Wednesday, May 23, 2007

American Idol 6: The Anti-Climax

Y'know, I started to write a recap of this big bloated finale, but I just couldn't get into it.

Congratulations to...

Jordin Sparks, the first teen American Idol!

See ya here on the blog during the off-season. Stuff is coming up that you won't want to miss! Expect regular updates!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

American Idol 6: The Top 2 Continue This Farcical Season While the True Winner Sits Home

I'm writing this recap under protest, and call me sour grapes if you want. I'm going to miss Melinda tonight. There have been any number of articles out there speculating whether Melinda's elimination was set-up in order to dispel rumors of contest-rigging to voting irregularities in the phone systems. I'm not going to speculate about all that. I'm just going to say that I miss Melinda, but have had enough of you ask me privately to finish out the season, so I don't want to disappoint you.

Deep breath...pretend Melinda was never on this season...and continue...

It comes down to Idol's favorite formula: one male versus one female. The two are so spectacularly different from each other that it's really hard to put one over the other based on their individual merits in their individual genres and fields. It's like asking you whether a back rub is better than a juicy steak. There's very little with which to create parallels.

Time for damage control. Ryan quickly calls up the issue of Paula's nose. Apparently, Paula broke her face last night, stumbling around her apartment in a drunken haze. She says she tripped over her dog, a St. Bernard, who was sitting there quietly holding her keg of whiskey for her. It looks like some cosmetic surgery might be in order, because whatever's already on that mug of hers could use some straightening out at this point.

At this point, Ryan uses the advent of having an actual dog in the story to say "the b***h is alright." Which in his universe was meant to be funny, because, you know, he got to call Paula the B-word. Real inventive and hilarious, in the sense of NOT. Ryan has the comedic skills of a frightened skunk.

We go back in time to the Seattle competition and the freakishly weird contestants that crawled out of the rain. The northwest brought out both of our finalists this year, though, so it can't be all that bad, right? (I'm trying here, people.) I can't imagine that much rain. Down here in the Mid-South, we only get that in May. I might need a summer home in Washington.

I do like Jordin, though. I can't lie. She's a breath of fresh air. And I can't hate Blake either. Neither of them are really offensive. Tonight is going to be really light on the snark, because at this point, I'd be willing to stick the crown on both of them. In any case, the true winner is decided by CD sales long after the curtain falls, so it's going to take a few months for all this to shake out. Just ask Taylor Hicks. That being said, and based on the ratings dip this year, I don't expect this season's contestants to experience as robust sales as some previous seasons, at least not right away. Then again, they might surprise me. If we are to learn the lesson from Season 5, releasing independently can also be better for your career, vis a vie Elliott Yamin. Oh well, I'll buy the CDs that come out anyway. Man, I am such an A.I. sheep sometimes.

And the coin is tossed... Blake wins the call, and he chooses to kick-off and picks the west goal-line due to wind conditions. Actually, he just decides to sing. And it will be his fan-favorite performance of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." I wasn't a big fan of this the first time, and I'm trying to give it a chance this time, since apparently everybody besides me thought it was the second coming of the Sex Pistols. I'm still ready for the beat box to be done and gone, but I'm finding more merit with the performance this time. There's nothing to be said for pitch this time, as Blake rarely stays on it, but in terms of performance, the man does put on a good show. It does suffer a bit from the stale factor, since he didn't do it any differently than he did the first time, but overall, it was a'ight. Randy nails him on the singing, which as a criticism was completely on point. Oh wow, couldn't Paula have taken the day off? That nose thing is a MESS! And I can't understand her. Surely Olivia Newton-John could've cleared a night in her schedule. C'mon producers! Get the rumor mill started again already! Simon thinks Blake's a better performer than a singer. He said something along the line of "best performer ever," but let's be real here...Bo Bice could perform circles around Blake. But Bo isn't here this year, so we have to go with what we've got. I do like Blake's outfit tonight, though.

Jordin is taking a risk singing Christina Aguilera's "Fighter." Unfortunately, with this song, you REALLY have to come out of the corner with both fists swinging, and Jordin kind of came out swatting with a feather duster. The band failed her. Ricky Minor is talented and all, but the band hasn't done much in the way of blowing my mind this year. This song is a classic example of age working against Jordin. This song is about a woman who has had unbelievable hurdles to overcome. Jordin just doesn't have the cynicism or jadedness or even the background to identify with it, and it shows. Also, when you're up against a voice like Xtina's, you're up against a rather tall brick wall, and if you don't match it, you can't do justice to the song. Jordin fell short here. Jordin does NOT fall short standing next to Ryan Seacrest, though. Randy thought her vocals were stellar, and Paula incorrectly states that this is the best finale ever. Hyperbole doesn't serve this crew well this late in the game. Simon calls her shrieky, and he assigns winner-ship of round 1 to Blake. Paula again refuses to pick. She never will, no matter how many times she is asked the question, so I have no idea why Ryan continues to inquire. Randy remains equally non-committal.

Begin the retrospective of Blake and the Beat Box. The really really REALLY tired beat box. Talk about jumping the shark...the beat box is somewhere in the Mid-Pacific on a Hawaiian cruise at this point. It's sitting on deck sipping pina coladas and talking to the sunbathing women. Blake's going to perform "She Will Be Loved," which is a first for him (the song, not the Maroon 5 thing.) It's sort of all over the place, and he should not ever...ever...EVER attempt falsetto like that again. Oh my, that was rough. The pitch problems are a bit much to handle too. I don't know why he continues to choose these slow songs. The only good thing about this performance is that the beat box is conspicuously absent. Sorry, Blake fans, but that was worse than some of what Sanjaya did this year. Randy calls it natural and pure, while Rick Shroeder in all his bloatedness is out in the audience. Paula's nose AND ears are broken. Simon calls it safe and boring, and says it's a poor choice for the finale. Ryan assigns cool points to Blake for having never watched a previous Idol finale, and meanwhile the votefortheworst crew are busily scribbling down his number.

In case you forgot, Jordin is young. Being on Idol is the most amazing thing she's ever witnessed since the miracle of her birth a couple of months ago. Just in case you didn't remember, Jordin is young, and Idol will nail it home a few more times for you before the show is complete. She's singing Martina McBride's "Broken Wing." Now this is more like it. Jordin's much more comfortable with this type of song than the angry chick rock she seems to like to attempt. I wonder if Simon will criticize this as being safe. Jordin wraps up the song in a pretty little bow, and this round definitely goes to Miss Sparks. That was hot. Randy calls it flawless, unbelievable, and then he steps over the line with "better than the original," which unfortunately it was NOT. Nothin' but love, J-Spark, close but no cigar. Still good though. As Simon said.

The song-writing competition winners are in the house. Their song "This is My Now," promises to be a snore-fest. I can tell from the beginning that it's going to be some of the most sappy dreck ever. There is a reason, folks, why I have not reviewed the song-writing competition. And that is because I didn't have enough toothpaste to keep the cavities away. Someone please tell me exactly HOW this song is different than any of the other crappy coronation songs from the past? Please? It's just another non-descript song that will immediately be relegated to the winner's past, never performed again, and available for 50 cents in the used CD's scratched bin. Especially since Mr. Pitchy B-Shorty can't fully render it live. My wife thinks it's a pretty song, and then it hit me what the issue with this song is: it's the kind your girlfriend likes. It's formulaic, safe, unoriginal, has mildly pleasing harmonies, a semi-uplifting-if-brainless set of lyrics, and the voice of a finalist. It's the kind of song that Kelly Clarkson would refuse to record for her third album. Randy thought it was a weird song for Blake. The judges know it's bad, but because 19 picked the song, they can't criticize it, and Simon urges us to judge Blake based on his first two performances. Ryan actually said "well, you did the best you could with that song." Oh Ryan, the things you say, and the Freudian qualities of them! Because, y'know, that song stinks. Blake bit his tongue, because these gimpy-looking contest winners may possibly have written the song that drove the nail into his coffin.

Because we've all been bad little boys and girls this year, Santa Seacrest has brought us the opportunity to hear this song yet one more time. It suits Jordin quite a bit more than Blake. Folks, I think we're seeing a foreshadowing of tomorrow night. Advantage Jordin, because this coronation song is right in her wheelhouse and way outside of Blake's. Even though this song was cribbed from EVERY OTHER CORONATION SONG in this show's history (and perhaps in the history of music) and is completely unoriginal and trite, Jordin does a better job with it. That's really all it boils down to. And the tears at the end of the song will only serve to get her fans' dialing fingers flexed. Randy calls her the best singer of the night, and Constantine stares at the floor, sort of embarrassed to be there. Paula's face lets something slip through, and I've given up translating her tonight. Simon publicly apologizes for saying that Jordin wasn't good enough for the finals, and he states that she wiped the floor with Blake. I think we're witnessing the chosen one.

Based SOLELY on tonight, I would have to award the crown to Jordin. I'm pulling for both of them. I'll be happy with the results either way tomorrow. Well, as happy as I can be without Melinda... I might be slightly more happy with a Jordin win, though. :)

See ya tomorrow!

Oh wait, Daughtry is on. Whoever did the sound check on the rhythm guitar cranked it up way too loud. It is nice to see Chris with a guitar in his hand, though. I wished all last season that he'd break one out. I'm totally proud of how well he's done, though. I have to admit having completely forgotten about Sundance Head until I saw him on the screen behind Daughtry though.

Alright, see ya tomorrow for real this time.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Idol Spotlight - Heather Cox

(I would've brought this to you yesterday, but Blogger decided to vaporize my post. Hopefully, this time will work!)

