Monday, April 30, 2007

Chris and Blake Hit The Town


Looks like party time again for a couple of this year's Idol wannabes, as Chris and Blake were seen entering Parc nightclub this weekend. You can view the video clip here.

Chris certainly seems like he is warming up to the Hollywood lifestyle, no?

Top 6/Top 5 - Who is in Danger This Week?



Wow, I think I'm experiencing deja vu -- wasn't it just last week I was asking who of the Top 6 was going to be in danger this week? Due to the now-infamous "non-elimination," we've still got six contestants left! Now, however, everything has changed, as two contestants will get eliminated this week, with the huge amount of votes from last week's performances carried over and combined with votes from tomorrow night. Who's gonna go?

Last Monday I suggested that Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson were the contestants most in danger of facing elimination. Now, however, I've got to re-evaluate...since 70 million votes were cast last week (as opposed to the average of 35 million or so), last week's vote totals will factor heavily into not only which contestant finishes in 6th place, but also who finishes in 5th. Assuming voting totals level out this week at, say, 40 million, the contestants who finished lowest last week have a perhaps insurmountably unphill battle ahead of them.

As always, song choice and performance order could effect the outcome, but here's how I view the landscape with approximately 32 hours to go until showtime.

Jordin Sparks
If there is one person who will have benefited from all of this past week's insanity, it is Jordin Sparks. First, she gave a stunning performance on "Inspirational Songs" night (performing in the last, "pimp" spot, no less) that will have certainly earned her a huge amount of the 70 million total votes cast. I'd be shocked if she wasn't the highest votegetter last week. Then, on top of that, she was used by the producers of the show as the potential "shocker," being made to stand up, by herself, with tears streaming down her face, as Ryan teased the "most shocking results" ever. Almost every commentary I have read of "Idol Gives Back" has expressed sympathy for what Jordin was put through, and if there is one thing that consistently holds true on American Idol, it is that sympathy = votes. Jordin is a sure bet to sail into the Top 4.
Chance of going home: less than 1%

Blake Lewis
Last week I thought there wasn't a chance Blake would be going home, especially after his Bottom 3 showing the previous week (the "boomerang effect" at work). His performance of "Imagine" wasn't extraordinary, but the critical drubbing her took from the judges should have earned him enough "I'm scared he's gonna go home" votes to put him in a good position for this week. In addition, he should be able to rock out to a Bon Jovi song. I think he'll be okay.
Chance of going home: 8%

Melinda Doolittle
For weeks it looked like the "shocking elimination" of the season was going to be LaKisha, but as the competition went on, it became more and more clear that if LaKisha is to be eliminated, it will not be so much of a shock after all. Despite unwaveringly strong performances, I am now starting to worry that it could be Ms. Mindy Doo who, in fact, will be the one who exits before her time. With nary a Bottom 3 showing (or a bum note sung, no less), she would seem to be safe, but that saftey could turn into voter complacency, resulting in a too-early ouster (remember it was the Top 5 when Ruben Studdard tumbled into the Bottom 2, and with two contestants going home this week, a Bottom 2 showing is as good as being eliminated). I still have hope that she's gonna make it to the Top 3, but in order for that to happen her fans are going to have to remember that their girl needs their votes this week. With 2 or 3 other contestants clearly in danger, let's hope Melinda doesn't slip through the crack while fans turn out to support those they think need them more.
Chance of going home: 12%

Phil Stacey
Going into last week, I thought Phil was heading for the door. Now, he could be heading for the Top 4. After two straight weeks of country-tinged performances, Phil stands to benefit the most from last week's non-elimination vote-carryover after his strong rendition of Garth Brooks "Changing." He also seems to have a bit of momentum going for him, which is invaluable at this stage in the game. I never would have thought it a few weeks ago, but unless Phil totally tanks this week, he could very well outlatst both LaKisha and Chris.
Chance of going home: 21%

Chris Richardson
A perfect storm of events spared Chris two weeks ago -- his Bottom 3 showing the previous week, the critical drubbing he took from the judges, and the brouhaha over the Virgina Tech comments. I had predicted the boomerang effect would leave him fighting for his life last week (in fact, I thought he would be the one eliminated), and, like LaKisha, he's going to have a huge battle ahead of him to fight against the weighted vote totals. He's going to have to hope Phil takes a nosedive -- otherwise I think we should get ready to say goodbye to the cutie.
Chance of going home: 28%

LaKisha Jones
Two straight songs from former Idols? Really, LaKisha? She's pretty much sealed her own fate on that one, and she's got a huge uphill battle considering the weighted vote totals. Like I said above, at this point a LaKisha ouster seems less a surprise and more a likelihood. Even if she really pulls out all the stops and reminds voters why they fell in love with her in the first place, I think the vote totals are so stacked against her, it's going to be nearly impossible for her to save herself. I'm afraid Kiki's going home.
Chance of going home: 33%

So there it is -- going into the Top 6, I think LaKisha, Chris, and Phil need to be the most worried, and right now I think Kiki and Chris are most likely to get the boot. As I said, anything could change after Tuesday night, but these contestants, especially, better give their performances all that they've got -- it could be their last shot.

Another Idol In Jail: Jessica Sierra Arrested

Is it just me, or does it seem like those fomer Idols sure seem to end up in a lot of trouble? Season 4 finalist Jessica Sierra is the latest to find herself in the clinker, arrested this weekend on drug and assault charges. You can read about the incident here, as well as take a look at her, um, hot mug shot.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Now That My Anger Has Waned...



Now that my anger has waned after Wednesday's well-intentioned annoyance-fest, it is time to accentuate the positive -- as the numbers come in ($60 million and counting) it seems despite the poor execution of the event, the results will have made it worth it. We also have the good fortune of being able to download the few musical highlights of the evening on itunes, with the money going to charity, to boot -- Carrie Underwood "Stand By You," Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up," Annie Lennox' "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," and (if you must) Celine Dion and Elvis Presley's "If I Can Dream."

You can buy a charity album, which I think has all of the songs except Carrie's, but if you are only going to buy one, make it Kelly Clarkson (featuring Jeff Beck) singing "Up To The Mountain." It was breathtaking when she sang it on the show, and this crystal clear live recording is a true treasure to be able to have and listen to over and over. I should know -- I just listened to it four times in a row. Her voice is so soulful, so rich, so perfectly somehow both clear and raw at the same time, and she brings the perfect amount of emotion to the song. If you thought you loved it on Wednesday night when you watched the show, but were slightly distracted by the horrible dress she was wearing (I mean, Kelly, really?), you will absolutely go crazy for this recording. It's too easy to call her the best thing to ever come from American Idol -- I think she's quite possibly the best thing to come from music in the past few years. She's amazing. Buy the song. It can save a life.

As for the no-elimination thing, I'll save that for another post...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again" Video Set For May 1 Premiere


Lots of Kelly news these days...and I couldn't be happier about it!

After wowing the country with her gorgeous rendition of Patty Griffin's "Up To the Mountain" on last night's "Idol Gives Back," Ms. C. will premiere the video for her new single "Never Again" on the Tuesday May 1 edition of MTV's TRL.

I can't wait!

Click here for a list of Kelly's upcoming tour dates, which go on sale May 12.

(The picture above is from the shoot of Kelly's video, courtesy of JustJared)

Idol Makes Me Mad: "Results" Show Recap



In six seasons of American Idol I am not sure I have ever been as annoyed as I was tonight. Considering all of the painful performances, shocking eliminations, and bloated results shows I have sat through, that is saying a lot.

In my recap of last night's show, I commended the producers for finding a way to integrate the charity efforts with the contestant's performances. Tonight, all of that was shot to hell.

Let me first say I am glad that a ton of money was raised for such good causes. As I said last night, Idol has given a lot of people a lot of pleasure, and I'm glad that so many wanted to give back by contributing to these very worthy charities.

Having said that, tonight's show was a big mess. There seemed to be no articulated focus -- we were, apparently calling to support Africa (there was hardly a mention of a specific nation, just "Africa" in general), literacy in Kentucky, Katrina relief in New Orleans, homelessness in Atlanta, food banks in Los Angeles, and more. It would be nice to think that $30 million could save the world, but dispersed among a dozen or so charities? Helpful, but hardly world-changing.

