Wednesday, February 28

AI Semifinals - Top 10 Guys

Tonight we will see if the guys step things up in response to the girls' killer performances last week. All songs are "dedicated" to someone and the vid clips will explain who & why....

Phil is up 1st & dedicates his to his military outfit. He sings "Missing You" and it's good but nothing outstanding; at least it doesn't have a 'really bad' section like last week's. Randy & Paula like it; Simon says he's popular & likable but it wasn't unique vocally.

Jared dedicates his song to his parents and sings "Let's Get It On"... ok, it sounds freaky summarized like that! Obviously not all of the songs are actually related to the dedications lyrically... He's no Nikko, but it's decent.

AJ also dedicates to his folks. He sings "Feeling Good" and I'm impressed! Part of me is glad he didn't get screen time until last week, because I had no expectations (whereas people I had high expectations for often let me down...). He has a great voice, range, & control (& didn't grin through the whole song); *very* good performance! Randy & Paula loved it; Simon admitted it was "nearly very good" and acknowledged that he did something different / out of his comfort zone.

Sanjaya dedicates his song to his grandfather (who died when he was 5). He sings "I'm Stepping Out" and is wearing a shiny shirt and a hat (his hair is pulled back); he looks a lot (it's jazzy) and it didn't showcase his voice at. all. Paula advised him to pick songs that fit his youth (he said he picked something "classic" because of his grandfather & the dedication. Randy & Simon said it was bad.

Chris S. dedicates to his wife Sarah; he sings "Trouble" which is good, but nothing outstanding. To me it seemed strange on Idol to sing a love song to your wife in the audience at this stage of the game... The judges liked it alright.

Nick dedicates to his girlfriend. He sings "Fever" and... it doesn't work. Like Sanjaya he sings in a soft voice, but unlike the other song this one calls for a stronger, more powerful delivery IMO. Randy said it was pitchy but he liked the "vibe"; Simon said it lacked charisma. (Oh, I also finally figured out which actor he reminds me of: Robert Downey, Jr.!)

Blake dedicates to his folks. He sings a song called "Virtual Insanity" which is apparently originally by Jamiroquai, but Blake adds some beatboxing & scat to the middle section. I thought it was good, current & appealing to hip hop fans (he also had some good dance moves). Randy & Paula loved it, but Simon was disappointed (he said the first section seemed like a copycat of the original video).

Brandon dedicates to his (deceased) grandmother. He does "Time After Time" & it's too similar to last week's choice; like Sanjaya & Nick, it's too soft to show off his vocals. There was nothing wrong w/it but nothing great either. Randy & Simon agree, saying they were bored, but Paula enjoyed it & says she "felt" the emotion he put into it.

Chris R. also dedicates to his grandma. He sings Jason Mraz's "Geek in the Pink"! I love Jason Mraz, & this song is tough to sing; Chris pulls it off and I am impressed!! Excellent performance; the judges agree.

Sundance is last and I wonder if it's because he's actually decent, or because he's bad again & TPTB really want to get rid of him... fortunately, it's the former! He dedicates to his (2 month old) son Levi and is all teary in the video because he's missing many of the 'firsts' since he's in AI. He sings "Mustang Sally" and rocks the house!! This is the Sundance from the first audition! Great vocal tone, range, & power. The judges love it as well.

Best: Chris R., Sundance, & AJ
Weakest: Nick, Sanjaya, & Brandon
My picks to go: Nick, Jared

Monday, February 26

Grease- "Ladies' Night"

Tonight will focus on the women only, except for the elimination. We will also have guest Frankie Avalon performing (though not participating on the panel). The opener is "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee."

This week the contestants focused on acting as they paired up in scenes for Kathleen to evaluate. We get several clips, and see that their scenes involved kissing! I'm guessing if Allie & Max are paired that part should come easily!

Next we find out who's in the bottom 4... Austin, Max, Ashley, and Laura are named, and are safe (yay!). Derek & Allie are also safe. Leavng Chad (wow!), Kevin (yep) Kate (really?!), and Kathleen (definitely) in the bottom 4. The actual lowest vote-getters are, surprisingly, Kate and Kevin. I guess the behind-the-scenes comments last week really hurt her!

The first to perform is Ashley. We see a bit of her acting scenes during the week w/Kevin. She sings "These Boots were Made for Walking" and has 4 of the guys as background dancers/props (well, she does kick them). She's supposed to be showing her sexy side... and apparently doesn't have much of one.

Next is Allie, who acts with Max, as expected. However, their RL chemistry does not translate into their acting; Kathleen calls them too planned or controlled. She sings a song I don't know ("It's Oh So [something]"), but the panel described it as musical comedy. Derek & Austin assist.

Laura was paired with Derek for the acting. She sings "Fever" in order to show her sultry side - backed by 4 guys - and does a good job.

Time for the sing-off so we know who's still around to compete. Tonight's song is "Blue Moon" and everyone is good. The panel says this is the 1st time they haven't made a unanimous decision. They save Chad and Kathleen over Kate! I'm shocked, not to mention disappointed. They say, again (Kathleen was in the bottom 4 last week as well; you'd think they'd take the hint that we. don't. like. her!), that her strength in the acting scenes was the deciding factor. Kate takes it well enough.

So, Kathleen is up; she was paired with Chad for the acting (which means that Kate & Austin were paired, but since she's gone we don't get any clips, boo!). She sings "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and is supposed to show her sweet, innocent side... doesn't work, and for the first time her vocals are actually bad. Maybe 3rd time in the bottom will be the charm?

Frankie Avalon performs "Beauty School Dropout" with the remaining girls.

Then in preparation for next week we get backstage clips of the guys commenting about each other. They think Austin is egotistical and overperforms (I'll agree w/the latter); Chad is seen as not having emotional depth; Max is criticized for having no formal dance training (yet Danny wins a dance contest... "It's in the script!" says Austin); and Derek... doesn't get comments other than one of the guys not being able to list his strengths. I can't wait til next week!!

Oh, and lastly the panel is asked for their favorites of the night: all 3 choose Laura.

AI - Top 24 Results Show

It's our first post-audience vote elimination show of the season! Ryan, looking quite spiffy in a suit & tie (-watching Idol Rewind is reminding me just how far he's come fashion-wise; you could tell he was a radio personality!), tells us there were almost 32 million votes cast.

He also announces the following guests that have been booked to appear on the show during this season's finals: Diana Ross, Jon Bon Jovi (!), Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Tony Bennett, Martina McBride, Lulu and Peter Noone, and Barry Gibb. He doesn't specifically say they'll all be working w/the contestants, but that's what I'm assuming. A few exciting ones in there!

