Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is The Tide Changing? Perez Hilton Lambasted for Posting Heath Ledger Drug Video

I have to admit -- I'm addicted to Perez Hilton.

The celebrity gossip blogger, who has gotten so popular he reportedly gets 5 million visits to his site each day, is annoying, self-important, and totally full of himself, but the truth is, he breaks news. The comments from the readers on his site can be nasty, but generally the readership seems to know what they are getting into when they visit his blog, and they respond accordingly.
But yesterday, something interesting happened.

Early in the day on January 30, internet reports began to surface saying that there was an "explosive" video of Heath Ledger doing and talking about drugs. Then came word that Entertainment Tonight and other venues would show the video, followed by actual promos on these shows which showed footage from the video. Perez lambasted these shows, asserting that it was not their place to put this forth to the public.

Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who ridicules celebrities by drawing things on pictures of them and calling them juvenile names. It's also coming from someone who documents the Britney Spears mental health meltdown like he was a constitutional scholar. Just saying.

Anyways...last night, Perez posted a link to the Heath Ledger video.

I didn't watch it -- I couldn't. Apparently, I'm not alone -- within minutes, there were hundreds of comments from loyal Perez leaders genuinely upset with their blog guru for stepping over the line. Here is an example of one comment:

"u gotta be kidding me? even et and the insider are taking it back and you show it? that's it I am done with this site…
wow i thought nothing could surprise me in the media anymore but you leave me speechless.."

There were literally hundreds others like it.

Now, to be fair, Perez didn't actually post the video on his site, he simply provided his readers with a link. And, like it or not, it is news.

However, something about Heath Ledger's death, combined with the endless public deterioration of Britney Spears, seems to be making people a little tired with the celebrity mill. Will it be the case that, as many commenters suggested, people will give up on Perez now that they think he has crossed the line? Probably not, at least not in any immediate, significant way. But it'll certainly be interesting to see what happens next...



Some Miami American Idol Auditions Sizzle; Others Not So Much

I'm officially feeling American Idol audition fatigue.

That's not to say there weren't some good contestants in Miami -- there were. Boy bander turned rocker Robbie Carrico showed off an impressive set of pipes, and tiny spitfire Ramiele Mulaby's rendition of "Natural Woman" was quite impressive. And let's not forget Syesha Mercado, whose got a great backstory (father just graduated from rehab) and wailed "Think" with total abandon. All three could end up doing quite well in the competition.

Believe it or not, it's not even the awful auditions that are making me cringe (although, to be honest, I could barely stomach Brandon Black's episode-closing debacle). Instead, it's the contestants that have a bit of talent but don't know how to audition, or the marginally talented folks that the judges end up putting through, that are tiring me out.

Shannon McGouh, the meat market girl who thinks she's Janis Joplin, and former American Juniors contestant Julie Dubela definitely fall into the first category . Neither one had a terrible voice, but they were both so sure they were going to make it through, and it was so clear that they were not going to make it through, that they were literally uncomfortable to watch. Why do the producers insist on showing us these trainwrecks?

As for the rest of the folks that made it through -- what were the judges thinking? I'll forgive the gold tickets for full-figured ladies Corliss Smith and Brittany Wescott, since they were both charming and good singers (although likely not good enough to be truly successful in the competition), but Ghaleb Emachah? I mean, are they actively searching for the next Sanjaya?

The good news? Only one more week before Hollywood round. Hallelujah!

MAJOR SPOILER: American Idol Top 24 Finalists Revealed!

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

Four Cities In, This Season's 15 Best American Idol Auditions So Far

Ten Best Initial American Idol Auditions of All Time

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

IDOL MADNESS Wednesday Report -- Only One Day Left to Vote in the Round of 32 Matches!



There's only one more day of voting in the Round of 32, so spread the word to vote for your faves!

Voting for all Round of 32 matches ends Thursday January 31, 11:59PM EST.


Here are updates (as of 1/30 at 5:00PM EST) of the Round of 32 match-ups in all divisions. Click on any match-up to vote!

There look to be several upsets underway, and with only one day left of voting, there's very little time for some favorites to rebound. Among those in trouble: Taylor Hicks, Fantasia, Jordin Sparks, Chris Daughtry, Ruben Studdard and Katharine McPhee!


Matches to keep an eye on:
#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler

Cowell Bracket
#1 Kelly Clarkson vs. #9 Chris Richardson
Today: Kelly 65.7%-34.3%
Jan. 29: Kelly 65.1%-34.9%
Jan. 27: Kelly 64%-36%
Jan. 26: Kelly 65.5%-34.5%
Jan 25: Kelly 67%-33%.

#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler
Today: Kellie 60.4%-39.6%
Jan. 29: Kellie 60.3%-39.7%
Jan. 27: Kellie 59%-41%
Jan. 26: Kellie 67%-33%
Jan 25: Kellie 66%-34%

#3 Tamyra Gray vs. #6 Jasmine Trias
Today: Jasmine 66.6%-33.4%
Jan. 29: Jasmine 65.1%-34.9%
Jan. 27: Jasmine 67%-33%
Jan. 26: Jasmine 72%-27%
Jan 25: Jasmine 75%-25%

#4 Jennifer Hudson vs. #5 Bo Bice
Today: Bo 56.8%-43.2%
Today: Bo 55.8%-44.2%
Jan. 27: Bo 58%-42%
Jan. 26: Bo 54%-46%
Jan. 25: Bo 55%-45%

Seacrest Bracket
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
Today: Constantine 60%-40%
Jan. 29: Constantine 58.9%-41.1%
Jan. 27: Constantine 56%-44%
Jan. 26: Constantine 61%-39%
Jan 25: Constantine 75%-25%

#2 Clay Aiken vs. #7 RJ Helton
Today: Clay 73.4%-26.6%
Jan. 29: Clay 74.1%-25.9%
Jan. 27: Clay 70%-30%
Jan. 26: Clay 58%-42%
Jan 25: Clay 52%-48%

#3 Melinda Doolittle vs. #6 Vonzell Solomon
Today: Melinda 66.7%-33.3%
Jan. 29: Melinda 66.6%-33.4%
Jan. 27: Melinda 66%-34%
Jan. 26: Melinda 66%-34%
Jan. 25: Melinda 64%-36%

