The Herald-Dispatch |

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, December 29, 2008

Ring In the New Year With Idols

There are a couple of “Idol”-related choices for your New Year’s Eve viewing this year…

Of course, Ryan Seacrest will be teaming up with Dick Clark once again for “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” Kellie Pickler will be the Times Square correspondent. You can catch it beginning at 11:35 p.m. on ABC. A primetime special airs at 10 p.m…

Meanwhile, our reigning American Idol will appear on FOX. David Cook will be one of the performers on “New Year’s Eve Live” beginning at 11 p.m.

Daughtry will also perform on the FOX show. And although I like Daughtry, I have to wonder what RCA is thinking here with all the comparisons those two have gotten over the last few months…

Photo Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I’m going to be gone from the blog for the next several days…

So, let me take a minute to wish you and yours...

Happy Holidays!

Kelly Returns Next Month

“Billboard” reported today that Kelly Clarkson will release her new single, “My Life Would Suck Without You” to radio January 19th.

Her fourth album is scheduled to hit stores March 17th.

The magazine also reports that Kelly has been working with producer/songwriter Dr. Luke (“Since U Been Gone”) and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (who co-wrote “Bleeding Love” and produced Blake Lewis’ CD) on the CD.

For the record, Kelly’s last CD, the much maligned “My December,” has sold 780,000 copies since its 2007 release…

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good News From Luke Menard

Last week, reported that season 7 contestant Luke Menard is now cancer free.

You may remember that Luke was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma just days after he was voted off the show.

Although his last scan showed the cancer to be gone, Luke told the website that he still has a little over a dozen radiation treatments to go to target scar tissue left after months of chemo.

Luke credits his new “Idol” friends for helping him through his treatments telling the website, “All the producers from ‘American Idol,’ 19 Entertainment… David Cook, who won ‘American Idol,’… he has been extremely helpful, even financially with medical bills. 19 Entertainment has helped out with medical bills, so it’s been way more than I expected.”

Luke also said that fans from his hometown and all over the world sent money to help pay for his treatments.

Luke released his sixth album with his a capella group Chapter 6 on December 2nd and even toured with the band this year. He is also working on solo material, writing Christian music with Jamie Moore, Jason Walker, Aaron Rice and even Chris Sligh.

Luke hopes to tour with Chapter 6, as well as work on his solo material next year…

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

What Is Clay's Future?

In an interview with, Clay Aiken discusses what his future holds...

Clay divulges that after his run in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” comes to an end January 4th he will return to full-time fatherhood. He’ll head back to North Carolina with his son Parker and his mother, Jaymes Foster.

But Clay says he is not quitting. He tells the website, “We'll take a little bit of time, we're not quitting or anything, we're just gonna take it slow for a month or so and recollect once I get back…I may never have any free time once Parker starts walking and talking!”

Enjoy fatherhood, Clay, but hurry back, because some of us REALLY want to hear you do “Where I Draw the Line” live…

Photo Credit: Eric Ogden/RCA

Life After Idol For Carly

Wondering what Carly Smithson is up to these days?

Here’s an interview that not only tells you that, but also delves into life after “Idol.” It’s pretty interesting.

You can see it here.

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Sunday, December 21, 2008

An "Idol" Flavor to a Christmas Tradition

ABC’s annual telecast of the “Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade” will have a decidedly “Idol” flavor this year…

Ryan Seacrest will be co-hosting the parade with the usual hosts, Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa…

Plus, David Cook will be putting his cool acoustic twist on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

And David Archuleta will also be a part of the broadcast, though I’m not sure he’s actually performing.

The “Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade” airs Christmas Day from 10 a.m.-Noon on ABC…

Photo Credits: Paul Hiffmeyer/ABC & Matt Stroshane/ABC

Book Review: Randy Jackson's "Body With Soul"

I admit it. I snickered when I heard that Randy Jackson was writing a diet book.

