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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Evening With David Cook and Ryan Star In Full Detail...

Last night, David Cook’s “Declaration Tour—2009” came to Shawnee State University in Portsmouth and it was quite the event.

There’s a lot to say, so I guess I’ll just start from the beginning…

Before the show, I hung out backstage for a little while to catch Ryan Star after his sound check. We met up and he gave me a hug like we were old friends (Of course, by the end of the night I felt like we were.). He was just as charming in person as he was on the phone. He went off to get ready and I went to stand in line to get to my seat.

Because of some increased security precautions (which were needed, by the way) and counterfeit ticket concerns, it took a little longer to get inside the theater. But eventually I made my way to my seat in the fourth row.

After just a few minutes, Ryan Star made his way onto the stage accompanied by a chorus of screams from the audience. He kicked off his set with “Brand New Day,” the theme song from “Lie to Me,” and then made his way through a few more of the songs that will be on his forthcoming album, “11:59.” I haven’t been able to get his new single, “Last Train Home,” out of my head all day. He also did some of his older songs, including “Psycho Suicidal Girls,” which he admitted ahead of time was not for the little ones. But for the adults in the theater, it was a really fun song.

In all honesty, there were a lot of people in the theater that had no idea who Ryan was, but by the second song, you could really feel people getting on board. There was a lot of head nodding and people saying, “Hey, he’s pretty good.” And he was…

There were, however, some young girls who were familiar enough with him to scream out how much they loved him. At one point, Ryan said, “You’re quite the lively bunch aren’t you?” Ryan said later he thought the Shawnee State crowd was the best yet.

By the end of his set, I think Ryan had won himself quite a few new fans…

Then, there was a half-hour intermission while they changed the sets. But as soon as the lights went down again, the crowd started screaming, and soon, David Cook took the stage (In case you’re wondering, his shirt says, “Katy Perry slept here.”). I have to tell you that my memory of his setlist has gone a little foggy, but I think his opening number was “Heroes.” He also ripped through “Declaration,” “Life On the Moon,” “Mr. Sensitive,” “Kiss On the Neck” (the album’s hidden track) and “Permanent,” which he dedicated to his dad, who was in the audience. He did some other songs that aren’t on the album, including two songs he did with the band, MWK (Two members of his current band were in MWK as well). And, of course, he did “Light On.” I told the person next to me that we needed to be ready because he always has the audience sing to him during the last chorus. And we were ready—as was the rest of the theater. It’s so cute to see David still smile at the sound of people singing his own words back to him.

And for the record, we were pretty good…

I had heard before the show that David was concerned he was coming down with the flu. And early in the show, after hitting one of his numerous glory notes, David admitted it to the audience by telling us, “I think I’m coming down with the flu. That last note almost did me in.” But that didn’t keep him from soldiering on. There were a few times his voice seemed to waver, but it came back to him and he gave a great performance.

David said good night and the band left the stage, but of course they came back for an encore with the one-two punch of “Bar-ba-sol” and “A Daily AntheM.” This time, David had his familiar white guitar with AC in black letters. David thanked everyone for coming and said how great it was that “this many people from a place I’ve never been before” would come out to see him.

Then we all filed out and I headed toward backstage to see if David was still planning to do his post-show meet and greet with VIP guests (of which I was fortunate enough to be one).

Now, a lot of people in his situation would have just said they didn’t feel like it and sent everyone home. But that’s not the David Cook way. As bad as he felt, he still took the time to meet with me and his other guests. And in my opinion, that’s why David will have longevity—he’s a genuinely nice guy who cares about his fans.

And if his eyes hadn’t given him away, you might have never even realized he was sick. He smiled and posed for the camera and graciously thanked us for coming. And for the record, I did apologize to him for not fixing the weather and he made me promise to try harder if he ever comes back to Portsmouth.

After just a few minutes with David, I went back to the lobby where Ryan was signing autographs and posing for pictures. But I had to hide my VIP pass, because there was at least one David Cook fan who was trying to figure out how she could rip it off of me.

So, I found a seat in the corner and watched Ryan pose for pictures. As he said later, he thought he met everyone in town last night—and I don’t think that’s too far off. But Ryan—and his band—were great with everyone. You could see him gaining fans by the carloads as he made sure each fan got the autograph and picture they wanted. And just when the crowd would die down, a new group of people would come over to see what the fuss was about.

By this time, I was joined by my hero Denise, who actually worked backstage at the show, and we waited patiently so that I could take her picture with Ryan. Finally, he was free and she grabbed him to take the picture. But when he saw it was me with the camera, he couldn’t resist asking me how I liked the show. I told him that I loved it and couldn’t wait for the album. He gave me one more big hug and posed for another picture, thanked me and Denise for everything, told us what a pleasure it was to meet us and then went off to find something to drink.

Denise and I walked to our cars, still buzzing from the big night…

It was great to see that David is just as nice of a guy as he appears on TV. He’s a fantastic performer and it will be exciting to see where his career takes him.

As for Ryan Star, this guy is just one hit away from becoming something really big. You can check out “Last Train Home” here and/or download it on iTunes. Encourage your favorite radio station to play the song as well. I have to believe that some TV show is going to snap this one up for a montage any day now.

If you missed my pre-concert interview with David, you can see it here. My interview with Ryan is here…

My Evening With David Cook and Ryan Star

So I hate to keep all of you waiting for my thoughts about last night's concert, but...

I got a late start this morning (late night last night) and now I'm on my way to a basketball game, but I promise to be back later with all the details.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few pictures to whet your appetite.


Here's me with Ryan Star after his sound check.



And this, of course, is me with David Cook. He loves to do silly poses in all of his fan pictures.

Stay tuned, I've got much more coming...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did America Get It Right?

So, once again, America did the right thing but the show was robbed from teasing us about it thanks to the new judge’s WAY too long diatribe to Kris. Personally, I would have preferred the teasing…

If Nick had made it through, the show would have become a joke. And I don’t know if it could have recovered. Kudos to the true “Idol” fans for rallying to keep that from happening.

But I think my idea of him being a part of the “Idol” tour is a good one. No doubt this won’t be the last time we see him on the show.

I really like Kris. He’s cute and he shows a lot of promise. And he proved that a good song choice can make all the difference. Allison was absolutely the best girl, and Adam was definitely the best guy. She just needs some more personality and he needs to be a little less of a theatrical robot.

As for the one or two Simon promised we’ll see in the Wild Card, I’m guessing Megan absolutely and maybe one of the Matts as well.

Now, if we can just get Danny, Adam and Kris in the top 10, it will be a really great tour—at least for me it will be…

Remember we’ll do it all again on Tuesday and Wednesday. And then Thursday, things get wild…

Group #3 Is Revealed!

And here are the contestants we’ll be seeing on Tuesday…

Arianna Afsar
Ju’Not Joyner
Kristen McNamara
Nathaniel Marshall
Lil Rounds
Jorge Nunez
Von Smith
Kendall Beard
Scott MacIntyre
Felicia Barton
Taylor Vaifanua
Alex Wagner-Trugman

I’ll be back with final thoughts in a moment…

And the Final Spot Goes To...

8:55 We’re back…Okay, America. Did you do the right thing?...Adam looks worried…Nick is not through. Wow, Ryan did that one really quickly. Thanks a lot, Kara, for all that babbling…Adam says he didn’t know what was going to happen because he thought Nick was hilarious…He does “Satisfaction”…Nick looks like he’s okay with it. I think he’s just as surprised as anyone else that he made it this far…I just don’t know why I can’t get excited about Adam’s performance…

8:58 He’s greeted by the rest of the Idols and gets a big hug from Danny…Ryan mentions the Wild Card and Simon says they’re going to bring back a selection of contestants they think deserve another chance and we will probably see one or two from tonight. There is no mention of people from outside the Top 36…

8:59 Group #3 is named. I’ll have more on that in a moment…

9:00 We’re out…

And Then There Were Two...

8:48 We’re back…There’s an “American Idol” Ford Fusion? Oh, brother…Ryan asks for the five remaining…Mishavonna…Kai…Nick…Adam…Jasmine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…He starts with Mishavonna…Then to Kai…He skips Nick and Adam. Told ya…Jasmine…Mishavonna, Kai and Jasmine…out…That leaves—as promised—Nick and Adam. Adam laughs…Ryan asked Simon if he prayed last night. He says he prayed for five or six hours straight last night and he hopes he and God have a good relationship…After the break…

The Return of Brooke White

8:37 We’re back…Replay of a piece they received a lot of positive feedback about. It’s the “What a Wonderful World” montage they opened the season with. I like this piece, but man, they are stretching tonight…

8:40 Brooke White. Lord, we can’t get people from another season?...She tells the contestants not to Google themselves. She’s singing her first single, “Hold Up My Heart.” She’s at the piano. Hope she doesn’t forget the words. Sorry I couldn’t resist…Sorry, Brooke fans. Not impressed…Break…

And The Second One Through Is...

8:25 We’re back…Ryan asks Allison how she’s doing and she says she’s “so friggin’ happy right now.” She’s getting better at this talking thing…

8:26 Megan and Kris to the stage…Ryan moves them over to the side…Matt G. and Jeanine. Hmmm…Matt says he didn’t get the chance to do enough. How about you pick a better song! That would be enough…Ryan moves them to the side to join the others…One of the four is moving on…He asks Paula which one…She says she’s torn between Matt, Kris and Megan. She says she has no idea…Simon continues to tell her to answer the question…Jeanine is out. No big shocker there…Matt G. is out…It’s between Kris and Megan. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t forgotten to vote for Kris…Kara, what is up with all of that eye makeup tonight? She tells Ryan she gave Kris a hard time because he’s so good. Simon says she’s rambling. I have to agree…Ryan cuts her off…It is…Kris. YES! The cute guy wins out. Don’t fret, Megan fans. You’ll see her again…

8:31 Kris says he’s surprised…He says “thank you so much” to his fans…He does “Man In the Mirror”…

So while he’s singing, let’s break this down. I can’t believe that Kris was the top guy, so I think he was the highest vote-getter of the rest. That leaves the top guy to go. Who wants to bet that they do a Nick vs. Adam thing at the end, a la Danny and Tatiana last week?…

8:33 Kris is thrilled, and even Simon smiles…Break…

And the First to Go Through Is...

8:01 25 million votes…Alexis, Danny and Michael have to sit on the urinal chairs awaiting the newest members of the Top 12…

8:02 Video of Group #1’s journey…

8:04 Oh lord, group song…Ne-Yo’s “Closer”…Matt G. and Adam…Matt B. and Kai…Nick and Kris. I’m not sure Nick knows the words…Girls…Wow, Jeanine loves those Daisy Dukes, doesn’t she? And she’s teamed them with a plaid shirt just like Daisy. Not gonna help you, darlin’…They actually don’t sound that bad…You can see Nick wanting to let Norman out…And he does a little bit…Break with an unseen audition we “won’t want to miss.” I smell a FOX promo…

8:07 Ooh! Tom Colicchio doing a Diet Coke commercial! Awesome!

8:09 The clip is a chick doing the “Shoop Shoop Song.” I didn’t think it was all that bad. What was the point of that?...

8:11 We’re back…Recap. Ryan calls it “the eclectic mix”…

8:14 Ryan talks to Nick about what we can expect if he doesn’t make it through. He says he’s looking for employment...Ryan asks Matt B. if the judges were too hard on him. He says we all have a lot to learn. Matt B. tries to make amends with Simon…Ryan asks Jesse about song choice. She says, “You’re asking me. That’s funny.” She says she picked the right one…Jeanine says “less could have been more.” Ryan points out she’s still showing the same amount of legs…

8:16 Ryan shows off the urinal chairs…Lights dimmed…Allison joins Ryan. She’s going first? Hmmm…Ryan puts her over to the side…He brings down Jesse…He puts her next to Allison…He brings down Matt B…Wow, how long do they practice these things?…He puts Matt with the girls…Ryan asks Randy which of them is going to the Top 12. He says he hopes it’s Allison…It’s…Allison…So Matt B. is out…She gets hugs from Danny, Michael and Alexis…She sings “Alone.”…Hey, she actually showed a little personality there…Break

Is There a Paula-Kara Feud Brewing?

So, before tonight’s episode, let me get you caught up on the saga that’s going on behind the scenes…

The Internet is abuzz over whether there’s a feud brewing between Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi.

It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?

It started with this in the upcoming issue of “OK Magazine”:

What do you think about Kara DioGuardi coming in as a judge?
Kara and I have known each other for years and we get along great. But we
tried four judges before and it doesn't work. It takes up so much time for each
of us to give our opinion that it slows down the pace.

After the comments came to light, Kara told “Access Hollywood,” “Paula has a right to her opinions, but I was disappointed by her comments, and hurt that she did not address them to me in person. I am proud of my contributions to the show, and remain excited about the rest of the season.”

Paula’s rep moved quickly to settle things by telling “Access,” “Paula’s quote was taken out of context.”

Paula herself reiterated that by telling “Entertainment Tonight” shortly before last night’s show, “It is unfortunate that a quote of mine was taken completely out of context today," says Paula. “I was actually referring specifically to the use of ‘guest judges’ in seasons past, NOT Kara or this season. I am thrilled to have her by my side each week on ‘American Idol.’”

The biggest surprise for me about this is how quickly Kara jumped to attack Paula without hearing an explanation. Which makes me wonder…

However, I can’t believe that even Paula is dumb enough to say something like that to a reporter in the first place...

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Ryan make some kind of crack about the whole thing tonight. He’ll need something to fill out the hour.

Be back in ten…

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

David Cook: "Don't try to be, just be..."

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we first met David Cook. But if you think it’s hard for us to believe, think what it’s like for David himself.

Several times during our conversation, when I asked him about his experiences, he used the word, “amazing” and I could almost see him shaking his head in disbelief through the phone—especially when I told him that the tickets to the Shawnee State University concert Friday night sold out in less than five hours.

“We’re really looking forward to you coming here,” I told him.

“Well, I am looking forward to coming there,” he told me. “That’s amazing.”

However, David did ask me to do something about the weather since it’s been a little cold on the tour so far and I told him I’d see what I could do. But if you’ve seen Friday’s forecast, you know I probably can’t do much.

I’m sorry, David. I’ll try harder…

Other than the cold weather, the tour has been going well for David and his band. “So far, so good. We’ve managed to not injure ourselves,” he joked. “The crowds have been great. A lot of cool things have been happening.”

So why a college tour as opposed to bigger venues? “There’s a vibe at the college show I’ve never found elsewhere. It’s one of the most critical audiences. There is no other place where you’ll find more opinions about music than a college campus.”