#5 LaKisha Jones vs. #13 Bucky Covington
Today: Bucky 69.8%-30.2%
Jan. 29: Bucky 69.3%-30.7%
Jan. 27: Bucky 71%-29%
Jan. 26: Bucky 71%-29%
Jan. 25: Bucky 72%-28%

Abdul Bracket
#1 Fantasia vs. #9 Ace Young
Today: Ace 67.4%-33.6%
Jan. 29: Ace 67.2%-33.8%
Jan. 27: Ace 66%-34%
Jan. 26: Ace 68-32%
Jan. 25: Ace 69%-31%

#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
Today: Anthony 57.9%-42.1%
Jan. 29: Anthony 56.5%-43.5%
Jan. 27: Anthony 56%-44%
Jan. 26: Anthony 52%-37%
Jan. 25: Jordin 58%-42%

#3 Elliott Yamin vs. #6 Nikki McKibbin
Today: Elliott 78.1%-21.9%
Jan. 29: Elliott 77.7%-22.3%
Jan. 27: Elliott 76%-24%
Jan. 26: Elliott 77%-23%
Jan. 25: Elliott 81%-19%

#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
Today: Blake 51.2%-48.8%
Jan. 29: Blake 51.1%-48.9%
Jan. 27: Blake 51.7%-48.3%
Jan. 26: Blake 51.5%-48.5%
Jan. 25: Kimberley 50.2%-49.8%

Jackson Bracket
#1 Carrie Underwood vs. #9 Mandisa Hundley
Today: Carrie 71.5%-28.5%
Jan. 29: Carrie 71.7%-28.3%
Jan. 27: Carrie 72.4%-27.6%
Jan. 26: Carrie 76%-24%
Jan. 25: Carrie 80%-20%

#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
Today: Josh 54%-46%
Jan. 29: Josh 53.9%-46.1%
Jan. 27: Josh 58%-42%
Jan. 26: Josh 50.3%-49.7%
Jan. 25: Chris 55%-45%

#3 Latoya London vs. #11 Anwar Robinson
Today: Latoya 56.7%-43.3%
Jan. 29: Latoya 57.5%-42.5%
Jan. 27: Latoya 58.5%-41.5%
Jan. 26: Latoya 57%-43%
Jan. 25: Latoya 62%-37%

#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
Today: Gina 54.9%-45.1%
Jan. 29: Gina 55%-45%
Jan. 27: Gina 55%-45%
Jan. 26: Gina 52%-48%
Jan. 25: Katharine 53%-47%

Video of Idina Menzel Singing "Brave" on The Today Show



Here's a video of Idina Menzel singing an acoustic version of "Brave" on yesterday's Today Show. Her new album is in stores now.

I do love me some Idina!

Jordin Sparks Will Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl, Release "No Air" Duet With Chris Brown

While we continue to watch the newest crop of American Idol wannabes make it to the big stage, here's some updates on last year's champ.

Jordin Sparks will sing the National Anthem at this Sunday's Super Bowl -- not entirely surprising since the game is being broadcast on FOX. But talk about exposure -- the game is expected to draw more than 100 million sets of eyeballs!

In other Jordin news, the next single from her debut album will be "No Air," her duet with Chris Brown. You can stream the audio from this song by clicking here.

I wasn't the biggest fan of Jordin's first single "Tattoo," but I actually quite like this R&B ballad. What do you think?

American Idol's Omaha Auditions: Hiccups, Goth Wrestlers and David Cook, Oh My!

Click here to read: MAJOR SPOILER: American Idol Top 24 Finalists Revealed!

American Idol's first trip to Omaha, Nebraska wielded some mixed results, and some strange behavior on the part of the judges. In other words, par for the course in Idol-land.

First of all, Paula was wasted. This wouldn't usually be noteworthy, but she's actually seemed pretty sober (at least by Paula standards) throughout the season so far, so her loopiness was especially apparent tonight. Perhaps, since her flight was "delayed," she took a few of her special pills. I'm just saying...

And also -- the hiccup! I laughed for five minutes straight, no joke.

And then there was that business with Ryan being a judge. Blah -- funny judge antics -- blah.

As for the contestants, they fell into three categories: terrible, kinda good but nothing special, and David Cook.

The most memorable folks to fall into the first category were Kelly Clarkson stalker Chris Bernheisel and goth wrestler Sara Whitaker, aka Lady Morgue. Both were pretty scary. That's about all that needs to be said.

As for the second category, where most of the people to receive tickets to Hollywood fall, it's a group that showed sparks of talent, but failed to really impress. Jason Rich had a nice tone to his voice, but he screwed up his lyrics so badly that I couldn't take him seriously as a contender. Rachael Wicker, arm wrestling champion of the world, had a lovely Dolly Parton thing going on, but is she nearly versatile to compete in this competition? Samantha Sidley was cute and sounded great on Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why," but she didn't really sing. Leo Marlowe was charming and likable, but is he a star? And Angela Puente hit the notes, but she was clearly doing a Celine Dion impression.

Any of these Idol wannabes could step it up in the next round, or in front of an audience. But for now, I'm left wanting more.

Which is absolutely not the case with David Cook. Oh, David Cook, how excited am I to see you? All it takes to make a good Idol season is a few good singers, and David Cook definitely qualifies, laying down "Living on a Prayer" without breaking a sweat. He has a quirky appeal, and based on what I've heard, I'd guess he'll actually be able to tackle different style of music with more ease than Chris Daughtry was. Welcome to the party, David Cook!

MAJOR SPOILER: American Idol Top 24 Finalists Revealed!

Four Cities In, This Season's 15 Best American Idol Auditions So Far

Ten Best Initial American Idol Auditions of All Time

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Daughtry and Underwood Swap Spots for the Third Straight Week on the Album Sales Chart

Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood continue to swap spots on the album sales chart, with Daughtry coming out on top this week. This is the third straight week the two Idol alumni have traded places.

Daughtry sold 21K albums this week, which put him at #19 on the chart, four spots higher than he was last week. Underwood, meanwhile, sold just under 20K albums, good enough for the #22 spot, a four spot drop from last week. Looks like this back-and-forth will continue for some time to come.

Jordin Sparks is still hangin' tough in the Top 50, selling 13K albums and falling two spots from last week.