Next we get a good old-fashioned group song, with cheesy choreography a la Season 1 though not quite a pointy pose. The song choice is unexpected: "Sowing Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears. I'm an 80's girl so I'm not complaining! One thing we do have this season is a majority of contestants who can actually dance. Not that this choreography really shows that (it's more, this small group moves to the side, others come front, etc.), but still, that's something to look forward to.

Ok, on to business! First up are the guys; Ryan has the back row come up to the stage and announces the results: Brandon, Sundance, Chris R., Nick, & then Blake are safe; Paul is out. He gets to sing his song one more time (but no exit montage - yet).

Next up, girls: Jordin, Stephanie, Sabrina, Leslie, and Melinda are all safe, leaving Antonella for last... and she's also safe! Fake-out! Ryan then calls Amy from the front row of the couch and announces that she is leaving. She sings.

Fantasia is here, and she announces that she will be playing the lead role in "The Color Purple" on Broadway, starting mid-April! Good for her. She sings one of her main songs from the show, "I'm Here." It was good, but she's no Jennifer Hudson; I'm just sayin'. Quincy Jones is in the audience and Ryan says he's producing the show, but then as Quincy starts to speak Ryan cuts him off! Oops.

Ok, are they going to end my suspense yet & tell me whether my favorite is getting voted off the first night? No, they're not, we have the girls up again! Sigh... ok, Haley (still, who?), Lakisha, & Gina are safe. That leaves Nicole and Alaina; unfortunately, Alaina is safe and Nicole is out (I think she has a good voice though I didn't particularly care for her performance). Nicole sings.

Lastly, the guys, and I worry because Rudy is standing in the middle. Chris S. (who apologizes to Simon yet again), Phil, Jared, and AJ are safe. Which leaves Sanjaya and Rudy... so I know that Rudy is gone. And actually we're told that "one of you" (the one not eliminated, obviously) is in the top 4 guys - I'm not surprised. Poor Rudy, & poor me. Waaaah! :-( Yeah, I know, I had 2 favorites win last summer so I'm cursed for years & I should've known better.

We get a going home montage of all 4 contestants - set to a Chris Daughtry song!!! (And we thought they were 'pimping' him last year!!) Then Rudy gets his sing-out, but he gets cut off when time runs out. Sheesh.

Well I guess I won't have to worry about voting next week, and at least I won't have to endure several months' (or even weeks') worth of mean comments about another love-him or hate-him contestant; been there, done that! I'll put up some links in another post soon. As Paula said, Rudy is definitely one of the best vocalists they had (she also said he was pitch-perfect, a rarity among this year's guys). Hopefully the exposure he got through the show will help his career, even if he can't go solo yet.

Thursday, February 22

AI Semifinals - Top 12 Women

Ok, ok; I sit corrected. After tonight, last night's show seems very underwhelming, disappointing, and plain old meh! The girls pretty much blew the guys away. The competition. is. on!

We get a recap of last night... afterward Ryan asks Simon if he was mad about what Chris said. He said no, he actually likes it when contestants say things like that as it shows "spirit."

First up is Stephanie. We see a bit of her initial audition, "God Bless the Child." I don't know what she sings tonight, "How Come You Don't Call Me?", but it's awesome! She has very good vocals and a great stage presence (as, actually, do almost all of the girls). The crowd really loved it. Randy said there was some pitchiness, but the emotional connectedness was great. Simon said it was her best performance so far and that it was a million times better than anything last night. This one's definitely not cannon fodder.

Amy talks about how one learns a lot about oneself through an experience like this, and she seems to have a really good attitude. She sings "I Can't Make You Love Me" with a bit of country flair. It's good, but not exceptional. Randy thought it too safe; Paula said she impressed them early on with a bluesy R&B sound that wasn't there tonight; Simon said not memorable.

Leslie... seems to me a bundle of contradictions. She's a dog walker from Chicago who auditioned in LA. Her voice is low and earthy, but she's got a bubbly, bouncy (almost vapid at times) persona. She sings "Natural Woman" and is just way too... excited? for the song... neither her voice (too thin) or attitude are right for it. Randy said the song was too big for her; Simon said she looks uncomfortable on stage and ungainly. My least favorite of the night (and the last note made me cringe).

Sabrina says she's a professional singer and we see a bit of "Nothing at All" from her initial audition. With her hair up (in the interview) she reminds me of Gloria Estefan; with it down (during the performance) she looks like a black Barbara Streisand. This is another song I don't know: "I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You", but she is awesome! She can 'sang,' and is very emotionally 'into' the song. Randy says we finally have ourselves a competition!

Antonella... is way out of her league. She sings "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" and is off-key a bit and just meh overall. Randy says it's not good, pitchy, & bland; Paula said she didn't sing it badly, but it was a poor song choice. She could (and should) be in trouble.

Jordin was one of my early favorites. She seems mature beyond her age (high school junior) with a good attitude and sense of humor. She sings Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" and is awesome!! So confident and I love, love her voice - powerful, soulful, & sassy. Randy thought it was a bad song choice but Paula & Simon liked it. Go Jordin!!

Nicole is a voice major and was in a Hollywood group with Melinda & Tami; I'd love to see that whole performance!! I'm not familiar with her song ("Stay"?) and I can tell that she has a very good voice. However, I don't like the way in which she sings it at all: she seems angry, like she's yelling at me or whomever that if we don't stay with her she's going to go all Fatal Attraction... and I'm skeered! ;-) Randy says the 'vibe' doesn't fit her and Simon says it was indulgent and aggressive (yes!). Paula is too wowed by her vocal range to say anything else. I think she could have potential with a different style of song, if she gets the chance....

Haley seems like another gal with a good attitude: she's pretty but doesn't seem overly self-confident to the point of being cocky, and says she's excited to be in a competition with so much good talent (and that it's sad so many haven't been discovered yet). She sings "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (again) and is very good, just not belting-diva good. Randy wasn't wowed; Simon said her voice is good but that it was boring & she sounded 40. I expect her to stick around for now, but she'd better bring her best next week.

Melinda was my other early favorite girl, and tonight she doesn't disappoint! One more song I don't know ("Since You've Been Gone"; the oldy, not Kelly Clarkson's), but she sings with great self-confidence and stage presence (uses the whole stage & interacts w/the audience), not to mention amazing vocals! The audience & judges loved it.

Alaina sings The Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket" (wow, I'd have never guessed that was the name of this song!) and is very meh. 'nuff said.

Gina impresses me tonight on "All By Myself." I think she could go far; she's the only white girl tonight who held her own in the ever-growing sea of divas, and with her 'rock chick' persona she's got a unique niche, which always helps. Her vocals are very good, including a glory note (which she did hit, regardless of Simon's disappointment in comparing it with Celine Dion's version). Randy & Paula loved it. Another I'm rooting for!

