Friday, May 26

And the Winner Is....

Us, actually, because despite a few obligatory clips of bad auditions, the 2-hour finale is jam packed with a lot of good stuff!

As the show starts, we jump right into a performance, instead of Ryan's normal intro. Reigning Idol Carrie comes out on stage singing "I Made It Through the Rain," joined by Taylor & Katharine. The other finalists eventually join in, wearing all white, as does a choir (wearing black). It's fun to see everyone again though not a great song.

Now we get the intro stuff. The judges each get video clips; Randy's 'How many ways can you say "Dawg"?' is fairly boring. Paula's is set to "So Emotional" and is kind-of cute. Simon's focuses on his ego, showing lots of gestures & facial expressions while repeating "I give myself a 10." Not bad.

Hometown party clips - the O'Donahue twins are 'reporting' from the crowd in Birmingham, while Tamyra Gray is nearby with some McPhans. Then we start the duets!

Paris is first up with Al Jarreau; they sing "We're In This Love Together." (Mr. Pez: Who's this? Pez: Al Jarreau! Mr. Pez: Does he sing anything I'd recognize? Me: Yeah, this! Or not.)

Next is one of my favorite performances of the night: Chris with Live on "Mystery." Twin bald rawkers; much fun! What a blast for Chris. The crowd really loved this as well.

Next is the first of two comedic skit segments called "Puck 'n' Pickler," where Wolfgang Puck tutors Kellie in the finer foods. First up is escargot, which she tastes but spits out and says she doesn't believe him when he tells her that thousands of people eat this all the time. Moving on....

Kat sings with Meatloaf: "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." This style of song is perfect for her, all theatrical & dramatic. Meat's not doing so well but they manage.

Then begins the first round of "Golden Idol Awards," which seem like a poor excuse to rehash yet again some bad audition clips. We have an outstanding female and male vocalist... the male winner is Crazy Dave, who makes an appearance and jumps around the stage for a bit.

Puck 'n' Pickler, Scene 2: Lobsters! This clip was hilarious; Kellie is really, really scared of the two live lobsters that are brought out and set on their table! I mean, jumping out of her seat screaming and hesitating to approach the table, scared. Like Dave Letterman when Jack Hanna puts an animal on his desk, scared.

Next another highlight: the guys' medley! They're all in black outfits and sing a medley of Takin' Care of Business, Tobacco Road, and Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop. This was much fun, and you can really tell the guys all like each other a lot. This really makes me look forward to seeing them on tour this summer.

Next we have a montage of clips from the various carmercials... and then Ryan presents Kat and Tay with their very own new Mustang convertibles!! Whee!

The next Golden Idol is for Proudest Family Moment. Nominees are Kat's dad watching her sing, Chris's wife Deanna at his first audition (hee, I remember that, she wouldn't let him go!), and Elliott's mom on his homecoming trip. She wins, of course. Aww, Bucky's twin Rocky is sitting a couple of rows behind her and jumps up immediately to clap! Then she gets to introduce Elliott...

who sings U2's One with Mary J. Blige. He starts off, then she comes out & sings most of the rest by herself; they duet a teeny bit at the end but she really doesn't pay much attention to him. Oh well.

Carrie performs again, singing her new single "Don't Forget to Remember Me." Ironically I just heard this on the radio for the first time this week! It's an ok song, definitely not as good as Jesus, Take the Wheel. But girl can still sing. Oh and they mention her 2 Academy of Country Music awards and that she's sold over 3 million albums (wow!).

Another Golden Idol: The Randy Jackson Award for Public Speaking, which goes to Rhonetta. Moving on...

Taylor gets to sing "In the Ghetto" with Toni Braxton. Who tries to get Tay to dance with her in a way that isn't appropriate at all for this song, but he doesn't go along w/her any more than he has to.

Next the girls get a medley: Man, I Feel Like a Woman, Trouble, I'm a Woman, Natural Woman, and I'm Every Woman (!). It's pretty good; Paris & Lisa remind me what awesome singers they are and I wonder again how Kat outlasted them (well, not really, because I'm sure they split some votes between them).

