Wednesday, April 30

AI7 - Top 5 Results (4/30/08)

Wow - over 45 million votes last night! Some peeved/worried Jason fans, I'm thinking. (But not to worry!!)

Group song, yay! Medley including Cracklin' Rose, Song Sung Blue, Hot August Night, and Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show. Complete with almost-pointy pose at end! Much fun.

Ryan intro's tonight's "Idol alum update" and walks over to Constantine and Gina Glockson in the audience. They talk about their gig hosting American Idol Extra. Ace Young was sitting right in front of them but didn't get to say anything (but his album is coming out soon & looks to be awesome! [/album plug]). Kristy Lee is also shown a few times throughout the evening.

Ryan briefly addressed 'Paula-Gate' from last night, only saying "The rumors are not true. She's a part of our family and we love her." I'm guessing from that there were rumors that she was leaving the show. Totally didn't address the notes-from-dress-rehearsal issue or potentially-scripted rumor, but that's ok.


Jason: safe! Ryan asked him about Simon's comment (not being the same Jason they "put in the show") and he said that after thinking about it, he realized his best critiques have come either on songs that he already knew or songs that he changed, and he did neither this week.

David A: safe, which *really* surprised him!

Preview of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) 4 - can't wait!!

David C: safe! Ryan asked him what he thought when Paula said she felt she was looking at the next American Idol, and he said he immediately thought about Simon's saying that his good comment to Carly last week was the "kiss of death"! Hee. Fortunately Paula doesn't hold the same power.

That leaves the 2 girls for the Bottom 2 (or not? one of my friends pointed out that Ryan never said they were the Bottom 2, just that one of them is going home!). Brooke said she was able to "come back" after Simon's "nightmare" critique because she "finally kicked into happy, grateful mode" last night & was having fun (& thus performed better). As Ryan sent them over to the couches for the time being (guest performers & viewer calls), Brooke said, "We'll stay as long as we can!"

Natasha Bedingfield sings her new song "Pocket Full of Sunshine," and after finishing and chatting w/Ryan she heads over to the couch to sit by David Archuleta and gives him a hug and kiss! Apparently she's a fan, which I think is funny.

There's actually an interesting viewer call, from Simon's first crush & the girl he first kissed (when he was 9 years old)! Ha.

Ford video: "Catch the Wind." Nice, mellow song, lots of flowers growing in the video.

Neil Diamond sings one from his new album (dropping May 6 - same day as Clay's!) called "Pretty Amazing Grace." And does a mini-interview with Ryan.

Final results: Brooke is leaving, and begins crying as soon as Ryan brings the girls down onto the stage. She managed to get in a "Thank you" to fans and sang most of her song before completely breaking down. Sigh... I do love the girl, but her time had definitely come.

Next week: Final 4!!

Tuesday, April 29

AI7 - Top 5: Neil Diamond (4/29/08)

Tonight each contestant will sing 2 of Neil Diamond's songs. I'll just say now, it wasn't a very exciting or memorable show. Everyone pretty much did exactly what you would expect... though Paula was even less coherent than normal.

Jason "Forever in Blue Jeans" (playing guitar) and "September Morn" - both good, not great. Judges were meh.

David C. "I'm Alive" (elec. guitar) and "All I Really Need Is You" (acoustic guitar) - as Neil noted, two of his lesser-known songs. The first was fine, the second was very good. The crowd & judges also loved the 2nd.

Brooke "I'm a Believer" (guitar) and "I Am, I Said" (piano) - Well, she didn't fall apart this week, yay! Actually seemed to be confident and enjoying herself, especially for the 2nd, which was very good. Simon called the first a nightmare but all judges liked the second.

David A
. "Sweet Caroline" and "America" - Though upbeat, both songs were rather boring. Randy called the first "brilliant" but Simon said it was amateurish; Paula said the 2nd was the perfect song choice for him (no, not at all!) and Simon said it was a smart choice (lyrically).

Syesha "Hello, Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime" - "Hello, Again" was probably my favorite performance of the night. Of the songs I know that were done tonight, it's my favorite to begin with ("I Am, I Said" being 2nd), and hers was the first performance to really hold my attention. Simon called it old-fashioned and liked the 2nd better but said she still might be in trouble. Randy said the style of the 2nd (more musical theatre-ish) suits her very well.