Lakisha closes out the night with, as Ryan introduces it, "the song that could win Jennifer Hudson an Oscar." Ambitious choice - but she pulls off "And I'm Telling You", and then some! Wow, wow, and wow! The audience & Paula gave her a standing ovation, and Randy said "Jennifer Hudson, watch out!" But Simon got the best line of the night: "I'm tempted to tell 23 people to book their plane tickets home." In another league, indeed.

So! 4 performances were amazingly awesome, and another 2 were very good. There were only 1 or 2 that were noticably off-key at all (as opposed to almost all of the guys), and only 2 I didn't like.

My bottom 3: Leslie, Antonella, Alaina.

My prediction to go: Leslie & Antonella (please?)

Tomorrow night: Fantasia!

Wednesday, February 21

AI Semifinals - Top 12 Guys

We get minute clips of everyone's 1st audition (entrance & exit), plus some of The Chair (& elevator), but no singing. As each is introduced to sing they get a video clip showing their 1st audition (singing) and comments about the process thus far.

Rudy starts the show with a very high-energy "Free Ride." He's a tad too high-energy (Randy calls it corny), but the crowd seems to really love it. The song actually shows his vocal ability much better than I thought it would, partially due to a few glory notes he manages to fit in. Simon says there wasn't anything unique or memorable. I hope he's wrong, and that he's had enough screen time and has enough of a previous fanbase (from M-Pact) that he doesn't get "Patrick'd" (1st up, doing a rock song instead of highlighting balladeer vocals we've heard a bit of before...). I voted for him and have my fingers crossed.

Brandon sings "Rock with You" and is good, but nothing special. Randy says he's pitchy; Simon says safe & predictable (song choice). I was a bit disappointed considering his buzz (as in talk around the 'nets, not his hair, he's one of the few that has some!).

Sundance's song choice of "Nights in White Satin" would have been awesome *if* he'd sung it well. However, he sounded out of tune throughout. Randy said they missed his early bluesy sound; all 3 judges were disappointed and Simon flat-out said "I didn't like you tonight."

Paul is still barefoot and sings "Careless Whisper," which was not a good choice for him. Paula said he oversang & was pitchy; Simon just called it ordinary. I didn't think it was bad, but he could've been a lot better on something different.

Chris R. sings "I Don't Wanna Be" and would've been really good if not for the bobbing (he makes George Huff look like a statue). I was disappointed vocally though there's nothing I can specifically criticize. Randy & Paula enjoyed it but Simon said his vocals were bad & that his voice seemed "small" compared to what we've heard from him before.

Nick sings Richard Marx's "Now and Forever" (and "California Dreaming" in his video clip which I don't think we'd seen before). He's good; he seems comfortable and confident on stage, and has a nice falsetto. Randy disagrees, calling him boring and pitchy. Paula misses the nice "tone" in his initial audition. But Simon says it "wasn't that bad." (which is the closest to a compliment he's come so far!)

Blake answers one of the biggest questions everyone's been asking: Yes, he can sing!! He actually says he didn't want to beatbox in the group part of Hollywood for fear of being pigeonholed, but the others talked him into it. Anyway, he does Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" sitting on a stool and is very, very good! Great tone, control, variety, stage presence... Simon said he was the first of the night to sound "like someone in 2007." He turns out to be the best of the night and is the frontrunner to win at this point IMO.

Sanjaya sings, predictably, Stevie again: "Knocks Me Off My Feet." I thought it was good; Randy strongly disagreed. Simon was bored. He made a sad puppy face but overall took the comments very well (considering his age & inexperience). In his video clip he mentioned that he just got his GED and that his sister suggested the song. Kid is adorable and the only teen boy so he's not going anywhere.

Chris S. talks about his strengths being his strategy and song choice. That being said, I have no clue what he sang, but it was a contemporary rock-ish tune about being "Typical" (or not). Very, very good. Randy & Paula said he rushed the chorus but his voice is good & they still enjoyed it. Simon reiterated that he likes his personality but he didn't care for the song. We get our first real 'talking back' of the season when Chris says that while he "may not sing Il Divo or Teletubbies, that doesn't mean [he] doesn't have a good voice." He said the style of music he did is very popular right now. I don't think he's in danger yet as he's definitely one of the most talented (& well-liked), but he should be careful.

Jared is shown singing "Premonition" in his 1st audition (& "Cupid" in H'Wood) and sings "Back at One" tonight. It wasn't pitch-perfect, but I really, *really* like the sound of his voice. Not to mention he's model-gorgeous (heh, Simon said his song choice was safe but that he looks good!). I hope he sticks around.

AJ "Never Too Much;" he's ok, but has the same seemingly vapid grin on his face during the whole song and doesn't bring anything to the table that we haven't already seen tonight. Randy says he thinks he's a "really, really good singer" but there was nothing special tonight; Simon agrees: "good, nothing great, nothing terrible." At least he had fun and has a decent stage presence.

Phil is last, and we do get confirmation that his wife went into labor early and he did not at all intend to miss his daughter's birth for the Idol auditions! His 3 'girls' are there tonight and we get several shots of his proud wife during his performance of "Could Not Ask for More." He started off very rough in the soft verses, but switched to full voice on the chorus and was excellent. Randy said it was the best vocal of the night; Simon said despite the horrendous beginning, the chorus was ok. Ryan asks Phil what he thinks & he agrees with Simon, saying he'll work hard to improve.

So, in summary:

Best vocals: the BFF Blake, Rudy, and Chris S. (then Brandon, Nick, and Sanjaya)

My favorites: Rudy, Blake, Sanjaya, Chris S., and Jared (then Phil and Nick)

My bottom 3: Paul, Sundance, AJ

My prediction to go: Paul and Sundance.

It's going to be an interesting week. From what I'm reading there are a wide range of opinions on who people liked (though most were disappointed overall). A few disappointed me, but some that I hadn't heard (or expected much) from before I really liked, so I'm optimistic. We have several very good-looking guys, and from what I've seen at least 10 of them have decent dancing ability (really rare!). Maybe (*crosses fingers*) they'll bring back 'real' group numbers with choreography and pointy poses!! (Hey, a girl can dream....)

Tuesday, February 20

Grease - Top 10

The show opens with the group doing "Hand Jive." That's one high-energy number stuffed with fast & furious choreography! I got tired just watching.

We're told it's "Duet Week", so we'll finally get a chance to see some chemistry (or not) between the guys & girls. Also Jon Secada (a former Broadway Danny) is our guest panelist.

The contestants are shown talking about each other, both in general and in regards to who has chemistry with whom. Max & Allie say they definitely have... something. Guys think Derek is the one to beat and girls think Kate is... not overly concerned about being nice to people, let's say! Which she admits; she's here to win!