Cook was also looking for venues that would match what he wanted to do with his shows. “It’s organic. It’s real. It’s accessible.”

So what will we see at Friday night’s show? “People that caught me on ‘Idol,’ they’ll see a little more. We try to have fun. We’re not ones to take ourselves too seriously.” David told me the setlist will have some pre-Idol songs, some fun covers, and some solo songs that were never released as singles. Two of David’s band members were in the group MWK with him, so they’ll also do some MWK songs.

There’s no doubt that it’s been quite a year for David. “It’s been everything I’ve dreamed of and then some. To share the stage with Neil Diamond, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dolly Parton, and Mariah Carey. To pick their brains was priceless.”

David has also been able to perform at Carnegie Hall and for the troops as part of a USO tour. “These are amazing things people never get to do, let alone dream of doing. Those experiences, which I’ll take with me for the rest of my life, are invaluable.”

In fact, David talks about these experiences with such zeal it was hard to keep up (I think I need a speedwriting class.). When at one point I was forced to tell David I was catching up, he actually apologized to me. “I talk fast and long, I apologize.” At one point, David even said, “No worries. Take your time.”

If I ever had a doubt about all of those text messages I sent for him last year, I definitely don’t now…

And since he was being so nice, I almost hated to bring up “Idol” since you know he’s tired of all of those questions. But I had to ask him the question I ask all the Idols I’ve interviewed: What’s the most popular question you get about “Idol”? And wouldn’t you know, he gave the same answer. “Is Simon as mean as he is on TV and the answer is yes. But he was my favorite judge because he motivated me every week.”

So since I’d opened the “Idol” door I asked him if he’s had any time to watch the show this season. “I’ve seen very little of the show, but I try to keep educated through the Internet. I’ve seen a little bit. I think the talent is as strong as ever.”

Speaking of strong “Idol” talent, the Internet is still buzzing about David’s duet with Carrie Underwood at the opening of the Idol Experience at Walt Disney World. “Carrie’s been great on a personal level, just helping me since she’s been through this,” David told me when I asked about the duet. “And we share an Oklahoma connection.” So what was he thinking when he took the stage with her? “I was just thinking, don’t trip her up,” he said, only half joking. David said he’d love to sing with her again if the opportunity could get worked out.

The other thing I was nervous to ask about was David’s personal life. But I had to ask him if he’s been surprised about how scrutinized his life is. “It’s probably the most unnerving thing. Sometimes it seems like if I cough it’s going to be on CNN. But I appreciate that people care enough to talk about it.” David then shared with me something that someone told him once, “Loved or hated, never ignored. I’m okay as long as I’m not ignored.”

Since I still had a minute or two, I couldn’t resist asking him about his opening act, Ryan Star. “Ryan is a great guy. We did a radio show together in Atlanta. When I saw his set, I was just mesmerized. He’s got a passionate intensity about him on stage that I hopefully match. He’s really set the bar high.”

For my final question, I asked David what he would say to a group of struggling musicians who were in his place a year ago. “It’s really easy to try to chase what is at the moment, but there’s no longevity in that. I guess if I had to give advice, I’d say, ‘Don’t try to be, just be.’ When I started focusing on who I was, everything fell into place.”

And I don’t think things will be falling out of place for David any time soon…

David—and Ryan—will be in concert at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University this Friday night beginning at 8. So yes, I will have LOTS more for the next few days. And you can read more from me in this weekend’s “The Herald-Dispatch”…



Photo Credit: Ron Cadiz/RCA

A Wild Card Round Update

So here’s an update on the Wild Card Round situation

Here’s the statement I got from the fine folks at “Idol”/FOX:

“We don’t have any specific information on the wild card round as of right now to release.”

In other words, we are trying to keep this secret, so we’ll let USAToday.com be the final word until we’re ready to announce it.

I have never known “USA Today” to be wrong in this area, so I think it’s true. And if it is, I don’t know how we could possibly not see Jamar Rogers back…

So Who's Going Through?

It was really a tale of two shows tonight, wasn’t it? That first half was absolutely atrocious. But the second half showed some real promise.

So who’s moving on to the Top 12? Wow, that’s a bit of a tough one, but I’ll give it a shot…

Guessing that more people will love Adam than hated him, I think he’ll be the top guy. And Allison should be the top girl since she gave the best performance, but Megan could give her a run for her money since Simon lobbied for her.

That makes that third spot the tough one to call. I think it’s between Megan/Allison (whichever one is not the top girl), Matt Breitzke and Kris Allen. Matt still has that familiarity and likeability working for him and I think Kris came off really well tonight.

But the wild card here is absolutely Nick Mitchell. If the people who want to mess with “Idol” really wanted to mess with “Idol,” Nick would be the way to do it. I’m hoping that the solid performances in the second half of the show wiped the memory of Nick’s away.

I say, let’s send Nick home and then bring him back as the opening act for the “Idol” tour, because he is funny and he does have a voice.

So what do you guys think? Who do you think is moving on to the Top 12?

Adam Gets "Satisfaction"

Adam Lambert, “Satisfaction”: 19
I thought the performance was pitch-perfect, but it just came off kind of robotic to me. And it was still a tad theatrical. I like Adam, so I don’t know why I didn’t jump off the couch on that one. Simon was right. It’s either a love it or hate it performance. And Adam, sweetheart, don’t talk back to Simon. Just smile and keep your mouth shut.

Mishavonna "Drops" In

Mishavonna Henson, “Drops of Jupiter”: 17
I hate that song, but I kind of liked what she did with it—although that ending was kind of corny. And she’s got a good voice.

Kai Ages Himself

Kai Kalama, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”: 17
The vocal was pretty good, but I thought he just came off really old. And I kept waiting for that one big note to knock it out of the park and it never came. Plus, the backup singers didn’t do him any favors. Notice too that the show didn’t replay his story, but only barely mentioned his mother. That’s going to hurt him if people don’t remember.

Matt Bores While Jesse Is "Too Cool for School"

Let me just say at this point that I HATE this Wednesday thing. Tonight’s “Lost” is going to be the biggest episode of the season AND this two-hour thing is bumping up against the “Top Chef” finale. Thank goodness it’s a one-time thing. However, the results show will be moving to 9 p.m. beginning March 11th, so that will be a big bummer…

Matt Breitzke, “If You Could Only See”: 14
I think the song choice was okay, but he didn’t show enough grit and so it came off kind of blah. And he really needs to work on his stage presence. That swimming thing was a little weird and the camerawork didn’t do him any favors.

Jesse Langseth, “Bette Davis Eyes”: 17
I’m with Randy. I thought it was okay, but there was just something missing. Maybe it’s because that’s not really a singer’s song. Like Jesse said herself, that song is all about the claps.

And did Simon actually just say, “Too cool for school”?...

Megan Does The Twist

Megan Joy Corkrey, “Put Your Records On”: 17
The singing was good, but it was hard to concentrate on it with that weird twisting thing she was doing (She looked like she had a wedgie.). And since Simon lobbied for her, I think she should refrain from ever talking back to him again. It was probably a good thing he was talking to Paula and missed that.

Allison and Kris Finally Get Us Started

Allison Iraheta, “Alone”: 19
I almost gave her a zero in Song Choice before she even sang just for choosing that song since we all know that’s Carrie Underwood’s song. But I was VERY wrong. That was awesome! I would’ve given her a perfect score, but I had to knock her personality. That interview with Ryan was terrible. And what about that “I don’t even remember, man” after her performance? Is she the female Jason Castro?

Kris Allen, “Man In the Mirror”: 15
Kris was almost the season’s first victim of the band. But that chorus was NICE! And Simon clearly sees something there since he pumped him up so big.

And kudos to Simon for saying Danny has a good voice. That’s been debated rather hotly on the Internet this past week…

Norman Returns!

Nick Mitchell, “And I Am Telling You”: ???
Nice trick by the show, huh? I’m sorry. I just didn’t know how to rate that. But the sad truth is he hit more notes than anyone else tonight. But did he really just call NPH “Doogie”? That’s just wrong. But I have a BAD feeling that he’s got a shot—especially since Ryan just said he didn’t deserve to go through.

Meet Jeanine Vailes

Jeanine Vailes, “This Love”: 10
This is the first time we hear her voice and she gives us that? In Daisy Dukes? WOW! What in the world?! And Ryan’s pimping for votes, her begging and everyone’s obsession with her legs didn’t help matters.

Matt Goes With Coldplay

Matt Giraud, “Vida la Vida”: 13
So remember what I told you about contestants ruining their chances by picking a current song? Wow, that was a huge risk and it did not pay off at all. I understand that he was trying to do something different, but that song is not meant to be sung that way. And since it’s a familiar song to people, they know that. I think we may have just crossed one of the favorite guys off the list.

Kudos, though, to Coldplay for clearing the song.

And is this what Simon meant by “fairness”? They’re going to take turns? BOO HISS! Simon should always go last…

Jasmine + Current Song = Trouble

I usually do a show preview before the show starts, but I think you guys can understand I’m slightly distracted tonight. Talking to David Cook will do that to you…

But here we are for Group #2…

And I hate to keep harping on this, but Ryan could you please try to wear something a little more decent, please. I guess at least it’s not flannel…

And check out the judging table. They’ve rearranged it—again. Simon said it’s about fairness, but I think it’s about making sense. I didn’t like it the other way.

And is Nick Mitchell really going to play it normal? Hmmm…And Adam Lambert has the “pimp spot.” Nice…

Okay, here we go…

Jasmine Murray, “Love Song”: 13
Remember what I told you about contestants ruining their chances by picking a current song? I think we just saw it. I thought it got better toward the end, but it was still kind of a mess. Jasmine needed a song that allowed her to show off her voice, because she does have one. I wonder if Jasmine picked it because Kara mentioned it for someone last week. I really thought Jasmine would shine, so she may have just opened the door for someone else…

And even though Simon assured USAToday.com that things would be better tonight, the audio is still messed up. Oh well…

My 15 Minutes With David Cook

“Angela, I have David Cook on the line for you…”

Could there be any sweeter words?

Okay, maybe “Angela, I have Kiefer Sutherland on the line for you,” but it’s still pretty sweet.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did speak with David Cook for about 15 minutes today and I am happy to report he is as wonderful on the phone as he is on TV.

Of course, I was so nervous at times I could barely talk. But of course he was too polite to mention that…

I’ll have more on my interview a little later, so stay tuned…

Photo Credit: Ron Cadiz/RCA

Breaking News: Will Jamar Get a Wild Card Shot?

This is a big one, kids…

There has been a lot of speculation that Jamar Rogers may return for the Wild Card Round, including a photo caption in next week’s “TV Guide” predicting a Jamar-Danny Gokey “Wild Card reunion.”

I had planned on doing a blog post about this and speculating as to whether it could be the surprise that FOX reality guru Mike Darnell teased us about a month ago.

And then USAToday.com—in almost a throwaway sentence—broke this thing wide open this morning:

“In next Thursday's wild-card round, the judges bring back eight or nine singers — not necessarily just from the semifinals — and pick three to round out the Top 12.”

USAToday.com is already speculating that this could also mean the return of David Osmond…

I’m still trying to confirm with the Idol folks if this statement is accurate and I’ll let you know when I hear something…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet Ryan Star...

In Ryan Star’s bio, he says, “I don’t think you really choose the time as an artist. I think the time chooses you.”

Well, there is no doubt that the time has chosen Ryan Star…

Star is currently on tour with David Cook, the reigning American Idol, and Star knows better than anyone what a great opportunity this is.

“There are a lot of people. And the reason I play is to get to people,” Star told me as he rode through Missouri on his way to the next show. “Everything’s great…Everyone’s excited. We’re really starting to hit that zone…And David’s a great guy.”

Star said the two met when they both played a radio show a few months ago and then Cook reached out to him about the tour. “It’s a great matchup. We compliment each other in a really cool way. The shows are awesome.”

And Star knows a lot about shows since he’s been a performer for most of his life. His first gig was at the legendary CBGB’s at age 16. “It’s been a long road,” he admitted. No doubt all of that experience adds to his show, which Star described as an “honest performance.”

Star has been kicking off his concerts on the tour with “Brand New Day,” which is the theme song to the new FOX hit series, “Lie to Me.” “People kind of know the song, so we instantly invite people to leave what’s been going on beforehand outside and just have fun.”

And from talking to Star—even for just a few minutes—it’s pretty obvious that there is a lot of fun to be had. He talks with such an enthusiasm that it was hard to keep up at times, but his excitement is so infectious that you can’t help but get sucked in…

This summer, Star will release his new album, “11:59.” He said it took him two years to put it together because he just kept writing songs. “David [Cook] has the pressure of 30 million people from ‘American Idol’ waiting for his music. I had the luxury of taking my time.”

And time is a very important element on the album. “There are a lot of songs about time, where we’re at right now. It’s a hard time, so I try to bring a breath of positivity…There are a lot of elements and layers. I’m proud to say it’s a true album.”

Star said he’s especially inspired by films—particularly those with positive themes. “I can watch a movie about death and not shed a tear, but if I see a little kid running into the end zone for a touchdown, that gets me. There’s a hope tied to it…That’s the music that I love—songs that make me want to fly.”

It’s that quality that Star believes is why sports outlets are a fan of his music. This year’s Super Bowl featured two commercials showcasing his song, “This Could Be the Year”—one for the Pro Bowl and one promoting NBC’s new series, “Kings.” His single, “Right Now,” has been used by the NFL Network and ESPN.

“I’ve really worked hard to get my music together, and now it’s starting to find its way in the world,” he said.

Star first came to national attention as a member of the band Stage, but he may be more recognized as a fan favorite on the reality-competition show, “Rock Star: Supernova,” which was searching for the lead singer of a new “supergroup” featuring Tommy Lee. About the show, Star said, “The opportunity was incredible. The exposure was magnificent. But I’m not that kind of musician. At one point I realized I don’t want to be a part of the circus.” So Star decided to use “Supernova” to get his name out there and it worked. After the show, he went into the studio to make his own kind of music.

As for what might have been if he had won, he joked, “More girls might have my phone number.” I couldn’t resist telling him that I was sure plenty of girls have his phone number…

Star’s latest single, which is starting to hit radio now, is called “Last Train Home.” But right now, Star is ready to ride the fame train wherever it may take him.

“I guess I’ve just been waiting on the world a little bit,” he said. “Sometimes it just turns out the right way. As an artist you can control every step of the process, but there are some things you can’t control. You can’t control where it leads when you’re done.”