Another Golden Idol: Best Impersonation. Nominees are the Cher guy, the Michael Jackson guy, and the Clay guy. The Clay guy (Michael Sandecki) wins and they show a way-too-long clip of him auditioning & then running down the hallway to the Chariots of Fire theme to go to the bathroom & then back to the audition. Eventually they get back to real time and turns out not only is he there to accept his award, Ryan asks him to sing! So, in his finest (and geekiest) button-down pinstripe shirt, spiky hair and glasses, he makes a go at Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me. It's painful, but then the stage door opens behind him and someone walks out but they're still in the shadow... soon I'm guessing it might be Clay and yes, he starts singing and it is! (His new Beatles-esque 'do made him a bit hard to recognize at first! He's also in a very nice, dark suit - looking very much more polished and professional than 3 years ago when he resembled Michael!) As soon as Michael senses someone near him he turns and just about has a conniption fit when he sees it's his idol Clay, in the flesh! "Excited" does not begin to describe his reaction; he is blown away. Though he somehow manages to keep singing, but I don't think he was supposed to; eventually Ryan pulls him aside and sits him down on a stool and somone turns his mic off so Clay can finish the song alone. Clay is very gracious, shakes his hand & such, humoring him during the sing-along (much like he does with child singers he brings up on stage to sing with him during his concerts, though most of them sing worlds better than Sandecki). Anyway the whole bit was highly entertaining, whether you're a Clay fan or not.

The last medley is a Burt Bacharach tribute. Burt's definitely looking old enough to receive a "tribute," as he comes out to play piano for them. The guys are in black suits (niiiiice!!) and the gals in fancy red dresses. First up are Taylor & Kat; then Ace & Melissa (The Look of Love); Kellie (I'll Never Fall in Love Again); Bucky (Raindrops are Falling on my Head - this was awesome, he sat on the edge of the stage & sang it nice & subdued); Mandisa; Lisa (Alfie?); Elliott (House is Not a Home - also awesome, best rendition of this I've heard since Tamyra's!); Kevin (What's New Pussycat!); Chris (Arthur's Theme); Paris (Close to You); and finally Dionne Warwick, singing Walk on By & then leading the whole group in That's What Friends are For.

The last Golden Idol is for Best Male Bonding. Nominees are Chris & Ace (they show the clip of their big hug after making it through "The Chair" - in slo-mo!), Ryan & Taylor (clip of them laying down on the stage to give Taylor's numbers), and The Brokenote Cowboys! The Cowboys win and are there to perform - which is cool, since 2 of them are pretty good singers and Garet is just flat-out adorable, in small doses anyway. They sing "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" & Matthew Buckstein gets to play guitar for them.

Whew! We've got less than 15 minutes to go and Ryan says that's it for the guest artists, it's time to get down to the results. Then the camera pans over to center stage and it opens... and out comes PRINCE!!! Wow. This is apparently the "big secret" to which Kat referred; some were speculating Celine Dion would be on but IMO this is even bigger. Prince. On American Idol. (Unless I forgot to switch back from Lost and this is an alternate universe or something!) Wow. So, he & his 2 scantily-clad backup singers/dancers perform 2 songs. I don't know them so must be fairly recent; still enjoyable. Wow.

*Now* we're done with guest performances!! Taylor and Kat get one last duet on "I Had the Time of My Life," which is both very appropriate lyrically and a surprisingly good song choice for them vocally. Nice.

Ok. Time for the winner... there were 63.4 million votes... and, no surprise, "You're American Idol is... Taylor Hicks!" So happy for him! No tears (though we get some sparkling, moist eyes), but he's still visibly moved. Katharine knew what was coming and is very gracious, as he was to her as well. He sang his coronation song "Do I Make You Proud," and didn't get confetti & balloons but did get a mirror ball and some fireworks. He took time in the last chorus to thank the fans, fellow contestants, band, & show, then finishing singing the last phrase right on time.

Congrats, Taylor! It will be interesting to see what kind of record he does, & how much he (gets to) contribute personally (writing & playing). A decent season all-in-all, and a great tour to anticipate.

Not sure yet if I'll be "recapping" the summer music shows (So You Think You Can Dance, RockStar, The One... is that all? That's enough!!) but I'm sure I'll be commenting now & again. And I might even blog about (*gasp*) something else for a change! Until then- take care!

Tuesday, May 23


Each contestant is doing 2 songs they've done before plus their soon-to-be-released, ultra cheesy, rainbow, puppies and butterfly singles. Each will have 3 phone numbers and there will be 4 hours in which to (attempt to) vote. We're in the Kodak Theater with over 3000 people, including lots of celebs (this year's other finalists, of course, and Constantine, Mandy Moore, Christina Applegate, Taye Diggs, and Tori Spelling, who gets shown with a "Katharine's Family and Friends" label later in the show!). Taylor won the coin toss and chose to perform 2nd. Ryan reminds us that in the two other boy-girl finals the girls won. However, all 4 previous winners are Southerners. Which pattern will be broken?

1) Black Horse & the Cherry Tree: She (mostly) stood up this time, and had fun with it, but vocally I think the first performance was better. Randy disagrees with me; Paula said fun, but not her best, and Simon said "good with a small g." Ryan mentions the "thousand roses" her fans sent her and she gratefully mentions a few fan group names.

2) Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Perhaps because I wasn't into this last week and had extremely low expectations, I was very impressed! I really loved it, seemed she didn't embellish as much this time. The crowd loved it (Bucky was shown giving her a standing ovation), as did all the judges (Randy unexpectedly, as he thought a repeat so soon would be "anticlimactic"). Simon said this was her best performance of the season. Ryan asked about her earpiece, and she explained that she was supposed to get a cue to help her start the song since it was a cappella and that she didn't, and she was very proud and excited that she still started in the right key! This was part cute and part juvenile; do we really want to see a potential idol giddily jumping up & down saying "Yay, I sang it right!"?

3) "My Destiny": Such an Idol song!! Lyrically reminiscent of Fantasia's I Believe (and Canadial Idol Ryan's "Something More"). The song had a wide range vocally and dynamically; she did a pretty good job but sang a lot of the higher parts too softly instead of in full voice, and pronounced "different" more like "defferint," which threw me off a bit. Oh and of course there was a choir. Randy dissed the song but said she looked amazing and sounded very good; Paula said "brilliant;" and Simon said she didn't fulfill her potential.

1) Living for the City: I was distracted by his bright purple jacket, but I think this was similar to his other performance; he started out in the audience, went to the stage, & then out to the platform (finishing back on stage). It was fun and the crowd was very into it; Randy & Paula loved it as well, and Simon like it ok (but of course hated the jacket).

2) Levon (which Ryan says was Taylor's favorite performance from the whole season): he's in a nice suit and starts the song very subdued. Showcases his vocals (though I'm disappointed we don't get any songs w/falsetto this week) and also shows his personality at the end. Randy says it was pitchy; Paula loved it; and Simon said that after Taylor "won" the first round, now it was tied up as Kat surpassed Taylor's Levon with her SotR.

3) "Do I Make You Proud?": I was dreading this, because Taylor usually isn't into songs that aren't of his preferred genre (or that were his 'back-up' songs when his 1st choice didn't get approved) and therefore performs poorly. However, despite the cheese factor, he was very into this and sang the pants off of it, or would have if songs wore pants. He got the choir too. Afterward as he's yelling "Soul Patrol" we get a shot of Elliott in the audience mouthing "Soul Patrol" as well! :-) Randy says this song is better than Kat's but also acknowledges that Taylor knows who he is as an artist and is always successful in infusing that into any song, making it his own. Paula agreed. Simon just said that if the competition was "tied" before, that Taylor "just won American Idol." Sure, Simon, want to just come out and say that the voting doesn't matter?! :-)

Daniel Powter closed the show singing "Bad Day" (what else?) at a grand piano while a montage of clips from this season was shown (the cowboys! Will! Patrick! sigh....). They didn't really leave him enough time and credits rolled over him but he did get to play the last note before the show cut off.

Tomorrow night's show should be an entertainment-palooza and I'm really looking forward to it! Guest artists singing with the finalists, former Idol winners and runners-up (Bo! and Clay!), group numbers, etc. I tried to vote (for Taylor) several times and didn't get through, which wasn't surprising. (I'm sure last week's across-the-board 33% was evidence the phone/voting system was maxed out, and I expect the same this week.) I expect and hope that Taylor wins. One more day!!

And on a related note, there were Country Music awards on another channel, and I only caught part of it, but I did see that Carrie won best new female artist!! Also Kelly got to be on, performing with Rascal Flatts. Fun night for Idols all around!

Thursday, May 18

Top 3 Results

Results went pretty much as expected, though I'm surprised the voting was so close - of 50 million votes, the breakdown between the 3 contestants was supposedly 33.06%, 33.26%, and 33.68%!!

We didn't get a group song, but after vids of everyone's trips home (to make tv & radio appearances, meet mayors & governors, visit high schools, ride in parades, & perform) they each got to perform their song from the compilation album. Taylor sounded great on Takin' It to the Streets and kindly had the other two dance w/him. Kat did Think (barefoot) and Elliott did Moody's Mood for Love. Also Clive was on again and told us a bunch of stats about the idols' successful albums.

Finally it's time for the elimination, and, as predicted, Elliott's number is 33.06. He is incredibly gracious and appreciative of the opportunity he's had to jump-start his career. And he got (most of) a singout.

So... Taylor and Kat in the finals. It's supposed to be the Year of the Boy (-a white male has yet to win), and the winner is always from the south, so things seem to be pretty much in the bag. I just hope Taylor will be ok w/the kind of fluff they'll make him sing.

