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Preview: Idol Blather - Season 6

Idol Blather - Season 6

The smart fan's American Idol blog, since 2006. Righteous reviews. Exclusive photos. Blather, rinse, repeat. [MAC users: For proper display, please use Safari or Firefox - I.E. not supported]

Updated: 2017-10-19T10:57:44.852-07:00


Idol Blather Becomes Idol Savant



For American Idol Season 7 coverage, visit our new site at:

FOX Announces Detailed 2008 Schedule


(image) Friday, December 21, 2007

Fans anxiously awaiting the return of American Idol can start planning their weeknights for the next few months, as Fox has announced a detailed schedule for the series. The show is set to kick off with a two-night, four-hour event on Tuesday, January 15, and Wednesday, January 16.

The early audition episodes, which some of us would rather not witness and some of us can't get enough of, will be the focus of the four-hour premiere. They'll continue through hour-long episodes that will air on January 22, 23, 29, and 30, as well as February 5 and 6.

Viewers who can't stand to watch the early carnage will want to start tuning in on Tuesday, February 12, which is when the Hollywood Round will begin. It'll kick off with a two-hour episode, followed by a one-hour episode the following night revealing the Top 24.

The Top 12 males and the Top 12 females will perform in two-hour episodes airing on Tuesday, February 19 and Wednesday, February 20. Those performances will be the first to allow audience voting, which means you can expect the elimination of two men and two women on February 21.

The male performers will then lay claim to Tuesdays, with the Top 10 singing during a 90-minute episode on February 26, followed by the Top 8 battling on March 4 from 8-9pm. Wednesdays will be ladies' night, with the Top 10 competing on February 27, and the Top 8 attempting to out-belt each other on March 5 from 9-10pm. Eliminations will take place on Thursdays at 8pm, culminating in the reveal of the Top 12 on March 6.

Finally, the performances of the Top 12 will begin on Tuesday, March 11, with a two-hour episode. The first single elimination of the season will take place the following night.

Bled From The Ears, And Blake's To Blame: Final Two Square Off


The Space Needle,as seenfromthe air,approachingSeattle TacomaAirport…very soonTonight's final performance competition of the season was held in the prodigious Kodak Theatre, where Ryan Seacrest opened with the summary statement "100,000 down, 2 to go," as good a summary as any. He reminded us that this Final, between Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks, is once again a battle of the sexes, as it has almost always been. But there's a new dynamic this season, which Simon Cowell condensed into a soundbite spread widely in the media this week — that it will be a battle featuring "a great entertainer" vs. "a great singer." As for me, I'm removing the gloves to deliver my own summary soundbite — that it was a battle between "a short dork" and "A tall Star." Minced words are no longer necessary. Phil Stacey, Chris Richardson, Lakisha Jones, and Felicity Huffman were all in the house.Round 1 - 'Previously Performed' ChoiceBlake Lewis, dressed for comfortable air travel in the first of three fascinatingly different argyle sweater vests worn over three different (I guess) untucked oxford shirts and grungy-looking shoes, reprised his beatbox rendition of Bon Jovi's You Give Love A Bad Name, for which he received a good deal of praise a few weeks back. I still disdain this lame song; and while it was on approximate par with his original performance, some of the ambush fresh factor was lost in the reprisal. And knowing that Jon was not standing in not the wings steaming, it just felt like something was missing. Blake's Dad assumed the drummer was responsible for all that noise. And by the way, if you were shot through the heart, wouldn't you say "and you did it, dammit!"? Now, if you were seriously injured by said shot, then you might say "shot through the heart, and a very expensive transplant was required to save my life, and……you're to blame." Now that would make much more sense. But it would still be a pretty lame lyric. The judges loved it however, causing me to wonder what decisions were made in the war room before the show regarding who should be propped up the most tonight.Jordin Sparks, looking radiant in straighter, flatter hair, chose a real singer's song, Christina Aguilera's Fighter. There was noticably more seriousness and less playfulness in her tonight; and as the song progressed it was clear that she was bringing more energy, more performance to her delivery than usual, perhaps in a conscious effort to compete head-to-head with the so-called "Entertainer." Randy and invisibly-broken-nosed Paula both called it "stellar," but Simon was still stewing in his agenda. To paraphrase his critique, "Blake was great, and Jordin is still 17." But with the words "I am a fighter, and I ain't gonna stop / There is no turning back," Jordin was clearly playing to win — and doing just fine at it, thank you.Round 2 - The 'Whatever' ChoiceBlake began his Decline this evening with Maroon 5's She Will Be Loved, which was lame, pitchy and mediocre, underscoring his fatal dependence on mic-spitting. This is the sort of song choice which compelled the judges to call him "contemporary" and "edgy" all season long — go figure. Tonight however, they were scrambling for something positive to salvage out of this mess. "Uh, great song," said Randy. Uh-huh. Simon said "I wouldn't have chosen that song for the Final," while simultaneously thinking "Dude, did you see that close-up of Jordin's face on the big screen on that last number?," as he began to have second thoughts about Mr. Beatbox.Part 2 of Jordin's campaign strategy featured her reprisal of Martina McBride's A Broken Wing. And although I thought she was somewhat drowned out by the music and background vocals, it was once again a money vocal at a time she needed it most. Randy called it 'flawless' and 'better than the original' [who's original?] before mentioning for the second time tonight and for the 28th time this season that she is 17. Paula was in fine form, with her insight that Jordin "looked ado[...]

The Semi-FInals: Three Into Two Won't Go


A QuestionOf BalanceSeason 6 has been one of very few surprises (other than the Sanjaya Haircuts Du Jour); and with 3 remaining contestants, the writing seems to have been on the wall for a few weeks now — an inevitable girl-girl finale showdown. But tonight saw not one of the three pulling any punches, raising the suspense a notch more than I might have expected. Still, what would surprise us more than anything tomorrow night is to see a female eliminated. And though some may find the ultimate American Idol Winner pronouncement to be a surprise, expect nothing more outrageous than…oh, a girl who was repeatedly reminded she was too young for this game…coming out on top, perhaps? Did we forget that Britney Spears made her first step toward superstardom with a hit single at age 17? Not to mention Stevie Wonder, LeeAnn Rimes, and Tanya Tucker, all of whom scored with a major radio hit at age 13. But, I digress, and we're getting ahead of ourselves…Nine (!) performances tonight, in 3 categories — organized according to who made the song choices. We caught video snippets of the contestants respective homecoming trips from the past week, but not much. And the judges all seemed to adapt the Paula Abdul mission statement tonight: I will find good in just about anything.Judges' ChoiceJordin - Simon chose Rose Royce's Wishing On a Star; and though previously unheard by Phoenix native Sparks, she made a fine show of it. The arrangement had a slick, uptown jazz Anita Baker sort of feel — which Simon didn't care for — although he thought she sang it brilliantly. We didn't love the arrangement either, but found it all good nonetheless.Blake hails from Seattle suburb Bothell, which rhymes with almost nothing, except maybe "awful." Paula chose The Police's classic Roxanne, which seemed an appropriate choice, at least on paper. Blake, looking somehow more would-be than could-be star, delivered a fairly mediocre & pitchy rendition, to be honest about it. Sting has his signature sound - a strong, controlled tenor that really has no peer; something one forgets until one hears a Blake Lewis copycat rendition. The judges were entirely too charitable this time; but then, they don't want everyone to jump to the conclusion that Blake is homebound this week.Nashville native Melinda was informed by the governor of Tennessee that Randy Jackson [breaking one of his own cardinal rules] chose Whitney Houston's I Believe In You And Me for her. Melinda can handle anything, of course; but ironically, I (and she) had more trouble with this performance than any other she's turned in this season. I disagree with the judges — this was definitely not one of her best. Yes, it's a rangy, difficult song…and the difficulty showed. As a song choice for Melinda I give it a C-; as a performance, a B. It's not going to hurt her, but I'm not going to say it was great.Producers' ChoiceJordin, who I will parenthetically forgive for loving Hanson's MMM-Bop [come on, she was only 6 when that hit], was saddled with the pedestrian Donna Summer disco hit She Works Hard For The Money. First of all, this is not a vocal showcase number and was never a great song in the first place; but Jordin easily sang it as well Summer did, effortlessly and stylefully. She looked great and seemed comfortable with it— against all odds, and of course sounded great. And three judges agreed.It is rare that singer and song are as well matched as Blake and Maroon 5's This Love — perfect for his particular vocal skills (such as they are) and musical style (such as it is). It was a totally servicable performance which may or may not have been helped by Blake's obligatory injection of beat-scat piffle. Anyway, the judges liked.Melinda was handed Tina Turner's autobiographical R & B classic Nutbush City Limits, and could well have been channeling Tina herself. Sporting over-the-eye bangs and hair extensions (?), Mindy delivered (as Randy said) another star performance. The ever-a[...]