As for where it may be leading now, Star said, “I’ll let you know on the other side.”

When I mentioned to Star that a lot of people at the concert who are David Cook fans will not be familiar with his music, he couldn’t resist joking with me a little bit. “Are you saying people don’t know who I am?”

Maybe they don’t now, Ryan. But they certainly will soon…

To learn more about Ryan Star, you can visit his website here.

Photo Credit: Atlantic Records

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Closer Look at Group #2

We are now ready to see and hear Group #2. And while Group #1 had some obvious front-runners, I think this one is more wide open.

Here’s a closer look at the contestants we will see WEDNESDAY night…

Megan Corkrey, 23, Taylorsville, UT
After Megan sang “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” at her initial audition, I wrote, “I can’t help but wonder how Megan will do with contemporary songs.” The Billboard Hot 100 could give us a great chance to find out.








Kris Allen, 23, Jacksonville, AR
Our only real look at Kris was as a member of the group White Chocolate that did “I Want You Back”—complete with a rap—on Group Day.











Mishavonna Henson, 18, Irvine, CA
In her final Hollywood performance, Mishavonna did a song that I didn’t recognize, but I called the performance “iffy.” She only made it to the second round in Hollywood in season seven.






Matt Breitzke, 28, Bixby, OK
Matt will forever be known as the welder. I loved his first audition with “Ain’t No Sunshine,” but Randy didn’t. His final Hollywood performance was a great rendition of “Some Kind of Wonderful,” but the last memory in people’s minds is Matt’s sing-off with Michael Sarver.




Allison Iraheta, 28, Los Angeles, CA
During the Top 36 episode, we saw a montage of Simon trashing her audition and her subsequent improvement in Hollywood. After she was chosen for the Top 36, Paula called her a “dark horse.”









Matt Giraud, 23, Ypsilanti, MI
Matt’s initial audition with “I Don’t Wanna Be” reminded me instantly of Elliott Yamin. Matt was also a member of White Chocolate, but it was his final Hollywood performance of “Georgia On My Mind” with the keyboard that really wowed the judges. All of them except Simon gave him a standing ovation.




Jasmine Murray, 17, Columbus, MS
Jasmine impressed in her audition and then wowed in Hollywood with “The Trouble With Love Is.” But she is best known for being the only survivor of Team Diva, which featured Bikini Girl.










Kai Kalama, 27, Redlands, CA
After his first audition with “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” I wrote that he had a “GORGEOUS tone and a beautiful story. I hope he goes far.”










Jesse Langseth, 26, Minneapolis, MN
Our best look at Jesse came during her final Hollywood performance when she did “Some Kind of Wonderful.”









Adam Lambert, 26, San Diego, CA
When Adam did “Bohemian Rhapsody” during his first audition, he was instantly accused of being theatrical (He was part of the touring company of “Wicked.”). And his performance of Cher’s “Believe” in Hollywood didn’t completely wipe that opinion from the judges’ minds. He’s obviously a risk taker but that could be his downfall.







Jeanine Vailes, 28, Washington, DC
The only thing we learned about Jeanine is that the decision to put her in the Top 36 was not unanimous. The FOX press release says she started singing at age four.






Nick Mitchell, 27, Brookfield, CT
All I have to tell you about Nick is the name of his alter ego, Norman Gentle.

Jeanine is the one with the biggest disadvantage, but since the other girls aren’t that well known, a good performance could catch her up. Of the others, I would look for Jasmine to shine.

The guys are going to be what’s interesting. Kai and Matt B. both have endearing stories, while Adam has that powerful voice. And then there’s Nick. I don’t even know what to say about that…

Remember that you can see the performances WEDNESDAY beginning at 8 p.m. on FOX…

And don’t forget that you can read more of my thoughts in “The Herald-Dispatch” on Tuesday…
Photo Credits: Michael Becker/FOX, Chris Cuffaro/FOX and Michael Becker/FOX

Cook's Opening Act

Talk about your small worlds…

If you’ve been keeping your TVs tuned to FOX for at least a few minutes after the results show, you’ve probably seen the opening credits to “Lie to Me,” FOX’s new hit drama.

That cool song that plays over the opening credits is called “Brand New Day” and it’s by Ryan Star, who is opening for David Cook on his current tour.

See what I mean?

You can hear his latest single, “Last Train Home” here.

I’ll have much more about Ryan later this week.

And could I also have more with his tour mate, David Cook? Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: Atlantic Records

Good News for Blake Lewis Fans

Here’s some good news for Blake Lewis fans…

According to Billboard.com, Blake has signed a new record deal with Tommy Boy Entertainment, the dance/hip-hop/electronic label. He told the website that he is five songs into a new album that they hope will be out by April. Blake describes it as “electro-pop/real-hip hop-influenced.”

Blake is also commentating on “Idol” for his local FOX affiliate. He told Billboard.com, “It’s comedy to me…Because with the audition episodes, I was there for 12 hours, and to see how they cut it into two cities in a one-hour show, I just laugh about it.”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Clay Aiken and RCA Part Ways

"Billboard" reported Friday that Clay Aiken and RCA have “parted ways.”

According to “Billboard,” Clay left the label a couple of months ago after his last CD, “On My Way Here,” sold only 159,000 copies.

You’ll notice I didn’t say this was sad news, because I don’t think it is. After all, I put the blame for those low sales squarely on RCA’s shoulders.

I think “Here” was Clay’s best CD yet, but you wouldn’t have known it from the lack of promotion the label gave it. And although “Here” was a beautiful song, it was the wrong first single. Plus, the timing of the release was atrocious. Because Clay was on Broadway he couldn’t give it the attention he needed to. And then all of the personal stuff broke. I think the label could have worked with Clay to come up with a better release date.

And let’s not forget that terrible decision to have Clay’s second CD (third if you count the holiday one) be a CD of covers. If “Here” had been his second release, I wouldn’t even be typing this right now.

I hope that Clay will be able to find a label that appreciates his talent and lets him make the kind of music he wants to make.

And one that convinces him to go back out on the road. He may no longer have RCA’s backing, but we still want to hear those songs…

Photo Credit: Eric Ogden/RCA

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Danny Gokey: "I Don't Want This Story"

Poor Danny Gokey. It was obvious from the first words he spoke to the listening reporters today that he was tired—tired of answering the same questions.

And why wouldn’t he be since most of the questions were about the wife he lost just seven months ago. And what some see as the producers’ over use of his story. And the backlash that is starting to build against him from people who feel he is using his story to gain sympathy votes.

In fact, just this morning, EW.com’s Michael Slezak fueled that backlash by accusing Danny’s friends of using the photo of Danny and his wife as a vote-gaining strategy. I don’t know if Slezak was on today’s call, but if he was, surely after hearing Danny’s tired and pained voice he feels bad now.

Seriously, it was all I could do to keep from taking my phone off mute, screaming, “Danny, I love you. I’m so sorry we’re doing this to you” and then bursting into tears.

Here are the highlights of Danny’s interview…

On being the early fan favorite: “I’m honored…I think very highly of everyone who supports me…people that I have never met…I hope I can keep them [throughout the competition].”

On contestants getting eliminated: “It’s not fun to see people go home.” Danny said he used to laugh at contestants getting all emotional saying goodbye in previous seasons, because it’s a competition. But he said, “Living it out, it’s a whole different story…You really connect…It’s their dreams. You want to see them succeed.”

On Jamar getting eliminated in Hollywood: “I was mad. I expected him to go through. I was so confident that he showed his ability…It’s not the end of the road for him. He has a bright future.”

Then he got the first question about his wife, and I have to say he handled it beautifully: “It’s only been seven months. This is who I am…I get asked about it all the time. Everybody wants to hear about it…You guys are asking about it…I don’t want this story…It’s shaping my life…It’s causing hope for a lot of people, which is causing hope for me…I didn’t want to live after she passed…I apologize to everyone if they feel [the story’s] been shoved down in their face.”

A reporter wanted to know if Danny was wearing different glasses last night and he said he was. He has another two pair he wants to wear but they haven’t been approved by the show.

On the Top 36 Process: “That makes it so gut-wrenching. Some amazing talent is being sent home…It’s almost unfair…It’s so hard to explain…

Then the question we were all waiting for from that same reporter—Who from Group #1 deserves to make the Wild Card round?: “I think they all do…I’m so sad to see them go…”

Then there was the obligatory Tatiana question, since he was paired with her last night. “[With Tatiana] you expect the unexpected…She really is a great person. She wants it so bad. At times that can maybe hurt her.” Danny said that even though he looked confident, he was a wreck and he hopes he didn’t look overconfident to viewers. “I hope it didn’t come off that way to the voters…I was preparing myself to go home…With this show anything’s possible…Tatiana was the surprise element…I wanted to go out gracefully.” When another reporter asked him later if he thought he was done when he was standing with Tatiana, he quickly responded, “I did. I really did…I thought if this is it, I am going to go out gracefully…In this competition, you can never be too confident…I prepared myself. Thank God I didn’t get sent home.”

A reporter asked whether it’s hard not having Jamar in the competition now. “At this point in the game, it’s easier now…I’m more emotionally stable…I’m so thankful [Jamar} was in Hollywood…Hollywood was very tough for me. I was miserable…I let go of some things I was gripping so deeply…hurtful emotions tying me down…the pressure the show puts on you.”

With the door reopened, another reporter asked if Danny had any kind of memento of his wife with him and he said he doesn’t. “She’s in my heart. I don’t hang on to charms or anything like that…She’s so deeply ingrained in my heart and mind.”

Several times Danny mentioned that he’d like to lighten up. “It’s kind of hard to relax. I want to relax…I do have a mission…In the top 36, I think I got my message across. Now I want to lighten up and enjoy the ride…I’ve still mapped out in my mind what I want to do.”

Danny said his pastor cried on the phone when he talked to him after last night’s show. “He was there for the entire process. He saw how much it devastated me.” Danny said the transformation from the lowest low to the highest high “is emotional…He’s so happy for me. He’s a big part of who I am.”

Can he improve?: “I know I can improve. I want to clean up my vocals…I like taking risks. I don’t like to just be in the safe box.”

Would Danny want to be a Christian artist?: “I don’t know yet…Mainstream music is where I want to be. I could have a good effect on it…I can be a Christian that sings mainstream music.”

So what would his wife think?: “My wife would be buying clothes and trying to get herself all cute [for the show]…She was spunky with a little attitude…She’d be so happy.”

Then finally, the big question. What about all of the attention he’s been getting from the show? And again, his response was beautiful: “I do feel like I was highlighted. No way around it. I didn’t do anything [to get it]…but I’m grateful they would do that. Not everyone’s going to like me…It’s a bummer when people are real mad about it. I had nothing to do with it.”

When the moderator asked Alexis and Michael for closing comments, they jumped all over the chance. But when she asked Danny, he paused for a moment and then quietly said, “No, I don’t.”

After a long day of interviews, it was obvious he was ready to stop talking.

Unfortunately for Danny, “Idol” is a double-edged sword. He’s using it to help him through his pain, but because of “Idol” he has to keep reliving the pain.

And for those of you who think the producers are shoving his story down our throats, honestly, they can’t help themselves. This is the first time that I can think of that “Idol” has found a contestant with a great story that also has a great voice. How can they not spotlight him? And as he said, it’s not his fault.

He’s just trying to make the most of it…

Photo Credit: Frank Miceletta/FOX

Michael Sarver: "I want to rise from the ashes"

I missed the first part of Michael Sarver’s interview, but from the minute I picked up the phone, it was obvious that we were dealing with a sweetheart. And it wasn’t long before he had won over all the reporters listening. He’s incredibly well-spoken and he’s a reporter’s dream because he talks in soundbites.

Here are the highlights of his interview…

On Kara being added as a judge: “It’s really incredible…She has an incredible mind for music…It’s easy to understand what she’s trying to get across.”

As an “Idol” fan is there anything about the experience that has surprised him?: “How close you get to the other contestants…You really do grow as friends.”

What about his children?: “I have an incredible wife who never drops the ball on our family…[We’ll] take it one step at a time.” Michael said his three-year-old daughter is already talking about going on “Idol.”

What’s been surprising to him about Hollywood?: “You see it as flashy and fancy…But it’s very simple and beautiful…It’s real people with real lives.”

Did Simon’s public plea help him?: “I can’t deny that I think that could have had something to do with it…I don’t take that lightly…Complimenting the person that I am means a lot to me.”

On his blue collar appeal: “The hard working American is part of the appeal…with the economy and the day that we live…I want to rise from the ashes…People relate to that.”

On his large amount of airtime: “You definitely can’t deny it helps…It got people a little closer to me.”

What other contestant’s story resonates with him?: “When you see the incredible person he is…I have mad, mad respect for Danny Gokey.”

At this point, Matt M. from TVGuide.com tried to push Michael to reveal whether he was the top male vote-getter or if it was Danny (He said he didn’t know.), but Matt kept calling Danny David. Finally, Michael had to respond, “Who’s David?” (his only slightly rude moment). And then Matt couldn’t remember Danny’s name. I’m glad I’m not the only one that happens to…

On his Christianity (He’s a worship leader in his church.): “It has everything to do with my step forward. It has everything to do with my tomorrow and believing that there are better things ahead.” Michael said that he and fellow worship leader Danny pray together.

Michael said he began singing during a time in his life when things were really tough. He didn’t go into details, only saying that he had a family situation when he was 11 and he turned to music. Unlike Alexis, Michael has not performed in clubs or bars, but he has performed in arenas at youth conventions.

Michael also wouldn’t bite when the same reporter that asked Alexis asked him who in Group #1 should get a shot in the Wild Card round. “I’d be doing myself a disservice by naming anyone…I would not be disappointed with anyone [from Group #1 making it to the Wild Card].”

So why did Michael finally try out this year after watching the show since season one? “I never felt the gumption to go…I still had a lot of growing up to do.” His sister-in-law wanted to try out and he decided to go with her. “It was the right moment, the right time in my life.”

On his performance: “I couldn’t be more proud of myself that I sold out on that stage…It wasn’t perfect…but I gave it everything I had.”

To oblige a reporter from near his hometown, Michael told his fans, “I love you guys and what you did for me this week…It means you get something out of what I bring.”

On his song choice: “I completely stand by the choice of song…I’ll probably begin to flirt with my roots, which are R&B and soul.”

What will he be doing for the next three weeks? “Lots of interviews, rehearsals…They’ll keep us busy…plenty for us to do.” When the reporter pressed (needlessly, by the way), he added, “They’ve not made it clear what’s next.”

