Tuesday, February 28

The 'real' audition process?

The East Carolinian - ECU student on "American Idol"

Here's the detailed audition experience of one contestant form Chicago who made it to Hollywood. Probably some info here that producers may not want known so if the link doesn't work that means the article was removed. And I'll warn you it's looooong. (But hey, if you're here reading my blog then you've come to expect that!)

Some basics: 15,000 people were broken into 4-person groups to sing for the 1st-level producers. 300 Advanced. Next they sing for (exec. producers) Nigel & Ken. She says about 100 advanced to Simon/Paula/Randy (which was actually a couple days later) and most of the others were not just bad, but tv-showcased-delusional bad. So a lot of the people you see in audition shows were picked by the producers & never saw S/P/R.

I already knew most of that. But she also claims Ken & Nigel chose (at least some of) the top 24 before they got to S/P/R. I did hear that they were the ones that told Taylor to play up his affectations for S/P/R, so that fits.

She also explains the one clip of screentime she got - she was the one saying they could put the Idol logo over her mouth - was hours after she was booted and all done in jest, joking around about what makes good tv. Heh.

Saturday, February 25

Results Show 2/23/06 -
And Then There Were 20

The first week of voting for Season 5 brought in "almost 40 million" votes over the 2 nights.

For the first time ever, we get a Cheesy Group Song with the whole Top 24! Plus it's an Eagles song, plus only the guys get solos! Wheee! Elliott gets to start off (pimp spot! Yay, Elliott!), then Ace (sounding awesome). Not all of the guys get solos - Kevin & Bobby are paired up, as are Gedeon (melody) and Sway (high - of course - harmony), and Bucky (melody, also sounding awesome!) and Patrick (harmony, very nice). Chris doesn't sound as good doing Eagles as I'd have thought. Taylor gets a short solo toward the end and then he & Will sing together. Mandisa does a bit of a pointy pose at the end but I think she was the only one. This was really great, looks like they heard some of our complaints about the lack of group numbers last year.

The recap of the two nights was interesting, as they grouped people together in categories, such as genre, talent level, or anything else they thought might be cute. First are those who "tried to rock their way in" - Bucky, Mandisa, Patrick, Becky, & Chris. "Others tried a country twist" - Kellie & Melissa. Then they said something about Vegas, and Bobby taking on Barry, David taking on Queen, and Paris taking on Gladys. Those who did Stevie Wonder well - Elliott - and not so well - Brenna. Some who were "great" - Taylor, Ayla, Kinnik, and Lisa. "High notes" - Stevie and Sway, and "Lows" (referring more to Simon's harsh comments) - Heather, Will, Kevin, & Gedeon. The last two ended in "style... and smouldering looks" - Katharine and Ace.

First up for elimination are the girls. There is some chatting with Brenna (who feels like a duck - don't ask), Paris (she had a dream of the finals but couldn't see who was under the falling confetti), Heather & Becky (about nerves). Ryan says we're looking for the gal who received the lowest number of votes. The back/top row: Mandisa, Kellie, Paris, Ayla, Lisa, and Katharine - are all safe. The bottom row consists of Heather, Stevie, Melissa, Kinnik, Becky, and Brenna. The first 3 are told they're safe while the others are asked to join Ryan on stage. We end up finding out that Becky is the first to go. I'm a bit surprised, since she'd gotten so much screen time and is gorgeous. But I remember the judges' foreshadowy comments ("better than we expected") and observe the timing of the press release regarding her & her twins' Maxim modeling photos, and the pieces start coming together.

Next to the guys - again a little chatting, nothing noteworthy. Their back row is Gedeon, David, Taylor, Will, Bucky, and Patrick, who are told that they're all safe (yay!!). In the front are Ace, Kevin, Bobby, Sway, Christ, and Elliott. We work our way in from the ends - Ace and Elliott are safe, as are Kevin and Chris. So it's Sway & Bobby center stage... and Bobby leaves. He is so not surprised, and mentions again doing the song for him "Gram" and how he got further than everyone back home and has that to be proud of. Oh, I should mention that each bootee gets to sing again.

Back to the girls: again the back row is safe, no surprise there. Then we start from the right as Brenna, Kinnik, and then Melissa (yay!) are told they're safe. So it's Heather and Stevie left - with Stevie going home. She does mention how she was sick (though she was classy & didn't mention it Tuesday in the midst of the criticism she received), and she sings much better tonight, probably a combination of feeling better and changing much of the song from falsetto to full voice.

Lastly back to the guys: this time the front 5 are safe, while the back 6 are told to make 2 lines of 3 on either side of Ryan. Bucky & Patrick are first, who are just told to step to the side and wait; Taylor and Will are next and both safe, as are David and Gedeon... which means either Bucky (probably) or Patrick are leaving! Boo! And, surprisingly, Bucky with his lack of screen time and bad notes is safe! While Patrick, being awesome in Hollywood, snarky in interview, and unimpressive but free of mistakes this week - is sent packing. Noooo!!! Sigh. Even though we haven't seen him play (piano), I'm positive he's one of the most musically talented guys there - definitely more than 3 or 4 others who are staying. (I do include Bucky in that, even though I like him & I'm glad he gets another week; I thought Gedeon would go.) But he repeats what the judges said Wednesday - he didn't do enough - this week - to make himself stand out from the crowd. And a *lot* of voters just started watching this week.

I did some Googling Thursday night for Patrick hall fan groups, and found only one Yahoo group with very little activity. I would love to keep up with his career so hopefully something else will pop up.

So ends our first week of viewer participation.

Friday, February 24

AI5 - 1st Results Show

Ok, so all week I've been thinking how much I love this show. I forgot how results shows make me hate it. I never expected to be this sad the first week - I thought if not in the Top 12 at least Patrick would've gotten more votes than Bucky, Gedeon, maybe Sway, and Bobby - but only 1 for 4! :-( Fell prey to the hordes that only started watching this week and missed his earlier clips, because he wasn't that great this week, even though he's easily one of the most talented in the bunch. Wow. I'll do the recap tomorrow, too shocked & sad to do much else tonight. (Well, that and it's already incredibly late due to also watching Dancing w/the Stars and the Olympics!!)