Since pairings for the performances need to be figured out, the elimination will happen at the beginning of tonight's episode. So we jump right in as Jason, Kevin, Juliana (nooo!), and Kathleen are told to step forward, then told they're "all in" the bottom 4. Billy pauses and there's an awkward silence before he says that means the others are safe and tells the 4 to "take their positions." The sing-off will be "Those Magic Changes," and everyone's good but we pretty much know the judges have already decided so I'm not sure it even matters. This time the judges agree with the viewers & send the two lowest vote-getters home: Jason and Juliana. :-( They say Kevin has the stronger voice (yes) and that Kathleen is a stronger actress (I don't think so, but I pretty much knew Juliana didn't have a shot at winning, so she might as well go now).

First up are Chad & Allie doing "Ain't No Mountain." I've seen way too many Idol performances of this to consider it a romantic song at all, but they do a decent job & end up a bit steamy. He was more convincing IMO than she was, but all the guys think she's hot (& she definitely shook what her Mama gave her) so her acting may not matter so much (David called the performance "theatrical viagra"; I rest my case).

Austin & Laura are next with "I Don't Know Much." Austin does a *fantastic* acting job (lots of little things, like his facial expressions when she touched his cheek) and they both sang incredibly well & their voices blend very well together. Definitely his best performance yet, and the panel seems to agree.

Max & Ashley get "It Takes Two" and they're the best match so far. The song's not one to showcase vocals, but they do a great job at acting much of the Danny-Sandy relationship; attraction, having fun together, and some of him 'chasing' her & her playing hard to get. (In one part they're close & he moves his arm up her thigh; she smacks it away & he turns toward the camera & gives a little shrug, like 'It was worth a try!' Cute!)

Derek & Kate do "From This Moment On." Kate is by far the strongest female tonight, at least in conveying the attraction through facial expressions. I'd say this is Derek's weakest performance; hit a really bad high note, and had a cheesy grin through most of the song... not Danny-like to me. David said he was "bored."

Kevin & Kathleen are last with "Something to Talk About." IMO they should be the next to go. They're good, but underwhelming after the others. Kathleen (the judge) comments that Kevin has a more "legitimate Broadway voice" and I agree; he's more suited to 'regular' musicals than something with 50's tunes.

The panelists give their favorites: David - Austin & Ashley; Kathleen - Chad & Ashley; Jim - Chad & Allie; Jon - Chad & Allie. I'm hard pressed to choose between Austin & Max tonight, but I'll pick Austin, and Kate.

Lastly Jason & Juliana do their sing-out, and it's obvious how much more professional they are than last week's pair! They act the parts they're singing, as they should, yet portray self-confidence (taking advantage of the little screentime they have left to show what they've got!).

Monday, February 19

AI - Top 24 are Chosen (aka the Chair of Doom!)

On the final day in Hollywood, the 40 contestants are gathered in a room. One by one they take the elevator up to where the judges wait, at the other end of the room, facing a single chair where each contestant will find out whether or not they advance to be part of the Top 24 and get to perform live for America's votes.

For each person who advances, we're shown at least one clip of them singing, usually one of their solos during Hollywood week that we haven't already seen.

Sanjaya is up first, and we see him doing "Some Kind of Wonderful." The judges asked how it's been since he advanced while his sister didn't (which was probably just the day before?), and he says "bittersweet."

A string that don't make it: Anna Kearns (tall gal who sang "Respect" in Seattle), who is shocked (apparently she expected to get through because she's unusually tall! um, ok... except not); Bernard Williams (Birmingham); Eric Davis (has shoulder length, curly hair; turns out he has a great backstory, including some prison time, where he became a Christian; & he's now a youth pastor! Oh well...); and Tami Gosnell (Whipping Post gal - has some music here).

Melinda is shown singing "This Is It," and she's very good. She has a bit of a different hairstyle, which looks nice. After giving her the news that she's officially a solo singer, Simon gave her a hug & said he's proud of her!

Brandon Rogers sings "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" and is just ok, but advances. Of course this is based on all his previous performances, not just the ones we're being shown at the moment.

Gina G. sings the same song; a different style, but still not great. She's excited to finally make it through the semifinals.

Jimmy McNeal ("Cupid") and Erick Johnson are sent home.

Haley Scarnato (who?) sings "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." She's good, and advances. The first of what will probably be 'cannon fodder' as they've gotten no previous screen time so they won't get many votes & will disappear the first 2 weeks.

Phil also sings "Have You... Loved a Woman" and is very, very good! Like him a lot.

We're shown some footage of the guys' 1st day in Hollywood on their 'field trip,' previewing The Simpsons Movie! They also got to visit the studio afterward.

Chris Sligh walk into the room and with his soon-to-be-trademark dry humor, deadpans "You're probably wondering why I've called this meeting today..." as he approaches the Chair. ;-) He, too, sings "Have You... Loved a Woman" and is very good. Simon says Chris isn't one of the best singers (?) but that he's popular/well-liked among the other contestants.

Blake is just shown beatboxing during The Quartet of Awesomeness ("How
Deep is Your Love" w/Chris, Rudy & Tom). Most people are wondering if he can even sing....

Tom is the only quartet member not advancing (boo!).

Rudy sings "Georgia on My Mind" and I love him!!!! Hopefully Simon (& America) will come around....

Paul Kim says we'll never see him wear shoes. He also tells us TMI about his 'lucky' underwear.... He sings "How Deep..." and is ok, but embellishes waaaay too much. The judges say their decision was not unanimous.

Jordin does a good rendition of "Some Kind of Wonderful" and advances, though Randy says she was "weaker" in Hollywood than her initial audition.

An Olivia, Tatiana (Birmingham), and Monique are sent home. Tommy is shown talking about the great girl-guy ratio, and specifically mentioning enjoying 'waiting' with Antonella. But we don't find out his verdict yet.

AJ Tabaldo (a new face, #66398) sings "Til You Come Back to Me." This is, apparently, his 5th time auditioning!! His song is good, somewhat R&B.

Stephanie Edwards sings the same and is decent.

Leslie Hunt... sings the same, and is ok. (All 3 advance.)

Nick sings "Have You... Loved a Woman" and is just ok, but makes it through. We see him calling his sister afterward and it's her birthday.

Alaina Alexander (LA auditions) says she always cries. She does "Without You" and is just ok.

Chris R sings something I don't recognize; he's got a good voice, but he has weird, rushed phrasing again. That could get old fast.

Sabrina Sloane (24, another new one) is a black gal w/long curly hair; she sings "Some Kind of Wonderful" and is good!

More no's: Jerome Chism, Joelle James, Matt Buckstein (coming out of the elevator he says "No country this year, I guess"; aww!), and Princess Johnson.

Lakisha sings "Til You Come Back to Me". After her Hollywood solo we see the audience standing & loving her!

(It's 6 pm and there are 7 people left...)

Nicole Tranquillo (Memphis auditions) sings "This Is It." She's good, different. But cannon fodder.

Jared Cotter sings "Cupid." He's a tall, thin black guy - cute! And sings well. Could have potential if he gets some screen time.

