Friday, February 29

AI7 Top 20 Results

There were almost 31 million votes this week. Ryan asked Randy why the semis have themes this year and he said because the older songs are "better" (?). Paula acknowledged another viewer gripe (obviously without calling it that) and actually admitted that yes, the judges are responsible for putting all the semifinalists in the Top 24 to begin with. And they talked about Simon's new 'half moose' hand habit but he didn't say why he was doing it.

Yay, group medley! No choreography this time, but it's still fun. Always interesting to see who gets the solos. Michael is first, with a really long one, and is even the only one on the stage for quite some time! TPTB aren't even attempting to be subtle about their Chosen Ones anymore. Other solos of varying lengths go to David C, David A, Kristy (who sounds great doing "It's a Heartache"), Carly, Alexandrea, Amanda (still sounding terrible), Chikieze, Syesha, Robbie, Brooke (singing Carly Simon again), Jason Y (sounding awesome), and Alaina.

Boys' recap: backstage, post-performance footage shows David C saying he felt bad about his comment to Simon & didn't mean to offend him; later David H still on a high from his good comments, says "That was so exciting! I'm gonna go cry now...." Hee.

Back row stands. Michael is safe, as are Chikieze and Jason C (whom Ryan freaks out by saying "I've got bad news... we'll have to chat w/you more next week because you're safe!"). That leaves Jason Y and a very worried Danny, who is, thankfully, safe. Jason Y gets the normal singout and, as usual, sounds better than his competition performance. The guy really is a good singer, he just made bad song choices & comes across way too cheesy.

Girls' recap: Amanda says after receiving her negative comments, "If they don't like it, they don't like it. I'm not asking them to buy an album."

Back row stands. Kristy is safe, as are Asia'h and Brooke. We have Amanda and Alexandrea, and the result seems obvious... but, alas, is not, and Amanda stays while a better singer (in my & a whole bunch of other people's opinions) leaves. Her problem was two-fold; didn't stand out from the crowd (song or personality-wise), and sang a song about leaving! (You don't. do. that.) During Alex's singout, David A was more upset than any of the girls; besides being a fellow youngster (they have schooling together during the week) they have known each other for several years as they were on Star Search at the same time. She went over to give him a hug after she finished.

Idol news: For this year's Top 12 they will have a whole new set, new graphics, and a new exit song, sung by Ruben! (They didn't say but I found out later, it's a cover of Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home"! I really hope he does it justice as that's an awesome song!) Also we'll get another Idol Gives Back (April 9) and some of the stars helping are Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Daughtry, and Carrie Underwood. Now back to this show....

Carly is safe. Ramielle is safe. Syesha is also safe. Kady and Alaina remain, and Ryan says that one of them had the lowest # of votes & the other was in the bottom 3. Again everyone assumes it's an easy choice and Kady will go. Again, everyone is wrong. Kady looks the most surprised of all as her jaw literally drops. Alaina bursts into tears and, turning away from the camera, says "I can't sing!" (and "this is embarrassing!" heh.) Sigh. I really, really like her, both her voice & her personality. Ryan tries to console her & also has Paula (standing already) say a few words too; even Ryan was a bit teary! He finally offered her the choice of singing or not, & the other girls talked her into it & came onto the stage with her. Once she got into it she was able to focus & did pretty well; it seems she has garnered some respect on the boards for that, which is nice.

Ok, back to the guys... David H looks especially nervous and is extremely relieved when Ryan calls Luke & Robbie upstage and tells the rest (all 3 Davids) they are safe! Whew! and Yay! Turns out it is Robbie's time to go, and it looks like Jesse from So You Think You Can Dance is his girlfriend because she's the only one up in the balcony as his family/friends during his singout! Interesting. Simon rubbed salt in the wound by one final time stating that they didn't "believe" Robbie as a rocker. I like the guy, but would've also preferred him doing pop rather than rock, & won't miss him much. The other 3 come back, they get 'journey' videos, and then Robbie sings out.

Next week, 80's - I can't wait!

Wednesday, February 27

AI7 Semifinals - Top 10 Women (2/27/08)

Carly is up first with Heart's "Crazy On You." Oh, her video 'surprise' is that she works at "a (sic) Irish bar" and is the homey type (likes to cook & clean). Her song is actually a great choice & I think it fits her very well; much better than what she sang last week. She was a bit yelly, but I almost liked her. Randy called it pitchy; Paula loved it; Simon said she's the girl to beat but hasn't found the perfect song yet. Carly added that this is one of her very favorite songs in evah.

Syesha has acted in commercials and can do a freakily accurate impression of a baby crying. She sand "Me and Mrs Jones" except she changed the "Mrs" to "Mr" and all other gender-appropriate terms. It was technically good but uninteresting, until the last note. Randy said poor song choice & pitchy; Paula liked her "interpretation" (musically &/or lyrically?); Simon didn't like the lyric change.

Brooke tells us she's a beauty school dropout; hee! She made one of the most perfect song choices evah and sang "You're So Vain." She played guitar (though she dropped out during the 2nd verse & just sang; nice variety!) and sat on the Stool of Seriousness, which really wasn't this time because, you know, it was Brooke. Randy & Paula liked it, and Simon loved it.

Ramiele thinks we'd be surprised to learn that she does Polynesian dance; ok? Not really. She sang "Don't Leave Me This Way" and I thought it was great, but then I'm not very familiar w/the song. It was fun & showed off her vocals. The judges were disappointed w/her choice and Simon explained that he's heard the song done a lot (by wedding bands & such) and she didn't bring anything new or different. As I said, the whole thing was new to me & since I wasn't comparing it to anyone else's version, I enjoyed it.

Kristy Lee
tells us she's a tomboy and loves the outdoors. Hmm, she raises horses & loves sports, so not necessarily a surprise there either. She sang "You're No Good" and did tons better than last week, but I'm not sure that was enough. It was a good song choice for her though. I thought her silvery top was... interesting; made me wonder what type of fabric it was. I don't think that's what it made most guys wonder though. Randy & Paula loved it (the song, not the top), saying "You're back!", and Simon agreed but said he was confused as to who she is (read, what genre/box she should be in) and suggested she sing country. She said she'll do that next week.