When Michael was given the opportunity to give closing comments, he jumped all over it telling the reporters, “You are part of our success.”

Photo Credit: Frank Miceletta/FOX

Alexis Grace: "It's all to better our lives"

To hear Alexis Grace talk, you wouldn’t think she’d be capable of pulling off the soulful performance she did on Wednesday (I know the performance show was on Tuesday, but her results show performance was better.). She’s got that sweet personality that just makes you want her to do well…

Here are some of the highlights of her interview…

On the music arrangement process with Rickey Minor and the gang: “It’s a show that helps form you as an artist…You should really just listen and take their advice…They’re amazing.”

On her daughter: “She watches the show with my family…She points at the TV and screams “Mommy!”…She might figure out something soon.”

On being away from her daughter: “It’s only for a little time…It’s all to better our lives.”

Which Group #1 contestant would she like to see make the Wild Card round? “Everybody was good….Everybody has something different to give America…I enjoy everyone’s voice.”

When describing her musical style, Alexis said it’s “blues.”

What was she thinking before her performance Tuesday night?: “I was just thinking, ‘You know what? I’m going to make the best of this night.”

What are things like during an episode?: “There’s a lot of waiting around…Backstage, we’re all hanging out.” Alexis says the group played board games. She particularly likes Scrabble and Scattergories. “We’re trying to ease the tension.”

On adding Kara as a judge: “It’s only for the better…It’s good to have an extra critique in there.”

So what will she be doing for the next three weeks as she waits on the finals to begin?: “We’ll keep busy. We’ll be around. You’ll see us again….Just keep watching the show.”

Why did she choose Aretha?: “I know I can sing in that range…I feel connected…That’s just my style, so I went with it.”

On the judges comparing her to Kelly Clarkson: “It’s more than flattering…It shook my world—in a good way…It pushes me…to prove that they’re right…

Alexis told us that was her father and his girlfriend in the Red Room last night and it made her feel comfortable because her dad is in a band with her back home. So is her dad worried about losing her from the band? “My dad couldn’t be more happy for me that I’m doing this.”

Alexis almost made it through the entire call without a question about Tatiana—almost. She said she never talked to her that much because she kept to herself. “She’s determined…She is going to be something someday.”

Photo Credit: Frank Miceletta/FOX

My Hour With The First Three

You guys know I’ve been writing about “Idol” since season three. But this is the first year that I’ve been a part of the actual Idol publicity machine. And I have to tell you it’s been a lot of fun so far.

Today the machine had an appointment with the first three contestants to advance to the Top 12: Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver and Danny Gokey.

It’s one thing to see them on TV, but to actually hear them as they interact with the media and answer their questions—not all of them good ones—really gives you a better idea of who these kids are.

And these first three are pretty cool…

Later tonight, I’ll be posting the highlights of the three interviews. But be warned, you’ll be completely charmed…

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Group #2 Is Revealed!

Here are the contestants we will see perform on WEDNESDAY night…

Megan Corkrey
Kris Allen
Mishavonna Henson
Matt Breitzke
Allison Iraheta
Matt Giraud
Jasmine Murray
Kai Kalama
Jesse Langseth
Adam Lambert
Jeanine Vailes
Nick Mitchell

Hmmm…

I’ll have a preview for you on Monday…

Now, it’s time for “Lost.” I can already see it’s getting really crazy…

Did America Get It Right?

Before I get to Group #2, let me ask the question I always ask at this time on a results show night. And let me ask it quickly, because “Lost” is on…

Did America get it right? You better believe it…

I actually called it last night, but I still had those nagging doubts about Tatiana. Thankfully, America didn’t pay any attention to the fact that she actually sang decently and remembered her annoying personality. But will the judges remember, or will they bring her back for the drama of it all? That remains to be seen…

As for who else we could possibly see again, I think Ann Marie is a possibility depending on what the other girls do and Brent is a slim possibility, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I would bet on Anoop returning, though. In fact, even if he gives a mediocre performance during the Wild Card show, I’d still say he’s getting one of those three spots. And I would look for Ricky Braddy to return since Paula likes him so much…

What do you guys think? Do you think any of the remaining nine deserve a second chance? Are you happy with the three that advanced? Be sure to post your comments…

Tomorrow, Alexis, Danny and Michael talk to the media. And yes, I will be there—or at least I’ll be on the phone…

Be back with Group #2 in a sec…

And the Final Spot Goes To...

I have to tell you, I feel a little sick. Is there a shocker brewing here?

And poor Danny, he’s in trouble either way. Either he doesn’t get through, or he has to catch Tatiana when she crumbles in tears on the floor…

8:55 We’re back…I am REALLY nervous now. I REALLY hope this bad feeling is wrong…I know there’s the Wild Card, but still…Danny smiles as Tatiana fixes her hair…She’s on the verge of tears now…She says it’s up to America, the power of love, faith, and hard work and she’s so blessed to be here…And it’s…Danny…THANK GOODNESS!...Danny gives her a hug and gets out of the way so Ryan can hug her…She’s in stunned silence or at least she’s acting like she’s in stunned silence…Danny sings “Hero”…What do you know? America gets it completely right…Danny’s friend in the Red Room shows the camera a picture of Danny and his wife…The director insists on cutting back to Tatiana multiple times to catch her tears…Even Brent is smiling…I can’t believe we have to wait three weeks to hear him again…Okay, quit cutting away from Danny to show Tatiana. We get it, she’s upset. Give Danny his moment…Michael and Alexis hug Danny…

8:59 A reminder about next week’s shows…The introduction of Group #2. I’ll get those to you in a minute…

9:00 And we’re out…

It All Comes Down to Two...

8:48 We’re back…My hero, Denise, just texted me that she thinks the last pairing will be Danny and Tatiana. That would be dramatic, wouldn’t it?...Ann Marie stands in her place…Brent stands in his place…Why am I nervous?...Stevie stands…Is it just me or does Brent look angry?...Randy says none of them performed to their potential…None are in Top 12…I think we could see Ann Marie again…

8:49 Danny and Tatiana. My hero is right again…LOTS of screaming…Poor Danny. Tatiana is doing her drama queen act. He’ll probably have to catch her…Ryan asks her if she can talk about how she feels and she just fans herself…Danny is completely cool—and a little annoyed, I think…Paula says “with this show it’s hard to say”…I think she feels a surprise. She says Danny should go through and the audience agrees…After the break…

Michael and Carly Return to the Idol Stage

8:38 We’re back. Here is the Idol Experience video I promised you…I kind of wish Carrie and David had sung a better song together. Sorry, I’m not a Fleetwood Mac fan…

8:40 Ryan asks for the next two contestants…And it’s Carly Smithson and Michael Johns…Carly said she had to find hair in Orlando for the Experience opening because the airline lost her luggage…Michael says his album is coming out in May and the single is coming out in a few weeks…They’re doing “The Letter”…So where is the explanation of why they’re there? I thought surely they’d show footage of the two of them at Boot Camp in Hollywood…Okay, I know we only saw the back of his head, but Simon looked totally bored…Okay, let’s cut them a little slack here. According to EW.com, they were only invited to sing on Sunday…Break…

Okay, let’s take a second to analyze. Notice Ryan did not say if Alexis was the top female vote-getter or if Michael was the top male vote-getter. However, he did kind of give himself away by saying only 20,000 votes separated Michael and Anoop. That would suggest that Michael was the top vote-getter of the rest. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping it means because then Danny would definitely get the remaining spot. But remember, kids, this is Idol. Anything can happen…

And The Second One Through Is...

8:27 We’re back…Alexis tries to look comfortable in that ridiculous stool…Ricky and Jackie together. Well, obviously they’re both out because adding two more this early would be anticlimactic…Ryan asks if Jackie agreed with Simon and she says she doesn’t. Simon says, “We’ll see”…Ricky gets short-changed again as Ryan barely talks to him when he tells him he’s not in the Top 12…

8:30 Anoop and Michael. Interesting pairing, Ryan…If they’re both out, we could have a Tatiana problem…Ryan asks Michael to describe the moment…I’m getting nervous…The person going through is…Michael. Told ya…Don’t worry. Anoop will be back, so Ryan shouldn’t say he’s going home…He says, “Thank you, guys”…Michael says the guys at work are either laughing at him for being a sissy or they’re proud…He sings “I Don’t Wanna Be”…Ryan says only 20,000 votes separated Michael and Anoop. Well then he will definitely be back in the Wild Card Round…Conventional wisdom says the last spot is Danny’s, but…Break…

And The First to Go Through Is...

8:10 We’re back…Ryan says it was a “very raw” show last night…Recap…Wow, Jackie sounds even worse on tape…

8:14…Ryan turns to chat to the group…He asks Jackie how she would grade herself. She gives herself an A+/B-. Wow, talk about deluded…Ryan makes Anoop admit that he’s the most nervous he’s ever been…Tatiana says she’s humbled to be here and she’s wearing Paula’s ring. Poor Danny has to sit next to her…Ryan asks Stevie how she’s holding up. She say’s she’s “good”…

8:16 WOO-HOO! The urinal chairs! I knew it. And there are, of course, only three of them…Lights dim…Casey joins Ryan at center of stage…WOW! We are seriously going to drag this out…What is that weird new music? It sounds like “Deal or No Deal”…Randy says she should go…Not in Top 12…

8:18 Stephen comes down…Kara says he should go…Not in Top 12…

8:19 Alexis…LOTS of cheers…YEA! She’s in the top 12…Is our long Tatiana nightmare over? Remember there’s still a Wild Card. And another spot, but SURELY that’s going to a guy...And now Alexis is going to sing. Stupid Writers’ Strike that kept FOX from making any new comedies to air after Idol so we could have a half-hour results show…I’m actually feeling her performance tonight. Maybe it’s because her outfit is super cute and not just her trying to be a sex kitten…Break…

HERE WE GO!

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time this season, HERE WE GO!...

8:00 Dramatic Intro. Ryan says, “Take nothing for granted”…Credits roll…

8:01 Ryan says 24 million votes last night—10 million more than this time last year…Ryan re-explains the rules…Judges intro…

8:02 Randy says some people stepped up and some “lost their spot”…Kara says Stevie, Casey, and Stephen disappointed her…Ryan cracks another inappropriate joke about Simon disappointing Paula after the show. He really needs to cool that…

8:03 Look at Group #1’s “Idol journey”…

8:04 Group Song: “I’m Yours”…Michael, Brent and Anoop start…Danny, Stephen and Ricky…Girls join…Wow, as if I didn’t hate this song enough…Tatiana, Casey and Ann Marie fight for camera time…Jackie acts ridiculous and tries to overshadow Stevie and Alexis…I think Jason Mraz is crying right now…Tatiana looks upset that she’s not getting more camera time...Did Jackie choreograph that number? YIKES!...The audio is still a little bit funky…Break…

Tonight's Show...

You guys know I HATE these hour-long results shows.

But it will be interesting to see how Ryan fills the time since he’s picking the three best instead of telling 10 they’re safe.

In the old days, they just sat in the Coke Red Room and Ryan dramatically announced one person at a time, filling the moments in between each announcement with interviews and show clips.

But those were the half-hour days. An hour is going to take something much more dramatic.

And can we really name the Top 12 without those urinal chairs?...

So besides the announcement of the three moving on, what can we expect to fill the hour tonight?

There has been no official word from FOX, but EW.com has reported that Michael Johns and Carly Smithson will do a duet. That probably also means a nice video package showing the two helping out during Hollywood Week since that got cut from the Hollywood shows.

And since the Idol Experience officially opened at Walt Disney World last week, I feel quite certain that we’ll see footage of that with some kind of “in-depth look” at the whole thing.

I’m sure Ford will do something, whether it’s a full-blown commercial or not, and we’ll have a recap of all of last night’s action.

And sadly, we will probably also have a group number, just because there will be plenty of time for one and there’s nothing else to do.

Plus at some point, Ryan will need to announce the contestants that will make up Group #2. AND if he’s smart, he will also announce several times that next week’s shows are on Wednesday and Thursday due to the President’s speech.

So what will fill up the remaining minutes? I haven’t a clue. I just hope that all of last night’s technical glitches have been fixed or it could be a VERY long night.

Of course, it’s going to be one for me anyway, because—as usual—I am blogging the results show as it happens AND it’s “Lost” night AND “Top Chef” is eliminating two contestants before the finale…

Phew! But you know I love every minute of it…

I’ll see you guys tonight…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So Who's Going Through?

Obviously these contestants didn’t watch “Idol” during seasons one through three. Because if they had, they would have realized they couldn’t make the same mistakes as people in seasons four through seven.

As I’ve told you guys, this season’s semifinal round isn’t about the two worst, it’s about the three best. That means you get one shot and you’d better bring it. You can’t do your favorite song, or your grandmother’s favorite song, or a tribute song for your family. You have to do the song that showcases you the very best or you’re going home.

Unfortunately, very few people figured that one out tonight…

To say the semifinals have gotten off to a rough start would be putting it mildly. The girls especially had a weak night, which opened the door for the most annoying contestant of the season. And you know that despite her demure attitude tonight, if the door opens just a crack, she’ll barge right through…

So who’s moving on?

Let’s start with the girls since they’re the biggest crap shoot. I can’t even believe I’m about to say this but I think Tatiana may have given the best performance of the night. But that’s not really saying much considering they were all pretty much a mess. I think there’s an excellent chance that Tatiana could make it—and don’t say I didn’t warn you (because you know I did). However, if America does the right thing they’ll put through Alexis Grace as the top girl.

It should be fairly obvious that Danny Gokey will be the top guy. But this is “Idol” so nothing is obvious. However, I still have to believe he’ll nab the top spot.

That leaves the top vote-getter from the remaining 10 and I have to believe that’s going to a guy. The question is whether it’s Michael Sarver or Anoop Desai. Michael chose a better song, but Anoop had a better vocal. And they’re both extremely likeable guys, so I think it’s a toss-up. However, I think that whichever of these guys doesn’t go through we’ll see him again in the Wild Card Round.

What do you guys think? Do you agree that we could be stuck with Tatiana for a while longer? And are you in love with Danny as much as I am?

Be sure to post your comments and let me know…

And remember that we’ll get the results tomorrow beginning at 8 p.m. on FOX. And since the format is different, we’ll get to see a whole new bag of cruel tricks from Ryan…

Danny Is My "Hero"

Danny Gokey, “Hero”: 20
You can tell me my love is blinding me, but that was awesome—especially since I can’t stand that song. Danny pulled the double whammy. He picked a song that showcased his voice AND his story. I’m sorry Simon wasn’t impressed…

And Now It's Tatiana's Turn...