Then there was the way the various segments were produced. Many of the images and stories were, of course, devastating, and if they shined a light on causes for concern around the globe, then great. However, the segments were so manipulative, so self-congratulatory, and ultimately so patronizing to both the viewers and the subjects they were featuring that I almost vomited in my mouth on several occasions. I mean, forcing those kids to look into the camera and say "Thank you" before sending them back to their malaria ravaged villages? Filming AIDS-stricken children as they are on their way to the hospital to die? Randy Jackson forcing that poor kid to "go long" to catch a miniature nerf football? Just not right.

Then there were the performances, which, with only a couple of exceptions, were just plain bad. 90% of the stars that had been advertised for weeks appeared in unfunny pre-taped clips (some lasting less than 5 seconds) and the performers who did show up didn't look very inspired to be there, or were just plain bad (I'm talking about you, Il Divo). The Ben Stiller bit wasn't even a little bit humorous, and the "Staying Alive" video got old after about 12 seconds. And how about that Bono-penned song? I'm guessing he wrote that in the 15-minute car ride on the way to meet with the contestants.

And don't even get me started on that ridiculous Elvis/Celine duet. Embarrassing.

The highlight of the evening for me was the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson, who gave a spectacular, appropriately emotional performance of a Patty Griffin song, accompanied by noted guitarist Jeff Beck. While her choice of outfit was questionable, her vocals were absolutely magnificent. I just love that girl.

Josh Groban's performance with the African children's choir was also a highlight, particularly as the camera panned across the beaming faces of the children as they sang. I also enjoyed Annie Lennox' rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Carrie Underwood's pre-taped performance of "I'll Stand By You."

But here's where I really start to get mad -- after making us sit through a well-intentioned but torturous two hours, they didn't even eliminate anybody! I saw this "shocking result" coming a mile away (basically from the moment Ryan announced that it would be the "most shocking results ever"), and, unfortunately, I had 120 minutes to get angrier and angrier about it. Yes, it would have seemed strange to send someone packing after the events of the evening, but this was an American Idol results show, people, and not eliminating someone tonight is going to impact the competition in very serious ways.

And while part of me says I should lighten up and accept that this was just a sacrifice for the good causes celebrated tonight, I can't help but be annoyed, as this is a competition that we, the viewers, are encouraged to take seriously. These kids careers are on the line, and people spent hours voting last night. Yes, the results will carry over to next week, but in combining two weeks worth of results, any number of outcomes can occur that will have been affected by this twist. Without knowing who would have been kicked off this week, or who would have been in danger, any number of things can happen next week -- in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Melinda or Blake gets the boot as a result.

I'm a little mad, can you tell?

Ultimately, I'll get over it, and next week I'll be back in the mindset of the competition, trying to figure out which two contestants will be sent packing. Until then, though, I'm gonna stew a bit. After two hours of manipulative, insulting torture tonight, I think I'm allowed.

Kelly Clarkson Announces Tour Dates


Kelly Clarkson sure loves touring! Here are the just-announced dates for her upcoming tour supporting her new album "My December":
7/11 Portland, OR

7/13 Seattle, WA

7/15 Sacramento, CA

7/17 San Jose, CA

7/19 Anaheim, CA

7/21 Denver, CO

7/22 Kansas City, MO

7/25 Minneapolis, MN

7/27 St. Louis, MO

7/29 Chicago, IL

7/31 Detroit, MI

8/2 Toronto, ON

8/4 Boston, MA

8/5 Albany, NY

8/12 Uncasville, CT

8/14 Cleveland, OH

8/16 Philadelphia, PA

8/18 Nassau, NY

8/19 Washington DC

8/22 East Rutherford, NJ

8/24 East Rutherford, NJ

8/26 Nashville, TN

8/28 Atlanta, GA

8/30 Ft Lauderdale, FL

9/1 Orlando, FL

9/2 Tampa, FL

9/5 Dallas, TX

9/7 Houston, TX

9/13 Calgary, AB

9/14 Edmonton, AB

9/16 Vancouver, BC

9/19 Fresno, CA

9/21 San Diego, CA

9/23 Phoenix, AZ

9/26 Los Angeles, CA

9/28 Las Vegas, NV

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Am So Mad At American Idol Right Now

SPOILER ALERT

I am so mad at American Idol right now. I'm all for charity, but not kicking somebody off tonight? Just wrong.

Full recap of tonight's painful "Idol Gives Back" to come...

More Info About Tonight's "Idol Gives Back" Extravaganza

According to an interview with American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe on Ryan Seacrest's radio show this morning, here is some more information about tonight's big show:

A record number of votes were recieved (far exceeding the 50 million)!
Madonna will be there!
Kelly Clarkson will be performing with guitarist Jeff Beck!
Annie Lennox will be performing "Bridge Over Troubled Water!"
The contestants will be singing Bono's "American Prayer!"

As has been reported elsewhere, Celine Dion will be performing a duet of "If I Can Dream" with a virtual Elvis Presley.

There is also a rumor circulating that Carrie Underwood will be performing live from Africa.

2PM Update:
*Carrie Underwood's performance has now been confirmed -- she will be performing "I'll Stand By You" from South Africa
*Madonna will be appearing via a pre-taped message, she will not be appearing live on the show
*Josh Groban will perform with the African Children's Choir

Stay tuned for more info...

Top 6 - Who is Going Home Tonight?



Yes, it's time once again to try and figure out who will be going home tonight, joining the illustrious company of former 6th place finishers Christina Christian, Carmen Rasmussen, John Stevens, Constantine Maroulis, and Kellie Pickler.

This is the week that is responsible for one of the bigger shockers in Idol history (Constantine), but also some fairly run-of-the-mill eliminations (Carmen, John Stevens). Will we be in for a surprise tonight, or a ho-hum kick-off?

As I have done since the beginning of the Top 12, I think the best way to make a prediction as to who is going to get kicked off tonight is by process of elimination -- figure out who is most likely to be safe, and go from there. After getting it right for the past two weeks (see ya later Haley and Sanjaya), will I keep my streak alive?

I've identified three zones: Green (safe), Yellow (not on solid ground), and Red (danger danger danger!) Here goes...

Click here to read More Info About Tonight's Show - Madonna Will Be There!
Click here to read my Top 6 Performances Recap
Click here to read Ten Best 'Top 6' Performances of All Time

Green Zone: Safe
For the first time this season, this category is Melinda-less -- but it does feature a repeat visit from Jordin Sparks. Closing the show with a bang, Jordin secured her spot as a frontrunner in this competition, and there is no chance she will be leaving tonight.

Yellow Zone: Not on solid ground
Yes, she's been demoted to the Yellow Zone, but I'm not too worried about Melinda getting the boot tonight. It's true that her remarkable consistency may be starting to work against her, but on a week where the Idols were asked to sing inspirational music I found Melinda particularly inspiring, and I think she's a pretty sure bet to make the Top 5.

I didn't love Blake Lewis last night as much as I usually do, but he's got a couple of things going for him -- he was in the Bottom 3 last week, and the judges did not give him particularly strong praise. I think both of things will work to his benefit, however, as his fans know that he is in trouble, and will rally to save him. Assuming he makes the Top 5 (which I think he will), hopefully he'll bring back his beatboxing next week and infuse a little fire into his performances.

Phil Stacey, meanwhile, wisely stuck to the country genre, and pulled out another winning vocal performance. Even if he was lacking the emotion some of his competitors brought to their performances, Phil's got momentum, and that is huge at this point in the competition. After all those weeks in the Bottom 3, who would have thought Phil would make it to the Top 5? Right now, it's looking like it's going to happen.

Red Zone: Danger! Danger! Danger!
That leaves us with Chris Richardson and LaKisha Jones -- in my opinion the likeliest candidates for the Bottom 2 slots tonight (I'm guessing Phil will take the third spot if there is, in fact, a Bottom 3).

LaKisha is now making her third straight appearance in the Red Zone -- could this be the week she goes home? It was a risk singing yet another song by a former Idol, and the risk didn't quite pay off. However, I actually don't think LaKisha's performance was quite as bad as the judges made it out to be, and if anything is going to save her, it will be that other Kiki fans (and, possibly, non-Fantasia fans or fans who did not watch Season 3 of the show) felt the same way and took to the phones to show their support. In addition, LaKisha was in the Bottom 2 last week, so her fans clearly know she is in danger. I find it a little hard to believe that after making it through the first 5 weeks without hitting the Bottom 3 her fanbase will have deserted her this quickly, so I'm guessing she's gonna eek through this week.