Hard week to call. I think any of Jason, Syesha, or Brooke could go. I think Syesha has had the better performances the past 2 weeks so I hope she stays.

Wednesday, April 23

AI7 - Top 6 Results (4/23/08)

Over 38 million votes last night (most of which apparently went to 2 contestants who *really* needed them, as we'll see later). Group number, accompanied by Lord Webber on the piano: "All I Ask of You." As much as I normally love group songs, this was a yawn-fest. Wish they could've done something more up-tempo (and not from Phantom!).

This week Ryan is bringing contestants out two by two, starting with the Davids. Ryan asked David C about his song choice and he replied that there had been things said about being unpredictable, so he thought, "What's more unpredictable than singing it the way it was written?!" LOVE this guy. ;) Both are safe, of course.

One of the best Ford videos evah tonight: song is "Tainted Love" and style mixes punk rock with comic books! Carly looks way scary but David C. looks very good.

There's a taped message from President and Mrs. Bush announcing Idol Gives Back has raised $65 million this year.

The next 2 out are Syesha and Brooke. And now comes the biggest surprise of the night: "Brooke, you are... SAFE!" To say she looked shocked would be an understatement. Syesha took it well, though, as she headed toward the Bottom 2 stools.

For this week's Idol alum update we get a clip about various folks who've done Broadway shows! Diana, Fantasia, and LaKisha are mentioned. Then we get interviews and show clips from Tamyra (currently in Rent) and Clay (Spamalot). Clay also got to plug his new album which comes out May 6. That was a great segment!

And this week's guest performer is Leona Lewis. If you haven't heard of her yet, you will. I like this song ("Bleeding Love") more every time I hear it, and look forward to hearing what else she can do. I just wish her success didn't have to fuel another round of Simon's "look how great *I* am at finding talent" smirks.

The last two contestants are Carly and Jason. Jason is hilarious, humming to himself (which we can all hear because he's mic'd) and looking like he just wants to get this over with! As Ryan recaps their performances he says something about not wanting to sing "now". And... he won't have to, because he's safe! Which puts Carly in the Bottom 2. Jason is mega-relieved, and gives Carly a quick hug before heading over to plop down on the (now singular) couch.

So we have roomies Syesha and Carly, and both get to sing their songs again before we find out who's leaving. Both do better tonight than last night (well, Syesha may not have sung better, but I enjoyed it more the 2nd time around having already heard the song once). Mr. Pez and I are glad that Syesha is staying over Carly, but I think a lot of people will be disappointed (and many shocked). I looked back, and I think Syesha has been in the Bottom 3 every week of the Finals except one! Perhaps we should nickname her Energizer. Regardless, she may have a future in musical theater. And Carly does not look upset at all; I'm glad she gets to leave after a good performance and enjoying herself so much. Should be clear sailing from here on in toward a David-David finale, but we'll see!

Tuesday, April 22

AI7 - Top 7: Andrew Lloyd Webber (4/22/08)

This week the contestants got to work with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber (at the Vegas Phantom of the Opera theater). He had never seen the show before (I read previously in an interview) but did enjoy working with the contestants. Tonight's celebrity audience sightings include David Duchovny, Alison Janney, and Courtney Cox.

Syesha - "One Rock & Roll Too Many" (apparently from Starlight Express, which I've never even heard of) This was a jazzy song, and she started on the piano, then later interacted w/several band members (I will say Ricky Minor certainly had a fun night!). It was good, though not necessarily memorable since I don't know the song to begin with. Randy says it's her best performance yet; Simon says she was sexy and this genre fits her well (he was glad to finally see some "personality").

Jason - "Memory" Wow. Well, you knew sooner or later there was going to be something he couldn't pull off... this was certainly it. This song just doesn't work with soft, "Jason-style" music. The judges pretty much agree; Simon said he even looked "miserable" while singing (I wouldn't go that far; he did as well as he could and was definitely into the lyrics).

- "You Must Love Me" (from Evita) Another false start, except this time she had to stop the whole band! 2nd time through was good but I'm not sure people know the song (I don't), and it's likely the error will be more memorable than the actual performance. Her time has come and gone. Ryan asked Simon what he would have done & he actually said he'd have stopped too, but Paula said that's something a performer should never, ever do (I tend to agree).

