard the rumor that Michael Jackson was going to be a guest on "Idol" this year. Apparently, even "Today" was reporting it.

Well, I hate to disappoint you Michael Jackson fans, but it's not true.

Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe, in an interview with TVWeek.com categorically denied the rumor saying Jackson "will not be on 'American Idol' this year."

I'd say that's a pretty definite no...

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Meet Your Top 12 Girls!

Now meet the 12 girls that will be performing beginning Wednesday night at 8 (also two hours)...

Alaina Alexander (24) – Currently lives in West Hollywood, CA, and has been singing all her life. Her favorite artist is Mariah Carey. She has been pursuing a career in music but almost gave up her dream until she made it on American Idol.

Antonella Barba (20) – From Point Pleasant, NJ, Barba attends Catholic University in Washington, DC, pursuing an architecture degree. She began singing in sixth grade and once toured with the Monmouth Conservatory of Music in England.


Melinda Doolittle (29) – Currently lives in Brentwood, TN. Doolittle is a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville and has a bachelor’s degree in Commercial Music. She is a backup singer on stage and in the studio.

Stephanie Edwards (19) – Currently lives in Savannah, GA. Edwards sang at the famed Apollo Theater when she appeared on It’s Showtime at the Apollo. She has won every singing contest she has ever entered.



Gina Glocksen (22) – Currently lives in Naperville, IL, and works as a dental assistant. Glocksen also performs in a cover band. She tried out for American Idol last season and made it to Day 4 of the Hollywood Round.


Leslie Hunt (24) – Currently lives in Chicago. Hunt is a dog walker who is studying to become a dog trainer. She also plays the piano.




Lakisha Jones (27) – Grew up in Flint, MI, and began singing at age 5. Gospel is her Jones’ favorite type of music but she has trained formally in classical music.




Amy Krebs (22) – Currently lives in Federal Way, WA. Krebs has been singing since she was a small child and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. She is fluent in German and lived in Germany for three years.


Haley Scarnato (24) – Currently lives in San Antonio, TX. Scarnato, who recently became engaged, has been performing as a freelance singer since she was 15 years old and considers Celine Dion her hero.



Jordin Sparks (17) – Currently lives in Glendale, AZ. Sparks began singing when she was only 18 months old. She won the “Arizona Idol” contest. Her favorite band is Something Corporate.



Sabrina Sloan (27) – Currently lives in Studio City, CA. Sloan attended the Northwestern University music and theater program and has performed across the country with the touring production of Hairspray.


Nicole Tranquillo (20) – Currently lives in Philadelphia, where she is a vocal major at the University of the Arts. Tranquillo began taking voice lessons when she was 12 years old.
The first results show will air Thursday at 8 p.m., followed by the series finale of "The O.C." at 9 on FOX...

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Meet Your Top 12 Guys!

As promised, here’s a closer look at our 24 finalists, courtesy of FOX and "USA Today"…
First, meet the guys who will perform for you Tuesday night beginning at 8. And remember, we're back to two hours.


Rudy Cardenas (28) – Currently lives in North Hollywood, CA, but grew up in Denver, CO. Cardenas was born in Venezuela and has a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Colorado.

Jared Cotter (25) – Grew up in Kew Gardens, NY, and currently lives in West Orange, NJ. He has a degree in business management from Five Towns College, Long Island.




Sundance Head (28) – Currently lives in Porter, TX, and is the son of Roy Head (who had a No. 1 song in 1965, “Treat Her Right”). His life has been centered around music and he can play five instruments.



Paul Kim (25) – Currently lives in Saratoga, CA, and is working as a pool maintenance technician. He grew up with a love of soul music and enjoys gardening.




Blake Lewis (25) – Currently lives in Bothell, WA, and began “beat boxing” in his senior year of high school. Lewis was a member of a youth choir group that traveled to Europe.



Sanjaya Malakar (17) – Currently lives in Federal Way, WA, and comes from a family of singers. He spent four years in Hawaii performing with the Hawaii Children's Theater.



Chris Richardson (22) – Currently lives in Chesapeake, VA, and is a supervisor at a restaurant. He was born in Belgium into a military family and performs at local clubs.



Nick Pedro (25) – Currently lives in Taunton, MA, and made it to Hollywood last season. Pedro has performed at talent shows and is an account executive.



