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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.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kellie Pickler CD Review: Here I Go Again...

Please Note: This review was based on an Internet stream and not the actual CD.

You’d think I would’ve learned my lesson after the thrashing I took from Kellie Pickler fans after my not-so-positive reaction to her first album.

But apparently I didn’t, because here I go again…

Now before I get to the bad part, let me say that there are some pretty good songs on “Kellie Pickler.” “Lucky Girl,” “Best Days of Your Life” (which Kellie co-wrote with Taylor Swift), and “Makin’ Me Fall In Love With You” are all good songs. Even the first single “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful” is okay if you can get past the overly sentimental lyrics.
The problem is that they would be great songs if someone else was singing them. Or at least someone whose voice wasn’t as manufactured as Kellie’s is on this CD. I was stunned at how artificial she sounds. And that artificiality gets increasingly grating as the CD goes on. The high notes are almost painful at times.
Is it any wonder then that Kellie’s CD shows her posing more like a pop vixen than a country girl?

I appreciate the fact that Kellie is maturing with her second CD. I would just like to hear her do it with a voice a little closer to her own…

“Kellie Pickler” hits stores Tuesday, September 30th…

Photo provided by BNA Nashville

Congrats, LaKisha!

Congrats to LaKisha Jones, who is tying the knot this Sunday…

LaKisha will marry Larry Davis in Beverly Hills. The theme is Old Hollywood black and white, so the bride and groom will wear white with the attendants in black. BeBe Winans will sing, and Chaka Khan will be in attendance, as well as LaKisha’s “Idol” compatriots Melinda Doolittle and Gina Glocksen…

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Archie's First Video

David Archuleta has released the music video for his first single, “Crush.”

It’s age appropriate, but it actually still makes sense with the song—with the possible exception of Archie playing the piano on the pier. I guess he just needed something to do with his hands…

You can see it here…

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Clay on GMA

Clay appeared on “Good Morning America” Thursday to talk with Diane Sawyer about fatherhood and coming out to his family and fans.

You can see the piece here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seacrest Is On the Move in Huntington

So remember two weeks ago when I said that you can now spend your afternoons with Ryan Seacrest on KISS 107 FM in the Huntington area?

Well, scratch that because Ryan is now moving to 100.5 WKEE-FM…

Beginning Monday, September 29th, you can catch “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” weekdays from 1-4 p.m. on WKEE. You will no longer be able to hear him on KISS.

Given WKEE’s high profile in the market, I have to say putting a syndicated show on in the middle of the afternoon (even if it is Seacrest) is an interesting move…

The Idol Tour Improves, But...

The numbers are out on this year’s “Idols Live” tour and they’re better, but…

According to “Billboard Boxscore,” this year’s tour earned $29.3 million and filled seats at an 85.4% average rate. That’s up over the 2007 tour, which earned $20.9 million and had a 68.4% average.

But the champion is the 2006 tour, which earned $35.3 million and filled seats at an average rate of 96.1%. Of course, that was the year with the best top 10 ever of Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Paris Bennett, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington, Ace Young, Mandisa and Lisa Tucker. Only one real bummer in that bunch…

Personally, I would like to see the tour go back to the 2007 format which jumbled up all of the performers instead of trotting them out in the order they were eliminated. Of course, you have to have good performers first…

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Claymates React

While my blog hasn’t heard a peep from the Claymates (which is highly unusual, by the way), they are reacting to the news on other forums. People.com reported that clayonline.com had more than 2200 messages at midday today.

And not surprisingly, some of the Claymates are taking it pretty hard…

From People.com:
“‘I'm really struggling with this one,’ writes one fan on Claymaniacs.com.
A poster on clayaiken.com writes, ‘I'm only concerned that for those like me who
will still support him no matter what may have some difficulty reconciling that
he wasn't straight forward to begin with.’From the Clay Board, strollynn63
writes, ‘This is a gut wrenching day for The ClayNation. Somebody wake me up, I
hope it's a dream.’”

