Friday, May 30

SYTYCD 4 Auditions (all episodes)

Yay, I love this show and I'm so glad it's back! Haven't really blogged it before, but I watched some of Season 1 and every bit of S2 (Benjieeee!!!!!!!!) and S3 (Danny!!). For now I'll mostly just list the people that have advanced to Vegas whose auditions we've been shown (which isn't a ton). Feel free to ask questions about anything else; as usual, I have detailed notes. ;-)

*NOTE: Now that we know the Top 20, I will bold their names here for reference!

Los Angeles (3rd judge: Mia)

Devin Oshiro (18, CA, #24733) Girl who stood at the back of the stage waiting for the right music to be played; hair tips dyed red. Contemporary dancer, good, powerful. Girls don't usually stand out to me but I really like her! And she's not a PPP. ;-) "Straight" to Vegas.

(Note: there is disagreement as to whether these people actually leave at this point or also attend the choreography round. Last year there were some auditioners posting online that it's not at all the way it looks on tv, that everyone stayed for the choreo round. This year some are saying that's not true for everyone, just for some. So who knows!)

Jonathan won't be going to Vegas but kind-of deserves mentioning. Italian guy with a major ego, though it might be hard to look like he does and not have one. Possibly most memorable for Mia's freudian slip: "sexful" instead of "successful".

Twitch is back! Stephen Boss (25, AL, #24816) made it to Vegas last year and was the last guy cut, when he & Hok came out together and Hok was all sweet & classy saying he was sad for Twitch & couldn't really be happy for himself since his friend didn't get through. Anyway, Twitch does his thing and goes to Vegas.

Phillip Chbeeb (19, CA, #24588) is another who made it to Vegas last year. He's an amazing popper and says he hasn't had time to take dance classes but has worked on improving as a dancer instead of just doing 'tricks.' He's sent to choreo and then advances to Vegas.

William Wingfield (21, TN, #2407_) is a professional dancer and has done a lot of travel/work overseas. He says he wants to show versatility and dances to a spoken word piece. He's very good; the crowd loves him and he goes to choreo, then gets put through to Vegas.

Oh, Travis is doing the choreography sessions this year! Fun. They have 30 minutes to learn the routine and that's it. It's definitely interesting to see who picks it up quickly and who struggles, though I wish we knew more of the contenders. Anyway, Phillip, William, and 16 others advance on Day 1.

Day 2:

Erika Gee (22, OH, 25568) is auditioning for the 3rd time. She's a blond contemporary dancer who was "all over the place" style-wise before, and the judges loved how she's focused. Straight to Vegas.

Our first ballroom couple: Leonidas Proskurov (23, CA) and Aliona Vetrenko (21, CA). They are dance partners as well as a romantic couple and live together. I thought they were ok but the judges loved them and they're going to Vegas.

A lot of us liked B-boy Victor Kim, but he didn't get past choreo.

There is an Asian ballroom couple who say they've only been dancing together for 3 months: Ricky Sun (27, CA, #24220) and Asuka Kondoh (24, CA, 24221). Unfortunately
Asuka (pronounced almost like "Oscar") has the flu, but you can't tell while she's dancing. I love them!! They go to choreo & then both to Vegas. I'm sure there will be better balroom guys & doubt Ricky will make it into the Top 20, but hopefully I'll get to see him a bit more during the Vegas footage.

Kherington Payne
(18, CA, #25546) is a very energetic soccer player. Not a terribly impressive dancer (another blond contemp.) but the judges say she has the "It factor" and send her to Vegas.

Last up is popper Robert Muraine (20, CA, #24888). This guy makes Phillip Chbeeb look boring. WOW! He's a street performer and has no training, but is amazing. They send him to Vegas so we'll see!

Didn't show choreo, but Ricky & Asuka advance. A total of 30 dancers go to Vegas from LA.

Salt Lake City

Mandy Moore is new as the 3rd judge, though she's choreographed for the show before (perhaps most notably for the "Table" routine last year for Neil & Sabra).

Chelsie Hightower (18, UT, #17372) starts out looking like she'll be just another blond contemporary clone. She gets quite a bit of backstory about her 5 brothers and how her family went through some very difficult financial times. Turns out she does ballroom - and she's good! Very cute. Straight to Vegas.

Worth mentioning is Brett Banford, a 25-year old with Downs who has the best. attitude. ever. He does his taekwondo/hip-hop and has a blast, then thanks the judges for the opportunity to show everyone that people with disabilities can have "normal" lives. *sniff*

Gev Manoukian
(21, UT, #17366) breakdances on ice! He tried out 2 years ago and didn't make it, which made him train more and he is confident that he's more versatile than most other breakdancers. He's probably right. He dances to a song "Hello Darkness" and is pretty awesome. Though hesitant to jinx him, I think I have an early favorite. ;-) Sent to choreo, then advances to Vegas (after Nigel toys w/him a bit; bad Nigel!).

Lindsey Judkins (22, UT, 15135) is a brunette in a red shirt who dances to Michael Buble's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." She reminds me a tad of Natalie, but her facial expressions are way too wild. They send her to Vegas.

Kelli Baker (18, UT, 16209) is a red-head contemp. dancer who was in High School Musical and is the daughter of "famous" and Emmy-winning choreographer Bonnie Story (I'll take their word for it). She certainly earns being recognized on her own merit and goes straight to Vegas.