Amy Krebs sings "Til You..." & said she loved singing live in Hollywood with background singers!

The last 2 girls are Marisa Rhodes (whose voice I adore) and Antonella, who sings "Til You..." and is shown messing up the words. Surprisingly Antonella advances and Marisa does not. Marisa virtually breaks down in the elevator (angry & upset).

The last 2 guys are Tommy (showed his Seattle audition again) and Sundance (just showed in his H'Wood group performance, which wasn't great). Again we're surprised as Sundance advances while Tommy does not. They both shook the judges hands & Tommy seemed to take it well but notsomuch once he got downstairs.

So, we have our Top 24! Thanks to someone else for typing up this list of stats (alpha by first name):

A.J. Tabaldo, 22, Santa Maria, California
Blake Lewis, 25, Bothell, Washington
Brandon Rogers, 29, Los Angeles
Chris Richardson, 22, Chesapeake, Virginia
Chris Sligh, 28, Greenville, South Carolina
Jared Cotter, 25, West Orange, New Jersey
Jason "Sundance" Head, 28, Porter, Texas
Nicholas Pedro, 25, Taunton, Massachusetts
Philip Stacy, 29, Jacksonville, Florida
Rudy Cardenas, 28, Los Angeles
Paul Kim, 25, Saratoga, California
Sanjaya Malakar, 17, Federal Way, Washington

Alaina Alexander, 24, West Hollywood, California
Amy Krebs, 22, Federal Way, Washington
Antonella Barba, 20, Point Pleasant, New Jersey
Gina Glocksen, 22, Naperville, Illinois
Haley Scarnato, 24, San Antonio, Texas
Jordin Sparks, 17, Glendale, Arizona
Lakisha Jones, 27, Flint, Michigan
Leslie Hunt, 24, Chicago
Melinda Doolittle, 29, Brentwood, Tennessee
Nicole Tranquillo, 20, Philadelphia
Sabrina Sloan, 27, Los Angeles
Stephanie Edwards, 19, Savannah, Georgia

... and we get the usual cute dancing 'intros' of everyone. The girls' background song is one of Katharine McPhee's, interestingly, and the guys' is Bo Bice's cover of "Vehicle"! (hmm, why not something of Taylor's?! Hardly seems like they're even acknowledging him, but they're plugging Kat and Chris... and Bo!? Interesting.)

Tuesday, February 13

AI - Hollywood!

It's time for AI bootcamp! Before we get started we're told that Chris Daughtry's album is the fastest to go Platinum of any AI alum! Congrats, Chris!

Day 1: Women Only
Of the 172 contestants, there are almost twice as many women as men! So Day 1 will be only gals. You know the drill: they line up in groups of 6; each sings a 30-second solo with no judge feedback; the group is given their verdict all at once with some stepping forward & then either the front or back line advances.

First up is Jory Steinberg (one of the 3 girls I really liked from NYC) who sings "I'm Out of Love," and I think she does well. The others in her group don't sound familiar: Geri Guyer, Kelly Caruso, Lisa Morrison, Christen Ham, and Jeromishia Lemar. The whole group is sent packing, and the rest of the crowd is warned that they have to bring it!!

Perla Meneses (Shakira-light from Minneapolis) is shown arriving in the airport and acting like she's already a star. She sings "Hips Don't Lie" and is safe for now.

Rachel Jenkins (Army Reserve wife from Minneapolis) does a poor rendition of "Unbreak My Heart" and is sent home.

Baylie Brown (the 'commercial' 16-year old from Texas) sings "Stronger" again and is very good. She & a couple others in her group advance.

All in different groups that we didn't get to hear, but are being sent home: Ashlyn Carr (strange faces girl), Porcelana (rocker workout-for-a-year girl), and Sara Burgess (lied to parents girl; I liked her!).

Nicole Turner is shown arguing w/her Mom about which song she's going to sing. She ends up picking the one her mom wanted, "Ain't No Way." She was good, but not good enough. Afterward she's all mad at her mom & both end up going back up on stage to argue with the judges that her heart wasn't in it and that's why she sang poorly. Not very classy but got them more screen time. An Ashley in her group was also sent home.

Day 1 recap: 114 girls came in, 58 go out to the next round, including Melinda Doolittle (awesome backup singer from Memphis; one of my favorite ladies), Gina Glockson, Tatiana McConnico (17-year old soul girl from Birmingham), and Jamie Lynn Ward (sob story blond from Birmingham auditions). (Names in bold are those I know for sure are in the top 40....)

Day 2: Men
We don't get to see very many of the guys. Sundance is shown talking about the gender odds being in his favor, and I think he advances.

One group of 6 contains Jarrod Fowler (Navy Idol; my favorite guy from Minneapolis). He sings "You Raise Me Up" and is ok, not great. Matt Sato (16-year old from Minneapolis whose parents couldn't be there) sings something I don't recognize but isn't very good. For some unknown reason, Matt is sent to the next round while Jarrod is sent home! Definitely seems wrong from what we were shown, but we know we aren't shown everything. Also sent home from that group are Michael Lawson (don't think we've seen him before) and a Chris - perhaps Chris Richardson from NY? Hope not as he was really good!

Aaaand, we're done! 58 guys are now 34, including Blake Lewis (spiky-haired beatboxer from Seattle), Nick Pedro (NY, forgot words last year in Hollywood round), Phil Stacy (tall bald guy in Memphis whose wife had a baby that morning), and Sean Michel (Castro long-hair guy also from Memphis auditions).

It's 8 pm and time for groups to form! We're shown some of the drama as a few people have a hard time finding groups to join, and people start arguing over song choice, then later whether they're practiced enough to go to bed yet, etc. Some of the practices & contestant combinations look very promising. I love group round!!

Day 3: Group Performances
Matthew Buckstein (tallest of last year's 'Brokeback Cowboys') is back! However, we're not (yet) shown his performance or whether or not he advances.

We have a very short focus on those who forget their lyrics and are sent packing: Jose Laguna (don't remember him) and Matt Sato (who both forgot the words and sang very badly).

Next is a 4-girl group containing Gina, Perla, Jessica Gordan (new), and Marisa Rhodes (also new; I *love* her voice!). Perla goes home and the rest advance.

Time for the highlight of the episode: a 4-guy group consisting of Chris Sligh (curly-haired guy from Birmingham who wanted to make David Hasselhoff cry; *love*), Rudy Cardenas (tall, baldish Venezuelan last on Day 1 in Seattle, another one of my faves), Blake Lewis, and Tom Lowe (British boy bander whose 1st-round audition wasn't shown in the US but was elsewhere! It's on YouTube & he's good; and British!). They sing "How Deep is Your Love" and not only do they sound great individually, they've put together an awesome performance. After solos they all come to the front of the stage to sing the chorus, harmonizing (with Blake beatboxing), and Tom & Rudy do a bit of dancing (ok, Rudy does a lot!). A quick shot of the judges shows even Simon smiling, and we see the performance through to the end where they 'fade out' repeating "love" a couple of times. Everyone in the audience stands and applauds. I got chills and will definitely be rewatching this a lot! I'll be surprised if all 4 don't make it to the Top 24.