Poor, poor Amanda. Love the girl's personality - turns out the girl rocker is smart, too! Talked in her vid about being a bookworm. However, I don't think she's long for the show. She tackled "Carry On My Wayward Son," and it won. The low parts were just terrible, much of the song was off-key, and it was just a very, very bad song choice for her. Cringeworthy. And she also looked terrible; she had her hair styled away from her face but standing out like a lion's mane (except striped), and the outfit didn't help. Randy & Paula agreed it was a poor song choice & Randy said she should stick to "bluesy rock". Simon said it felt contrived (as opposed to how natural she comes across in her clips).

Oh good, Alaina (my favorite girl) is up next! And Ryan said she's singing "Hopelessly Devoted", which is one of my all-time favorite songs, really. I try not to have expectations too high.... And her video clip slays me! She doesn't like her food to touch (nor do I, though I was much pickier about it when I was younger), and specifically mentions how green bean juice likes to run across the plate into other things... yes! Yuck! *LOVE* So, the song? Pretty good. Struggled w/some of the high notes, but it was still very enjoyable. Randy said (is this a recording?) poor song choice & pitchy, but Paula liked it & said she could tell that Alaina loves this song. Simon said both the song style & her look were too old-fashioned and pageanty, but he still thinks she could be a dark horse. She takes all the comments very well, as usual. I want a pocket version of her too, please.

Alexandrea was a poster child for the Atlanta fire department which led to her singing at Ground Zero. I'm sure that was a perspective-broadening experience for a teenager! She sang Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now." It didn't showcase her vocals nor was it incredibly interesting, though she didn't sing off-key or do anything obviously wrong. Randy & Simon called it boring and Simon said it wasn't "her" & that her performance was inconsistent. Paula liked her arrangement & said she'd never heard it done by a female.

Kady sings opera; who knew?! However, she apparently doesn't sing Heart (not well, anyway). "Magic Man" was not a good choice for her in several ways. Randy said he could tell she likes the song but it was off-key; Paula said she needs definition as an artist; and Simon (who's never heard the song before - !) said he sees her charm on tape but she needs to find a song that shows that on stage.

Asia'h finishes the night and again has a non-surprise: she was a cheerleader! Though if you think about it, it does help explain how she stayed so upbeat in performing soon after her father's death (she even talked about how you have to 'put on' the happy performance face whether you feel like it or not). She sang "All By Myself," and it was almost a show-stopper. The first couple high notes/phrases she sang in falsetto, though later she belted parts that were even higher. So it sounded bad, and was confusing, though she finished very well. I think I heard one of the judges say she'd been sick, so maybe she was trying to save as much of her voice as possible for the big ending. Simon gave her the "the song is bigger than you" treatment.

I think Amanda will go, and probably Kady, but the 2nd could really be any of Alexandrea, Syesha, Kristy Lee, or even Alaina.

Tuesday, February 26

AI7 Semifinals - Top 10 Men (2/26/08)

This week's theme is the 70's, and video clips are "what people might not know about me." Jumping right in...

is up first. He's a jock & especially likes tennis. He sang Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" and was pretty bad, really. Randy & Simon even admitted it wasn't his best (which translates to ghastly when it's one of their Chosen Ones). They of course all still love *him*, though.

Once again Ryan plugs the iTunes program right before introducing Jason Castro. From the reactions I've seen on the web after his performance last week, a lot of people really would like to be able to carry him around in their pocket. His video should increase that feeling; he talks about how he hates doing interviews! He said he loves music & didn't realize how much non-musical stuff Idol would involve, like the photo shoots & interviews, and he messes up a lot & they show cuts & do-overs & lots of adorkable facial expressions. He played his guitar again for the Bee Gees' "I Just Want to Be Your Everything," which was a very good choice for him. Randy didn't like it & said the vocals were weak; Simon agreed. They want him to do something without the guitar next week to show more variety & confidence.

Luke did "Killer Queen"! (I'm surprised it was even one of the choices, but, cool!) His video clip was about his a cappella group Chapter 6 and even showed a clip of them singing (Bohemian Rhapsody, actually). Killer was good in general; tons better than last week, though something about his style still doesn't hit me as being quite right for Idol. I will say it's a very hard song to sing & Randy echoed that. Randy & Paula liked it; Simon thought it was a bad choice since Luke can't measure up to Freddy's charisma/personality. (Which does imply that Simon thought he sang it well, at least!) Still hoping he sticks around.

Robbie like to drag race (& sticks in a psa for kids not to try this at home, lol!). He sang "Hot Blooded" which was a good choice for his voice, range-wise anyway. He still got the 'Is he a real rocker?' treatment and was blatant with his disdain for having to prove himself, saying there are many different types of rock. Randy specified that he doesn't have a "rock voice," i.e. it's too smooth (which I've heard online a lot), though there are plenty of successful rock singers with smooth, pretty voices, not the least of which is Steve Perry from Randy's own former band! Anyway, Simon at least said his vocals were good.

Danny was in a punk band when he was a freshman in high school. He admits they were terrible & said they disbanded after their first live show. He slowed things down this week with "Superstar" and was actually rather subdued. The vocals were good but I'd have enjoyed a bit more power (since I know he can belt & sounds great at it). Randy & Paula said he overthought it; Simon said it was much better than last week. Simon said he likes that Danny is interesting/stands out, and that he looks good on camera. Danny said in retrospect he realized last week's performance wasn't that great. Simon said, "So you're agreeing with me?!" And Danny replied, "Ish." Hee! LOVE.

David Hernandez was really into gymnastics as a kid, doing competitions & such. He sang "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" which seems popular on musical reality competition shows this year. He really put a lot of 'heart' into it, showed different vocal styles & included a couple glory notes, overall a great choice IMO. All of the judges loved it, a surprise & relief to David! Simon especially said that he appreciated how David took their criticism & "rose to the challenge" of improving his performance. He also said it was the best vocal so far tonight.