David A - "Think Of Me" (Phantom) Hmm, Ryan let a whole passel of girls (all sisters??) come up and hug David before the performance. In the practice clip we see Sir Webber encouraging David to open his eyes while he sings, but he was otherwise pleasantly surprised that a "boy" could pull this off (instead of a female diva type). I liked this very, very much! Definitely his best in quite some time, and my 2nd favorite performance of the night. Randy & Paula loved it as well, but Simon said it was forgettable and one of his weakest weeks (nope, not at all!).

Carly - "Jesus Christ Superstar" Good choice style-wise for her, but I thought she took it a bit too lightly and was too bouncy/fun for the lyrics. She also had a very, very unfortunate pattern on her dress (seriously, do they not get fashion advice? We didn't really need an anatomy lesson, did we?). The judges liked it; I'm curious to see what viewer response is like. She also continued to be (waaaay) overly eager for Simon's approval.

Last is David C. with "The Music of the Night" Once again deserving of the given 'pimp spot.' I'm glad this genre is happening late enough in the game that he feels comfortable singing it straight; he even admits his musical theater background! This. was. amazing. May be my first iTunes download; I can imagine the live version must have sounded fantastic (in the theater itself) but I also anticipate the studio recorded version will be incredible. Simon doesn't like him in this style of music, but Randy & Paula loved it. Definitely the standout of the night, though it wouldn't take much tonight, unfortunately.

I predict Syesha, Jason, and Brooke for the Bottom 3 with Brooke (please!) going home.

Wednesday, April 16

AI7 - Top 7 Results

There were almost 36 million votes last night. Will they save your favorite?

The group opens with Mariah's song "One Sweet Day." Jason is alone on the stage w/the first solo; Kristy out in the audience gets the 2nd, & then everyone else is on stage (most of the rest getting small solos). Nice song, though it can't be easy for David C. to be singing about death and losing loved ones this week.

Well, per norm for Top 7 week, Ryan will be sorting the contestants into 2 groups as they come out on stage. In the first round we get Jason and Carly in one group, and David C. and Kristy Lee in another. So at this point I'm a little surprised Jason's (apparently) in the Bottom 3, but we'll see what happens....

The Ford video is "I Want to Break Free" and is the most interesting one in a while, with everyone as stiff marionnettes who then get their strings cut and color sharpened, and run out to fun Ford cars.

Next Elliot Yamin is back and sings "Free." Yay, Elliot! Awww, at the end he shows he's written on his hand "We Miss You Mom," since she died very recently. Ryan expresses their condolences.

Syesha comes out and joins Jason and Carly. Brooke comes out and joins David C. and Kristy Lee. David A. is left backstage to wonder if he's cut or not (because last week, those remaining backstage were the Bottom 3!).

Viewer calls... some for judges, one for Kristy asking if she ever got her horse back (no), and one for David C. asking if he's single (yes)! Hee.

And then Mariah performs her new single "Bye Bye" (from her album released yesterday called EMC2). Sheesh, another song about death! Fortunately there weren't any camera shots of David or Adam, though I was wondering if David was still holding it together at this point. (He was probably fine. When Ryan brought him out earlier he asked about last night's emotions, and David took a minute to "think of how to word it," and tactfully said that "a lot of things" had been going on that week and he put a lot of himself into the song, and when it was over and he was getting good comments everything kind-of came together & hit him. Dude has class.)

Finally Ryan brings David A. out and announces that he is safe. And then a twist: Ryan tells David C. and Syesha to switch places! A-ha! So, our new groups are now Jason/Carly/David C. (obviously safe) and Syesha/Brooke/Kristy Lee (obviously Bottom 3). Ryan asks David A. to go join whichever group has the rest of the safe people. Par for the course, he refuses and sits down center stage. (You'd think the producers would realize by now that people aren't going to fall for the confusion trick & stop trying, but no....) Ryan says he should move toward the group on their left and then the 4 who are safe get to go to the couches.

Brooke is already emotional. Syesha is sent safely to the couches so Kristy Lee and Brooke remain. Each thinks it's her, and when Ryan asks & Simon says he thinks Kristy's time is up, Brooke gets all defensive & protective-mama since "we don't know that yet." However, we soon know that, and Kristy was mostly expecting it, but yes, her time is indeed up. Ryan makes another plea to the purchaser of Kristy's horse to let her buy it back and we get her exit video (which begins w/the horse story!). Then her sing-out, which she begins sitting on the judges' desk, singing to Simon! Gotta hand it to her, girl has a good sense of humor. :-) Her sing-out is good, and I will miss her.