Also eliminated: Becky (also a surprise, though I don't mind seeing her go), Stevie (as I predicted, but feeling better tonight & sang *much* better), and Bobby (as predicted).

Thursday, February 23

Top 12 Guys (2/22/06)

One word - EEEeee!!!!! ;-) The boyz rock!!

Ahem. But, really, it's been a while (like never?) since we've had this many enjoyable guys.

Patrick: "Come to My Window" - I understand that he wanted to show versatility, but it was too early for that given what we've seen of him. But he certainly understood when Paula was telling him to get back into his "niche" (read, box). It was decent, just didn't showcase his strengths. (Gave him 40 votes.)

David: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" - Shoot me now. I mean, yeah, he's ok, but really he's just annoying, and you know he has tons of power-voting, angel-winging fans who will keep him around waaay longer than he should be. Plus I think my Will would have a much stronger position without David around.

Bucky: "Simple Man" - Poor Bucky. Love the guy, but really, just doesn't have the chops. At least not for the long, held notes of this song. It was cool watching him get into everyone else's performances. I threw him a couple votes in hopes of keeping him around one more week.

WILL!!!!! Did not disappoint. Definitely my pick for, if not winning, at least blossoming throughout the competition, showing tons of versatility, and just showing his amazing talent. I don't think "I Want You Back" was the best song choice for him; it didn't showcase his vocals like ballads do, but it did show a different, more fun side of him. Love that he danced, though wish we'd gotten to see more of it (I had the same complaint about Paris last night). And he knows how to work the crowd and the cameras. A.dor.a.ble. (25 votes)

* And not from tonight, but I have to link this video clip of William singing Josh Groban's "When You Say You Love Me." Because I :heart: him.

Sway sang "Reasons" by Earth, Wind & Fire. Really, really high. I watched this part from a tape and fast-forwarded through most of it.

CHRIS: "Wanted Dead or Alive" - He rocked! Literally. ;-) Very, very good. Simon said the 1st of the night to show real potential.

Kevin: "One Last Cry" - He's good, but out of his element. I was surprised to see Ayla really into it.

Gedeon: "Shout" - What kind of song choice is that?! He wanted to "perform," by which he apparently meant lift his leg up, bounce around, and sing nonsense syllables. Next?

ELLIOTT!!!!! *Where* has this guy been?! While I won't go nearly so far as Simon, who said he may be "the best male vocalist of all 5 seasons," he's definitely one of the best this year and much better than I expected. He did "If You Really Love Me," and with your eyes closed you just might think Stevie himself is singing, though Elliott's voice is a little rougher. Great control, wonderful tone, a really good performer, & cute smile with a little twinkle in his eyes. I really hope his lack of screen time won't keep him from the Finals. (He got 50+ votes from me.)

Bobby: "Copacabana" - Poor Bobby. Utterly and completely cannon fodder. Can he mention Barry a few more times? I didn't think so. Just not good vocally - not the song to showcase vocals and even his performance wasn't that interesting.

ACEEEeeee!!!- Also did not disappoint. ;-) I've been anticipating not caring for his musical style, but he did George Michael's "Father Figure" which I absolutely *adore*!! And he did it better (with fuller voice) than I expected. I still don't understand why he's so nervous but it's better than being cocky & overconfident (*cough*Gedeon*cough*). Wow. Randy loved him, and Simon said the song choice was "brilliant" & that he has "the X factor." Paula was hilarious, talking about how all her female friends "and a few of the guys" would have phone in hand ready to vote, and Ryan had him seduce the camera one more time! (Oh and the shot of his bro in the audience? Thank you.)

Taylor was last with "Levon" - Good song choice but could've done better IMO. It was very good musically, and enjoyable, but I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't "great." Simon admitted being wrong in saying he shouldn't be here. Paula said they need to ask the Producers for more than 6 spots for the guys - I agree wholeheartedly!!!

4 Standouts for me, 4 good, & 4 not good. I predict Bobby and Gedeon will go (tough call between Gedeon & Bucky).

I find it very interesting that there are... at least 6 of the Top 24 that sing "old style" music this year! And we're getting a nice variety of song choice instead of the same old rehash... even if some of them are quite strange!

Best comment I've seen online tonight: "Will: I want one." Hee!

Wednesday, February 22

AI5 - Top 12 Women (2/21/06)

The stage set-up is very different this year; there's a round stage in the middle, with the judges' section, the Other contestants' section (tonight the "Dawg Pound '06"), and then audience sections surrounding it. There's also a balcony, opposite the judges' side, connected to this year's Red Room, which also has a circular theme in the form of the sectional couch. As each girl sings, the others watch from the balcony, then go back into the Red Room for Ryan's intro chats. The girls are also paired up, for what that's worth.

First up is Mandisa: "Never" (Heart; edited to correct song title) - She was great, of course. Really got the crowd into it too. I missed part of the performance & judges' comments due to the Olympics, but for some reason Paula compared her to Carrie.

Kellie: "How Far" (Martina McBride) - She explained she sang this song about her relationship with her father. In case, you know, we forgot about how horrible her life has been up until now (I know it's the producers' choice to pimp it so much but I still hold it against her a bit). She's constantly (on the 'net) being compared to Carrie, but her performance is quite different - a very different tonal quality to her voice, and connected much more to the lyrics of the song than to the musicality of it. The judges focused on that too - her personality, because the music wasn't all that.

Becky: "Because the Night" (Eee!) - Please step away from the 80's song. Her voice is so not suited to this. Plus she didn't look at all 'rock' below the neck (tried to make 'rocker' facial gestures but it just came across as trying too hard). Interestingly Randy & Simon both said she sounded better than they'd expected - not sure whether that was a compliment to tonight's performance or a criticism of previous ones, or both. Anyway, she could be in trouble, but I doubt it.