Jason Yeager taught himself how to play several instruments. He sang The Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin' (Without Love)" which was a nice fit for his voice. The performance was a bit... cheesy perhaps? Randy & Paula said it wasn't "a singer's song" (ie didn't show off his vocals) and Simon said it was ordinary.

Chikieze explains that his name is Nigerian and people have mispronounced it all his life (you think?) so he gave up on using the original pronunciation. He sang Donny Hathaway's "I Believe to My Soul." The only other time I've heard this song was when Elliot did it, and Chikieze does it at least as well. His performance is worlds better than last week. Randy agrees & says "Chikieze is back!" All of the judges liked it. Chikieze says he lucked out w/the theme because he loves this song, and he also pointed out that one of their background singers is Donny Hathaway's daughter! Cool!

David Cook
is winning me over by both his personality (check the Contestant Q&A for his sense of humor) and his performances. He admits that he's a "word nerd" and loves crossword puzzles, vocab, word roots, etc. Simon later says the video will hurt him because he has no personality, but Paula defends him saying women like smart men. I agree! (as my husband sits and does Sudoko puzzles all through Idol....) He sang "All Right Now" and played electric guitar. He had a nice guitar solo, and his vocals were also strong. Great performance!! All the judges liked it; Randy & Paula called him a "real" rocker (I'm sure Robbie was cringing up on the balcony).

David Archuleta
is last & his video showed part of his YouTube clip singing "And I'm Telling You" to the Season 1 finalists several years ago! Apparently he'd come out to see the finals and 'ran into' them. He sang "Imagine" and I see why he got the 'pimp spot.' I detest this song but I liked his performance of it. It did help that he skipped verse 1 and slowed the whole thing down a bit, changing up some of the melody & really showing his vocal skill. The crowd loves him, especially the (obnoxiously screaming) girls. Randy said it was one of the best vocal performances ever on the show (all seasons); Paula said it was one of the most moving performances she's ever seen; and Simon said he's the one to beat. Whew! Kid was slightly overwhelmed. ;-)

My favorites were the last 2 Davids but I also really liked Danny & David H. I do hope Luke sticks around as well, but I didn't vote for anyone this week. My predictions to go are Jason Yeager and Robbie.

Thursday, February 21

AI7 Top 24 Results

Over 28 million votes for our first week, which is down a bit from last year. Ryan starts off by asking the judges about the experience of the contestants, and Paula replies that in this "savvy business," if you haven't already tried to make it, then you shouldn't be here. Um, ok, that would mean about half of them should leave now. At least they're attempting to address the controversy.

Next we get footage of the fancy photo shoot the Top 24 got to do, set to a Daughtry song. (Check out the photos at the official website.)

Then a group number, yay! The guys are all spiffed up and start the 60's medley out, then of course the girls join it. There are small solos for a few of them: Michael, David H, Jason Y, Alaina, Syesha, Asia'h, Kristy Lee, Luke, Amanda, & David C. We'll see if that was foreshadowing at all... (turns out yes, it was!)

Up first as usual are the guys, and we get a recap of Tuesday's performances & judges' comments. Then Ryan asks Garrett to come up onto the stage to "chat." Well, the chat pretty much consisted of Ryan telling Garrett's he's going home! Wow, that was abrupt. And then Garrett had to sing! But he did a great job; really, better than the first time (probably because he didn't have time to be nervous & wasn't standing still at a mic stand). This year the family members are up on the balcony during the sing-out.

Girls' recap, then Kristy is brought up. Ryan asks her about being sick, then tells her to rest up for next week because she's safe. Then he tells Amy she's leaving. Unfortunately her sing-out is not any better than it was the first time.

After the commercial, we get a commercial. Well, we get to see Paula's new music video, for her song "Dance Like there's no Tomorrow" which is on "Randy's album." Randy also plays bass in the video (interesting). For a song about dancing, Paula does surprisingly little of it in the video, though there are others dancing around her. Back to the show...

Joanne and Amanda are called onto the stage and the rest of the girls are safe (yay!). Amanda is safe thus it is Joanne leaving us. Sing-out.

As for the guys, Chikieze and Colton are brought up and Ryan doesn't bother to tell the rest that they are safe, but gets right to the "results" so we assume they are. And we are correct (YAY!). Chikieze is also safe (and extremely relieved) which means Colton is going home. Paula tells him he's got plenty of time to pursue his career; Simon advises instead to get a good job & sing for fun on the side.

Ryan calls the other 3 back up & we see the goodbye montage for all 4, then Colton gets his sing-out (with a great glory note at the end).

I will say, this is the first time in the past 3 years that I haven't been disappointed after the first results show! Yay, the pattern has been broken! Now, if I can just get a favorite into the Top 12....

AI7 Semifinals - Top 12 Women (2/20/08)

Ryan mentions at the beginning that the flu has hit the girls this week and several have been battling coughs, bronchitis, etc. He also asked Simon how he felt about a couple of the guys talking back last night, & Simon said he likes it!

Kristy Lee was up first with "Rescue Me." It was ok; there were glimpses that made me think her voice is better than this song showed.

Joanne sang "Say a Little Prayer" and again, ok. Judges blamed her nerves. The best part of her performance was seeing Danny on the side singing along! (LOVE) :)

Alaina did "More Today than Yesterday." Chikieze, take note: *this* is how this song is sung. She was maybe a bit too belty, but definitely my favorite of the night. I liked her 1st audition & we hadn't seen her since, so I'm happy that wasn't a fluke. I love her personality (teen but not obnoxiously so), she's pretty, & has an awesome voice with potential for versatility. If I'd voted tonight, it would've been for her.

And now my least 2 favorites... the Indiana girls! (phooey!) Amanda sang "Baby Please Don't Go" and it was rocky and bluesy and she scatted and the rest was even harder to understand (except for the ultra repetitive line). Yuck. R & P liked it; Simon said he likes her but he didn't enjoy the song. I do love how down-to-earth, mature & genuine she is. Ryan said he hoped the trucker who hit her was watching & voting, and she looked right and the camera & kind-of sheepishly said, "I'm sorry I pulled out in front of you, dude." Hee!