Tatiana Del Toro, “Saving All My Love For You”: 12
This girl even sings dramatically. But she actually hit most of the notes pretty well. I would’ve given her a higher score, but I gave her a zero in personality. However, I agree that the weird robotic response to the judges is creepy…

Stephen Remembers the Lyrics

Stephen Fowler, “Rock With You”: 12
WOW! Paula made a great point there. He should’ve done “Time of My Life” again. That would have been a good story. But instead he chose something terribly cheesy. And that cocky attitude is not going to do him any favors…

I think all of the audio problems in the studio are affecting the contestants. I’m wondering if their monitors are a little off…

Michael Impresses and Ann Marie Disappoints...

Michael Sarver, “I Don’t Wanna Be”: 16
I think this was the first perfect song choice of the night. No, it wasn’t a perfect vocal, but it was the perfect song for him to showcase who he is. And as Simon said, America likes him and this performance won’t change that. But he does need to change that dancing…

Ann Marie Boskovich, “Natural Woman”: 10
This is one of those songs that if you can’t nail it, don’t bother. And it doesn’t help that it’s one of Kelly Clarkson’s more famous numbers. And what was up with that slam of Sara Bareilles? That’s not going to score her any points at home…

And Stephen promises not to forget the lyrics? Is that the kiss of death or what?...

Casey Trashes The Police

Casey Carlson, “Every Little Thing [He] Does Is Magic”: 11
Wow, I am agreeing with Randy WAY too much tonight. I mean, trying to turn The Police into a sex kitten song? Seriously? And what was up with those weird facial expressions? I think someone has been listening to too much Jessica Simpson…

And don’t these girls realize they’re just improving Tatiana’s chances of making it through?...

Stevie and Anoop Take the Stage...

Stevie Wright, “You Belong With Me”: 10
Wow, that was rough. Nerves really got the best of her. I think she should have gone with a ballad. The good news is that no matter how off key she was she still hit more of the right notes than Taylor Swift would have. And she didn’t cry. You have to give her that…

NPH IN THE HOUSE!!! WOO-HOO!!!

Anoop Desai, “Angel Of Mine”: 14
Wow! Randy with real feedback! That was almost as weird as Anoop’s song choice. It was pretty, but it didn’t show enough of his personality. I think he should have gone with a more fun song like he did in Hollywood. Not to worry. He’s a real candidate for a Wild Card as well, but I’m not sure he’ll need it. That gracious attitude will serve him well.

And for those of you who are not readers of my other blog, NPH is Neil Patrick Harris, who I adore…

Brent Goes to "Hicktown"

Brent Keith, “Hicktown”: 12
I agree with Kara. I don’t think Brent picked a song to show off his voice—especially since he showed no lower register. And disagreeing with Simon? Not smart, Brent. Not smart. And he may have just hurt his Wild Card chances too…

Alexis Shows Some Soul...

Alexis Grace, “Never Loved a Man”: 12
I can’t explain why I just didn’t feel this one. Maybe it’s because I didn’t buy the whole sex kitten thing. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, I just didn’t feel it…

MAN, do I hate these two hour behemoths…

Meet Ricky Braddy...

Ricky Braddy, “A Song For You”: 15
Ricky has a GORGEOUS voice, but there was just something about his song choice that I didn’t like. Since we don’t know anything about him—Tonight was the first time we saw any of his previous performances—I think he should have gone with something a little more familiar. But don’t worry. If he doesn’t make it through, I have not doubt he’ll be back in the Wild Card round…

And We're Off!

So Simon doesn’t even know the rules? Does he not read my blog?...

And the contestants can choose from the entire Hot 100 and not just the top 10. WOW! That’s a lot of options. This will be fun…

Jackie Tohn, “A Little Less Conversation”: 8 (out of 20)
Thank goodness for Simon, because I was starting to think I was the only one that was totally embarrassed by that. YIKES! And if her performance didn’t do her in, that cocky diatribe about not singing “And I Am Telling You” will. Simon’s right. America is not going to like her…

And what is up with the microphones tonight? They are all over the place…

Are You Ready?

Okay…

Red clipboard…check!

Score sheet…check!

Phone ready to vote out the wazoo for favorite contestant…check!

It’s that time again, ladies and gentlemen. Time to begin the Idol performance shows…

For those of you who are new to “Idol Chit-Chat” (and welcome if you are), here’s how this works. I score each contestant’s performance according to the official score sheet of the now defunct “American Idol Magazine.” There are four scoring categories: Vocal Ability, Song Choice, Personality, and Stage Presence. I give each contestant a score of 1-5 in each category with a maximum total score of 20.

Please note that the official “American Idol Magazine” scorecard also includes Appearance as a category, but I eliminated that one after a controversial Carrie Underwood score in season four.

I’ll post my scores and comments during each commercial break. You can share your thoughts as well by posting comments. I’ll add those comments as soon as I can.

So are you ready? I’ll be back in 10…

Breaking News: Michael and Carly to Duet!

EW.com is reporting that Michael Johns and Carly Smithson will perform a duet on Wednesday’s results show.

The two served as mentors during Hollywood Week, but that footage was cut. Executive Producer Ken Warwick felt bad about it and decided to bring the two back to the Idol stage.

According to EW.com, the duo is still working out the details on what they’re going to sing…

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Closer Look at Group #1

I just barely touched on this Wednesday night because I was tired and irritated and Fabio had just broken his finger on “Top Chef.” So I need to go back and revisit this whole strategy thing because it’s going to be important.

Once again, let me remind everyone how this whole thing is going to work. On Tuesday night, we will see 12 singers perform and then America will vote. The top female vote-getter, the top male vote-getter and the top vote-getter from the remaining 10 will move on to the top 12.

We’ll do that for three straight weeks so on Wednesday, March 4th we will have nine spots of the Top 12 filled. Then on Thursday, March 5th, there will be a Wild Card show where the judges will bring back their favorites from the remaining Top 36. They’ll sing and then the judges will choose their top three to make up the rest of the Top 12.

So, the entire dynamic is changed from seasons four through seven because no longer is it about the two worst/least popular performances. It’s about the three best/most popular. And two of those three are gender specific. So even if three guys give great performances—which is a strong possibility with Group #1—only two of them can possibly advance. That leaves one guy hoping to be rescued by the judges. But if three other contestants wow them, he could be out in the cold.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Group #1…

Casey Carlson, 20, Eden Prairie, MN
Casey auditioned with “A Thousand Miles” and I said she had a really interesting voice. But since then, she’s become better known for forgetting the words to “Tattoo” during her final Hollywood performance.




Stephen Fowler, 26, Cleveland, OH
Stephen is a married piano teacher with two sons. But he will forever be known as the guy who completely botched “Time of My Life” during the final Hollywood Round. And with that image fresh in the voters’ minds, Stephen will have a tough road to hoe.







Jackie Tohn, 28, Oceanside, NY
The judges had Jackie do two songs during her initial audition, “I’m Yours” and “I’ll Do It All,” but my only comment was on her goofy dancing. She did “I Hope You Dance” with a guitar for her final Hollywood performance.








Ricky Braddy, 25, Nashville, TN
According to the FOX press release, Ricky has a degree in commercial vocal performance from Belmont University. And that’s all we know because we have seen nothing from him. But Paula has been talking him up during recent interviews. He had best bring it if he hopes to advance since we don’t know his story.






Ann Marie Boskovich, 22, Thousand Oaks, CA
Ann Marie is the contestant the judges made come back with a different look. She did “Bubbly,” with Simon eyeing her the whole way. Ringer Alert: Ann Marie recorded “Part of Your World” for the closing credits of “The Little Mermaid II.”



Brent Keith, 29, Blanchester, OH
Brent wowed me with his audition song, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” and then I realized why he looked so familiar, and I fell out of love quickly. As a “Nashville Star” finalist who recorded a song for the “Dale” soundtrack, Brent has the stench of ringer all over him—which may explain why he got zero camera time during Hollywood Week. I know he’s got a lot of fans around here because of his local connections, but that lack of camera time AND his ringer qualities put him at a distinct disadvantage. He had better bring it.



Alexis Grace, 21, Memphis, TN
After the single mom’s rendition of “Dr. Feelgood” during her first audition, I said, “She had a great voice and a great story. She could have a real shot.”









Michael Sarver, 27, Jasper, TX
Michael is married with two children, but his tag is the oil rig worker. He sang “Thank You” in his initial audition, but it’s his last audition ripping out one of my favorites, “Nothing At All,” that I remember.








Stevie Wright, 17, Phalan, CA
When she did “At Last” during her first audition, Kara said, “You’re my girl so far.” I said that her voice reminded me of Kelly Clarkson.





Danny Gokey, 28, Milwaukee, WI
Ah, Danny. You guys know that he’s my guy and I look forward to voting for him tomorrow night—A LOT. He wowed in Hollywood with “Kiss From a Rose” and “I Hope You Dance,” but sadly, Danny will always be known as the guy who lost his wife. Although now he could add to that the guy whose best friend was wrongly eliminated. His well-known story is an advantage for him.






Tatiana Nicole Del Toro, 24, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Do I really have to tell you anything about Tatiana? Logic would tell us that Tatiana has a slim to none chance of advancing. But when has “Idol” ever done anything logically? As much as I hate to put this in print, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see her advance Wednesday. Remember she doesn’t have to beat out 11 other contestants. She only has to beat out the other five girls. And if VotefortheWorst.com and the others hoping to watch the show crash and burn can put together enough votes, that’s a possibility—especially if those other five girls don’t bring it.




Anoop Desai, 22, Chapel Hill, NC
Anoop’s audition song was “Thank You,” but he got the most attention with his final Hollywood song, “My Prerogative.” He’s got a following from being a member of the UNC Clef Hangers, a University of North Carolina a cappella group.







As for what these 12 people will sing, Executive Producer Ken Warwick told USAToday.com that they were going to be able to choose from songs that have made the Billboard Top 10 since the Billboard charts were created in the 1950s. That means the return of watching people ruin their chances with current songs—which is always fun to watch. I’d say that’s a bigger problem for the girls, though, because Beyonce, Rihanna and Carrie Underwood are going to prove way too tempting.

Remember that tomorrow’s show is two hours beginning at 8, and yes, I will be here rating the performances as they happen. And you can play along with me by posting your comments.
It’s finally here, ladies and gentlemen. And it’s going to be fun…
Photo Credits: Michael Becker/FOX, Chris Cuffaro/FOX, Becker/FOX, Cuffaro/FOX, Becker/FOX, Cuffaro/FOX

J-Hud's Comeback Continues

Jennifer Hudson continued her resplendent comeback with a huge night at the NAACP Image Awards last week…

Jennifer won three awards: Outstanding New Artist, Best Album and Best Collaboration for “I’m His Only Woman” (which features Fantasia)…

Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Cook and Carrie Together For the First Time

During the finale of the Idol Experience grand opening, something pretty awesome happened…

Carrie Underwood and David Cook sang together for the first time.

You can see a rough video of the two doing “You Can Go Your Own Way” here.

The Idols Unite for the "Experience"

Check out this picture…

Yes indeed, that is all seven Idol winners. They gathered for the first time to receive special “Idol” statuettes at the grand opening of the Idol Experience at Walt Disney World.

There were lots of other Idols at the opening too as you can see from this picture…



As you may recall, the Idol Experience allows visitors to compete on the Idol stage. The best performers from the day compete in a Grand Finale where the audience determines the winner.



You can get more details about the attraction here.

Photos Credit: Walt Disney World

Can Carrie Defeat the Country Boys?

The nominees for the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were announced this morning. And yes, Carrie Underwood is among them…

Carrie was nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year, Video of the Year (“Just A Dream”) and Entertainer of the Year.

It’s nice to see Carrie get nominated for the big one, but why did they wait until she had a weaker year? It would have made more sense to nominate her during her “Before He Cheats” heyday. But since the fans vote for this one, she might have a chance…

If Carrie does beat Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban (a daunting task indeed), she will be only the seventh female artist to win. If she wins Female Vocalist of the Year, it will be her third straight…

The ACMAs will air Sunday, April 5th at 8 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/Arista Nashville

My apologies…

My apologies to all of you for not updating my blog over the weekend.

It was Valentine’s Day/Daytona 500 weekend, so I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me…

Tonight, I’ll show you some really cool pictures and video from the grand opening of the Idol Experience at Walt Disney World AND I’ll have an in-depth preview of tomorrow night’s first performance show.

Stay tuned…

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So What Happened With Joanna?

So why was Joanna Pacitti disqualified? FOX and “Idol” are both being quiet about that one, but the Internet is not…

Although nothing is confirmed, the prevailing theory has to do with her relationship to two 19 Entertainment executives. Of course, 19 is the company behind all things “Idol.”

Two weeks ago, “Star Magazine” reported that Joanna was close friends with and at one time lived in the same building as two 19 execs. Today’s article says one of them even used to be her manager. You can read it here.

Again, it’s important to point out that there has been no confirmation that this is the reason, but it certainly sounds like a valid one to me. And if it is the reason, the show never should have let her get so far. Someone had to know all of this before “Star” said anything. Did they really think in a world of TMZ and VotefortheWorst.com that no one would find out?

As I said in my earlier post, Joanna’s disqualification opens up a Wild Card spot because I believe the show intended to put her through as a ringer. But when these stories came to light, the ringer backfired on them and they had to let her go…

By the way, Joanna is also rumored to be dating Mark Ballas of “Dancing With the Stars.” Maybe we’ll see her show up there next…

Important Programming Note

For those of you who map out your whole TV viewing schedule a month at a time (Wait. You mean that’s just me?), let me share with you this important “Idol” programming note…

The week of February 23rd, “Idol” will air on Wednesday and Thursday instead of Tuesday-Wednesday due to President Obama’s address to Congress (It’s not called the State of the Union in a President’s first year.).

So the two-hour performance show will air Wednesday, February 25th at 8 p.m. and the results show will air Thursday, February 26th at 8 p.m.

Please mark those calendars now…

Breaking News: Joanna Out!

So I just checked my e-mail for the FOX press release and I’m casually scrolling down the names and pictures, when suddenly, a small sentence at the bottom jumps out at me:

[EDITOR’S NOTE: It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is
ineligible to continue in the competition. AMERICAN IDOL contestant Felicia
Barton has replaced Ms. Pacitti as part of the Top 36.]

I have no further details on this right now, but you know I will. My guess is they discovered she has an existing recording contract.