Brandon Rogers (29) – From North Hollywood, CA, but spent six years in Dallas. Rogers has been singing for as long as he can remember. He works as a voice coach, wedding singer and background singer. His mother is a published songwriter.


Phil Stacey (29) – Currently lives in Jacksonville, FL; however, he grew up in Cincinnati. Stacey has a degree in vocal performance and is a singer in the Navy. He is married with two children.



Chris Sligh (28) – Currently lives in Greenville, SC, and is the son of missionaries. Sligh spent 10 years with his family in Germany. Since attending Bob Jones University, he has traveled and performed with a band.


AJ Tabaldo (22) – Currently lives in Santa Maria, CA, and has been singing since the age of 5. He is a supervisor for a shipping service.
Female singers scheduled to perform Wednesday (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) include:


Next post, we'll look at the girls...




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McPheever Heats Up?

I had to share this picture with you. It's an ad from RCA on a website for radio program directors encouraging them to add Katharine's single, "Over It."

I'm goiing to leave the comments up to you guys...

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This Week's Chart News

Here's this week's Billboard Chart News...

Katharine McPhee's self-titled CD fell to #11 this week on the Billboard 200 after debuting at #2 last week. Her single, "Over It" debuted at #48 last week on the Hot 100, but this week falls out of the top 50.

Daughtry's "It's Not Over" fell two spots to #6 this week, but the CD, "Daughtry" maintained its spot at #3 in the Billboard 200...

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Daughtry's Next Single Confirmed?

If you've ever seen the commercial for AmericanIdol.com featuring the spinning Simon, you know that Carrie Underwood's "Some Hearts" is the featured song.

But during last night's episode, the same commercial featured Daughtry's "Home," which makes me think that it is indeed their next single.

And if the rumors are true that it will be the song for the eliminated contest montage, it's a guaranteed #1. Just ask Daniel Powter...

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The Top 24...

So from the tardiness of this post, I guess you figured out that in the fight of “Idol” vs. love, love won out.

Although love did allow me to watch last night’s episode, so thanks, sweetie…

Now we know the identity of the people we will vote on starting next week. But there were a few surprises.

The biggest had to be the elimination of Tami Gosnell. Tuesday night, Simon called her “brilliant”—or at least that’s the way it was edited; and “Entertainment Weekly” had already named her the favorite. So what happened? The show didn’t tell us since we didn’t hear her sing and we didn’t see her conversation with the judges. She just emerged from the room saying, “I didn’t make it.” Hmmm…

Other familiar faces we saw last night that didn’t make it were Anna Kearns, the tallest girl Simon had ever seen; Bernard Williams, the one Paula said was totally off-key (the other contestants were completely shocked at his elimination); Jimmy McNeal, who charmed me with “Cupid;” Thomas Lowe, the only member of the outstanding male group who didn’t make it; and Matthew Buckstein, who was a member of last year’s “Brokenote Cowboys.”

In fact, it seemed like many of the people who made it we had never seen before. It makes you wonder if maybe “Idol” spent so much time with the bad auditions that they sacrificed our ability to get to know the finalists…

Here they are, with what I remember about them:

Sanjaya, who says it’s been rough with his sister not making it…
Melinda Doolittle, the nervous back-up singer…
Brandon Rogers, another back-up singer…
Gina Glockson, the rocker…
Haley Scarnato…
Phil Stacy, who missed his child’s birth to audition…
Chris Sligh, the Jack Osbourne look-alike, and one of my favorites…
Blake Lewis, the beat-boxer
Randy Cardenas, another member of that outstanding guys’ group
Paul Kim, my favorite, although he freaked me out with that whole “I will always be barefoot” thing. And don’t even get me started on his underwear…
Jordin Sparks…
A.J. Tabaldo…
Stephanie Edwards…
Leslie Hunt…
Nick Pedro, the guy who backed out of Hollywood last year…
Alaina Alexander…
Chris Richardson…
Sabrina Sloan…
Lakisha Jones, the super-talented mother who last night Simon said was a “great singer”…
Nicole Tranquillo…
Jared Cotter…
Amy Krebs…
Antonella, whose story we have followed from the beginning with her best friend, Amanda…
Sundance, who wowed them at his audition, but choked in Hollywood. I’m betting that was a split decision with Simon voting no…

I’ll have much more on the top 24 later. In the meantime, feel free to post your comments about the choices, and your early favorites…

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sad News for Bucky...