How Can You Mend A Broken Theme? Final 4 Brave The Brothers Gibb


Justin Timberlake& Jimmy FallonGibb'in It Upon SNLI don't think I've ever heard Barry Gibb's actual speaking voice before — and SNL's Jimmy Fallon got it all wrong in his hilarious impersonation; Gibb does not speak in a choppy falsetto that resembles his singing voice —no, 61-year-old Gibb in fact seems to be channeling Sean Connery. Our guest mentor (as Ryan informed us in the intro) has an amazing resumé as a singer, songwriter, and producer in a career that that spans five decades, beginning with the Bee Gees [Brothers Gibb]. As Idol mentor, Gibb liked the idea of our contestants tackling his songs — at least on paper — but when it came down to actually hearing them, he seemed a bit challenged & mystified by their choices and arrangements. With Amy Grant & Vince Gill in the audience and Paula & Simon in matching white outfits, it promised to be a somewhat interesting night. The inevitable question [and inevitable cheesy pun] is who will be Stayin' Alive this week?!ROUND 1Melinda Doolittle kicked off with the 1979 Bee Gee hit Love You Inside & Out, and probably did as well and as much with the song as any singer in the world could do. But Paula Abdul was feeling a little unsatisfied — she was looking for something that wasn't there that she wanted to be there. I felt that Mindy was as solid as ever; but you know, it just gets hard to impress when they are aware that you're already as good as it gets.I was ready to keep my mind open about last man standing Blake Lewis, newly re-streaked, who scored big last week with a daring beatboxed Bon Jovi remix. What might he pull out of his quasi-hipster sleeve tonight? Barry gave tentative approval to the 'beatbox thang', enough blessing for Blake to suppose he could pull off the Full Falsetto on You Should Be Dancing. The Big Question now morphs from "Can beatboxing be incorporated successfully into a pop recording" to "Should Woody Woodpecker impersonations be introduced into otherwise perfectly good songs, and why? Discuss amongst yourselves. This was not - dare I say it? - the more appealing omni-percussive Blake trifle, but a brave new monotonal stammer-escent sound. The judges rightly called this unsuccessful - Simon went one better and called it "absolutely terrible." Yikes. Was last week a fluke?Lakisha Jones - I'm not sure which demonstrates worse judgement: choosing to sing Stayin' Alive on American Idol, or coming to the decision "Hey, I think I'll slow this party number down!" Those two mistakes notwithstanding, Kiki actually delivered a pretty solid performance. Randy & Paula were not jumping up and down, and Mr. Cowell was not inclined to seek further suckface — he even called the performance 'scary.' Perhaps what is scaring him is the notion that Lakisha may not get the boot this week. Feel the city breakin', and everybody shakin', we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive!Jordin Sparks - On behalf of Team Jordin, I would like to say 'thank you' to the show's producers for positioning our Shining Star in the coveted Pimp Spot tonight. But be careful, guys: this smacks a bit of semi-finalist manipulation; some have calculated that tonight was rightfully Lakisha's night to perform last. Alas, Jordin was granted the privilege, and twice, to boot! All politics aside, one can only describe her take on the classic To Love Somebody as Bonechillingly Fabulous. To wit: the man who wrote the song and who has heard hundreds of versions of it in his long lifetime was moved to admit, with sparks in his eye - that he has never heard a better one than Jordin's. I'm down with that, and all 3 judges found this to be the best performance of the evening so far.ROUND 2Melinda chose one of the most beautiful Gibb ballads of all time, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, notably recorded recently by overrated Canadian crooner Michael Bublé. Barry admits to some discomfort with Mindy's chord changes on the song, but ultimately approves, and how could[...]

Bon Jovi Night: Top Six [again] Livin' On A Prayer


Or then again,perhaps theycould be…Antonella " Gone Wild" Barba and Gina Glocksen are in da house! Last week's Idol Gives Back telethon (which we are told raised nearly $70 million for charity) did not eliminate a contestant, so the stakes are high: 2 must go this week. Get out your lighters: it is a night of Bon Jovi music, and I will risk controversy here by admitting that their brand of anthemic formulaic arena rock is not my particular cup of rock n' roll. They were a band for young male wanna-be rockers, a contingent which included the band themselves. This not-so-rootsy subgenre strikes me as a less authentic form, which often approaches a kind of self-parody. Clean-cut family man mentor Jon Bon Jovi is a living testament to the fact, although he took his mentor charge seriously and offered suitable words of wisdom. So… We have established that our contestants had some mediocre material to work with tonight. Who could deal with it? At this point, they're all good — or I should say, they all have their strengths; but who has the right strengths this week? Who will end up…um, dead, or alive? Phil Stacey used to sing Blaze of Glory into a comb while looking into the mirror. Apparently, Phil can remember combs; but now that he doesn't own one, just how credible can he be? You gotta give him props for finding the cahones to sing these lyrics: "I'm a devil on the run; a six-gun lover; a candle in the wind." It's a Clint Eastwood meets Elton John kinda thing. Paula consolingly offered "this has been a year you'll never forget," while I was thinking "that was three minutes of my life that I'll never get back." Simon said it had no authenticity, you know — like the authenticity of the gunslinger cowboy from New Jersey that wrote the song. Phil is walking the line.Jordin Sparks told Jon that her mother was a fan [oh, that's gotta make him feel good] and "always put it [Bon Jovi music] in her face." Huh? Not a good way to begin. Even Jon-Jon admitted that Living On A Prayer is an impossibly hard song to sing, but Jordin went with it anyway. Even a sub-par Jordin performance is pretty danged good one, but this was admittedly not her best. The verse has to be sung uncomfortably in the lower register (a little pitchy) to be able to handle the ridiculously high chorus parts. I don't like the song anyway, so it was doubly rough for me. Of all the nights for Sparky to turn in a weak turn, this was not the right one. Her worst mistake: agreeing with the judges that it wasn't her best. Jordin - don't do that. I'm worried for Jordin now — it's way too soon for her to go home. Pardon me while I go vote…Lakisha Jones, skillfully poured into a skin-tight pair of dark blue jeans, told us she was gonna give us a little sump'n sump'n, with her rendition of This Ain't A Love Song. Randy (who seems to just love everyone and everything lately) said she "blew it out da box." Simon, who has been secretly pulling for a Kiki comeback, said he could kiss her, and so he did. I do think it was a good night for her, and Simon seems really intent on keeping her in. After a just-OK performance last week, I wonder — can she pull off a full recovery, and stay?Newly unhighlighted brunette Blake Lewis decided to take a risk; to roll the dice; to walk on the edge; to parlay peril, by……um, bringing back the beatboxing(!), on You Give Love A Bad Name. Now, this song is a truly banal piece of crap, so thank God Blake decided to change it up — if he had done the Bon Jovi version he would have been booed off the stage. Performing alongside a lone drummer, Lewis actually delivered a fairly forgivable performance that sort of worked. The judges praised his originality and bravery. Hmm. Is this another one we can't write off yet? When in doubt, change up the hair color and spit into the mic.Chris Richardson - With Bon Jovi Week approaching, Chris knew he'd have to pull out all[...]