This week's top 5 albums were the soundtrack to Juno (66K), Alicia Keys (59K), Natasha Bedingfield (50K), Mary J Blige (45K) and Radiohead (35K).

Numbers courtesy of Hits Daily Double

IDOL MADNESS: Tuesday Report



Spread the word to vote for your faves!

Remember, voting for all Round of 32 matches ends Thursday January 31, 11:59PM EST, so there's plenty of time to still vote!


Here are updates (as of 1/27 at 7:00PM EST) of the Round of 32 match-ups in all divisions. Click on any match-up to vote!

Chris Daughtry appears to be making a last minute push in his battle with Josh Gracin; Jordin Sparks and Katharine McPhee are still struggling with Gina Glocksen and Anthony Fedorov, respectively; Blake Lewis and Kimberley Locke continue to meet each other vote-for-vote; and Taylor Hicks and Constantine Maroulis' fanbases continue to spar.


Matches to keep an eye on:
#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler

Cowell Bracket
#1 Kelly Clarkson vs. #9 Chris Richardson
Today: Kelly 65.1%-35.9%
Today: Kelly 64%-36%
Yesterday: Kelly 65.5%-34.5%
Jan 25: Kelly 67%-33%.

#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler
Today: Kellie 60.3%-39.7%
Jan. 27: Kellie 59%-41%
Jan. 26: Kellie 67%-33%
Jan 25: Kellie 66%-34%

#3 Tamyra Gray vs. #6 Jasmine Trias
Today: Jasmine 65.1%-34.9%
Jan. 27: Jasmine 67%-33%
Jan. 26: Jasmine 72%-27%
Jan 25: Jasmine 75%-25%

#4 Jennifer Hudson vs. #5 Bo Bice
Today: Bo 55.8%-44.2%
Jan. 27: Bo 58%-42%
Jan. 26: Bo 54%-46%
Jan. 25: Bo 55%-45%

Seacrest Bracket
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
Today: Constantine 58.9%-41.1%
Jan. 27: Constantine 56%-44%
Jan. 26: Constantine 61%-39%
Jan 25: Constantine 75%-25%

#2 Clay Aiken vs. #7 RJ Helton
Today: Clay 74.1%-25.9%
Jan. 27: Clay 70%-30%
Jan. 26: Clay 58%-42%
Jan 25: Clay 52%-48%

#3 Melinda Doolittle vs. #6 Vonzell Solomon
Today: Melinda 66.6%-33.4%
Jan. 27: Melinda 66%-34%
Jan. 26: Melinda 66%-34%
Jan. 25: Melinda 64%-36%

#5 LaKisha Jones vs. #13 Bucky Covington
Today: Bucky 69.3%-30.7%
Jan. 27: Bucky 71%-29%
Jan. 26: Bucky 71%-29%
Jan. 25: Bucky 72%-28%

Abdul Bracket
#1 Fantasia vs. #9 Ace Young
Today: Ace 67.2%-33.8%
Jan. 27: Ace 66%-34%
Jan. 26: Ace 68-32%
Jan. 25: Ace 69%-31%

#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
Today: Anthony 56.5%-43.5%
Jan. 27: Anthony 56%-44%
Jan. 26: Anthony 52%-37%
Jan. 25: Jordin 58%-42%

#3 Elliott Yamin vs. #6 Nikki McKibbin
Today: Elliott 77.7%-22.3%
Jan. 27: Elliott 76%-24%
Jan. 26: Elliott 77%-23%
Jan. 25: Elliott 81%-19%

#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
Today: Blake 51.1%-48.9%
Jan. 27: Blake 51.7%-48.3%
Jan. 26: Blake 51.5%-48.5%
Jan. 25: Kimberley 50.2%-49.8%

Jackson Bracket
#1 Carrie Underwood vs. #9 Mandisa Hundley
Today: Carrie 71.7%-28.3%
Jan. 27: Carrie 72.4%-27.6%
Jan. 26: Carrie 76%-24%
Jan. 25: Carrie 80%-20%

#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
Today: Josh 53.9%-46.1%
Today: Josh 58%-42%
Yesterday: Josh 50.3%-49.7%
Jan. 25: Chris 55%-45%

#3 Latoya London vs. #11 Anwar Robinson
Today: Latoya 57.5%-42.5%
Jan. 27: Latoya 58.5%-41.5%
Jan. 26: Latoya 57%-43%
Jan. 25: Latoya 62%-37%

#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
Today: Gina 55%-45%
Jan. 27: Gina 55%-45%
Jan. 26: Gina 52%-48%
Jan. 25: Katharine 53%-47%

Strike Talks Reportedly Going Well -- A Deal Within Reach?

I love reality TV as much (if not more) than the next person, but I've gotta admit -- I'm missin' my shows! Brothers & Sisters! Grey's Anatomy! Come back!

Well, there appears to be a chance they just might. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that discussions between the WGA and the major studios is going well, and that an agreement could be reached by the end of the week. Hallelujah!

According to the paper, both sides have narrowed the gap between them in some key areas, including how much writers should earn when films and TV shows are distributed online.

Of course, until an agreement is actually reached the discussions could still fall apart. However, the Times says, "There is guarded optimism on both sides that the outlines of a deal could be reached as early as this week, paving the way for formal negotiations."

Once again I say -- hallelujah!

February Premiere Dates and Specials: Survivor, Big Brother, Top Model and More!

February is just around the corner, which means a slew of new shows (Lipstick Jungle, Baby Borrowers) season premieres (Big Brother, Survivor, Top Model, Jericho), specials (Grammys and Oscars, Celine Dion) and TV movies (A Raisin in the Sun).

Here's a list of premiere dates

Sunday February 3

6:00 PM FOX Super Bowl!

