Friday, February 29, 2008

American Idol eliminates four more seventh-season semifinalists

Simon Cowell's "dark horse" and three victims of poor song selection were eliminated during last night's live American Idol seventh-season results show broadcast that revealed the Top 16 semifinalists.

Jason Yeager, Alexandrea Lushington, Alaina Whitaker and Robbie Carrico were ousted from Idol 7 after "almost 31 million" home viewer votes were cast following Tuesday and Wednesday night's performance episode broadcasts that saw the Top 10 male and female semifinalists perform songs from the 1970s.

During last night's broadcast, Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed male semifinalists Michael Johns, Chikezie Eze, Jason Castro and Danny Noriega were all safe before telling Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO, that he was cut.

Yeager sang The Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'" during Tuesday night's performance episode. Idol judge Randy Jackson thought Yeager didn't do himself "justice" by picking the song and Paula Abdul agreed, telling Yeager the tune didn't show his "vocal range" and suggested he "pick singer's songs." Cowell added it was like Yeager was "drunk at a party or something" during the performance.

"Based on the criticism and everything, I had a feeling I was going to be in the bottom rung," Yeager told Seacrest after his elimination was revealed. "I tried to mentally prepare for it... Last Tuesday I just feel like I really, honestly put everything out there. I was really surprised by there criticism."

Yeager then offered some advice to the remaining contestants.

"Song choice. Just find that perfect song that really showcases your vocals," he said. "I don't think I was able to do that."

Cowell thought it also went beyond song choice for Yeager.

"Your problem Jason, quite simply, is that you don't stand out in the crowd at the moment. And that's difficult," Cowell told him. "It comes down to charisma, personality, singing presence -- because you're not a bad singer -- you just don't stand out."

Seacrest then revealed Kristy Lee Cook, Asia'h Epperson, Brooke White and Amanda Overmyer were all safe before telling Lushington, a 17-year-old from Douglasville, GA, she was the next semifinalist cut from the competition.

Lushington sang Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" during Wednesday night's performance episode. Jackson thought it was a "safe" song choice -- which made it "boring." While Abdul was impressed and Cowell agreed he's been a big fan of hers, he also sided with Jackson in calling Lushington's performance "boring" while questioning the song selection.

"To me it's not really the right choice," said Jackson after Lushington's ouster was revealed, presumably expecting it to be Overmyer instead. "Listen, here's the problem. You're a great singer, you've got great skills, you just picked the wrong song. It was the wrong time for that. You needed to shine every time."

Seacrest stuck with the ladies and revealed Carly Smithson, Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado and Kady Malloy were all safe -- meaning Whitaker, a 16-year-old from Tulsa, OK, was the second female semifinalist eliminated.

Whitaker sang "Hopelessly Devoted to You" during Wednesday night's performance episode and while Cowell didn't like the performance -- calling it "very old-fashioned" and "pageanty" -- he'd also still called her "one of the dark horses" of the competition. In addition, Jackson didn't think it "was the right song" for her.

"I can't sing!" said a visibly emotional Whitaker after Seacrest revealed her elimination, as she turned her back to the camera with tears rolling down her face. "I'm sorry... It's embarrassing."

After Seacrest tried to put the reality of her accomplishments into perspective to help calm her down, he turned to Abdul for help.

"You are such a gifted, bright, young talent," she told Whitaker. "We say it's just the beginning -- and I know it's hard to hear that -- but Alaina, truth be told, this is the start of an amazing career for you."

Seacrest said because the situation was so "emotional and tough," he gave Whitaker the option of singing her farewell performance or not. She declined, but the audience implored and she was surrounded by her fellow female semifinalists, who helped her with her final performance.

With only one semifinalist left to eliminate Seacrest called Carrico and Luke Menard to center stage and revealed David Hernandez, David Archuleta and David Cook were all safe. Seacrest then delivered the news that Carrico, a 26-year-old from Melbourne, FL, was booted.

Carrico sang Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" during Tuesday night's performance episode and the former boy-band member once again had his "authenticity" as a rocker questioned by the judges. Abdul also thought Carrico "played it a little safe" with his song choice.

"I think it was bad song choice," admitted Carrico after his ouster was revealed. "I think I could have done it better."

Cowell took the opportunity to once again attack the now former semifinalist's authenticity.

"I've said this from Day 1: It's authenticity," said Cowell to Carrico. "I think the public saw what we saw, and that was the problem. It just never, ever felt real Robbie. Sorry."