Some sad news for Bucky Covington. He announced Tuesday that he has separated from his wife, Crystal. They have been married seven years and have no children.

On a happier note, Bucky will make his Grand Ole Opry debut March 9th and the video for his first single, “A Different World” will premiere tomorrow on CMT.

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Paula: "I've Never Been Drunk"


In the February 16th issue of “Us Weekly,” Paula Abdul says she has never been drunk, nor done recreational drugs in her career. Paula says, “There have been 100 million lies about me. I’m squeaky clean…Being involved in the show causes people to question everything.”

No, Paula, I think it’s your behavior on the show that makes people question everything...

Interesting that Paula would give the interview to the magazine that reported she was being replaced by Courtney Love…

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Final Thoughts on Last Night's Show...

So here are some final thoughts on last night’s dramafest--and I mean that as a compliment…

“My Grammy Moment” winner Robyn Troup was cut from “Idol” after her group performance. I missed her because I was too busy trying to figure out what was wrong with Sundance Head, who was in Robyn’s group. I guess Justin Timberlake proved easier to sing with…

The quartet that gave the great performance of “How Deep Is Your Love” was Chris Sligh, Rudy Cardenas, Thomas Lowe and Blake Lewis. They’ve been getting a lot of kudos on the Internet today. You can hear the performance for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmA5-PREYcI.

So how did “My Ones to Watch” do? At the end of the episode we saw Chris, Jimmy and Paul survive but I have no idea about Jenry or Brandon. Sean was eliminated.
Don’t forget that tonight’s episode—which will announce the top 24—airs at 9 p.m. on FOX…

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hooray for Hollywood!

My favorite part of the “Idol” audition process was tonight—the Hollywood rounds.

If you missed it, here’s the recap…

Those poor, poor giddy girls. Don’t they watch this show?

And just like that, the giddiness is gone as the entire first group of six is sent home. Yikes!

By the way, what was up with that Carrie Underwood commercial that only congratulated her for one Grammy? Is that because Best New Artist is more mainstream?

Okay, back to the show as we catch up with some of the people we met during the auditions…

Perla, the Shakira clone, makes it to the next round, but Simon warns her that right now she’s “personality over talent.” Also making it through is 16-year-old country girl Baylie.

Not making it were Rachel, the Army reservist; Ashlyn, who got a second audition and whose arrest was recently revealed; Sarah, the Buckeye who snuck away from home; and Porcelyn, who trained non-stop for the auditions.

There was one bit of drama as Nicole changed her song to please her mom and then blew it. Her mom tried to stick up for her, but Simon wouldn’t have it and left the table.

56 of the 114 girls were sent home…

Now, it’s the guys’ turn and 34 of them make it through. Among them are Brian and Nick, the second chance guys; Blake, the beat-boxer; Matt, who said he received no family support (What is wrong with his mom?); Phil, who missed his baby’s birth; Fidel Castro look-alike, Sean; Sundance and Chris, the Jack Osbourne look-alike.

U.S.S. Ronald Reagan Idol Jarrod did not make it…

So we move on to the group round. If you’ve forgotten, this is when the contestants join a group of other contestants (of their choosing) and pick a song to sing together…

Among the contestants is Matt Buckstein, who you may remember from last year’s “Brokeback Idol” group that sang at last year’s finale.

And it’s no big surprise that best friends Amanda and Antonella are fighting and poor Baylie is stuck in the middle. Tired of rehearsing, Amanda runs off to flirt with some of the guys. See, this is why I love Hollywood! I’d like to see an hour of just group night!

Before the group performances begin, Simon warns the contestants not to forget the words. Fat chance of that happening…

The first word victim is Matt and no surprise that his mom is a little rude when he breaks the news to her. Perla is the next victim, not because she forgot her words, but because she couldn’t sing them.

Chris’ group is exceptional on “How Deep Is Your Love,” featuring Blake on the beat box. They all go through.

Robyn Troup goes through. Yes, the same Robyn Troup who sang with Justin Timberlake at the Grammys Sunday (I presume she does not make it to the top 40.).

Sundance goes through, but Simon tells Paula she was being generous.

When Baylie, Antonella and Amanda take the stage, Baylie forgets all of her words and Amanda has to help her. But then Amanda forgets some of hers. But it’s only Baylie who gets sent home. Of course the flirt gets through. It’s just like Corey Clark in season two.

