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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, October 27, 2008

Bucky Hits Another Milestone

The fine folks at Lyric Street dropped me a line today to let me know that Bucky Covington has now achieved his third consecutive top 10 hit…

According to their press release, “I’ll Walk” moves into the top 10 on the Mediabase country chart this week.

The release also says that Bucky is only the third male country artist since 2005 to have three consecutive top 10 hits from his debut album (Josh Gracin and Jason Aldean are the others)…

Photo Credit: Lyric Street Records

More Harrowing News for Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson’s nightmare just keeps getting worse…

Chicago police have confirmed that a body found in an SUV is Jennifer’s nephew, Julian. Jennifer had earlier offered a $100,000 reward for his safe return.

Police are questioning William Balfour, who is the estranged husband of Julia Hudson, Jennifer’s sister and Julian’s mother.

The authorities believe the murders of Julian, Jennifer’s mother and Jennifer’s brother were domestic related…

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cook Goes Live on “Saturday Night”

I’ve been a little worried about how David Cook’s single “Light On” is doing…

It spent hardly any time on the iTunes top 10 and I haven’t heard it a single time on any of my XM stations, while I hear Archie’s “Crush” all the time.

But hopefully all of that will change very soon as the Cook promotional machine kicks into high gear beginning next week…

David will perform the song on “Saturday Night Live” Saturday, November 1st. Since it’s the last new episode of “SNL” before the election, it should have pretty high ratings.

I’m hoping we’ll see David in a skit too. “EW” has recommended he appear in the skit featuring the women who call themselves cougars…

Photo Credit: RCA

A Peek at the Davids’ Album Covers

Here’s a look at the art for both Davids’ albums dropping next month…














Remember that David Archuleta hits stores November 11th and David Cook hits stores November 18th.

And yes, I am still upset about that…
Photo Credits: Amazon and RCA

Carrie Co-Hosts “Country’s Biggest Night”

If you haven’t already heard, Carrie Underwood is co-hosting the 42nd Annual CMA Awards with Brad Paisley.

Brad and Carrie are the reigning CMA Male and Female Vocalist of the Year. Both are nominated in those categories this year and will both perform on the show.

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some Horrifying Breaking News…

Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother were found shot dead in their Chicago home according to the AP...

E! reports that the identity of the second victim has not been confirmed as Jennifer’s brother…

The AP reports that authorities are searching for Jennifer’s nephew who may have been kidnapped.

Reports are that the deaths appear to be the result of some sort of domestic issues.

E! reports that Jennifer has cancelled a trip to Japan to promote her album.

I’m sure we’ll hear much more about this horrifying situation as it comes in…

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Will Constantine "Forget the Lyrics"?

Tomorrow night, Constantine Maroulis will be a contestant on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” as he plays for his favorite charity, Broadway Cares.

This episode was actually taped around the same time as Kimberley Locke’s, which aired last season.

“Lyrics” airs Friday, October 24th at 9 p.m. on FOX...

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/FOX

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mandisa Christmas CD Review: Not Just the Same Old Stuff

Last Christmas, Mandisa gave us the EP, “Christmas Joy,” which featured four songs.

This year, she’s back with a full-length Christmas CD, “It’s Christmas,” which contains 11 holiday numbers, including three from the EP.

With all the Christmas CDs out there, it’s hard to find one with any original takes on the same old songs. But Mandisa manages to do it more than once…

The CD starts out with the same song the EP did, “What Christmas Means to Me,” which gets things off to a rollicking start…

On the EP, she did “Joy to the World,” but on this one she combines “Joy” with “Feliz Navidad” for a unique track that works well—especially with Mandisa’s beautiful Spanish accent on “Feliz”…

“Christmas Makes Me Cry” featuring Matthew West (another carryover from the EP) is a gorgeous song, but as the title suggests, it’s a sad song. I’d skip it at your more festive holiday parties…