Which brings us to the king of nasal -- Chris Richardson, who I think will be going home tonight. I actually thought Chris gave one of his strongest performances of the season last night, but both times he has performed strongly and gotten strong praise from the judges he has found himself in the Bottom 3. In addition, the "Cake" fans (fans of both Chris and Blake) were probably concentrating their efforts on saving Blake, since it was Blake who was in the Bottom 3 last week, and Blake who was panned by the judges. Since Chris was safe last week, these fans may have (foolishly) thought Chris didn't need their support in quite the same way he did last week after the Virgina Tech comment controversy.

So there it is...Chris Richardson is getting the boot.

Gulp.

Inspring Idols: Top 6 Performances



"The calls you make won't only save your favorite contestants...they'll also save lives."

American Idol is so deep.

Yes, after weeks of anticipation, we have finally arrived at "Idol Gives Back," the two-night charity extravaganza. I have to say, I was a bit skeptical about how this clearly well-intentioned program was going to be integrated with the rest of the show -- would it come off as cheesy? Manipulative? Well, color me surprised -- I was genuinely moved (goosebumps and all) seeing Simon getting choked up about the conditions in Africa, watching Randy visit with Katrina-ravaged residents of New Orleans, and seeing Paula hugging Atlanta children who are without health care. I truly hope that people vote like crazy tonight, and donate during the big telethon tomorrow. Idol has given me a lot of joy over the past few years -- it would be remiss if I (and the show) couldn't give something back. Kudos, Idol, well done.

Oh yeah, and it's also the Top 6. On to the (gloriously Sanjaya-less) performances...

Chris Richardson
There's the Chris I love! Lookin' super-fine in a hot jacket/tie/cargo pants number, Chris was sexy, soulful, and totally credible bringing, yes, his "nasally" style to the Eric Clapton tune "If I Could Save the World." He even seemed like he had an identity this evening, outside of the Timberlake-isms. When this boy smiles, my heart melts a little bit -- and tonight, as an added bonus, when he sang my ears didn't bleed!

As always with Chris, however, when the judges heap praise on him I get a bit nervous that the viewers will relax their fingers. And with fellow cutie Blake having been in the Bottom 3 last week and therefore getting the attention of the tween set, could this be the last time we've seen Chris perform? If so, at least he will have gone out on a high note.

Melinda Doolittle
I have loved the Faith Hill song "There Will Come A Day" since Faith performed it on the telethon immediately following 9/11, so I was super-psyched to hear that Melinda would be performing it tonight.

And she did not disappoint. Giving it her own Melinda spin, she really did give us, in Simon's words, a "vocal masterclass." Sure, Melinda doesn't have the thrilling high notes that Jordin brings to her performances, but she is so assured, so soulful, and so musically gifted, you can't help but believe her. I'm falling in love with Melinda all over again.

Blake Lewis
When it was announced that Blake was in the Bottom 3 last week, I was mad -- I'm counting on my boy making it to at least the Top 3. Having said that, however, his performance of the John Lennon classic "Imagine" tonight was totally yawn-inducing. Where is the Blake excitement? The fire? The uniqueness? At least when Jennifer Hudson and Ruben Studdard sang this beautiful but not particularly dynamic song they brought a soulful flavor to it. Blake brought, well, I'm not quite sure.

It was in tune, and, yes, it was sincere, so I'll give him that. And his hair looked cute. Beyond that, though...

LaKisha Jones
Oh LaKisha, did you not learn your lesson last week when you chose a song originated by a former Idol winner and ended up in the Bottom 2? Fantasia's "I Believe" is a better choice than Carrie's "Jesus Takes the Wheel," but 'Tasia put such an indelible spin on the song, and sang it with such passion and committment (elements often lacking in Kiki's performances) that she was sure to suffer by comparison.

And suffer she did. If I had never heard 'Tasia's screechy magnificence on this song, this might have blown me away, since it was actually pretty well sung. As is, though, it seemed like a B-grade karaoke version. And I can't lie -- if this is a preview of what LaKisha would be like performing the winner's single in four weeks time, I can't say I'm terribly impressed.

Phil Stacey
It's a little late in the game, but Phil finally seems to have found his sense of style, rockin' a pretty sharp faux-tuxedo jacket.

Wisely sticking with the country genre, he sounds pretty darn fantastic on the Garth Brooks song "Change." I think I figured out what is lacking in Phil's performances for me, though -- he doesn't play to the camera, and, as a result, I don't feel connected to him. If I close my eyes and just listen to him sing, I am really quite moved. But watching him still leaves me a little cold. Still, though, a very solid effort.

Jordin Sparks
In the past few weeks, Jordin has very quickly become one of my favorites, quite possibly my very favorite, in this competition. And this week she chose a real singer's song -- and hit it out of the ballpark. Bringing all of the emotion that Phil was lacking in his performance, she felt that song, and looked gorgeous doing it. She was a little wobbly on the lower notes at the beginning, but all of that fell by the wayside once she got into the chorus. And how about that final note? That was crystal clear, Season 1-Kelly Clarkson quality. Simply maginificent.

Wrap-Up
Overall, this was easily the best night of singing we have seen all season, and has gotten me very excited for what the next several weeks will bring. Melinda and Jordin duked it out for my "Best in Show" title, but I'm going to take the easy way out and declare it a tie. Blake was the weakest of the evening in my eyes, but I'm guessing the Bottom 3 will consist of Chris, LaKisha, and Phil. Check back tomorrow at around noon for my final prediction of who will be going home.

And remember to vote, vote, vote -- it could save a life.

My Rankings:
1. (Tie) Jordin Sparks and Melinda Doolittle
3. Chris Richardson
4. LaKisha Jones
5. Phil Stacey
6. Blake Lewis

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Heather Mills Disabled From The Competition



In yet another bloated Dancing with the Stars results show, there were very few highlights, and many more questions. Among the more pressing inquiries:

-Despite how adorable Julianne's brother is, is it not a bit creepy to see a brother and sister do a sexy Latin dance together?

-How lame was it to see the Dreamgirls dancers lip synching? I mean, really? And are we supposed to believe it is a coincidence that the dancers were featured on the show the same week the DVD is released?

-Could those Jimmy Kimmel sketches be any more annoying?

-Is the clip package about how "goofy" the contestants are during rehearsals the most pointless film clip of the season thus far? (This one I'm going to answer -- yes!)

As for the elimination, it is a bit of a disappointment to see Heather go -- she really was an inspiration, and her pluck and determination were fun to watch. And who really wants to see John Ratzenberger perform again? Not I, said the fly.

Ah well.

Bucky Scores Top 5 Debut, Daughtry and Underwood Also in Top 10

Bucky Covington became the fourth Idol alumni from the show's fifth season to score a Top 5 debut this week, landing at #4 with sales just north of 61K. He is joined in the Top 10 by Daughtry (#6 with about 53K albums sold) and Carrie Underwood (#9 with 45K sold). While Bucky's debut is the highest in the show's history for a contestant who finished outside of the Top 4, his sales were significantly lower than the first week sales of Taylor, Katharine, Chris, and Elliott.

Avril Lavigne tops the chart with about 290K sold, while last week's Idol mentor Martina McBride enjoyed a 30% bump from her appearance on the show, good enough for the #5 spot.

The former Idols are experiencing lots of success on the radio as well -- click here to read Former Idols Account For 15% of Top 40.

Happy Birthday Kelly Clarkson!



Thanks to Idol Thoughts reader (and friend) Josh Reid for reminding me that today is the day the magnificent Kelly Clarkson entered the world. Yes, Kelly is 25 years old today... Happy Birthday Kelly!!

On a Kelly-related side note, her new single "Never Again" is now available for download on itunes. In celebration of Kelly's birthday, download it now!

Can't wait to see what kind of goodness our girl is gonna bring back to the Idol stage tomorrow night for "Idol Gives Back"...