In my opinion, this leaves a Wild Card spot open because you know America wasn’t going to put her through, but as a “ringer” the judges would have…

Much more on this later…

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Final Thoughts On the Night...

As usual, my hero, Denise, and I texted back and forth throughout the entire two hours. After Nick Mitchell made it through and Jamar didn’t, she texted me that she didn’t know what was up with this season. I responded, “I don’t know what to say”…

And then I remembered I have to say something. You guys are counting on me. But what to say…

I just checked my e-mail and RT, my second favorite Canadian sent me a message. I haven’t read it yet, but her subject line says it all: American Idol Season 8…has just jumped the shark…

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, “jump the shark” refers to the moment when a TV show goes down the tubes. For example, most people believe that “Frasier” jumped the shark when Niles and Daphne got together. Going back even further, people see the introduction of Cousin Oliver as the jump the shark moment for “The Brady Bunch.” Those shows may have continued after those moments, but they were never the same.

So did “Idol” jump the shark when Nick and Tatiana went through?

I promised you guys the best season ever. So I really don’t want to say yes, but…

Remember what I said yesterday. First and foremost “Idol” is a television show. Each season has had contestants that were clearly more for entertainment than talent—Danny Noriega, John Stephens, and of course, Sanjaya Malakar. So it really shouldn’t be any surprise that “Idol” would let through Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentile and Tatiana Del Toro. But it still hurts…

Maybe it’s because this is supposed to be the season “Idol” turns it around. And doing stuff like this just isn’t going to make that happen…

But before I say something I might regret about the show I love, I’m going to say good night and find out who the final four are on my beloved “Top Chef.” I’ll have much more for you tomorrow…

And Your Top 36 Are...

FOX has not yet posted the official press release announcing the Top 36, so allow me to try and name them from my own list:

Anoop Desai
Von Smith
Alex Wagner-Trugman
Adam Lambert
Taylor Vaifanua
Jasmine Murray
Arianna Afsar
Casey Carlson
Megan Corkrey
Mishavonna Henson
Stevie Wright
Joanna Pacitti
Kendall Beard
Kristen McNamara
Alexis Grace
Scott McIntyre
Lil Rounds
Jesse Langseth
Allison Iraheta
Danny Gokey
Ricky Braddy
Matt Giraud
Ju’Not Joyner
Jorge Nunez
Brent Keith
Stephen Fowler
Nick Mitchell
Jackie Tohn
Tatiana Del Toro
Nathaniel Marshall
Matt Breitzke
Michael Sarver
Jeannine Vailes
Kai Kalama
Anne Marie Boskovich
Kris Allen

I’ll get you the official bios and pictures as soon as I get them…

I’ll be back in a sec with some final thoughts…

Group #1 Is Revealed

Group #1, which we will vote on next week has been revealed. And it is…

Casey Carlson
Stephen Fowler
Jackie Tohn
Ricky Braddy
Ann Marie Boskovich
Brent Keith
Alexis Grace
Michael Sarver
Stevie Wright
Danny Gokey
Tatiana Del Toro
Anoop Desai

You know, the interesting thing about dividing the Top 36 into groups is that it’s no longer about the worst two performances. It’s about the three most popular people. And my guy Danny has drawn a tough group…

Remember that the top female vote-getter, the top male vote-getter and the top vote-getter from the remaining 10 will go through to the top 12. Danny is probably popular, but he’s in there with Brent and Michael. Plus, Anoop has a big following already from his UNC a capella group. I am really worried. And considering the females in this group, I’m afraid there’s a real shot that Tatiana could go through…

Now I know there’s a Wild Card round that can still save Danny if he doesn’t go through, but I don’t want it to come down to that. Whatever he sings, however good or bad it is, I’m voting A LOT…

The Final Spots Fill Up

I’ve got six spots open now…

Jeannine Vailes…Through, but not unanimous…

Kai Kalama…Through…

Anne Marie Boskovich…Through…

Kris Allen…Through…WHO?!

That leaves two spots open, I think…If I’m right, then I’m right they’ll both go through…

Matt Breitzke (the welder)…Cut to his audition and a “What About Now” montage…And Michael Sarver…Cut to his audition and Hollywood Week…Cut to Simon trashing him on Group Day…Simon asks him to sing again and he does a song I don’t know. Simon asks him why he chose that song and he says he loves it. Simon answers, “I don’t”…Michael Sarver (the oil rigger) sings something else I don’t recognize…It’s really good…Simon says he likes them both, but he’s not sure that either one of them could win…Man, do I hope my math is right…And it is!...Nice try, “Idol.” Did you really think we wouldn’t be paying attention?...

Montage of the Top 36’s journey to “The Time of My Life”…Do they not realize that Tatiana’s screaming is fake?…And how come we saw so little of Brent? Are they trying to sneak him in?...

And Tatiana Is...

My calculations show nine more to go, but then I was never very good at math…

Jackie Tohn…Cut to Hollywood Week doing “I Hope You Dance” with guitar…Unanimous…She’s through…

Tatiana Del Toro…Cut to all of her emotions…I have the worst feeling she’s going through…Did anyone else hear Ryan trying to build her up in her voiceover when they cut to her Hollywood performance?...She comes in screaming and acting stupid…Simon asks her to try not to be annoying…Paula notices she’s wearing her bracelet. Paula is crying. Does that mean she’s gone? Please…When Tatiana says she couldn’t get the ring, Paula gives hers to her. Simon says that was generous of her to promote her jewelry on national TV…Not unanimous…She’s through…I knew it…It looks like it was Simon that voted no. Why does Randy always side with the girls?...Simon tells her that Paula will want the ring back…That screaming is SO fake…Nathaniel makes a face and Matt cringes…Ryan says we look forward to seeing what she will bring to the live shows. Actually, no we aren’t…

Nathaniel Marshall and Jackie Midkiff will face off…Cut to Jackie’s Hollywood performance…Jackie sings “When A Man Loves A Woman”…Kara asks why he’s in this sing-off position because he’s great and Simon disagrees…Cut to Nathaniel’s emotion in Hollywood…Cut to his story of living with his grandmother because his mom is in prison…I think that means he’s in. If not, that’s really cruel…Simon asks him what he’s wearing. He says if it’s his last day, he wants to be true to himself…Simon asks him to sing. He does “I’m Already There.” I wouldn’t have expected that one from him. It’s pretty good, but a little overblown, which makes him go a little off key…Simon says it’s the worst outfit he’s ever seen on the show…Nate says he doesn’t want to take away Jackie’s dream…They go back in…Nate’s in…Randy tells Jackie to come back…

The welder and the oil rigger face off? That’s not fair. Who wants to bet they both go through?...

And Now I'm Angry...

Jamar Rogers…Kara says he tooks some risks in Hollywood…Cut to him singing “Hey There Delilah”…Kara says she’s not sure risks paid off…Jamar is out…WHAT?!...They tell him to definitely come back…The room is stunned and Danny is devastated…If they let Nick/Norman through and not him, I will scream—more than I just did…And how could they do that to Danny?...

Ricky Braddy…Through…

Matt Giraud…In

Ju’Not Joyner…In

Jorge Nunez…In

Brent Keith…In

Stephen Fowler…Cut to him screwing up in final Hollywood performance…He says now he shouldn’t have walked off…He’s through…Okay, I’m a little upset…As my second favorite Canadian, RT, says, “Forget the lyrics and you’re out” is a crock!...

Nick Mitchell…Cut to Norman Gentle audition and his performance in Hollywood…He’s Nick today…He tells the camera he will do anything to get through…Paula said they spent more time on him than anyone else…I’ve got a bad feeling he’s through…Simon says he’s been consistent with him since day one…Kara says she misses the shtick…He says he’d like to do some of the character when he performs and Paula says that’s what they want to hear…I knew it…And I have just experienced my first real anger of season eight…Simon says it’s unbelievable…I knew it in my gut that he would go through. I just thought Jamar would go with him…

Did My Guy Make It Through?

According to my calculations, we’ve got 18 down and 18 to go…

Shera Lawrence…out…

Derik Lavers…out…He cries on Brent’s shoulder…

It’s now 5 p.m.?! YIKES!...

Allison Iraheta…Cut to Simon trashing her audition and her improvement in Hollywood…She’s through…

“Breakaway.” Nice…

After Allison leaves, Paula calls her “a dark horse”…

Now it’s time for Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers. If they make them sing-off, I will SCREAM!!!...Cut to their Hollywood Week…Danny is first…Danny says with all of the pressure, he did well…Cut to that amazing “I Hope You Dance”…He says he always thinks there’s room for improvement…Danny says he thinks he’s relevant and Simon teases him about his confidence…He’s through…Give me his number now so I can start voting…He runs out to hug Jamar…Danny says they will sing together…

After the break…

Another Sing-Off Adds One More...

Let me just warn everyone that my lights are blinking pretty badly, so if I’m suddenly gone, you’ll know what happened…

Felicia Barton…out, but not a unanimous decision…Sounds like Paula liked her…

Ashley Hollister…unanimous…out…

Devon Baldwin…out…

Frankie Jordan…Cut to Simon trashing her in Hollywood…Jesse Langseth is also coming up…Cut to her good Hollywood. She’s “totally confident”…Frankie is first…Kara asks her to sing again…I don’t know it, but it’s a little shaky. Simon says it’s “definitely made it easier.” Kara liked it…Jesse sings something I don’t recognize. Simon said it “was a horrible song.”…Simon says neither and I agree…Paula said they both picked bad songs…Jesse is in…Simon tells Frankie “if it’s any consolation, you wouldn’t have won anyway.”…He tells Jesse she doesn’t have a chance either…Frankie says, “You’re telling me there were at least eight girls better than me?” Simon says, “You’ll see”…

Three More Go Through...

We’re back to decide Jen vs. Kristen…Kara tells Jen she’s beautiful, but Kara says that was the wrong song choice. I TOTALLY disagree…Paula tells Kristen she has an identity crisis, especially her current outfit…Simon and Randy tell them to get on with it…Simon interrupts and tells Kristen she’s in, but that it’s the wrong decision…Since Simon has the tie-break, I’m guessing that the girls got Randy to side with them…

Alexis Grace…Cut to her wowing Simon in Hollywood…She’s through…She celebrates with her little girl…

Scott McIntyre with his mother…Where is that hot guy who was with him in Phoenix? Sorry, I had to ask…Cut to his audition…I don’t see where Kara thought he was better with his keyboard. I disagree…He’s through…

Lil Rounds…She’s a mother of three? Wow…She thinks she’s through, and so do I…Cut to her audition which Kara said everyone loved, but Randy says Hollywood was up and down…Simon’s stalling makes no sense…She’s through…I think Kara is getting too much joy out of this teasing thing…Simon says she’s fantastic and a good old-fashioned singer…

Got to go set the VCR for “Lost.” I’ll be right back…

Another Sing-Off Makes Things Interesting...

T.K. Hash, Chris Chatman, Reggi Beasley out…Based on the clips we saw, those were the correct decisions…

Kendall Beard…Cut to her good audition and a shaky Hollywood…She’s shaking in the chair…She’s through…

How long do they rehearse faking out the contestants before they do it?...

Jen Corby…Cut to her audition with her husband and the two of them singing on Group Day where her husband was eliminated…Paula asks her to sing again…She does “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Nice choice considering the circumstances…They send her outside…Kristen McNamara is outside…Cut to her Group Day trauma, of course…Simon asks her to sing again…She does “I Will Always Love You.” It’s pretty good, but that is never the right choice, is it?...They send her outside…Kara trashes her outfit…Simon is arguing with them about keeping “the attractive one.” I’m guessing that’s Jen. Simon says he disagrees that Kristen is more interesting…

After the break…

A Gaggle of Girls Make the Cut...

Taylor Vaifanua…Cut to her forgetting lyrics on Group Day, but she improved with her solo performance of “I Ain’t Got You”…She’s through…Am I the only one who wasn’t impressed?...

Jasmine Murray in…

Arianna Afsar in…

Casey Carlson in…

Megan Corkrey in…

Mishavonna Henson in…

Stevie Wright in…

Joanna Pacitti…Cut to her forgetting lyrics during every performance in Hollywood…And you know she’s still going to get through…Paula says it’s been a tough road and Joanna says she still hasn’t shown what she can do…Kara reminds us she’s had label deals and asks when she is going to step out and show who she is. Good question, Kara. Joanna says now is the time…Simon says that will happen when someone gives her a break…She’s, of course, in…Still not sure how I feel about that…

Two More Make the Cut...

Ryan says they decided to do the sing-offs because the contestants “were so strong”…

Cody Sheldon…Cut to him making his horror movies…They ask him to sing again…Alex Wagner-Trugman makes his way to the room. He’s Cody’s sing-off partner…Cody sings “Love Remains the Same.” They send him outside…Alex and Cody run into each other and realize what’s going on. They’re upset because they’re friends…They ask Alex to sing…He does “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”…To me it’s much better than Cody (although that’s not saying much), but Simon looks pained…They send him outside to join Cody and Ryan…Alex says he doesn’t like it…Alex goes through and Cody’s out…Simon shakes Cody’s hand...Alex walks out with his arm around him…Alex says this isn’t the way he wanted it. And Ryan is not making it any better…They tell the rest of the contestants and their families…Cody gets a lot of hugs…

Adam Lambert…He says Hollywood was a rollercoaster…So there’s a staircase AND a garden? YIPES!...Adam hopes choosing “Believe” in the last round pays off. I think he’s fine but I’m still not sure about that…Simon says they all liked him in Hollywood, but that it’s different when you look at the whole package...Simon milks it BIG time…He’s through…

The First Two Are Revealed...

So I had a scare earlier tonight when I got home and my electricity was off. But we’re here now…Lets hope it stays that way…

The Judges’ Mansion. Ooooh…Instead of the long hallway, we’ve got the long garden. What an upgrade!...But what’s the point? Is someone trying to sell this house or something?…And I guess this sing-off thing is for real…

Anoop Desai goes first. Kara says he always surprised them…Cut to him singing “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”…He’s in…

Von Smith…He’s more prepared for a no than a yes…Cut to Simon trashing him…He says he went against his parents and didn’t go over the top…Simon says that decision made the judges’ decision for them…He’s in…Interesting…

I miss the elevator already…

Tonight's Game Plan

So tonight is the night we finally hear who we’ll start voting on beginning next week.

I just REALLY wish it didn’t take two hours to hear it…

My game plan is to blog the show live. Then, I’ll be back with all the details on the contestants as soon as FOX sends out the press release…

However, please keep in mind that those forecasted damaging winds could throw my plan right out the window…

See you tonight (I hope!)…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Remember It's a Television Show...