Clay told “People” that he hopes his fans “know that I've never intended to lie to anybody at all. ... But if they leave, I don't want them to leave hating me.”

Clay joined the discussion himself last night by posting this on his site’s message board:

“We'll 'talk' more later, but, suffice it to say, for the first time in
recent memory, I am speechless. I'm so proud to know and love all of you…My
family is so much larger than Parker, Jaymes, mom, Brett, etc. It extends to
each of you. And I couldn't be more blessed."

Clay wrote the post after last night’s performance of “Spamalot.” People.com reports that fans flocked to the stage door to see Clay, but he ducked out another exit...

Simon on Clay: “Wow. That’s a shock.”

Simon Cowell reacted today to the news about Clay Aiken just as you would expect Simon to react…

He told “Extra,” “Wow. That’s a shock. It’s like being told Santa Claus isn’t real. Unbelievable.”
Simon went on to say, “Good for him. If he said it, it’s the right thing for him. Good for him.”
Simon also had some career advice for Clay. “Make a good record. He's got a good voice. He's on the front cover of ‘People.’ He's still popular. Good for him.”

Um, Simon, he did make a good record. But no one knows that because they’re all talking about this…

A Preview of Clay's Big Interview

You can now see an excerpt of Clay’s interview with “People” on People.com.

The cover picture is adorable.

I’ll have more on this after I read the entire article on Friday…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FINALLY! David Cook's New Single

David Cook’s new single is now making its rounds on the Internet…

It’s called “Light On” and it was co-written by Chris Cornell (who you'll remember was the brain child behind that gorgeous "Billie Jean" arrangement) and produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day’s “American Idiot”). It will be available on iTunes September 30th.

Oh, by the way, it ROCKS!

You can hear it here. Be sure to let me know what you think…

Breaking News: Clay Admits He’s Gay

People.com promises all the details about Clay Aiken at 7 a.m. EST tomorrow.

Details about what? Clay is coming out of the closet…

According to “USA Today,” Clay will grace the cover of this week’s “People”—which will hit newsstands Friday—with the headline “Yes, I’m gay.” The secondary headline reads, “The Idol star opens up about his emotional decision to come out: ‘I cannot raise a child to lie or hide things.’”

The cover features a picture of Clay and his new baby.

I don’t have to tell you guys how much I adore Clay and this doesn’t change that. I just hate that he felt like he had to hide it all these years…

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Evening With Phil Stacey

So as I sat in my seat last night at Poage Landing Days looking around at the somewhat disappointing crowd sitting quietly in their seats, I was almost afraid to scream…

Almost…

In fact, if the couple sitting next to me is waiting for an apology for all of my screaming, they’re not going to get it. After all, I waited months for this concert. I wasn’t about to keep my mouth shut.

And if you were there, you know I didn’t…

And if you weren’t there, then shame on you for missing a fantastic show…

Phil kicked things off with the opening track of his CD, “Who You Know.” Then he ripped through a number of other tracks from his CD, including “Find You,” “Looking Like Love,” “Still Going Through,” and “No Way Around a River.” We also heard “Be Good to Each Other” and “Round Here.”

In between the songs he told us stories about his wife, Kendra, meeting Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and his childhood. And he’s just as charming on the stage as he was on the phone. And his voice was as crystal clear and gorgeous as ever.

Phil also treated us to “the song that gave [him] a career,” “Where the Blacktop Ends,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” an amazing cover of “I Don’t Wanna Be,” and a scorching rendition of “Every Breath You Take.”

But you know what I wanted to hear and Phil did not disappoint me. And as promised, I screamed through the whole thing. Actually, I started screaming from the moment Phil said, “Bon Jovi”…

If you were there, you know that “Blaze of Glory” was even better than I advertised. He’s added some new nuances since last year and they sounded incredible. Even the quiet people in the crowd had to respond to that one…

But as Phil predicted, the song where everyone got behind him was “Old Glory.” The crowd was totally moved by the lyrics. And it was hard not to be impressed by his skills on the keyboard…

Phil closed the show with his first single, “If You Didn’t Love Me.” And then after saying goodbye to the crowd, Phil went over to a table to greet everyone at the concert and sign an autograph for them (I admit I didn’t stand in the line myself, but I’m guessing he was there until pretty late.).