Amy sang "Where the Boys Are," and as soon as she started I was totally. cracking. up. Anyone who remembers Jessica Sierra's early song choice will understand. We got a small clip of her doing "Me & Bobby McGee" in Hollywood & it sounded good. However, this one was boring and way off-key.

Brooke did "Happy Together" and... as Simon said, it was very "her." Nice, but boring.

Alexandrea rocked "Spinning Wheel"! She really made use of the stage, showed a great vocal range, and was a very confident and entertaining performer. R & P loved it; Simon "didn't get it." One of my favorites; I hope she sticks around.

Kady sang "Groovy Kind of Love" with a slow, country feel. It was good and she has a powerful voice, but she missed some notes toward the end. The judges thought it was a bit boring & want to see more of her fun personality.

Asia'h did "Piece of My Heart" very well except for the smiling and bouncing; sigh. Yes, she's still adorable, but heartbreak? Not really a smiley, bouncy topic. And the judges complimented her for looking like she was having fun! Alrighty then. Simon said it was his favorite so far.

Ramiele talked a bit about her song strategy, which was interesting. Her "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" was very dramatic (planned poses, etc.) but showed a great range vocally and stylistically. I don't know if anyone could ever top Nadia's version for me, but having said that, I did love Ramiele's and she did an awesome job. The judges loved it too and Simon said she "outsang" everyone else (which she did, ironically, by *not* oversinging the song itself; yay for her!).

Syesha chose "Tobacco Road" and did a decent job (though again makes me want to go listen to a previous Idol's version, that being Phil's from last year). It was good, & the judges said it wasn't her best but they liked it.

Last (surprise, surprise) is Carly. She was also sick but you couldn't tell from how she yelled her way through "Shadow of Your Smile" (I don't know this song at all, & this performance certainly didn't make me want to). At least she addressed her past (recording contract) in her bio clip; that will placate a lot of folks. Anyway, I find her unpleasant both to watch and to listen to. Randy, however, said this was the "best vocal of the Top 24!" Oh, my. Paula loved it too. Surprisingly (though I'm glad) Simon didn't! He even mentioned the hype & buzz around her (about which Randy acted clueless) & said she didn't live up to it! Yay, Simon!

My favorites were Alaina, Alexandrea, & Ramiele. Least faves were Amy, Kristy Lee, and Amanda. (Boy, there are a lot of 'A' names!) My guesses to go home are Amy and... I'll say Kady. (Should be Kristy, but I'm guessing she has a larger fan base.)

Tuesday, February 19

AI7 Semifinals - Top 12 Men (2/19/08)

This year we have themes already in the semifinals (a necessary tie-in to the new offering of everyone's audio & video performances being sold on iTunes); this week it's the 60's!

Fortunately everyone gets video intro clips, & for the guys who've had basically no screentime thus far, we finally get to see some of their earlier singing! Thank you, show.

Now, for the past 2 years, I've had a fairly strong favorite coming into the Top 24. They've been ballad-ish singers who unfortunately chose rock songs to show "versatility" which hurt them because they really hadn't had tons of screen time yet and much of the audience didn't know how they 'normally' sound. And they had the dreaded first spot. And they left on the very. first. night. (Well, in S5 I did like Will Makar more, but I liked Patrick Hall an awful lot!) With that said, it's only fitting that tonight the first spot goes to...

David Hernandez! At least he made a decent song choice with "In the Midnight Hour," which started out all gospel-y and then got a faster r&b-ish feel for most of the song. I thought it did a pretty good job of showing David's strong vocals while containing a little variety of style. The judges like it. (I gave him 50 votes. Last year's 100 weren't enough to save Rudy but I think David has a little stronger positioning coming in... and I think there are more likely cannon fodder later, at least for this week.)

Chikieze sang "I Love You More than Yesterday" and it was just ok other than a couple of glory notes. Simon hated it but R & P liked it. Chickieze talked back way too much but hey, he's the only black guy in the top 12 so I doubt he's going anywhere.

David Cook surprised everyone by singing "So Happy Together" and he definitely put his own twist on it! (And what was that short clip of his Hollywood song? Loved it!) Judges liked it. I did have to laugh when he did the requisite 'rocker carrying mic stand' bit.

Jason Yeager sang "Moon River" and it was nice. Um, yeah. Cannon fodder, sorry.

Robbie Carrico sang "One (Is the Loneliest Number)." To his credit he gave full disclosure in his intro clip (was in boy/girl-band that opened for Britney). We got a tiny clip of the Fuel song he did in Hollywood (cool!). This song was decent except for the high notes. The judges liked it well enough.

David Archuleta sang "Shop Around." Interesting song choice; he's obviously not old or experienced enough to make the lyrics believable, but the vocals were (of course) very good (except for a few low notes). All the judges love him, and Simon said it was the best in the first half of the show. Ryan really egged on his cuteness but I doubt many viewers minded.

Danny Noriega talked in his clip about how he wanted to really bring his personality and attitude to his performance. He sang "Jailhouse Rock" and definitely did just that! It didn't showcase his vocals, but it was a good performance. He didn't get great comments from R & P and Simon really laid into him & the judges went back & forth for a while. To Danny's credit he held it together but you could tell it hurt. Honestly I still think he has one of the best voices in the competition & has great versatility. Hopefully he's already built a strong enough fan base to stick around a while.

Luke Menard did "Everybody's Talkin'" and wow, was that pretty! Um, yeah, the song too. ;) It wasn't groundbreaking or anything, but it was a very good performance and I love his voice (reminds me a bit of Kenny Loggins- *swoon*!). However... Randy called it pitchy, Paula said it was a poor song choice, & Simon said it wasn't memorable (well, to a blind person, maybe). We shall see.