But “Body With Soul” is not a diet book. It’s a change of lifestyle book. And it’s obvious from the first page that Randy is on a mission to save peoples’ lives.

That’s because Randy’s own life was in jeopardy when he found himself in the emergency room with a blood sugar reading five times the normal level. Randy had type 2 diabetes and that diagnosis was exactly the wake-up call he needed to change his lifestyle and eating habits.

The book tells the tale of how he got to the ER (as well as to 350 pounds) and how he got to where he is now, which is 100 pounds lighter and taking no diabetes medication. That includes not only personal stories of Randy’s life on the road, but also his favorite healthy recipes and exercise routines.

But even though Randy is passionate about getting people to change, his conversational writing style makes everything sound more like a friend talking to you than someone preaching at you. And because Randy is struggling with these issues everyday, you can relate to what he has to say. But he also has doctors and experts offering their advice and personal stories to back him up.

From time to time, Randy does throw in an example from “American Idol” to illustrate his point, but he doesn’t dwell on the show. And that’s because that’s not the point of this book.

The point of the book is for Randy to use the popularity and celebrity he’s earned from “Idol” to get people to see the error of their ways before it’s too late.

And as Randy himself might say, that’s a’ight…

“Body With Soul: Slash Sugar, Cut Cholesterol, and Get a Jump on Your Best Health Ever” is available in stores and online now…

Photo Credit: Penguin Books

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas From Bo!

I thought I'd share this picture with you that Bo Bice e-mailed to his fans...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is Simon Trying to Ruin Paula's Career?

Lost in all the talk of Paula Goodspeed has been Paula Abdul’s accusation that Simon Cowell is trying to ruin her career.

Here are the ladies of “The View” discussing it after Barbara Walters’ Sirius XM radio interview with Paula that started all the hubbub to begin with (Note that at the 7:51 mark, they start talking about Jay Leno)…

In an interview with “Extra” on Wednesday, Simon Cowell responded to Paula’s comments about him whispering in her ear by saying, “Yeah, I do a little bit... I get bored so I whisper things and make things up during the auditions and the live shows... But she chooses to say it... I'm not responsible for everything she says.”

So there’s clearly one of two things going on here. Either Paula is ready to leave “Idol” and is hoping the producers will get tired of her running her mouth and let her go or she is trying to generate sympathy to help her in her contract negotiations. Maybe she thinks if she makes them feel guilty enough about the whole Goodspeed thing, they’ll give her what she wants.

And I’m willing to bet that what she wants includes permission to compete on the fall edition of “Dancing With the Stars”…

The truth is I believe Paula. I believe she told the producers not to let Goodspeed audition and they let her in anyway to make good TV. Because as arrogant as Nigel Lythgoe has been in recent interviews it is entirely believable.

But Simon trying to ruin her career? That’s going way too far. Simon has just found a person that he can have fun with and Paula’s gullible enough to fall for it. Period.

And what is up with all of that “phoenix from the flames” stuff? Give me a break…

Now it’s your turn. What do you guys think about all of this?...

Simon Talks About Paula Goodspeed...

In a conference call with reporters yesterday (as reported on, Simon Cowell addressed the death of Paula Goodspeed…

Simon said her death “hit us like an express train…We're talking about tragedy here. I really don't like referring to this person as a stalker. So let's refer to her as a fan.”

Simon said he takes producers “at their word” that they didn’t know Goodspeed was “as troubled as she was.”

As for whether or not Simon will tone down his remarks, the answer is no. “I have thought long and hard about this. I think we will continue in the way we've always done it. In the main, we've tried to have a sense of humor over the whole process…You assume everyone who enters ‘American Idol’ kind of knows the score. If you're not great, you're going to get criticism.”

Also during the call, Simon thanked everyone for their support and referred to the show as “the best eight years of my life”…

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Year-End Charts

Idols have been dominating the “Billboard” year-end charts for the past several years.