Tonight’s episode is a perfect example of something we all know about this show, but should remind ourselves quite often.

Yes, “Idol” is the search for a music superstar. But first and foremost it is a television show…

Remember that just because someone made it through tonight does not mean they’re going to make it into the top 36. It’s possible that they were put through simply for the drama.

Why do you think Bikini Girl made it so far?

You’ll notice that Tatiana would have been safe in either room she was in, so were the judges ever really reconsidering her or did they just want to watch her fall apart? And we all heard how bad her final performance was so is she really going to make the top 36 or did they put her through to watch her freak out sitting in the chair?

And what about Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle? Is the show really going to put him through? I have to believe no, but putting him through tonight does build the suspense.

And they need all the suspense they can get since the show is two hours long tomorrow night…

It was interesting to watch the “ringer,” Joanna Pacitti, fall apart, but I’ve got to think that she’ll make the top 36 for her story alone. And I only caught a glimpse of him before a commercial break, but I’ve got to believe that Brent made it as well. Whether he makes the top 36 or not could be up for grabs, though, because there are a lot of talented guys this year…

And speaking of talented guys, I should let all of you know that I am now officially in love this season. I first fell in love in season four with Constantine. Then in season five it was Ace and season six, it was Blake. It took me a while to fall in love with David Cook last season, but when I did, I fell hard.

But this year, I am already head over heels for Danny Gokey. Anyone who can make “I Hope You Dance” into a song I want to hear over and over is pretty awesome. He could go record that baby right now. I know the previews made it look like Danny is in trouble, but I don’t believe that for a second. I am poised and ready to vote for him when his group comes up…

And speaking of people in trouble, the previews insinuated that some contestants may be given another chance to sing for their survival during tomorrow night’s episode. I honestly don’t know whether that’s true or if that’s more of the judges drawing out the drama.

Because remember, it is first and foremost a television show…

“American Idol” airs for two hours tomorrow night beginning at 8 on FOX…

Hollywood Week Comes to An End...

It’s now Day Four in Hollywood, and Ryan tells us there are 72 contestants remaining. You may recall that at the end of Wednesday’s episode there were 75 contestants remaining. So what happened? My guess is that people dropped out or they discovered something that made them ineligible…

During this round, the contestants perform with backup singers and musicians and can also play their own instruments. There is no judging feedback, just sing and get off the stage.

We see the contestants in the main holding room as the judges deliberate in the theater…

Cut to the performances. Adam Lambert is first…Cut to his first Hollywood audition. Kara said she felt like he was still doing theater, but Paula disagreed…Back to final performance. Adam does Cher’s “Believe” as a ballad, and it’s definitely interesting. The judges are a little hard to read with this one and I thought it was a little over the top…

Matt Giraud, who reminded everyone of Elliott Yamin, does “Georgia On My Mind” with the keyboard and it’s pretty awesome. He gets a standing ovation from all the judges except Simon…

It’s 7:45 p.m. and the judges are still deliberating. The contestants are still in the main holding room and Jamar is freaking out a little bit. Cut back to his performance of “Hey There Delilah” as his best friend Danny Gokey looks on. Everyone loved it. I thought it started out kind of weak, but he worked it out…

And then my guy Danny took the stage and absolutely nailed “I Hope You Dance,” a song I am completely over, by the way, but he made it awesome. Even Simon gave him a sly smile…

It’s now 8 p.m. and the judges are still deliberating…

Cut to Anoop Desai singing “My Prerogative” and Jorge Nunez doing “Closer.” They’re both pretty good…

Scott MacIntyre (the blind guy) does “Home” at the keyboard. Paula gives him a standing ovation, but I thought it was kind of pitchy…

Kendall Beard does “Before He Cheats.” They should really retire that one from the competition…

Stevie Wright does “Bubbly”…

Lil Rounds does “If I Ain’t Got You”…

Kristin McNamara (of Team Compromise) does “Because of You,” but it’s a little overblown. Ryan tricks her into thinking that Nancy is there to apologize to her…

Mishavonna Henson does a song that I don’t recognize. Cut to her only making it to the second day of Hollywood in season seven. Back to her performance which is a little iffy…

It’s now 8:30 p.m. and the judges are sending one group of 18 to a room. Matt and Anoop are in that room—Room #1…

It’s 8:45 p.m. and Room #2 has been decided with Tatiana Del Toro in this room…Cut to her singing eight different songs during her time on “Idol,” since she always refused to stop. She sings “I’m Your Baby Tonight” for her final performance and Kara makes a face because it’s bad with a weird ending that made Simon laugh. She, of course, tells the camera that she was awesome…

Cut to other performances from Room #2: Alexis Grace does “Before He Cheats”…Kenny Hoffpauer does “I’m Yours”…Jasmine Murray does ‘Tattoo” and I thought it was a little rough…

Nathaniel Marshall does an acoustic “Disturbia” with a guitar. Cut to all of the drama of Team Compromise…

Joanna Pacitti does “If I Ain’t Got You” and totally forgets the lyrics…Casey Carlson also forgets the lyrics to “Tattoo”…

Stephen Fowler stayed up all night practicing his performance of “Time of My Life” with the keyboard. He tells the camera that it’s not hard to memorize because it’s not lyrically difficult. So of course, he forgets the lyrics and asks to start again. But when he forgets them the second time, he just gets up and leaves the stage…

It looks like Von Smith is also in Room #2…

Cut to the judges who realize the numbers are off with men and women. Someone comes in and removes Tatiana from Room #2…

It’s now 9 p.m. and there are two rooms filled while Tatiana freaks out in the hallway…

Nick Mitchell is waiting in the holding room. Cut to his Hollywood Week. Day One he performed as Norman, day two as himself and his final performance was as Norman. He sits on the piano and does “Georgia On My Mind” and then crawls all over the floor…

The judges finish their deliberation on the remaining contestants and Room #3 and Room #4 are filled…

In Room #4 is Nick Mitchell. Cut to other performances from Room #4: Ann Marie Boskovich does “I Hope You Dance”…Ju’Not Boyer turns “Hey There Delilah” into a sultry R&B ballad…

Tatiana is placed in Room #4, which concerns everyone in there…

It’s 9:30 p.m. and all of the rooms are filled…

In Room #3 is Kaylan Loyd. Cut to her performance of “If I Ain’t Got You,” which Simon actually cut off. That song should also be banned…

Leneshe Young does “Love Song” and it’s pretty weak…

Cut to performances from Room #2:

Kai Kalana does “Part-Time Lover” but his voice is completely off…

Cut to Michael Sarver, the oil rig worker, and his good Hollywood Week. Back to his final performance, which is “Nothing At All,” a GREAT song…

The judges are finally done, and Simon leaves to catch a plane for London…

In Room #2, Nathaniel is trying to figure out his fate, but then the judges come in. The judges are clearly stalling…They’re through…That means Alexis, Joanna, Casey, Ariana, Kai, Jasmine, Steven, Michael, and I believe Von are through…

Now to Room #3 where they hear all of the screaming…

Cut to India Morrison, who had a good group performance (She was the rapper.), but her solo of “Disturbia” was bad…

Michael Castro is also in this group…

They’re not through. Because of her story of growing up with nothing, Leneshe gets the extended goodbye montage…

It’s 10 p.m. and two rooms are remaining to hear their fate…

In Room #1 is Danny, Matt and Adam…The judges come in and it’s pretty clear, pretty quickly that Randy is stalling. How could those guys not go through?...The group also includes Scott, Jorge and Jamar…

Now to Room #4…Tatiana is falling apart while the judges go on and on about “raising the bar” each season and how hard it is, blah, blah, blah. What they’re saying, and the math tells you that they’re stalling. Finally, Matt the welder asks Paula if it’s a no. After a dramatic pause, she tells them they’re through…

After a montage of people celebrating and saying goodbye, we get a preview of tomorrow’s “Green Mile” episode, which will reveal the top 36. Apparently there’s a judges’ mansion now and Ryan promises us a “new twist.” The previews show Michael Sarver singing for his survival…

And there’s your recap. I’ll have some more thoughts in a few…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cook Goes Platinum

I’m five days late with this, but since it’s really good news, I hope you’ll forgive me…

“David Cook” has been certified platinum by the RIAA for sales exceeding one million units.

According to the official press release from 19 (which I just got today, thus the delay), “Time of My Life” has also gone platinum making it the highest selling coronation single in “Idol” history. Maybe that will teach the show something about actually picking decent songs…

Now, I know that record companies play with numbers when it comes to these certifications, but to even see Cook be eligible for it is quite an achievement—especially when some people had completely written him off.

Of course, I was not one of those people, thank you very much…

Photo Credit: RCA

Jennifer and Carrie Take Home Grammys

Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood both went home with some hardware last night at the Grammys…

Jennifer took home Best R&B Album for “Jennifer Hudson” and Carrie took home Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Last Name.”

By the way, I actually slighted Jennifer in my post Saturday because she was also nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for “I’m His Only Woman,” which features another Idol, Fantasia…

Jennifer is winning rave reviews for her emotional performance during last night’s show. You can see it here…



And although someone should remind Carrie’s backup singer that she’s not the one with her name on the song, Carrie gave probably the most confident performance I’ve ever seen her do…

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Melinda Doolittle CD Review: "Coming Back" Big

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard from Melinda Doolittle, but the good news is she’s back in a BIG way with her new album, “Coming Back to You”…

I usually review CDs track by track; but with this one it’s almost too hard to do because the CD has such a seamless flow to it.

The mix of covers and originals have a real funky Motown sound to it and you guys know I love my Motown…

Things get off to a rocking start with “Fundamental Things,” as Melinda proves very quickly that she has not lost her beautiful phrasing ability or her gritty soulful sound…

She then gets jazzy with “It’s Your Love,” the first single. Though I question its single possibilities, I do think it’s a good showcase for Melinda’s voice…

“Coming Back to You” is probably one of the weaker songs on the CD, but it’s still a good one that showcases Melinda’s snarl…

The horns get back to business on “Declaration of Love.” The song has such a Funk Brothers/Phil Spector sound to it, you’re willing to forgive Melinda for going a little over the top in places…

“The Best of Everything” slows things down a little and allows Melinda to concentrate once again on that gorgeous phrasing…

“Wonderful” gets back to a soulful groove. And I love those horns…

Even a song as old as “Dust My Broom” sounds modern in Melinda’s hands and I love it when she shows some attitude…

“I’ll Never Stop Loving You” is a pretty song with lush orchestration, but it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the CD…

“I Will Be” is probably the strongest track on the CD as Melinda’s phrasing and soul combine with a solid chorus…

Things slow down again with “If I’m Not In Love,” as Melinda shows off her sultry side…

But before you can get too mellowed, things get SUPER bluesy with “Walkin’ Blue,” which has a great groove…

“We Will Find a Way” takes things back to church as they say as Melinda builds up to a sweeping sentimental chorus…

The CD closes with “Wonder Why,” a love song so beautiful you almost want to cry…

The album reminds me a lot of Melinda’s run on “Idol”—solid as a rock, but without a lot of flash. I’m worried that if this one doesn’t get a lot of radio play it will get ignored.

And that would be a HUGE shame because I would count this one as one of the strongest Idol releases ever.

But honestly, would you expect anything less from Melinda?

“Coming Back to You” is available now. You can hear it for yourself here...
Photo Credit: Hi Fi Recordings

What Really Happened to David Osmond?

So what really happened to David Osmond?

His uncle Donny got the inside scoop for “Entertainment Tonight”:

“It was crazy. It was insane. I'm sitting there in the Kodak Theatre [with the] judges to my right, my group's there ready to go and my voice slips away…By lunch, I started to have a vocal problem. I didn't know what it was. I wasn't sick or anything. By dinner, I couldn't sing a note. I couldn't get a tone out, and I had full-blown laryngitis within about eight hours.”

And that wasn’t more dramatic than Katrina’s antics? They couldn’t have shown us that? Maybe they were afraid to because they knew we would side against the judges…

Sadly, because of David’s age, this was his last year of eligibility for “Idol”…

Here’s a video of David singing an original song, “Last Day,” on the “ET” set…

Clay Is Headed for the Runway

Get ready, Claymates!

EW.com is reporting that Clay Aiken will serve as a guest judge on an April episode of “America’s Next Top Model.”

According to the website, Clay will also participate in an acting challenge with the contestants.

Yes, you read that right. Acting and not singing. I’m guessing it ties in with being on stage…
When I get more information on this, I’ll pass it on…
Photo Credit: Eric Ogden/RCA

Archie In Hawaii

David Archuleta will sing the National Anthem at Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl.

According to USAToday.com, he’ll be joined on the field by fans and more than 200 military volunteers. The Hawaii Air National Guard will do the flyover.

The Pro Bowl airs Sunday, February 8th at 4:30 p.m. on NBC…
Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Idols on Grammy Night...

Two Idols will be performing during the Grammy Awards Sunday night…

Carrie Underwood will sing “Last Name,” while Jennifer Hudson will sing “You Pulled Me Through.”
Carrie is nominated for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Name,” while Jennifer is nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Spotlight.” She’s also nominated for Best R&B Album for “Jennifer Hudson” and “Spotlight” is nominated for Best R&B Song, but that award goes to the songwriters.

Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown are nominated for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for “No Air.”

The Grammy Awards will air Sunday, February 8th at 8 pm. on CBS…
Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Group Day—The Day After

I have to say I’m a little surprised at how negatively people have responded to last night’s episode…

Even the great Michael Slezak of EW.com wrote that last night’s episode might signal the end of “Idol” as a cultural phenomenon.

What?!

Yes, it’s true that we didn’t get to see a lot of singing, but it’s Group Day. It’s not about the singing. It’s about the drama…

And I love it. Ever since season two when Corey Clark went partying instead of rehearsing with his group, I’ve loved it.

Now granted, we really only got to see drama with two of the groups. And those groups featured two of the more annoying contestants (Tatiana and Katrina), which made it a little harder to watch.

And yes, I would’ve liked to have seen David Osmond’s performance that got him eliminated. But what makes Group Day special is the catfights and the forgotten lyrics—not the singing.

Or at least that’s what makes it special to me.

Maybe I’m just too much of a drama queen…

What did you guys think? Do you think last night’s episode was a sign of bad things to come or did you enjoy it?...

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Group Day! Yippee!

It’s Group Day, it’s Group Day. YIPPEE!!!