In addition to the eliminations, Seacrest told fans the "exciting news" that Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls the Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed hits, had granted Idol permission to let contestants perform tunes from the songbook. Idol 7's Top 12 finalists will perform tunes from the Beatles' songbook during the Tuesday, March 11 episode broadcast.

Seacrest also revealed Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Reese Witherspoon, Mariah Carey, Snoop Dog, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood will all be participating in Idol Gives Back, a live two-hour concert and fundraiser scheduled to air Wednesday, April 9 at 8PM ET (PT tape-delayed) on Fox.

Idol 7's Top 8 male semifinalists will take the stage next Tuesday at 8PM ET/PT for a one-hour performance episode broadcast, followed by the Top 8 female semifinalists on Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT. On Thursday night at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewers votes, and Idol 7's Top 12 finalists will be revealed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Idol 7 Top 10 Females Perform

The Top 10 guys from American Idol stepped it up last night, delivering much better performances than last week. Will the women match it? Also, and perhaps more importantly, who will falter as the women take on songs of the 1970s? Last week, everyone who watched the performances instantly knew which two women would be eliminated, and we were right. Will we have another easy night of predictions? All we know for sure from the official FOX photos is that one lady picks up a guitar, which thus far has proven highly lucrative for the guys.

Ryan Seacrest is super casual tonight, no suit or tie, just a tasteful shirt carefully unbuttoned at the top. Randy Jackson has a size 13 shoe. In the words of the late, great Madeline Kahn, "It's twoo, it's twoo!"

Carly Smithson is first, and her secret is that, in addition to owning a tattoo parlor with her husband, she works at an Irish bar. That's two stereotypes right away! The song is Heart's "Crazy On You." It's pretty good, and for the first time, I start to see signs of a potential star, like Kelly Clarkson. We know she can sing, but she needs to work harder to become a superstar. I do like that she says this is her favorite song ever; that kind of attitude makes her seem very humble and genuine. Simon Cowell agrees with me, saying she needs to find that one song that gives her "the moment," a la Fantasia Barrino's "Summertime."

My pick to win this whole competition, Syesha Mercado, is a commercial actress. "Me and Mr. Jones" by Billy Paul is the song, and it's another solid performance, making it pretty with the slow parts, but also showing off her big, powerful voice in the chorus. Randy wants her to just sing big songs.

Brooke White is a beauty school drop-out. The song is "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon. Awesome. She's got her guitar and plays along, to great effect. Allowing musical instruments is interesting, because, even if it's bad, it sets you apart and makes you memorable no matter what. I wonder when more people will learn this and we have an all-instrument night. I really liked it, and the judges think the song was directed at Simon. She successfully found her wheelhouse, and Simon "absolutely loved it."

Ramiele Malubay is up next, and she's as adorable as 5,000 kittens. She can Hula dance, so I guess that makes HER the new Sanjaya. She's getting her disco on with Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way." The song is totally awesome in a completely disco way, and she sings it well, but she doesn't have nearly enough fun with it. She's great and cute, but too stiff, especially with such a fun song. The judges criticize the song choice. She chose it because she was against a ballad as people would start calling her "Ramiele Lullaby." I assure you, American Idol viewers aren't that clever.

Something we don't know about Kristy Lee Cook is that she's a tomboy who loves fishing and softball. She sings "You're No Good" covered by Linda Ronstadt, and it's good. It was an improvement from last week, but I still don't particularly care for her. Simon tries to convince her to be the country singer.

Amanda Overmyer scares me. The fact that she's a nurse is even more terrifying, as I can imagine a death metal music video with her coming at me with a syringe. She's a bookworm who loves rock star biographies. Ha, both the real rockers this season are very literate people. The song is "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas. I guess it rocks as hard as it can, but it also shows off the fact that her voice just isn't that good. Paula Abdul talks about her dance moves, which is a clear sign she didn't like it, then implores her to ignore that "No Janis Joplin" rule she imposed on herself.

Alaina Whitaker's secret is that she doesn't like her food to touch. OK, so she has OCD (aka the OC disorder...don't call it that). She's singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Grease. Oh sweetie, no. This isn't that crappy NBC reality show from the summer. She really struggles on the big notes. She better pray America loves Grease more than I do, or she's totally gone.