Next week: Broadway with Andrew Lloyd Webber! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, April 15

AI7 - Top 7: Mariah Carey (4/15/08)

Mariah seems to have been a good mentor for the 'kids' this week. She was encouraging and complimentary, sometimes suggesting things but respectful of their choices as well.

David A - "When You Believe" Well, yes, he did the Disney song, of course. It was fine, but that was about it. (And please tell me the 17-year old Mormon boy wasn't wearing black leather pants?! While singing a Disney song, yet?!) Judges loved it.

Carly - "Without You" Now, Carly, by choosing this song, not only will you be compared to Mariah (and Nilsson), you'll be compared to Kelly Clarkson. She didn't murder it, but she certainly didn't measure up to Kelly, either. Randy & Paula liked it; Simon said he thinks she has the potential to pull it off, but that she didn't.

Syesha - "Vanishing" I don't know this one, and it seems rather strangely constructed, but her vocals were very, very good. Randy said it's a very difficult song to sing, but she did well ("all things considered"). Paula said it was smart to choose a lesser-known song, but Simon disagreed, though he said it was technically good.

Brooke - "Hero" She played piano on this, and started out really strong, like her early songs in the finals. However, when she got to the bridge it started going downhill. It didn't help that the camera froze in a close-up of her face and you could tell she was nervous & shaky; it really stayed in that shot an uncomfortably long time. Simon & Randy both said that it 'went south' at the bridge (Simon compared it to ordering a hamburger and just getting a bun). Brooke may in trouble tonight.

Kristy Lee
- "Forever" Mariah said that Kristy gave her goosebumps! Kristy really did a great job; the song sounds good in a country arrangement and Kristy didn't oversing but just sang very well. The crowd and Paula loved it; Randy & Simon were just meh.

David C - "Always Be My Baby" This sounded vaguely familiar to me but I don't know it well, so I can't really comment to the extent of his changes. But it was done very well, soft for most of it with some rock of course, and ending unresolved (Mariah said in rehearsal that she liked that he did it that way). It earned Randy's first standing ovation of the season! Paula said it could be on a movie soundtrack; Simon said it was "like coming out of karaoke hell (hee) into a breath of fresh air" and that David's risk-taking shows that he's the type of "artist" that could win this. David was very grateful - humbly proud, if that makes sense. He was a little teary and the cameras cut to his brother in the audience... if you haven't heard yet, Adam (36, from Terre Haute, Indiana) has brain cancer and was only able to come out to the show through major community support (doctors said he couldn't fly commercially, so Clarian Health paid for a private plane; the radio station paid for the hotel across the street from the studio; and he was accompanied by his wife, 2 young children, and a private nurse). I'm sure David was thrilled to have done so well and gotten such high praise the night that Adam was there.

Jason was last with "I Don't Want to Cry." Another I don't know, but seemed a great choice for him and he sang very well. He sat on a stool but didn't play guitar. Randy didn't love it but Paula & Simon did (Simon said it wasn't the best vocal of the night, but it was a very good performance).

My prediction for Bottom 3: Carly, Brooke, and Syesha, with Brooke leaving.

AI7 - Idol Gives Back and Top 8 Results

Lots of show last week! I won't recap all of IGB, just highlight what I enjoyed the most. Most of the actual performances are available to download on iTunes and the proceeds to go IGB.

The opener was awesome - the Top 8 sang and finalists from all 3 seasons of So You Think You Can Dance performed as well! I'm not as familiar with Season 1 dancers, but I did see Nick. From S2 I saw Benji, Donyelle, Travis, Ashley, and Dmitri. And from S3, Danny, Lauren, Lacey, Hok, Dominic, Pasha and Anya! Much fun. The ballroom guys also performed during Gloria Estefan's song.

I know I'm in a minority, but I think Fergie is one of the best singers on the planet right now, and I love her! She sang "Finally" with John Legend on piano, then introduced Heart and sang "Barracuda" with them.