Ayla: "Reflection" (Christina Aguilera from the Mulan soundtrack) - Had some really awesome parts, but also some bad notes. I do like her hair better wavy; though she's pretty I don't think she's very feminine, and that seems to soften her up a bit. She impressed the judges (and me) by remembering their constructive criticism and working with it; she seems to have a good attitude and is willing to work hard to improve or modify her performances.

Paris: "Midnight Train to Georgia" - Hee! Definitely one of the most entertaining of the night. Little spitfire with a big voice, and presence. Reminds me of a combination between Diana DeGarmo (cute, energetic kid), Jennifer Hudson (some 'big' eyes & facial expressions), and Fantasia. Definitely shows the influence of a performer who was big 40 years ago; some of her mannerisms don't fit her youth, & she's a bit over the top. But got the audience into it right from the beginning & played to the whole crowd. Still love her but almost prefer the voice while not watching her.

Stevie: "To Where You Are" (Josh Groban) - Emphasizes her opera training & says this is an opera song, but then sings in a very thin falsetto for most of the song?! Not smart. Yes, as Paula said, she's shown the full voice and this was nice variety, but America hasn't seen much of her yet and this was not showing her strength. I'm guessing this will be the last we see of Stevie.

Brenna: "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" - Very weak (worse than the judges' "safe" IMO) until the last 2 lines. For being so obnoxious when not performing, the performance itself was incredibly understated. After the male judges' criticism she promised to bring the "claws" back out next week, assuming she's still here. Which she will be, as people like controversy.

Heather: "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" - Poor song choice in many ways. Her voice would probably be better on a different style of song, but I still doubt that it would be great.

Melissa: "When The Lights Go Down" (Faith Hill) - *Why* did they not show her to us before?! I love the quality of her voice - reminiscent of Lindsey Cardinale but I think Melissa is better & more versatile than Lindsey (and more enjoyable). The song wasn't perfect by any means; I think her voice is better suited for rock than country, something like Sheryl Crow or Bonnie Raitt. Paula also loved her voice, and the crowd loved her performance overall. After Simon said she wasn't memorable she pointed out that this was the 1st time the tv audience has seen her perform, but she wasn't whiny about it. I got in 20 votes for her because I'd love to hear what she'll do with a different style of music. I'd much rather keep her around than several of the others.

Now the highlight of the evening, Lisa! Sang Jennifer Holliday's "I Am Changing." I don't know the song, but that didn't matter. Girl, can. SANG!!! Yet she's poised enough not to overdo it; some decoration but not too much, some power notes but not just that, some awesome little growly parts... and infused with emotion. Just amazing. Standing ovation & lasting cheers from the audience! I agree with everything Paula said, using the words "gift," "poised," "star," and "you light a fire inside me." Simon said she "made girls 5-6 years older look ordinary." I was surprised today to read a lot of negative comments about her because really, what's not to love?!

Kinnik: "Get Here" - Good & great response from the audience - slightly reminiscent of Vonzell's slower stuff I guess. Has some poise & class, but too many glory notes & didn't sound much different than the original. She does have a good attitude but will definitely suffer from lack of screen time. Oh well, not everyone can make the Finals!

Lastly Katharine: "Since I Fell For You" (Streisand) - Hmm. Don't ever let her and Taylor perform a duet, I think the camera might explode. I don't remember seeing her nearly this affected before. She stood almost perfectly still but moved a lot from the waist up, in some jerky motions I'm not even sure how to describe (undulating? like a motor sputtering?!). Very unpleasant to me. OTOH, she has a very good voice (as long as I close my eyes). The judges *loved* her and Simon went so far as to call her the best of the night; wha?!?

My top 4: Lisa, Paris, Mandisa, and Ayla. Bottom 4: Becky, Stevie, Brenna, & Heather. I predict Heather and Stevie will go.

Monday, February 20


I've been reading Contestants' Official Bios and viewing a few of their videos. I'm really, really loving the guys - Ace, Chris, William, and Patrick. Ace seems so sweet- his family (has 4 older brothers, & they all sing!) is very important to him, & he visits a children's hospital every Christmas! Said the previous contestant with whom he most identifies is Constantine, which is cool because their musical styles are so different but he still respects his talent and approach (and hair, lol). Chris & Patrick both sound very talented and experienced, with their own bands. Patrick mentioned playing piano so I really hope they let him fit that in somehow. And his musical tastes - Elton John, Kenny Loggins... some of my favorites! William seems like a fun kid - admits he wants the fame & fortune but seems to be fairly grounded. And a goofball. This cap is from the intro dances.

Friday, February 17

The Top 24 Revealed

Katharine McPhee - sang Funny Valentine for her solo, was pretty good. Very nervous going in to see the judges; the first 7 people had been eliminated. Not to worry, Katharine was the first to advance. She kissed each of the judges - on the lips. Anyway, most in the holding room (noticably excluding Ace & Chris, who always seem to be sitting together in the front row) stood up & clapped when she returned.

Ace was up next; he'd asked Katharine re: the kisses "who was the best?" (answer: Randy) and then Ryan told he was next, he could find out for himself! Ace just laughed. To Paula's probable chagrin (but in the best interests of everyone except the tabloids) successive contestants must have been told not to approach the judges at all. His solo was "Out of My Life," which was just ok (I'm not a huge fan of the genre though). The judges asked how he was and he replied "perfect." (Growing numbers of female fans agree.) Made him sweat in silence a moment but told him he advanced, and when walking out he rubbed his hands together excitedly and said, "Now I get to go to the People!" Upon reentering the holding room he got a big hug from Chris, & then a gal I couldn't identify.

Robert Bennett is next - we haven't seen much of him before, though there's much to see! A bit heavy and very exuberant, Robert is only 17 years old but seems older, at least to me. He was so excited when he returned to the holding room, and a little out of breath, he joked that the Idol competition "isn't for fat people! You've gotta be in shape" to endure the pressures. ;-) Could be a fun guy, too bad we haven't heard him sing yet.