36 are gone, including Sean, who we didn’t hear sing…

56 are left and the judges whittle it down to 40. Now it’s time for the three room trick, as the judges go from room to room to give good news or bad news to everyone in the room.

In room one is Chris and my guy Paul. They’re through. In room two is Antonella, but no Amanda. They’re through. Room three had heard two rooms celebrating, so they know they’re out.

Sanjaya makes it, but his sister doesn’t and he is devastated. Amanda, who did not make it, says she’s proud of Antonella.

And the show is over. I’m sorry but that was just too short. We want more Hollywood next year!!!

Tomorrow is the high drama of the elevator ride and the lonely chair in the big room with the judges as we learn the top 24—12 guys and 12 girls. It starts at 9, so get your Valentine’s Day dinner in early…

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My Ones to Watch

So tonight, we finally get to Hollywood!

And as you can see from the previews, there is lots of drama in store.

But if I had to pick the people I’ll be rooting for to survive all of the craziness, it would be:

Sean, the Fidel Castro look-alike we met in Memphis.
Jenry, the cutie from New York.
Chris, the Jack Osbourne look-alike from Birmingham
Brandon, who charmed me with “Always On My Mind” in Hollywood
Jimmy, who did “Cupid” in San Antonio
Paul, who did “If I Ever Fall In Love” on the “Best of the Rest” show

I just realized I picked all guys. What does that say about me?

It all begins tonight at 8 on FOX…

Jennifer Hudson Continues to Shine


Jennifer Hudson will grace the cover of the "Vogue" spring fashion issue. The magazine will hit newstands February 20th.


Inside the magazine will be an interview and even more pictures by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.


Not too shabby...

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Congrats to Carrie!



Congratulations to Carrie Underwood for taking home Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Jesus Take the Wheel" and Best New Artist at the Grammys.

And yes, in case you're wondering, she did mention "American Idol," thanking Simon Fuller and saying she "owed everything" to "Idol."


If you're worried that Carrie will fall under the Best New Artist jinx, don't. I think Simon's prediction about her could turn out to be true after all...

By the way, "Jesus, Take the Wheel" won Best Country Song for its songwriters...

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Reader Poll: What Would You Sing?

So if your head hasn’t exploded from reading all of the “Idol” news I gave you Friday, here’s a reader poll to get us through until Tuesday…

Now that the auditions are FINALLY over, here’s something to think about. If you auditioned for “American Idol,” what would your audition song be?

For me, I think it would be Annie Lennox’s version of “Waiting In Vain” (You can hear it on the “Serendipity” soundtrack.). It’s in my range and I think Simon would be impressed that I chose her.

So how about you? What would you sing? Post a comment and get us started.

By the way, I’ve now posted pictures to some of the news posts. You’ll definitely want to scroll down and see the cover to Elliott’s CD…

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Friday, February 9, 2007

LOTS of News...

I've had pages and pages of news I wanted to share with you, I just hadn't had the chance to do it...

So I decided to give it all to you today in one big burst--so big, I actually freaked out Blogger!

Scroll down for all of the latest news on your favorites: Ace, Elliott, Mandisa, Chris, Taylor, Paris, Kellie, Kelly, Carrie and even "Chicken Little," Kevin Covais. If you don't see anything about your favorite, just post a comment and I'll see what I can find out!

And if I can ever get Blogger to forgive me, I'll be adding pictures to the posts...

Enjoy!

Ace Gets Ready to Play His Hand

It seems like the only Season 5 contestant we haven’t heard from lately is Ace Young.

But in actuality, there’s a good chance you’re hearing Ace’s work on the radio right now…

Ace co-wrote the chorus of the Daughtry hit, “It’s Not Over” (He’s credited as Brett Young in the liner notes.).

The success of “Over” is now allowing Ace to work with some of the biggest songwriters in the business, including “Idol” vets Diane Warren and Desmond Child. Ace plans to co-write all of the songs for his album, which he says he doesn’t want a label touching until it’s ready.

Ace released his single, “Scattered,” last year to see what he could do without a label. “Scattered” did crack the top 50 on the Hot AC Chart (You can listen to it at http://www.myspace.com/aceyoung.).

Ace has formed a band with former members of Dishwalla, former members of Jewel’s band, and former members of Don Henley’s band. They’ll play scattered dates across the country.