Alexandrea Lushington was a poster child for the Atlanta Fire Department because her daddy was a fireman, and she sang at Ground Zero. She sings Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now." After last week's funky tune, hear she shows off some real singing chops. The girl has quite a range as an artist, that's for sure. Randy calls it safe, but at least it's not bad.

The secret of Kady Malloy is she's also an opera singer. If the Britney Spears impression didn't make you fall in love with her, this should. She sings "Magic Man" by Heart. I really like her, so this pains me to say, but that was horrendous. Maybe she couldn't hear the band or something, but there was not a single part of the entire performance I liked. Randy agrees, saying she never found the correct notes.

Sidenote: Did you see that ad for The Moment of Truth where they talked about destroying people's lives and how the host thought the episode shouldn't have aired? That show makes me throw up in my mouth, and anyone who enjoys watching it is going straight to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

Finally, Asiah Epperson was a cheerleader. She sings the very definition of a power ballad "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen. She goes really loud for the glory note, but overall, it's just OK. But like Luke Menard, she gets the degree of difficulty award.

Tomorrow night, two men and two women go home. I'm saying Alaina Whitaker and Kady Malloy will need some miracles to survive. If they're lucky, Amanda Overmyer or Asiah Epperson will be shockingly booted.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

American Idol 7 Top 10 male semifinalists take the stage and perform

American Idol's seventh-season Top 10 male semifinalists continued their push for the finals during last night's Fox broadcast, singing songs from the 1970s.

Some semifinalists made bad song choices while others took the opportunity to rebound following poor performances last week. In addition, the youngest remaining male semifinalist established himself as the early frontrunner among both the guys and girls.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 10 male semifinalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.

"Hopefully the nerves are gone. The first week is over," Randy told the semifinalists at the beginning of the broadcast. "Dude, you've got to bring it hard tonight. Make sure you're in it to win it."

Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox, the Top 10 female semifinalists will also perform songs from the 1970s during a 90-minute broadcast. On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following this week's performance episode broadcasts.

Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA

Song: "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac
Randy said: "Nice way to start it off. I don't know if it was your best man, but I kind of liked it. It started a little slow for me, but you kind of got into it. Nice song, nice song. I was ready for you to just let go and you didn't quite go there. I liked it though. You're a good singer."
Paula said: "You're consistent. I think it's a great way to start-off the show. You got the whole crowd working (cheers). You're charismatic, you're a seasoned performer and you're charming. I think you're already there."
Simon said: "Michael it was okay. It was by far your weakest performance of the whole competition so far for you. It was what I call coasting along, a song like that. As Randy said, there was no moment. It was a very weak choice of song for you, that kind of song. (boos) Sorry..."
Additional Info: When host Ryan Seacrest was introducing the judges, he called Randy "very well known" and Simon the "genius, brilliant, amazing king of all media"... There were two constants during last night's broadcast: the family and friends of contestants in the studio audience and each Top 10 male semifinalist revealing facts America might be surprised to know about them... Michael said he's "a bit of a jock," with tennis as his main sport... He said tennis helps his song writing... In response to the feedback, "Hey, it happens."... Michael said it's been his dream to sing a Fleetwood Mac song and stood by his choice.

Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX

Song: "I Just Want to be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb
Randy said: "It's interesting to me, this one, because with the guitar -- you singing with the guitar -- it's all cool because it's cool as an act. But as a vocalist -- if I take that away because it's more of a singing competition than it is anything -- the vocals just weren't that great dude. It was just really just okay. (boos) Sounded kind a little karaoke almost."
Paula said: "I don't think it was as bad as you heard it to be Randy. (cheers)... I feel you made a clever choice with the song. It was a nice song. I like the way you musically interpreted it by pulling the bad out, bringing it back out, taking it back in again -- it drew the song back to you. But I would like next week -- because I know you'll be here next week, I do believe you will be -- to see you without the guitar and allow yourself to be more vulnerable as an artist. Good job though."
Simon said: "I thought the song was horrible because it was too schmaltzy, didn't suit your voice. Randy's absolutely right, your vocals are very weak on that. It didn't go together this week. The song, you, the guitar all went together that last week. This week, it was all out of sort. You actually looked very uncomfortable with that song, and with all the song choices available to you from this decade, you chose a very average -- like I said schmaltzy-type song -- that isn't you. You didn't do yourself any favors at all tonight."
Additional Info: Jason revealed that he really hates giving interviews, which he described as "frustrating and awkward"... Jason added participating in Idol is "a lot more not music stuff" than he anticipated... He played the guitar for his second-consecutive semifinals performance... Randy said Jason's use of the guitar was "cute and charming," and Paula commented Jason himself was cute. Randy wouldn't agree, but said he "loves the dreads."