Former Idols Account For 15% of Pop's Top 40



I was glancing at the Mediabase charts this morning, and noticed something pretty remarkable -- now that Elliott Yamin's "Wait for You" has entered the Top 40 Pop chart, there are now a whopping SIX songs from former American Idol contestants on this chart. That is 15% -- astounding by any measure. The six songs on this chart are:

7. Daughtry, "It's Not Over"
14. Carrie Underwood, "Before He Cheats"
21. Daughtry, "Home"
23. Kelly Clarkson, "Never Again"
27. Katharine McPhee, "Over It"
40. Elliott Yamin, "Wait For You"

Wow.

The radio airplay domination doesn't end there...there are 12 (twelve!) former Idols with a song on either the Pop, Hot AC, AC, Urban AC, or Country charts (including all five of the show's winners), and 15 different songs overall. What does this prove? Anyone who suggests that Idol isn't having a huge influence on the music biz is full of crap!

Here's a breakdown of how the Idols are currently looking on the radio:
(*note, these numbers are from Mediabase charts, which are updated about twice a day, and not from Billboard's weekending charts)


  • Daughtry's two singles ("It's Not Over" at #2 and "Home" at #18) as well as Underwood's "Before He Cheats" (#9) and Clarkson's "Never Again" (#22) are all in the Top 30 on the Hot AC chart. That's 13%.


  • Kimberley Locke's "Change" (#12), Daughtry's "It's Not Over" (#18), Taylor Hicks' "Just To Feel That Way" (#20), and Underwood's "Before He Cheats" (#25) are all in the Top 30 on the Mainstream AC chart, with Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes" still receiving a ton of weekly spins.


  • Carrie's "Wasted" is currently the #1 song on the Country chart, with Bucky Covington's "A Different World" (#23) and Kellie Pickler's "I Wonder" (#25) also doing well. Carrie's "Before He Cheats" is recurrent on this chart.


  • Ruben Studdard has two songs in the Top 15 on the Urban AC chart ("Make Ya Feel Beautiful" at #7 and "Change Me" at #15), while Jennifer Hudson's "And I Am Telling You" is at #10 and Fantasia's ""When I See You" is at #13).

I'll say it again...wow.

Song Spoilers for Tonight's Show - Top 6

There's a lot happening in the message boards today, with lots of talk of conspiracy and song choices. I try to avoid all of the conspiracy chatter -- it's been around since Season 1 and nothing has ever been proven, so I find it a bit of a waste of time to focus on. This is not to suggest that there definitively isn't some sort of conspiracy at play -- I guess I am just choosing to believe that there is too much at stake for the show to play shady, and until I see hard evidence, I'm going to remain (naively?) optimistic.

As for tonight's show, here are the supposed spoilers and performance order...stop reading now if you want to be surprised!

Chris Richardson - "If I Could Change the World" (Eric Clapton)
Melinda Doolittle - "There Will Come A Day" (Faith Hill)
Blake Lewis - "Imagine" (John Lennon)
LaKisha Jones - "I Believe" (Fantasia)
Phil Stacey - "The Change" (Garth Brooks)
Jordin Sparks - "You'll Never Walk Alone" (the musical Carousel)

At first glance, I have to say these are some really solid choices. The Clapton tune should suit Chris' vocal tone quite nicely; I have loved "There Will Come a Day" since I heard Faith Hill sing it on the 9/11 telethon back in '01; Blake could really put an interesting spin on "Imagine"; Phil is wise to go back to the country well; and Jordin could really create some magic on "You'll Never Walk..." LaKisha seems to have once again chosen a song sung by a former Idol, but this is one that she could really put her own stamp on.

Should be an interesting night...

Ay Carumba: Dancing with the Stars Performances



It's Monday night, which can only mean one thing -- it's time for some cheese-tastic Dancing with the Stars. Here we go...

Joey and Kym
Do I detect a bit of homophobia in all of this talk about Joey Fatone and "masculinity"? A little ironic, don't you think, considering Dancing with the Stars is hands down the campiest show on television. As for the dancing, I thought Joey was great -- entertaining, sharp, even a bit sexy (who ever thought I'd be saying that about the Fat-one, who, come to think of it, should perhaps now be referred to as Not-So-Fat-One).
My Score: 9

Heather and Jonathan
I gotta say, seeing Heather fall last week only made me like her more. And how 'bout that, um, cleavage this week? Where did those come from? I can't say I loved the performance (it was a bit sloppy), but I do have respect for the lady.
My Score: 7

John and Edyta
First off, Edyta's body is sick. I have to agree with Carrie Ann -- it was cute. Not good, per se, but, yes, it was cute. Having said that, I'm ready for him to go -- he just doesn't have the chops to keep up with the likes of Joey, Ian, and Apolo, and he's not as charming as George Hamilton or even Jerry Springer. It is, however, good to see that Norm came out to support Cliff Clavin.
My Grade: 6

Laila and Max
I love that Laila has brought her competitive spirit to this competition, and that she shows that desire to win while still maintaining a sense of joy while she is dancing. I loved seeing that funky breakdown at the end, and I'm glad that Laila is so committed that she wants to make sure her own flavor is represented in the final product. I'm liking Laila more and more every week.
My Grade: 9

Billy Ray and Karina
There is no denying that Billy Ray is adorable, but that certainly didn't look like and jive that I have ever seen. It looked more like a kind kinda stumbling all over the stage. Will his charm save him another week? I'm guessing yes.
My Grade: 6

Apolo and Julianne
Every week I fall a little deeper in lust with Apolo. The boy is hot! And he certainly knows how to move his hips! I was a little creeped out by all the brother/sister/lady's bedroom talk, but I'm willing to overlook that because I enjoyed the performance so much. And Julianne is providing some serious competition for Cheryl Burke in terms of who my favorite professional is. Another winner from Apolo.
My Grade: 9

Ian and Cheryl
Ian does something that Joey, Apolo and even Billy Ray don't do -- he takes himself too seriously. If he would just relax and have a little bit of fun, his performances would improve tremendously. As is, he's solid, but he's didn't exactly blow my mind. Eh.
My Grade: 7

The Swing
Wow. That was a big hot mess. A fun hot mess, but a hot mess nonetheless. Props to Joey and Kym, who had the best lift by far, and Laila and Apolo, which literally made me laugh out loud. I can't say any of them came off as skilled dancers, but it was pretty entertaining to watch.


The Latin dances are definitely my favorite, and the celebrities didn't disappoint tonight, with Joey, Laila, and especially Apolo the highlights . While Billy Ray probably gave the weakest performance of the evening, and Ian could possibly get sent home, I'm guessing it's John Ratzenberger who will get the boot. Guess we'll see...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ten Best 'Top 6' Performances of All Time



Yep, it's time again to take a glance backward into Idol history, to choose the Ten Best 'Top 6' performances of all time. Each member of this list ended up in their season's respective Top 4 -- there are two former winners, four runners-up, and two third and two fourth place finishers.

(As a reminder, performances from the current season are not eligible for on any of these Ten Best lists)

Ten Best Top 7 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 7th Place Finishers
Ten Best Top 8 Performances of All Time

Ranking the 8th Place Finishers
Ranking the 9th Place Finishers

Ten Best Top 9 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 10th Place Finishers
Ten Best Top 10 Performances of All Time

Ten Best Top 11 Performances of All Time
Ten Best First Finals Performances
Ten Best Semifinals Performances of All Time

1. Kelly Clarkson, "Stuff Like That There" (Season 1)
Words can't possibly do justice this iconic Idol performance that basically secured the title for Ms. C. Just when it seemed like Kelly had revealed all she had to offer, she came out and wowed the judges and audience alike with this show-stopping ditty. Transporting herself to a different age, Ms. C was sounded so good and was so charming, you couldn't help but fall in love with her. I know I did!

2. Elliott Yamin, "A Song For You" (Season 5)
There is a reason this is Elliott's signature song -- there is no one in the world (except, possibly, it's originator Donnie Hathaway) who sings it better. Handling the vocal runs like it was a walk in the park, Elliott transformed himself into a true contender for the title with this confident and beautifully sung performance. It was so good he recorded it on his recently released debut CD!