Those of us hoping for an Ace-Chris reunion may get our wish as they’re planning to record a duet for charity when schedules allow. Ace says “We’re best friends forever.” Ace has already raised $80,000 for a Denver children’s hospital with help from his fan club…

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Elliott Is "Movin' On"


So, for Jim’s daughter and her aunt—and all of you other Elliott fans out there—here’s the promised news on Elliott Yamin’s album…

Elliot’s self-titled debut CD will be released March 20th. The CD is already #36 on Amazon.com.

You can hear a sample of his first single, “Movin’ On,” and check out his new look at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y8_eLLE4rA...

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Mandisa Looks Through "Idoleyes"

If you’re having Mandisa withdrawal, you can hear her sing “My Redeemer” on the CD, “Beth Moore Presents Songs of Deliverance.” You can hear a sample at www.myspace.com/mandisa.

Christian author and speaker Moore returns the favor by writing the forward to Mandisa’s book, “Idoleyes: My New Perspectives on Faith, Fat and Fans.” The book details Mandisa’s struggles with food addiction and her experience on “Idol.” The book is scheduled for release in June.

Mandisa’s debut CD is slated for an April release on the EMI Christian Music Group label…

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Carrie's Next Album and Grammy Chances

Carrie Underwood will start working on her next album after the Grammys. Carrie told “Billboard” that she’d like to try songwriting, but she doesn’t know if she’d be any good at it. She’s not looking to try other genres, though, so the album will be country.

In the meantime, Carrie’s new single, “Wasted,” is already up to #14 on the Hot Country chart. I’m disappointed that they didn’t go with “That’s Where It Is,” but maybe there’s still time for that one since Carrie plans to play a few dates over the summer.

Don’t forget that Carrie will perform a duet with Rascal Flatts (as she did on “Idol”) during the Grammys as a tribute to country-influenced rock. Carrie is up for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and Best New Artist. “Jesus, Take the Wheel” is up for Song of the Year and Best Country Song, which both go to the songwriters.

So, what are Carrie’s chances of winning? I think she has a great shot at Best Female Country Vocal Performance, but I’m not sure about Best New Artist. The Grammys like to reward less commercially successful artists, so I still think Corinne Bailey Rae has the inside track. And as much of a jinx as that award can be, Carrie may not want it anyway…

The Grammys air Sunday, February 11th at 8 p.m. on CBS…

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A "Small Town Girl" Goes Gold

Kellie Pickler received her gold record certification a few weeks ago while guest-hosting on “The View.” Rosie O’Donnell presented it to her after the show was unable to get Dolly Parton.

A gold certification is for the shipment (not sales) of 500,000 copies. “Girl” has sold around 380,000…

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Paris Lets Chicken Little Rap

Paris Bennett will have some “Idol” friends on her new CD. But you won’t believe what one of them will be doing.

Kevin Covais, aka “Chicken Little,” will rap on the hip-hop track, “Let Me Rap.” Paris is also working on a duet with Lisa Tucker.

The album, “Princess P,” will also feature her grandmother, Ann Nesby of Sounds of Blackness, her mother and her 70-year-old great-grandmother.

The first single is “Ordinary Love,” which was produced by Jon Jon Traxx (Beyonce). Dustin Breeding of B5 plays her love interest in the video, which she shot last month.

The album is due in March on independent label 306 Entertainment…

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Did Jennifer Diss "Idol"?

You may have heard that Jennifer Hudson dissed “Idol.” I’m not so sure she wasn’t just putting into words something that we already knew.

In the new “Essence” magazine, Jennifer said, “On ‘American Idol,’ you go through this mental thing…You’ve been abused, misled and brainwashed to believe whatever they want you to think.”

How was that a diss? I would call that the truth…

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Kelly Is a "Go" With NASCAR

Those of you who are NASCAR fans know that the Ford commercials featuring Kelly Clarkson’s “Go” were a regular staple during races.

I guess NASCAR must’ve noticed, because they’re making Kelly a major part of their promotions this year.

In the “largest and most comprehensive” deal NASCAR has ever signed with an artist, Kelly will be “integrated into all aspects of NASCAR.”

The deal will kick off on February 18th as Kelly will headline the “Nextel Tribute to America,” which will air on FOX prior to the Daytona 500. Kelly will also film a “NASCAR. How bad have you got it?” commercial that will air throughout the season. The ad will feature a new song from Kelly’s third CD, due mid-year.