Mandisa’s version of “Silver Bells,” is one of the best I have ever heard, so it kind of puts a damper on it when it turns into the “Christmas Bell Medley.” The choir just doesn’t quite work with the transition into “Carol of the Bells” or “Christmas Bells Are Ringing.” I would’ve liked to have heard two different songs here since “Carol” is one of my all-time favorites…

No surprise, Mandisa does “Silent Night.” It’s a gorgeous version that starts out very restrained and heads to a powerful climax—just what you’d expect from her. It’s not the best version I’ve heard, but it’s pretty darn close…

It’s back to jazzy with a wistful version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” that allows us to hear the softer aspects of Mandisa’s voice. This isn’t the easiest song to put a contemporary spin on, but Mandisa manages to do it well…

On “Christmas Day,” Mandisa is joined by none other than Michael W. Smith and the two sound beautiful together. But the children’s chorus doesn’t quite work…

The last carryover from the EP, “O Holy Night,” is a song custom made for Mandisa’s big voice. But she’s let down a little by the arrangement, which tries too hard to do something different. She still sounds beautiful, but I would’ve rather heard her sing it as written…

“Mary’s Little Boy Child” is a catchy tune that works well for Mandisa’s voice…

“Children Go Where I Send Thee,” is usually done as a spiritual, but Mandisa once again goes the jazz route, and it works, except for the overblown ending, which comes back for a gospel encore…

But the gem of the CD is “Little Drummer Boy.” Again, Mandisa takes a song not easy to give a contemporary sound to and does it beautifully (with some help from a great arrangement), giving the second verse an R&B/gospel feel I’ve never heard before. And she hits those Rs better than anyone I’ve ever heard…

I highly recommend this one to freshen up your Christmas music collection. And I honestly hope this isn’t the last one of these she does…

“It’s Christmas” is available now…

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blake on Sanjaya: “His life story is super shocking.”

Blake Lewis recently did an interview with Jonathan Takiff of the “Philadelphia Daily News” to promote his tour.

And as usual, he had a lot of frank things to say…

Blake said “Idol” treated him like a “troublemaker.” He clashed often with the contestant handler. “Plus, [he] didn’t rehearse a lot and they hated that…At rehearsal, I’d stand straight in front of the camera and sing badly. I was holding back for the live show. After three weeks, they finally caught on and let me be…And I wasn’t a team player. I hung out with the production guys—the lighting and sound guys. Maybe that’s a reason I was successful. I cared about the true people running the show.”

When Takiff suggested that Blake’s frankness would make for a good tell-all book, Blake responded that the person who should write a book is Sanjaya Malakar. “I was very vocal about him, didn’t think he should be on the show. But he’s a great kid. And his life story is super shocking. I can’t tell you why. I’ve burned him enough already. Trust me, though. It’d be a ‘New York Times’ best seller.”

Hmmm…

Blake also took a few shots at Clive Davis in the interview. “Arista was attuned to my idea of the record, but not exactly the whole thing. I wanted B.T. to be the executive producer, not Clive Davis…Clive knows music, he knows vocals, what to do with Alicia Keys. When it comes to electronic, my area, he knows nothing. The man is, like, 80 years old!...I’d say about 70 percent of what I wanted came to fruition.”

As for the fight over the first single, Blake said, “They spent $200,000 making a bad video for the wrong song, ‘Break Anotha,’ without telling me I was responsible for half the cost. Finally they did an audience test, and the song that scored highest was the one I wanted all along to be the single, “How Many Words.”

Blake added that Arista refused to put the CD out in Europe, even though the electronic aspect probably would’ve worked well there. And after Clive was demoted, Barry Weiss, his replacement waited two months before he listened to the album and then decided not to do a second one, causing Blake to lose valuable time he could have been using to tour or to look for another label.

The good news is that 19 has not abandoned Blake and is supporting him on his tour.

Blake said he’s working on an album in his home studio, but it’s a production record and not a Blake record…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Taylor Is "Takin' It To the Streets"

For those of you who think Taylor Hicks has been a failure, I’ve got news for you. He’s doing just fine…

In December, Taylor will headline the national tour of “Grease” after a successful run on Broadway that helped boost ticket sales. Taylor will croon “Beauty School Dropout” as Teen Angel but he will also get to sing one of his own songs.