3. Tamyra Gray, "Minnie the Moocher" (Season 1)
Kelly may have stole the show during Season 1's Top 6, but Tamyra was a solid second best performing on this Cab Calloway tune. Looking like she just stepped out of the 1920's, she was incredible -- and she even scatted!


4. Bo Bice, "I Don't Wanna Be" (Season 4)
Singing a song that is playing on the radio is always a risk for Idol contestants, but Bo scoffed at the risk, delivering a totally credible (and enjoyable) version of the Gavin Degraw hit. He may not have nailed the high note at the end, but everything leading up to it was totally rockin'.

5. Justin Guarini, "Route 66" (Season 1)
After becoming the early favorite in Season 1, Justin had hit a bit of a rough patch, even falling into the Bottom 2 during the Top 7. He came back with a relaxed and well-sung version of this old standard that clearly showed he, along with Kelly and Tamyra, were the best Season 1 had to offer.

6. Clay Aiken, "I Could Not Ask For More" (Season 2)
Clay Aiken + Dianne Warren power ballad = magic. These were the kind of songs Clay was meant to sing, and if Warren had written Clay's CD (instead of the unwise choice of releasing a CD of covers) I bet he'd be topping Adult Contemporary radio. Alas, at least we have this performance to look back on.


7. Diana Degarmo, "Turn the Beat Around" (Season 3)
Diana continued her mid-season turnaround with this Gloria Estefan number, effortlessly handling the tounge-twister lyrics and adding in a few dance moves to boot. This is by far the best version of this song that has ever been performed on the show (sorry, Haley!)

8. Carrie Underwood, "When God Fearin' Women Get the Blues" (Season 4)
Carrie was best when performing two different types of song on American Idol -- 80's power ballads and country tunes (especially, like this one, that were originally sung by Martina McBride).


9. Anthony Fedorov, "I Surrender" (Season 4)
Kelly Clarkson gave the definitive Idol performance of this song back in Season 1, but Anthony put his own spin on the Celine Dion power ballad, acquitting himself better than anyone (especially me) expected him to. This is my favorite Fedorov performance.

10. Kimberley Locke, "If You Asked Me To" (Season 2)
After her Billy Joel week triumph, K-Lo continued her hot streak on this Dianne Warren song, giving it a soulful spin that ended with a beautiful note sung in her rarely-heard head voice. Not Kim's best performance, but very strong nonetheless.

Ellen Degeneres to Host "Idol Gives Back"



It looks like hosting the Oscars was just a tune-up for the real event of the year!

According to Broadcastcable.com, Ellen Degeneres has been tapped to host Wednesday's "Idol Gives Back," which will feature Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Celine Dion, Pink, Josh Groban, Il Divo and more.

Stay tuned for "the biggest event in Idol history!"

Ranking the 7th Place Finishers




There's been a lot of carping that Season 6 is the weakest talent American Idol has ever had, and while I have a strong hunch that this may actually be true, the best way to figure that out for sure (or as close to "sure" as we can get) is by seeing how the eliminated contestants from each season stack up against each other. Thus, as I have done the past couple of weeks (and will continue to do throughout the season), I have ranked each season's finishers, to see how they compare to each other. It's time for the 7th Place Finishers, with, Sanjaya Malakar, the most recent eliminee, unsurprisingly coming in at #6.

Please note, rankings are determined on American Idol performances only, not on what they have accomplished since their time on the show.

1. Jennifer Hudson (Season 3)
Best Known For: Huge voice; getting evicted from the show way before her time
Best Performance: "Weekend in New England" (Top 7), "Circle of Life" (Top 9) and more
Worst Performance: If I have to say one, I'd say "Heat Wave" (Top 10)
Post-AI: I think she won a little award...what's it called again...oh yeah, the Oscar! Recording debut album for release later this year



2. Anwar Robinson (Season 4)
Best Known For: Nice-guy music teacher who could sustain a note to end a song like it was noboday's business
Best Performance: "What a Wonderful World" (Semifinals)
Worst Performance: "I Believe I Can Fly" (Top 10)
Post AI: Served as co-chairman of theUnited Way of Essex/West Hudson County Celebrity Read Program; visit www.anwarrobinsonfansite.com for more information



3. Ace Young (Season 5)
Best Known For: Season 5's resident hearthrob
Best Performance: "Father Figure (Semifinals), "Tonight I Wanna Cry" (Top 9)Worst Performance: "We Will Rock You" (Top 8)
Post AI: Showing up at various Hollywood events looking pretty; co-wrote part of Daughtry's hit "It's Not Over"; visit www.acemusic.com for more information



4. Kimberly Caldwell (Season 2)
Best Known For: Season 2's resident "rocker"; fighting with Julia Demato during Hollywood week
Best Performance: "Knock on Wood" (Top 10)
Worst Performance: "Come to My Window" (Semifinals)
Post AI: Works as correspondent for TV Guide Channel, hosting, among other things, Idol Chat; has been working on an album with Randy Jackson for years



5. Ryan Starr (Season 1)
Best Known For: Making her own barely-there clothing; first-ever Idol "rocker"
Best Performance: "Flim Flam Sauce" (Semifinals)
Worst Performance: "You Really Got Me"
Post AI: Reality show staple, with appearances on Surreal Life, amongst others



6. Sanjaya Malakar (Season 6)
Best Known For: One word -- hair.
Best Performance: Easily "Besame" (Top 8)
Worst Performance: Um...the rest?
Post AI: He's already been to the White House correspondents dinner -- who knows what's next?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

He Gave Us Something To Talk About: Sanjaya Voted Off American Idol

All good thing must come to an end. And so too, it seems, must all things that make our eardrums bleed.

Yes, Sanjaya Malakar has been voted off of American Idol.

A plethora of different emotions washed over me during this evening's American Idol. Crippling anxiety, for one, that either Blake or LaKisha (Sanjaya's two co-Bottom 3 companions) would get the boot. Sheer joy when it was announced that it was, in fact, Sanjaya who would be shown the door.

And then, surprisingly...sadness. And a bit of sympathy. And even respect.

Huh?

I wasn't sad that Sanjaya was sent home -- of course, it was way past his time to go. But within seconds of the big announcement, as tears streamed down the 17 year old's face, Sanjaya-the-punchline instantly turned into Sanjaya-the-sweet-kid who we saw in his initial audition. He didn't put himself where he is -- the judges and the voters did. He just did his best to make himelf interesting, and he held his head high in the face of adversity that most people twice his age would fold under. As much criticism as I (and most everyone else in America) has throw at him, he showed up, with a smile on his face, and gave us something to talk about. There is something very admirable about that.

As for the rest of the show, both Fergie and Martina McBride gave entertaining performances, and Simon was given the opportunity to clear up his eye-roll from last night's show. Melinda, meanwhile, handled the George Huff/Bo Bice/Taylor Hicks position of having to choose which group was the Top 3 with dignity and humor, simply sitting down in the middle of the stage. It was charming and totally appropriate.

So, Sanjaya is finally gone. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly gleeful at this fact, as we now have a Top 6 who actually deserves to be there. Hopefully he can take some solace in the fact that he will not soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

He's Gone!

Sanjaya is gone!!!!!!!!!!!! All is right in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Full recap to come...

Daughtry and Underwood Remain in Top 15

In yet another week of strong album sales for Daughtry and Carrie Underwood, Season 5's rocker finishes at #6 with sales just north of 50K, while the CMT Award winner inches up four spots to #13, with about 35K albums sold.

Jennifer Lopez, meanwhile, failed to receive a boost from her appearance on last week's show, actually selling 30% less albums than she had the week before.

Next week we'll have a chance to see how Bucky Covington stacks up against his fellow Season 5 competitors.

Top 7 - Who is Going Home Tonight?



Yes, it's time once again to try and figure out who will be going home tonight, joining the illustrious company of former 7th place finishers Ryan Starr, Kimberly Caldwell, Jennifer Hudson, Anwar Robinson, and Ace Young.

Yes, this is the week that Jennifer Hudson got the boot in one of the most surprising Idol eliminations ever. If history is an indicator, Ryan will likely divide the contestants into two groups and select one poor soul to choose which group he/she thinks is the Top 3. Will tonight's elimination be as shocking as that fateful evening back in Season 3?