Mandisa, of course, brought up Simon's earlier comment about her weight. (In his defense, he has said that he would not have made some of the statements he did had he known the cameras were still filming; in previous years they stopped when contestants left the room.) She said that "a lot of people want me to say a lot of things to you," and that his comment did hurt her, but that as she thought about she realized someone doesn't need to apologize in order to be forgiven. A strong Christian, she said if Jesus could die for her as evidence of God's grace, she could extend grace to Simon and forgive him. She was very well-spoken and not overly emotional. Randy said "Amen" and Simon said he was humbled. After telling her she's advancing Simon offered her a hug and did apologize. Randy said he loved her speech and that she said what Simon needed to be told.

Melissa McGhee is shown getting the good news, but we really don't care much as we've never seen her before.

Lisa Tucker sang "A House is Not a Home" pretty well - amazing glory note but her voice broke a bit at the soft end. She admitted at the end of the week her "voice wasn't as good" as she'd have liked it to be. Simon told her he was concerned re: her age but advanced her. Many in holding stood for her as well (including Gedeon, Patrick and Kellie). Her mother was the first of many parents shown waiting with Ryan for the verdict & chatting a bit afterward; anyway, her mom is gorgeous!! And said Lisa could definitely handle the competition.

David is shown saying "I have no idea what I did right [to get this far]... other than be myself." He crooned "Dream a Little Dream."

It's Sway's 28th birthday! He also sang "A House Is Not a Home" but I think his voice is way too thin for that song. Randy said it's a "tough" top group this year & then advanced him.

Elliott cried a bit after finding out he's through; we aren't shown much else but he seems really sweet. He also gets a hug from Chris.

Brenna starts spouting more excuses. Simon tells her they think she's talented but also that they're afraid she could be "a nightmare" to work with. Advances her though, saying "I like you; I don't know why, but I like you."

Gedeon McKinney, we find out, is only 17 years old. Sings "Let's Stay Together" and has a very good voice, but oversings and has a very old-sounding style, like you're watching a video from the 50's. And oh, does he have an attitude: he says he wants America to "see what God did" and that the American Idol "has to have it," which he then repeats (twice): "Has to have it." "Has to have it." "It." Apparently the judges think he has at least some of It as they advance him. Though Simon says later "If I'd heard that speech before, I think I'd have said no."

Stephanie "Stevie" Scott is next and says she loves opera, R&B, jazz, and blues. Is shown singing "I Believe in You and Me" (from Hollywood Day 1, when they had accompaniment). She's sings very well, though embellishes a lot. After advancing she says she thinks it's a great "privilege" to be able to be on the show. Cute girl, but lack of previous screen time could hurt her.

Ayla is shown singing but I don't know the song. Girl can definitely sing. Paula tries to hold off on the good news just to make it harder on her, but can't, saying "nothing seems to be difficult for you." Simon snarks as she leaves, "You know what I like about this competition? We give the underdogs a shot." Bwah!

Poor nervous Chris gets stuck in the elevator for about 5 minutes!! His song is from the group performance: he, Ace, and Bobby sang "Emotion" and I absolutely LOVE the clip!! (Chris has the spotlight with the others singing a very nice high harmony.) Chris looks strained when singing but I love his voice and I think he has a lot of potential. They did showing him calling his wife with the good news afterward.

Becky gets a short performance clip & is through. Both she and Paris are shown in the holding room keeping lists of who makes it and how many spots are left!

Heather Cox gets one of the spots.

Bucky sings "God Bless the Broken Road," cowboy hat & all. Voice isn't the best. Incredibly strong accent while speaking but seems extremely nice & humble/grateful for the opportunity.

Patrick gets interviewed and after being asked if he thinks he deserves to be in the finals, says "Yeah, I think I do. I can sing, I can play, I have some things about me that I think people will find interesting.... I'm not as pretty as Ace... but then who is?" He says this in more of a snarky tone than straight out joking. Love him!! Is shown singing a way-way-too-short clip of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me."

Kevin's clip is of his initial audition, singing "You Raise Me Up." Both his parents are with Ryan and say that "he's a good kid; he'd like everybody to win." The judges say it was a difficult decision but he's through.

Paris (sorry, almost forgot her!) - sang "Fever" for her solo, & was too shouty for me. What happened? Loved, *loved* her initial audition (didn't everybody?), but Hollywood hasn't been great for her. I know she already has lots of fans but she'd better do well the next 2 weeks or she may be gone.

Kellie sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (very well). Took her a minute to realize that the judges said she was through (maybe she thought they meant through as in "done"?). As she started crying, she said how after seeing her face a mess at the initial audition she made sure to buy waterproof mascara, and asked if it was working, which it was. ;-)

Taylor walked into the room playing his harmonica, and played all the way til he got to the Chair! He was very nervous, and surprised to make it. He played a little more & sang on his way out.

The last 2 girls go up together: Megan Bobo and Kinnik, who advances. Megan was shown singing "Something to Talk About;" not sure what Kinnik sang but she has a very powerful voice (and was actually oversinging). Look forward to seeing/hearing more from her.

And the last 2 guys were Syd Harcourt, who sang Lionel Richie's "Hello" (which I loved!!), and William, who sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Eeeee!!). William was surprised that he was the one to advance.

Everyone got to do their little dance with voiceover introductions in anticipation of the 5 hours of semifinals next week. Several can dance; several can't; and several are comedians (Taylor, Bucky, & Chris, plus a few others)! Looks to be a great group. Bring on the singing!!

Ok, found the 24th (Paris!) & filled her in. All better now!