Sometimes an interview is so nice, I have to do it twice. And very few Idol formers have been as great to pal around with as Heather Cox. Heather caught my attention--and every other red-blooded American male's eye--during Season 5. The self-proclaimed "Idol stalker" sang her way into the Top 24. Sadly, after a couple of performances that the judges didn't look too kindly upon, she didn't quite make it into the Top 12.

That hasn't stopped Heather, though, and she's busy working. I had a chance to listen to her new single, "Girl Most Likely To," and I have to take back a few things I said about her during the fifth season. The girl CAN sing! (If you're curious to hear her latest song, push play on the podcast on top of this page! You'll get to hear the latest Idol Waves Top 20 show featuring her.)

Heather and I have been discussing her appearance at the Reality TV Convention in Nashville on June 30th and July 1st. So we decided to sit down one night and interview about it. And while this is the second interview between myself and Heather, this was the first interview that Priscilla has ever sat in or done. (She did well, if I do say so myself.)

Here's what we talked about!

J.D.: We've interviewed before, and I just want to know what kind of projects that you've been working on since the last time we talked.

Heather: Well, actually, I'm recording my pop country album in Nashville right now. I'm going to be headed back to Nashville next week to cut two or three more songs. And we're still negotiating that major record deal. So it's all coming together!

J.D.: Last time there was a lot of feedback left, and people kind of criticized or blasted you for mentioning your faith in the interview. As a religious person, how do you respond when people attack you for your religious beliefs, or your expression of them?

Heather: Well, I mean, um, they rejected Jesus, so they're definitely gonna reject me too. I kind of just laugh it off. I know not everybody is going to agree or appreciate what I have to say. That's fine. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, like Simon Cowell. I just roll with the punches and move on.

Priscilla: Have you considered a career in contemporary Christian music?

Heather: I have considered that, actually. When I say "pop country," it's going to be faith-based pop country. There are some things that are being negotiated right now. And I'm hoping to actually get airplay on both Christian stations as well as secular, so in answer to your question, yes!

Priscilla: Well that's neat! Okay, I know you've been watching, so I have to ask. What do you think about American Idol this year?

Heather: I actually have been really impressed, especially when they started to show the top 24. Before that I was just like gosh, I don't know, there's no one, but once the top 24 hit, the girls were just pretty much phenomenal, and I fell in love with some of the guys too. All in all, I've been quite impressed, and I've been pulling for Melinda Doolittle.

J.D.: Do you think that the show itself should update itself or make changes for the next season to kind of improve on what they're doing?

Heather: Gosh, it seems to work so far. I mean, the fact that they just got 45 million votes the other night is just astounding. That's the most votes they've ever gotten in a single episode that's not the finale. So I think they're doing well. And this new thing in regards to people like sending in their songs or whatever for the winner to sing, I think that's a really neat idea. I think what has worked all along is still working.

J.D.: Did it cross your mind to enter a song into the song-writing competition?

Heather: Uh, that would be a no! (laughs) I wrote one song, and it's when I was upset--I don't know if I can say pissed off--kinda mad at an ex-boyfriend, and I wrote this song. But that's really the only writing I've done. I'm actually gonna try to get into some writing and see if I can co-write some songs for my album.

Priscilla: When you're watching the show, do you look at what the contestants are doing and feel like you understand them a little bit more?

Heather: Absolutely! You know, I understand the fatigue, and I understand just the GO GO GO mentality. And you really have like no time for anything else. The thing that I looked forward to the most was just sleeping, so I know that they're feeling that too, and the pressure is just so intense. I didn't make it that far, but I know it's crazy pressure. They're doing quite well under fire.

J.D.: It's been a year since you were in the competition. How different is life now?

Heather: Well, I'm making a lot of appearances and performing a lot more. I actually feel like I was ill-prepared in regards to when I was on the show. Looking back on it, I didn't pick songs that really showcased my voice. I'm doing pop country now, and so that totally fits me. I'm comfortable doing it. I have a lot of fun. I'm honing my talent more. I'm getting out there more. And like I said, I'm in the studio recording, so I really feel like my talent has improved tremendously. I'm very thankful for that.

J.D.: When you're out in the street in your home town, do people still stop you and say "hey, weren't you on that show?"

Heather: (laughs) Um, well, since I come from a town of like 2,000 people, everybody, they just know. When I go to local restaurant, sometimes they'll give me free food, but most of the time people just wave, but they let me kinda do my own thing. But every now and then, I'll get a stalker who'll run up to me and it's "OH MY GOD!" Anyway. It's pretty cool.

Priscilla: Are you often in contact with your friends from the show?

Heather: Not so much now, and that's kind of sad because I did have great friendships. Today, I emailed a few of the contestants from last year, and I'm hoping to get emails back, because I would love for all of us to be able to be at the convention in Nashville. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping they can go, and I just think it would be great for us to meet up again and share stories of post-Idol.

J.D.: I'm crossing my fingers too. My finger's in that pie as well. Well, it seems like your season has the most successful group of Idols like Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Paris Bennett, Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks, and even Kellie Pickler. Not even all of those were the winners. Why do you think so many people from your season have done so phenomenally?

Heather: Gosh, dare I say I think that my year has the best talent? I hate saying that, but I really feel that. My season was just incredible, and everybody was so diverse and so different. They all brought different things to the table. They're doing well in their genres.

Priscilla: What's been the biggest obstacle that you've had to overcome as you look for work in the industry post-Idol?

Heather: Just knowing the fact that not everybody is going to believe in you or want to be on your team. I think that's the hard part. Y'know, rejection is a big part of this industry, and I hate rejection. I just have to know who I am, first and foremost in the Lord, and then know who I am with regard to my talent, and just know that and expect that and not let it get me down. Keep on keeping on!

J.D.: It was disheartening a couple of weeks ago to see Jessica Sierra get in trouble. Would you agree that sometimes there is sort of a darker underbelly to the A.I. experience or possibly even the entertainment business in general, and that sometimes if you're not careful the experience might be a bad thing?

Heather: Yes! I mean, you have these people, and they're just like kinda thrust into the limelight. After Idol, it's kind of like...I don't know...some people feel forgotten, and that could bring on depression. If you're not careful, that can be a downfall.

Priscilla: How have you managed to stay so cheerful and chipper in the days where it's really just hard to press on?

Heather: Because of who I am in the Lord. Yeah, I know this is going to bring more criticism. That's fine. My joy comes from the Lord, and He sustains me really, because I went through a time when I was depressed, and I would go on the message boards and read the things that people were saying that really were not nice. And that's very difficult, but again, you just have to brush it off your shoulder and just kinda move on, because you know who you are!

J.D.: A lot of times when people write things on message boards, it's easy to feel that the people who are on Idol aren't real people. Do you think that sometimes the show manages to objectify its contestants, and how would you suggest they overcome that?

Heather: We ARE real people, and we DO have feelings. Just like anybody else, if someone were to say something negative about you or something that's not even true, it is going to make the other person just feel awful. I suggest not even reading the boards. I don't read the boards now. I know it's like a year after the fact, but even so, I would just suggest not even going there.

J.D.: Speaking of how people think, a lot of people seem to think that if you're on American Idol that you're automatically going to get a record deal or a TV show or something like that. We both know that's not true. Exactly how hard have you found it to get the right gigs and the right kind of deals?

Heather: Actually, I kind of feel like--and this is going to sound so cliche--but God really is in control of what's been going on in my life, before Idol, during Idol, and post-Idol. He just gives us a light to take each individual step, and you go in that way. He will direct my path, so He has been, and there have been a couple of times when some people say they're going to do something, and it just turned out to be ridiculous, but for the most part, the path has been pretty clear. And I'm going along it.

Priscilla: Is Heather Cox in love?

Heather: No, if you look on my Myspace now, it does say single!

J.D.: Awww! Sorry!

Heather: I do know who you were thinking about though. Which is so funny, because at the time when that person and I were dating, I remember you, J.D., sent me a message saying "me and my girlfriend are as cute as you two" or something like that, and DUDE! Then I like went to your page this week, and it's like you're married, and I'm like HOLY COW! That didn't take long!

J.D.: Yeah, sorry, I'm off the market.

Heather: Yeah, that's fine. That's perfectly fine. When you know, you know, y'know?

J.D.: She was much too cute for me to resist.

Heather: Awww! Yes, yes, she definitely is. You got a winner. You BOTH got winners! No, I actually am single. I care very much about that person, but we were going in two different directions, so I had to let him go. I'm not going to cry. I'm strong!

J.D.: That's the way to be right there. Well, I see...switching topics (cough, cough)...

Heather: (laughs)

J.D.: I see you're as excited as I am about the upcoming Reality TV Convention. What about it made you really excited to be a part of it, because it seems like you sort of jumped at it?

Heather: I did! Because it's like...I don't know...a chance to... This is how I'm feeling about it, J.D. and Priscilla. It's like when I watched, before I auditioned, I would watch the show, and I would see Scott Savol, Jessica Sierra, Lindsey Cardinale and Mikalah Gordon and all the rest of them like Jon Peter Lewis, and it's so weird because those were like MY Idols. Those were the ones I watched. So even though I've done the show, and I'm part of the "alumni," I still see them as being the famous ones. It's kind of weird. I don't know if that makes any sense.

J.D.: Oh, absolutely!

Heather: The fact that I would get to meet them, and just hang out with them and share stories, and then perhaps have other people from my season on there, it's so exciting for me! I love that!

Priscilla: What do you hope that fans will see about you at the convention that they may not have known before?

Heather: That I am down to earth! I will talk to anybody. I've never met a stranger. Sometimes people get the impression, um, the way she looks or whatever, she's gonna be really stuck up, and I am not that way, and I want people to see that. I want to take pictures with the fans. I want them to feel like they can come up to me and talk to me, because they can. First and foremost, that I am down to earth, and I'm real. I'm a real person. I have real problems just like everybody else.