But which “Idol” was the most dominating in 2008?

Jordin Sparks.

Remember when people said her album was a failure?...

“No Air” is #6 on the 2008 Hot 100 chart, #18 on the Ringmasters chart, and #8 on the Digital Songs chart.

“Tattoo” comes in at #30 and “One Step At a Time” sits at #61 on the Hot 100.

Jordin is also #9 on the Hot 100 Artists chart and #2 on the Top New Artists chart.

Her album, “Jordin Sparks” is at #35 on the 2008 Billboard 200…

Other Idols making the 2008 Hot 100 list were David Cook with “Time of My Life” at #69, David Archuleta at #76 with “Crush” and Daughtry at #95 with “Feels Like Tonight.

Several Idols also join Jordin on the Hot 100 Artists chart including Carrie Underwood (#27), Daughtry (#38), David Cook (#41), David Archuleta (#67) and Jennifer Hudson (#93).

Also on the Billboard 200 chart are Carrie Underwood’s “Carnival Ride” (#9), “Daughtry” (#33), Carrie’s “Some Hearts” (#89), “Jennifer Hudson” (#93) and Blake Lewis’ “Audio Day Dream” (#150)…

Here’s a look at some other “Idol” notables from the year-ends (By the way, the “Billboard” year runs from December 1, 2007-November 29, 2008.)…

Carrie Underwood:
Top Country Songs: “Just a Dream” (#10) and “All-American Girl” (#24)
Top Country Artists: (#2)
Top Country Albums: “Carnival Ride” (#3) and “Some Hearts” (#19)

David Cook:
Top Hot AC Songs: “Time of My Life” (#8)

Top Hot AC Songs: “Feels Like Tonight” (#10), “Home” (#11)
Top Rock Albums: “Daughtry” (#8)
Top Adult Top 40 Songs: “Feels Like Tonight” (#3), “Over You” (#20), “What About Now” (#21)

Elliott Yamin
Top Hot AC Songs: “Wait For You” (#15)

Jennifer Hudson
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists: (#23)
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: “Spotlight” (#9)

Kimberley Locke
Hot Dance Club Play Tracks: “Band of Gold” (#11)
Hot Dance Club Play Artists: (#6)
Photo Credits: MTV & RCA

How's Cook Doing?

Remember this from my November 18th blog post? had an article about Cook’s CD releasing today that featured a
statement from music writer Don Waller, one of the “coaches” that follows “Idol”
for the website:

“If RCA pumps money into promoting Cook and releases a second single by
Christmas, the disc might sell 500,000, Waller speculates.”

Well, Mr. Waller, on behalf of all the David Cook fans out there, allow me to hand you your words on a plate…

For the third week in a row, “David Cook” is at #10 on the Billboard 200 album chart. And considering his competition is heavy hitters like Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Beyonce, that’s pretty darn good.

And if my math is correct, the CD has now sold 583,000.

Now, granted, Britney did nearly that in one week; but I think considering the state of album sales these days and all the bad press surrounding David’s chances, I think that’s pretty darn good as well.

But now for the bad news. “Light On” is still not making any headway on the Hot 100 chart, although it’s #11 on the Adult Top 40 chart. For whatever reason, Top 40 radio is just not responding to this one so I hope that RCA turns the “Light” off very soon so that David can have a hot single right before the gift card redemption rush after Christmas…
Photo Credit: RCA

Archie's New Video

It’s incredibly simple, but Archie’s new video for “A Little Too Not Over You” is actually pretty good…

It’s age appropriate AND it actually makes sense, which is always a plus when it comes to music videos.

You can see it here

What's the Best Idol Christmas Song?

So I thought it might be fun in the spirit of the season to open up a debate about which Idol has recorded the best Christmas song…

Now, Mandisa has definitely recorded some good ones and Kimberley Locke is the queen of the Christmas song with all of the AC #1s she’s produced over the years with songs like “Up On the Housetop.” And if I were making a top five list, I would absolutely put Elliott Yamin’s “Jingle Bells” on it.