In addition, Kelly will serve as the spokesperson for NASCAR Day May 18th. A spot for the day will premiere during the Daytona 500.

And finally, Kelly will perform at the Nextel Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York City November 30th. The ceremony will be broadcast live on ESPN.

It’s obvious that NASCAR is trying to expand its fan base, but I’m not sure what the advantage for Kelly is—other than the money. No details have been disclosed, but I’m sure the deal means a nice chunk of change.

By the way, I hope you caught Kelly on “Reba.” Her guest turn as the naïve country weather girl was hilarious. And Brock, Cheyenne and Van’s impersonations of Randy, Paula and Simon were hysterical…

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Taylor's "Heart Full of Soul"


Taylor Hicks is getting ready for his tour by working on some “obscure covers.” He’ll also perform songs from all three of his solo albums and some of the songs he did on “Idol.” The tour kicks of February 21st.

Taylor is also working on his book, “Heart Full of Soul,” which will hit shelves July 10th. The book will detail his struggles as a touring performer and give “juicy details” about the show.

As I posted earlier, Taylor’s first single is “Just to Feel That Way.” In a recent interview, Taylor says that by releasing the single after the album, the fans “could say what they thought the best song was.” A video is in the works. I hope this all works out because “Feel” is a fantastic song…

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Daughtry News: Free Concert, TV Promos and Hangin’ Out With Billy Bob…

If you’re in Greensboro, NC, March 23rd, you might be able to catch Daughtry in concert—for free.

The concert at Greenboro Coliseum is a prelude to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament March 24th-26th. Greensboro is hoping the concert will help its bid for the 2012 Women’s Final Four. They’re expecting 6000-7000 people (I think that might be a little conservative.). Chris is from nearby McLeansville.

In the meantime, Chris is making new friends, including Billy Bob Thornton. Chris says he hangs out at Thornton’s house every time he’s in LA.

And in case you’re wondering, Chris says he is watching “Idol” this year and admits he would do it all again because he was truly able to be himself with everything—“except those Ford commercials”…

Daughtry’s song, “What I Want,” is being featured in the CBS promos for “NCIS” and “The Unit.” But Chris says he hopes the band’s second single is “Home,” because it would be a good tribute to the troops. Chris may get his wish if early reports are correct that “Home” will be the song used for “Idol” contestants’ goodbye videos…

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Yee-haw, Dawg!

It seems like “Idol” is building a real connection with country music, thanks to Carrie, Josh, Kellie, Bucky and…Randy?

That’s right. Randy Jackson is making a major splash in country music by producing Travis Tritt’s new CD scheduled for September release…

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Josh Gracin "Keeps Coming Back"

I have to say I was a little worried about Josh Gracin when his new CD didn’t come out last fall as originally scheduled.

But now, Josh is back with a new single, “I Keep Coming Back.” His CD is now scheduled for release this spring. You can also catch Josh on “Wheel of Fortune” February 14th.

As for the delay of his CD, it might have something to do with the birth of his daughter, Gabriella, November 15th.

By the way, if you’re a country music fan, I highly recommend Josh’s debut CD, “Josh Gracin”…

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A Smaller Contestant Controversy

I’m calling this one smaller because it doesn’t involve any drugs or sugar in a gas tank…

Remember Kia Thornton, who auditioned in New York with “Ain’t No Way”? Well, there was a reason she was good. Kim was a member of the R&B trio Divine who hit #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 with “Lately.” They had another song, a cover of the George Michael hit, “One More Try” that went to #29. Divine toured with *N Sync and Britney Spears.

Now before you start crying foul, you should know that Kia was eliminated in Hollywood. But if she wasn’t, would this have disqualified her? Is that why she was eliminated? I don’t know. I have to agree, though, that it would not have been fair if she had advanced to the top 24…

Can Eliminations Be Predicted?

A software developer in Cleveland believes he can predict who will be eliminated on “Idol.”

At DialIdol.com, you can download his free software program that allows you to speed dial votes for your favorites. But it also measures the busy signals to determine which Idols are getting the most votes by assuming the more busy signals, the more votes. It also allows you to mark finalists unsafe, meaning that it will automatically vote for the contestant you did not select who needs the votes the most, to help eliminate those you did select.