J.D.: I've mentioned to several people that you would be at the convention, and they remember you! They're excited to see you there. How does it feel that you've made such an impression that some fans are still anxious to meet you even one year later?

Heather: I think that that's great! Because I'm gonna have a career, y'know, and it's the fans that are going to buy my records and keep me going. I think that's awesome, and that actually just encouraged me. That was great! I'm glad that they remember me, and I'm excited about meeting them.

J.D.: Last year, I sat in on the American Idol Panel Discussion as one of the fans at the convention. This year I'm hosting it, which to me feels like I've come full circle. For you, now that you've been such a fan of American Idol, have been on the show, and now you're doing appearances for the fans, do you feel sort of like you've come full circle with American Idol?

Heather: Yeah! I do. I really do. I think it's wonderful. A year later, being kind of removed from it, I feel complete now. Again, I'm sooooooo excited. So excited!

Priscilla: What is the one question that you hope someone asks? Something you would like to talk about the most?

Heather: Ummm, probably... I know J.D.'s probably taking notes and is going to get someone to ask the question... um... who liked who?

Priscilla: Hmmmm!! (mischievous grin)

Heather: I think that's an interesting question!

J.D.: I think so too!

Heather: (laughs) Wouldn't you like to know?

J.D.: Who did you like? C'mon! Fess up!

Heather: Ahhh!!! Now you know, I'll save it for the panel discussion. (mischievous giggle)

Priscilla: Aww, gonna make us wait?

Heather: Yeah, the fans gotta come to find that out!

J.D.: Oh, alright! Well, where do you hope to grow from here, from this point in time?

Heather: Really just to remain grounded with however much more fame I get, or whatever. It isn't even about that for me. Stay grounded and to have a long lasting career sharing my music and touching people with my gifts.

Priscilla: If you could change one thing that you did on Idol, what would it be?

Heather: SONG. CHOICE. Oh my gosh. And another thing, during the two weeks, I really ruined my vocal cords during Hollywood week, because I would continually try to push singing when I had no voice. So it literally damaged my vocal cords. Even when I was on the show, I was not 100 percent at all. Some people say "she can't sing at all" or "she's tone deaf," and it's like noooo, I'm really really not! But y'know, what are you going to do about it now? But I would've picked songs that really would've showcased my voice better. I had a couple in mind, but then again you have to get clearance, and so those songs weren't cleared. The ones that the producers cleared were the ones that I had to sing, and they weren't the best.

J.D.: It looks like the convention is still growing. Since we started this interview, Will Makar has popped up on the convention page.

Heather: Yay!

J.D.: It looks like we're going to have quite a few of you guys there. We're looking forward to it an awful lot. It's going to be a great weekend in Nashville to get together with you there. Thank you so much for taking the time out to interview with us!

Heather: Absolutely! My pleasure!

Thanks again, Heather! (And yes, I take it back, you CAN sing.) If you want to check out her music, her new single has entered the rotation at Idol Waves Radio, where it can be heard along with many many other great songs written and recorded by your favorite American Idol formers.

We're looking forward to the convention, and we hope that many more of you fans out there can come be a part of it and hang out with us!

(photos courtesy of Atlas Photography and Heather Cox)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Blogger Ate It!

I just posted a nice long transcript of my interview with Heather Cox, complete with pictures and everything. And then it went poof.

I'm much too frustrated to re-do a whole hour's worth of work tonight, so I'll try again tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

American Idol 6: Who Goes to the Finale?

Last night was too close to call. I don't know whether to trust DialIdol or not, but darned if they haven't been hitting the nail on the head most of the past few weeks. If they've got it right this week, it's Blake who will be going bye-bye tonight.

But then again, anything is possible, because THIS is American Idol.

Before that, though, I have to again wonder why anyone thinks Emily Deschanel is pretty? Now that she's anorexically gaunt, I can't watch Bones without thinking that they should add the words "Skin and..." to the title. By the way, that was the lamest season finale I've ever seen.

Tonight we get to see Elliott Yamin! Yay! And Maroon 5... ehh.

Homer Simpson manages to host the show better than Ryan Seacrest. I don't know that I'll ever get tired of that particular character. (Homer, not Ryan.) I think 19 should offer Dan Castallaneta the contract for this show. I'd much prefer him doing that than wasting his time with bit parts like the one he had in Stranger Than Fiction. I bet even Maggie Simpson could come up with more successful attempts at humor than our regular host. Ryan, of course, attempts to parlay the Homer experience into a joke, but as usual, it falls flatter than Paula without a wonder bra.

Hi, Brandon Rogers!

Intro the judges and Randy moos at Simon right before the recap of last night's rather good performances. I'm using the recaps to void my bladder, because I don't need to be reminded of how good it was last night. It just sort of takes away from it.

I was thinking while I was in the bathroom how much I'd like to have the money that Matt Groening has made from the Simpsons. I'd also hate to be Tracey Ullman. It must really suck to be the star of the show that spun off a more successful show. The Simpsons have been on the air for nearly 15 years, and most of you probably said Tracey who??? because you're not old enough to remember the Tracey Ullman Show.

Back to the show...except for it's another commercial. It's the American Idol Live Pop Tart concert that they're shilling. And you KNOW it's been a long season when there are contestants on there whose appearances cause you to think the following thought: "oh yeah! them!" Because you know you haven't thought about them for a month or so.

Jordin, Blake, and Melinda are still fresh on our minds, though. Ryan sits down and talks almost exclusively to Jordin. She recounts how they interviewed with Fox, did a show at her school, went to the mall, then had to come back, learn three songs and do the Ford video. We get to hear more about her trip home, and THIS is the most personal we've gotten with any of the contestants this year. I think this has been one of the downfalls of this season, and I'm not just saying that because Carmen Rasmusen said it. It seems like we didn't really get a chance to get invested with these kids this year, and I think that's totally to the detriment of the show. In years prior, there was much more focus on each individual's personality. I totally think everyone was more rabid about it last year too. With the exception of a few Lakisha fans, I haven't really seen people fighting about their favorite contestants too much. Granted several hardcore fans have formed their inanely named fan clubs (my head still hurts over Fanjayas and Fantonellas) but by and large, not a whole lot of people have been all that emotionally invested. ANYWAY, back to the scene at hand: Boy, Jordin sure got a butt load of people to show up for her. She's literally overwhelmed by it all, and as she marches through the halls of her school, she almost looks a bit too overcome, bordering on claustrophobic and scared. Enjoy it while it lasts, Jordin. Fame is a fickle mistress.

Jordin gets the "dim the lights" treatment first, so we're gonna get it down to two. Since she's the first, you HAVE to know she's safe. This is a no-brainer. So it's either a shocker elimination with Melinda going home, or Blake ends his journey here. As it turns out, it might be neither, as Ryan performs a cold act of send-home-us interruptus and throws to commercial. Like I said, much too early in this hour long Z-fest.

Brandon and Lakisha are in the house. Sitting together. Hey, wow, can we start the rumor mill?

Time for the American Idol Brain Strain, and how uncool is it to throw it out there that Elliott wasn't in the top two right before he performs?

Ryan can't sing. There's a reason why he hosts. I wish this show could borrow from Showtime at the Apollo and have the clown come out and hook people off the stage when they're sucking hard. Ryan would have a permanent mark around his waist if they did. But we don't have that, so Ryan sits down to chit-chat with the next victim: Blake Lewis. Blake likes big butts. Duh! Who doesn't? Ryan gets up and spanks himself and flexes his glutes for Blake. Or at least I imagine that's what happens as we enter this video package. I had to have SOMETHING to distract me from the bouncing boobs of that one chick who was a Blake fan. Can you say eww? I have finally figured out which cartoon character Blake is: Popeye the Sailor. He totally is. If he had puffy forearms, he'd be perfect. It came to me when I saw him walking on that pier. There are some sweet tender moments between Blake and his dad. Thankfully, Blake's dad doesn't cry as much as the McPhather from last year (if you recall who I mean.) Blake's moments come off as really sweet, though, and I find myself just a bit more sympathetic to him, even though I know he's not quite on the level with the remaining others. Sorry, y'all, but Blake screwed the pooch on the national anthem. That was wicked flat. Still, I've done the anthem before at baseball games, and that is one hard song to sing, especially with the acoustics of a stadium, so I don't fault him for that. If nothing else, you have to imagine he'd be nervous as all heck to sing in a Major League park.

Time to get to the results. Uh, yeah, right. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I'm Paula Abdul.

This is the moment I actually tuned in for. Elliott Yamin is back on the American Idol stage, and heck yes we missed you Elliott. And he's singing that same way that I loved last year. I hope all you Season 6'ers are watching out there, because this guy is everything that you should've been this year. He looks a lot better, that's for sure. Last year he looked like twenty miles of skint-back mule backside, but with that new grill and the long locks, he actually cleans up rather well. I love this song too. It's one of my favorite songs on his CD, which I purchased the nano-second it was released. (I had an advance copy of it, but I wanted to contribute to his success.) Elliott sort of reminds me why I love this goofy show, and he gives me hope that maybe I'll find another one like him next year. This year's just a fluke right? It will get better, won't it? Nice job Elliott! I love the fact that they do a mock judge's panel with him. What I wanted Simon to say was that Elliott should've been the winner last year, but I guess Simon was torn between him and Daughtry, and he let me down. Elliott's all nerves again, but he's definitely excited, and it's so nice to see one of the formers in this situation. Elliott thanks everyone under the sun, but that's okay, because he's Elliott, and I would allow him to be on my TV for a lot longer. It would be better than most of the filler.

Shame on you, Ryan. Don't mess with my Melinda like that.