Tuesday, May 16

Top 3 Sing 3

Is it ok if I just don't care any more? Maybe it's just too many season finales and other sweeps intensity. Maybe it's knowing that after next week one of my favorite shows is gone until next January, and I'm not very excited about the outcome. Tonight disappointed me, and I'm not really looking forward to the finale except to see Bucky, Ace & Lisa return and hopefully get some cheesy group medleys.

Ok, tonight each contestant sang 3 songs. First one chosen by music mogul Clive Davis, then one from the judges, then one of their own.

Elliott - Open Arms: he looked nervous, which surprised me after how great he did last week. It wasn't bad, but it was nothing special. Randy & Simon agreed. Oh and Clive thinks this is a "rock song."

Katharine - I Believe I Can Fly (!): this was actually really, really good! One of her best IMO, but then I had low expectations based on the song choice. The audience & Simon loved it too, but R & P were just meh.

Taylor - Dancing in the Dark: It was really good, entertaining though a bit OTT w/the cheese ("this gun's for hire" choreography and dancing w/Paula). Crowd & judges enjoyed.

Elliott - What You Won't Do For Love: Absolutely *perfect* song choice for him!! Paula said it suits his range and shows his funky white boy soul, and she was right. He was much more relaxed for this and looked like he was enjoying it. Randy said he was sharp a lot but P & S said he did well.

Kat - Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Fantasia-Summertime style (sitting on the floor): ok, whatever. I mean, it was good, but strange (phrasing & way too much melisma) and left me wanting... something. She did look absolutely stunning, and I appreciate that she's putting forth effort into making an impression and being memorable; she's playing to win (as is Taylor, for the most part), and I just don't see Elliott doing that tonight. The judges fell all over themselves on this one; R & P said that is wasn't overdone (did they hear the same song?!), Randy said it was her best vocal, and Simon called it the best performance from anyone this season!! Definitely disagree there. But then he picked it for her (and probably had a lovely view of her... assets, since she was sitting on the stage!). ;-)

Taylor - You Are So Beautiful: Very nice, started subdued, showed off the falsetto again & a little more power toward the end, & finished soft. All the judges liked, Simon even calling it his best yet.

Time for contestants' choices... and did anyone else think someone goofed and told them it was "big band" theme?

Elliott did a Ray Charles song called "I Believe to my Soul," though he mentioned that he did Donny Hathaway's version. It was reminiscent of Moody's Mood for Love; enjoyable with impressive singing of a difficult song, but not a song I'll remember since I don't know it and it does have such a challenging melody & rhythm. The judges basically said the same thing, that the audience wouldn't be able to "connect." Simon actually told him he wouldn't advance, but did say he would make his Momma proud! (patronizing much?)

Kat sang "Ain't Got Nothin' but the Blues," smiling and grinning and bouncing all the way through it. Um, yeah, sure. "Blues." Or not. And, just like Elliott, impressive but forgettable. The judges all said her other songs were better.

Taylor closed with "Try a Little Tenderness." Personally I like Nadia's version last year better. Even without the overboard ending and half million Soul Patrol shout-outs (dude, way to alienate all the rest of your fans!!), it was just "good" but not great. The audience seemed to disagree and really loved it. Randy renamed him "Have a good time, funky Taylor"; Paula said she would have actually chosen that song for him; and Simon said the ending was "hideous" (yep!) but complimented his performance and song choice and said we'll see him next week.

I don't think they'll do a bottom two; I'm guessing they'll just all stand on stage and then tell Elliott he's going home. I tried to vote maybe 5-10 times on each of his lines, and couldn't get through at all. I'm sure all the lines were crowded tonight. Would be interesting to know how close the votes end up, but, of course, we probably never will.

Group song tomorrow please??!?

Top 3 - Song Choice Spoilers

Tonight each contestant will sing one song of their own choosing, one chosen by a judge, and one chosen by Clive Davis. Here are Clive's picks (these are confirmed):

Elliott Yamin: "Open Arms" by Journey
Taylor Hicks: "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen
Katharine McPhee: "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly

Potential/probable/rumored/leaked other choices:

Taylor's choice: "Try a Little Tenderness"
Randy's choice for Taylor: "You Are So Beautiful"

Katharine's choice: ?
Simon's choice for Kat: "Over the Rainbow"

Elliott's choice: (something by Ray Charles)
Paula's choice for E: "What You Won't Do For Love" by Bobby Caldwell

Also, in all 4 previous seasons, the contestant performing first in the Top 3 has been eliminated that week. Tradition held for Paris; here's hoping Kat is first up!! (but I'm guessing they'll go boy-girl-boy.)

Thursday, May 11

Top 4 Results - Surprise!

A lot happened in tonight's half hour show! We find out Rebecca Romjin-formerly-Stamos is engaged to Jerry O'Connell, we see 2 Presleys and a Muppet, have our first Idol encore performance, and end in shock that "The Chosen One" is not untouchable.