Top 6 Conspire to Inspire


Ryan in Africa,where thechampagnetastes just likecherry cola.C-O-L-A, cola.Tonight was Night #1 of the long-hyped 2-night fund-raise-a-thon "Idol Gives Back." One can only imagine how many hungry mouths could have been fed if Sanjaya had survived to sing "Man In The Mirror" in a blonde wig this week. U2's Bono was busy off somewhere saving the world on his own and was therefore easily the most invisible guest mentor to date. We learned a lot about world hunger and poverty conditions in the U.S. and Africa; we also learned that balancing a basket of bananas on one's head is something Seacrest is pleased is not in his job description. Favorite comic moment from Simon "in the trenches" — Cowell spoke with a mother-daughter volunteer team at America's Second Harvest; asks mother for a hug, then lunges straight toward the teenage daughter! Our contestants were charged with choosing songs that inspire them, with the presumption that their performances might inspire millions of viewers to give $$$. Whatever inspired the producers to cook up this Idol mega-event, it's a given that it will be hugely successful in raising huge sums of money. By this time next week, American Idol will have saved the world.Let's visualize whirled peas:Chris "Nasally is a Singing Style" Richardson chose Eric Clapton's If I Could Change the World, and gave it his dependably above-average twitchy boy-band treatment, with a run-packed money ending. There were a couple of squeaky voice problems along the way, but Richardson pulled off a decent, if not show-stopping opening performance. Randy eloquently opined: "you innit ta winnit." Paula was Proud of him. Yes, even Simon bought Chris this week.Melinda Doolittle chose Faith Hill's There Will Come a Day. And I have the same problem the judges have — finding new and novel ways to say she was great. The song itself had a bit of a somber feel and is not my inspirational musical cup of tea, but she looked lovely and gave it her usual perfection Mindy Midas Touch. Randy found her to be "so dopey." Um, the feeling is mutual, Randy. Paula reached into her bag of well-worn new age adjectives and pulled out "magical." Simon loved loved loved Melinda.Resident "hipster" Blake Lewis in a cool blazer with an annoyingly turned up collar [uh…over here, wardrobe mistress!] delivered a performance of John Lennon's Imagine that was one for fans only. Fans of Spandau Ballet, that is. Blake did what he does best — picked a great song. Then he Blaked it, imposing as much one-dimensionalness as he could muster. Simon's critique was on the money, saying that it's tricky to bowl people over with an iconic song that has to be sung quietly — the only strategy you have left is to play the Sincerity Card. In that department, he may have succeeded — but was it enough to keep him in the game? My TV listing for tonight's show said that the theme was "compassion and hope;" indeed, this will be a week of much hope on Blake's part — that he might stay — and that voters will be compassionate.Lakisha Jones - Unlike last week, the spoiler list of tonight's songs I read earlier today was entirely correct. So was my gut feeling when I read that Lakisha was to perform Fantasia Barrino's I Believe — that it was an unimaginative choice and would not score her any points this week. Uh-huh. Fantasia or no Fantasia, I thought Lakisha was behind the beat for most of the song and even had a few pitch problems. The black evening gown may have kept "the girls" under control this week, but the voice needed some underwire support. She did manage to kick it into high gear briefly, but it was all about song choice — unfortunately a wrong one. Pollyanna Abdul was downright assertively negative about Lakisha's inability to occupy Fantasia's shoes. Ouch! Oh, how the mighty have fallen.A hatless, tuxedo-jacketed Phil Stacey stuck with his newly adopted countr[...]

Idol Country: Final 7 In Search of the “Y’all Factor”


“The Celine Dion of Country Music” is apparently one phrase used to describe Kansas-born Idol mentor Martina McBride. It isn’t clear as to whether that is intended as a compliment, or indeed if Martina is a closet French-Canadian, like Michael Buble. Martina imparted suitable and appropriate words of musical wisdom to our contestants, unabashedly wow’ed by some of them, and diplomatically tolerant of others. Idol Blather recieved an advance spoiler list of the songs to be performed tonight (straight out of “Martina’s camp”) which was 100% wrong, so I was a little thrown off the mark. But, they did get the performance order correct. And not a single contestant wore a cowboy hat (can you believe it?), not even San-tastic-jaya Malakar!Let’s Roll, Y’allA hatless Phil Stacey turned in a semi-credible and comfortable cover of Keith Urban’s Black Top, with a hint of twang — once again hitting the notes while failing to shine as much as the stripes on his black Wal-Mart disco shirt. The judges were all in Phil’s court this time, knowing this is likely his week to say buh-bye. Encouraged, Phil boldly proclaimed “this is my genre!” Yes, he really did say that. We, the record-buying public are now so very confused. Mr. Urban may not be losing any sleep over this declaration. Idol trivia: If Phil lands in the bottom 3 this week, he will hold the record for consecutive bottom 3 stints, surpassing Nicki McKibbon from Season One & Anthony Federov from Season Four.Jordin Sparks - The Sparkster’s risky decision to cover our Guest Mentor's hit Broken Wing had immediate payoff when Martina herself was blown away and called Jordin “awesome.” This was simply another gorgeous performance by gorgeous Jordin, a fact well recognized tonight by all 3 judges. My only complaint is - what took them so long to join Team Jordin? Simon has officially signed on to the Team — so much so that he has granted her His permission to be the next American Idol. Thanks, Simon. Go, Jordin.Sanjaya Malakar - I long ago outgrew the intense desire for Basmati Boy’s demise, opting to sit back and enjoy the sideshow. This week, however, even the sideshow sucked. This one exceeded my ability to extract benefit-of-the-doubt or so-bad-it’s-goodness from thin air. And thin it was. Sporting a doo-rag in "Barbi Benton on HeeHaw" style, Sanjaya warbled a painfully shaky Something To Talk About. And, do I need to it point out?…Bonnie Raitt is not a country artist and the song does not belong in the genre, period, even by the broadest definitions of Country. Anyway, tonight was Simon’s night to draw a line in the sand and say "Enough, America! I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!" But will America come around?Lakisha Jones - Oddly, I was really feeling Kiki’s rendition of Jesus, Take the Wheel, perhaps because it represented a welcome step outside her comfort zone. Slightly pitchy, maybe; but heartfelt and strong. The judges definitely did not feel the same. Simon thought this was like a breakfast hamburger, which is something that actually sounded tasty to Lakisha, but is not as serious a problem as chalk & cheese, I'm guessing. He still loves her, though — he just wants the old-skool soul belter back. Note to producers: this is the kind of mess you bring on yourself with this wacko theme-o-rama crap.Chris Richardson - There have been some ill-advised song choices by some contestants this week, and in fact for the entire season; but this one (Rascal Flatts’ Mayberry) was wrong for the wrong reasons. It’s just a really, really, really bad song, lyrically & musically. Even if Ryan Seacrest sang it, there would be nothing redeeming about it. And to add insult to injury, CR struggled with this piece of hootananny hooey, resulting in a great big sonic mess, all while attempting to bust his Timberlake[...]