I can't wait to see Live Free or Die Hard. I need a good bullet-slinging action-fest in my life.

Time for the car-mercial, and does anybody really pay attention to this anymore? I guess so, because I am. "Everybody Wants You" is yet another song that's totally not meant to be done that way. But the video was cute, especially with young Melinda rockin' rough and stuff in her afro puffs.

Speaking of Melinda Doolittle, it's time to talk to her. Ryan starts babbling about how he and Simon used to be famous, and he accuses Simon of sulking. Simon, on the other hand, is clearly not sulking. Rather, he's daydreaming, and unaware of anything until Ryan shouts at him and jars him back into reality. Simon doesn't even bother to play along with it and instead sinks back into his reverie.

Wow. It was Melinda Doolittle Day in my own state, and I didn't even know to take off of work! I'll have to remember to use my floating holiday for it next year. Melinda gets a street named after her, which is way beyond cool. I really would've liked to be there. It's a three hour drive for me, but it would've been nice to meet the next American Idol. Melinda is so cute with her parents. Gosh, I really like her. I said something about not getting emotionally invested with contestants, but I think she's the exception.

Time for the results, and nope, not falling for it!

I just saw Starscream transform in the trailer for Transformers. I need to go change my pants now. Color me one happy fan-boy.

Is your band worth anything? Then try out for American Band, or whatever the heck it's called. Send in your video.

It's time for Maroon 5's pointless performance. Just bring Elliott back out, please? I'm gonna go out on a limb right now and say that "She Will Be Loved" is the only listenable song by Maroon 5. This song sure isn't. I mean, dang. This lead singer is somewhat of a George Michael Lite, and that's being generous. It looks like there was either a lot of vocal correction on their album or they had to do 100 takes on each verse. Who cuts this guy's hair? Beavers? Please, let this end. I need some results. After the commercials, of course.

We've got about five seconds left in the show, so it's time to know the results. We start with Jordin, who is way taller than she should be. Jordin is in the finale, and for the first time this season, I am actually nervous for Melinda. I've got chills through my body. Please. Please! My spine's tingling and....



And my spirit just died a little. This is wrong. Just. So. Wrong.

Unbelievably wrong. I give up. This season's over. I don't know if I've got it in me to recap the finale.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

American Idol 6: Top 3 Perform

Our long national odyssey is almost over. After this week, it's time for the finale. But first, one of the three has to hit the road.

It's been a crazy week in the music world. Disc jockeys losing their jobs left and right, Internet Radio on the verge of collapse, dogs and cats living together, MASS HYSTERIA! So hopefully we'll be able to take some sort of musical solace in tonight's performances.

Oh...for those of you who didn't hear it today, look for my interview with American Idol 5's Heather Cox and American Idol 6's Dani McCulloch to appear here soon! Plus, I'm absolutely bursting with the need to discuss the Opie and Anthony fiasco and the RIAA's continued insistence on shooting itself in the foot, this time through over-priced royalties for internet radio. So stay tuned to this spot right here!

For now, on with the show!

According to the teaser before the show, this is the MOST. IMPORTANT. IDOL. YET. Why? No, seriously. How come? Does this mean that it trumps Idol Gives Back? How can it be the most important Idol yet, when it doesn't even surpass other episodes within the same season? Still, you gotta love the extreme hyperbole, even if it doesn't pass the "truth in advertising" sniff test. American Idol.

Over the past week, the remaining three went home and did the whole "oh my goodness I'm a celebrity now" thing where all the people from back home who used to shun them and talk behind their backs are all now their best friends and telling each other how they grew up with their bosom buddy from A.I. Then the mayor of their respective cities will give them some kind of key to the city or declare it "Jordin Sparks Day" or something like that, which is all fun and giggles when we're in the moment, but when a year rolls around and school doesn't let out for Blake Lewis Day, it kind of loses its lustre.

The structure tonight is: (1.) Judge's pick (2.) Clive couldn't show up this year? Producer's pick and (3.) Contestant's pick. Which, thankfully, will not allow Lakisha a chance to sing "A Moment Like This."

I love how the mayor of Jordin Sparks's town is utterly gobsmacked to get a fax "straight from Simon Cowell!!!!" Like, ohmahgahhh!! You'd think that she'd opened a picture of Simon's testicles or something. Simon picked "Wishing on a Star" as performed by Rose Royce ("Car Wash") and then the Cover Girls ("We Can't Go Wrong"), which just goes to show you that Simon likes bubblegum pop. No rock, no country, just pure unadulterated teenybop pablum. Fortunately for Jordin, this selection fits her to a tee. It's a good performance, but danged if the song didn't bore me just a bit. Randy thinks it was a very good vocal. Paula likes it too. Simon thought she sang it brilliantly, but that it wasn't actually one of her better performances. He thought the jazz arrangement wasn't that great. Ryan can't get over Simon not liking the song he picked (and I can hear a billion other mindless recappers and board dwellers parroting that idea as if it were their own right now.) Really, this whole contrived thing with Ryan and Simon has COMPLETELY jumped the shark, and Ryan's just not witty enough for improv comedy. As for being a talking head and a stereotypical announcer, he's perfectly in his element, but being an off-the-cuff sort of comedian takes a whole 'nother skill set.

Blake Lewis's mayor got handed a fax straight from Paula Abdul! (Straight up from Paula? Narf.) These poor political types. They NEVER get mail from anyone important. What a boon for them to get to plaster themselves all over national television and run the very real risk of being re-elected because of it. Anyway, Paula picks "Roxanne" by the Police. Blake makes it "Roxanne" by 311. Once again, this is a horrid arrangement. And something's just not right with the instrumentation. I wish Blake weren't yelling at me so much. The chorus of this song just makes me have to go to the bathroom and clog up the toilet. While parts of this performance are quite nice, a good bit of it only serves to showcase Blake's vocal weaknesses, particularly in the upper register. I don't think he hit the "Rox" in Roxanne on key even once. Now I'll grant you this: Sting wasn't always on pitch in that song either. Still, at this point in the competition, I expect Blake to show me why he's a superstar, and that just wasn't it for me. Randy thinks it was hot. Paula thinks it was fantastic, and she comments on what? Phrasing?? Huh??? She knows what that is? Simon points out that when singing a song like that, you're almost forced to imitate the original singer, and that has a degree of truth to it, because you do have to make the song recognizable. Anybody wanna try singing "Thriller" without aping Michael Jackson? Can't be done.

The governor of my state, Phil Bredesen, takes a break from Medicaid reform to tell Melinda Doolittle that Randy is making her sing Whitney Houston's "I Believe In You and Me." And the only reason he's doing this must be because he was looking through the Book of Trite Talent Show Songs and somebody had ripped out "The Greatest Love of All." So he had to go for this insipid Whitney Houston touchy-feely crapola schlockfest. Oh, by the way, I don't like this song. Melinda, again, is spot on with her vocals, but I'd almost rather fall on my sword than hear this song again. And it's time to fire the wardrobe person. Melinda's wearing the most nondescript dress this side of a burlap sack. What can I say? Melinda performed what she had to perform, did it well, and probably got all she could out of it, but I just didn't like that song any at all. Did I mention I don't care for the song? Randy chose the song because he wanted to throw a challenge at Melinda. What?? That song's about as challenging as throwing a five yard pass with a Nerf ball. He thinks it's hot anyway. Paula calls it one of the best performances this season. Dude, have you guys seen this girl perform before? Simon says the same thing. I have to agree with them that round one does go to Melinda, but I hope to enjoy her more in other songs tonight.

Can we get Ryan fired for imitating an African-American accent? I can see Imus dialing his lawyers right now. Simon queries whether our diminuitive host is in fact inebriated, to which Ryan replies that no, he's just a faultily programmed android that was released from production without a properly functioning humor chip. And with height issues to boot. Seriously, NOTHING he has said this year has been funny. NONE. All of his jokes have 100 percent fallen flat. I still say we should give Martina McBride a call and give Ryan's job to her daughter.

Jordin Sparks is back on stage, and her favorite song of all time is "Mmmbop" by Hanson. If she sings it, I'll die. And if Ryan sings it AGAIN, I'm burning down my house. Does the man not have even ONE shred of cool? The producers picked "She Works Hard for the Money" which I used to perform with my fifth grade band (first chair alto sax) and which is probably right up Jordin's wheelhouse. Jordin sort of reminds me of a very young Donna Summer. Jordin does a respectable job with this song, but I'm really done with her inappropriate smiling. This is a song about the working class woman telling The Man to step off and stop oppressing her, not the theme to the Mickey Mouse Club. Vocally, though, she does well. I'm not sure why I catch the scent of Diana DeGarmo on her though. I hope that A.I. will do a bit more right by her than they did with the former. Randy/Paula heap nothing but praise on her. Simon found the arrangement a bit old fashioned, but he, through fits of laughter after Paula shows him naked pics of herself below the table, decides that she did fabulously.

Blake Lewis thinks he would be portrayed by Jim Carrey in a movie about his life. Funny, I was thinking more along the lines of a higher functioning Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, but that's just me. Looks-wise, he could be played easily by a younger Robin Williams. As for the song choice, "This Love" by Maroon 5, this is perfect, and I feel like Blake's doing a really really good job of it. The only time that I'm jarred out of love with this performance is when Blake throws the much-overdone beatbox into the middle of it. Yes, it was short, it fit in, but I can't tell you how tired I've become of it. It's like when you go to the comedy club, and the comedian is really funny, but he does this breathing thing that annoys you and you can't laugh because you're pissed off at him for wheezing. Randy thinks it's a good vibe for Blake, which it is. Paula still has nothing but positive things to say. Simon thinks it didn't sound like a copycat performance, however, I HAVE to point out that he sounded EXACTLY like Maroon 5. In fact, if I hadn't been paying attention, I would never have known the difference. That's not a BAD thing, but it certainly doesn't speak to originality. Overall, I think this was a solid Blake performance, and it was good enough to get him back in the game.