As I have done the last four weeks, I think the best way to make a prediction as to who is going to get kicked off tonight is by process of elimination -- figure out who is most likely to be safe, and go from there.This week, though, has been, by far, the most difficult week to guess who is in serious danger. Last week I correctly predicted Haley would get sent home, with Phil joining her in the Bottom 3 -- this week, however, almost any of the contestants (save one or two) could be in serious danger, and I'm afraid we may be in for a real shocker tonight.

I've identified three zones: Green (safe), Yellow (not on solid ground), and Red (danger danger danger!) Here goes...

Click here to read my Top 7 Performance Recap.
Click here to read Ten Best 'Top 7' Performances of All Time.

Green Zone: Safe
This category is looking pretty sparse again this week, as it has only two contestants -- Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks. Melinda had somewhat of a return to form last night, bringing back the sass and attitude, along with her always stellar vocals, and showed off a sleek, modern new haircut to boot. Her huge fanbase will surely make sure she is around to see the Top 6.

Jordin Sparks, meanwhile, gave what I thought was the performance of the evening. It was an easy performance to rally around, complete with sustained high notes at the end, and I'd be shocked if she found herself anywhere near the Bottom 3 tonight.

Yellow Zone: Not on solid ground
I didn't love Blake Lewis last night as much as I usually do, but he's still got some leftover momentum from last week's strong effort, and performing last won't hurt him any. There's a chance he may slip into the Bottom 3, but I don't think we've seen the last of the beatboxing wonder.

And while I thought Chris Richardson was pretty weak last night, and didn't do himself any favors by getting snippy with the judges, his Bottom 3 showing from last week, plus the judges' articulated disdain for his performance, should let his fans know that he is in serious danger, and they will hit the phones to save their boy once again.

Red Zone: Danger! Danger! Danger!
That leaves us with Phil Stacey, Sanjaya Malakar, and, once again, LaKisha Jones -- in my opinion the likeliest candidates for the Bottom 3 slots tonight.

Phil gave what was unquestionably his best performance of the competition, but will it be enough to save him? Not only has he been in the Bottom 3 for the past three weeks straight, he also has to battle against the dreaded one-spot (performing first). I think he was good enough, however, to have earned himself another week.

Then there's LaKisha, who is making her second straight appearance in the Red Zone. Kiki took a risk singing a well-known Carrie Underwood song that didn't quite pay off -- will it lead to an early ouster? I actually don't think the LaKisha's performance was quite as bad as the judges made it out to be, and if anything is going to save her, it will be that other Kiki fans felt the same way and took to the phones to show their support. It would be a true travesty if LaKisha got sent packin' before Sanjaya, but unfortunately I think it's a distinct possibility.

Which brings us to the great tuneless wonder -- Sanjaya. Once again, it's nearly impossible to gage when the viewers will finally tire of Mr. Malakar, and Simon's verbal attacks of him probably elicited some sympathy for the boy, but this week, more than any other, I think his shtick is starting to run out of steam. At the very least I think he will be making his first trip to the Bottom 3 since the Top 12, but I actually think this is the week he is going to go.

So there it is...for the first time since the Top 12 began I am predicting that Sanjaya's gettin' the boot. I won't, however, be shocked (outraged, yes, but not shocked) if it is LaKisha who bids adieu this evening.

Gulp.

I'm Country, Y'all -- Top 7 Performances



I was desperately hoping that this week's American Idol would be awesome. While there has been a lot written in the media about how this season's cast is the weakest the show has ever had, there are at least four really talented vocalists still remaining, and I was hoping they would turn up the heat and prove the pundits (and Simon) wrong. However, in some ways this week was even more disappointing for me than last week's abysmal Latin week.

The reason for my disappointment is that, almost without fail, the contestants actually made really smart and interesting song choices this week. Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood -- these are great artists, and they provided the contestants with really great songs. And while the contestants were, for the most part, solid, they just weren't inspiring. Aside from one standout performance, they were straight up fine -- not great, just fine. And at this stage in the game, solid and fine aren't good enough. We don't want the winner to be solid, we want the winner to be extraordinary.

Which may be the reason I am thinking now, more than ever, that Jordin Sparks should win this competition. While Melinda is the consummate pro, and will most likely never have a truly bad performance, Jordin, alone, is the only contestant who seems capable of giving that Kelly Clarkson-eque feeling that you are witnessing something truly special. LaKisha accomplished the same thing, but it was eight weeks ago, and now seems like a distant memory. And while Blake is certainly unique, and will likely have a successful career following the show, I'm just not sure he has the chops to win a singing competition.

Yes, Jordin is my pick for best of the night with her thrilling rendition of the beautiful Martina McBride song "Broken Wings." The performance had a few wobbly notes, but all in all it was the only one that made me sit up straight in my chair while I was watching. I loved it.

As I said, Melinda was solid, but unspectacular, on "Trouble I am Woman." That's been the problem, if you can call it that, with Melinda the past few weeks -- I'm starting to take her dependability for granted, to the point that it's all becoming a little same-same. I will, however, say that her hair has never looked better. Fierce, girl!

Chris, on the other hand, singing Rascall Flatts' "Mayberry, "wasn't even solid-- he was pretty mediocre, at best. And not only that, he got defensive, proclaiming that singing through his noise in that tinny fashion is a choice. Really, Chris? Really? You're cute, but...really?

Fellow cutie Blake, singing "Stars Go Blue" (another song I love), looked like a deer trapped in headlights --he couldn't mask the fact that he was completely out of his element. Even his choreography lacked it's usual charm. A bit of a disappointment after last week's strong showing. His outfit, however, was totally swoon-worthy.

Phil Stacey, meanwhile, looked and sounded right in his element, and like Randy noted, I think he could actually have a career in country music. I'm not sure he did enough to save himself (and performing first won't do him any favors), but if he does leave at least he will have gone out on a high note.

Which is more than can be said for Sanjaya, who took about five steps back after last week's season-best showing (which, of course, in and of itself doesn't really mean much). His self-satisfaction with his ability to get people talking about him was terribly annoying, and his performance was truly painful -- could this be the week he finally gets the boot?

Let's hope he doesn't outlast LaKisha, who had somewhat of an off night singing former Idol Carrie Underwood's massive hit "Jesus Take the Wheel." I'll give Kiki props for not choosing yet another cliched song that has been previously sung on the show, but whatever it was that made Martina McBride tear up in rehearsal did not translate to the stage tonight. I'm a bit worried for my girl.

So, in yet another disappointing week from the Season 6 contestants, I'm guessing the Bottom 3 will be made up of of some combination of Phil, Chris, Sanjaya, and LaKisha. Check back at around 1PM for my final prediction.

My rankings:
1. Jordin Sparks
2. Melinda Doolittle
3. Phil Stacey
4. LaKisha Jones
5. Blake Lewis
6. Chris Richardson
7. Sanjaya Malakar

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hit the Road Clyde - Dancing with the Stars Results



I've gotta admit, these days it takes me about 12 minutes to watch the Dancing with the Stars results show. I don't know, maybe I've got reality tv overload, but I'm finding it a bit hard to stomach bits like the audience reaction segment and the Jimmy Kimmell moments. If that makes me a bad blogger, so be it. I am who I am.

I released my finger from the fast forward button enough to watch Lisa Rinna give a totally adequate performance of "Roxie" from the musical Chicago. In terms of reality show-turned-Broadway stars, though, she ain't no Fantasia, I'll say that much.

And speaking of Ms. 'Tasia, Macy Gray showed up to remind us who the original squeaky voiced soulstress is, giving a strangely truncated rendition of her latest single. I love me some Macy, but this performance barely registered.

As for the elimination, it is neither a surprise nor is it disappointng to see Clyde go (I'm certainly glad it wasn't Heather who got the boot -- I've really been enjoying her performances). After Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, Clyde had big athletic shoes to fill, and he just didn't put in enough effort or have enough charisma to fit the bill. See ya later, Clyde.

Elliott Is Hittin' The Road -- Tour Dates Announced


His CD may have dropped out of the Top 50 last week, but Elliott Yamin isn't disappearing from the music scene. His single "Wait for You" is currently #45 on the Pop chart, and now he has announced that he is hittin' the road! The dates for Elliott's upcoming tour are as follows...