Taylor told the “Birmingham News” that he will be singing his first single from his upcoming album on the tour. Reports are that he will sing it during the show’s finale.

His new album will be released February 10th on his own Modern Whomp record label through Artist 2 Market. The CD is currently in pre-production with Simon Climie, who has worked with Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Faith Hill.

Taylor told the “Birmingham News” that reports that he would never get another record deal “couldn’t have been further from the truth” since he was offered “a plethora” of deals. In the end, Taylor decided to form his own label because “having the control as the artist is key”…

Did Archie Dump His Dad?

There was good news and bad news for David Archuleta this week…

The good news is that he has signed with Azoff Management, which has The Eagles, Christina Aguilera and Neil Diamond as its clients.

The bad news is that his dad, Jeff, will be his co-manager with Azoff’s Jared Paul (Nick Lachey, New Kids on the Block).

So the answer to my title question is, sadly, no...
Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

A Big Month for Paris

October is a big month for Paris Bennett…

Last Monday, Paris gave birth to her daughter, Egypt. And Tuesday, she’ll release her first Christmas CD, “A Royal Christmas.”

By the way, Tuesday is also the day Mandisa will release “It’s Christmas” and I’ll have a review of that next week…

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Elliott Yamin "My Kind of Holiday" Review: My Kind of Christmas CD

October may mean Halloween for most of us, but for the record industry it means time to release Christmas CDs and Idol alumni are well represented this season…

This week, Elliott Yamin released “My Kind of Holiday,” which combines last year’s Target exclusive “Sounds of the Season” release with two new tracks.

If you enjoy jazzier Christmas tunes, this is the CD for you as Elliott does a great job giving traditional tunes his trademark sound.

“This Christmas” is custom made for Elliott’s voice, as is “Merry Christmas, Baby.” And “Little Drummer Boy” and “The Christmas Song” are both solid.

But the newer tracks don’t always work as “Warm Me Up” tries too hard to be R&B and “Let’s Be Naughty (And Save Santa the Trip)” doesn’t quite fit. The two new tracks for this release—“Christmas Without Carol” and “Back Door Santa” add to the jazzy sound of the CD, but personally, I think he could have went without them.

The real gem here is—believe it or not—“Jingle Bells.” Elliott gives it a jazzy sound that would make even Scrooge tap his feet.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of Christmas music and "My Kind of Holiday" is absolutely my kind of Christmas CD...

“My Kind of Holiday” is available now…

Photo Credit: Universal Music Group

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kristy Lee Cook CD Review: You Might Want to Sit Down

You guys might want to sit down because I’m about to say something pretty shocking.

Not only did I not hate Kristy Lee Cook’s debut CD, “Why Wait,” I actually kind of liked it.

See, I told you it was shocking…

Believe me. I had every intention of hating it. After all, I hated Kristy Lee enough while she was on “Idol.” But darn it all if the fine folks at Arista Nashville didn’t actually put together a pretty good CD that manages to play to Kristy Lee’s strengths instead of expose her weaknesses.

The CD kicks off with the song I haven’t been able to get out of my head for days, the first single, “15 Minutes of Shame.” Although I think Kristy Lee lacks a little of the grit this song needs, it is unbelievably catchy…

“Why Wait” has a real Carrie Underwood sound to it, but Kristy Lee manages to carry it off without shrieking…

“Like My Mother Does” has a great sound, but the song’s lyrics do it in…

“Hoping to Find” shows off KLC’s vocal imperfections more than the others with a way too low (and not very catchy) chorus…

“Baby Believe” starts off fairly blah, but it builds up to a pretty good sweet little chorus…

“Not Tonight” was co-written by Carrie Underwood, and although KLC carries it off adequately, I can’t help but wonder why Carrie didn’t keep this one for herself because she would’ve hit it out of the park. And it’s more radio friendly than half of the songs on Carrie’s last CD. I would go with this one for the next single…

“Plant the Seed” is as sunshine and rose petals as you can get, but somehow it works with a catchy tune and a soaring chorus…

“I Think Too Much” is a cutesy tune that suits KLC’s voice well…

“Homesick” is another song that gets off to a blah start then hits a classic, soaring chorus…

The CD closes with “God Bless the USA” and although it’s a nice restrained cover, it still smacks of pandering…

It’s clear that Arista is looking for the next Carrie Underwood and they haven’t found her. But I would say they’ve found a decent facsimile until the next one does come along.