Randy and Simon take a moment to comment on The Simpsons' 400th episode, which is quite frankly incredible. The episode, not Randy and Simon. What's more incredible is that after so many years, the show is still sharply funny and relevant.

Wish I could say that about THIS show.

Melinda Doolittle is going to get to sing the song "Nutbush City Limits" and everyone who was waiting for Melinda to do Tina Turner will be having joygasms aplenty by now. Nutbush isn't very far from where I live. I used to do contract work for a domestic violence center that was named for Tina Turner. Believe me, Nutbush the community is nothing near as spectacular as Nutbush the song. This is what I was hoping for out of Melinda. One thousand percent better than the first song. Oh man, I'm loving this. Loving it too much to type about it. I want Melinda to have a career every bit like Tina's, with the exception of Ike beating her with a shoe. Randy thinks she should do more of this type of music, and yeah, I agree. Paula loves you, loves you, and loves you. Simon calls it a brilliant performance. Ryan forces Simon to name who the winner of that round was. Simon, against character, chooses to remain noncommital, and once again, something Seacrest initiates on the fly falls completely and utterly flat and cold. I miss Brian Dunkleman.

Jordin Sparks has a star embedded in the floor of her local mall. She autographs it, and that ought to survive maybe the first two mops and floor buffers. Guess she won't be working there anymore. She picks a slow number to close out, though I failed to pick up on what the actual name of the song was. Ah. Now this is much better, Jordin. This is the single I'd buy on iTunes. There was a brief painful moment there when she lost her vibrato, but she rebounded, and overall, I thought this one was hot. Randy thinks it was her best performance of the night, and I totally agree. Paula continues the trend of the judges being super super nice tonight. Simon AGAIN nails Jordin on being 17 and singing an older song. Stop the presses, Simon, some of us actually ENJOY songs that were recorded more than five years ago. Jeepers, does it all have to be throwaway pop? Jordin correctly points out that Simon chose a song that was 30 years old for her to sing earlier.

Blake Lewis got to perform with Sir Mix-a-Lot, who has not had a hit record since his first hit record WELL over fifteen years ago. You know the one, the song about big butts. Blake is singing a Robin Thicke song. It's better than Robin himself singing it, that much is for sure. I don't know this song, but then again, that's been Blake's ace in the hole this whole year, picking songs that we don't quite know so that we can't compare him to the original artist. I like the tactic. I like that this song is upbeat, and that covers up any vocal shortcomings. But then there's that blankety-blank beatbox at the end! Enough! Randy thinks it was alright. Paula thinks it was good. And Simon really liked it, because the song isn't more than a minute old, and he compliments Blake on having fun. Because, y'know, Jordin doesn't have fun. Right.

Melinda Doolittle has chosen "I Am a Woman" for her song. And apparently there is now a Melinda Doolittle street in Nashville. Oh baby baby, sing me the blues! I feel like I'm down on Beale Street right now. The backup singers are off key, but dang, Melinda! No other words in that sentence are necessary. Just, Melinda! I would buy that album right freaking now, and I want it on my CD rack. Randy/Paula sing all kinds of praises for Ms. Doolittle, and rightly so. Simon probably doesn't like blues, but I'm sure even he can't bad-mouth this performance. He states that based on consistency, she should be in the finals. Correction, Simon...she should WIN the final.


Why Blake could be safe: Rabid fan base, and they will be charged up to vote tonight.
Why Blake could go home: He was good tonight, but he was the lesser of the three.

Why Jordin could be safe: Teenage girl vote, stand-out performances tonight.
Why Jordin could go home: Teenagers never win this competition. And if in fact she's splitting a fan-base with Melinda, there's a good shot votes will fall Melinda's way.

Why Melinda could be safe: She's fabulous, and tonight was a vocal tour de force.
Why Melinda could go home: So much praise tonight could cause her voters to feel that she's safe. Voter complacency could make for a shocker elimination tomorrow night.

Randy thinks it will be girls in the finale. Paula cops out like she does every other freaking time she's asked this question. Simon wants Melinda in it. Doesn't care who else.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I think Blake goes home tomorrow. We'll see.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Day of Fire

Priscilla and I just got back from a night of rock and roll at the New Daisy here in Memphis. Both of us sort of feel like we have fishbowls over our heads, and we're having to talk really loud to each other to be heard, but it was a lot of fun.

We were there to see Day of Fire. I'm a big fan of their first album, and they're opening a lot of shows for Daughtry, so we figured their show would rock the house.

First we listened through the lineup of bands that preceded them, including Fervor, an Atlanta band, who I highly recommend you listen to. They're quite good. L.A.'s By All Means Necessary was a stand-out band as well. Both of them rocked the house. Actually, all of the bands were pretty good, but these two stuck out in my mind.

Priscilla had to have a Day of Fire shirt, so we got her one, then we proceeded down to the stage. The turnout to the New Daisy was incredibly disappointing for a band that has as big a following as DOF does. It makes you wonder where rock-n-roll in Memphis has gone. But despite the smaller crowd, DOF played it just as if it were a Daughtry show, with enthusiasm and energy. Josh Brown--former frontman of Full Devil Jacket and now DOF's lead singer--took interest in several of us. He saw Priscilla wearing the DOF shirt, and he brought her over a glass of water before the show started. It was really rather sweet of him. When they launched into their set, it was a wall of pure rock, and they tore the roof completely off. Josh saw me singing the chorus of "Detainer" (one of my favorite DOF songs) and he got down there to have me sing it duet style with him into the microphone. I know it's just a crowd-pleaser type of thing, but now I can honestly say I've sung with Day of Fire. Sort of.

To their credit, Day of Fire performed their entire set, even though the turn-out wasn't up to standard. They gave every fan that came there the show that they paid for. They even came out when we yelled for an encore and performed their signature song, "Cornerstone." Class acts, all the way.

Oh, and it pays to have your wife wear the band's shirt. She got the drumsticks thrown directly to her. Could be she's cute too. Who knows?

Anyway, it was a good time, and I encourage you all to check out their official website and their Myspace. It's worth your listen.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

American Voice: Jon Peter Lewis

American Idol would be nothing, if not for memorable characters. And one of those came from Rexburg, ID, by way of Season 3. Jon Peter Lewis was memorable for many fans of the show as his uninhibited antics onscreen surged him all the way into the Top 8 before being voted off.

And he hasn't stopped being afraid to be himself since.

Offers aplenty came in for JPL after the show, but none of them appealed to the self-styled singer, who wanted only what everyone really wants to do: to live his dream, and live it HIS way.

Thus was born Jon's label, Cockaroo Entertainment, and from this was born his debut album, which--by the way--is the first full-length album to be released by a former Idol independently. I loved the album, as you know if you read my review of it earlier.

Jon was kind enough to sit down and have a spirited and fun discussion with me. Here's what we had to say!

J.D.: First the obligatory question: have you been watching this year's American Idol?

Jon: Yes, faithfully.

J.D.: What are your thoughts on the performers this year? (editor's note: this conversation took place while the Top 12 were still on the show.)

Jon: I think the talent's pretty shallow, to be honest with you. I think the girls are definitely a lot better than the guys, they're a lot better than the guys, although I think every season everyone seems to think around this time of year, "oh man it's terrible this year." But then as the finals go on, you really start to enjoy the people there a lot more.

J.D.: Do you have any favorites this year?

Jon: Um, yeah, I think I liked the most, probably Chris Sligh a lot. He was my favorite person on the show. He's not my favorite singer, but I think over all, I liked him the most. As far as singing's concerned, yeah, Melinda is the one to beat. I personally think she'll probably win the rest of the competition, but y'know, Chris is my favorite.

J.D.: Well you've been on American Idol. You did your thing in front of millions of people, you went on a nationwide tour opening to stadiums full of people. In a nutshell, what was that like for you?

Jon: Oh man, a whirlwind. You get caught up in it, I mean it just happens so fast! I was so not into the music business. I mean, not that I wasn't interested in it, it's just that my mind was elsewhere. I was in college. I was a student. I was doing a lot of things. I was in a theater company, actually, right before I auditioned for the competition. I mean, my brain was geared toward...well, my brain wasn't really geared in any one direction. I was still trying to figure out where I was gonna go in life. I just kind of auditioned for it, and then from that point, I was just kinda caught up in it. It just kind of spiraled and got frenzied to where it was. And then after the show was over, I was like, okay, well, this is my career path.

J.D.: It has been said that being on Idol is kind of like the equivalent of spending five years in the clubs trying to be discovered. Do you agree?

Jon: I disagree. I would say it's not at all in any way, shape or form like playing in clubs for five years. Because it's more similar to auditioning or getting in front of say Clive Davis or somebody and having them give you a record deal. I mean, because the people who go to clubs don't really watch American Idol. But I think the point that you're getting at is the exposure, and I think the exposure is unbeatable. But it's definitely not at all like playing clubs. I've been playing clubs ever since Idol was over, y'know, and the club scene is extremely different from the television show.

J.D.: When you finished the tour, what kind of offers were waiting on you after you got done?

Jon: For me, personally, it was kind of this teeny-bop type of thing, and I wasn't really interested in that specific thing. I think people offer you what they see in you while you're on the show, if that makes any sense. I think that the industry is looking at an American Idol trying to think "okay, how can I package this person?" And if they can't really figure it out, they don't even offer you anything.

J.D.: So you didn't like the direction others were taking you in. Do you feel like they were expecting you to be a different kind of musician than what you really wanted to be?