Choreo - Gev plus "18 more" per Cat, for a total of 19 on Day 1.

Day 2:

Ryann Race (26, UT, 16331) is a DJ at a strip club whose girlfriend dumped him 2 weeks ago. He's very tall and has many piercings... his freestyled hip-hop is very good and he has a great personality. He goes to choreo... and then Vegas! (His mom is with him and he is very emotional; aww!)

Matt Dorame (21, UT, 16451) is wearing long red shorts that are unattractive and seem to hamper his movement a bit. However, his training (ballet/contemp.?) still comes through and he has some very good moves. Also rather cute. Nigel gives him a ticket to Vegas in exchange for the promise never to wear those shorts again.

Thayne Jasperson
(27, UT, 16594) is only shown briefly, wearing all black and dancing contemporary, but goes to Vegas.

Lastly we have BFF's Kortney Pearson and Michelle Stringham, both 25 (and divorced). Kortney goes first and is wearing jeans and a long scarf; she's just ok. Michelle, a fitness instructor, is better, but still not great. They both go to choreo and surprisingly then both get to go to Vegas.

Choreo - Ryann and the girls all advance, plus 16 others, making 19 on Day 2 and 38 by my count but 42 by Cat's altogether from Utah.

Dallas (3rd judge: Adam Shankman)

A lot of time is spent on a guy named Chad who looks like he has potential but injures himself during warmup. He auditions against the judges' advice, but from what they can tell he isn't good enough to advance anyway.

Paige Jones (19, TX, #9578) is a full-time student who "does pageants." Um, yeah, that pretty much covers it. Despite Nigel's calling her style "Stepford dancing" she gets through the choreo round and advances to Vegas. Yippee.

Joshua Allen
(18, TX, 9756) is another story. He dances hip-hop and reminds the judges a little of Jamile (S1?). He's sent to choreo and ends up going to Vegas. At which point he celebrates with a couple of really good spins/pirouettes... hmm, methinks he might be more than a hip-hop guy??

John Dix (23, TX, 11449) and Arielle Coker (18, TX, 11450) are the first non-ballroom couple to audition together. They are contemporary and do lots of lifts and tricks which are very good, and Arielle looks like she might have talent beyond that but John, notsomuch. Arielle get a ticket to Vegas, John gets sent to choreo where my thoughts are confirmed. However, he's so happy for her that he really doesn't mind! Awww. (btw, Arielle was definitely also doing the choreo round.)

We get a very tiny clip of a gal Nigel calls "the best female hip-hop dancer" ever on the show, but we really don't get to see her dance. Hopefully next week we will!

Choreo - 72 try, Paige, Joshua, and 38 others go to Vegas for a total of 40 from Dallas.

Charleston (3rd judge: Tyce D'Orio)

1st up is Sheila Kaiser (18, GA, #21530) whose father was against her coming. She's in a white hoodie and has curly dark hair; dances contemporary/jazz and I thought she was ok, but the judges absolutely loved her. Ticket to Vegas!

Jeremiah Hughes (19, Toronto, CAN) reminds me a little of last year's Ricky because he speaks in a very strange way... he says when he's on stage his "most negative quality should be that I just happen to be human," and something about the divinity of his art, etc. He also keeps mostly to himself. I don't like his dancing quite as much as Ricky's, but he's very good and another who's very good-looking (and, dancing with open white shirt, seems to know it). He's a bit inconsistent but gets a ticket to Vegas anyway.

Twins Anthony and Antwain Hart are both 20 and from N. Carolina. They're both somewhat soft-spoken but very close and supportive of each other. Anthony goes first and his hip-hop is not very good. Antwain (red shirt) is next and he's a bit better. Nigel talks to him a bit and ends up inviting Anthony back so they can do a routine together. They're both much better doing this! Antwain still stands out, but both are sent to choreography. And later, to Vegas. Lots of hugging and bro compliments ensue. ;-)

Choreo isn't shown but both twins and 18 others advance, making 20 for Day 1 in Charleston.

Day 2:

18-year old Abigail Thurman is here to see how she measures up in the world of dance. Unfortunately, she doesn't, but her conversation with the judges is quite amusing. She stopped dancing when she saw Nigel cover his face w/his hands and said, "Am I that bad?!" He nods yes, and after a few more comments (and agreement from Abigail) tells her she takes criticism very well! She agrees she shouldn't advance and thanks them for being honest with her! They laugh and thank her for her spirit before sending her off.

Breakdancer BJ Harris was very entertaining and Mary commented on some of his unique moves. However, he does not survive choreography so it is bye-bye for BJ.

Courtney Galiano (19, NY, #21085) is a nice Italian girl whose grandparents brought her to audition. She dances contemporary and is very good; straight to Vegas.

Last up in Charleston is Claire Calloway (20, AL, #21312) who auditioned in S2 and withdrew during Vegas due to her injured foot. Nigel had promised she could advance directly to Vegas if she returned in S3, but instead she had a baby! So here she is after not much dancing in the past 2 years. She's lost at least her 30 lbs of baby weight and seems very tall and thin. She doesn't do much dancing but they give her the benefit of the doubt and send her to choreo, where she improves enough to earn a ticket to Vegas. I doubt we'll see her in the Top 20 though.

Of the 40 at choreo, Claire and 17 others advance making 18 today, for a grand total of 38 dancers from Charleston going to Vegas.