May 15 - Atlanta, GA - The Loft (All Ages)

May 16 - Richmond, VA - Innsbrook Pavilion (All Ages)

May 17 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere Confirmed (All Ages)

May 19 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom (All Ages)

May 20 - Norfolk, VA - The Norva (All Ages)

May 22 - New York, NY - Bowery Confirmed (16+)

May 23 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts (All Ages)

May 26 - Cleveland, OH - Great American Rib and Music Festival (All Ages)

May 27 - Pittsburgh, PA - Diesel (All Ages)

May 29 - Lancaster, PA - The Chameleon (All Ages)

May 30 - Detroit, MI - St Andrews Hall (All Ages)

May 31 - Chicago, IL - Park West (All Ages)

June 2 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater (All Ages)

June 5 - Englewood, CO - Gothic Theatre (16+)

June 6 - Salt Lake City, UT - In the Venue (All Ages)

June 8 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theater (All Ages)

June 9 - Vancouver, CAN - Commodore Ballroom (19+)

June 10 - Seattle, WA - Showbox (All Ages)

June 12 - San Francisco, CA - Slims (All Ages)

June 14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Roxy (All Ages)

June 15 - San Diego, CA - House of Blues (All Ages)

June 17 - Anaheim, CA - House of Blues (All Ages)

June 18 - Tempe, AZ - The Marquee (All Ages)

June 19 - Tucson, AZ - The Rialto Theatre (All Ages)

Carrie Underwood Wins Big at the CMT Awards



Carrie Underwood continues to add trophies to her case, picking up three awards at last night's CMT Video Awards -- Best Video of the Year, Best Female Video of the Year, and Video Director of the Year for her hit song "Before He Cheats."

"Before He Cheats" continues it's success on the pop chart (see my post Carrie Underwood is Crossing Over), where it currently sits at #15, and the Hot AC chart, where it has just entered the Top 10. In addition, her single "Wasted" became her fourth consecutive number 1 single on the Country chart. Wow.

In other country news, Bucky Covington's self-titled debut album is available in stores today. I was a bit skeptical when I first heard news that Season 5's country boy was releasing an album, but I'm hearing surprisingly good buzz on it -- Entertainment Weekly even gave it a B+. I might have to check it out!

Apolo Steals The Show: Dancing with the Stars Performances



>Every time I begin to get frustrated with some of the tedious ways American Idol is produced, Monday night rolls along and I am reminded that it could be so much worse. The production values on Dancing with the Stars are an embarrassment for any show, let alone one that rakes in as many viewers (and advertising dollars) as this one. From the "technical mishaps" (which occur every week when the camera is focused on someone and the name is off), terrible hosts (Bergeron is fine but that Samantha Harris gets on my last nerve) to the horrible band (that rendition of "Hips Don't Lie"? Really?), the way this show is produced is shameful.

Just had to get that off my chest.

On to the performances:

Ian and Cheryl
Oh Ian, don't you know that real men shimmy? I do love it when they fight on this show, I must say, and it was a little cute (just a little) that Ian was so concerned that they make up. The Broadway star (thanks Nick for the reference) shakes his hips pretty well, but the performance is kind of a mess.
My Grade: 7

Clyde and Elena
Clyde's video clip certainly didn't assuage Len's concern that Clyde isn't putting much effort into this competition. Fine, I understand honoring a prior commitment -- as far as I'm concerned, send Clyde to China for good. The guy's got no place in this competition.
My Grade: 4

Heather and Jonathan
I have a confession to make -- I kinda forgot that Heather only had one leg until about 1/2 way into her performance, that's how entertained I was. Crazy, right? That was a pretty darn good performance, slip and all. Color me impressed.
My Grade: 8

Joey and Kym
I hate Carrie Ann and Len. Joey is clearly a solid enough guy that he is not threatened to acknowledge that he and the openly gay Lance Bass are tight, and then, directly following a segment where Lance taught him how to be sexy and a dance where he lost his girl to Lance, they go and call him feminine? First of all, expect Rosie to call them homophobic on tomorrow's The View, and second of all, they are wrong. That dance was hot.
My Grade: 9

John and Edyta
Watching John dance is a little heartbreaking. He's certainly trying hard (much harder than Clyde, that's for sure), but he just isn't pulling it off. The judges clearly felt badly for their "schoolyard taunting" (good for John for calling them out on that) and overpraised him a bit. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the next to go.
My Grade: 5

Laila and Max
I kinda have a crush on Laila's husband. You gotta be a real man to be with a woman as though as Laila. The dance was solid but left me a little cold, save for that one move toward the end where she moved up the length of his body -- that was hot. Not as good as the judges said it was, but solid nonetheless.
My Grade: 8

Apolo and Julianne
Every week I like Apolo a little more and more. And is it just me, or does he keep getting cuter and cuter as well? His dancing is a bit sloppy, but he's so adorable and has such an infectious energy it is hard not to smile ear-to-ear while he's performing. And this, from an athlete! Not worthy of the not-so-elusive "three10's," but by far my favorite performance of the night.
My Grade: 9

Billy Ray and Karinna
I love Billy Ray's commitment to the show, and I love the line "this does seem like the kind of dance you would want to do in the dark". Genius. The dance however, was pretty embarrassing. It looked like he just spun around in a few circles! He was just standing there! Almost worse than Clyde, but so much more likable.
My Grade: 5

My favorite performance of the evening was definitely Apolo and Julliane, with Joey and Kym a close second. Billy Ray and Clyde tie for worst of the evening, but I'm guessing it is John who will become the first man voted off this year's show. Stay tuned for tomorrow's results show extravaganza, complete with a performance from Lisa Rinna of "Roxie" from the musical "Chicago." Should be a good time.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Top 7 -- Who is in Danger This Week?



Last Monday I suggested that Sanjaya Malakar, Haley Scarnato, and Phil Stacey were the contestants most in danger of facing elimination. As it turns out, two of these three individuals found themselves in the Bottom 3, and it was Haley, who I had given a 30% chance of elimination, who, not surprisingly, got the boot.

So...who is in danger this week? As I have done the past several weeks, I will identify the contestants I think should be most concerned going in to the Top 7 Performance Show, and then look at the likelihood that these contestants will actually be going home.

Of course, song choice and performance order could effect the outcome, but here's how I view the landscape with approximately 32 hours to go until showtime.

Melinda Doolittle
I'm not sure anything could happen this week that would put Ms. Mindy Doo in danger this week -- her fanbase is huge, and her vocals consistently flawless. Even though her Latin week rendition of "Sway" was not her strongest performance of the competition, this girl is in no danger of missing out on a Top 6 berth.
Chance of going home (combined): 2%

Blake Lewis
Blake cemented his male frontrunner status with a week-best performance of "I Need to Know" last week, and he should continue riding that momentum this week. I mean, did you hear the screams for this guy during last week's results show? He ain't going anywhere.
Chance of going home: 4%

Chris Richardson
Even though Chris gave one of the better performances last week, he still found himself in the Bottom 3. So why do I think he's more safe than LaKisha and Jordin? Because sometimes a Bottom 3 showing at this point in the competition is the best thing that can happen to you -- it reminds your fans that you do need their votes, and for a hearthrob-in-the-making like Chris, I think that'll be enough to spare him elimination for a couple of weeks. He showed he could handle country with his Semifinal performance of "Tonight I Wanna Cry" -- if he chooses the right song, he should avoid a repeat appearance in the Bottom 3.
Chance of going home: 10%

Jordin Sparks
Young Jordin has yet to slip into the Bottom 3 this season, and there is no reason to think this will be the week that does her in. True, her fans may start to get a little over-confident that their girl is untouchable, but if she chooses the right country song, I think she'll be okay.
Chance of going home: 12%

LaKisha Jones
Who can forget Top 7 week back in Season 3, when the three divas wound up the three lowest vote-getters? Hopefully history will not repeat itself, but if there is going to be a shocking exit this week, it will likely be Ms. Jones who gets the boot. She's been fading a bit the last couple of weeks, and unless she really pulls out all the stops and reminds voters why they fell in love with her in the first place, she could be the first diva to spend some serious time center stage on Wednesday evening.
Chance of going home: 16%

Sanjaya Malakar
Anyone wanna bet Sanjaya will show up sportin' a cowboy hat tomorrow night? Anyone? After four straight weeks avoiding the Bottom 3, I'm guessing this is the week he'll make a return visit to center stage. Whether he goes or not depends, ironically, on how good he sounds -- the better he is, the better the chance he'll leave. I'm guessing, unfortunately, he has one more week of life left in him.
Chance of going home: 21%

Phil Stacey
Phil has found himself in the Bottom 3 on four separate occassions this season, and last week he slipped into the Bottom 2, which can't possibly inspire confidence in his fans that the guy will proceed much further in the competition. Despite showing off pretty consistent vocals and a (slowly) improving sense of style, Phil is on his last legs in the competition, and he has to hope voters forget to vote for everyone else if he is going to make it one more week. Definitely the most likely to go.
Chance of going home: 35%

So there it is -- going into the Top 7, I think LaKisha, Sanjaya, and Phil need to be the most worried. As I said, anything could change after Tuesday night, but these contestants, especially, better give their performances all that they've got -- it could be their last shot.