Thursday, February 16

Top 44 -> 24 (Details: 20 Eliminated)

Jessica Santos

Bubby Bullard

Brooke Barrettsmith (at 23, the older sister; Leah was eliminated earlier)

Nick Whitten (28, SC; the poor guy stuck in the group w/Brenna & Marcy)

Stephanie White

Crystal Stark - not a unanimous decision; Katharine McPhee was very upset that Crystal was eliminated.

Bobby Dillard

Antonio Bridges

Eugenia Littlejohn - also not unanimous; at 26 and with a 6-year old son, cried that now her career (chance) was "over"! The judges tried to convice her that she's young as has plenty of time to pursue music.

Mark Adam Locklear

Marcy Smith (Brenna's "arch enemy," says the announcer - her elimination was shown right after Brenna's acceptance)

Nicole Ortiz (17, NJ)

David Aphram(?) (25, IL) - blond guy w/glasses, never shown singing. Said the judges were "very nice about it." Looks like a David from the Midwest. ;-)

William McCoy (23, NC)

Brianna Taylor (18)

April Walsh (27, CA, sang a Bjork song for Denver audition) - "on to the next audition!"

Megan Bobo

Syd - showed a short clip of him singing... I wish they'd shown more! Girls would be swooning. ;)

and the Brittenum twins.

Hollywood Finale - The Chair of Doom

I LOVE THIS SHOW!! :-) Fortunately this year it was the Chair of Glee for most of my favorites.

Briefly, for now (because I had worship team practice til 8:45, then watched Lost, then Invasion since they're starting to explain things... and took lots of notes during Idol so just now finished a bit before midnight!).

I'm so happy that we got to see so much singing, most of it great! Also happy that the Brittenums only got a few minutes of airtime and that was all in listing their alleged crimes. So, moving on...

The top 24:

Katharine, Ace (of course, and yay!), Robert Bennett (big guy w/mustache), Mandisa, Melissa McGhee, Lisa (I still adore her!), David, Sway (happy 28th birthday!), Elliott, Brenna, Gedeon McKinney (he's only 17?! He & Taylor could sing at the old folks' home & fit right in), Stephanie Scott, Ayla, Chris (stuck in elevator! sang "Emotion" & was awesome! called his wife! love him!!), Becky, Heather Cox, Bucky, Patrick ("I'm not as pretty as Ace" - hee! love him too!!), Kevin, Paris, Kellie, Taylor (so entertaining), Kinnik, and William (BOTW, Eee!! still love him as well!!).

The two performances I really, really want to see that they didn't show: Taylor's "Ain't No Sunshine" and, especially, Patrick's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me." Also would've liked to have seen more of Syd earlier... *much* more... but then it would be even harder to see him go.

This is a great group. Plenty of variety, lots of interesting characters (not too many w/attitude), great voices. I love this show!!!

Wednesday, February 15

More on Group Night

Really, really liked William in the 'young crooner' group. Also the crowd like the whole group a lot. I think Josh's voice is too similar to David's, and while I much prefer Josh, the judges obviously prefer David. Also Josh might have a bit of an attitude - after Paula said she'd see them the next day, he said, "You've got that right!"

I think Ricky and Gedeon (not featured yet though we've seen him here & there) were also in Derrell's group.

Heh, I saw Brooke looking at lyrics she'd written on her hand. Hey, that's better than messing up. I think that was Mecca in the "Band of Gold" group that had Sarah.

Loved the shot of Chris w/his jaw on the floor when Derrell was quitting!

Incorrect lyric montage - Bucky: "Don't have myself; I love you 'bout a thousand times." Katharine: "Out in my life" (-then she looked at the lyrics on her arm. oops!) Unknown white female: "Beat my bare behind... love you and all my time." Unknown black male: "When I tongue a blame; turnin' into flames."

Lastly they showed Gedeon skipping a line, but at least we finally go to see him identified. They've shown him quite a bit, now that I know who he is. *Great* voice! Yay!!

A little more detail on the group of girls with Tyra: Celeste Scalone (24), Shuntai Kinnik Sky (28, GA - *very* good!!), and Nicole Turk (22, GA).

On Day 4, from the teeny weeny really fast clips they showed of the solos: The 2nd guy is Gedeon, singing "Let's Stay Together." (Which I typed first as "Let's Satay"... yum!) Lisa did "House is Not a Home". No clue what Ace or Kellie sang; Taylor did "Ain't No Sunshine." I would love, *love* to hear the full versions of all of these!! They also showed Gina crying because she forgot her lyrics.

With a little help from my friends, more detail from the Rooms:

Room 1 (out): Gina, Tyra, Nicole, James somebody (not Cory), Josh, Ashley Jackson (fit model), and Erica Walters (?).

Still in at this point: (Room 2-) Becky, Ayla, Sway, Chris, Mandisa, Patrick, Bobby Bennett, Lisa, Brooke, Gedeon, Brianna, Becky, and Brenna; (Rm 3-) Derrell, Taylor, Paris, Elliott, Katharine, April, David, Megan Bobo, Stephanie Scott, Bobby Bullard, Heather Cox; (Rm 4-) Terrell, Kellie, William, Kevin, Bucky, Ace, Nick Whitten, Kinnik, and that blond guy w/glasses they keep teasing us with but never actually showing. ;-)

At some point they showed a way-too-short clip of Patrick, Taylor, and Chase practicing in their group, and the harmony was heavenly. Other vocal highlights in summary: Elliott, William, and Kinnik. Plus the solos I mentioned above.

One more night and we have our semi-finalists!!

Hollywood, Day 3/Episode 2 (2-14-06)

Ignoring the Brittenum twins (as I wish the producers would have), this was a great show! I love the group numbers!!

Part of me wants to try to glean every bit of information possible from my 44 minutes of tape. However, the other part says that the top 24 will be revealed in less than 24 hours from now, so why bother? (Because it's fun and I can!) So we'll see how far I get...

I'll start with the highlight: I love Elliott Yamin's voice!!! And he's shown to be seemingly a nice guy. Yay!!

Ok. A couple of changes: groups can be 3 or 4 people, and can be of mixed genders.