The Top 8 sang "Seasons of Love" (from Rent). Carrie Underwood sang George Michael's "Praying for Time" (and was awesome). The Band from TV sang Carrie's "Before He Cheats," which was much fun (Teri Hatcher can sing; who knew? and no Hugh Laurie unfortunately, but we did get fellow House star Jesse Spencer on violin - love!). And Annie Lennox sang "Many Rivers."

There were also cute bits with Robin Williams as a "Russian Idol" winner and Billy Crystal introducing Miley Cyrus. And the (female) stage manager coming out to fix Brad Pitt's mic, then saying, "I just needed a reason to touch him"! I know the show was taped days before it aired so I thought it was funny they left that in.

The Top 8 closed IGB - and opened the results show - with "Shout to the Lord." (Not sure what's with all the religious songs this year, but I won't complain!)

Ryan announced there were over 31 million votes and over $60 million dollars raised so far.

The contestants are shown waiting backstage, and as he's been doing, Ryan brings out one at a time to announce their fate. Brooke White is safe. David C is safe (and the perennial Word Nerd, when Ryan asked what he thought after Simon called this week's performance "pompous," said that Simon had previously called him "arrogant" and "smug" so he was wondering what other words he might use to say the same thing! Hee, he was thinking about synonyms!). And David A. is safe.

Ford video is "I Just Want to Celebrate" with lots of paint being thrown around. Guest performance is Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown singing their hit "No Air" (which I just heard for the first time on the radio this week; guess I should listen to the Disney Station more often... wait, did I just say that?). Then Jordin was presented with some nice framed pieces commemmorating certain sales numbers (her CD is Gold, and 2 songs had hit downloading milestones).

Next out from backstage is Jason, who is safe. Then Kristy, who is also safe! That leaves (camera goes backstage) Michael, Carly, and Syesha for the bottom 3 - wow, I got it right this week!

"After the break," they are now center stage w/Ryan who announces that both Carly and Syesha are safe. Everyone assumes that means Michael is out and they adopt stunned expressions. Then Ryan reminds us that last year during IGB week they didn't eliminate anyone. However... (dramatic, painful pause) tonight Michael will be leaving. He is shocked (I'm not, honestly, nor am I disappointed other than feeling bad for my friends who like him), but he recovers well and has a good sing-out.

Next week's theme: Mariah Carey songs. btw she also performed during IGB (with Randy on bass, yawn), but I only understood about 3 words in the whole song so I didn't actually enjoy it. At least it will be "interesting" to see what some of the contestants do with her songs!

Tuesday, April 8

AI7 - Top 8: Inspirational Songs (4/8/08)

Another great night of performances!!

Michael - "Dream On" I was nervous, and was relieved that he didn't injure the song, but I'm not sure whether I actually enjoyed it, lol. He did surprise me by hitting the high notes. Randy said it was pitchy & not the best musical style for him (Michael defended the lyrics saying that's why he picked it). Paula loved it. Simon also said he prefers Michael doing more blues/soul stuff instead of "impersonating a rock star." Hee - and I agree!

Syesha - "I Believe" Since Fantasia is the only artist to record this (or at least the only one most people have heard), it was risky. She did a good job; the choir certainly helped create the right feel for it. Paula & Simon said that she sang it well, but all the judges said it lacked the emotional connection Fantasia had with it.

Jason - "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" Wow! Gutsy choice. Arrangement is by "Iz" and was total Jason style though. He played ukelele on it and it was simple, but beautiful. Very different, and captivating. The judges loved it as well; Simon said "fantastic!"

Kristy Lee
- "Anyway" I wasn't familiar with this song but it has *awesome* lyrics. She got the backing choir as well and did very well, with some softer parts and some glory notes. One of her best for sure. Randy was meh (really, on about everyone), but Paula & Simon loved it. Paula said she could tell she connected with it (yes!), and Simon said it was a smart choice.

David C - "Innocent" (Our Lady Peace) This is David's favorite band, and there is a line about wishing you'd never heard the word "cancer," so it's an obvious choice. (For those who may not have heard, one of his brothers has been battling cancer for years and had a recent "setback.") I'd read the lyrics in advance & wasn't sure what the message was, but his take was that everyone has a good side and you should be "comfortable in your own skin." He went into the audience and ended showing his palm with the words "Give Back." The vocals were good; not his best, but that's not what this performance was about. Paula got that though praised the vocals too, saying he's "the whole package." Randy & Simon were less kind; Simon said it was "a little pompous." (I don't think so at all.)