Jon: Well, yeah. I think for me they wanted me to be definitely something that I wasn't, that I didn't feel like suited me. I just wasn't comfortable with it. And I knew that I wanted to write a lot of my own songs and figure that out. I had a lot of learning to do right after Idol was over.

J.D.: So what was the breaking point for you where you decided "Okay, forget the mainstream, I'm gonna form my own record company and release my own album?"

Jon: Everything that I was doing led up to that moment, without like me ever really thinking about it or at one point saying "this is what I'm going to do." It was like a process that just led me there that was inevitable. I didn't want to listen to what people were telling me from some of these major companies, so I started writing all my own songs, and it was kind of like as I went along, it became more of "I want to do it right for myself." And that became more and more of a mantra. It's been good for me. I'm very happy with the way things turned out.

J.D.: What are the advantages and challenges of releasing an album on an independent label?

Jon: Well, the biggest challenge is marketing. The amount of money and connections that you have. Essentially a record label is a big bank that has connections in the music world, and that's really all a record label is. With a major label, you get really deep pockets, and they can plug you into a lot of places. You get advertised in a lot of places, and people know who you are. The advantage, though, is that as opposed to getting ten cents for every record that I would sell, I would get ten dollars. If I get ten dollars, it takes me... What it would take Taylor Hicks a million records to do, I can do in a hundred thousand.

J.D.: Now more than ever artists can use the internet to directly market to their fans, interact with them, and share their music.

Jon: Absolutely!

J.D.: How have you personally tried to accomplish this?

Jon: Myspace is a great way to mobilize your fans. I think you don't rely upon major labels or anybody that has this connection already to say "I need to put this in the newspaper" or anything like that. There's not a control over the media like there has been in the past, so I can kinda put things out there as I want to. But I think this can also be to an artist's detriment. I think an artist does need to think about their timing and their image control. There's a lot of things to be aware of if you are going about releasing your own stuff, especially if you're trying to appeal to a mainstream audience.

J.D.: Do you participate in comments on message board, on your official site or elsewhere?

Jon: Yeah, from time to time. I respond to people that come to my Myspace periodically. I don't have time to really in depth respond to everybody, but people who come to my Myspace, I respond to them. And my website, from time to time as well. I definitely will post. I have this blog I have been doing with AOL last season, and with this whole American Idol season, which is good for me. People have all these questions about what I think about this year's American Idol, and I usually just direct them to my blog, and they can read all about it there.

J.D.: Where can we find your blog?

Jon: It's on TV Squad. It's right on You just go into the American Idol section. They've got my picture up, and my blog is right there.

J.D.: Tell me a little about Stories From Hollywood. Where did most of the concepts on this album come from?

Jon: The first song, "Stories From Hollywood," was one of the first songs that I recorded. I recorded it immediately after American Idol. I knew that I wanted to do some recording immediately and get some songs prepared and ready right away. And so, I just started assembling music as soon as I was on the tour. My cousin, he's in a band, on tour, and in the spotlight, and they've had a lot of exposure, and he's a great musician, so he actually wrote "Stories From Hollywood." And he approached me right after the show, and was like "hey here's a song, and it's really applicable to stuff that's going on with you right now." I heard it, and I thought "oh, this is great!" So I recorded "Stories From Hollywood" and "Turn to Grey" immediately after that October when we got off the tour from American Idol. And then the rest of the songs kind of happened as a progression or as a process, all up until last November when I released it. Each song is like opening up a photo album for me, because I know this is a song I wrote at this time, and the other is a song I wrote at another time, and each one has kind of it's own individual story. As I was doing that, I thought "Stories From Hollywood" is a really applicable title for a whole compilation of songs, because each of them are not only their own songs, but I think there's also the double entendre of the story from Hollywood. It's kind of when you're living the life that you've always wanted. It's kind of reflective toward what some of my thoughts were toward American Idol and the big carrot that was at the end of the tunnel.

J.D.: Where are you, typically, when you write your best music?

Jon: Oh, geez. Hmmm...either late at night or in the shower. A lot of these songs that I have written come to me just before bedtime. And so there have been a lot of nights where I'm just lying in bed, and then a melody and lyrics will come. It's kind of like that state you're at between being asleep and being awake. You start to think about things. And then melodies would come to me, and I'd sit down and start writing them. All of them, though, it's like for as many songs as they are, each one kind of starts in its own way. Generally, I think music comes at night.

J.D.: You said your favorite song is "Man From Amsterdam"? What is it about that song that resonates so much with you?

Jon: Um, I like that song mainly... I mean, I like the fact that it's uh... I don't know, I think the chorus is unique and that the vocals sound really unique to me. There's the duet with myself. It's got a really unique sound, but I definitely like the big chorus, but I also like that it has this really urban cool feel in the verses. I don't know, but I really liked it. I think it's my favorite on the record, since the record seems to be an extremely pop record. I think that song is a good blend of pop and rock.

J.D.: "If I Go Away" was on our Idol Waves charts for several months this year. I think it was number 19 on the year-end chart.

Jon: Wow.

J.D.: And "Gypsy Queen" is on our charts now. How gratifying is it to know that there are fans out there that are voting for your music online, and that there has been such a positive response?

Jon: Oh, it's amazing, man. It's so awesome. It's always gratifying anytime that somebody appreciates something that I'm doing, or connects to it, or just relates to it. It's the reason why you get into the music business, I think. It's not just about the self-expression. It's about the ability and the opportunity to communicate with people and have people understand what you're trying to communicate. I have always thought that music was the highest form of communication, and I think it's just great if people can understand what's happening emotionally in the song.

J.D.: Now that you have your debut album under your belt, where would you like to grow and change for your second release.

Jon: Gosh, it was definitely a learning experience with this last record. I mean, it's a huge process of trial and error. I've got a lot of acoustic songs that I've written. There are also a lot of rock songs that are on the table that I'm playing with the band. So in the future, it will be interesting to see how I negotiate and how the difference is negotiated, because there is a really wide spectrum of interest that I have in songs that I have written. I'm not exactly sure how I'm gonna attack the difference or if I'll do two different records that are almost completely different. I don't know. We'll see. There's definitely going to be some variety and some change and some things that I think are gonna be interesting that you're going to hear.

J.D.: Is there another album in the works?

Jon: Definitely, we are working on it. Right now, I'm kind of in the song-writing stage, but there's definitely another album planned. I haven't really put down any specific time frame on when I'm going to release it. I'm still working on promoting the one that I have now and seeing how far I can take that, and then move on to the next one accordingly. I really haven't put a time frame on it, but there's definitely another record in the works, and I already have several songs that are being toured around and they might be on the next one. I don't know. We'll see.

J.D.: I believe you recently toured with some former Idols through Missouri. What's it like touring with others who have also been part of the Idol experience, yet are still having to work hard to make it in the industry.

Jon: It's fun for me, because we're all kind of like in the same similar place. It's nice to compare notes, and it's also nice to just talk to people who completely understand. Being a former Idol and still working in the business is an extremely unique position to be in. There's just the fact that you start at the top and you are working from the top down, rather than from the bottom, and then kind of filling in the gaps from there. It's an extremely unique position to be in, so it's nice to be on the level with others who are kind of there with you, and that understand where you are at.

J.D.: Do you prefer the smaller venues versus the big screaming crowds from the Idol tour?

Jon: Well, you have a lot of fun in the small venues. I really like them. There's an energy. They are two different animals. You can perform one way and have a lot of fun in some of these small clubs. At the same time, there's a different kind of show that you perform in a big concert. I guess I prefer more like mid-size venues that aren't extremely small where I can see everybody's eyes, but the ones that aren't too big either that they're just overwhelming and you can't really connect with everybody.

J.D.: Where can we catch you performing?

Jon: Well, I'll be in L.A. performing at B.B. Kings at the beginning of May. I'm currently just talking with a bunch of other clubs, scheduling more performances. You can keep posted on my Myspace, and through my website.

J.D.: Anything that is in the works that you'd like to let your fans know about?

Jon: Um, no, not necessarily. Well, yes and no. But I'll keep that under wraps, until I know for sure. I'll have to be enigmatic for this one.

J.D.: Is there any message you'd like to send out from yourself to your fans?

Jon: I've been asked that question before, and I think the best answer and the most appropriate, I think, is just thanks. A big thank you from me to you. I really appreciate the support, and all the love. And keep coming to shows and having fun and all that stuff.

J.D.: Thanks for taking time out to talk to me here!

Jon: Awesome, my pleasure! Thanks for interviewing me!

It was my great pleasure. Now, I know there are more of you out there who will want to meet Jon, and you'll get your chance. Just meet both of us in Nashville on June 30th and July 1st at the second annual Reality TV Convention. We can't wait to see you there!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

American Idol 6: Top 4 Results

I'm having to do this on a slight tape delay tonight. Busy schedule...I'm sure you'll all understand. For some reason, my VCR (yes, I'm old school) decided to tape tonight's show in black and white, so I feel more like I'm watching the Ed Sullivan Show than American Idol.

I talked to Heather Cox today, and she's definitely going to appear at the Reality TV Convention this year. Should be a great time. I also called Will Makar, and I expect him to show up along with the president of the record label that signed both him and Ayla. Some other hopefuls...I've spoken with Ayla Brown, Sarah Mather, Rudy Cardenas, Nikki McKibbin, and several others, and many of them are interested. So far, only Constantine and Bucky Covington have outright turned it down. (Constantine doesn't do much Idol stuff anymore, and Bucky was already booked.) Not sure how many of the others will ultimately be able to make it, but we already have a great cast built up. I personally can't wait. I think it will be great fun.

Now, viva la results.

The final four are lined up in order of fashion, from most hideous to barely passable. THIS is American Idol.