10:15 PM FOX House

Wednesday February 6

8:00 PM The CW America's Next Top Model: Favorite Moments

Thursday February 7

8:00 PM CBS Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites

10:00 PM MTV Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew

10:01 PM NBC Lipstick Jungle

Sunday February 10

8:00 PM CBS Grammy Awards

Tuesday February 12

9:00 PM CBS Big Brother 9, Tuesday premiere

10:00 PM CBS Jericho

Wednesday February 13

8:00 PM The CW America's Next Top Model: Favorite Moments Part II

8:00PM CBS Big Brother 9, Wednesday premiere

Friday February 15

9:00 PM CBS Special: Celine Dion: That's Just the Woman in Me

Sunday February 17

8:00 PM CBS Big Brother 9, Sunday premiere

9:00 PM NBC Knight Rider: Pilot

10:00 PM CBS Dexter (cable run series premiere)

Monday February 18

8:00 PM NBC Baby Borrowers

9:00 PM The CW Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious

9:00 PM NBC Quarterlife

Wednesday February 20

8:00 PM The CW America's Next Top Model

Sunday February 24

7:00 PM ABC Barbara Walters Oscar Special

8:30 PM ABC 80th Annual Academy Awards

Monday February 25

8:00 PM FOX Moment of Truth

8:00 ABC TV Movie: A Raisin in the Sun

More Naked Fun on Make Me a Supermodel



They certainly like nudity on Bravo's Make Me a Supermodel.

According to the video preview below, the contesants are asked to be nude models in an art class on this week's episodes. Any excuse to get those clothes off!



Monday, January 28, 2008

MAJOR SPOILER: American Idol 7 Top 24 Revealed!

SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!

The spoilers keep on coming for American Idol 7 -- first there was the revelation of the Top 50 Finalists with Photos and Myspace pages, and now, courtesy of BuddyTV, comes the alleged list of finalists who have made it to the Top 24.

Stop reading now if you want to be surprised!

And remember -- take all spoilers with a grain of salt.

Here are the rumored Top 24...

Top 12 Girls

Asiah Epperson
Alaina Whitaker
Alex Lushington
Amanda Overmyer
Amy Davis
Brooke White
Carly Hennessy Smithson
Joanne Borgella
Kady Malloy
Kristy Lee Cook
Ramielle Malubay
Syesha Mercado

Top 12 Guys

Chikeze Eze
Colton Berry
Danny Noriega
David Archuleta
David Cook
David Hernandez
Garrett Haley
Jason Castro
Jason Yeager
Luke Menard
Michael Lee Johns
Robbie Carrico

Four Cities In: American Idol 7's 15 Best Auditions So Far

We're about to head into the third week of initial American Idol auditions, and believe it or not, we've actually seen some talented folk! If past seasons are any indication, several of the contenders who seem strong in their initial auditions will collapse upon reaching Hollywood, while others who we have yet to see will soon step into the limelight.

Note: In making this list, I have not consulted the recently revealed alleged list of Top 24 Finalists -- click here to read that spoiler-ific list.

All we have to go on is what we've seen so far, though, so here's a look at my 15 favorite auditions from the first four cities:

1. Carly Smithson (San Diego)
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've found a frontrunner. This girl is amazing! Part Kelly Clarkson, part Pink, she sounded awesome singing "I'm Every Woman," hitting notes that the other girls we've seen so far wouldn't even dream of trying to hit, a capella no less. And how lovely and genuine does she seem? Speaking up for her tattooed boyfriend, and declaring how hard she's going to work and how she hopes that this is her year? I love her already.

2. Perrie Cataldo (San Diego)
Sure he has a rap sheet, but who cares when he's got a voice like that! In fact, this single father's voice as he sang "I'll Make Love To You" vaguely reminded me of Elliott Yamin, which I mean as a very high compliment. His heartbreaking backstory (and his adorable son) won't hurt him one bit -- this guy seems like a definite Top 10 contender.

3. Michael Johns (San Diego)
I've never heard Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," so I have no idea if that is what the song is actually supposed to sound like, but to my ears (and eyes), this guy is the real deal. He also seems like he'd be versatile -- he'd nail the country and soul themes, and could probably rock out as well. And that Australian accent? I approve.

4. Kristi Lee Cook (Philadelphia)
After the success of Carrie, Bucky and Kellie, you'd think last year would have been flooded with country hopefuls, but there was nary a country crooner in the bunch. Perhaps this year will be different, especially with Kristi, who is a bit like Carrie Underwood with more of an edge, in the mix. Clearly the producers think she's something special, as they teased this "cage fighting singer" throughout the Philadelphia episode. It was worth the wait -- her gorgeous rendition of "Amazing Grace" easily made her the city's best audition. Expect to see this girl in the Top 10.

5. Colton Swon (Dallas)
If Bucky Covington and Josh Gracin can get country music careers out of Idol, there doesn't seem to be any reason Colton won't be successful. Belting out Little Big Town's "Boondocks," he has a natural talent that could take him far. Now he's just gotta figure out how to stand in one place while he sings!

6. Kady Malloy (Dallas)
I was more impressed with her Britney impression than with her "Unchained Melody," but this girl definitely showed glimpses of potential, along with a very nice tone to her voice. She didn't high-belt, however, which makes me a bit nervous. 'Cause really, if you can't high-belt, what use do I have for you?

7. Junot Joyner (Philadelphia)
Wrapping his silky smooth vocals around Elton John's "The Blues," this guy showed raw talent and lots of potential. Good thing -- there hasn't been a good male R&B voice on the show in a few years now.

8. Jonathan Baines (Philadelphia)
Showing excellent musicality and possessing a contemporary, folk-y voice, this kid could be the real deal. And he's cute and charming, in a gawky way, which doesn't hurt. Keep an eye on this kid.

9. David Archuleta (San Diego)
Loved his audition, but I'm wondering why they didn't mention that this kid won Star Search a few years back. Weird. Anyways, he sounded great singing "Waiting for the World to Change," and he's adorable, which means, pretty much, he's a shoo-in for the finals. We could do worse.

10. Samantha Musa (San Diego)
Love Samantha -- hate her sister! Upstage much? Samantha sounded great singing "Until You Come Back To Me," but her sister's hogging of the spotlight totally distracted from Samantha's talent. And that comment about overcoming her earlier obstacles? Yuck!

11. Jessica Brown (Dallas)
This former meth-addict, who is amazed at how far she has come, gave a pretty strong rendition of "I'll Stand By You." Will she work her twang to her benefit, or will it pigeonhole her as "just another Carrie wannabe"?

12. Brooke White
There is something sincere about Brooke, as the judges kept saying, and her rendition of "Like a Star" was charmingly lowkey, but what's with the "no R-rated movie" shlock? Gimme a break.