Carly - "The Show Must Go On" (Queen) One of her best! At least the first 3/4 of it or so. Very, very good; she connected w/the lyrics, the vocals were great, it was just really good. Paula said she didn't feel a connection though; Randy thought it was pitchy & Simon said it was a strange choice & she oversang it and sounded angry.

David A
- "Angels" (Robbie Williams) Another I'm not familiar with, but David did a good job (he played piano for the whole song). Good performance but nothing 'wow' about it. All the judges loved it; Randy said it was David's best and Simon said it was the best song choice of the night (and not his best vocal, but good).

Brooke - "You've Got a Friend" Very good, perfect choice for her. Randy was meh; Paula loved it; Simon said it was nice, pleasant. That's good enough!

I think Syesha, maybe Carly, and... I'll say Michael will be the bottom 3, with Syesha leaving.

Tomorrow night, just in case you didn't hear it at least one of the 3,592 times they've promo'd it, is Idol Gives Back! Starting at *7:30* (not 8) and running for 2 1/2 hours. Slight spoiler: SYTYCD fans, make sure you catch the opening!! :-)

Thursday, April 3

AI7 - Top 9 Results (4/2/08)

If Ryan said how many votes were cast, I missed it, sorry. We start off with a group performance of "9 to 5," and there is deliciously cheesy choreography, plus solos for everyone, yay!

And for the first time in years, we aren't going to have 3 groups of 3 for the Top 9 eliminations! Perhaps that's because this year's bottom 3 are more predictable so it wouldn't be the shocker that it's been in the past. So, we have them come out one by one, like the last few weeks...

Michael - safe.
David A - safe.
Carly - safe.

Viewer calls segment (lots of questions on the screen for David Cook!). Then guest performance by winners of last summer's Fox adventure, "Next Great American Band," The Clark Brothers! Yay! Except they're doing "This Little Light of Mine," again. It's a cool arrangement and obviously speaks to their deep faith, but it's very repetitive & those of us who watched NGAB have heard it several times already. Oh, well, it's still much better than many guest performances they've had.

Ford video: "It's Tricky," about basketball. Not very exciting (I think this is the weakest year for the videos!).

David C - safe. (And Ryan had him explain about his blood-pressure related hospital visit after last night's show, and that he's fine.)
Ramiele - Bottom 3. (Yes! Now, she *has* to go home, because if she hits B3 and doesn't, the fan base will be extra motivated and she'll be safe at least another week or two!)
And Kristy - also Bottom 3.

Another show highlight, and something I've been greatly anticipating: video "Where are they now?" segment on 3 Idol alums currently living in Nashville, TN (since this is country week & all). Season 5's Bucky Covington (LOVE!) is up first and talks about his album, which is about to have its 3rd single released (it's really good; if you like country music at all then go get it!). Then last year's Phil Stacey (also LOVE), whose first album 'drops' April 29th. Lastly Season 4's Bo Bice (like! hee) discusses his health-imposed time off after his 1st album, the 'return to his (Southern rock) roots' for his 2nd album, & how awesome it is to be a dad. Awww. Great segment!!

Syesha - safe (I guessed that one wrong but got the others right!).
Which leaves Brooke & Jason, with Jason safe and Brooke in the Bottom 3.

More plug for Idol Gives Back, with a story about 2 sisters being reunited because someone had enough money from IGB to drive around in a minivan looking for the lost one, or something. I know they raise lots of dough & the performances are great, but I'm sooooooo sick of the plugging and plugging and plugging already!

Finally Dolly performs. The song is called "Jesus and Gravity" and is rather strange lyrically, talking about having one to lift her up and the other to hold her down. There is a choir and the last third of the song is all Jesus-y and totally forgets about the gravity part. So both guest performances are very strong with the Christian message, which is great, but somehow very strange in this context. Also Dolly is a bit like Brooke in that she needs something to do w/her hands while she performs other than just waving them around.