So does it actually work? The website says it was about 65% accurate last year, but they did predict Chris Daughtry’s elimination—the season’s biggest shocker. DialIdol placed over a million votes last season.

By the way, FOX sent them a cease-and-desist order, but it was determined the site is not illegal…

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Katharine's Sales Figures

Katharine McPhee's self-titled CD debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 after selling 116,000 copies.

For those of you keeping track, Taylor sold 298,000 in his first week, while Daughtry sold 304,000. It's still pretty good, however.

Even better news for Kat is that her single, "Over It" debuts at #48 on this week's Hot 100--a very strong debut.

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The Latest Contestant Controversies...

One thing you can always count on with “American Idol” is contestant controversies…

Remember Ashlyn, who got a second chance after Simon fought for her? TMZ.com is reporting that she was allegedly arrested in August for pouring sugar into her ex-boyfriend’s gas tank. No word on whether that will affect her status…

One contestant’s status who was affected is Akron Watson, who Tuesday night impressed the judges (and me) with “Change Is Gonna Come” and “Let’s Get It On.” Watson was told three months after his audition that he was no longer invited to participate. Why? TMZ.com (which apparently has replaced “The Smoking Gun” as the chief Idol investigator) reports that Watson has a prior misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge from 2003.

For his part, Watson says he told the producers about the charge and that he was never given a reason for his dismissal. He has created a MySpace page to gain support and is asking people to sign a petition to help him get another shot…

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"The Best of the Rest"

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. The final audition show of the year. WOO-HOO!

And although this episode was pretty much pointless, I still have a few thoughts…

Why did Paula change her mind about Crista (the interesting dresser)?...

About Paul (“If I Ever Fall In Love”): Holy crap! Great audition song too…

Thank you, Paula, for pointing out Ashley’s (“Angel”) makeup problem. I was just getting ready to write that. I didn’t think her voice was all that great, though. Ebony (“I Believe In You and Me”) will go far…

I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a contestant sing “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”…

“Chantilly Lace”?! Yeah, okay…

I think we’ll see a lot of Lakisha (“Think”) too. Did Ryan say we would keep track of both her and her daughter in Hollywood? Hmmm…

Okay, that preview of next week just made me wish the Hollywood rounds were more than two episodes…

The real fun starts Tuesday at 8 p.m. on FOX…

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

"Other door..."

So instead of giving us an extra two hours of the Hollywood rounds, “Idol” gave us an hour-long bore fest tonight and a clip show tomorrow. Thank goodness the auditions are almost over…

Here are my thoughts on “San Antone-Deaf” or as I’ve called this post, “Other Door”…

What was that look on Paula’s face when Haley (“I Can’t Make You Love Me”) was singing? Did it freak Haley out when Paula said she was sexy?...

I would look for Baylie (“Stronger”) to go far…

At first I thought that a segment on “the other door” was stretching it a little, but it was actually funny. Let’s get that fixed for next year, okay?...

Sorry, I’m with Randy. William (“Amazing Grace”) was funny. But did you see the shock on Randy’s face when William’s cousin started singing? I thought for sure he’d be bad. Nice answer to Simon’s boredom with “Let’s Get It On”…

Sandy (“Black Velvet”) was awesome (awesomely bad, I mean)! I’ve never heard those lyrics before…

Kudos to Simon for fighting for Ashley. She had a great voice and deserved to move on. I’m glad she was still around so they could bring her back in…

Last week’s Los Angeles show got a lot of criticism for not showing us enough good singers. It was nice to see that remedied in this one…

I really liked Jimmy’s choice of “Cupid” for his audition song. He was cool…

Don’t forget that tomorrow’s show (at 9 p.m.) is “The Best of the Rest”—which is basically the same show we’ve been getting, there’ll just be more than one city in the hour.

And if you’re thinking that “Idol” is milking this audition thing for too much, I couldn’t agree more…

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News for McPhans...