Washington, DC (3rd judge: Dan Karaty, yay!)

This is their first time auditioning in DC and I believe they're *not* going to NY this year. There are "thousands" lined up compared to the "hundreds" in other cities. And off we go...

1st is Megan Campbell (18, Muncie, Indiana!, #13397) A brunette, dancing contemporary to Alicia Keys. She was very out of breath afterward and says she's never auditioned for anything before. I thought she was ok but the judges loved her and sent her straight to Vegas. Then her aunt got to hug Nigel.

Markus Shields (23, MI, 13276) wears a shirt with a huge photo of his mother, who died a few years ago. He dances hip-hop to Elliott Yamin's "I'll Wait for You" (cool!) and is very good (may have some contemp. training as well?). He goes to choreo and makes it to Vegas.

Markus Smith and Deonna Ball dance "D.C. Swing" which is very interesting to watch, but they don't pick up other choreo well enough to go to Vegas.

22 are at choreo and 10 advance on Day 1.

Day 2:

Brandon Bryant (18, FL, #12508) is one of the most muscular people I've ever seen in my life. He really wanted to audition in S1 but found out he wasn't old enough so he had to wait. He. is. amazing. Danced ballet/contemporary and the crowd & judges loved him. Mary screamed and called him a star; Dan said "I don't think I know anyone who could do that routine, due to the combination of strength, flexibility, and technique!" Obviously he goes to Vegas, and is one to watch!!

Phucdat Nguyn does a fun b-boy routine in a yellow bodysuit and talks about being a nerd. The judges really enjoyed him & sent him to choreo but that's as far as he got.

Last up is Anthony Bryant, who auditioned in S1 with a ribbon and was not "masculine" enough per Nigel. He has now graduated from Julliard (in only 3 years) and will do a piece he describes as "contemporary, modern dance with acro tumble power." In camouflage, nonetheless. His technique is superb but the judges say he lacks something. He does well in choreo but for some reason they don't send him to Vegas, and they don't really explain why, which makes him very upset. Apparently he also tried out for Bruno & Carrie Ann's Dance Wars, but I don't remember him.

Choreo - neither guy we saw advanced. 9 make it through plus the 10 from Day 1 make only 19 (from the "thousands"?!) from DC.

Whew! Just one more audition episode and then Vegas - can't wait!


June 4 Episode

Before we get to Milwaukee we have a few others from past cities who've made it to Vegas but haven't been shown yet!

D.C.- Michael Kim, 21, MA (#14637) - another popper, he auditioned S2 and has gotten more training since. He's very good though we only see his popping for now. Nigel says Michael is his favorite in this style that he's seen in D.C. He goes to Vegas.

L.A. - roommates! Katee Shean, 19, CA (24444) has long, straight, dark red hair and is possibly part Asian. She dances contemporary and is very good, showing good energy, & she has a nice smile. She's going to Vegas.

Natalie Reid, 22, CA (24468) also has red hair and also dances contemporary. I think her music is Roisin Murphy? And her movement is sharp and angled, somewhat zombie-ish (which I associate w/this music since the "Ramalama" group number in S2 - best group number ever!). The judges loved her, and she's also going to Vegas.

Back to D.C. for a Latin couple: Janette Manrara, 24, and Romulo Villaverde, 19, both from Florida, doing Salsa. She's wearing a black & white striped top that matches her hair (really). But they're awesome! Great tricks, and the audience loves them. They advance to choreo, where Janette continues to do well and gets through to Vegas. Alas Romulo does not, but he's young and plans to return next year and try again.


Our new set of judges is husband/wife team Napolean and Tabitha, hip-hop choreographers.

1st up is Bianca Revels, 19, IL (18644). Bianca is a dance major and does tap (black gal w/very short hair). Ticket to Vegas.

Evan Kasprzak, 20, MI (#19644) does a great Broadway number Chaplin/Gene Kelly-style, using his hat as a prop and throwing in an amazing split jump and some pirouettes for good measure. Very entertaining! The judges just loved it; Mary said he "made it seem simple, which it's not". He goes to Vegas.

Kourtni Lind
, 18, CA (#19593) graduated high school at age 16 and moved to LA to begin her dance career (which has been "tough"). She's accompanied by her mom who's also her dance instructor (and her look-alike, with similar blond spiky hair). She dances contemp. to a spoken word piece and is very, very good - probably tied w/Kelli for my favorite female contemporary dancers. The judges love her. Nigel says she looks like Uma Thurman and that she also "choreographed every part of [her] body" and completely kept his attention. Vegas!

Susie Garcia
, 24, FL (19633?) is a high school teacher. Really. She has long blond (and pink) hair and dances Latin in boots and a miniskirt. Fairly well I guess... she goes to choreo and then advances to Vegas.

Rebecca Hart, 19, CA (18657) is yet another blond contemp. dancer. Apparently she auditioned 2 weeks previously, in LA, and they said her style was too immature / competition dancer-ish. She's wearing an olive shirt today and dances well enough. Nigel says she's the best he's seen today, and Mary is impressed with how she's improved. So, she's going to Vegas.

Brice Casimir, 18, AZ (18633) moved to the US from Cameroon just a couple of years ago. He works at a retirement home & dances for the residents; aww! He doesn't connect with this audience, however, and gets sent to choreo but doesn't make it.

So there are 20 in Day 1's choreo: Brice doesn't advance but Susie and 11 others do.