One thing not changing: the amazing number of people who can't learn the words to the same songs that are used for group numbers every. single. year. It's not like it's a brand new song they've never heard; if they're smart & do any homework at all, they'll learn some basic Motown and come prepared. However.

First group: Paris, Hanna F (17), Stephanie Scott (19, CA). Paris & Stephanie advance; Hanna goes home. 1st we've heard of Stephanie; pretty good, though sounds & acts very young, which is something to say when she's 2 years older than her groupmates.

Next: Terrell, Sway, Elliott Yamin (27, VA), and Anthony. No choreography whatsoever. Elliott rocks; the rest are meh (T & Sway both mess up lyrics). Everyone is through except Anthony. Elliott impresses me because he hesitates to actually criticize T (Simon doesn't!), and sticks up for Anthony when T is blaming him for all the group problems.

The young boys: what a fun group! Kevin, Josh Jordan (21), David, and William. David is good but I don't like him; he's too young to be Harry Connick, Junior, plus we already have one. William rocks, yay! Definitely still a favorite of mine. And we finally get to hear Josh sing; he's good, and cute. All 4 advance, for now.

More Brittenum drama: Derrell advances, but in confusion (thinking T was cut?) announces his spirit was wounded and quits. Later his brother corrects him and talks him into going back on stage to apologize. Simon sends them away to come back yet again 30 minutes later, and lets him through. Can we *please* get rid of these guys soon? So. utterly. annoying.

In several groups of gals singing Band of Gold: Mandisa, Brooke B, and Sarah E (25, TX, not shown before). All advance.

Some of my friends have been anticipating (read, drooling over) this guy they call 'Bo Cobainaroulis' because of his rawker look. His actual name is Bucky (not much better). Tonight we finally get to hear him sing... and he messes up the words! Hee.

They do a cute montage of people messing up "I Can't Help Myself," adding subtitles showing the incorrect lyrics. Some are absolutely hysterical. This I'll definitely have to go back over for the details.

And we get to see more of Tyra today, but it's not good. She leaves her group, and then later winds up leaving the 2nd group & going back to the first (who graciously let her)! The 2nd choice was the wiser one, as everyone from the other group (Meredith, 16; Leah B; & another) goes home, while everyone in her original group (Celeste, Kinnik - she's good!, and Nicole Turk) advances. I don't like Tyra's performance this time, though, reminds me too much of Ryan Starr (in manner as well as voice).

Marcy Smith (28), Brenna G (25), and Nick Whitten perform after surviving some drama from Brenna, the self-proclaimed 'Simon' of the group. I like Marcy but think she messed up the words. All advance.

Then another funny 'fluff' piece: a 'movie trailer' for something called Brokenote Mountain, starring our three favorite cowboys, who are the last group to sing. Well, it stars our one favorite, Garet, plus 2 others we've hardly seen - Matthew Buckstein, whom we've heard once (& wasn't very good), and Michael Evans. The movie trailor was much better than the performance, however, and all are sent home.

Day 4: Contestants have a list of 95 songs from which to choose to sing alone, a cappella, receiving no feedback from the judges at all. I'm guessing we'll see some of these tomorrow (The episode with The Chair of Decision!). For now we move on to The Rooms of Decision... Here's what I caught briefly, I'll fill in more later:

Cut: Room 1, with Gina, Tyra, Nicole, Cory?, and Josh Jordan (sorrow)

All the rest are through!

Room 2 - Becky, Ayla, Sway, Chris, Mandisa

Room 3 - Derrell, Taylor, Paris

Room 4 - Terrell, Kellie, William, Kevin, Bucky, and Ace (we hear Randy saying Bucky's name a few times; is Randy a fan?)

At the very end Ryan alludes to the Top 24, and then a bunch of faces are flashed before our eyes very quickly before credits roll. Didn't seem like enough to be 44, seemed more like 24 to me! ;-) I'll write these down tomorrow & we'll see, but I'm guessing, for anyone who cares, that the Final 24 were actually revealed tonight. Not that I'm surprised as spoiler lists have been circulating and we know most of them anyway. Or so we think - one more day will tell!!

Monday, February 13

Hollywood, Round 1 - Additional Comments

Surprisingly I don't have a lot to add; being able to pause and rewatch wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped. But I got a few things. And some info from my friend mj's AI blog (thanks!!)...

First, the list of 12 songs from which they can choose:

Bat Out Of Hell - Crazy Dave did that
Bless The Broken Road - Joshua Simmons
Can’t Fight The Moonlight - Paris, Garet (were only teeny people allowed to sing this?)
Dim All The Lights (I have no clue what this is)
First Cut Is The Deepest - Taylor, Terrell Brittenum, Chris
Hopelessly Devoted To You (I love this song!) - Kellie, Lisa, & in the montage: Laura Wright, Shelby Johnsons, Eden Kentner, Matthew Buckstein
I Believe In You And Me (Don't know this one either; Megan Z. sang it)
I’ll Never Love This Way Again - Derrell Brittenum, Katharine
If (Bread) - Patrick
If I Ever Fall In Love Again - RJ, montage: Gina, David Radcliff, Ace, Kevin C.
Never Gonna Give You Up
Unbreak My Heart - Linelle

Am I the only one who thinks Kellie Pickler sounds like Dolly Parton? Not necessarily a bad thing, but strange.

I still think Tyra was in the part of Kellie's group that advanced, but don't know for sure.

In the group with RJ and Steven David: Ryan Baysda (sang country in Greensboro) was the other to get cut. Sorrow. Making it to the next round: Will Makar (yay!) and William "Bucky" Covington.

I believe Kendra (foster home girl) was in the row of Paris' group that got cut, and Halicia advanced to the next round.

In Taylor's group but getting cut: Jordan Southerland.

And I thought I saw Becky in the end-of-day-one moving on montage.

Day two: Ace & Chris seem to be buds already! Yay, I like them both, & they both seem very nice.