It’s such a pleasure to see someone so grateful for what they have. It’s obvious that Phil loves what he does and appreciates everyone who comes to see him do it.

Phil promised he’d return to Ashland. I hope if he does, more people will come see him…

Or at least some more people who know how to scream…

If you were at the concert, feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment. You can also share your pictures by e-mailing me at hdstaytuned@hotmail.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Last Reminder...

Just one last reminder that Phil Stacey is scheduled to take the stage at Poage Landing Days at 9:15 tonight (Friday).

I hope to have pictures later...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taylor Takes His Wings On the Road

Taylor Hicks is taking “Beauty School Dropout” on tour…

Taylor will headline the new national tour of “Grease” beginning December 2nd. He’ll once again be playing Teen Angel, the role he played on Broadway.

“Grease” will be at the Palace Theatre in Columbus December 16th-21st and at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati January 20th-February 1st…

Kellie's New Year's Date


Kellie Pickler will be spending her New Year’s Eve with Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest…

Kellie will be the Times Square correspondent on “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2009.”

The show airs New Year’s Eve on ABC…
Photo provided by BNA Records

Congrats to J-Hud!

Congratulations to Jennifer Hudson who got engaged last Friday night.

Her fiancé is David Otunga, who was known as “Punk” on “I Love New York 2.”

Remember that J-Hud’s album hits stores September 30th. Her next movie, “The Secret Life of Bees,” opens October 17th…

Photo provided by RCA Music Group

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Look at Kellie's New CD

Here's your first look at the cover art for Kellie Pickler's new CD, "Kellie Pickler."
The CD hits stores Tuesday, September 30th...

Photo provided by BNA Nashville

KLC Debuts Today

Today is the day Kristy Lee Cook’s debut CD, “Why Wait” hits stores…

The CD features her current single, “15 Minutes of Shame” as well as a cover of “God Bless the USA” and “Not Tonight,” which was co-written by Carrie Underwood. I hope to have a review for you soon…
By the way, KLC will perform on “Live With Regis and Kelly” Friday, September 19th…

Photo provided by Sony BMG Nashville

Friday, September 12, 2008

Phil Stacey: My New Favorite Idol?

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I’m a pretty big Phil Stacey fan. So it was a pretty big thrill for me to be able to talk to him before he comes to Ashland for Poage Landing Days.

And when he started the interview by telling me it was an honor to talk with me, I have to admit I was a little flustered…

But as we laughed together over the next 15 minutes, I became an even bigger fan and I know that anyone who comes to see him Friday night will feel the same way.

Phil and I talked about life on the road, singing with Michael W. Smith, and what Simon Cowell is really like. Plus, he even let me make a request for his show…

It’s hard to believe that it was just this time last year that we watched Phil bring down the house in Huntington as part of the “Idol” tour. “It’s been a crazy year,” he told me. I’ve traveled a lot. I’m just going around and meeting folks and singing for them…It’s been really cool.”

Although his family travels with him whenever they can, Phil admits that it’s tough when he has to leave his wife, Kendra, and their two daughters behind. “It breaks my heart every time I leave them. But if you’re really doing what you love then there’s a peace in that.”

And it’s clear that Phil loves what he does. When I asked him what we could expect from his concert, he said, “lots of jumping and screaming and maybe some dance moves. I’m going to show why I should have been a contestant on ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’”

After a good laugh, Phil added, “I am the world’s worst dancer and I like to prove it.”

As for the setlist, Phil promised a lot of songs from his self-titled debut CD and some songs that he performed on “Idol.”

At this point, I had to ask him if one of those “Idol” songs was going to be “Blaze of Glory,” which you guys know is one of my favorite “Idol” performances ever (and one I tried to imitate during a recent karaoke performance, but I seriously doubt I came anywhere close). His response? “Do you want it to be?”