In order to cram more into the show than was absolutely necessary, Pink is going to be here, just so we can be encouraged to fail to buy her album.

The judges have switched their seats, and Paula is in Simon's chair rubbing all up on herself. Ryan, ever the quick-witted one, says something about Paula's chi-chi's being smaller than Simon's. He immediately regrets it, when his brain catches up to his mouth and he realizes that the implication could swing badly the other way. Paula sort of ignores it, because she's botched boob jobs before anyway, so she goes on to spoil the surprise that Jessica Alba be in da house, yells at her about how hot she is, and Ryan remains on stage stumbling over his own lips trying like all heck to get the train back on the tracks.

Ryan asks Randy if he thinks it will be a shocker, and it most certainly will NOT, and he knows this, so that makes him even more disingenuous. Ryan repeats a joke from last season about how the show is all about Simon and how they should be thanking him for allowing them in his purview. As they respond to his inanity, Ryan sprints across the stage, takes a flying leap, and sails right over a shark that is swimming by.

I'll spare you the recap of last night's horrid mess. You all remember it.

Man-on-the-street time. A segment that should've been done away with in the first producer's meeting. It's amazing how many people are willing to make horse's behinds out of themselves dancing to "Stayin' Alive" on national television. Apparently there was a grandmother and soccer mom convention at the farmer's market this year. My new favorite word is now "goose bumples." And I'm with the kid, go Lakers!

Time to go buy your tickets for the American Idol Live tour. Somehow, it was necessary to show Ashley. I wonder if she will go on tour with them. I hope she does, because somehow a crying hormonal tweenager makes me feel like my life is a bit less complex than I thought it was. I've already got it figured out for myself which parts of the show I will spend at the concession stand and the bathroom line. Will I go this year? It's likely, because I'm sure they'll come through Memphis. I'll let you know how it all goes.

Pink is appearing tonight, for absolutely no reason at all, and they too will be the victim of a horrid mix. The drums are overpowering everything, and you can barely hear Pink's vocals or the guitar. The audio crew on this show really really deserve to be taken outside and beaten with shoestrings after the show. For two nights in a row, they've been off their game. There's a hint of frustration in Pink's eyes, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she ripped her earpieces out. She manages to keep it together. To be honest with you, if people complain about Nikki McKibbin and then say good things about Pink, I can't take them seriously. I don't care for her new stuff much at all.

Car-mercial! Who picks the songs for these? They've almost without fail been completely inappropriate. This time the Idols are profaning the Kinks' "You Really Got Me." I'm sorry, this isn't meant to be sung by a pop quartet. It's meant to be rocked out by a garage band.

Time for the American Idol Special, Challenge. Who went to Africa? You mean besides Carrie?

Ryan chats with the judges about song choices, and here we go with the group medley. I don't remember what it started out with, because I am sitting here flabbergasted at how unprofessional the sound engineering on this show really is. Melinda starts singing and there' mic level! There is REALLY no excuse for this. It's not a dead battery on the mic, either. It's the sound guy who is asleep at the wheel for a whole verse while Melinda is having to be heard only through the ambient sound of the others' mics. Further into the group number, the sound guy overcorrects, and Melinda's mic is drowning everybody else out. On a production of this scale, that's absolutely inexcusable. The whole rest of the song just sounds jacked up, and the Idols struggle nervously through it. Someone is losing their job tonight.

Man, Bill Maher is looking old these days.

After the break, we'll find out who loses.

Ryan sits and talks with the remainder. There are the requisite questions about how the Idols are feeling about last night's performances. Ryan picks out Lakisha's uneasiness last night, and say what you want about last night, but I don't think she could look any more uneasy then than she does tonight. Melinda addresses her dad-blasted consistency, dang her eyes, and admits that she's got to do better than being the best, however one does that. Jordin frets about the little time she had with which to learn the song and outperform everybody last night. Blake, affecting a lisp for the first time this season, reveals that he, in fact, was the one who shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Or something.

There's a pimp spot for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. They didn't get to see the whole film, mind you...just a clip. That begs the question: why not? Goodness sake, they got to watch Shrek, why not give them an hour and a half to enjoy the whole thing? I liked the first FF movie, but it was a bit under par from most Marvel movies. Judging by the trailer, this one should be a good bit better. Seeing Jessica Alba with blue eyes is just sort of weird, though. Dark Angel baby! She's a lot taller than I thought she was. This is a landmark for this season, though. Having the Human Torch on set assures us that now there has been someone in the Idol studios who went up in flames quicker than Chris Sligh or Brandon Rogers.

Man, is this over yet? There's only four of these people...why do we need an hour?? We learn a lot about the Idol's childhoods, which is all fun and games. There's nothing to really poke fun at. Lakisha says something about her "nappy fro" and Don Imus immediately starts dialing his lawyers. Gotta say it: Melinda was an odd-looking kid. She's cute now, but she definitely had her awkward age. Jordin looks the same as she did the day she emerged from the birth canal. Blake is, again, cooler than you.

Time for the results. Or not. Twenty minutes of commercials first. The cell phone commercial, yeah, that was funny the first time. Now that we've reached the millionth airing of it, it's time to switch ad campaigns.

Onstage, the final four are huddled. And they shall not separate. They aren't going to play Ryan's little game tonight, and with the script out the window, he panics for a split second. It's as though the teleprompter went out while he was telling a joke. The producers apparently whispered something very threatening into their earpieces, because they rapidly uncoil.

Jordin Sparks is the first to learn that she's safe. There's no big shock there.

Apparently, the Idol producers are looking to start a new show geared toward bands. An interesting concept, one that Half Past Forever should've waited for.

Now it's time to listen to Barry Gibb do.... do..... whatever that is he's doing. It ain't singin'. He's doing "You Don't Know What It's Like," and goodness gracious, someone get Michael Bolton out here to save this guy. It sounds more like an epileptic seizure than a solo. This is why there were other Bee Gees. I couldn't listen to this for any more than three minutes before stabbing my ear out with a pencil. I'm sorry, if I were one of the Idols, I'd have to corner him backstage and give him some pointers. My wife observes that, other than the possibility that those jeans of his are cutting off his circulation to his lungs, he might be singing in this fashion so that his dentures don't fly out and bite one of the judges. The audience cheers mightily, but then again, this audience would go bonkers if a dog were to walk up on stage and pee on the backdrop.

Time to drop one of the final three. Melinda is safe, and that leaves B-Shorty and Lakisha in the bottom two. And justly so. Randy won't venture a guess who will go home. Simon doesn't know, but he's willing to share a guess with us until Paula and Randy shout him down. He picks the KiKi. Paula showers them with rainbows, puppies, and flower petals.

Blake is safe. No shock. Almost all of us called this one all the way. LaKisha is going home, and unfortunately I fear we should get ready for all the LaKisha fans to scream racism. Well, that's the end of the run for Lakisha. It was quite a good run, and it should afford her some good opportunities in the future. I wish her the best of luck, despite some of the things I've said in the past, and I'll be following her career.

Next week, the top three... But don't stay away from the blog. Coming up this week, interviews with Jon Peter Lewis and Heather Cox. More news on the Reality TV Convention. And all the blabber that's fit for me to print.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

American Idol 6: Top 4 Perform

It's that time of the week again. Time for the best of what's left to dazzle us with their vocal acumen. I fully intend to enjoy tonight, since I like most of who are left.

I did want to say that I thought, in retrospect, that some of the things I said about Chris Richardson last week were probably a bit over the line, so I certainly want to apologize for that. I have striven to keep my recaps from becoming mean-spirited, and I sort of lost grip with that with my review on Chris. So Chris, if you happen to be reading, I'm sorry for that. And Lakisha...well, I'll try to be a little bit more humane to you tonight too.

I guess part of my feeling bad about it comes from the fact that I've been talking to former Idol hopefuls pretty much all day. And while that's a good thing, it reminds me that these kids are people too, and don't deserve such a hard time. I promised I wouldn't do that to them this year, and I kinda did, so ...not much I can say but sorry!

Now that my Kellie Pickler moment of the season is over, let's move on...

It looks like the Reality Convention is shaping up to be quite an event for Idol fans, and there are just as many Idols who are looking to get involved as there are currently confirmed. Some of the possibles are Celena Rae, Heather Cox, Sarah Mather, Dani McCulloch, Brooke Barrettsmith and a few others that I'll keep under wraps for now. I found out last night, as I posted in a previous blog, that I will be conducting the 45 minute American Idol panel discussion, so I'm looking forward to hanging out with all of them. The VIP passes don't hurt much either! I hope some of you guys will be able to attend as well.

Anyway, on with the show!

30 Million Americans will decide the fate of the Top 4. If you break that number down, you come up with approximately nine 13 year old girls with speed-dial and one Fanjaya who doesn't yet realize Mr. Malakar is no longer with us. THIS is American Idol.

Ryan escaped a near-death experience with his razor again this week, and comes in as unshaven as if he were attending a frat party. His suit at least is better attire than Simon's cleavage-baring t-shirt. Man-boobs...not so sexy! Of course he somehow manages to look better than Paula, who, as my wife observes, looks like a re-animated corpse tonight. Randy is here too, just sort of sitting there, existing.

And now it's time for Barry Gibb, best known as a member of the Bee Gees, who, in terms of career stats, have been played in more gay bars than any other band in history, with the possible exception of the Village People. I have this little vision of a miniature John Travolta dancing across the bottom of my screen. Say what you will about 80's hair, but those Michael Landon manes they sported in the 70s are just repulsive. Barry is impressed by the Top 4, and quite possibly wondering how his career came down to this level. I mean, when was the last time this cat had a record out?