Sundance is in a group w/2 girls, L'Paige and Robyn Troup (both new). We're shown his solo from the previous day which was just ok; his group performance isn't a lot better and he forgot some lyrics. The judges, or at least Paula & Randy, must've really liked him early on because despite this he advances. Simon says they're being too generous.

The last group we see is the 3 Girls of Drama: Baylie with the BFF's from NY, Amanda (blond) and Antonella (very tall & the better singer). In practice Amanda was having a rough time with the words to "This Old Heart of Mine"... so took off to flirt w/some guys. During the performance... she also forgets the words! Just a few, but still. Baylie forgets almost all of them and is, surprisingly (which I say due to her editing, not her talent, though she's decent) sent home. Also surprisingly, both Antonella and Amanda advance.

36 have been cut during the group round, including Sean Michel. :-( And finally...

Day 4: Final Solos and 3 Rooms of Doom
We'll see more of the solos tomorrow. I say "more" though we aren't shown any today. Just the rooms, where 56 will become 40. This is what I could catch:

Room 1 is good (20 people): Chris, Matt B, Tom, Rudy, Gina, Paul Kim? (Asian guy from Best of the Rest), Blake, Melinda, and the curly-haired guy we haven't heard sing but who looks like a cross between Constantine and Sara Gilbert.

Room 2 also good (20): Tami Gosnell (Whipping Post gal from Best of Rest), Sundance, Sanjaya (Indian brother; yay!), Antonella, Brandon Rogers (28-year old backup singer from LA, another one I liked a lot), and maybe Nick?

Room 3 has the 16 who are cut: Shyamali (Indian sister), Amanda (BFF), Brian Miller (repeat from last year), and the tall bald guy with glasses (Phil Stacy??).

Some of my early favorites about whose status I have no clue at the moment: Jordin Sparks (pretty, curly-haired gal from Seattle auditions); Danielle McCullough (18-year old bluesy blond from Memphis); Jenry Bejarano (much older looking 16-year old guy from NY); Chris Richadson; and Akron Watson (thinner cousin from San Antonio; I heard he was disqualified & cut before the Hollywood round started?). Plus Rachel Zevita, not a favorite but interesting 18-year old tie-dyed opera girl from NY.

Whew! Everyone is saying this was way too much crammed into one hour, and I agree! Really, we didn't need to see half the bad, non-entertaining first round stuff they aired, and I think almost everyone would rather have seen a lot more of the Hollywood performances! I suppose we can hope 'Rewind' gets to Season 6 eventually, but I highly doubt it.

Grease (2/11/07)

Tonight is the first elimination show! Should be interesting to see how they do it. We also have guest panelist Andrew Lloyd Webber. All of tonight's songs will be from musicals, and the girls all do A.L.W. songs. We aren't told who chooses the songs, but it becomes obvious throughout the night that some of the contestants are unhappy with their song choices, so it seems they are given songs rather than being allowed to choose themselves.

We start off with a group performance of "Summer Nights," which is fun.

Next everyone lines up on stage and they're going to announce the two lowest vote-receivers in each gender, who will later have a "sing-off" for the panel to determine who goes home. First up are the guys; those safe: Kevin, Derek, Chad, Austin... and Max. Which leaves Jason & Matt in the bottom (not surprisingly). For the ladies we find the safe are Ashley S, Laura, Kathleen, Juliana, and Kate, leaving Ashley A and Allie for the sing-off.

Max got a haircut! He's definitely paying attention to do what they ask of him to improve his chances. He sings "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" and it really shows some weakness in his vocals, which I haven't seen before. It does let him act and he still seems to appeal to the crowd.

Laura sings "Jesus Christ Superstar." The vocal is ok-to-good and she emotes well.

Derek - "Footloose." He gets backup dancers! In his clip he mentions the physical challenge & is shown working out so that he can have the stamina to sing while dancing. It paid off; he's very good! The panel agrees.

Ashley S - "Tell Me On a Sunday" Vocals are great (glory note alert!) and she acts well. Again the panel gives very positive feedback.

Kevin - "Buring Love" Just no. This just isn't the style of music he should be doing.

Juliana - "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" Good vocals and great acting IMO. Love her dress!! Panel says she's too polished & they want to see her 'wild side.'

We get a break for behind-the-scenes footage of the group rehearsing with ALW. What a treat!! And he predicts a "definite career for half a dozen of them." Then a group performance of "The Phantom of the Opera." Derek & Kevin stand out to me vocally (*this* is more what Kevin should be doing!).

Chad sings "My Eyes Adored You," and if we hadn't been told (by the panel and in his clip) that he has the flu I wouldn't have known. He was still very good, and it played up his heartthrob angle (got lots of screams from the crowd).

Kate - "Buenos Aires" Very good.

Austin redeems himself with "Ease On Down the Road"! He has a *very* physical performance (also w/backup dancers) which I think helps him; he has to concentrate on the choreography so he doesn't have time to oversing & overact, except the few moments when he's standing still. I thought he was awesome.

Kathleen - "Memory" Very good. All the girls are tonight!

And we're down to the last 4, so it's time for the sing-off! They'll line up and each sing a line from "Tears On My Pillow," then the panel (i.e. David) will announce which ones they're "saving." Everyone sings well, but it's the wildcards that are sent home (appropriately). We are told that they weren't the actual lowest vote-getters (Jason & Allie were); this is causing a bit of negative buzz in online communities as it was promoted that the viewers (only) would be choosing... though to me it certainly makes sense to give those putting the show on the final say!

Jason sings "That'll Be the Day". He's ok, but not right for the part. He gets more audience screams than I expected.

Allie is last with "I Don't Know How to Love Him," which I *love*!! (I love the song anyway, but she does it well.) They showed her parents in the audience; I don't think they did that for anyone else, which is interesting.

The panelists give their favorites:
David - Austin & Laura
Kathleen - Derek & Kathleen
Jim - Max & Laura
ALW - Derek & Laura

My favorites were Austin and Juliana & Allie (I can't choose!). I think Jason is an easy call for the guy to go but the girl is harder; I'll say Kathleen.

Lastly Matt & Ashley A lead the groups in the sing-out, which is sad but they have to hold it together, which they do fairly well. They both seem to have good attitudes & realize they were fortunate to get this far but are out of their league.

Sunday, February 11

AI - The Best of the Rest

Ok, final first-round episode! Organized around "lessons" we've learned (or not)...