Top 8 Take Stretch Turn, as J.Lo Brings Up the Rear


Jenny fromthe block,on the eightBona fide superstar, movie star, singer, dancer and all-'round cottage industry Jennifer Lopez was guest mentor to our remaining eight on "Latin Night." Last week Gina Glocksen valiantly attempted to tow the theme line and lost out, later commenting that "it's hard to rock out Tony Bennett." And so it is with American Idol's tradition of the gauntlet of Random Weekly Themes. Fortunately, the contestants are allowed to pussyfoot around the theme — and in this case choose to sing any song that ever featured bongos, timbales or a cowbell. In our opening sequence, they sat in a circle on the floor and gazed up lovingly at J.Lo (sitting comfortably on a stool above them) — first grade storytelling-time style.Ahora cante!Melinda Dolittle - Mindy looked pretty tonight, but says she didn't feel sexy enough to do this Latin thing. She chose a lounge chestnut Sway, a song perhaps best remembered from Dean Martin's cheesy version (if you're old enough) — retro Latin pop. For Melinda, this was another performance in which she appeared completely comfortable and relaxed on stage (smooth & sultry, as Paula said). Although this couldn't really be faulted, Simon managed to do so anyway, pulling out the dreaded C word [cabaret], and calling the performance lazy & wooden. This, of course, was completely wack commentary. Mindy cheerily got in the last word when admitting being pleased that Simon finally got to say something mean about her.Lakisha Jones - Uh, did she just say her daughter's name is Freon? Anyway, Kiki also looked pretty and was on the mark with her cover of the Gloria Estafan hit Conga. I did agree with Paula and Simon who said it was not a singer's song — not a vocal showcase — and that this one was on the 'playing it safe' side. Could Ms. Jones be at risk this week?Chris Richardson - Smooth is a pretty cool song from Carlos Santana's 1999 album "Supernatural" [sung by Rob Thomas], and it was a good choice for Richardson. J.Lo coached Chris on the best key and helped with some Spanish pronounciation. I can't fault the vocal much, but I still felt a certain something missing from the performance — it almost seemed as if the song was bigger than him and he was struggling to keep a handle on it. I'll have to hand this critique over to our articulate judges:Randy: Yo, baby. Check it out, dog. Very cool, dog.Paula: Hot. H-h-hot performance. Sexy. [drools]Simon: Not the best vocal, but better than the first two.Haley Scarnato - With our judges having long abandoned any attempts at objectivity with this girl, I feel it is my duty to try to judge fairly this week, as boring as that may be. Well, OK, then. I think one could have predicted Haley's song choice Turn The Beat Around, the ridiculously over-covered Estafan Latin bubblegum pop megahit. Once we move past that, we notice the legs. The legs sound pretty good this week, they are on pitch and are very smooth and move around the stage well, often bending at the knee. They sounded a bit less pageant-y this week, and even slightly transcended cruise-shipness. I give the legs a B+. I definitely felt good about them this week. But alas, once again the judge pre-game huddle determined that this girl must be taken down, legs & all — Simon was unneccessarily cruel again, saying "you can't do well as a singer here." This tactic backfired a few weeks ago, when sympathy votes sparked a comeback trend for Haley. Like her or not, she has some sort of staying power voodoo. I'm thinking she stores it in those heels.Phil Stacey - I think Phil may have done what he needed to do to survive this week. He made a fine song selection with Maria, Maria, raised the coolness factor, and lowered the creepiness factor. Funny how a well-chosen hat, a funky acoustic guitar, a smooth delivery and big money ending can hel[...]

Final 9 Meet 80-Year-Old Dude; Party Like It's 1949


Antonio,back in the dayTony Bennett has deservedly received every available accolade the music business has to give in his long and legendary career. On this week's show his role was more muse than coach, 'the old dude's' advice often going ignored by the contestants. Ironically, it was an opportunity for our judges to overutilize their favorite adjectives of late: "young," "hip" and "cool" …and for our contestants to see what they could make of the decidedly Old Skool "Great American Songbook."Set 'em up, Joe:Blake Lewis: As always, Blake showed good song selection judgement with "Mack The Knife," which was conceived as a "murder ballad" (in German) by Kurt Weill in 1928. The song was jazzed up by Louis Armstrong in 1954; and the definitive swing version was introduced by Bobby Darin five years later. So, this is actually quite a dark song from a lyrical standpoint, but Darin injected it with so much finger-poppin' ring-a-ding swing, it has an inherent coolness factor today which even the likes of Blake Lewis can't completely dispel. But did his delivery hold a candle to the Darin gold standard? Uh, not even close. It was light & airy when it should have been sinewy, and was very pitchy to boot. The judges are are still lapping Lewis up, though Simon showed some reservations. Paula told him that he personified pizazz, giving her the distinction of being the first person to use the word "pizazz" in the last 20 years, outside of the Food Network. She also called him a "hip cat," an interesting compliment from someone whose last hit was in 1991.Phil Stacey: This guy needed to avoid another ticket to the Bottom 3, and he has not managed it — with a sleep-inducing and gloomy (as Cowell said) rendition of "Night and Day." Phil ignored Tony's advice to sing it with a snappy beat, and instead chose to undersing it completely, with a weirdly affected tone that I've never heard from him before. Simon called it 'slightly dark,' then 'really dark.' They're ready for him to go, and I guess I won't complain when he does.Melinda Doolittle: I really liked the flat-ironed hair — a much-needed younger look for Mindy-Doo. I initially thought "I Got Rhythm" was going to be a boring choice, and was sure of it when I heard the ballady intro. But Mindy quickly kicked up several notches, right on into her standard, irreproachable mode. Thank God someone finally told her to drop the "I can't believe you really like me!" facial expression when the judges are speaking. She's as solid and finale-bound as ever. Simon was admittedly a little bugged that she is frustratingly perfect.Chris Richardson: I prefer to concentrate on truly subjective vocal critiques, which is why the expression "cocky little SOB" will not even enter into this review. Chris chose a great Duke Ellington tune, "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and did it justice. The lower register notes at the beginning were a bit dodgy, but overall it was a very good performance — although the judges were somewhat overenthusiastic about it, in my opinion.Jordin Sparks: With "On A Clear Day," Jordin once again delivered — not sang, but delivered — and still has the WOW factor for me. The song is from the mid-60s, so it wasn't exactly what I would call a Great American Standard, but she did it proud and nailed the big money ending. And by the way, where was Randy's criticism that one should never attempt to sing a Barbra Streisand song? Instead, it was "heat, fire, hot, da bomb, conflagration, inferno, etc." Paula: You're hip! You're cool! You're a magnet of joy!" Simon was weirdly stand-offish about giving my home girl her deserved props. But…Jordin Sparks will not be denied!Gina Glocksen: Reserved Rocker Chick Gina really won me over last week. Tonight she made another brilliant choice with "Smile," and to[...]

Idol Pinch #3



Never underestimate the hula girl voting bloc.