Spotted in the touring group, all of whom I think advanced: Mecca, Sway, Cory (not shown on tv yet but identified from a web page), and Will.

Chris was shown advancing as part of Ace's group, although he wasn't shown singing until later (the editing is very misleading this year). He did get a great crowd response though. David and the Simmons twins were in the same group; I think that was Ricky that advanced with David. (I hope so!)

Oh, and I noticed Randy specifically called Garet by his first and middle names, Garet Layne, like Billy Bob or John Mark. And the audience really liked Garet Layne as well. How can you not when he looks at the judges after performing and says, "Butcher me now"?!

When Mandisa was singing they showed Gina pointing at her and saying, "She's great!"

Eliminated but not shown: Zachary Smits (boo!), Jayne Santayana

Still don't know: Barrettsmith sisters, Rochelle Dye, Heather Cox, Chase Bush, Lauren Weckerly, John Williams, Shawna White, Heather Ward, Jason Horn, Ashley Jackson, Ayla Brown (rumors say she's through), and Tatiana Ward. Hopefully the missing pieces will be completed on Tuesday!!

And, apparently Simon predicts a "southern male" will win. Not really going out on a limb there, seeing as how all 8 winners & 2nd place contestants have been southern, and we're *really* due for a male to win. But it does bode well for many early favorites: Patrick, Taylor, Bucky, Chris, and Will.

Thursday, February 9

AI5: You're In Hollywood!

I will do more detail later after figuring out what I can about everyone we were shown only briefly. What I'm sure of at this point:

Of the 99 through to the next round (group numbers, yay!!): Kellie Pickler, Hannah (?), Patrick Hall, Lisa Tucker (yay!), Matthew B. (?), Paris Bennett (yay!), Taylor Hicks, Megan Zieger, Derrell and Terrell Brittenum (though we know they were later disqualified), Gina Glockson, David Radford, Ace Young (yay!!), Kevin Corvais, Garet Johnson, Chris Daughtry, Mandisa, Katharine McPhee.

Of the 66 cut in the first 2 days: RJ Norman, Steven David, Ashley G., Joshua & Jarrett Simmons, 'Crazy' David Hoover.

People we actually got to see sing: (They had a list of 12 songs from which to choose, and performed with live musicians & background singers!)

Kellie, "Hopelessly Devoted" - Simon said nerves were a problem for her. She mentioned (before performing) that she'd never sung to accompaniment before, never had voice lessons, & only knew keys as something you need to start a car!

Patrick Hall (finally!), 27, from AR, "If" - I like!! Good performer (whereas Kellie has a good voice but no stage presence). Randy said he needs to work on his look; Simon said he's like "Clay Aiken, but likable."

RJ - did not sound very good, despite his pre-performance boast that he'd be "the first guy to rock it out & bring the house down." But, you know, then he was rejected and didn't have anything to say, even left crying. Can't say I feel bad for the guy.

Steven David - not good.

Lisa, "Hopelessly Devoted" - awesome! Love her. She just straight up sang. the. song. Very little embelleshing. Go girl!!

There were small clips of several others doing the same song: Laura Wright, Shelby, Eden (bad), Matthew B. (not great)

Ashley G., 16 - bad (& got cut)

Kymyata - bad

Linelle, "Unbreak My Heart" - yow! bad.

Paris, "Can't Fight the Moonlight" - said something like, "there's no little person in the world louder than me;" so cute! She sounded great but embellished way too much for my taste.

Taylor, "The First Cut is the Deepest" - I still don't like to watch him, his mannerisms are unpleasant. His voice is ok, but I think he's a good singer; by that I mean I could tell that he 'knows' music, is experienced and comfortable - as opposed to someone like Kellie 'music has keys?' Pickler. Simon said he's "interesting."

Melissa Lucas - I didn't like.

Megan Zieger - Interesting gal, had a bad cold & ended up singing a cappella in a lower key; the judges were sympathetic and caved to her pleas for another chance. She mentioned several times how she's (usually) so much better than many of the other contestants... diva much?

Derrell, "I'll Never Love This Way Again" - meh, voice sounded strained.

Terrell, "First Cut" - has potentially a great range but several parts were very off & unpleasant. Paula liked him.

- Later they cut back to these guys several times for comments. Including their view that Carrie's talent is only "average" and "anyone" could have won last season (specifically mentioning Bo & Constantine); offered a referral to the Simmons twins when they got cut later; and in the preview for next week one of them said "I don't do groups."

Several people singing "If I Ever Fall In Love Again": Gina, David Radford (ok), Ace (good, but seemed tentative/nervous & may've messed up?), and Kevin.

Joshua Simmons sang "God Bless the Broken Road" - was ok; Paula loved but Simon said not memorable.

Not sure what Jarrett S. sang but he has a lower voice & I liked him much better. Simon said the song was too big for him. (Both get cut.)

Garet, "Can't Fight the Moonlight" - not great; I liked his lower range but not the higher stuff. The other contestants in the audience loved him. Mentioned how he's been preparing for this for a year. Was very hyper when he got through.

Chris, "First Cut" - rough in parts (nerves??) but very good; I liked this better than his audition.

Mandisa - great! My 3rd favorite gal.

Katharine, "Never Love This Way Again" - very good but I didn't like her style of singing, not sure how to describe it.

Crazy Dave, "Bat Out of Hell"! - actually better than I expected, when he stands still & sings, but not good enough.

I have a lot of other guesses as to who made it through but will verify before posting. If you have additions or corrections let me know! :-)

Wednesday, February 8

AI5: Boston Auditions (2-7-06)

Not much to write anywhere about. 28 contestants from Boston advance to Hollywood, and we only get to see 4 of them.