And yes, I admit I was flustered again. I told him that if it was up to me, that I would include it, but I wasn’t in charge of the concert. But Phil wouldn’t quit. “If you want it, we’re adding it to the setlist. I do take requests.”

Now whether he was serious or “Blaze” is actually already on the setlist, I have no idea. But I couldn’t help but be impressed…

One song that will definitely be part of the concert is “Old Glory,” the patriotic song Phil wrote while he was on active duty in the Navy. “That’s one moment of the concert when everybody’s on board.”

Phil said the song really brings people together during this political season when there’s so much disagreement. “We forget about everything we disagree about and remember what we do agree about. Our flag and nation are unifying factors.”

Phil added that for his return to his home state of Kentucky, “We might have to rock out a little bit.”

Another style of music Phil is deeply connected to is Christian music. Phil’s CD has had some crossover to the Christian charts, but he admits he would like to cross over even further. “I would love to do [a Christian CD]. My biggest influences growing up were country or Christian.” His father and father-in-law are pastors and both of his grandfathers were pastors. “Every man in my life with father in his name is a pastor.”

But whether Phil records a Christian CD or not, his strong faith will always be on display in his music. “My faith is the biggest part of who I am…One of the beautiful things about country music is its honesty. I can’t reflect real life without [including my faith].”

Phil recently had the chance to perform with Kenova’s own Michael W. Smith (and Amy Grant) at the Dove Awards. “I love Michael W. Smith…He is one of the most brilliant minds…Standing up there with him, it was just as great a moment as when Bono walked into the room [on “Idol Gives Back”].”

Phil and Smitty share the same management team and he is one of the reasons why Phil chose Wayne Kirkpatrick to produce his CD since Kirkpatrick got his start in Smitty’s band and also co-wrote several songs with Smitty including “Place In This World.”

So of course, I had to conclude the interview by asking what the most popular question he’s asked about “Idol” is and, of course, he answered without hesitation, “What is Simon like?”

So what’s Phil’s answer? “If he wasn’t exactly the way he is on TV, then the show wouldn’t be as successful as it is. People would see through that…Some people say, ‘oh he’s nicer behind the scenes.’ No he isn’t…He’s the mean old grandma that tells you the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts…I did get to spend a lot of time with him and he is as real as real can be.”

But Phil said he used Simon’s criticism to motivate him to do better. It’s the same thing he did in college when Kendra criticized him for not giving it his all. “My wife called me a slacker in college and that just made me want to work harder.”

At this point, I had to ask Phil if this was when I should apologize to him for not voting for him enough times (You guys remember how guilty I felt when he was eliminated.). But Phil assured me an apology wasn’t necessary.

“I got to be on [“Idol”] long enough to have Simon call a few of my performances brilliant. And that totally outweighs the 40 times he told me I was terrible.”

As we ended our conversation, Phil reiterated his excitement in coming to Kentucky and his hope that the crowd would really get into his performance. And one more time he told me it was an honor to speak with me.

I have to admit, I am reordering my favorite Idols list as we speak…

Phil Stacey will perform at Poage Landing Days in Ashland Friday, September 19th on the 16th Street Stage. He is scheduled to go on at 9:15 p.m. after performances by ETA, Aaron Holley and Stephen Salyers. The music starts at 6 p.m.

And if Phil does do “Blaze of Glory,” that screaming you hear will be me…

Photos courtesy of Lyric Street Records

Spend Your Afternoons With Ryan


Those of you in the Huntington area can spend your afternoons with Ryan Seacrest beginning Monday…

Kiss 107.1, WBKS will launch “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” Monday beginning at noon. During the show Ryan will focus on the latest in entertainment as he talks to the top stars from music, film and TV. You can also visit http://www.ryanseacrest.com/ to interact with the show.

“On Air” will air Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m. on Kiss 107.1.