Day 2-

1st is Cooper Zamorano, 19, CA (18388). White guy wearing jersey top and long shorts, dances contemporary and is great! Nigel compares him to Travis which, besides having dark hair, I agree is apt (style and voice-wise). Vegas.

Yesenia Gomez, 24, is a hip-hop dancer who auditioned last year and made it to Vegas. She has lost 50 pounds and says the show "inspired her to change her whole life"! She didn't like who she was, and this had been the first time someone saw beyond her exterior in giving her the chance to go to Vegas. Unfortunately she's had some knee problems and it acts up during her audition, so she does not advance but is encouraged to return next year. She is upset but still grateful she had the opportunity to show them what a difference they'd made in her life.

Philip Courter, 20, MI (18226) is Yessie's good friend (they auditioned together last year as well). A hip hop dancer previously called one-dimensional, he is now complimented as "three-dimensional" as all the judges love him and he advances to Vegas! He is very emotional and upset about Yessie and Nigel compassionately tries to encourage him. I think everyone watching tears up a bit!

The last dancer, like the first, is a female tap dancer. Lizz Plott, 24, NY (#18393) has long blond hair and wears a black jacket over a midriff-bearing blue top and jeans. She dances a cappella and is very, very good. She had auditioned last year doing contemporary/hip-hop to show her versatility, but now emphasizes she's "a tap dancer who can do other things." It works - she's going to Vegas!

The only person we see in choreo is Raymond Love, the 22-year old minister who auditioned earlier with a partner to a piece he choreographed based on The Song of Solomon (Nigel criticized him for not showing enough emotion). Not surprisingly he does not advance.

11 go to Vegas on Day 2, which makes 23 total from Milwaukee, and just over 200 total for the Vegas round tomorrow.

We now get to see a special "mystery dancer" who performed for the judges at the end of Day 1. It turns out to be Travis Wall in drag dancing to "It's Raining Men", and it's hilarious! If you missed this it's definitely worth looking up on YouTube.

At the end of tomorrow's previews we get very short clips of 18 dancers after Cat mentions the choosing of the Top 20, so I'm thinking it's a good bet these are Finalists. Here is my analysis / best guess as to their identity, in the order in which they're shown!

*Now in process of being updated...

- Kourtni (yes)
- Robert M (popper)
- a tall, thin, dark-skinned guy doing a pirouette - either Thayne or an unnamed guy from Dallas?
- a black gal I don't think we've seen, with medium-length hair and rather heavy make-up
- Matt D (yes)
- Janette
- Twitch? (or possibly Markus - shown in glasses & a beret) (yes)
- another unfamiliar gal, dark-skinned (Latino or Island-Pacific?) with long hair, in a yellow top
- Brandon (yes, but didn't make it)
- Katee (one of the red-haired roomies) (yes)
- a white breaker in a cap: Gev or Michael Kim?
- a black gal with long hair, in a long-sleeved black & white top - the hip-hop gal from Dallas perhaps? (the one Nigel said is the best female hh dancer they've had on the show) (yes) Comfort
- red-haired gal, either Natalie (the other roomie) or Kelli (famous choroeographer's kid)
- cute blond gal - Erika or Chelsie?
- another black male contemporary dancer - again, maybe Thayne?
- Susie (yes)
- white guy in a red hat - Gev, Michael Kim, or ??
- Asuka (yes, but didn't make it)
(and Matt is shown again)

Other favorites not identified here:
- William W (black contemp. guy)
- Leonidas (ballroom)
- Deonna (black gal, DC swing)
- Antwain??

Tomorrow we find out for sure!

Friday, May 23

AI7 - Links to Finale Performance Videos

For those of you who missed them, or didn't tape them & want to see any of them again, I've compiled a list of all the performances with YouTube links for most of them. (If you want to see the Jonas Brothers, Reynaldo, or Jordin, you're on your own!)

In most cases there is a "High Quality" version you can choose (look under "Views") if you have a high-speed connection.

Opener (all the Top 12, plus So You Think You Can Dance dancers)
"Get Ready"

Both Davids duet "Hero"

Syesha & Seal "Waiting for You"

Jason "Hallelujah"

Top 6 girls & Donna Summer Medley

Carly & Michael "The Letter"

Montage of Simon's comments (Introduced by Jimmy Kimmel)

Top 6 guys & Bryan Adams Medley

David Cook w/ZZ Top "Sharp Dressed Man"

Brooke w/Graham Nash "Teach Your Children"

(Jonas Bros. S.O.S., Reynaldo "Bros. Forever")

*David Archuleta w/One Republic "Apologize"

(Jordin Sparks "One Step at a Time")

*"Pips" Audition skit "Midnight Train to Georgia"
(Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr.)

Carrie Underwood "Last Name"

Guitar Hero ads -
*David Cook (Bwah!),
David Archuleta

Top 12 George Michael Medley / George Michael "Praying for Time"

or Just George

American Idol David Cook "Time of My Life"
('coronation song' - and it actually contains the word "rainbow"!)

or with announcement of winner first


Thursday, May 22


Wow, what a great show!! Lots of great entertainment... and a great ending.

97.5 million votes, a new record. 56% vs. 44%, a difference of 12 million - pretty big margin, actually!

Mikalah and Matt Rogers are hosting the home town parties.