Ok, the recap of last night... nothing much of note. Although they did re-play Randy's comment after Taylor's 2nd performance that "When and if you make a record, that's the kind of record you need to do." There were a couple of cute lines: (after showing Simon's calling Chris's ALLC "flat" & then showing Katharine bouncing around on stage to Hound Dog) "Kat's 1st performance was anything but flat." And for E's IAD, "Elliott's request was clear" as they play the lyrics "let my dream come true."

The carmercial is "Wonderful World," which musically starts out schmaltzy but tries to rock out at the end. Kat pulls a Hybrid up to the house, opens the garage door, and then orders the guys to clean it out because there's no room for the car. They transform it into a garden, Kat pulls in, looks at Kermit in the driver's seat, and he says that it really is easy to be green. The garden had a koi pond and a parrot, and the funniest part was when they showed the parrot bobbing, as parrots do, and panned the camera back to show Taylor bobbing along with it! :-)

Then we got footage of the Graceland visit: a tour from Priscilla (Jungle Room, Hall of Fame, Meditation Garden & gravesite), then a golf cart ride from Lisa Marie through a group of fans.

Next is a group Elvis medley! Yay! Elliott opens with Don't Be Cruel while the other 3 play background singers. The group does Blue Suede Shoes; Taylor gets Heartbreak Hotel; Kat sings Lonesome Tonight (and Chris is the only bgv who pulls his mic up in time to lipsync to the prerecorded track; Taylor even makes a face as he realized he gave it away); Chris does an awesome job on Love Me Tender (why, why, when I'm finally really loving him, does he have to go?!); the 3 guys do one I don't know (The Girl is Gonna Stay?); and Taylor & Kat close with solos on Hunk o'Burning Love, all 4 of them on the platform jamming out the end. (Chris jumping up and down singing this song with Kat? Priceless!!) No pointy pose but was a good performance overall, it'll be fun if they do some Elvis on tour.

Next Ryan talks to Jerry & Rebecca in the audience, and when he asks her for her favorite she can't name just one. She can, however, ask Taylor to do an encore performance of Jailhouse Rock. Which, after Ryan asks Nigel if they have enough time, Taylor does! Alrighty then.

After he finishes Ryan keeps him on stage and has the others come over, where he tells Elliott to join Taylor in one group of two and Chris & Kat form the other group. Which one is the top and can sit down? Taylor and Elliott! (Yay, Elliott!!!) Then after asking Simon who he "thinks" will go and having him reply that Kat "should," Ryan says that some people predicted these two to be the final two, and many people predicted that Chris would be the next American Idol. Short pause, then bam: "Chris, you're going home tonight." Of course everyone, and I do mean everyone (including Chris himself, Simon, and Nigel) is shocked &/or disappointed. We watch Chris's "package"; no, wait, they changed that to "journey," which is probably a good thing. ;-) Anyway he is rather stoic through it all but finally loosens up a tad once he gets a bit into his singout of Suspicious Minds. He went into the audience for a bit & then came back up on stage, headed over to the couches & gave Taylor a hug, then was cut off. He also never got a chance to thank his fans or anything like that; I don't like that some bootees get to do that and others don't. Oh well.

So, the top 3 are Taylor, Elliott, and Kat. This thing is Taylor's to lose. And Katharine really needs to go home next week.

Tuesday, May 9

Top 4 - Elvis Has Entered the Building!

This week the gang got to visit Graceland, meet Priscilla Presley, and work with Tommy Mottola. Tommy thinks Idol is the "greatest platform to ever come along for the music industry" (as Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark roll in their graves... um, yeah, ok, Dick's still alive, barely). Anyway he says each contestant made their songs "very personal." Each will be singing 2 Elvis songs.

Taylor opens with "Jailhouse Rock," which is mostly a predictable Taylor performance. He starts out in the audience & the guitarist is on the platform; I liked the last chorus he did on stage because he did some quasi-Elvis-style dancing and everything balanced well. The audience, Randy & Paula all loved it; Simon, predictably, did not.

Chris does "Suspicious Minds," which is his favorite Elvis song. Oh, before he performed, just in case they might get lazy (or jealous of the 2000th mention of Taylor's "Soul Patrol"), Ryan asks Chris the names of his fan club(s)! Chris lists 3 and also lists several gifts he's received; lastly he settles "the debate" by saying boxer/briefs, which skeeves Ryan out. Ok, back to the music... in his Graceland clip we get Tommy saying how he loves the sound of Chris's voice and thinks he would sound great on a record. Ok, I think that covers all the bases for how wonderful Chris is... ;-) I was a bit disappointed in the song. It was nice, but too mellow for me - not intense or emotional enough, I guess. Also didn't like the Brad Pitt sunglasses on him. Randy was also just meh on it, though Paula & Simon loved it.