But for me, there is no argument. The best Idol Christmas song is absolutely, 100 percent, Clay Aiken’s “Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day.”

Clay first ripped that one out for us on the 2003 special, “An American Idol Christmas” (which FOX should so rerun this holiday season). I remember being upset because that song wasn’t on the Idol Christmas CD.

But as good as it was then, Clay nailed it for all time on his 2004 Christmas CD, “Merry Christmas With Love.”

And I’m not the only one who thinks so as this video from his 2005 “Joyful Noise” tour shows…

I get chills every time I watch it…

So what about you guys? What do you think is the best Idol Christmas song?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Official Schedule...

So here’s the schedule for the opening rounds of “Idol” from the official FOX press release…

Tuesday, January 13th at 8 p.m.: Season Premiere, Part One (Two Hours)

Wednesday, January 14th at 8 p.m.: Season Premiere, Part Two (Two Hours)

Tuesday, January 20th at 8 p.m.: Auditions Episode (One Hour)

Wednesday, January 21st at 8 p.m.: Auditions Episode (One Hour)

Tuesday, January 27th at 8 p.m.: Auditions Episode (One Hour)

Wednesday, January 28th at 8 p.m.: Auditions Episode (One Hour)

Thursday, January 29th at 8 p.m.: Auditions Episode (One Hour)

Tuesday, February 3rd at 8 p.m.: Hollywood Round, Part One (One Hour)

Wednesday, February 4th at 8 p.m.: Hollywood Round, Part Two (One Hour)

Tuesday, February 10th at 8 p.m.: Hollywood Round, Part Three (One Hour)

Wednesday, February 11th at 8 p.m.: Hollywood Round, Part Four/Top 36 Semifinalists
Announced (Two Hours)

Tuesday, February 17th at 8 p.m.: 12 semifinalists perform (Two Hours)

Wednesday, February 18th at 8 p.m.: First Live Results Show (One Hour). Three finalists advance.

Tuesday, February 24th at 8 p.m.: 12 semifinalists perform (Two Hours)

Wednesday, February 25th at 8 p.m.: Live Results Show (One Hour). Three finalists advance.

Tuesday, March 3rd at 8 p.m.: 12 semifinalists perform (Two Hours)

Wednesday, March 4th at 8 p.m.: Live Results Show (One Hour). Three finalists advance.

Thursday, March 5th at 8 p.m.: Wild Card Round/Top 12 finalists revealed (One Hour)

Tuesday, March 10th at 8 p.m.: Top 12 finalists perform (Two Hours)

"America loves Paula..."

Ever since Paula called out the “Idol” producers for the Paula Goodpeed audition, speculation has begun that Paula, who is currently in “Idol” contract negotiations, is leaving the show.

But in his conference call with reporters today, Executive Producer Ken Warwick said that’s not the case…

“America loves Paula. She’s an integral part of this program. Never have I been faced with anyone saying Paula’s got to go. She’s one of the foundation blocks of this series. She keeps Simon well in control”…
Photo Credit: FOX

More Hints About the Upcoming Season...

Before his conference call with reporters today, Executive Producer Ken Warwick gave some hints about the upcoming season…

Warwick said that Kara DioGuardi was added not only to shake the show up but also to keep Simon from “always getting his own way.” A fourth judge means more contestants Simon doesn’t like going to Hollywood…

Hollywood Week will actually be in Hollywood—the Kodak Theater to be exact, which causes more than a few nerves…

The song selection for the top 36 will be much better. They’ll sing from a catalog drawn from the top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart since the chart began in the 1950s to the present. That, of course, means lots of people hanging themselves with current songs. Boy, how I’ve missed that...

Warwick says he’s trying to get younger mentors this season…

One theme night you can definitely expect is Motown since this year is its 50th anniversary…
I’m feeling even more excited now than I was this morning…

Ken Answers Paula...