There was SO much drama in this hour that it was hard to keep up. But I did my best…

To the recap…

It’s 9 p.m. and the 107 contestants (40 contestants were sent home) are being given the songs to choose from. And yes, you are correct if you think that’s a three person swing from last night. Did Ryan get the number wrong, or did the judges change their mind about three people? I don’t know…

By 9:30 p.m., most of the groups are formed but Megan and Tatiana (the beauty queen with the annoying laugh) are struggling to find anyone to team with. They both do and Tatiana immediately takes over her group. Her fellow singers decide she’s crazy…

Rose is teamed with Lauren, Jasmine and Katrina, who will forever be known as Bikini Girl. Rose says the others are too worried about being cute. Meanwhile Tatiana’s group clashes…

My guy Danny and Jamar’s group is going well, which makes me a little nervous…

Tatiana breaks down and the group starts talking about her behind her back, even calling her the devil. Tatiana runs to the group of Nathaniel, Kristin and Nancy. Nancy is excited but Nate and Nancy want nothing to do with her…

It’s 1 a.m. and some groups are going to bed, while others rehearse on. Tatiana decides to go back to her original group, which upsets Nancy and she confronts her. Tatiana’s group makes up…

Nate, Kristin and Nancy christen themselves Team Compromise, while Tatiana’s group fights over choreography—a fight that spills over while they’re talking to the camera…

Team Compromise begins to struggle when Kristin decides to rest and Nancy wants to work. Nancy and Kristin fight, making Kristin cry. Nate watches dumbfounded…

Team Diva—Rose, Lauren, Jasmine and Katrina—have a problem when Katrina goes to bed. Rose is upset about their prospects and Katrina breaks down to her roommate. At 4 a.m., the group has no idea if Katrina will perform with them…

Team Compromise’s drama continues as Nate breaks down over the girls’ fighting and Emily tries to help…

It’s 7 a.m. and people are talking about how much sleep they got. The Divas go to Katrina’s room to get her and her roommate tells them she’s not feeling well…

Team Compromise is struggling again as Kristin tells the camera that Nate is dramatic and Nancy is upset no one wants to practice…

Team Diva tries to get Katrina up, but she’s not budging and they leave her…

Action Squad, Emily’s group, is falling apart with Michael Orland…

Nancy decides she’s no longer concerned about her group and is going to do her own thing…

It’s 10:20 a.m. and some groups are getting it together, including Tatiana’s. But Katrina is not at breakfast and Rose tells the person checking names that she’s quit. But, of course, she shows up. The group is not happy and Rose says they’re going to be a trainwreck…

It’s showtime, but first, Simon warns everyone that if they forget the words, they’re out. That freaks everyone out…

First up is White Chocolate—India, Justin Williams, Kris Allen and Matt Giraud—doing “I Want You Back.” It’s catchy and good and India even raps. Paula gives it a standing ovation…

Cut to a montage of people forgetting the words…

Jorge and Nick are through…

Action Squad—Ann Marie Boskovich, Emily Wynne-Hughes, Alex Wagner-Trugman and Ryan Pinkston—is spending more time working on their creative huddle breaks than on their song, “Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow.” Their dancing is atrocious and the singing not that much better as Emily forgets the words. Alex and Ann Marie are in but Ryan and Emily are out. I thought Ryan was good, but then he gives us a speech about how he was “manipulated and insulted” and he says he saw “evil in Paula’s eyes”…

The groups are doing so badly Simon is looking for a “crate” of Advil. We get a glimpse of Nick as himself and not Norman Gentle. Simon jumps on Kara and asks her not to start talking until he’s done…

Danny and Jamar’s group go a capella with “Somebody to Love.” It gets a standing ovation from Paula and Simon says it was a “very, very good performance,” which I completely agree with since Danny ROCKED it. They are all through…

We see more cuts. Unfortunately, I don’t know their faces enough to know who they are…

Montage of people doing “Some Kind of Wonderful”—Jeremy-Michael, Adam Lambert (who was awesome), Matt Breitzke, and Jesse Langseth. They are all through…

Team Diva—Lauren Barnes, Katrina Darrell, Rose Flack, and Jasmine Murray—is doing okay now. But on stage, Rose forgets the words and does some weird flopping to Duffy’s “Mercy.” Simon says he can see that they didn’t work together and wants to know who’s to blame. They don’t bite. Jasmine is the only one who goes through. So Bikini Girl is FINALLY gone, but not before she walks straight down the aisle to wave at the camera.

Outside the theatre, Lauren is still talking about what happened and how some didn’t have as much work ethic. Katrina walks away and says she’s brushing it off her shoulder. They try to make up, but Katrina won’t do the “fake thing.” Rose walks off crying and saying, “I hated my group so much”…

Didn’t I promise you that Bikini Girl would cause trauma for her group?...

It’s 4:20 now and more harsh cuts are made, including David Osmond. I’m not going to lie to you. That one hurt…

Austin and Deanne are also out…

Tatiana’s group does “I Want U Back” and they all go through much to my chagrin. I mean, we keep annoying laugh girl and cut David Osmond?! And Tatiana can’t help but give a big dramatic speech about how she loves everyone. Man, I hope she gets cut Tuesday or Wednesday. I couldn’t handle her in the top 36…

I guess I was wrong about Donny dropping out of “Dancing With the Stars” to not compete with his nephew. Unless he was as confident about his chances as I was…

Finally, it’s Team Compromise’s—Nathaniel Marshall, Nancy Wilson, Kristin McNamara—turn. Nancy admits they didn’t get along. Simon asks Kristin for her response to that and she says she’s tired of the drama. They do “Mercy” and Nancy does some weird key change and is the weakest of the group. Simon says he thinks they all sang backup vocals badly to sabotage the others. Kristin reaches out to Nancy, but Nancy says it’s too late. Nate and Kristin are through, while Nancy is out. Nate tries to hug Nancy but she walks away. As they walk in front of the judges, Nancy curses Kristin out. Finally, Nancy lets Nate comfort her. I hate to break it to Nancy, but that one was all on her…

See why I love Group Day so much?...

We get some glimpses of others who made it through and I recognize Von and Brent…

75 are through to the final day. The previews show that number includes Nick, only this time he’s once again Norman Gentle…

Tuesday, we get the final performances in Hollywood, and the famous room revelations. Then Wednesday, it’s the episode they call the “Green Mile” as the top 36 is revealed…

I’m still holding on to Danny as my favorite, but I would now rank Adam Lambert second now that David is gone. And I’m still withholding judgment on Brent…

And I can’t help but think it’s very interesting that we have not seen Joanna Pacitti perform again. Are they planning to just sneak her in since they know what the audience reaction to her may be?...

I promised you a good season, didn’t I? I think it will definitely deliver…

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

HOORAY For Hollywood! UPDATED

Finally, Hollywood Week begins. WOO-HOO!!!

Let’s go to the recap…

We start out with 147. And this year, they all get something special—a tour through “Idol Boot Camp,” where they get tips from the show’s vocal coaches and stylists. Also, Barry Manilow (?!) stops by to tell them to make the songs their own. Is that what he’s doing when he’s butchering “Never Gonna Give You Up” on his new CD?

Half of the contestants will get one shot to sing on day one while the other half goes sight-seeing in Hollywood. They will perform in groups of eight and then we get the famous “front row, back row” thing as to who is going home. And this year, if you’re out, you’re out—no second chances…

In our first group is Lil Rounds (“I Will Always Love You”) and Dennis Brigham (“For Once In My Life”). Kara and Paula give Lil a standing ovation, but I honestly wasn’t that impressed. Lil goes through, while Dennis gets sent home. However, he returns to the stage to chastise them for their decision and tries to spar with Simon (It doesn’t work.). He leaves the stage with “Y’all suck as judges.” He should have never gone through to begin with…

During a break in the action, Kara and Paula tell Ryan that the day has been “rough” and “abysmal”…

Next, we see Nathaniel Marshall who does “The Anchor Holds.” Paula actually gives some astute musical advice by telling him he shouldn’t have done a song that was so monotone in pitch. Simon asks him the inspiration behind the song and Nathaniel breaks down over how bad he wants this.

Anoop Desai, who I don’t think we have seen before, nails a song I didn’t know and Jasmine Murray nails “The Trouble With Love Is.” Rose Black gets set to take the mike and we cut to her struggling to find her voice in Boot Camp. She does “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay.” Nathaniel, Anoop, Jasmine and Rose are all through…

Buckeye Stephen Fowler does a Stevie song very well, while Jorge Nunez nails “Angel” (Woo-hoo! Jon Secada is always a good choice!). Von Smith gives a WAY overblown performance and Simon trashes him. However, all three go through and Von says the second chance is “very humbling.” My second favorite Canadian, RT, says that Von reminds her of Lucas Grabeel and I can kind of see it so I haven’t totally turned on him yet. But he better bring it…

The judges start criticizing the contestants for their song choices. Cut to vocal coach Debra Byrd preaching about song choice at Boot Camp…

I really wish the show would put supers on everyone they show so we’ll remember who they are…

Nick Mitchell reprises his character of Norman Gentle (the guy with the headband) for “And I Am Telling You.” But since he’s actually got talent, he goes through…

Scott McIntyre (the blind contestant) and Frankie Jordan both go through, but we don’t see their performances. My guess is they sang something that didn’t clear…

Time now for day two…

But first, it’s a short Ford commercial with Danny Gokey…

Jackie Tohn sings something about rockin’ and goes through…

Cut to a montage of friendships made and the goodbyes that come with people going home…

Speaking of friends, we now see Danny Gokey (who lost his wife) and his friend Jamar Rogers. Jamar sings “California Dreamin’” and Danny absolutely nails “Kiss From a Rose.” They both go through…

Cut to a montage of people going through, but since we don’t see their names, I have to think they won’t figure in the mix…

Katrina Darrell, aka Bikini Girl, does “Breathe.” It started out okay, but then it went REALLY weak. But, of course, Simon sticks up for her and Randy agrees. And, she gets to go through. Kara tells Simon to bring a pole tomorrow. I think she’s going to be a BIG problem for her group…

Not going through were Jessica, who we remember as her grandmother’s caretaker; Shannon, who charmed Simon with her dog; and Patricia, who I loved from San Juan…

Next, it’s Jeremy Michael Sarver, the oil rig worker, and Jesus Valenzuela, who had the kids with the signs. Jeremy goes through, but Jesus doesn’t and leaves in a huff…

The final line has David Osmond, Erika Wesley and Emily Wayne-Hughes, the punk rocker from all the commercials who changes her song at the last minute to “Excuse Me Mister.” It totally disappoints the judges, but she and David go through. Erika, who was the only one in the line to not go through, comes back to ask for another chance. Paula tells her she said yes, but she was beaten out, which leads to a fight between Paula and Simon about her handwriting. Erika tries the “It’s my cousin’s birthday” route, but that upsets all of the judges and they tell her it’s not up for debate. She leaves in frustration.

Also getting through during this round was Alexis Garcia, Brent Keith Smith, Adam Lambert and Ann Marie Boskovich. In total 104 contestants moved on to the group round.

But was Joanna Pacitti one of them? If she was, you would have thought they would’ve mentioned her…

So, my new favorite is absolutely, one hundred percent, Danny Gokey. I’ve never been a big fan of “Kiss From a Rose,” but he SERIOUSLY rocked it. However, I haven’t given up on David Osmond. In fact, I’m thinking that he’s a shoo-in for the top 36 since his uncle Donny told “TV Guide” that now he’s not going to do “Dancing With the Stars” until the fall…

Tomorrow night, it’s the group round—the best part of Hollywood Week. And hovering over it are the words that Simon uttered in the previews tonight: “Forget the words and you’re out.”

Oooh. If you’re a new “Idol” viewer that’s never seen a group round, you are in for a serious treat tomorrow night. Remember it’s an hour beginning at 8…

And I’ll be here tomorrow night as usual to recap the action, weather and electricity permitting…

UPDATE: Michael Slezak of "EW" said in his recap this morning that according to his DVR, Joanna Pacitti did make it to the next round. Not that any of us really had any doubt...

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Idol" Apologizes to a Louisville Auditioner

Remember Mark Mudd, the auditioner in Louisville who told the judges “Take care and be careful”? As you’ll recall, the judges took his words as a threat…

Well, Thursday, “Idol” producers apologized for the judges’ remarks after discovering that “be careful” is a common goodbye expression in Louisville.

The producers said the comment took them by surprise because they hadn’t heard it from anyone else.

In a statement the producers said, “We now know better and look forward to visiting Louisville again someday.”

Speaking of Louisville, I checked with Louisville Slugger about the “American Idol” bats that were shown during the episode and they told me they were only produced for the show.

I know, I’m bummed too…

Constantine Gets Ready to "Rock"

Constantine Maroulis is gearing up for the Broadway run of “Rock of Ages: The Musical.”

The salute to the great hair bands of the 80s begins previews March 17th with performances beginning April 8th at Brooks Atkinson Theatre…

You can see more about the show here.

New Music Coming Soon From Bucky

The fine folks at Lyric Street Records have informed me that Bucky Covington is in the studio working on his sophomore album and that we should hear a new single from him in the next couple of weeks…

Don’t forget that Bucky will be making his film debut in “Hannah Montana: The Movie” April 10th…

Photo Credit: Lyric Street Records

Kelly's New Video

Wednesday’s “American Idol” gave us a VERY brief look at Kelly Clarkson’s video for “My Life Would Suck Without You,” but now you can see the entire thing here.

I love the ending…

Photo Credit: RCA

Archie Comes to Columbus

Let me apologize to the Archie fans for not letting you know that David Archuleta will be at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus March 5th.

Tickets went on sale Saturday, but they’re already sold out. There is a pair of tickets on eBay for $146.50 (The face value was $23.00.). Clearly, Archie is still VERY popular. However, I’m a little concerned about his young fans at Newport…

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

New Music From Mandisa

You can now download Mandisa’s new single, “My Deliverer” from iTunes.

Mandisa’s second CD, “Freedom,” will hit stores March 24th.

Mandisa will be a part of the 2009 Women of Faith Tour, which includes a stop in Columbus April 24th…

You can here “My Deliverer” here. But let me warn you, it SERIOUSLY rocks…

Jennifer Hudson Beautifully Returns to the Spotlight

If you missed it, here’s Jennifer Hudson doing the National Anthem at last night’s Super Bowl.

The NFL is taking down a lot of these off YouTube, so I don’t know how long this will be here…



J-Hud’s next performance will be at the Grammys February 8th and then she’s scheduled to perform at the NAACP Image Awards February 12th…