Elliott - "I Can Dream." He said in his clip it would show his "love me tender side." ;-) I don't know it, but it's a fairly mellow song & a pretty typical Elliott performance. Got better throughout & especially the 2nd verse after the key change was very good. The audience & judges all loved it; Randy said "hot," Paula called it his best performance, & Simon said it was the best so far tonight! Ryan also mentioned how E has "evolved" since the start of the show.

Katharine rounds out the first half with a medley of "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up." First we get Tommy raving about her voice, the range, the sound; he really, really likes her! The song is fun, she dances a lot and weaves the two together well, resulting in something much more interesting than either would be on their own, and had some very nice spots vocally. She did forget a small stretch of lyrics but covered it fairly well (turned around), as the judges noted. Randy & Paula loved it; Simon did not and called it "manic."

Taylor's 2nd song is "In the Ghetto," which he describes as one of Elvis's "more soulful" numbers. Tommy notes that he enjoyed Taylor's rendition very much. I think it was a great choice, fit his style very well, and he sang it well. I was surprised by the falsetto phrase which was done very well also! The judges all loved it; Randy praised the song style and the key; Paula said it shows how "well-rounded" of an artist he is; and Simon said it was the "perfect song" and that he had just "sung [his] way into the semifinals."

Chris - "A Little Less Conversation." Wow! This was in a low range and musically there's not a lot to work with, but he sang (& enunciated) very well, was very into it and enjoying it, and it was a very good, intense & even sexy performance!! The last chorus was higher with more of a rock sound some screaming, but overall I really, really loved this. (Ironically I expected his 1st song to be more intense & sexy & this one to be less so.) He showed more personality (and dancing!) than ever (as Paula noted). Randy & Paula loved it too, though Simon preferred the other one.

Elliott (whom they showed being goofy & dancing into the commercial break) is doing "Trouble," which he enjoys because it's "rebellious" and shows his "wild side." Oooohh!!!! Awesome, awesome job. Granted almost anyone would do it better than Carrie did last year (she's sooo not "evil"!), but I think this was a great choice for him with incredible execution. Definitely a stand-out performance for him and for this season of the show, IMO. The audience & judges all loved it as well; Randy & Paula said it was his best (yes, Paula changed her mind from earlier!), and Simon said that he "deserves to move on." I couldn't agree more! :-)

Lastly Kat does "Can't Help Falling In Love." Tommy again gushes, saying her voice is "magical" and that she can do "incredible things" with it. Not, however, alway stay on key, as this song demonstrates. It starts like a typical Kat ballad, very beautiful (Simon echoed my thought!), but lost its way and was anticlimactic to me; I think following Elliott's performance hurt her (stylistically as much as talent-wise). Randy said it was pitchy in parts but still better than her first; Paula liked the fun song better, and Simon said it wasn't her night, that the song (arrangement & execution) was over the top.

I think it'll be a very close week as far as votes & positions. Katharine had the weakest performances so I expect her to go, though with Simon's negative comments being the last thing shown her fans will know she needs the votes. This makes several weak weeks in a row though, which was enough to get Kellie booted and should do the same for Kat.

Joining her in the bottom 2? Probably Taylor. I think Elliott & Chris had really great performances and lots of pimping and will be fine... I hope! :-) (I tried maybe 50 times to vote for Elliott and only got through once; I'm hoping that's a good sign.) Ooh, they didn't say, but I wonder if we get a group Elvis medley tomorrow?! Hope so for that too!!!

Another perspective on manipulation

Here's an interesting article on the show. I think more and more people are figuring some things out this year about how the show works. Despite the fact that Simon has publically stated that he tries to manipulate voters by his comments, when I mention the idea that there is any "manipulation" going on I am usually discounted as just a "conspiracy theorist." Of course the producers and people vested in the winner's success (Simon & the record label) want someone commercial that they can market. Of course they want interesting and controversial things to happen on the show so that people talk about the show. But sometimes things go a bit far... like this week's TV Guide, which has an article featuring home town support parties... of Katharine, Taylor, Chris... and KELLIE. No, not Elliott. Kellie, who was voted off not one but two weeks ago. And someone currently in the top 4 is not mentioned. Now, I'm guessing they prepared this article about 6 weeks ago, and obviously expected Kellie to make top 4. But they should have prepared info on all remaining contestants so they could run the appropriate article. They even talk about Kellie being voted off! But not one mention of Elliott (or Paris), and I know he has large viewing parties as well (a friend has attended, and last week's neared 500 people).