Colton Berry sang "Suspicious Minds." I love this song, and surely someone else could have done it better, but really no one jumps out from this group as having the perfect voice & style for it (ah, if only Bucky were back...). Colton did a good job and though his voice was mostly soft he showed a little power at the end. Judges were mixed; Simon said it wasn't relevant (ie current) or recordable. In other words, cannon fodder.

Speaking of cannon fodder... Garrett Haley is definitely not a rocker, despite the Leif Garrett/Peter Frampton-like hair. He sings "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and does a decent job, considering he's probably never sung in front of a crowd this big before. He told us in his video clip that he auditioned on a whim when he & his family were vacationing in San Diego & heard about the auditions. His lack of experience showed and the judges said it was boring. He had a good attitude though about taking the constructive criticism & learning from it. If only he were going to be around more than a week so he could actually do that. ;)

Jason Castro, yay! Well, I wasn't quite so excited as I thought I'd be (here I was building him up to everybody after watching the YouTubes, but tonight? notsomuch). He hasn't had much performing experience either, at least not singing (he was a drummer for his band). He played guitar while singing "Daydream" and did an ok job; I think he definitely has potential. Rather quirky/goofy looking though (like a Muppet??); I could only imagine how many ways Simon would say that he hated it. Randy said he was pitchy, and then Simon gave me the biggest shock of the night... he loved it!! He called it 2nd best of the night & said he has charisma, among other things. Well, hopefully people don't assume from this that he's safe & think they don't have to vote!

Last is Michael Yawns, I mean Johns. Seriously, I'm so over this guy already. He sang "Light My Fire" - again! And wasn't that great. (Plus it's super repetitive, so it's not like he had much to remember.) However, the judges are still in love. Simon said he's the most consistent and Randy actually compared him to Michael Hutchens (who's now rolling in his grave, even if he hasn't heard the song-stealing story yet).

An interesting start!! Several surprised me; I'll have to say my favorites were David C. and Luke, while my least favorites were Chikieze and Michael. I put lots of votes in for local boy Luke and several for David H (come on, break the pattern!!), plus a few to bolster Danny as I'd really hate to see him leave on that sour note (the judges' comments, not his singing!).

My prediction to go home: Jason Yeager and Colton. But I don't expect Garrett to be far behind.

Wednesday, February 13

Top 24 Announced / The Chair Episode (2/13/08)

There is a weird opening with Ryan & Hayden Christensen (promoting his new movie Jumper). Otherwise the drill is the same: judges deliberate. Room full of nervous contestants. All day they go one by one up the elevator ride and take the long walk to sit in front of the judges and find out their fate. Turns out the Spoiler list was right on the ball, but it's fun to see everyone's reactions. And I'm really, really hoping we finally get to hear some singing from the 4 semifinal guys yet to be shown!!

First are several no's: Ronald Hodge, Nina Shaw, Mycale G., and Lisa Aukerman. (I remember Nina but not the others.)

Carly Smithson - she's shown singing "I'm Every Woman" from her initial audition and "I Need You" from Hollywood week (a new clip, one of the few we get tonight and it's of someone already being pushed down our throats...). She is, of course, through unanimously.

David Cook also advances. Outside, leaving, he says to friends or family "Now I don't have to go get a job!" Hee.

Amanda advances.

There are a couple of short singing clips and then some more no's: Brandon Green, Amanda Hawkins, and Buck Smith.

David Archuleta is shown singing "Heaven" again and advances, of course.

Kristy Lee Cook - she got a no on Day 1 of Hollywood, & then repeated her initial audition song "Amazing Grace." She advances.

Brooke says she messed up during her song ("Beautiful") while playing keyboard on Day 1 and is very nervous, but she advances.

Danny is preening a bit in the elevator (LOVE him!). We get a longer clip of his Hollywood performance of "When I Need You," which is still awesome. Of course he advances.

Jason Castro advances.
Luke Menard advances.
Alexandrea advances.

And I am so MAD at this show!! That's it for Jason and Luke - we see them in the chair, we're told they're in the Top 24. That's it!!! No singing whatsoever. Jason was even featured in a promo, playing guitar... but nothing, nada, zip. These guys are talented, y'all!! Sigh. Ok, sometime between now & Monday (when these guys will be up for votes) I'll post video links, assuming they're still available....

Ok, moving on....

Ramiele has part of her Hollywood clip shown again and she advances. She's so adorable!

More no's: Shaun Barrowes, Lorena Pinot (looking gorgeous), farmer Drew P ("well, one good thing about this, I won't miss turkey season!" bwah!), and Natashia.

Michael Johns is shown singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" yet again. How many times have we seen this, now? Yes, it's good. As are, I'm sure, Jason's and Luke's & all the other performances we haven't seen from people who make the Top 24. He's needlessly very nervous as he obviously advances.

Syesha gets a bit of her HW clip repeated and advances.

Robbie gets a longer clip of his "Everything I Do" in HW. He gets a word wrong but the vocal is great. Simon at first said they weren't unanimous about the decision but then I think he rescinded it at said they really were. Of all the fake-outs that was the only one that confused *me*! ;-)

Garrett Haley (1st time we've seen him) just gets a quick yes.
Kady is through.
Amy Davis
Alaina W.
and Jason Yeager (also hasn't been seen before) - are all through.

Asia'h is up; Paula mentions her 1st audition & immediately we're shown part of her HW clip again (um, ok, not great editing there). She advances.

David Hernandez gets some of his HW clip again as well. He's told the decision is not unanimous, but Randy says they "fought hard" for him and he is through. Simon says he was the dissenter and that David will have to work a lot hard to have "even a remote chance of winning." He is very emotional & respectfully says he will.