13. Joey Catalano (Philadelphia)
There's an endearing quality to the dorkiness of this former fattie, and he does a killer Adam Levine impression, but is he versatile enough to survive in this competition? And how long until Simon starts telling him his voice is too nasal?

14. Beth Stalker (Philadelphia)
This stay-at-home mom crooned "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" in a manner that crossed Barbra Streisand and Fiona Apple -- and it kinda worked. Sure, she's old-fashioned, but there's something about her that allowed her to pull it off.

15. Chris Watson
With cheekbones like Chris' he didn't need to sound great, but he went ahead and did anyways. Granted, "Follow Me" is not the hardest song to sing, but he pulled it off with a suave confidence. But does he have a range?

Daniel Day Lewis Dedicates SAG Award to Heath Ledger



The SAG Awards were a pretty ho-hum affair, with anticipated wins from Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men), Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Julie Christie (Away From Her), and best cast for No Country For Old Men. Ruby Dee was a surprise (and, likely, sentimental) winner for Best Supporting Actress, while The Sopranos swept the Television Drama categories and 30 Rock picked up 2 of the 3 Comedy awards (The Office grabbed Best Cast).

As expected, there was lots of pro-WGA talk from the winners, but one acceptance speech stood out from the others. Daniel Day Lewis, in accepting his trophy for Best Actor (There Will Be Blood) dedicated his award to Heath Ledger, calling him one of the actors who has inspired him to overcome the "longing and self doubt" that accompanies taking on a role. Citing his performance in Monster's Ball as well as his work in Brokeback Mountain (which he called "perfect"), Day Lewis gave Ledger a far more meaningful tacked-on-to-the-end photo that closed the retrospective on actors who have died this past year. The looks on the stars sitting in the audience while Day Lewis spoke made it feel like a public memorial service, in a good way.

Very classy, Daniel.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

IDOL MADNESS: Sunday Report



Spread the word to vote for your faves!

Remember, voting for all Round of 32 matches ends Thursday January 31, 11:59PM EST, so there's plenty of time to still vote!


Here are updates (as of 1/27 at 7:00PM EST) of the Round of 32 match-ups in all divisions. Click on any match-up to vote!


Matches to keep an eye on:
#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler


Cowell Bracket
#1 Kelly Clarkson vs. #9 Chris Richardson
Chris continues to chip away at Kelly's lead, but the original Idol is still way out front.
Today: Kelly 64%-36%
Yesterday: Kelly 65.5%-34.5%
Jan 25: Kelly 67%-33%.

#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler
The Velvet Teddybear is trying to rally, and he's making up some ground -- he gained 8% since yesterday.
Today: Kellie 59%-41%
Yesteray: Kellie 67%-33%
Jan 25: Kellie 66%-34%

#3 Tamyra Gray vs. #6 Jasmine Trias
Jasmine's lead continues to diminish -- she's lost 8% since Friday! Could Tamyra be staging a comeback?
Today: Jasmine 67%-33%
Yesterday: Jasmine 72%-27%
Jan 25: Jasmine 75%-25%

#4 Jennifer Hudson vs. #5 Bo Bice
After a minor setback yesterday, Bo continues to lead the Oscar winner.
Today: Bo 58%-42%
Yesterday: Bo 54%-46%
Jan. 25: Bo 55%-45%

Seacrest Bracket
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
The Soul Patrol has come roaring back, boosting Taylor's take by 5% and making this match with Constantine a real horse-race.
Today: Constantine 56%-44%
Yesterday: Constantine 61%-39%
Jan 25: Constantine 75%-25%

#2 Clay Aiken vs. #7 RJ Helton
I saw Spamalot this afternoon (read my review here), but it looks like some of the Claymates were voting for their boy -- they've lifted his lead over RJ to 40%!
Today: Clay 70%-30%
Yesterday: Clay 58%-42%
Jan 25: Clay 52%-48%

#3 Melinda Doolittle vs. #6 Vonzell Solomon
In this battle of the divas, Melinda stays out on top.
Today: Melinda 66%-34%
Yesterday: Melinda 66%-34%
Jan. 25: Melinda 64%-36%

#5 LaKisha Jones vs. #13 Bucky Covington
No change here -- Bucky is still on track for his second straight upset and a show-down with Taylor in the next round.
Today: Bucky 71%-29%
Yesterday: Bucky 71%-29%
Jan. 25: Bucky 72%-28%

Abdul Bracket
#1 Fantasia vs. #9 Ace Young
Fantasia gained back a few % points, but it's not going to be enough if she's going to defeat Ace.
Today: Ace 66%-34%
Yesterday: Ace 68-32%
Jan. 25: Ace 69%-31%

#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
Last year's champ is still in serious trouble -- she's totally lost her lead to Anthony, and is down almost 7% from yesterday. Not good!
Today: Anthony 56%-44%
Yesterday: Anthony 52%-37%
Jan. 25: Jordin 58%-42%

#3 Elliott Yamin vs. #6 Nikki McKibbin
In this battle of the third place finishers, Elliott has lost about 5% points since Friday, but is still way out on top.
Today: Elliott 76%-24%
Yesterday: Elliott 77%-23%
Jan. 25: Elliott 81%-19%

#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
Blake still has the slight lead, but this remains one of Round 2's closest contests.
Today: Blake 51.7%-48.3%
Yesterday: Blake 51.5%-48.5%
Jan. 25: Kimberley 50.2%-49.8%

Jackson Bracket
#1 Carrie Underwood vs. #9 Mandisa Hundley
Carrie has lost 8% since Friday, but she still holds a commanding lead.
Today: 72.4%-27.6%
Yesterday: Carrie 76%-24%
Jan. 25: Carrie 80%-20%

#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
After leading early, Daughtry has fallen way behind Gracin. If Chris' fans don't start voting harder, we're going to have a huge upset on our hands.
Today: Josh 58%-42%
Yesterday: Josh 50.3%-49.7%
Jan. 25: Chris 55%-45%

#3 Latoya London vs. #11 Anwar Robinson
Latoya still maintains a healthy lead.
Today: Latoya 58.5%-41.5%
Yesterday: Latoya 57%-43%
Jan. 25: Latoya 62%-37%

#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
Katharine continues to struggle with Gina, in fact losing 3% and falling even deeper in the hole. Where are the folks with McPheever?
Today: 55%-45%
Yesterday: Gina 52%-48%
Jan. 25: Katharine 53%-47%

Color Me Surprised: Clay Aiken Is Fantastic in Spamalot

If I'm being totally honest, I didn't go into today's matinee performance of Spamalot with the highest of expectations. Since it had been announced that Clay Aiken was joining the Broadway cast in the role of Sir Robin I've been dubious as to how good of a fit the American Idol runner-up and the Monty Python show would be.