Luke Menard, a 29-year-old from Crawfordsville, IN

Song: "Killer Queen" by Queen
Randy said: "Degree of difficulty, definitely you chose a very, very tough song. I like you better actually this week than last week, because this seems to be a little bit more to me your wheelhouse -- your vibe... You did this whole theatrical kind of thing. I thought it was pretty good. There were a couple of pitch problems here and there. But all in all, I thought it was pretty good."
Paula said: "I'm just so glad that this week was a great week for you. I think it was really great for you vocally, I think you really picked the perfect song. It's vocal performances like this and vocalists like you that make me fight to get people like you in the Top 24. I think this is really a great week for you Luke."
Simon said: "Paula's right. We owe a lot to you darling, thank you... Fine, I'm going to judge that performance, and I think it was a mistake, and I'll tell you why. (boos) Enough. You are always going to be judged with the original, and the trouble is that the singer of that song had charisma and personality -- you didn't. (boos) Therefore, you suffered by comparison, and Randy's right -- it was a bit theatrical and verging on whiny."
Additional Info: Luke revealed he's toured the country with an a cappella group called Chapter 6, and most recently made a stop in Hong Kong... Luke said he enjoys the "challenge" of a cappella because you have to be "flawless," adding it's helped prepare him to perform on the Idol stage... Ryan referred to Luke as "Dawson's Creek," a reference to his Dawson Leery-like looks... Randy corrected Simon for putting the word "whiny" in his mouth... Ryan said the judges' comments were "confusing" since they largely disagreed.

Robbie Carrico, a 26-year-old from Melbourne, FL

Song: "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner
Randy said: "It was interesting to hear you say up there that there's different forms of rock because there really, really are. But I'm gonna say I kind of agree with Simon. I don't know if the rock thing is really, really your thing. That's like one of my favorite songs -- Foreigner, Lou Gramm an amazing voice, strong like that. It's it doesn't have enough [Randy grunts] to really be like a rock voice. But I thought you did a pretty good job with it. I was just waiting to be like, 'Wow!' and nothing came out dog. I was like, 'Yo, come on! Kill me! Come on!'" But it didn't quite go there for me. It was just okay."
Paula said: "I bet it could drive you crazy having someone say, 'That's not authentic. It's not who you are.' How does anyone know who you are but you? (cheers) Robbie, I think in some ways though, you played it a little safe this week. When you play it safe, you sometimes lose your character and your personality. I think you can get so wound-up hearing what everyone else is thinking of you. You've got to -- right before you come on stage -- just kind of quiet yourself. You know who you are. Just go out there and give it your all... You've just got up the anty a little bit because now's the time you've got to really push through to make a difference to get through and keep going."
Simon said: "Robbie you don't have to get so defensive about it. It's only an opinion. I don't know you well, as Paula said. Actually, I thought the vocal was okay tonight."
Additional Info: Robbie explained he's a big drag racing fan because the rush he gets from it is "amazing," however he also warned viewers to not try the dangerous sport unless on a closed course... Since Simon has previously questioned Robbie's "authenticity" as a rocker, the former boy-band member defended himself. "I get up there every time and I be me -- I am me... There's so many different levels of rock, I guess maybe he's just focused on one and doesn't think that I'm the one that's in his mind. So get used to it."... Randy told Robbie that "rock is an attitude, not something you should have to prove."

Danny Noriega, an 18-year-old from Azuza, CA

Song: "Superstar" by The Carpenters
Randy said: "Danny, you know man I'm a fan of yours dog because you're a fun guy. There were some problems with the vocals on that song for me. I think you've got the slow bravado. On a song like this, you can maybe speed it up a bit. Also, I felt like you were thinking while you were singing almost every part of it and not just letting yourself sing. You've got a good voice. All you guys are here because you guys are the best 24 we found out of all these people we saw. So just let it go man. You can sing. Don't think about what you want to do to it. Sometimes just let it go."
Paula said: "Danny, you've got amazing vocal skill. You really do. (cheers) What Randy said is true. You can't over think it, you've got to just take a deep breathe and forget about us as much as you can. Just perform. You've got the ability, you've got the talent. Your bravado, when you just let it go, it's just magical. I like the way you chose The Carpenters' take on the song."
Simon said: "Danny, look. Last week, as you know, I thought was a disaster. This was better. It wasn't a fantastic vocal. I think randy's got a point. I think you were trying so hard -- in fact -- you were over-concentrating on it. What I do like about you is that you stand-out in the crowd and you're interesting. You look terrific on camera by the way."
Additional Info: Danny revealed he was in a punk rock band as a high-school freshman. He was the singer, and his best friend was the drummer. But they broke-up after the one -- and only -- show they played because they "realized they sucked"... Needless to say, Danny said the band didn't prepare him for Idol... Danny admitted he too felt last week's performance was a "disaster," however he stopped short of agreeing with Simon's overall assessment.