While we don't get the "2 contestants from each season" back to perform, I spotted lots in the audience. Melinda, Sanjaya and Blake from last year; also Kim Caldwell & Justin Guarini, Bo & Caroline Bice, and red-haired Fantasia. Other celebs I sighted FWIW were Lori Loughlin, Cat Deeley, Marisa Jaret Winokour, Jeri Ryan, and Camryn Manheim. (And I think I forgot to mention it but last night I saw Luke Perry w/his kids - awwww!) Lots more were there of course and there are some good photos on the Fox site.

Top 12 (yay!) get the first performance number along with some SYTYCD dancers on "Get Ready, Here I Come." Would have been nice to *see* the dancers, though, dear Mr. Cameraman and Mr. Director. Awesome to see David Hernandez again even if he is stuck in the back. But he's one of the few in the Top 12 who can actually do this choreography, he should be up front! Hee. Oh and Chikieze sounds awesome!

Davids duet on "Hero" - nice!

Movie plug for The Love Guru... Davids got to see the movie (a month early) and went to meet with the lead character. A bit long and not that funny. However, Ryan then took a ride on the "magic carpet" and almost catapulted off the stage - that was funny!

Now we start performances by the rest of the finalists, starting with 3rd Place Syesha - duet with Seal on "Waiting for You." Good!

Jason Castro (4th Place) solos on "Hallelujah" and it's awesome.

Next we get a Ford video montage to "Let the Good Times Roll." Cut to Ryan on stage with the Davids. Ryan starts talking about the Hybrid and asks David Cook if he'd like to drive one... Cook, hesitant but smart, says "Yes..." and the screen shows 2 new shiny cars as Ryan pulls out 2 sets of keys. Both Davids are overwhelmed and of course very excited (and cute!)!

Top 6 Girls' Medley - Donna Summer songs, complete with SYTYCD breakdancers. Then Donna herself comes out to sing a new song and all of them do "Last Dance", with Syesha up front dueting with Ms. Summer.

Skipping 5th Place for now (and 7th for the whole show - poor Kristy Lee!), we have #6 Carly and #8 Michael singing a strange but ok arrangement of "The Letter." Ryan introduced them as "shocking" eliminations; hence the treatment as if they placed higher than they actually did. They definitely enjoy singing together though.

Jimmy Kimmel does a short bit.

Top 6 Guys' Medley - Bryan Adams songs. Enter Bryan, doing a song I don't know ("I Thought I'd Seen Everything"?), then finishing out with the group doing "Somebody Like You." Fun!

Jordin Sparks, our reigning champion! Promos the upcoming "Idol Experience" at Disney opening in January.

David Cook with ZZ Top! Doing "Sharp Dressed Man" - with David singing lead through the entire song. I'm sure that was fun for him!!

5th Place finalist Brooke duets with Graham Nash on "Teach Your Children"! Both are seated on stools, playing acoustic guitar. Very, very nice. Oh and there are video clips from Idol Gives Back in the background.

The Jonas Brothers do SOS.

Clip of bad auditions from the season, ending with Reynaldo ("I Am Your Brother") coming out live to perform, along with a marching band, and toward the end Paula and Randy as well. At least this was the only one of these this year (no more "Golden Idol" awards, yay!).

David Archuleta with One Republic on "Apologize"! I LOVE this song. OR does the 1st verse & chorus, then David comes out for the 2nd. Very nice, even though they have extremely different voices.

Now Jordin gets to perform - "One Step at a Time" Not a bad song (hee, Blake is shown in the audience at the end, singing along!), but the dress was hideous.

Best. Skit. Ever. Introduced as Gladys Knight doing auditions for the Pips, we get footage of Gladys singing "Midnight Train" (which I LOVE) and Ben Stiller (love), Jack Black, and Robert Downey, Jr. (LOVE) as the Pips! Complete with singing and choreography. For the whole. entire. song. That was awesome!

Carrie is back to sing her latest hit, "Last Name". And earlier she was in a commercial for a video game.

Which brings me to the Guitar Hero ads. Apparently there were 2, though I missed the first (I'm sure it'll be on YouTube tomorrow). Each David played Tom Cruise in Risky Business - yes, the dancing-in-underwear scene. I did a double-take as I caught Archuleta's version half-way through. Can't wait to see Cook's!

And our last performance - the whole Top 12 again, doing a George Michael medley!! Which is awesome for several reasons - I love G. Michael songs, and with the other medleys we got the celebrities too... could this mean we'll see George Michael?! (Sorry but in my book that's even better than Prince!) The girls do "Faith" (edited: she mumbled, but I guess Amanda didn't flub the words), then the guys do "Father Figure." I'm in heaven. And the 'casting' for the lines was brilliant... Chikieze sings about clothing... and David Hernandez gets the "bold and naked" line!! And does it totally tongue-in-cheek: whispers "naked" with a big grin afterward! Hilarious, and nice for him showing he's a good sport about the whole thing. Sigh, I *so* wish he were going to be on the tour. Oh well. Back to the medley... all 12 do "Freedom," and then yes, we get George Michael himself!! He sings "Praying for Time," the song Carrie did on Idol Gives Back. I didn't know the original so I was glad to see how he did it - very powerful (lyrically if not vocally - he said he had a cold but it's a 'soft' song anyway). What a great way to end this part of the show!