Idol Pinch #2


Top 3 Contestant Name Anagrams!
[Another Blather exclusive]

[click on image to enlarge]

Bonus Anagrams:
Ryan Seacrest = scary earnest; carny teasers; ass entry race; yearns/reacts
Randy Jackson = darns any jock
Paula Abdul = bad luau lap
Simon Cowell = mellow scion; now ills come; scowl 'em lion

No Doubt About Some of the Top 10


Tonight's guest muse was a softer, prettier, somehow younger-looking Gwen Stefani, who rocketed to fame in the 90s with California ska/pop band No Doubt. Gwen didn't mince words about each contestant's vocal abilities, favoring Lakisha & Melinda, and to a lesser extent, Phil and Jordin. The theme was Gwen Stefani Hits And Uh, Related Stuff. Our remaining 10 have secured themselves a spot on the upcoming summer tour, but some still face a doubtful seat on the Season 6 bus ride to the finale. [Contestant kid photos courtesy of Fox TV]The good, the bad and the doubtful:Lakisha Jones: Kiki brought back her big game with Donna Summer's disco hit "Let's Dance" — not a favorite of mine, but an excellent choice for her voice. Another strong performance reminds us that it's still too early to count her out of this competition. A good comeback.Chris Sligh: With his hands-down worst performance of the season, Chris attempted The Police's classic "Every Little Thing She Does," which Simon succinctly described as "a mess." This was really just an all-around bad performance. Good song; bad song choice. No magic here. Still, I have a gut feeling that his best is yet to come; so I'd like to see him survive this week and have a chance to make up for this.Gina Glocksen: Again, Simon said it best, as he summed up Gina's performance of The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" as her best of the season. It was fervent, controlled, and actually very enjoyable. She demonstrated that you can rock a ballad. Vulnerabilty was the new element that did it for me. Excellent song choice. Simon thought her transformation from 3 weeks ago to today was "like chalk and cheese," which left even Englishmen scratching their heads.A quick glimpse of Sanjaya's new hair-do is followed by a quicker close-up of Ryan crossing his eyes. Cut to commercial!Sanjaya "Pebbles Flintstone" Malakar - Sporting a very fashiony-ish faux-hawk, Sanjaya — who is (with the exception of Melinda Dolittle) our most formidably consistent contestant — saw fit to tackle No Doubt's "Bathwater," a song with the bold lyrical message "I still love to wash in your bathwater," which somehow formed a much more pleasant mental image when Ms. Stefani sang it. The myriad of other problems aside, Sanjaya had a lyric-lapse moment, which our judges chose not to point out, opting to pick their battles. This catchy ditty raises the question: how long has the object of his affection been gone, and just how old is the water in question? I believe it is finally time to throw the Bengali out with the bathwater. I suspect Howard Stern may have been soaking in that stuff.Haley Scarnato-Newton-John: Haley chose one of Gwen's favorites, Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" which as it turns out, was just the right song to expose Haley's true colors as a vocalist. She was reaching for 'soft and expressive,' and only managed 'wimpy and bland.' This may be my last chance to spell "Haley" correctly in the blog [for the first time], so there you go. Where are those halter tops when you really need them?Phil Stacey: Stefani was pleasantly surprised by Phil, which I think was a nice way of saying she expected him to suck. Phil indeed has the chops to sing a song like "Every Breath You Take," and sing it well. My problem with it is that is was a note-for-note cover of Sting's vocal arrangement and phrasing — a spot-on copycat performance —albeit a very good one. It does remind me that Phil is a vocal talent to be reckoned with, but this wasn't so special for me. I liked the hat, however.Melinda Doolittle: As usual, Melinda applied her heart and soul to "Heaven Knows," with a totally invested performance that demonstrated again that she is already a star. Ms. Stefani[...]

Summer Tour Calls, As Top 11 Find Their 60s Mojo's


6os icons Peter "Herman" Noone and Lulu ("To Sir With Love") usher in British Invasion week, celebrating a musical period that is somewhat close to my heart. It was an era of fresh and original hooky rock/pop, offering much ripe material for our contestant's plucking. And pluck they did. Peter Noone was actually quite a musical lightweight in his day but was a servicable coach; on the other hand, Lulu was perhaps one of the best real vocal coaches I've ever seen on this show. Lulu was sort of a Joss Stone — an unusually soulful white singer for that period — whose voice belied her wee Scot appearance. Despite our contestants' obvious distance from the Sixties, they all seemed fairly comfortable with their song choices.Hayley Scarnato - Hayley apparently read my blog last week and decided to show even more skin this week (perhaps more than any contestant in the history of the show), including her entire back. One wonders…where did she hide the mic transmitter? To the performance — she chose an excellent and very infectuous song ("Tell Him"), which was half the battle — and sang it pretty nicely, although I admit that my eye was not so much on her vocals. Like Hayley or not, all that haltered shimmy-shaking is sure to ensure her a spot on the summer tour.Chris "Timber-Lite" Richardson - As much as I really want to dislike this guy, he chose a favorite song of mine ("Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying"), and nailed it completely. As Simon said, this performance showed amazing vocal control, and the ending falsetto note was spot-on. And, this was his best performance of the season so far. But I'm still not sold…Stephanie Edwards - In my humble opinion, Steph has been on a downhill spiral. Once a front-runner, she seems to have misplaced her musical mojo. This Dusty Springfield anthemic ballad ("You Don't Have To Say You Love Me") was big, dramatic, and boring; so I think, not such a good choice. I think she is bottom-three bound, and perhaps homeward bound.Blake Lewis - When The Zombies released their 1968 album Odessey [sic] and Oracle, it was critically hailed as a minor masterpiece and compared with the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" and The Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper" as an innovative instant classic. Keyboardist Rod Argent's psychedelic jazz-tinged pop was edgy and somewhat ahead of its time, and the single from that album "Time of The Season" is one of those rare old songs that still sounds very contemporary today. I don't mean to take anything away from Blake's extremely mediocre performance, but I disagree 100% with all 3 judges. Blake sang the song somewhat in tune, but it was completely karaoke — he brought nothing new to it. Go now, and listen to the original; you'll see. Sorry, Blake fans.Lakisha Jones - Another front-runner with mojo issues! When it was announced that Kiki would do "Diamonds Are Forever," my heart sunk. Despite being a hallowed Bond theme, in the final analysis it is a very mediocre ballad — not to mention that Shirley Bassey (who originally recorded it) is a soul-less cabaret singer who deservedly never hit it big in the U.S. What on earth possessed Lakisha to choose this piece of claptrap? There were even pitchy moments (and a few good moments), but this was her worst so far.Phil "Nosferatu" Stacey - "Tobacco Road" is a cool song. And ultimately, I don't think Phil is really cool enough to sing it. Anyway, I think it was a wrong choice, he was trying too hard, and the arrangement was way too fast. He should have done it as a slow burn, like "Time of the Season," slow & sexy. Simon says he may have a problem tomorrow…Jordin Sparks - Judges: get over her age, PLEASE. Start telling the world she is a contender, dammit[...]