It's down to 3 guys and Josiah heads up the elevator. So they kept the suspense almost the whole day, but not quite; I figured he'd be one of the last 2 "fighting" for the last spot. Since he's not, it's obvious he won't advance. He admits his last performance wasn't good & that he'd been overconfident; still, he thinks he'll be in the Top 24. When told he isn't he's unsurprisingly emotional but holds it together better than I expected. The worst was when Ryan kept talking to him afterward asking stupid questions like "how will you go on?", & of course he didn't have any family there to console him or anything. Several other contestants were shown later consoling & encouraging him, which was nice & all, but he really just wanted to get away (understandably). I'm still frustrated the stupid show has wasted so much of my time on him. I do like his music (it's available for purchase from his MySpace page), but given what I've seen of his personality I don't have any interest in following his career or anything, at least not at this point. I know some people will, so good for him. But... sooooooo much time on all the Josiah drama, and there are 4 GUYS IN THE TOP 24 WE HAVEN'T EVEN HEARD SING YET!!!!!!!!!!!!! Grr.

Ok, the last 2 guys are Kyle Ensley (aspiring politician) and Colton Berry (unseen until last night), both teens. We get a new clip of Colton singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in HW and Ryan says that his voice is "professional and polished." I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it is nice. We get more of Kyle's "You Raise Me Up," which was his best that we've seen, and the description says his "style is uplifting." Apparently neither decision was unanimous, but Colton advances, while Kyle does not. Kyle takes it very well, saying he really didn't expect to get as far as he did. Now the big surprise: *Simon* is the one who wanted him in the Top 24!! We see an earlier clip of Simon saying "There are a lot of people who will like you; I wish I had what you have." (!!) He really is the new & improved Simon this year! So he tells Kyle that he really thinks there's something special about him, he's likable and talented, etc. Paula tells him to come back & try again (wait, I thought if they made Top 50 they were forever ineligible to come back? She also tells Cardin the same thing later!). Colton is nice also & says he really wanted Kyle there "with" him.

Lastly we have Cardin and JoAnn. I'm not sure what Cardin was singing in the HW clip we see, but it wasn't nearly as good as the other 2 times we've seen her (though she's still gorgeous!). We get a new clip of JoAnn from HW, singing "When I Need You," and it is excellent. She said she "re-fell in love with singing" this week after having some discouraging experiences (due to her size) in the industry previously. Anyway, JoAnn advances, and Cardin is sent home. They are very sweet to each other, especially Cardin (I so love her!!), who says "I'm so proud of you" and holds JoAnn's hand as they walk away to go back downstairs. Paula comments about how hard this part is and Simon agrees (again, strange but nice), even going so far as to say (after they've walked away) "This is the part where I change my mind."

Lastly we get little blurbs of a few more being cut, though Colton Swon is the only one I recognize that we hadn't seen yet tonight. There were 9 not shown at all of the 26 who got cut.

So that's our Top 24. They do the usual goofy dancing intros at the end and we're all psyched for next week. Because then, we might actually get to hear some of these people SING!! ;-)

Tuesday, February 12

Hollywood (2/12/08)

It's Hollywood Week!! The New, and possibly Improved, version! This year we find out that no one will be cut at all in the first two days. Also, contestants are allowed to play instruments. Also, unfortunately, there will be no group round. :-( I understand that part was less relevant to the competition, but it was always one of my favorite parts, so I'll miss it.

The first round will be solos - no standing on stage in lines & stepping forward to sing (until Day 3, anyway). If you're really good and get at least 2 "Yesses" from the judges, you have an automatic pass to Day 4. Otherwise you come back on Day 3 for your "2nd chance." It wasn't obvious which result everyone got, but I'll list what we did see... Also I'll just do names and songs for those we've seen before, but if you want more info (audition city, etc.) lmk in the comments. (Bold indicates supposed Top 24.)

Brooke White sings "Beautiful" and plays piano. Despite her admitted lack of confidence, she's through.

Lorena sings Shania - no.
Amy Flynn - no
Leo Marlowe - no
Alisha Dixon - "Unwritten" with guitar; not good, a no.
Michael Sanflippo - "When I Need You" on guitar. I liked it, but Simon called it dreadful. Not through.
Alyssa Coco played keyboard & it's a no.
Shaun Barrowes plays Billy Joel on keyboard - no.

I think Jake Mellema is new (20, from MI). He's the lead singer and drummer for a band so chooses to sing and play drums here... for "Hooked on a Feeling"?! Um, whatever. He's just ok, & doesn't advance.

Ok, this is what I've been waiting for: finally one of the T24 guys we haven't been shown yet! It's David Hernandez, 24, AZ (4713). Now they show us his initial audition from San Diego (wow they found a lot of talent there!): "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Very good. Today he's doing "Love the One You're With," and I put my pen down to watch. Randy later says his attention was also drawn from the very first note. This is great - he's confident, he moves around the stage (& has potential for dancing, lol), he shows a wide range of vocal styles (great song choice for that)... and is a very good singer. I love when somebody 'sneaks up' on me like this... and of course I don't want to get too excited about anyone yet, but this is the best reaction I've had to anyone yet (Robbie being 2nd, though I'm not proud to admit it!). We shall see, there are more to come!

Quick glimpse of Chikieze advancing; also a black gal with short hair, maybe Melanie?

Amanda Overmeyer was unfortunately in a pretty bad car accident the week before this was taped. She had some staples in her head & some cracked ribs, plus her car was totalled! Ick. She's in good spirits though, and her "Light My Fire" is a bit much for me but pleases the judges enough for her to advance. Simon does warn her that she'll need to develop a bit of variety in her vocals.

Ah, forgotten words. We see several... new guy Buck Smith (really long hair) singing "Stuck in the Middle with You"; Cardin, unfortunately (though her vocals are still awesome!!); and Natashia Blach singing "Sway" (and the song title is part the lyrics she forgets; not good!).

Ghaleb gets a long clip about being a ladies' man or something, though most of it is with one girl (Cardin). Whatever. He plays guitar & sings Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do" very poorly.

The total for Day 1 was 84 people: 54 no's, so 30 yesses. On to Day 2!

Josiah is up first. He plays keyboard for what I assume is another original, and is very good. Judges love him and he's through to the last day, despite his big teary scene they keep showing in the promo's. Yet to come then.

Danny sings "When I Need You" and is a.mazing. He's through. Man, I hope he makes it to the top 10! The clip was way too short. ;-)

Ramiele - "Till You Come Back to Me"; yes.