Well color me very pleasantly surprised -- Clay was great!

His voice was, of course, fantastic, but it was his comic timing and his dancing that shocked me the most. From the moment he appeared on stage, he was totally, and delightfully, in character, and he maintained that commitment throughout the entire show. He delivered his lines like an old pro, and completely embraced his character's often quirky movement, footwork, and comic bits, even when they required him to make fun of himself.

Best of all -- he appeared to be having the time of his life. The often irreverent humor of the show seemed to fit him like a glove, and he imbued each of his scenes with what appeared to be a genuine sense of joy.

I was a big Clay supporter back in Season 2 of Idol, but his attitude the past several years has turned me off a bit to him. However, seeing him sing, dance, act, and laugh, I remembered the charming, dorky fella' who shocked us all with his pipes back on Idol. I half-expected him to be stiff and awkward -- instead, he was loose and relaxed, creating real chemistry with his co-stars.
Speaking of his co-stars, the cast is more solid and the show tighter than it's been since it first opened. As Sir Lancelot, Rick Holmes was a hoot and a half, and a more accomplished song-and-dance man than Hank Azaria, who created the role. Chris Seiber has returned to the show, and although he appears to have put on about 30lbs, he was funny as ever playing Sir Galahad. Tom Deckman played the roles originated by Christian Borle with a delightfully deadpan gaze plastered across his face, and Hannah Waddingham, imported from the British version of Spamalot, was perfection as the Lady of the Lake.

All in all, Clay and the cast have managed to make Spamalot a must-see once again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

IDOL MADNESS: Saturday Report



Spread the word to vote for your faves!

Remember, voting for all Round of 32 matches ends Thursday January 31, 11:59PM EST, so there's plenty of time to still vote!


Here are updates (as of 1/26 at 7:00PM EST) of the Round of 32 match-ups in all divisions. Click on any match-up to vote!



Cowell Bracket
#1 Kelly Clarkson vs. #9 Chris Richardson
Kelly is holding onto her lead, but Chris is making up a very little bit of ground.
Yesterday: Kelly 67%-33%.
Today: Kelly 65.5%-34.5%

#2 Ruben Studdard vs. #10 Kellie Pickler
Pickler holds onto her lead from yesterday, posting an almost identical score.
Yesterday: Kellie 66%-34%.
Today: Kellie 67%-33%

#3 Tamyra Gray vs. #6 Jasmine Trias
The question remains: where are the fans of Tamyra Gray? Jasmine still has a dominant lead over the Season 1 4th place finisher.
Yesterday: Jasmine 75%-25%
Today: Jasmine 72%-27%

#4 Jennifer Hudson vs. #5 Bo Bice
The Oscar winner is still struggling with Season Four runner-up Bo.
Yesterday: Bo 55%-45%
Today: Bo 54%-46%

Seacrest Bracket
#1 Taylor Hicks vs. #9 Constantine Maroulis
Looks like the Soul Patrol woke up, because they've made some serious ground in this battle with Constantine, though the Greek still leads by a fairly wide margin.
Yesterday: Constantine 75%-25%
Today: Constantine 61%-39%

#2 Clay Aiken vs. #7 RJ Helton
The Claymates also seem to have gone into overdrive, bumping up their boy's lead over RJ by 6%.
Yesterday: Clay 52%-48%
Today: Clay 58%-42%

#3 Melinda Doolittle vs. #6 Vonzell Solomon
In this battle of the divas, Melinda stays on top.
Yesterday: 64%-36%
Today: Melinda 64%-36%

#5 LaKisha Jones vs. #13 Bucky Covington
Bucky pulled off Round 1's biggest upset by sending Diana Degarmo packing; it looks like he's on his way to doing the same thing to LaKisha.
Yesterday: Bucky 72%-28%
Today: Bucky 71%-29%

Abdul Bracket
#1 Fantasia vs. #9 Ace Young
Fantasia fans, where are you? Your girl is still losing to Ace!
Yesterday: Ace 69%-31%
Today: Ace 68-32%

#2 Jordin Sparks vs. #7 Anthony Fedorov
Last year's champ is in serious trouble -- she's lost her lead to Anthony, and is down almost 20% from yesterday. Not good!
Yesterday: Jordin 58%-42%
Today: Anthony 52%-37%

#3 Elliott Yamin vs. #6 Nikki McKibbin
Yesterday: Elliott 81%-19%
Today: Elliott 77%-23%
In this battle of the third place finishers, Elliott has lost about 4% points, but is still way out on top.

#4 Kimberley Locke vs. #5 Blake Lewis
Blake has taken over the lead, but this is still one of Round 2's closest contests.
Yesterday: Kimberley 50.2%-49.8%
Today: Blake 51.5%-48.5%

Jackson Bracket
#1 Carrie Underwood vs. #9 Mandisa Hundley
Mandisa has gained a bit of ground, but Carrie continues to roll.
Yesterday: Carrie 80-20%
Today: Carrie 76%-24%

#2 Chris Daughtry vs. # 7 Josh Gracin
There's only a few votes separating these two, with Josh having taken over the lead. Where are the Daughtry fans at?
Yesterday: Chris 55%-45%
Today: Josh 50.3%-49.7%

#3 Latoya London vs. #11 Anwar Robinson
This has turned into much more of a contest, thought Latoya still maintains the lead.
Yesterday: 62%-37%
Today: 57%-43%

#4 Katharine McPhee vs. #12 Gina Glocksen
After finishing yesterday on top, Kat has lost some ground and is currently behind Gina.
Yesterday: Katharine 53%-47%
Today: Gina 52%-48%

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mary Kate Olsen Speaks About Heath Ledger's Death

Mary Kate Olsen has broken her silence about her role in Heath Ledger's death -- sort of.