Ayla "All-American" Brown, 17, sings "Ain't No Sunshine" - What's the opposite of a sob story? Girl is the daughter of a politician and a tv broadcaster, has a full-ride athletic (basketball) scholarship to a prestigious college, *and* can sing?! And we should root for her, why? ;) [/cynic] Oh and I forgot about her model-ready look (tall, thin & pretty). Good thing she has that lovely New England attitude or she might just be too good to be true. Ok her singing wasn't all that (Simon, of all people, called her "robotic" - bwah!), but it's good enough for Hollywood. I don't love her style but she does have a nice voice. After telling her parents that Simon said no but Paula said yes, her dad joked that now they'd have to go out & buy all of her records. Randy also said yes so I'd suggest getting the Journey ones too.

Becky O'Donahue, 25, "Black Velvet" - another identical twin, but this one's counterpart isn't singing due to recent throat surgery; she is, however, in the audition room with her, mouthing the words & mimicking the choreography. Slightly creepy, but then they said they do "everything" together. She's drop-dead gorgeous (and dresses very stylishly), which helps her advance, though the singing wasn't spectacular. Again Simon says no (surprise!), but P & R put her through.

Tatiana Ward, 22, "My Cherie Amour" - Very poor song choice (the judges agree), as it doesn't show much range and I'm guessing she sings higher stuff fairly well. Said she picked it hoping Randy would "respect her for it," whatever that means. Her personality is more entertaining than her singing by far; jokes with all of them, has confidence but doesn't seem cocky, and says some out-of-the-blue/unexpected things (I'm already looking forward to her comments to any over-important team members she gets for the group number in Hollywood!). Again Paula & Randy say yes - interestingly, for all 4 of these contestants, only Paula & Randy say yes! So we weren't shown *anyone* from Boston that Simon liked? Strange. Back to Tatiana - for the sake of throughness I'll include the fact that Simon compared her to a poodle, but she's a black woman with long, curly, *blond* hair, so I see his point. Also in the intro they said she wanted to prove something to her grandmother who disowned her mother because she married a black man.

Lastly is Kevin Covais, 16, singing "You Raise Me Up" - cute kid with a nice voice. Could appeal to voters if he gets far enough, but the other boys his age have stronger voices so I doubt he will.

Bring on Hollywood, with its cheesy group numbers, excuses for being late/not practicing/singing poorly, and glimpses of more good folk we haven't seen yet! Whee!

Friday, February 3

Photos from Austin

Ok, this is William Makar:

And here's Ricky:

Wednesday, February 1

AI5: Austin Auditions (2/1/06)

Wheee!! Ok, we finally have some talent! Guys even!! Ryan said in the grand scheme Austin wasn't very successful - only 12 contestants advanced. But of the 5 they showed, I thought 3 were great.

First up was Jason Horn, 28, a funeral director with a great personality & sense of humor, evidenced by his song choice: "You Raise Me Up"! But he sings very well, doesn't sound like a copycat of anyone, and has a good personality. All 3 judges said yes.

They spent a bit too much time on 2nd Chance Girl Allison - "almost died" on the plane trip & was really nervous so they let her come back & sing a 2nd time, but she still wasn't very good. Moving on...

Ricky Hayes, 21, a music major at Texas A&M, sang "I Can't Make You Love Me" - awesome! I even got chills. I *really* like his voice, & he didn't do too much embellishment. When he came out he did a little Happy Dance but it did show that he has some moves as well as a voice. Yay!!

Ashley Jackson, 20, a "fit model" (she tries on clothes to make sure they fit well), "Something to Talk About" - she's just ok, but is very attractive so the guys put her through. Oh, and she can sing with her mouth closed.

If you're an Idol fan think back to the most annoyingly cocky contestants you can remember - Alan Richman [edit: it's Ritchson] comes to mind for me. Well, our next guy puts Alan to shame. Ronnie "My friends call me RJ, but pretty much everyone calls me RJ, because everyone's my friend" Norman, 21. Not bad looking but no girl magnet either, though don't tell him that. And he has no nerves whatsoever about the audition, he just thinks he's great & now that he finally decided to audition, he'll be successful and everyone will love him. As for the singing, "It'll be easy." Sooooo, we're all expecting him to tank, be upset, & storm off cursing the judges. However. Boy can sing!! Chose "Ain't No Sunshine" and did some interesting/unexpected phrasing/arranging. Has a very nice voice, again with the not too much embellishing. Simon wasn't overly impressed but Randy & Paula put him through, as I certainly would have. Oh, Paula said something about how he started right in at the focal part of the song, & he said he did that so he wouldn't be cut off. And afterward of course they did the interview (they showed him asking, "are we on? ok...") and was so full of himself, again, it was sickening. So he'll definitely be interesting, because you hate him but boy. can. sing!!

So already I'm excited because we have 1 decent guy & 2 really good ones. Then comes 16-year old William Makar. I can see the preteen fangirlies screaming and fainting already. This kid was amazing! Well, I thought so - for some strange reason Paula didn't, she said he's got a good voice but didn't seem "ready" for the competition. Wha?!? He sang "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," so he already gets points for being a teenager choosing a song like that. Kid is amazingly cute. I mean adorable. I've got to post a photo of him later (haven't found any yet): dark, curly hair, thin, nice face/eyes/smile... awesome voice (small chills on this one too), confident stage presence, and looks like he can dance (snapped throughout the song & had some movement). What's not to love? I'll be very, very surprised if he's not in the Top 12. Simon said "the moms" will love him - yes, he will appeal to at least 3 generations of female viewers. I don't know what Paula was thinking. And I kind-of wish I'd starting taping, though I decided to wait until Hollywood this year. Well I'm sure we'll see more of him.

I'm very pleased with Austin. And then Ryan says Boston (next Tuesday) has "some of the best talent in the country." Of course they showed Ayla - not really a spoiler at this point to divulge that she makes it to Hollywood because even in the *promo* for her city's audition they pimp her, calling her the "all-American girl" (she's the daughter of a local newscaster & politician, so has been getting tons of local press already) *and* showing a backstory clip of her singing the National Anthem somewhere! Sigh. I hope I don't like her, I need someone to hate this year. Well, besides RJ, of course.