Brave New World: 6 Boys + 6 GIrls = Endless Flub


TheSupremeDiva,back inthe day(photo courtesy WEEK: Years from now, American Idol historians will recall Thursday, March 8 of Season 6, which marked the night that certain slang terms officially entered our lexicon. The verb "scarnato," as in the phrase "she was scarnato'ed," meaning "to be irrationally and unnaturally perpetuated," or "the Malakar Effect" — meaning "to survive and prosper from a state of chronic suckiness."TONIGHT: Bigger stage, band and audience! Bigger hair & wardrobe makeover budget! The show began with an embarrassing amount of Idol self-horn-blowing: Look at all the stars we've launched — and here are the judges who discovered all this talent! An unabashed one-two punch to J-Hud. Score!The last 12 Boys & Girls form one contestant batch tonight, coached by the first guest mentor of Season 6 — and need we point out the rich irony here? Idol alumnus Jennifer Hudson recently became a mega-star by portraying a character based on a singer widely recognized to be much more talented than the Diana Ross character in the same movie. And tonight we welcome as our vocal coach the real-life Dreamgirl, Ms. Ross, of Motown's legendary Supremes. To give due credit, Diana was a pretty decent mentor. Or maybe it's just that I expected her to be a great big bee-yotch.Now let's reach out & touch our contestants:Brandon Rogers - This was Brandon's big chance to break that maddening underachievement pattern, something he may or may not have attempted with "You Can't Hurry Love." A lyrical "oops" was not his worse problem. It all just wasn't good enough. This is the kind of thing that keeps bringing the Kurry Kid back. I give up.Continuing her reputation as The Girl Who Can Do No Wrong, Melinda Doolittle sang "Home" from The Wiz, which had all the trappings of a Whitney power anthem, minus the negative comparisons from The Dawg. Mindy-Doo & all 3 judges were in tears by the end (although Simon shook it off and make it appear that he was laughing). Yes, he did. And Melinda reminds him of a young Gladys Knight. Simon's been reading my blog again!Chris Sligh - I don't agree with the judges' opinion that Chris murdered "Endless Love" — to me, he followed their perennial advice and made it his own. Really, it wasn't all that different from the original, so what's the big deal? And the vocals were spot on. His noticable arrogance grated on me tonight, and without glasses he bore a striking resemblance to comic strip character Nancy. Is his evil plot to take the crown working? He may want to try the blue hair bow next week.Gina Glocksen put in a very solid performance on The Supremes' anthem to illegitimacy "Love Child." The judges didn't love, but I didn't hate, and that's an improvement as far as I'm concerned.Newly-coiffured Sanjaya Malakar whispered the bloody hell out of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," apparently doing the version he sings to his pet kitten, who is probably equally annoyed by it. Randy almost walked off the stage, Paula didn't feel his heart, and Simon couldn't even manage to conjure up a good British diss like "ghastly," although he wanted to say "it was a bit like that stray clove in the chicken marsala that gets stuck between your teeth."Hayley Scarnato ever-so-wisely chose to tear a page from the Katharine McPhee playbook, deciding that tonight was the night to play the Cleavage Card. She did look fantastic, and the strategy worked. Despite an off-pitch sleep-inducing performance and the second lyric lapse of the night, Simon was sitting up straight. He had an epiphany — something like: "Whoa! Hayley's a babe! Why haven't I noticed this before? We can't let her go home this[...]

Sundance Speaks: There's A Diva In The House


(image) Last Friday morning, Sundance Head went on Ryan Seacrest's LA morning radio show to talk about his elimination. He admits that he's a little bitter and angry after getting the boot, but that's not all. Here's a short excerpt from the interview, in which he hints that there is a cocky contestant in the bunch:
Ryan: Is there anybody who thinks they've won this competition?
Sundance: There is.
Ryan: Is it a he or a she?
Sundance: I can say it's a he.
Ryan: He thinks he's the winner.
Sundance: I'm sure of it!
Ryan: Did he say it in front of everyone?
Sundance: Yeah. In a ways, yeah.
Ryan: When?
Sundance: All the time.

There it is, straight from the Head's mouth. So the question is, which guy is Sundance referring to? Perhaps Blake, or one of the two Chris'es. Now that I think about it, both seem a little too sure of themselves.

Idol Pinch #1



The infamous
Dance of Terror

Talent + Nerves = Top 8 Girls On Top


Neo-Brit Ryan Seacrest began the show by announcing that "Pole-uh has gone missing!" He then told us that the remaining 8 girls would "pull out all the stops tonight." Photos have shown that one of them has already removed all the stops, so it may be an easier task for her. As with last night's Boy Show, the girls revealed little gems of inside information about themselves. And Randy attempted to introduce a new phrase to his rich lexicon: "The Yo Factor." No one did the hula. Nerves noticably handicapped the girls. And was it me, or were the background singers much too loud throughout the show? Jordin Sparks - Jordin was a football player? OMG. Well, I'll be darned. Lovable Jordan chose to sing Pat Bentar's "Heartbreaker" — never a big favorite of mine, but she did it proud enough. It was a good kick-off (pun intended) for the show — very high energy; a good vocal and on pitch. The money note was very impressive. Jordin may be a bit outclassed in this competition, but she deserves to travel far. Simon wasn't completely wowed, but he put his official stamp of approval on the performance by giving her a YWR ["you will return"] prediction.Sabrina Sloan - Back in the day, Sabrina was a bit of a junior journalist. Okay; and now, back to our show. Sabrina has always made a respectable showing as a singer and stage performer throughout this season. So I can't find much fault here on her cover of "Don't Let Go." But I'm going to have to 'pull a Simon' and comment on her appearance. There is a certain…how should I say it?… hooker-esque quality about Sabrina's self-presentation. The over-permed hair, the make-up, the nails, the dress, the shoes — I dunno. Will someone please just call "What Not To Wear" before she gets sent home?Former violinist Antonella Barba wrapped her super-hero jaw around Corrine Bailey Rae's infectuous "Put Your Records On," injecting it with her own unique brand of clueless Jersey plastic snootiness. She was apparently hoping to soften herself from a "girl gone wild" to a "girl gone mild." Rae is a sweet, sincere, earthy, one-of-a-kind artist — in short, Barbarella's absolute antithesis. So, kudos for good taste in song selection, but don't even try to co-opt that persona, girlfriend. AND… as Paula accurately pointed out, Barba was hopelessly pitchy in her lower register, and was able to make a decent showing when she was belting the higher notes. Simon informed her that she had gone about as far as she can go. YES! Note to Ant: tossing all that 'tude at Simon may impress your girlfriends back home, but will not help you here.Haley Scarnato used to be into gymnastics. Oo — is it too late to go back? Looking like a cross between Marie Osmond and Laci Peterson, Haley delivered a very perky cover of Faith Hill's sugary "If My Heart Had Wings." Where was the surgeon general's warning for diabetics? This was arch-vanilla treacle, although she sang the treacle very nicely. Simon doesn't know her name. Now… who will be the other girl to leave this week?Stephanie Edwards revealed that she has always loved to sing, but used to be shy. Awwww. Stephanie chose a favorite song of mine, Rufus' [Chaka Khan's] "Sweet Thing." While there's no doubt about her vocal ability or her stage performance skills, I have to agree with Paula again — Stephanie was a beat behind the music for half of the song, and there were pitch problems tonight. The money notes at the end were (whew!) embarrassingly off-pitch. But, she managed to earn the second YWR of the night from Simon. I don't know what it is about Stephanie: no m[...]