So I guess I shouldn’t give up my part-time career as a TV critic to become a music critic, since everyone seems to be disagreeing with me about Katharine McPhee’s CD. “USA Today” even gave it three out of four stars. Oh well. I stand by what I said…

I finally caught Katharine’s performance of “Over It” on “The Tonight Show” last week. It was obvious that she was extremely nervous since she only smiled at the end and she was most enthusiastic about meeting Mary Lynn Rajskub (not that I blame her on that one). “Over It” is a difficult song to perform and Katharine did a good job, but I think her people should strip the song down so she can be more expressive. The overpowering backup singers were a little restricting…

Katharine is letting her fans—the McPhans—choose the ending to the “Over It” video. The video will show Katharine singing the song and then setting off to deliver it to her cheating boyfriend. She tracks him down at a party and then either gives him the tape or gives him a second chance…

Katharine says that “Neglected,” which she co-wrote (and is one of the strongest tracks on the CD) is about someone specific in her life, but she won’t day who…

As for her experience on “Idol,” Katharine has said in interviews that she never felt fully comfortable on the show. She told “People” that although she originally snuck away from “Idol” to meet him, she and her boyfriend, 41-year-old Nick Cokas, split during the show because she wasn’t being very nice to him. She and Cokas have since reunited…
Photo courtesy of "USA Today"

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Valentine's Day Dilemma

Valentine’s Day is meant to be the most romantic day of the year.

But what happens when the most romantic day of the year is also the day “American Idol” announces its top 24?

That, my friends, is a true Valentine’s Day Dilemma.

Yes, the final day of the Hollywood rounds—when Simon, Paula and Randy put the contestants through the dreaded ride up the elevator to the big empty room—falls on February 14th. If you’re like a girl in my office, you’ve already started rearranging your plans.

Me, I haven’t quite figured out what to do yet, but I’ll keep you posted…

Friday, February 2, 2007

Clay's Good Works




Since Clay Aiken’s website wasn’t being updated regularly, I quit checking it—which is why I missed telling you about his appearance on “Good Morning America” yesterday.

Clay was there to talk about his work as an ambassador for UNICEF, and of course, answer a few questions about “American Idol.” You can check out the great work he is doing on his UNICEF page at: http://www.unicefusa.org. Just click on Who We Are and then Celebrity Ambassadors.

You can also spend Valentine’s Day with Clay by tuning into “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on February 14th. “Kimmel” airs at 12:05 a.m. (So be sure to set your VCRs for February 15th) in most markets but in Huntington/Charleston, he airs at 1:05 a.m…

In other good news for Clay, “A Thousand Days” is climbing up the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart. It's now at #25 with a bullet...

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

2007 CMT Awards Nominations

No surprise that Carrie Underwood is well represented in the CMT Award nominations, but she's not the only "Idol" to get a nod...

Carrie is nominated for Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for "Before He Cheats." That video's director, Roman White, is nominated for Director of the Year. I think he deserves that for those cool scenes where the glass breaks when Carrie walks by (He had to do that, because Carrie was adamant about not being seen destroying the truck.).

Kellie Pickler also received a nomination for Breakthrough Video of the the Year for "Red High Heels."

The CMT Awards are decided by the fans, so you can vote for Carrie and Kellie at http://www.cmt.com. The eight nominees in each category will be whittled down to four finalists February 28th.

The CMT Awards will air April 16th at 8 p.m. on CMT...

"It's Not Over" Keeps on Climbing

Daughtry's "It's Not Over" climbs to #4 on this week's Billboard Hot 100. The song rises two spots from #6.

If it's going to hit number one, though, it will have to overtake Beyonce, who has been literally "Irreplacable," racking up nine weeks at #1. My favorite current song, "This Ain't a Scene, It's An Arms Race" sits at #2 for the second straight week, but holds down the #1 Digital Song spot.

I really like Chris, so I'd like to see him hit #1. But if he doesn't do it with this song, I think he's got an excellent chance later if the rumors about "Idol" using his song as the contestant's going away music are correct...

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Paula Replaced With Courtney Love?

Paula Abdul replaced with Courtney Love? That was the rumor started Tuesday by "US Weekly"--even before Paula's bizarre behavior on Tuesday night's show.

According to "US," Courtney told them she received a call from "Idol" Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe about "sitting in" as a judge on the show. But "US" reports a "source" told them that Lythgoe was "considering having Love 'replace Paula.'"

Lythgoe issued a statement yesterday saying he did not call Love, and was afraid that someone may have "misrepresented" him. Lythgoe added there were no plans to add to or replace any of the judges.

Courtney Love? Are you even serious? Did "US" really think that "Idol" would replace Paula because of her weird behavior with Courtney Love, the queen of weird behavior?

I'll let you write your own jokes on this one...

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