You guys know I think this is awesome since I have missed hearing Ryan’s show ever since XM took it off…
Photo Credit: Sam Jones/FOX

David vs. David: Archie is Going First


According to a report in today’s “USA Today,” David Archuleta will release his debut CD one week before winner David Cook releases his.

So what gives? I honestly have no idea…

I’m relieved they aren’t releasing on the same date as previously reported, but I don’t like it. Maybe since the music industry is so different these days, and people are more into downloading tracks than buying albums anyway, it won’t make a big difference.

I guess we’ll just wait and see…
According to the report, Archie's CD will drop on November 11th, while Cook's CD will hit stores November 18th...
Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Phil on September 11th: "I went back to The Bible"

Note: I wrote this post yesterday, but there must have been some kind of Blogger issue because it didn’t get posted. Here it is a day late…

Today is the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And since Phil Stacey joined the Navy after the attacks, when I talked to him this morning I felt compelled to ask him his feelings about that day…

“I was feeling furious and I went back to The Bible,” Phil said. The passages he was drawn to were the ones where King David prays against his enemies. “I wrote down every verse. I was praying the worst on these people who had done this.”

Phil graduated college that same year and shortly after graduation, he and his wife, Kendra were driving down the road when Garth Brooks’ “The Change” came on the radio. Phil really thought about the song’s lyrics that day. “It says, ‘The world’s not going to change me.’” Phil said he decided, “I will be a force for good.”

Interestingly, Phil was also deeply affected by the tragedy that inspired Garth Brooks to write “The Change”—the Oklahoma City bombings—since he was living in Kansas at the time. Phil promised himself then that he was “never going to sit back and do nothing.”

Since he had just graduated college and had no job lined up, Phil decided he could be a force for good in the military and Kendra agreed.

Fortunately for Phil, the job the Navy picked for him was as a singer in a rock band. But Phil has “so much respect” for the men and women on the front lines.

And though Phil decided after that fateful day in the car that he wouldn’t let the world change him, September 11th did change the way he views his country.

“My brain has never clicked back. I was a patriot before, but [after 9/11] I just fell in love with what our country stands for.”

I’ll have more from Phil tomorrow night…

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Best Interview Ever

Over the years, I've interviewed a lot of different kinds of people.

But this morning I had my best interview ever--honestly.

As you may recall, Phil Stacey is going to be at Poage Landing Days in Ashland Friday, September 19th at 9:15 p.m. on the 16th Street Stage. If you had plans to do something else, cancel them immediately because you don't want to miss this.

Especially since Phil said he'd add a song to the setlist for me...

Tonight, I'll post Phil's thoughts on September 11th and then later I'll have the rest of the interview where Phil tells us what to expect next weekend and his numerous connections to Michael W. Smith...

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The CMA Noms Are In...

The Country Music Association Award nominations were announced today and there are Idols among them—just not as many as there has been…

Carrie Underwood received a nomination for Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for Carnival Ride, which totally baffles me—almost as much as Carrie’s continued absence from the Entertainer of the Year category…

Kellie Pickler received a nomination for Best New Artist…

The 42nd Annual CMA Awards air November 12th at 8 p.m. on ABC…

Jordin Sparks Controversy

Of all the artists at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, Jordin Sparks is the last one I would have expected to generate controversy.

But generate it she did…

If you missed it, host Russell Brand—for some reason—decided to doggedly go after the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings. So when Jordin came out to present an award with John Legend, she decided to go off script and go after Brand.

She told the audience, “I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It’s not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody—guy or girl—wants to be a slut.”

Jordin herself wears a purity ring.

When Brand returned to the stage, he offered a bit of an apology. “I didn’t mean to take it lightly. I don’t want to p--- off teenage fans.” But then he started a series of off-color jokes about how sex never hurt anyone.

Now news outlets everywhere are examining the pros and cons of purity rings…

Jordin told EW.com that she’s not sorry she made her comments. "I wish I would've worded it differently — that somebody who doesn't wear a promise ring isn't necessarily a slut — but I can't take it back now. It was a split-second thing, and it came out kind of wrong. Still, I don't regret it."