Lesson 1: The Look - clips of people with interesting outfits &/or costumes. Including Christa from Birmingham in red, black & white. She goes home.

Tami Gosnell (28, Denver cab driver, #51637) does not have the Idol 'look,' as she wears no make-up and has a pierced lip. She sings "Whipping Post" and is awesome. I'd love to see her in the Top 24 but won't hold my breath; we have several females with rough, low voices and most appear more 'commercial', which counts more in Hollywood than first round.

Lesson 2: Seek Inspiration - clips of folks inspired by previous contestants.

Paul Kim (25, CA, #74201) takes a somewhat opposite approach; he's here because he *doesn't* want people to think of William Hung when they think of Asian singers! Well, he has the pipes on "If I Ever Fall in Love," a different, breathy voice. We shall see.

Jack Odanovich was inspired by Bo's "In a Dream" and did the same song - I think. It was hard to tell, he was so bad.

Lesson 3: Never Give Up - repeat auditioners! Including cowboy Matthew (Buckstein?) from last year & several other familiar faces (along w/many I don't remember).

Gina Glockson (22, IL but auditioned in Memphis, #53750) is trying out for the 3rd time, and she made it Hollywood last year. She sings "Black Velvet" and is decent but nothing special, except for her built-up 'crush' on Simon.

Which leads to clips of people who are fans of the judges. Edward Sanchez (26, TX) is a huge Paula fan but does not sing well (no surprise).

Now we get clips of jobs contestants left to come audition, including Ace, Chris, and Kelli Pickler. Which leads to Lesson 4: Audition On Your Own.

We get a trio of car hop girls (from whichever town had Olivia Newton-John on the panel). First up is Heather Rennie (20, CA), a blond who does an ok version of "God Bless the Broken Road." Then Ashley Cleland (17) sings "Angel" and is a bit better. Lastly Ebony Jointer (23, #75162), a very pretty black gal, sings "I Believe in You and Me" and is easily the best singer. Heather gets sent packing but the others advance to Hollywood.

The previous winners' first singles are discussed and then we're told of this year's songwriting contest. Followed by a montage of contestants' bad original songs, the strangest of which from Wes in LA (bald guy in a yellow shirt) with "Don't Worry, Don't Hurry." Ok then.

Lesson 5: Shake Your Money Maker - all sorts of dancing clips, including one of Ryan in the waiting room boogying down with one contestant's family & friends.

Not a dancer, but Alex in Memphis sings an Air Supply song (yes I was a huge fan but really, does it matter which one?) poorly. It's a no.

Lesson 6: Clarity - "Name That Song" clips.

And finally we see Lakisha Jones (hyped in commercials; 26, MD, #8292). She has a 3-year old daughter and says she considers her voice a gift. She sings "Think" and is very good. I also like her personality.

The show ends with snippets of "favorite" (or most memorable) moments - including Sherman, which is the only one they show that would qualify as a favorite for me. And then a preview of the 'drama' to come in next week's Hollywood round, which will have a total of 172 contestants. I'm ready; bring it on!

Thursday, February 8

AI San Antonio Auditions

This time we have 11,000 gathered to audition!

First is Brian Kyrish (27, TX) who is not aware that you don't have to yell "Rebel Yell."

Haley Scarnato (24, TX, #50411) sings "I Can't Make You Love Me." She's pretty, with a good voice & good control (and not too embellished). After the guys get her & Paula to stop their fashion discussion, she advances.

Jasmine Holland... is a no.

Baylie Brown (#38625, 16, from small town Krum, TX) sings Faith Hill's "Stronger." She got a *lot* of backstory: we see her parents and their ranch, and are told that she is a city girl at heart. She sings well and Simon proclaims her "very commercial."

We get a montage called "One Contestant, Two Doors." I don't know why they have one door locked in each audition hall, but it does make for some humorous clips.

Next we have male cousins who have been raised together. First up is William Green (25) who sings "Amazing Grace" and is not a singer.

Akron Watson, the younger and thinner cousin (#44185, 23, Dallas), however, is most definitely a singer. He sings "A Change is Gonna Come" and then (after Simon says he's bored), with a little more animation, "Let's Get It On." I like this guy a lot! He gets 3 yesses.

We get small clips of "a few we'd like to forget," and then (unfortunately) a longer one of Sandie Chavez, who sings "Black Velvet" with very strange pronunciation and phrasing. Simon asks if the performance was serious and she starts crying (oops!). After she leaves they see on her bio that she's a music teacher...!

Next up is Ashlyn Carr (#48682, 18, TX). She was beaten up in high school (to the point of getting a concussion) by another girl because she could sing, I think; it didn't really make sense to me but whatever. She sings "Feeling Good" and has a great voice with nice/unique tone, and is beautiful (reminds me a little of Christina Christian) and has a nice personality... but makes really nasty faces when she is singing. Paula especially has a hard time with the facial expressions, and she and Randy say no. Simon says he would've put her through but she leaves. Paula feels bad and they keep talking about her... and finally offer to have her come back in for a 2nd chance. They ask if she understands their concern? She says yes, and tones it down a bit to sing "Inseparable." This time she gets through.

Jacob Tutor (21, TX) is nicknamed "Jake the Snake" and says his family is in "the entertainment business." He does something rock and is not good.

Last up is Jimmy McNeal (#44712, 23, TX) singing "Cupid." He's very good and seems to have a fun personality. Simon says he's "like a little, fun Ruben." He definitely has potential. He also has an excited family outside, including a little girl who isn't quite sure what's going on. Ryan said Jimmy should tell her what happened, so he leans down and says "I'm going to Hollywood!" She replies, "So?" Hee!

If they gave the total number through I missed it, but we saw 5. One more ep. til Hollywood Week, yay!

Sunday, February 4

Rockstar Supernova Concert

I went to the Rockstar Supernova concert in Columbus, Ohio, Friday night (Feb.2). I was expecting the music to be a bit harder rock than I prefer, and some of it was, but I'm still glad I got to go! (My pictures aren't very good, sorry!)

Toby's band Juke Kartel opened. It was a fun, short set, about what you'd expect. They're really good, and I would enjoy a whole concert of just them, definitely. They did some originals, including Throw It All Away which he did on the show. (Check out their myspace, they have a great acoustic version up!) They also did Burning Down the House and Rebel Yell. At one point he leaned down to take the camera of a front row fan and took a picture of himself with her. There was a table in the foyer with a sign saying he'd do autographs after the show.

Next was Dilana - with Magni!!!! Unfortunately he didn't get to do a solo, but his voice complements hers very well (& he played guitar on everything, though she had another guitar player too on most songs). They did Every Breath You Take (good except when she had the crowd sing "Dilana" in the middle, just like she did on the show), Wicked Game (awesome!!), Supersoul (a bit better than on the show) and maybe something else, then ended with Zombie, which I hate. But other than that I enjoyed her set.