So... result of manipulation? Contributor toward manipulation? Some of each? Or just a coincidental mistake? Decide for yourself - please, and don't let the show (or other media) decide for you. ;-)

Wednesday, May 3

Top 5 Results Show (5/3/06)

Yay, group number! But boo, no choreography, and it's a new schmaltzy Idol song instead of a fun, cheesy medley. I'll still take it. The first to get solos are Chris, then Taylor, then Katharine. Then there's some group stuff, and then Elliott & Paris get solos, then more group stuff. So, maybe they're testing Chris & Taylor to see if they can tolerate this if one of them wins and has to sing the coronation song; both are putting up good fronts but look like they're gritting their teeth at times. The others smile and are more into it. I also found it interesting that the order (groupings) of solos coincide with the top/bottom groups of vote-getters, while surely they had been practicing this song before last night's votes. :-)

Car-mercial! More Holly-weird, they drive around looking at interestingly dressed people while singing some song about being in LA, then at they end they come out of the car having morphed into these interesting wardrobes. Taylor's is the best, and it's really beyond description, you'll just have to watch it here if you missed it. Kat actually doesn't look much different than normal, but the rest are a hoot.

In the audience tonight is Melissa Gilbert, along with her daughter and hubby Bruce Boxleitner, though they don't get mentioned. Also not mentioned but shown on camera several times is Justin Guarini (sitting right behind Melissa). And his friend who doesn't break the camera lens either, just sayin'.

Ok, elimination time, and we're looking again just for the bottom 2. Taylor and Chris are safe. Paris is in the bottom 2 (so far, no surprises). Paris sings Kiss again. Back to the couches... where Elliott & Kat remain. And... Kat is safe, putting E in the bottom 2 with Paris. Kat is surprised and saddened, because we all know her 1st song was the worst of the night, but such things motivate voters, so I'm not surprised at all. Anyway, Elliott sings On Broadway. Then we find out... that he is safe, and Paris will be leaving us, as predicted! (That's so weird though - #2 in Top 5 is *not* where you want to be!!) She gets the journey montage, which shows her meeting & hugging all of the famous guest coaches, and being twirled around on Elliott's back during a photo shoot (awww). Then she gets to sing a bit of Be Without You before the credits come & she's cut off. Really she wasn't upset, I think she expected it and was just grateful for the opportunity and had a blast the whole time she was there. I'm sure she'll do fine in the business, it will be interesting to see what comes for her down the road.

Ryan didn't officially announce next week's theme, but he did say that the remaining contestants would soon leave for Graceland, where they would meet the guest coach, but I don't remember who they said. Anyway, I'm assuming Elvis songs for at least one of their choices. Should be another great week!!

Will it be Paris? And why?

Several people have asked me why I think Paris will leave tonight, and since I have several reasons, I thought it warranted a short post. In my opinion:

1) Because her style changes so much from week to week, it's harder to think of her as having one specific style/personality that fans would latch onto and root for. (upside: she can sing anything well!)

2) She is a very, very good singer who also has connections in the music business. Therefore she does not "need" to win in order to succeed (whereas some other contestants would).

3) There is potentially some genre overlap between her and Elliott. Being different genders helps, but they could still split a few votes.

4) She has been fairly consistent throughout the competition and got some positive compliments last night (especially from Simon on her last performance, which is what people remember more). Thus no need for "Save Paris!" votes. (Except for the fact that she was bottom 2 last week.)

5) In the previous 4 seasons, 100% of the contestants who have performed second during the Top 5 week have been voted off. I don't claim to know why that happened, but based purely on statistics, a boot from this position is expected.

6) From several sources that measure it, her lines were the least busy last night. This has also been a fairly accurate prediction of voting results, in as much as I've followed it this season.

In her favor is the fact that she's the only African-American remaining (and we've never had a top 4 without one). We'll see if that and strong performances are enough to help her overcome the negatives!

Tuesday, May 2

The Top 5! (5/2/06)

First I realize I never posted on last week's results show. Not sure why; I was pleasantly surprised at the result - yes, Kellie was finally eliminated! - and I guess I felt like the next month doesn't matter as much since everyone left is great and I like them all! ;-) (And am not emotionally attached to anyone in particular.) It was kind-of interesting that they did 3 groups of 2 - so when Kellie & Paris were assigned the same group, I knew that was the bottom! Also they didn't give her (Kellie) time for a sing-out, which was interesting. (Some say she might've had time except she chattered on thanking everyone and their cousin, but I think Ryan let her do that because they didn't have enough time for her to sing.)

Ok, this week! Top 5 - Definitely the best. Top. 5. Ever! :-) Theme: one song from your birth year and one song from any of last week's Billboard Top 10 charts. I had looked through some hit lists by year and actually called a few of the choices!