Jordin said that the Jonas Brothers complimented Jordin for her comments and even she and Brand shared a laugh about it. Jordin also told EW.com she’d be happy to go back to the awards show—if she’s invited back…

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How Did the Divas Do?

If you missed it, you can watch the performance of “Just Stand Up” from "Stand Up to Cancer" here.

Personally, I was a little disappointed with the performance. Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls), who was filling in for Sheryl Crow, just didn’t cut it. Mariah Carey looked totally bored—probably because she has such a small part in the song. Someone apparently didn’t tell Natasha Bedingfield to not attempt any ad-libs (Yikes!). And without Melissa Etheridge the song totally lost its heart and soul, although Mary J. Blige did a good job trying to compensate.

But how cute was a clearly starstruck Miley Cyrus?

And since this is an “Idol” blog, I will say that Carrie Underwood did fine…



Of course the important thing is that “Stand Up 2 Cancer” raised money for a very important cause. We should be getting some numbers on just how much in the next few days…

Get Ready to “Rock” With Kellie


See what you missed from this year’s CMA Music Festival on “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock.”

The two-hour special is hosted by Kellie Pickler, Taylor Swift and Julianne Hough. You’ll be able to see performances from Kellie and Carrie Underwood. Bucky Covington may also be making an appearance…

“CMA Music Festival” airs Monday, September 8th at 9 p.m. on ABC…
Photo provided by BNA Nashville

New Info on Kara...


The new issue of “TV Guide shares a few more tidbits about Idol’s new judge, Kara DioGuardi…

During her first round of auditions, Kara sat between Randy and Paula, while Simon remained on the far right…

Simon will make the final decision to send someone to Hollywood if there’s a tie…

Kara has only been signed for one season…

January is still a ways off so I’m sure we’ll be hearing much much more…
Photo provided by FOX

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stand Up to Cancer Tomorrow Night

Don’t forget that Carrie Underwood will be a part of “Stand Up to Cancer” tomorrow (Friday) at 8 p.m. on ABC, CBS and NBC. Carrie will be a member of the fleet of female singers performing the charity single, “Just Stand Up.”

David Cook is also scheduled to appear on the special…

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Trenyce Is “Misbehavin’” As Well

Ruben Studdard and Frenchie Davis are not the only former Idols who are part of the “Ain’t Misbehavin’” cast.

Trenyce, who finished fifth in season two, is playing Charlaine in the touring production.

Trenyce is keeping herself busy as she shifts her career toward acting. According to “Black Voices,” she just finished production on the film, “Friends and Lovers: The Ski Trip 2” and co-executive produced a sketch comedy pilot called “LMAO (Laughing My A—Off).”

The “Idol” trio will also have the benefit of “Idol” vocal coach Debra Byrd, who will be the “Misbehavin’” vocal coach as well…

Ruben Caught “Misbehavin’” On His Taxes

According to the blog, “Black Voices,” Ruben Studdard has been hit with federal and state property liens for allegedly failing to pay nearly $200,000 in state and federal taxes.

The report says the majority of the unpaid taxes are from 2003, the year he won “Idol.”

And here’s another interesting note about Ruben. According to “Voices,” Sony BMG has agreed to stop distribution of Ruben’s third CD, “The Return” as part of a lawsuit filed by Louis Vuitton. Vuitton sued Sony BMG for improper use of two of its trademarks on CDs by Ruben, Britney Spears and Da Brat.

Remember that Ruben will be in Ashland April 28th as part of the touring show, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”…

Constantine Is Ready to “Rock”

I’m not sure more perfect casting has ever been done in the history of the theater…

Constantine Maroulis has been cast in the off-Broadway production of “Rock of Ages.”

“Rock” depicts the rock scene in Hollywood in 1987 and features the music of Damn Yankees, Night Ranger, Journey and a host of other hair bands from the 80s.

See what I mean about perfect?

The show begins previews at the New World Stages in New York October 3rd.

I hope to have much more on this later…