And now the results: Brooke is sent back to the couch (after Ryan asks her why she's all emotional already, & she says she was all stressed about eliminations but then IGB put real problems into perspective & then on top of that, the Jesus song!). Leaving Kristy and Ramiele... and surely Kristy won't be sent packing on country week... and she's not! Ramiele is gone. Kristy hugs her tightly for about 10 minutes, and I think Ryan was afraid she was going to disintegrate into a puddle of tears because he was all congratulatory about her having made it this far, etc. Video package, then we see all the female contestants on stage behind her (& the guys come over once she starts singing). She's emotional, of course, but once she gets into her singout she focuses on the performance and does a good job. Well done, and she gets to be on tour, and not remembered mainly for making it much further than she should have (see Trias, Jasmine). Hugs, etc.

Tuesday, April 1

AI7 - Top 9: Dolly Parton Week (4/1/08)

This week we have our first mentor of the year, Dolly Parton. I was really wondering how some of the contestants would find something of hers to fit them, but it turned out to be one of the best performance nights of the season!

started off with "Jolene," playing guitar & surrounded by a couple other acoustic band members on the stage. She did it faster than Dolly's & very upbeat, but it was good. Randy said it was pitchy; Paula liked how she always connects emotionally w/her songs; then Simon said there was no emotional connection!

David Cook
is next, and before he performs we get a "Ryan interview on the stools" giving David the chance to address the latest Idol controversy (that most people probably don't even know exists). They clarify that 3 previous "risky" song arrangements David did were based on what other performers had done, as opposed to being original (which he never claimed, and sometimes he even gave specific credit, but the judges still worded their praise misleadingly). However, tonight he *is* in fact doing his own arrangement, of Dolly's "Little Sparrow." I'm not very familiar w/this, but David does well, and the falsetto is nice variety. Randy agreed and liked that he showed more vocal range. (I missed Paula & Simon's comments.) Oh yeah, and I like the new 'do!

Ramiele - "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?" It was ok. Mixed reactions from judges. I hope she goes home this week, but I'm not holding my breath.

Jason - "Travelin' Thru" This was a great choice for him! Dolly said she thought it was quite a departure from his previous songs, and I don't agree, though the vocals were a bit more intense (especially on the religious 2nd verse - very cool!). He played guitar while standing. Paula noted his confidence; Simon didn't like it, saying it was too similar to his other performances (eg step out of your box).

- "Here You Come Again" (of course!) Actually a good fit for her voice, and it was a good performance. The arrangement was slow w/just an acoustic guitar accompanying her at first, and strings later. Randy & Paula loved it.

David Archuleta
- "Smoky Mountain Memories" Well, as I said, a great night! Another great vocal performance, probably partially because David connected with the lyrics (though he claims to do that most weeks, it doesn't always come through). He also gets to sing about Jesus. (I think the 2 categories of contestants who can get away with that - you know, without lots of 'stop preaching' criticism - are gospel divas and teenage Mormons! Oh, wait, I just remembered Mandisa... so, *just* teenage Mormons!) The crowd (of course) & judges loved it.

Kristy Lee
- "Coat of Many Colors" Probably my favorite Dolly song, so I was glad she didn't destroy it. It was soft until the end, & she even started out sitting on the stage. Had a couple nice glory notes at the end. Paula said this was her best yet; Simon said it was "pleasant but forgettable."

Syesha - "I Will Always Love You" I wonder if Rami also wanted this song (&/or Carly's)? If she leaves I'm sure we'll find out. Anyway, back to Syesha... also starts subdued, sitting on the piano (& stays there the whole song). The 2nd chorus though is full-blown Whitney-esque, with a major, major glory note. Paula loved it, but unfortunately Randy & Simon still said she didn't measure up to Whit (maybe not, but for an Idol contestant? Great performance!!) Could be in trouble again.

Michael closed the show with "It's All Wrong but it's Alright," another one I don't know. I wondered what an Australian rocker would do w/Dolly's catalog, but it turns out he's a big fan! (Was maybe 2nd on the starstruck scale behind Ramiele!) Michael is at his best (IMO) when he just stands there and sings, which he does tonight. The song is somewhat bluesy, a perfect style for him (I don't know if that's how Dolly did it??). Very good; surprised me but really was deserving of the 'pimp spot.' The judges loved it & Simon said it was his best performance.

I think the bottom 3 will be all girls: probably Ramiele, Brooke, and Syesha, with (hopefully) Ramiele going (2nd choice Syesha).