Melinda Doolittle is going to sing "Love You Inside and Out," which, as Barry points out, is a falsetto song, but Melinda is going to punch the song right in the gut, bring the soul out of it, and hopefully re-invent the song to the point that I'll actually like it. Melinda's stylist needs to be given a raise, because the girl finally looks like a woman tonight! I like her vocally. I mean, what can you say? There's rarely any fodder for criticism from this one. I'll be honest and say that I wasn't excited by the beginning, but the song does build up, and by the time she's approaching the bridge of the song (or where the bridge SHOULD be) I'm groovin' with it. As always, much love for Melinda, even though I liked every single other of her performances better. I have to admit it. This wasn't her night. Randy calls it solid, and since there's nothing REALLY to criticize he can't really say that it sucked, even though he wants to. Paula confirms this and nails her on her consistency. Dang her for always doing well! I wondered when this would happen...Melinda is just so good that if she isn't spectacular, we won't like her. Simon wasn't that impressed by it, expected incredible, but didn't find it to be anywhere in that ballpark. And for the first time this whole entire year, Melinda gets a bad rap.

Randy attempts to call Simon from the other end of the table, probably because the vacuum between Paula's ears is causing too much of a roaring sound for them to communicate verbally across the table.

Blake Lewis is going to sing "Dancin," and ladies and gents, I give you the beat-box. He's going to work it out in falsetto, which should be interesting. He starts off just a tad flat, but he corrects quickly. As falsetto goes, I think I much prefer Sway Penala from last year. Remember when he did Earth Wind and Fire? Hot dang! As for Blake, up until the beat-box part, I'm not incredibly impressed. It's okay, but I wonder just how much of a CD I would listen to with someone doing this sort of thing. I like that it's unique, but at what point does it become hackneyed? The breakdown in the middle is nothing short of phenomenal, though. I have to give credit where credit is due. Altogether, it's not a wretchedly bad performance. Randy thinks that the beat-boxing didn't work tonight and that the song didn't need it. He found it to be distracting. Paula thinks it started weakly, and she of all people complains about his pitch (have you heard "Rush Rush"??), and then she dives directly for the beat-box to have something positive to say. Simon thought it was terrible. Ryan attempts beat-boxing, and I think legislation should be passed to keep that from ever happening again.

Lakisha Jones can't find another Idol winner's song to sing, so she'll go after the Bee Gee's signature song. She has a right mess of a time trying to tackle the falsetto. First off, the part that's not totally her fault: I don't care for the arrangement on this song. It sounds like something you'd hear in a cheap strip club. It's too downbeat, also, and it's not danceable unless you have a pole in front of you. Vocally, I feel like she performed the verse better than the chorus, and I was starting to feel her, but once she dropped to the low notes in the chorus, it turned into a hot steamy mess. I give her points for better fashion this week, but there's a lot about this performance that I'm not buying. It seems very very cabaret to me. It's like that song that you hear on the radio that you kinda like, but you know something's wrong with it, and you can't help but imagine what it would be like if they just did something a little different. At this point, with all the light show and everything, I feel like Austin Powers is going to come out from backstage at any moment and moon us. Randy dawgs on Lakisha for flippin' the script on the song. I know a lot of people are going to point out that they praised Blake for changing a song last week, but Randy does have a point. Some songs are good when they're remixed, and some songs are just right the way they are. This song is that song. Paula thought slowing the tempo of the song down was a horrid idea. Simon cheekily suggests that everyone would be running for the exits, and then gets all up in her kool-aid about the screaming and everything else. I don't think he'd kiss her tonight if she had money on her lips.

Jordin Sparks gets the pimp chat in the Coke question booth. What has she learned about herself? Apparently a big honking LOT. And she summed it up all in 97 words and ONE breath. She's making good grades in school, though, and even sitting down, she towers over the hobbit-like Seacrest. She's going to sing "To Love Somebody." Every time I hear this, I think of the Michael Bolton version, which is okay, so long as I don't think about it any longer than a few seconds. Hopefully after tonight, I'll remember Jordin. She sounded great in the video package, so let's see what happens here. Well, so far so good. It starts out nice for me, and I can tell that Jordin has really been working on this one. She has NOT been working on her wardrobe. At first I thought "nice dress" and then I saw the jeans sticking out of the bottom. She has sort of a Punky Brewster look tonight. If only she were wearing mixed-matched Converses and a skate key, it would be perfect. This performance, though, is easily the best of the night so far. I think it was an excellent choice of song. The peppy ones have been giving her fits lately, so slowing it down was nice. Randy agrees that it was the best vocal so far. Paula physically grabs the mic and attempts to gulp it down. Simon calls it the best vocal so far and declares the competition back on.

Melinda Doolittle's first tape that she bought was Michael Jackson's Bad. Her mom crossed out the word and put "Good" on there. I prefer "Weird Al" Yankovic's take on it. (Even Worse.) I feel old now, because the first thing I bought was a 45 record. It was "Thriller." Melinda is going to sing "How Can You Stop the Rain From Falling." Melinda and Barry go back and forth over something about leaving a line out that I missed because I'm too busy trying to be a smart aleck. Okay, I like this song a bit better, but I really really reeeeeeeeally wish she would've chosen an uptempo number to close out. They need to fire whoever is running the sound boards tonight, because the backup singers are over-modulated, and at times they're drowning out Melinda altogether. Melinda, yet again, is living the song, almost literally teleporting herself into whatever setting the song was written in, channeling the lyricist's emotions through her every pore, and leaving us with no doubt as to what the song means. Once again, an impeccable vocal, but song choice? Can't be sure. Randy thinks it was much better, calls her the "resident pro" again, and says she has it going on. Paula babbles on and on about how she wishes that Melinda would finally emote, which is the most idiotic judgment I've heard in all six years. She wants to be wowed, which just goes to show you that where Sanjaya could fart and get praised for it, Melinda has to bring it 150 percent every time or else she'll get dissed. With great power, comes great responsibility, I suppose. Simon thinks the second half of that song just bought her way into the semi-finals, but not unless you VOTE VOTE VOTE.

Blake Lewis picked an obscure Barry Gibb song that he could contemporize. It wasn't a hit record for them, and who knows if Blake might bring some extra funk to it. I like the opening, and the funk groove is nice for me. I really wish Snoop Dogg would come out on stage and start busting a rhyme right about now. It would feel right in place. I don't think the mix on this is being done just right...someone fire the mixer guy! Thankfully, Blake shies away from too much of the beat-box in this song, though I think it will likely come out a few more times before the season's over, or even this song for that fact. This time, though, he's showcasing his vocals, which are quite nice, and it's now okay that he throws a bit of that beat-box at the end. Much better than the last performance. Still, I'm not dazzled. Randy emphasizes that the beat-box is going to get old the more that Blake does it. We all wished he'd do it when he stopped doing it for a while, and now that he's doing it, we wish he'd do it less. Ah, so fickle, the American public! Paula said something. Don't know or care what. Simon calls the song tuneless and bizarre. And either they've just sent him home tonight, or (more likely) they've charged up his fanbase to vote. Which means nothing but bad things for...

Lakisha Jones...

But first, Judge Judy and Simon's mom, and we now have definitive proof that one is not the other. Ryan babbles too long with the combustible TV judge, and then has to all quick-like toss to...

Lakisha Jones, who will be singing "Run to Me." A slow, soulful ballad that she will nail IF she can emote and tank if she cannot. I definitely liked the original outfit better. I feel like I could pull up Lakisha's chest and use it to sit on while I play Nintendo. A bit too much displayed for my taste. Boy, howdy, what a boring song. This would've been a much better opening number, but it's certainly not something you want to close out with. You want to leave the audience with something that they'll be humming while doing laundry, not something they'll have to wrack their brains to remember tomorrow. Her diction on this song is terrible, and she's chopping up her words. The money notes at the end fall flat, and she's behind the beat ever so little, just enough that it causes her to lose the necessary punch. Don't even get me started on the final note that just flat busted. Randy gave her a pass on the hoarseness. Now, I'm not sure how much the Idols perform during the day, but losing your voice after two songs (four if you count the dress rehearsal) is just not going to cut it in the real world. Randy says it was better, but not good. Paula says good job. Simon says good job, and we must be REALLY short of time because we are OUTTA there. Ryan is talking in double-time, and there's a lightning quick toss to break. This may just be the nail in Lakisha's coffin. No pimp talk time after performing and a lackluster reviewing pretty much spells H-O-M-E.

Jordin Sparks will be closing the show by singing Barbra Streisand's "Woman In Love," and methinks that Ms. Sparks has caught on that these particular songs are right smack dab in the middle of her wheelhouse and that the judges like her to sing them, no matter what they say about the young fun Jordin. Barry thinks that Jordin will become one of our greatest female recording artists. Wow. Big praise. Y'know, Jordin is just...just... pretty. Not pretty in a supermodel on catwalk sort of way, but just darling adorable in a warm fuzzy sort of way. I like her vocal here. I got a little worried with her on the closing part of the song, but she pulled it off well. She almost missed the key change and she does start it out ever so slightly flat, but she corrects, and closes it out with a wail. I actually quite liked that one, even if I don't quite think I'd ever buy the single. Randy calls it pitchy all the way through. Paula and Randy both immediately cut from Jordin to compliment Barry's songs, almost all of which turned into steaming messes tonight. Simon calls it pageant-y and complains that it's much too elderly of a performance, a judgment which I've quite frankly become tired of hearing this year. Y'know, some people like songs other than Backstreet Degrees in Sync Dating Britney Spice.

Bad on the director tonight for pacing the show so horribly as to run out of time at the end. And c'mon couldn't time shift House for just a few minutes?

Predictions: tomorrow night, I fear for Lakisha. Blake has the power voters behind him. The only way Lakisha doesn't go home is if Melinda and Jordin voters get complacent and don't vote.