Life is a Pitch [Problem] for Top 8 Guys


Sligh Dawg:Chris playsit smartResults are in on last Thursday's show: The "Hooters Special Effects Award" goes to Kellie Pickler's wardrobe stylist and/or surgical team.Tonight marked a return to a one-hour format, and hosted the boys and their amazing abillty to not impress. Randy inexplicably sported a shirt with his name on the pocket, complete with the middle initial "D." Perhaps he is moonlighting as a welder. We just know he is proud of his middle name, a nod to his anscestor Alexander Dumas. It's a pity that his parents misspelled it on the birth certificate, with that extra s. Tonight's theme: What you don't know and may be surprised to learn about our male contestants. What? That they actually might stand a chance? Pitch problems abound. And Paula seemed weirdly undercaffienated tonight.Let's get it on:A.I. Season 6 growing cult favorite Blake Lewis began by sharing one of the characters that lives inside his chia head, a "Jimmy Walker Blue," who is sort of an unfunny retarded redneck. The vocal segment began with Jimmy's alter ego singing 311's "All Mixed Up" [like the judges, I didn't know the song and had to look it up], which contains the line "We come with the funky style that gets us known for the show" — and which If I'm not mistaken, Blake delivered as "…the funky style that gets us thrown off the show," perhaps in homage to Leslie Hunt's attempt to scat last week. Or did I imagine that? A ridiculous amount of reverb was applied in the mix, which raises ethical questions about whose vocals are and aren't enhanced on this playground. Anyway, the judges and I agree that Blake is bringing something 'current' and interesting to the party, and I agree with Simon that the boy deservedly comes back.The thing that we would be surprised to learn about Sanjaya Malakar? That he can dance the HULA! No, Sanjaya. Actually, we are not surprised at all. But we do wish that you had worn your grass skirt tonight. And we wonder if you can do the can-can, the hootchy-coo, and the fandango. And so, we move on to the vocal performance, a cover of John Mayer's "Waiting For the World to Change," a song which doesn't rock, isn't funky, and isn't a ballad — it's somewhere in the sonically-pleasant middle. If I were Paula Abdul, I might say that to Sanjaya "You look nice!", or "I'm proud of you!", given a slightly meatier song deliverance than we got from him last week. With this boy's rumored rabid fan base, he's probably not going anywhere, but the performance was lackluster and riddled with pitch problems.Sundance Head's secret is that he wears a fat suit. I believe it is actually that he wears a talent suit. Unfortunately, he forgot to put it on tonight. Rocking out on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," the noticably over-mascara'ed Sundance apparently forgot that it would be helpful to sing at least one note on pitch. The growling did not help. Randy & Paula were down with The Head, but Simon pulled out the "indulgent" word for the second time this season. I think Sundance is fortunate that the Head-heads keep voting for him, no matter what.Chris Richardson used to be fat; now he is phat. Or at least he was before he started singing lame pop-country ballads like Keith Urban's "Tonight I Want To Cry." Not a bad vocal performance, in spite of that signature mildly-annoying reedy tone of his. Our distinguished judge panel was suitably pleased, and Chris' teenybopper fanbase will ensure his return.Jared Cotter - I hate it when this happens, but I had to take a phone call the moment that Jared's segment began, and missed the [...]

Black Chicks Steal Top 10 Girl Night; Guys Outperformed Again


Melinda Dolittle:brilliant fluke,or Gladys Knightlove child?Like last night's guy show, this is dedication night, which, for the sentimental among us, makes it just a little harder to properly disdain a few of these girls. For the record, the boyfriends win. For Simon, it is fashion review night.Gina Glocksen - I have over-dissed Gina enough already, so I'll try to be fair and speak only of this performance. Gina is clearly making a conscious effort to hide her arrogant side, and soften her default grating personality. Hitting the stage in a red would-be-pretty party dress, she proceeded to deliver Heart's "Alone" with notable vocal ability. But as with last week, her money notes at the end went screechy. Simon wants her to return to her edgier self. I've got news for Simon, & Gina: umm…red streaks in black hair — really not so edgy.Alaina Alexander - Showing spunk if only in her song choice, the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," Alaina was just a notch better than last week's breathy "Brass in Pocket." This one was more of a whispery twang. Alaina should have gone home last week, and definitely will leave after tonight. She just doesn't have it goin' on.Lakisha Jones - Well, "Midnight Train to Georgia" happens to be a favorite song of mine, so I was happy with this selection. And even at her worst, Lakisha could sing the Paula Abdul songbook and make it golden. So I can't really fault this performance. But I will say that this, her first "non-belter," was just a bit short of great. Simon agrees.Melinda Doolittle - Neck-challenged Melinda chose Rogers & Hart's jazz classic "My Funny Valentine," a wonderful but odd and difficult-to-sing number. But alas and eureka, she wrote her name all over it. Looking surprisingly comfortable on stage, she delivered a five-star performance, and looked every bit the Star. She's got it, neck or no neck, and all 3 judges agree.Antonella Barba - I have assasinated Ms. Booberella's character and personality enough already - It's time to judge her purely on performance. I can't say she doesn't have a sort of a strong voice, but it has an annoying tonal quality, and she also had a few problems with pitch. Oops - then she chose to pull a Chris Sligh and diss Mr. Cowell, in a very personal way. Welcome back to New Jersey, Barbarella.Jordin Sparks - Thank You, Jordin, for causing me to revisit the goose-bumps you gave me last week. This uber-cute 17-year-old prodigy delivered a near-perfect rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Reflection," which has been done here many times before. I believe the judges think she is too young to go all the way in this competition. Randy and Simon were non-plussed, and Paula (who liked the performance) said something like "you're going to do well in life" -- like something you say to someone you think is leaving. Is it just me who feels she may be Top 3 bound? I try not to pick favorites this early on, but I love Jordin. Liked the hair tonight, too.Stephanie Edwards - The anti-dedication: Mom & Dad made me do it! It's all their fault I'm here! Stephanie applied her amazing voice to Beyonce's "Dangerously In Love," pulling out all the right stops and putting her stamp on it. But wait — surprise! Randy is pulling out the card he plays at least once a week -- the "you are not allowed to sing Beyonce/Whitney/Celine/Christina" card. What is with this guy? All the good "singer's songs" are "too big" for our contestants, according to Mr. Jackson. What does he want them to sing? SMALL songs? Fortunately, the less mentally-cha[...]

Top 10 Guys: Starring Blake Lewis & the Other 9


GrandmaTonight was “Dedication Night,” which allowed our Top 10 guys to ingratiate us with their warm-and-fuzziness. Whoa! Jeff Foxworthy is in da house! What — he has a new TV show on Fox — tonight!? Right after Idol!? My god, what are the odds??!!!Ryan: “The guys are back. And this time it’s personal.” To paraphrase Meg Ryan from You’ve Got Mail - What’s that mean - it’s personal? It’s ALWAYS personal.You go guys:Phil Stacey - Putting his own stamp on John Waite’s “I Ain’t Missing You,” Phil once again demonstrated (as Paula pointed out) a nice vocal tone [a Sting-esque tenor], and he performed in a very confident manner. Still — I’m left feeling a little non-plussed. Simon agrees. But Phil's still on my good side, for now.Jared Cotter - Jared hoped to be channeling Marvin Gaye with his rendition of “Let’s Get it On.” I just think he should have specified that he wanted to channel the pre-deceased Marvin. Love the song - love Marvin Gaye — but I think I prefer Jack Black’s version from High Fidelity. Jared took a big step backward from last week. This one had pitch problems, and was sort of karaoke-esque. He set himself up for this!A.J. Tabaldo - If I’m not mistaken, this Nina Simone classic “Feelin’ Good” was the audition song that put A.J. through to Hollywood. It reminds me of that other perennial Idol favorite “Fever,” in that it calls for a smoky delivery, on pitch, sung with great feeling. And A.J. pretty much delivered it. He has a great smile, good stage presence, and I can’t much fault the performance. Much better than last week. He deserves a return.Sanjaya Malakar - If you’re as much of a movie geek as I am, you may have heard this Irving Berlin song ("Steppin' Out With My Baby") before — sung by Fred Astaire in the 1948 film "Easter Parade.” So I thought: Good — Sanjaya is gonna do a vintage song, and put a cool modern spin on it. Problem is, Fred had his tap shoes to fall back on. All Sanjaya has is his 100-watt smile and his whisper-mode, junior-king-of-pop-iness. I kept thinking there was a good performance in there if he had just kicked up the vocal several notches, as he almost managed to do at the end. I’m sure that the 12-year old girl voting block is still strong out there, so he will get another chance. Meanwhile, all we can do is pray that is voice changes before next week.Chris Sligh - Breaking News: Chris Sligh’s CD dropped today. No, I’m not kidding. According to the myspace site of Chris’ band [former band?] Half Past Forever, February 27 is the drop date for the album. I believe some secrets have been kept. Half Past Forever shows considerable talent and radio-readiness, so please do not underestimate force-of nature Mr. Sligh. Sporting a fresh new perm, Chris’ performance of Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble” well demonstrated that he can indeed deliver a vocal, if a little on the vibrato-ish side. Chis is safe.Nick Pedro - Goodfella Nick returns, solid voice intact, and manifest reticence as a performer also unfortunately evident. “Fever” has been done many times on Idol - but Nick actually did it justice with the just-right upper-register smolder the song calls for. He ran off pitch towards the end, but mainly I am (like Ryan & Paula) more bothered by his apparent discomfort in simply being on stage. This problem will not work for him in the long run, so I hope he can address it soon.Blake Lewis - I am glad that I have kept my mind open for this guy, beca[...]