Time for results. Both guys are wearing jeans and black jackets over white shirts. Ryan goes to the judges for comments. Simon says that after re-watching the show last night, things weren't as "clear cut" as they first seemed, and he actually apologized (!) to David Cook for his comments that "bordered on being disrespectful." He also said "For the first time ever, I don't really care who wins!" Shortly we see that his apology was backpedaling in part to make himself look better, because...

The winner, by 12 million votes, is...

David... (and this is exactly where I'm told Tivo cut off because the show ran over - really bad timing, people!)


Wow. I'm in shock! Happy, but in shock. Of course he's all classy & acknowledges Archuleta for a while, but then breaks down... awwww! His folks (or mom, at least) and younger brother ("It's all your fault!" David tells him) come up on stage which doesn't help reign in the emotions. ;-) But he pulls it together just fine to sing the coronation song "Time of My Life." It's not too terribly puppies & rainbows sappy, or maybe he just makes it seem that way. I'm so happy for him! Archuleta doesn't really seem upset (though his father - and grandfather, from the soundbites Matt got about how this was such a "great opportunity for the whole family" - may be). Cook goes out to the judges' platform in the audience & ends out there, with all of the finalists.

Awesome show!!

Tuesday, May 20

AI7 - Final Performance Show (5/20/08)

We're here at last! The David-David finale many have predicted for so long. I hope they both perform well...

The show opens (and continues intermittently) with a boxing/prizefighting theme - from opening announcer ("in this corner...") giving their weights, to having 'coaches' (Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Weber, though they both coached both contestants), to having 3 "rounds" of songs. Ok, cute for something different. Ryan has the guys say a few words to each other and we're off! (DA: "This guy is awesome!" DC: "Now anything I say will sound trite... he's one of the most consistently nice people... at this point I consider the competition to be over, we're just having fun.")

Round 1: Clive's choice

Cook "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - wow! Wow for the 1st U2 song to be cleared for Idol. Wow for the awesome, amazingly enjoyable performance. (And, um, wow for how the last note kept going after David lowered the mic?!) Seriously, I'd be happy if the show ended right now. Judges loved it as well.

Archuleta "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" - Well, I was dreading this. While I'm no longer a rabid Clay fan by any means, this will always be (at least in the Idol realm) Clay's Song. David starts out sitting on the stage (stairs). Wait, this is good. Really, really good! Where has this performer been for the past 8 weeks?! Great vocals, awesome job. *This* is what a Finals should sound like (both of the songs this round)!

Round 2: Songwriters' Competition songs

- I like this: the guys were given the list of the Top 10 songs and got to choose which one they wanted to do! Which makes so much more sense than sticking the Rocker with the proverbial Puppies & Rainbows coronation song ("Do I Make You Proud" has to be partially responsible for Taylor's lack of success, n'est-ce pas?). So let's see what they came up with...

Cook "Dream Big"
- Cool! Nice, catchy pop/rock song, very radio-friendly. Great choice. Think he flubbed the words 2nd time through the chorus but didn't let it show. Randy & Paula liked. Simon, however, was not thinking about the "first single" aspect of the song, but solely the "sappy coronation moment" aspect, and thus declared it a poor choice.

Archuleta "In This Moment" - Well, it starts out with the title & just goes from there. Predictable, definite coronation-style song, but he performed it very well. Again with the semifinals-strong vocals and great stage presence/confidence - nice to see! Judges loved it. Simon said he really liked the self-centered lyrics and said this song was a much better choice "in keeping with tonight." (Um, yeah, Simon, call you really see Cook singing this song, or this type of song in general?! Think about it.)

Round 3: Contestants' Choice

Cook "The World I Know" - Woo-hoo, we do get to hear him do this!! He's playing acoustic guitar on this one & it's a nice, mellow version for the most part, changed up just enough to "make it his own." Showed his vocal range very well. He was very emotional at the end (awww!). Randy liked, saying he can see David doing this style of music on his album. Paula gave a standing ovation. Simon said that it was another poor choice, that he should have done "Billie Jean" or "Hello" again. David replied that he felt that this had been a progression for him and therefore he didn't want to go back & repeat anything.

Archuleta "Imagine" - In the intro David explains that he felt this was his strongest performance and that he really connects w/this song. I thought it might not be a good thing to end on a repeat, but he really pulled off another great performance and I think in his case this was a good choice (less risk than with a less-familiar song). Randy loved it, saying this is what this show is about, "finding the best singer," and that David A. is the best singer of Season 7. Paula loved it of course. Simon said that he considered tonight "one of *the* great finals" and declared this a "knockout."

After tonight's performance, I'm totally fine with Little David winning (as I think he will). The past several weeks he hasn't been performing up to standard, but tonight he showed once again that he is indeed a very good singer, and I don't think any less deserves to win (or has ever won in the past, like them or not). I'd be thrilled for David Cook if he does, but I don't think he needs the win to be successful.

The show closes with Ruben performing "Celebrate Me Home" live, to a montage of clips from the season, from initial auditions through the finals. Can't wait til tomorrow's extravaganza!


In other news...

Thoughts & prayers to Luke Menard & family in the wake of his recent cancer diagnosis.

And CONGRATS to Kristi Yamaguchi, the new (and very deserving) champ of Dancing with the Stars!!!