Carly - "When I Need You"; yes. I thought it was iffy but he judges still adore her.

Michael Johns - "Light My Fire"; yes.

David Cook plays guitar with "Everything I Do" & is very good. Also yes though only 2/3 (Simon said no).

Robbie also does "Everything I Do" (heh, 2 "rockers" in a row doing Bryan Adams; that will definitely get flack on the message boards!) and also advances. Another way too short clip, but what we heard of his voice was very nice.

Jessica Brown, Perrie, and Syesha all do "Everything I Do" but do not advance.

Colton Berry, 17, VA (55501) finally gets some screen time, though still not very much. He sings "Everything I Do" and has a soft but nice voice. I think he's through.

Kyle is last and does something upbeat I don't recognize. He gets some intro stuff and there's a mix-up with his hotel room assignment (there are already 2 women in 'his' room), & then there's something about his pick-up lines and you hear him asking a girl if she's ever had deer jerky. ;-) Poor guy. He does an upbeat song I don't recognize and it's really not good vocally and really *bad* presentation wise. Paula admits it was "a little corny" but Simon says "abyssmal" (and for once, I mostly agree). Paula beats around the bush and Simon gets annoyed w/her and walks out. If that's as much as they 'fight' this season, I'll be happy, as I usually find it a waste of screentime. Anyway, Kyle sticks around to try to redeem himself.

18 of the 80 advance for a total of 48 so far.

Day Three looks familiar: on stage in groups (lines) of 10 people, step forward & sing, then wait for results. Simon warns it will be "brutal."

Suzanne (single mom from Miami, now with straight hair) and Perrie (single dad) are in the 1st group. She does a blah version of "Summertime," & he does some R&B pretty well, but both are cut.

Amy Flynn gets a lot of footage with her "voice coach" Angel (who made it to Hollywood herself in Season 4). They made a point of saying Amy didn't know the song ahead of time, but she sings "Love Will Bring You Back" pretty well (though she's too belty). Alas, she is cut.

Of the first 40, only 4 went through. I caught glimpses of Chris Watson (black guy from Philly) being cut, and we're told Kayla Hatfield and Angelica Puente are also cut.

The last group includes Kristy Lee Cook, who sings "Amazing Grace" again; Jeffrey Lampkin, Kyle, and Angela Martin (Philly single mom of girl with Retts Syndrome) who sings "Lovely Day." Angela is cut but the rest advance.

It's Day 4! Time to pick the Top 50. The contestants get one last solo, with the band and (new this year) 3 background singers. Just like they'll have in the Top 24 next week, which is nice. The previous evening everyone was to rehearse with the band, which meant many were up very, very late. We're also told they can "pick any song," but later one contestant mentions choosing from a song list. So I'm guessing it's a very extensive list (unlike Day 2 with only When I Need You, Light My Fire, Everything I Do, and Till You Come Back to Me! There may have been a few more, but these were the only 4 we saw).

David Archuleta
gets an appearance for the first time this episode. We see his first round performance on keyboard but don't get to hear any of the song. He advanced straight to today though. He does Bryan Adams' "Heaven" and is very, very good. The judges love him, and he stays.

Kyle sings "You Raise Me Up" and *does* totally redeem himself from Day 2's fiasco with a great vocal performance. Simon actually apologized for his behavior that day. Paula (surprisingly) called this performance "safe," but it was good enough & he stays. I really think he needs to 'update' his look if he's to stick around.

Jeffrey, despite having been very entertaining and encouraging to all of the contestants this week, does himself in with a very poor rendition of "A Whole New World" and is cut.

Joey, after suffering from a migraine all day, sings a decent "Ribbon in the Sky" but is also cut.

Syesha has been hoarse all week so has been resting her voice, and it pays off. She sings "Chain of Fools" & still belts too much but she stays.

Michael Johns
sings "Bohemian Rhapsody." He does very, very well, and knows his range well enough not to go for the highest notes. The judges all love him and Simon says he's the best of the day! Michael surprises me with his humility, seeming almost surprised that they like it. He should be around for a while. :-)

Carly gets more background footage about how amazing they thought she was 2 years ago but her confidence & voice were lacking in San Diego this year. She says she found out she developed an allergy to her dog & has been wearing a face mask and her voice has recovered. She sings (rather, belts) "How Do I Get You Alone?" and the judges are back to loving her. I don't know, something about her personality &/or singing style just rubs me the wrong way.

Asia'h makes her first appearance this show and I don't know what she sings but it's awesome! Her hair is straight & pulled up & she looks really cute. She stays.

Brooke H. (beauty queen from Atlanta) sings "Unchained Melody" and does well until she gets to a certain spot. She asks if she can sing it over and they judges say no, but then she starts singing anyway (I hate it when they do that!). She's gotten one yes & one no and it's up to Paula to decide. She's on the fence and the disrespectful response sends her to the No side (good for you, Paula!). Brooke continues to go on about how she should be able to sing it over and that she didn't get a "fair chance like everyone else." Um, nobody else got re-do's either. Good riddance to that attitude.

Last up is Josiah. Apparently he had a hard time choosing a song (he's gotten by on originals so far), and once he did, imagined a certain arrangement in his head but wasn't able to clearly communicate that to the band. So at something like 5 am he gave up (ah, *now* we get the teary scene). Then we see he ran into (AI vocal coach) Byrd in the hallway & she said he wouldn't "sing through" the song with them (despite being asked 5 times) so they couldn't practice it with him... or something. Anyway, it boils down to the fact that he never really did rehearse the song with the band. So he's very nervous, and decides once he gets on stage to sing a cappella: after complimenting the band he politely 'dismisses' them, which the judges immediately criticize. He sings "Stand By Me" and isn't great, largely due to lack of sleep (his voice cracked) and stress (plus lack of instrumentation, I think, because his rhythm was off, etc.). He admits it wasn't great. However, the judges are very lenient and based on his previous strong performances, all 3 say yes, and he's in the Top 50.