Top 12 Girls Bring It


The Dog[photo by Natalie Caudill]Top 24 week is about choosing the 4 least fit for the long haul. Listen up, judges: put aside the nitpicks, ignore the bad song choices, and yes, even the pitch problems, to focus on the big picture view, which asks "Who brought it, and who's got it?" [And who didn't, and doesn't?] Speaking of judges, my eventual future decision to stop watching this show will be the fallout of some random retarded Randy-ism that drove me over the edge. Yes, Paula is still Paula. Simon is still Simon. But Randy is the new & improved, more annoying, more clueless, more useless Randy.Watch and listen, as the chicks sort of put the dudes to shame:Stephanie Edwards: I love this song — Alicia Keys' "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" (actually a 1983 Prince B-side) so kudos for knowing how to choose a song. The vocal was pretty spot-on, the performance (which included the staple "Fantasia Knee-Drop") was above average. She deserves to stay.Amy Krebs: I am ready for this song "I Can't Make You Love Me" to be officially retired from this show. It's been done to death, and it's kind of a downer, to boot. I do love Bonnie Raitt, but Lord, she's had a 30 year career — can we pick another tune? Note to Amy: singing a ballad doesn't mean singing it in your sleep. Way under-sung. Overall, kind of nice, but a bad ending.Leslie Hunt: If points could be tallied for dimplage, Leslie would be riding high. This girl impressed me early on as a contender to the Kat McPhee "cute as a button" crown, but alas — she let me down tonight in the vocal department. [By contrast, Kat did justice to Aretha's "Think" early on in Season 5.] In the first of 3 Aretha Franklin covers tonight ("Natural Woman"), the adorable Ms. Hunt was embarrassingly outshone by the 3 black chicks singing back-up. In fact, there is no other way to describe this performance but "white." Oh so very white. That's not racist, because I like white people. It's just that many of them sound too much like Leslie Hunt. Seriously, she needs to focus more on choosing something more suitable for her talents.Sabrina Sloane: In the second Aretha cover of the night ("Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You"), Sabrina showed what it is like to hit the vocal bullseye. It was a very original (non-karaoke) version, note perfect, and a great stage performance. Overall, I was impressed, even though she kind of messed up the ending. But I really like her, in spite of that fright wig.Antonella Barba-doll: I will make no secret of the fact that I am pre-disposed NOT to like the surviving member of the New Jersey Plastics: the undeserving rich bee-ach, as it were. I will give her some props: she's an OK singer, albeit a little on the nasally side. And model-pretty. Simon hated her performance, which I interpret as wanting her off the show — could it be that those racy party-girl photos that have recently surfaced on the Web loom as a scandal in the making? Let's not forget Frenchie Davis. Right again, Simon — we must not encourage girls like Ms. Barba, and all the other Barba-dolls. No, American Idol is not a Beemer pit-stop between the day spa and the sorority house.Jordin Sparks: Now we're talking. This girl (just 17) is all personality, in a very good way. The Tracy Chapman song "Give Me One Reason" was an original choice, and happened to work very well for her. The judges did not go gaga for Jordin, but she definitely made me sit up and take notice. I think she may have that[...]

Top 12 Boys: Come On Feel The Mediocrity


The Supreme Yamin:Are male singers of this caliber to be foundin Season 6?Welcome to Season 6 - the real competition. So what's up with the Top 12 guys? Can any one of these dudes hold a candle to my main man — Season 5 third-placer Elliott Yamin? The judges have opinions galore; but beginning tonight, it's up to us to say. Notable new Ryan quirk: the Brit pronunciation of "Paula" as "pole-uh," a la Cowell. What's up with that?Without further ado, the Top 12 guys:Rudy Cardenas - My daughter calls this 28-year-old Venezuala native "that lesbian boy," due to his decided resemblance to K.D. Lang. I don't know about all that, but Rudy may have invited trouble when he decided to hit the stage wearing a target shirt, um, I mean a shirt with a target. Rudy set his boy band voice to work on a classic rock song "Free Ride," and came up very short, in spite of a good dose of shimmy-shaking and an impressive display of pretty teeth. He may win the majority of the dental hygienist vote, but what are we going to do with an Idol named Rudy?Brandon Rogers - 28 year old former back-up singer Brandon masterfully employed the trademark Constantine/Ace "smoldering camera stare" while delivering his take on Michael Jackson's "Rock With You." I thought it was a good song choice for tonight, and I do like him, but the performance did not especially rock me.Sundance "Mr. Potato" Head - Sundance has gotten this far by riding the wave of his stellar first audition (a credible, bluesy "Stormy Monday"), where he received the rare Simon praise "I'd be surprised if you don't make it to the finals." Tonight the boy inexplicably abandoned his roots to trip the light ridiculous with a washed-out rendition of "Nights In White Satin." Randy hit a rare note of accuracy when he pointed out that there was not a single note on pitch. This was indeed a sad performance. Sundance is now well on the way to winding up even more semi-unknown than his one-hit-wonder dad Roy Head. Note to Sundance: Monster Garage called…Jesse James wants his fashion statement back.Paul Kim - Paul stubbed his left big toe backstage before the show, and unfortunately was unable to perform tonight. No, just kidding. Paul is doomed to be perpetually remembered by A.I. fans as "that guy from Season 6 who refused to wear shoes." I guess I can forgive the George Michael song, but the falsetto note was painful, and I noticed his feet had a certain guilty look. Kind of brings to mind that ancient Asian proverb: "Man who wear no boots on Tuesday may get boot on Thursday."Chris "Timber-Fake" Richardson - Last time I checked, Justin Timberlake was still alive and kicking. So why on earth would we need a miniature replica? Rumor has it that Timberlake has begun intellectual property legal proceedings, citing Richardson's spot-on sample of the JT trademark 45-degree head-cock and a complete spectrum of other copped Justin moves. Extra points deducted for choosing to sing the over-chosen perennial un-favorite "I Don't Wanna Be." But even his annoying vocal tone won't send him home anytime soon.Nick Pedro - This is the guy who sort of looks like my brother, and that my daughter calls "that dreamy guy." Nick, that is. I am fairly down with nervous Nick, who I feel is something of a diamond in the rough. He had a few vocal problems, but he's talented enough, and likable. I'd like to see him come back. So, vote for Pedro (not the last time you'll hear that joke)!Blake Lewis - Blake is an int[...]