Ten Best 'Top 7' Performances of All Time



Yep, it's time again to take a glance backward into Idol history, to choose the Ten Best 'Top 7' performances of all time. This list is dominated by women, although two rockin' men manage to sneak on. In addition only two winners appear on the list, with two famously evicted-before-their-time contestants grab the top two spots.

(As a reminder, performances from the current season are not eligible for on any of these Ten Best lists)

Ten Best Top 8 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 8th PLace Finishers
Ranking the 9th Place Finishers

Ten Best Top 9 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 10th Place Finishers
Ten Best Top 10 Performances of All Time

Ten Best Top 11 Performances of All Time
Ten Best First Finals Performances
Ten Best Semifinals Performances of All Time

1. Jennifer Hudson, "Weekend in New England"
It would have been a travesty if Jennifer Hudson had been voted off after any of her performances on American Idol, but it was particularly devastating that she got the boot after this showstopper, which, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the best performances ever seen on AI. It was here that we got a glimpse of what we would later see in droves in Dreamgirls -- that soaring voice and that ability to take a song and infuse it with such emotion that it, as guest coach Barry Manilow said, transcends "to another level." Simply magnificent.

2. Tamyra Gray, "If I Were Your Woman"
As I wrote in my post Is Sanjaya (Gulp) The Second Coming of Tamyra Gray, Tamyra, better than any contestant before or after, totally threw herself into that week's theme, embracing not just the music but the style as well. For 70's week, she appeared resplendant in an afro, long flowy skirt, and barefoot, to blow away the judges and audience with this Gladys Knight hit. One of Tamyra's best performances.



3. Vonzell Solomon, "I'm Every Woman"
Baby V was in the shadows of Carrie, Bo, and Constantine up until this point, but when she unleashed her inner diva on this Chaka Khan classic, she made sure she was in the shadows no longer. Hitting some of the highest notes that have ever been sung on the show, Vonzell announced she wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.



4. Kimberley Locke, "New York State of Mind"
Kimberley had stuggled mightily the first few weeks of the competition to get into the good graces of the audience, but when she wrapped her golden vocals around the Billy Joel gem, giving the song a sultry, jazzy spin, she sewed up their love and affection once and for all.



5. Christina Christian, "Ain't No Sunshine"
Sometimes a song and performer meet and magic can happen. Christina certainly wasn't Season 1's strongest vocalist, but when she used her smoldering good looks and pleasent-enough vocals on this Bill Wither's tune, the result was, indeed, somewhat magical.

6. Bo Bice, "Vehicle"
Bo + classic rock = great performance. That formula worked several times for Season 4's rocker, and this may have been the best combination of the two. This performance was so good, it ended up the B-side of his single (featuring Richie Sambora on guitar).

7. Katharine McPhee, "Someone to Watch Over Me"
As far as I'm concerned, Katharine never sounds better than when she is singing standards ("Come Rain or Come Shine," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") and her performance of this Ella Fitgerald gem is no exception. Looking magnificent and sounding just as good, this is Katharine in her true element.

8. Fantasia, "It's A Miracle"
'Tasia goes to church! This is one of the strangest performances ever seen on Idol (with cut-aways to Fantasia's mother and daughter watching from backstage), but there is no denying the sheer force of energy and passion this girl can bring to a song. I loved it.

9. Chris Daughtry, "It's A Wonderful World"
Proving he was capable of showing a softer side, Chris wrapped his vocals around the tender song, providing an unexpectedly moving musical moment from the rocker. True, he didn't smile much, but he did show he's capable of more than just rockin' out.

10. Kelly Clarkson, "Don't Play That Song"
Even though I had never heard this song, Kelly sold it, riffing like crazy toward the end. Definitely not Ms. C's strongest performance of the competition, but it proved she could sing anything and make it work.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

American Idol News/Recaps/Predictions/Commentary

Ranking the Top 12 Guys: Jason Castro Makes Quite a First Impression

POLLS: Which Top 12 Guy Was Your Favorite? Who's Going Home?

Will David Archuleta, Michael Johns or Luke Menard Be This Year's Heartthrob?

Why It Doesn't Matter That Carly Smithson Had a Record Deal

Video of David Archuleta on Star Search

Eight Burning Questions About The Top 24

It's Official: Top 24 Revealed!

Best. Hollywood Week. Ever. Ranking the Top 12 Contenders

Seven Reasons American Idol Might Really Be Better Than Ever This Year

Omaha Auditions: Hiccups, Goth Wrestlers and David Cook, Oh My!

MAJOR SPOILER: American Idol 7 Top 24 Finalists Revealed!

Four Cities In: The 15 Best Auditions So Far

Charlston American Idol Auditions Are a Hot Southern Mess

American Idol Contender Perrie Cataldo Has a Rap Sheet

Shocker: More Good Auditions Than Bad in San Diego! Ranking the Six Best

Ranking Idol: Dallas' Six Best Auditions

Ranking Idol: Philadelphia's Eight Best Auditions

American Idol 7 Spoilers -- Top 50 Finalists Myspace Pages and Photos

American Idol Season 7 Schedule

Is It Wrong That I'm Dreading the American Idol Audition Episodes?

Where is American Idol Season Six' Breakout Star?

More Charity: 'Idol Gives Back' Will Return

Idol Judges Claim This Will Be Strongest Season Yet

Spoiler: American Idol Tour Set List

The Ten Best and Five Worst Moments of the American Idol Finale

Idol Thoughts Person of the Day: Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks Wins American Idol

Live Blogging of the American Idol Finale Pre-Show

Lots More Buzz on Tonight's Finale: Spoilers!

And The Winner of American Idol Will Be...

American Idol Finale Performances Recap: Blake and Jordin Battle It Out

What to Expect From Tuesday's Show: Potential Song Choices Revealed

Paula Abdul Breaks Her Nose

Simon Cowell is Idol Thought's Inaugural Person of the Day

Five Reasons Blake Should Win American Idol...And Five Reasons He Shouldn't

Five Reasons Jordin Should Win American Idol...And Five Reasons She Shouldn't

American Idol Finale Buzz: Will Britney Be There?

Simon Cowell Gives Kelly Clarkson Her Due

Blake vs. Jordin: Performance by Performance

Coin Toss Determines Blake Lewis Will Sing First in Tuesday's Finale

Ranking the 3rd Place Finishers

No, Not Melinda! American Idol Results

American Idol Producer Says The Girls May Have Split the Votes

American Idol Top 3 - Who is Going Home Tonight?

Three Sing Three: American Idol Top 3 Performances

Elliott Yamin, Maroon 5 To Appear on Tomorrow's American Idol Top 3 Results Show

American Idol Top 3 - Who is in Danger This Week?

Song Spoilers for Top 3 American Idol

I Am Telling You She Is Going: LaKisha Jones Eliminated From American Idol

American Idol Producer Says Genre Didn't Suit LaKisha

Top 4 - Who is Going Home Tonight on American Idol?

Three Ladies and a Little Man: American Idol Top 4 Performances

American Idol Producer Says Tonight's Results are Far From Shocking

American Idol Season 6 Tour Dates Announced

Top 6 - Which Two Are Going Home Tonight on American Idol?

Hail to Bon Jovi: American Idol Top 6 Performances