Next was Panic Channel, Dave Navarro's band. Dave was shirtless, with a hat. It was very obvious to me that this band was formed around a guitar player! The frontman (lead 'singer' might be an inappropriate term - ok maybe that's a bit harsh ) was not that pleasant to listen to. He did, however, come into the crowd and ended up a few feet in front of me. We were in a side section, in the 2nd row. There's a nice 'ledge' in front of the 1st row where people could sit their drinks, and at least one of the gals in front of us had a beer there. Which he picked up & took a drink from! Then he said & headed back to the stage. Needless to say the girls were quite excited and she held the cup for a while. (Also, it was a nonsmoking venue, and Dave lit a cigarette after the 1st song & smoked it on & off for a while!)

They were incredibly loud, and had blinding strobe lights (and that's not much of an exaggeration, though I know my eyes are extra light-sensitive). This is where we got the earplugs out ("we" being me & my 66-year old mom who offered to go with since I couldn't find anyone else and it's like 10 degrees outside! Moms rock!!). And even then I had to leave after a few songs - nice time for bathroom & pretzel run, then 1 more song & they were done. They did mostly originals plus Suffragette City, and at the end they brought Dilana back out & she sang Highway to Hell w/them to close their set.

There were nice, short breaks for small set changes in between each of the openers, then 20-25 minutes for a complete set change after Panic Channel. Supernova had quite the stage set-up! A whole wall of screen for lights, videos, etc. Tommy faced the side the way his drums were set up. He came out twice to do some special effects & a tad of regular keyboard playing. Jason apparently had some kind of surgery & wasn't there; instead was Johnny Colt from the Black Crowes. Gilby is from Ohio so he had to talk to the home-state crowd; I'm guessing he doesn't normally talk much during their shows.

Let's see... there was a short video intro by Lukas & the stage was pitch black (as it was between several songs, which I thought was strange/unusual), then it rocked for an hour or so. They did several songs from their album, including Dead Parade, Be Yourself (and 5 Other Cliches), Can't Bring Myself to Light This Fuse, It's All Love (my favorite), and of course Headspin (my 2nd fave - and with cool head-spinning graphics!). Covers included a rocked-out Boys of Summer
(appropriate lyrics!), and Bittersweet Symphony, complete with live string quartet!! One of the highlights of the night.

Oh! Lukas did come into the crowd as well. The Panic Channel guy made some contact w/fans, touching their hands & such, but Lukas didn't do any of that, he just kept focused on singing & of course had security guards around him. If I'd known, I would've tried to get a pic, but I was at the ledge in case he came that far & was accessible! Oh well. At least I can say I saw him from about 6 feet away for a moment! He was definitely at his most OTT performance live, whereas I would've preferred to hear more of just vocals, but it was a good, entertaining show.

It was tons different than an Idol show (I've been to every season's tour, 2 mall tours, and several solo tours) - alcohol was sold, hardly anyone there was under 20, and I only saw one sign! There were no restrictions on cameras & they let anyone in the floor sections walk up toward the stage/in the aisles if they wanted. I'm sure there were several people who hadn't seen the tv show & were just fans of Motley Crue, Metallica, &/or Guns 'n Roses, but I think the majority watched the show and recognized each of the 4 contestants. Lukas mentioned several times that the audience was responsible for putting him/them there and thanked us.

Here's a really short clip of Boys of Summer:

Saturday, February 3


Heh. I don't 'like' football, but when the hometown team finally makes it to the SuperBowl after almost 25 years, and the whole town is blue & white, what are you gonna do?

I am still going to do a recap of last week's Grease show, I promise. But you'll have to look back in January, or just use the nifty new labels Blogger has now (it's under "Grease"). Also I have a Rockstar Supernova concert review to do! But for now...

GO COLTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 1

AI Los Angeles Auditions

This time we're in Katharine McPhee's hometown, and her album came out yesterday, so we hear her sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. We are not told how many people showed up, just "thousands," so it must be less than any other venue (8000 or less?).

Olivia Newton-John is guest judge.

Several no's: Martik, aka "Eccentric," who certainly is. 24 and self-described as a panther, he performs an original song. I use the term "song" loosely. Sholandric Stallworth says he wants to bring romance and love into Idol. Hmm, perhaps by singing poorly so people turn off the tv & spend more time together? Short clips of someone in a banana costume and a girl in a 'riding a bull' costume. Then Marianna Riccio, whose mom sang backup for Dean Martin. Marianna didn't inherit all of mom's talent and ends up on her knees begging to be put through and "given a chance." Sorry, this was it!

Alaina Alexander (24, CA, #66442) has spent 6 years here as a "struggling artist" and is at the point of calling it quits and returning to school to pursue a different career if she doesn't make it onto Idol. She sings Michael Buble's "Feeling Good" and is decent, and cute (but not overly so). Simon really liked her a lot; Randy said she was pitchy but still put her through. 4 yesses!

Phuong Pham, 17, has many attributes in common with Taylor Hicks. Singing talent is not one of them. She tries to keep from breaking out laughing several times, so I think it's a fair bet this is one of the many 'fake' (i.e. I want tv time) auditions.

Brandon Rogers (28, CA, #74191) has been a backup singer for 4 years, for acts such as Anastasia and Christina Aguilera (wow!). He sings "Always on My Mind" R&B style, not country, and is good. Seems like a nice guy too. He's through and I'm guessing top 45 at least.

Next is the best not-really-an-audition ever. Sherman is a 64-year old man with a petition to let him sing before the 3 (or, as it happens, 4) judges on tv; he has 330 signatures. It seems his "lady love" of 20 years was dying of cancer and he thought this would be something to distract her and keep her hopeful about something. Unfortunately she died just 2 days before the audition. However, Sherman stays positive, claiming he doesn't want sympathy. He turns out to be a very good singer as he proudly sings "You Belong to Me," and Paula and thousands of viewers reach for the tissues. Afterward he says "I won." Amazing and awesome. *sniff*

Brian Miller (19, CA) is a familiar face. He's the one we saw last year who started out being rather cocky and emerged from the Hollywood rounds bawling (in a clip that was repeated many times). Well, he sings "A Change is Gonna Come" well enough for one more try, despite Simon's no. He's the last of 21 to advance on Day 1.

On Day 2 all we see are three rejects: dating couple Darold and Cavett ("Sparkles") and Eric Mueller, who has one of those strange, high voices and hardly moves his face at all while singing. Turns out he "trained for 2 years" using Paula & Randy's dvd, which totally made Simon's day.

We're told 19 advanced on Day 2 for a grand total of 40 from LA. We saw 3 of these, plus Sherman. Why so few??? Perhaps they're saving a bunch for the "Rest of the Best" special next Wed., but I'd much rather have seen more good singers this week.