Thursday, May 15

AI7 - Top 3 Results & Trips Home

56 million votes last night! Group number "Ain't no Stopping Us Now," complete with cheesy choreo, thankyou! ;-) Ford music video: "Heaven." Guest performance: Fantasia (who barely sang at all, injecting a bunch of "yeah"s over her background singers' lyrics... a shot of Simon as she finished up showed him looking appropriately shocked, confused, and a little scared). And audience shots of the entire Top 12! (Plus Andrew Lloyd Webber, he apparently just won't go away.)

Each contestant gets footage from their visit home, usually involving local Fox morning shows, driving around in limos, visiting their former schools, malls/outdoor concerts, lots of screaming fans, and tears (only in one brief scene for David C; a lot for the other two, not surprisingly). Syesha sang "Proud Mary," David A sang "Imagine," and David C sang "Living on a Prayer." David C also got to throw out the first pitch at a K.C. Royals game. They also each have their "journey" video shown.

All 3 are on stage, and Ryan says he'll announce the two contestants that will be in the finale. First is David A (lots of clapping, cheering, and a little crying on David's part). 2nd is... suspense, kind-of... David Cook! Yay!! All is right in reality competition show elimination land this week (since Marissa finally left DwtS last night)! Syesha sang "If I Ain't Got You" again to end the show. Can't wait til next week!!

Tuesday, May 13

AI7 - Top 3 (5/13/08)

Top 3!! Not much to say before we jump in...

1st round is Judges' Choice.

David A (Paula, and the only one announced by the hometown mayor) - "And So It Goes" He started a cappella (or with a *very* soft band) and the whole song was very nice. I hadn't heard this in ages but it was a good fit for him. Judges liked it.

Syesha (Randy, via text message) - "If I Ain't Got You" Eh, it was good, but she's certainly not Alicia. Weird since Randy always says don't pick a diva song if you're not up to the challenge; but apparently he thought she was! He went on to say that he was glad she was peaking at the right time, and that's why she's standing up there "at number 3." Not "in the top 3;" he definitely said "number 3." Which is kind-of worse than Paula's gaffe 2 weeks ago; at least she had actually seen a performance to comment on (even if it was at dress rehearsals); it's not like this week's votes have been cast yet. Heh.

David C
(Simon, via text while he was on a local news show) - "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" He pretty much sang it straight, and it was awesome! Soooo much better than the other 2, it's like it was a different competition. Randy complained to Simon that he wanted David to rock more, but all the judges loved the performance. Simon stated that "Round 1" went to "Cook and Cowell."

2nd round is Contestants' Choice.

David A
- "With You" (Chris Brown) Good for him to something contemporary and uptempo (or "young," as he said), like this or a Disney artist, to show he can do more than ballads, because you know that's how they're going to market him. I'm not that familiar w/this but I read that he messed up the words (that's what, 3 times for him in the Top 12?! Is that a new record?). At least he connected w/the audience. Randy & Paula liked it but Simon said it was like "a chihuahua trying to be a tiger."

Syesha - "Fever" Another good choice, despite the judges' comments. She used a chair as a prop and Ricky Minor was on string bass right next to her. She actually reminded me a little bit of Katharine McPhee when she was strutting around the chair. Overall it was good. Paula said she didn't think it showed who Syesha is as a performer (yes, it did, she's good w/the dramatic & Broadway-style stuff), and Simon complained that she missed her opportunity to show she can do contemporary (but the judges & producers' choices did that for her, and she wanted to do something different!). Whatever.

David C - "Dare You to Move" (Switchfoot)! Cool!! This was way too short - he did like the whole verse & then a bit of the chorus & it was over - and it wasn't much different than the original, but it was good. He played acoustic guitar & said he chose it because the lyrics fit the situation. Randy said it was pitchy & Simon said it was just ok.

3rd round: Producers' Choice.

David A
- "Longer" Ooooh, I love this song!! Other than the background vocals being too loud, this was very, very good. Little David had a great night and should sail into the Finals. The judges liked his performance but complained about the choice, especially Simon who called it "gooey" and too old for him (he does have a point, David can't have loved anyone for very long....).

Syesha - "Hit Me Up" Another one I don't know, but it was decent. Good, but nothing wow. Judges pretty much agreed (Simon called the song itself "forgettable" - but it's not like *she* chose it! sigh...)

And David C closes the show with "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." I really wish I hadn't read all the spoilers, since all yesterday & most of today they were saying he was going to do "The World I Know" by Collective Soul, which would've been tres cool. Instead we get way overdone Aerosmith. Phooey! Oh well. I wonder if they knew Diane Warren was attending this week when they chose it?? Surely it wasn't a coincidence. Anyway, there was an orchestra in a half-circle behind him on stage, and he changed it up a bit and sang it well. But it was a bit anticlimactic for me. Randy said it was just ok & predictable, but Paula & Simon loved it. Simon is so erratic with his musical taste: he called this "one of the great songs of all time"! But he did say Cookie "won the night." We shall see whether the voters agree!!

I do predict an all-David finale as Syesha doesn't seem to inspire the same fanaticism as the boys, but then she's held on longer than anyone expected and Ryan keeps telling us the votes have been close. But a lot of Jason's fans will vote for David C, so I'm still going to go with the expected though and say she's the boot - let's hope!

Wednesday, May 7

AI7 - Top 4 Results (5/7/08)

Almost 51 million votes last night! Well, I had one friend vote for about 5 hours, so obviously the lines were open a long time. Ryan also tells us the top 3 were within 1 million votes of each other.