The diminutive Full House star told Entertainment Tonight, “Heath was a friend. His death is a tragic loss. My thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time.”

Doesn't really answer any questions about their relationship, does it?

Watch The Video For Carrie Underwood's "All American Girl"



Here's the new video for Carrie Underwood's "All American Girl," which is already approaching the Top 10 on the Country chart.

The video's kinda cheesy, but I love it! Thoughts?

Make Me a Supermodel or Make Me a Porn Star?



Did anyone else need a cold shower after last night's episode of Make Me a Supermodel? I mean!

Last night, Bravo's newest show demonstrated how it differs from America's Next Top Model -- sex, sex and more SEX! The co-ed competitors were asked to take part in a photo shoot that required them to demonstrate "chemistry" -- or, in other words, to make out and look like they were having sex. As if that wasn't enough, they then had to participate in a runway show utilizing fetish gear. Are they looking for a supermodel or a porn star here?

Several of the contenders rose to the challenge quite admirably, with Perry and Casey convincingly essaying a gay couple and Jackie and Stephanie getting into the groove as a hot sapphic pair. Katie and Ben, and Shannon and Ronnie, were also surprisingly adept at getting intimate in front of the camera; Holly and Frankie, and Aryn and Jay, not so much. (By the way, what was with Holly this week? She seemed totally deflated!)

As for the chemistry outside of the photo shoots, Ben and Ronnie continued their cat-and-mouse game, with Ben seeming more interested than ever in potentially taking his relationship with Ronnie to the next level. His poor wife! Not only does she have to watch him make out with another woman during a photo shoot, she also has to see him openly flirt with a gay man (a gay man who declared he has "real feelings" for Ben, no less). It'll be interesting to see how this dynamic plays throughout the rest of the season.

As for the three contestants up for elimination, I think the judges made very appropriate choices. I can't decide whether I think Aryn or Jay should get the boot -- neither has much spark in front of the camera. Right now I'm leaning toward hoping Aryn gets sent packin' -- there's just something about her that rubs me the wrong way.

How about you -- who do you think should be eliminated this week? And was there too much sex on this week's episode for your liking...or not enough?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

IDOL MADNESS: Round of 32 Match-Ups (All Brackets)



Voting for all Round of 32 matches ends Thursday January 31, 11:59PM EST.

Here are the Round of 32 match-ups in all divisions. Vote away!



Visit the IDOL MADNESS Main Page

Jake Gyllenhaal's Response to Heath Ledger's Death

If, like me, you've been wondering what Jake Gyllenhaal's response to his Brokeback Mountain co-star Heath Ledger's death is, you may have to wait awhile.

TMZ is reporting that Gyllenhaal is in New Mexico filming his new movie Brothers. According to the website, there are no plans to shut down production, but Jake is very upset and doesn't want to talk to the media. The set has apparently been closed to non-crew members and extra security has been hired.

Jake is the godfather to Heath's daughter, Matilda Rose; her godmother is Michelle Williams' Dawson's Creek co-star Busy Phillips.

Charleston American Idol Auditions Are a Hot Southern Mess

Um, huh?

The Charelston auditions produced a very strange (and annoying) episode of American Idol, especially coming off one of the most enjoyable audition episodes the show has ever produced. Unlike in San Diego, where there were more good auditioners than bad, Charleston didn't produce one stand-out contender. Instead, we got wannabe-Clay-Aiken Rashar's "I Can't Make You Love Me," surly waitress DeAnna Prevatte angry version of "Fancy," Joshua Boson's, um, interesting rendition of "And I Am Telling You," and Idol message board lovebirds Randy Stark Crystal Ortiz.

Yeah, not quite Carly Smithson level.

And why did they spend so much time on navy pilot Lyndsey Goodman, aspiring superstar Aretha Codner, and new father Oliver Highman when none of them were going to make it through? Here's a thought -- how about spending some of that time showing us people we will actually see again?

Even the folks that did get through weren't great. Michelle and Jeffrey Lampkin's "I Am Your Angel" was borderline awful, and yet they made it to Hollywood! Huh?? Abstinence preacher Amy Flynn was just about as annoying as can be, and her rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Reflection" was nothing special -- so why did she make it through? London Weidberg was probably the best auditioner of the night, but I couldn't even accurately assess how good she is because I have no idea how Billie Holliday's "Good Morning Heartache" is actually supposed to sound.

All in all, Charleston turned out to be pretty much a waste of time. Ah well -- we still have San Diego.


Ricky Cries, Jillian Whines and Victorya is Eliminated on Project Runway

What a strange season of Project Runway this has been! Who would have thought that with only six designers left, Sweet P and Ricky would still be in the mix, and Victorya, Kevin and Kit would be gone?

Not only are Sweet P and Ricky still around -- they produced two of the best designs of the week! Of course, it wouldn't be a Runway episode if Ricky didn't cry and Sweet P didn't completely overhaul her design at the last moment, but somehow both misfits managed to perform during the "Denim Challenge," with the weepy lingerie designer actually taking home the win. Could one (or both) of these two make it to fashion week?

One designer who won't be going to fashion week is Victorya, who went out with a whimper this week. What was that abomination of a jacket? It really did look like a jean jacket with a skirt sewed on, and showed about zero inspiration or originality. For someone who calls herself "competitive" you'd think she would have put a bit more effort into the outfit. Good riddance, Victorya -- I can't say I'll miss you.

One designer I would miss if he was eliminated is Christian -- I love him! I mean, even his throwaway lines are comic gems! I'm sure his constant bitchiness is totally annoying to his fellow designers, but I just can't get enough. Granted, I only have to spend 45 minutes with him a week, but still...

Aside from his humor, based on the strength of his designs I fully expect to see Christian in the Top 3. Joining him, I'd imagine, will be Jillian and Ramy. It was nice to see Ramy do something other than drape this week, and I quite liked the dress he produced. Jillian, on the other hand, fell apart a bit in trying to do another jacket. Girl, you know you have time management issues, how about choosing something you can execute to perfection?

And I need to get this off my chest -- I am so sick of hearing her whine and cry, there was a (small) part of me that actually wanted to see her get the boot this week. Ultimately I'm glad she's still around, because she clearly knows what she's doing design-wise, but I just can't handle the "poor me" routine anymore. Get yourself together!