Elliott (78) "On Broadway" - First time through I didn't like this much because of how he changed it up, though on paper it seems like the perfect (if a bit safe) choice for him. 2nd time through I enjoyed it a lot, though! The scatting wasn't great but at least he went for it. Randy & Paula thought he started a little shaky but ended well; Simon said it was "disjointed" and said it was a good thing there are 2 songs tonight.

Paris (88 - wow, I feel old!) "Kiss" - This was good! Love her hair tonight (short & curly) and the black & white top was nice. She sang with confidence and the right balance of sass & fun, going out to the platform and dancing a bit. Randy liked it but Simon called it "screeching and annoying".

Chris (79) "Renegade" (Styx) - So *that's* what this song is called!! Hee. Ok, when he started all a cappella and dramatic? :thud: This was probably my favorite performance of his. Granted I love Styx, which helps. But he did a great job and the editing was good (end product was nicely balanced). The judges loved it as well.

Katharine (84) "Against All Odds" - Many were complaining that this song has been overdone on Idol, but she changed it up so much I'm not sure it mattered. (It was one of 4 or 5 I thought appropriate for her.) I didn't care for a lot of what she did with/to it, though I was less negative upon rewatch (still didn't love). Oh, Ryan brought up last week's wardrobe malfunction and clarified it was due to a lost button. This week's dress was more barrel-style, sure to prevent a repeat. Oh and I did hear her miss a few notes for once (I usually don't, despite what many others hear), and Randy mentioned she was off-key as well. All the judges were meh on her, and she knew that it wasn't as good as she could've done (though when pushed by Ryan for a reason all she had was nerves).

Taylor (76) "Play That Funky Music"! What a great choice!! This was Taylor being his most entertaining and simply having a blast performing. Fun paisley shirt, tons of dancing, ran into the audience, and finished falling flat on his back on stage! (Later Ryan did the same & gave the voting numbers from there!) Randy & Paula enjoyed it but, predictably, Simon did not.

2nd round...

Elliott: "Home" (Michael Buble) - I don't know this one so I don't know if E changed the arrangement at all, but the style was perfect for him. Sitting, mellow, relaxed & slightly jazzy... very, very nice. Except for singing about "going home," which is an Idol no-no; Simon even mentioned it! Also said he was concerned that the song wasn't "enough" to keep him, though Randy & Paula thought it was great.

Paris: "Be Without You" (Mary J. Blige) - again, very good!! But again a song with which I'm not familiar. I think Paula alluded that Paris didn't change it much from the original, but what she did worked. Randy said it was a risk & pitchy in parts; Simon actually praised it! Oh and I didn't like this outfit at all; shiny balloon-y knickers and a cropped camo jacket. She had some great glory notes toward the end. But really, this girl can sing anything!

Chris: "I Dare You" (Shinedown) - again, I don't know it, but I like it! Awfully repetitive at the end but otherwise a good song and good performance, though you could tell that multiple rehearsals of screaming-rock songs are taking their toll on his pipes (as Randy & Simon mentioned). Oh, and he actually smiled briefly during the performance! ;-) The judges were meh, mainly because of the voice strain I think. I also have to say that the early, lower parts, both musically & vocally, reminded me *very* much of Alex Band & The Calling!! (of whom I'm a huge fan.) I liked!!!

Katharine "Black Horse & the Cherry Tree", which I *so* picked for her! She did not disappoint, although the kneeling on stage had its strange moments. Still, musically, awesome!! Oh the editing of the 1st verse (omitted the 2nd half) rendered the chorus somewhat meaningless, but whatever. She had 2 guys up at the front of the stage with her playing "box drums," as Ryan pointed out. I love this song - got to see KT perform it on Live w/Regis & Kelly this morning, ironically - and she pulled it off. I'm not sure any other finalist of all 5 seasons could have done it as well (Kelly maybe)... ok I'll try to stop gushing now. :-) I will die if she does this live. Oh and all the judges liked it (though Simon agreed the staging was strange.)

Taylor "Something" - yes, the Beatles song. Apparently it's on the "Top Pop Catalog" chart, whatever that means. Regardless, awesome choice for him and he sang it extremely well, very Taylor-ed yet musically spot on as well. All the judges liked this as well, and Simon went so far as to say that with all of Taylor's (theatrics - I can't remember the exact term), it's "very easy to forget... that you're a very good singer!" Taylor liked that! ;-)

Everyone was good, and all the phone lines were fairly busy, though Paris' the least. I predict her to go for several reasons; we'll see if I'm right this week. If they do a bottom 3 I think it'll be Paris, Katharine, and Elliott. I wonder if we get a group song since there's no guest this week?!??