During a conference call with reporters today (as reported on, “Idol” Executive Producer Ken Warwick also answered Paula Abdul’s allegations concerning Paula Goodspeed…

“I was in the room there and I can absolutely put my hand on my heart and say I didn’t know. I didn’t even know that this person was a risk or termed as a stalker. I knew she was a fan, an ardent fan. But that’s the only thing that came in front of me…I would definitely not put a dangerous person or a person remotely dangerous in front of the judges. You wouldn’t take that risk.”

Warwick admits that Abdul “may have mentioned it to a security man or another junior producer…[But] if the inference is that I would put someone in there because it would make good television…she certainly didn’t mention it to me. She certainly didn’t mention it to anybody with clout.”

Why do I get the feeling that Paula is telling the truth this time?...

Nigel Answers Paula...

At a press event Thursday for his new show, “Superstars of Dance,” Nigel Lythgoe answered Paula Abdul’s accusations that the producers knew Paula Goodspeed was a stalker and that they let her audition despite Paula’s objections because it made for good TV.
“You do not take somebody in that room that you believe is a danger to herself or a danger to Paula. That would not enter our heads,” Nigel told

“[Goodspeed] had been through an audition process with the producers, an audition process with the executive producers, and we were wheeling her in as a huge fan of Paula Abdul…This is what we knew: She was a great fan, she was a lovely girl. And a great fan of Paula.”

Nigel admits he doesn’t remember Paula making a request to have Goodspeed removed, but that she could have done so. “If Paula said that’s what she said, I believe her.”Lythgoe added, “We've seen over 700,000 contestants. And one has made a terrible, terrible mistake. If you're an odds man, they are great odds.”

I just really don’t know what to say about that one…

“Idol” Finally Gives Me What I Want

Allow me to interrupt your dreary Monday morning with the first news of the changes that will be made to this season’s edition of “American Idol.”

And let me just say that I am extremely happy about them… is reporting that 36 contestants will be chosen for the semifinals instead of 24 and for the first time since season three, the Wild Card round will return as the judges will choose three wild cards for the top 12 (You may recall that’s how we got Clay Aiken.).

We’ll get six male and six female contestants performing each week for three weeks with the top male and female vote-getters and the next highest vote-getter (whether male or female) moving on to the top 12 (No more dramatic top 12 revelation episode with the urinal chairs? Awww…). Then the judges will choose which semi-finalists to bring back for the wild card round.

The website is also reporting that we will get only three weeks of auditions, allowing the show to add a second Hollywood week.

WOO-HOO! FINALLY! I’ve only been asking for that for years now…

Plus, the dreaded group numbers (my favorite part) will return during the Hollywood rounds.

AND, “Idol Gives Back” will take the year off.

Are you kidding me? That’s awesome!!!

For those of you who are long time fans, you know this is “Idol” as it used to be before it got to be all hype. So I have to say that I am more excited about this season than I have been in a long time…

Could this really be the best year of “Idol” ever?

I’m thinking it’s quite possible. Just 29 more days to go…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled day…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Phil Concert Details

Here are the promised details on the Phil Stacey concert…

Phil will be at the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse in Huntington April 23rd at 7 p.m.

He’ll be joined by Julianne Hough, the two-time “Dancing With the Stars” champion and rising country artist.

Tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. and are $28, $23 and $18…

While gathering information on this event, I learned what I had been suspecting for months—Lyric Street Records and Phil have parted ways. Whether that means they dropped him or he walked away I’m not sure…

I hope to have much more on this as we get closer to the event…

Breaking News: Phil Stacey Returns!

Allow me to interrupt your day with the breaking news that Phil Stacey is returning to the Tri-State area…

AND he’s bringing a recognizable face from another popular reality TV show with him (or maybe more precisely she’s bringing him).