What do you think -- was Victorya the right one to go? And do you agree with me that Christian, Jillian and Ramy are looking like the most likely candidates for the Final 3?

More Project Runway


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Top Chef Returns March 12; Contestants Announced

Keep your palatte wet, because the reality keeps on rollin' in!

Bravo has announced that Top Chef will return for it's fourth cycle on March 12 at 10PM. The latest installment will be set in Chicago.

Here's some info on the 16 new contestants from Bravo's press release:

-Andrew, 30 - Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL; Resides in N.Y.
-Antonia, 31 - Hometown/Resides in: Los Angeles, CA
-Dale, 29 - Hometown: Chicago, IL; Resides in N.Y.
-Erik, 38 - Hometown: Chappaqua, NY; Resides in San Francisco, CA
-Jennifer, 35 - Hometown: Brooklyn, NY; Resides in San Francisco, CA
-Lisa, 27 – Hometown: Toronto, Canada; Resides in N.Y.
-Manuel, 33 - Hometown: Laredo, TX; Resides in N.Y.
-Mark, 29 - Hometown: Invercargill, New Zealand; Resides in N.Y.
-Nikki, 35 - Hometown/Resides in: N.Y.
-Nimma, 26 - Hometown: Peachtree City, GA; Resides in Atlanta, GA
-Richard, 35 - Hometown: Uniondale, NY; Resides in Atlanta, GA
-Ryan, 28 - Hometown: Los Banos, CA; Resides in San Francisco, CA
-Spike, 27 – Hometown: Clearwater Beach, FL; Resides in Williamsburg, N.Y.
-Stephanie, 31 - Hometown: Stamford, CT; Resides in Chicago, IL
-Valerie, 32 - Hometown/Resides in: Chicago, IL
-Zoi, 30, - Hometown: Seattle, WA; Resides in San Francisco, CA

American Idol Contender Perrie Cataldo Has a Rap Sheet



In what will surely be the first of many revelations of American Idol contestants' wayward pasts, TMZ.com is reporting that single father Perrie Cataldo, whose San Diego audition was shown last night, has a rap sheet.

According to the website, "TMZ has obtained an arrest record revealing that Cataldo carried a handgun into a bar in Glendale, Ariz. back in 2006, after being kicked out for fighting. According to the arresting officer, Cataldo was "concealing" the gun under his clothing, and was confronted by security and arrested.Cataldo plead no contest to carrying a concealed weapon (a misdemeanor) and was fined $568."

Cataldo vaguely addressed his past last night, revealing that his son's mother was killed for being "at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, doing the wrong thing."

A Raisin in the Sun TV Movie Preview


Looks like P Diddy wants the world to know he is an actor!

Here is the first preview of the upcoming television movie A Raisin in the Sun, starring Diddy, Tony winners Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, Sanaa Lathan, and John Stamos. The TV movie airs February 25, 2008.

In the trailer Diddy says, “The reason why it’s very important to me is ya’ll know me for a lot for different things–music, fashion, television and films. But you don’t really know me as an actor. I’d like to introduce my actor to you. That’s me! Sean Combs! My name is Sean Combs! You know I’ve got a lot of split personalities.”

What do you think -- does it look like the TV movie will live up to the acclaimed stage version of the show?

Underwood Outsells Daughtry, as Sparks Hangs On in the Top 50 Album Sales Chart

There's quite a battle going on between Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry on the sales charts! Last week, Daughtry's album placed above Underwood's; this week Underwood grabbed the higher spot.

For the week ending January 20, Carrie sold 21K albums for the #18 spot, while Daughtry moved 19K albums for the #23 spot. Fellow Idol alumni Jordin Sparks sold 12,600 albums (almost identical to the number she sold last week), which put her at #44.

Alicia Keys once again grabbed the top spot on the chart, followed by the soundtrack to Juno, Mary J Blige, Raheem Devaughn and Radiohead.

Numbers courtesy of Hits Daily Double



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

Well, this is a first -- they actually showed more good auditions than bad on an early episode of American Idol. Hallelujah!

Of course, we had to sit through Valerie Reyes and her Mariah Carey impression, Monique Gibson's meltdown, and the totally bizarre antics of Alberto Hurtado, but in the end San Diego produced real talent -- and we got to see a surprisingly large amount of it!

Here are my rankings of the best San Diego auditions:

1. Carly Smithson
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've found a frontrunner. This girl is amazing! Part Kelly Clarkson, part Pink, she sounded awesome singing "I'm Every Woman," hitting notes that the girls we've seen so far wouldn't even dream of trying to hit, a capella no less. And how lovely and genuine does she seem? Speaking up for her tattooed boyfriend, and declaring how hard she's going to work and how she hopes that this is her year? I love her already.

2. Perrie Cataldo
What a voice! This single father's voice as he sang "I'll Make Love To You" vaguely reminded me of Elliott Yamin, which I mean as a very high compliment. His heartbreaking backstory isn't gonna hurt him one bit; either is the fact that his son is adorable! This guy seems like a definite Top 10 contender.

3. David Archuleta
Loved his audition, but I'm wondering why they didn't mention that this kid won Star Search a few years back. Weird. Anyways, he sounded great singing "Waiting for the World to Change," and he's adorable, which means, pretty much, he's a shoo-in for the finals. We could do worse.

4. Michael Johns
I've never heard Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," so I have no idea if that is what the song is actually supposed to sound like, but to my ears (and eyes), this guy is the real deal. He also seems like he'd be versatile -- he'd nail the country and soul themes, and could probably rock out as well. I approve.

5. Samantha Musa
Love Samantha -- hate her sister! Upstage much? Samantha sounded great singing "Until You Come Back To Me," but her sister's hogging of the spotlight totally distracted from Samantha's talent. And that comment about overcoming her earlier obstacles? Yuck!

6. Tetiana Ostapowych
I quite liked the smoky vocal tone of this California blonde as she crooned "Someone to Watch Over Me," and didn't seem to find her confidence quite as off-putting as Simon seemed to have. We didn't hear her upper range, which concerns me -- is she as good as she thinks she is? Is she gonna end up the Haley Scarnato of Season 7?