Knowing that the spoilers *don't* put Josiah in the Top 24, I wonder why we have 'wasted' all of this time on a huge backstory (living in car) and stressful-Hollywood-week story on someone who won't matter at all after tomorrow night. Meanwhile there are 4 guys in the Top 24 we have yet to hear sing At. All.

I'm pleased with the talent shown tonight. I just hope those with equal talent (which would be at least Jason C and Luke, from past work I've sampled online) are given some screen time tomorrow so that they don't have to enter audience voting on such an uneven playing field vs. those we've seen several times by now. I know they did that for a few last year so we shall see. Overall still a good show; I still love Hollywood Week!!

Wednesday, February 6

Best of the Rest (2/6/08)

First up is the 2nd Hoosier in the Top 24, Amy Davis, 25 (20828, auditioned in Dallas). She says her family is "lower than lower middle class" and she would use earnings from any success she receives to help her struggling single mom. The judges ask about her ethnic background as they sense a 'little' something, and we're told her maternal grandmother is Japanese. She sings "Blue Bayou" and is just ok IMO.

Next we finally get to see the puppy (named Panda; awwww!)! Unfortunately we also have to see 3 bad singers: Panda's owner, Ashley, and the twin brothers Chris (whom she used to date) and Cory (whom she currently dates). But the puppy is adorable!

Cardin Lee McKinney, 20, TN (43501) is T50. She's a waitress. She sings "One Night Only" from "Dreamgirls" and is FABULOUS! And somehow Simon doesn't like her?! He says her voice isn't contemporary & she's too theatrical (um, the song's from a musical!). No matter; she advances. And I *LOVE* her!!

JoAnn Borgella, 25, NJ (82653, auditioned in Philly) is also T24. She's a plus-size model and has sung The National Anthem at Madison Square Gardens (which majorly impresses Randy). She sings a Celine song I'm not familiar with called "I Love You" and is good enough to advance, though she doesn't have the 'big voice' one has come to expect from plus-size black women. Simon says no but she gets 2 votes and is through.

Alesha Stelzl, 18, CA (3032) is yet another long-haired blond girl. She sings Celine's "Surrender" and has a nice tone to her voice but it's all wrong for that song. Paula says she sounds like Dolly Parton & the judges end up telling her to come back later to sing one of Dolly's songs for them. Of course she doesn't know any, and a surprised Ryan tries to sing several for her expecting her to recognize them, but she doesn't (and, thankfully, he stops). She ends up learning "Islands in the Stream" from the internet and sings most of the chorus correctly. She still makes some weird facial expressions while singing and Simon sticks to his earlier no, but Randy & Paula say yes. After she leaves Simon admits to the others that they were right and her voice did work for that song.

There's a mostly-funny montage of Simon mispronouncing a bunch of contestants' names, some intentionally. Which segues perfectly into...

Chikezie Eze (yes, that's really his name!), 22, CA (613, San Diego), who also auditioned last year but makes it to T24 this year. He sings Luther's "All the Woman I Need" and, as the previews hinted, is very, very good!

Lastly we have Danny Noriega, 17, CA (1356, also San Diego), also T24 & also auditioned last year. He says he has his nerves more under control and is being more "himself" this year (which explains itself when you see him, trust me). He sings "Proud Mary." Oh, this one is going to be entertaining!! He does have a good voice, but he's so OTT (and Simon didn't call him theatrical?!), overly confident, and sure to grate. He advances easily and could definitely be our "I can't wait to see what he does this week" finalist this year! :-)

And that's a wrap! We're told 164 advanced to Hollywood and there's a long promo, showing several people playing instruments (cool!), including Jason C & Colton B on guitar (2 of the T24 guys we haven't gotten to see/hear yet), and Brooke and David A on keyboard. Ryan promises "some of the greatest performances to ever grace our Hollywood stage." Bring it on!!

Tuesday, February 5

AI7 Atlanta Auditions (2/5/08)

Over 12,000 contestants are hoping to be the next Clay Aiken or Jennifer Hudson (both of whom were 'found' in Atlanta). Ryan's parents also visit!

First through is Joshua Jones, 26, GA (47503). Josh works with glass and sings Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" fairly well, despite facing the wall as the judges were distracted by his eye expressions while singing. Simon said it was too karaoke but he gets through with 2 votes.

Asia'h Epperson, 18, MO (50641) is in the Top 24. She tells us her father died 2 days ago in a car accident - rough! She changes her audition song to "How Do I Live" and gets through most of it, though I'm curious to hear her sing when she's less emotional (her voice cracked on higher notes & was very breathy). The judges are sympathetic but I think she would've made it through anyway. Paula takes a Kleenex break. ;-)

Brooke Helvie, 18, FL (40592) is a pageant girl hoping to prove Simon wrong & show him that she has genuine talent. Her "Who's Loving You?" is very good. Simon gets a hug after putting her through (though admits after she left the room that she annoyed him).

Alexandrea Lushington, 16, GA (41800) is another T24. She sings "My Funny Valentine" and is decent. Her 93-year old grandmother (there at the auditions with her) is cute.

Our 3rd Atlanta auditioner in T24 is Amanda Overmeyer, 22, IN (didn't get her # but Yay, Indiana!!). Her early nickname is 'rock & roll nurse' as she's a respiratory nurse (who does home visits helping people learn to use their equipment) who rides a motorcycle & has streaked hair. She sings some Janis & then, at the judges' prompting to do something else, "Traveling Band." Has a husky voice but seems to have potential. And there's a cool chick from my normally-perceived-as-hick-filled state, so another yay!

The last contestant shown is Josiah Leming, 18, TN (46069), T50. He's a high school dropout living in his car and sings one of his own songs, "To Run." Having visited his MySpace, I'll say I was a bit disappointed. I didn't hear the vibrato on his recorded stuff, though maybe it's partially nerves. Anyway I really liked his songs and vocally he reminds me of Howie Day. The judges marvel that the southern teen sings with a bit of a British accent, mate. (Simon is pleased.)

Altogether 20 advance to Hollywood; we saw 6 of them. One more night of auditions and then it's time for the Hollywood rounds!!