I’ll have all the details as soon as they are officially announced…

I now return you to your regular schedule…

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Paula Takes on the Show

Yesterday, Paula Abdul went after the “Idol” producers over her stalker, Paula Goodspeed…

In an interview with Barbara Walters on her Sirius XM radio show, Paula said she told the producers that Goodspeed had stalked her and she asked them not to let her audition. But according to Paula, they ignored her and brought her on the show “for entertainment value.”

Paula said, “It’s fun for them to cause me stress. This was something that would make good television.

Paula also accused FOX of making her home address public, although Goodspeed had found it on her own by following her home after the audition.

When Walters asked her why she remains on a show that “put her in peril,” Paula replied, “I’m under contract.”

I believe them’s fighting words…

The question is why is Paula coming out with them now? Publicity stunt? Or is she really trying to leave the show?

Or maybe what she’s saying is true and it’s time that “Idol” took a good hard look at itself…

What do you guys think?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

David Does Lennon For "Christmas"

If you missed David Cook on last night’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” (as I did), here he is doing an OUTSTANDING cover of one of my favorites, John Lennon’s “Happy X-Mas (The War Is Over)”…

Fantasia To “Rock With Barack”

Fantasia will be part of January’s Inauguration celebration…

She will perform at The Urban Ball hosted by Dionne Warwick and co-hosted by Ludacris and Big Boi.
Tickets are $350 and go on sale tomorrow here.
The dress code, by the way, is “Dress to Impress!” and casual attire is not permitted…
Photo Credit: Randall Slavin/RCA

Which Idols Got Grammy Nods?

So, which Idol garnered the most Grammy nominations Wednesday night?
Not so fast, Carrie fans. It’s Jennifer Hudson…

J-Hud received two nominations for R&B Female Vocal Performance for “Spotlight” and R&B Album for “Jennifer Hudson.”

Carrie Underwood did receive a nomination for Country Female Vocal for “Last Name.”

Jordin Sparks also received a nomination along with Chris Brown for Pop Collaboration With Vocal for “No Air.”

Now, could someone please explain to me how The Jonas Brothers received a nomination for Best New Artist after their third album when Daughtry did not receive one last year after their first?...
Photo Credit: RCA

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Michael Johns' Christmas Song

Michael Johns will release a holiday tune, “Another Christmas,” on iTunes this Tuesday, December 9th.

The proceeds from the song’s sale will go toward fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease. Michael was touched by the story of his friend Nancy O’Dell’s mother who died from the disease.

Michael wrote the song in 2006.

You can hear a clip of it here…

The Latest on the Idol Christmas Show

You may recall a few months ago I told you about some former Idols doing a Christmas tour. I was all excited because it was going to include Constantine, but somewhat bummed because it was going to include Kimberly Caldwell.

Well imagine my consternation when I realized today that it includes neither of them…
The lineup for “American Stars In Concert for the Holidays” (They can’t call it Idols in Concert because it’s not affiliated with “Idol.”) is now Kimberley Locke, Chikezie and the previously announced Diana DeGarmo and David Hernandez.

The tour kicked off last Friday and will run until December 21st. Sadly, the closest the tour will come to the Tri-State is Akron on December 19th…

Here’s David and Diana singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on CBS’ “The Early Show.”

It just reminds me how stupid I was to not vote more for David…

Archie's Next Single

The next single off David Archueta’s CD is “A Little Too Not Over You.”

Archie co-wrote the song with Matthew Gerrard, Mike Krompass, and Robbie Nevil who co-wrote several of the songs from “High School Musical 3” (and who children of the 80s will remember for his hit “C’est la vie”).

It’s a good song but I would’ve gone with “My Hands” as the next single.
You can hear “Over” here…

Monday, December 1, 2008

Britney Impresses Simon

Since I mentioned it before, I wanted to share it with you now.

Here’s the video of Britney Spears performing on Simon Cowell’s UK hit, “X Factor.”

And as you’ll see, she got a standing ovation from Simon…