In fact, I would describe the entire CD as Carrie Underwood-lite…

Which is still better than I would have ever imagined…

“Why Wait” is available now…

Photo Credit: Sony BMG Nashville

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Final Thoughts on Clay…

I haven’t posted my final thoughts on the whole Clay coming out thing because I’ve been trying to think of something profound to say…

After all, this is about a lot more than just Clay. It’s about a lot of issues, most of which aren’t meant to be discussed in a blog about “American Idol.”

But all I can think about is a woman I saw while waiting in the souvenir line at my first Clay Aiken concert…

I would guess she was in her late 40s, as many of Clay’s fans are. What she needed to buy I’m not really sure since she was already dressed from head to toe in Clay paraphernalia. She and another middle-aged woman were looking at the back of a tour t-shirt and she was naming off all of the shows she had seen—which was all of them before this one. Then she told the other woman how disappointed she was that she was going to miss his next show because her daughter was having a baby.

I keep wondering how she feels now…

And then there was the woman—once again middle-aged—at the Ohio State Fair who was decked out in Clay-wear (including her purse), while her husband sat next to her sort of embarrassed. She too had seen Clay in concert numerous times and after meeting her, I think my fiancé felt a lot better about me dragging him to the concert. How does she feel now?

And what about the women in that same souvenir line that gushed about how perfect Clay would be for their daughters? Do they feel stupid now?

Do they all feel stupid now for giving up their lives to follow around a man who maybe isn’t who they thought he was?

It’s easy to see why the Claymates would be upset over this. Any time someone would question Clay’s sexuality, the Claymates would go after that person/website/show in mass, defending their guy while Clay stayed silent. How could Clay coming out now not seem like a betrayal? Especially when he flat out said he wasn’t in his “Rolling Stone” interview in 2003 (a fact that Clay apparently has forgotten since he told Diane Sawyer he never said he wasn’t).

But what I hope the Claymates understand is that no one can know what Clay has been feeling all these years. It’s easy to say that Clay kept his mouth shut for the sake of his career, but I think it goes deeper than that. After all, the first person he told wasn’t his mother or his brother. It was Kimberley Locke in 2003—just five years ago. I think he just didn’t know how to handle it on a personal level, let alone a professional one.

Let’s face it. There are men and women everywhere who are struggling to come out to their families without having to do it in the glare of the spotlight. Why would Clay be any different?

It’s also easy to chastise any Claymate that may jump off the bandwagon. But you have to remember who the majority of Clay’s fans are—women ages 40+. They don’t love him for his looks. They love him because he’s an upstanding, truthful young man they could see as their son-in-law. To have that image shattered when they fought against it for so long is a tough pill to swallow—regardless of what their personal views on homosexuality may be.

Now you’re probably wondering what my view is. Though I’m not hardcore, I do still consider myself a Claymate.

So do I feel betrayed? No. I decided a long time ago that if Clay was gay, he had his reasons for keeping it quiet—reasons I couldn’t possibly understand. And if by hiding his sexuality, Clay was able to continue making great music, I was okay with that.

Because for me, that’s all that matters. Gay, straight, whatever. As long as he still has that beautiful voice, that’s all I care about.

And if he ever does go out on tour again (and I really hope he does) and he comes anywhere close to the Tri-State area, I’ll be there to see him.

I hope I won’t be alone…

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kat Gets "Connected"

Here’s the video for “Connected,” a song Katharine McPhee recorded for the soundtrack to the “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” DVD.

The song was originally recorded by Sara Paxton for the “Aquamarine” soundtrack…