Group song: "Reelin' in the Years" - fun, as usual!

First up is David A., who is, of course, safe, and will be participating in the Top 3 Hometown Visits next week (love those!).

The group got to go to Vegas again this week, for Cirque du Soleil's Beatles show "Love." And the accompanying outdoor dolphin habitat. No, I don't know why.

Next is David C. who is, of course, also safe! Yay, no shocking boot tonight.

Ford Video is "Ring of Fire," mariachi style! With the contestants dressed as bullfighters (and a car as the 'bull').

Call-ins... mostly boring.

Guest performance: Maroon 5! 2nd guest performance: Bo Bice! (Aww, Caroline is pregnant again! Bo's such a cute dad.)

And lastly it's Jason and Syesha... in response to Ryan's asking why he's been struggling, Jason said it's his lack of experience & having to do 2 songs/week (3 if you count the groups). Fortunately he won't have to tackle 3 next week, as he is, indeed, eliminated. He gets part of a sing-out, the band started late or something.

2 more weeks and that's it! Hopefully David C. finds his mojo next week and rocks the house. Pez out!

Tuesday, May 6

AI7 - Top 4 (5/6/08)

Tonight's theme is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so it's a pretty wide category. Ryan tells us that 3 of these 4 contestants have been top vote-getters at least once this season! (I'm guessing it's the 3 guys....)

David Cook
starts us off with "Hungry Like the Wolf." I love this song! He doesn't 'do' much with it, but it's a good, fun performance. Though I can already hear buzz about doing another 'stalker' song! The judges liked it though would have preferred he did more with it to personalize it (and later he agreed).

Syesha chose "Proud Mary," despite the fact (she tells us) that it's had over 100 covers and has intimidating choreography. She chose wrong. The slow beginning was ok, even good (not great), but when she went into the fast section and attempted the typical choreo... just. no. Made me miss Nadia!! (Not that she did this song, but she performed with the abandon and confidence in movement - done because she *felt* it in the song, not because it was staged - that Syesha lacks). Randy & Paula loved it, but Simon said it was a bad, shrieky impersonation of Tina Turner (and I agree).

Jason: Bob Marley's version of "I Shot the Sheriff" - I wasn't familiar w/this version but it's a perfect pick for Jason. He also seemed really into it & is obviously a big fan of Marley. Nothing 'wow,' but decent. Randy said it was too karaoke; Paula said he did a good job of performing "to the audience" but didn't really like the choice or performance; Simon said the arrangement was "atrocious" (which makes me wonder if he knows the Marley version? I don't, so I don't know how similar it was, but I can totally see Simon saying something like that if he only knows Clapton's....).

David A. closes the first half with "Stand by Me," a predictable though fitting choice. He sang it well and had a really impressive vocal on the high part at the end; he's had a good two weeks, reminiscent of his performances in the semifinals. The crowd loved it as did the judges (Randy acted like it was the best thing since sliced bread though, which was a bit much).

Round 2...

David C: "Baba O'Reilly"! He changed it up a bit, but it's a really difficult song to shorten and still pull off well. The soft build-up and then jump into the loud part... and all of a sudden it's over! So I don't know... it was very good, but still not up to par w/his best. Randy & Paula agree; Randy said he still seemed restrained; but Simon said "welcome back!"

Syesha picks "A Change is Gonna Come" and talks about how the song was done during the Civil Rights Movement, which was a very important time in our history (yes, she actually said that as if to enlighten us). Then she goes on to say that after last week's results show (i.e. finding herself in the top 4) her thinking about the song took on a new meaning because she had changed so much herself during this Idol journey. Yep, you got it - being a contestant making it to the finals of American Idol is like facing violent racism and bigotry. She's alluded similarly to her own self-importance before and I didn't take it seriously, but this is just too much. Will be interesting to see what the internet buzz about it is.... Ok, back to the performance. Well, I actually haven't watched the whole thing yet as Dancing w/the Stars was more interesting at the time, but what I did see was good! However, Randy - Mr. "If you can't show off vocals like Whitney/Celine/Mariah then don't sing a diva song" - said she OVER-embellished it! Ok, it was a different style, but still. Be consistent, dawg (oh, right, this is Idol! never mind). Simon and Paula disagreed though, and Paula gave her a standing ovation, calling it a "superstar performance." Syesha was all emotional over the song & Ryan pressed her as to why & she went into the whole 'new meaning' spiel again and Paula even alluded to agreeing with her. Time to move on!

Jason's 2nd choice is "Mr. Tambourine Man" and he plays guitar while sitting in a chair (as opposed to on a stool). He forgot the words!! Sigh. He recovered fairly well, but didn't even make anything up, just hummed/la-la'd through that section. Not good. I've heard VFTW has picked him up and with his continually motivated fan base he might not suffer; we'll see. The judges didn't have anything good to say and Simon said "pack your suitcase."

David A
closes with a very smart choice, "Love Me Tender." Accompanied only by a grand piano, he has changed up the melody a bit (or perhaps not - I heard someone suggest this is Norah Jones' arrangement?) and had very strong vocals. Either way, the crowd and judges loved it. Simon said he "crushed" the competition tonight.

Anyone not named David could be going home. ;-) I'd rather it be Jason at this point but would be fine w/either.

(And I just learned I have some more lurkers... post a comment & introduce yourselves, why don't you?! ;-) )