David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ

Song: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations
Randy said: "Check it out dog! Check this out! Check this out! This is the David Hernandez that we fell in love with. (cheers) I was saying earlier I hope this kid is good tonight because you were so good when we saw you dude. That's how to put it down! Show the personality, you've got all the vocal skills. That was hot right there! Very nice."
Paula said: "Your voice is so pure, it pierces right through the heart every note... God, there were some notes there that were amazing! David what's so great is that your personality really came out this week and you told a story from beginning to end. You didn't overdo the song with the growling and anything, it was just perfect. Perfect."
Simon said: "David, this may surprise you, but in my opinion, that was the best vocal of the night so far. (cheers) David, this is what I like about you. I like the fact that when you are given some criticism, rather than sulking, you treat it as a challenge. You're not being childish about it, because people do get criticized in real life -- that's the way it goes. You've risen to the challenge. I wasn't a big fan when you got through, but I'm quite happy now to hold my hands up and say I'm alright with that."
Additional Info: David revealed he participated in gymnastics as a youth -- and was pretty good at it -- winning 10 medals at the Grand Canyon Olympics... "I can do a mean cartwheel," he said... Following Simon's comments, David said he had "been waiting to hear that."

Jason Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO

Song: "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers
Randy said: "Alright. So check it out. That song to me -- the 70s to me, in my estimation -- is one of the greatest times in music ever. So many amazing songs. To choose that song as a singer -- by The Doobie Brothers -- wasn't like a singer's kind of song, so I don't think you did yourself any justice with that song particularly. It was very pitchy and just kind of karaoke once again for me. I didn't really get it." (boos)
Paula said: "From last week to this week, it was fun to see this side of you. I'm having a tough time figuring out how to... Well, I'll just say it like this. It's a song that has not many notes in it. That doesn't show your vocal range. So be careful in your song choice. You've got a real nice voice -- that's why we picked you. Pick singer's songs."
Simon said: "Look, the simple truth is last week was boring this week was just awkward and ordinary. (boos) And that horrific, horrific ending... I don't know what you were doing there. It was like you were drunk at a party or something. It was just corny. You're just a quite good singer who can't perform very well. So I'm very disappointed."
Additional Info: Jason explained he's "self-taught" on the piano, drums and guitar -- however he's yet to perform with an instrument during Idol, explaining he's waiting for the "killer song" to use the guitar and still hadn't found it... Jason said since all the semifinalists are talented, he feels the competition is going to come down to song choice... He added he tried to "dance and have fun" to be not be a "dependable old dog," one of Simon's criticisms from last week... "I guess I'm just gonna have to really come out next week with something that's going to be straight from the heart and just show my range," said Jason.

Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA

Song: "I Believe to My Soul" by Donny Hathaway
Randy said: "Chikezie is back America! (cheers) Check it out dog, check it out. Chikezie man, this is the guy that we fell in love with. Dude, I said this twice tonight. I'm so happy that you're back. That was blazing! You were have fun, you were singing it at ease, you didn't care what was going on. That was hot baby."
Paula said: "Very clever to pick a song and a story and point to [Simon], 'Better remember my name.' It was brilliant. It was fun." (cheers)
Simon said: "I've got to tell you... I'm going to call you Chi, so I'm not going to get this wrong. You look better, you sounded better, I thought it was a very clever choice of song. It was a million times better than last week."
Additional Info: Chikezie explained where his "crazy name" comes from. Both he and his name are Nigerian, and he said the pronunciation that's currently being used actually isn't correct but has stuck with him since kindergarten when teachers couldn't pronounce it... His name comes from the Igbo dialect and translates to "something well created by God"... Simon asked Chikezie if he watched last week's performance and agreed "it wasn't good," to which he replied, "What I saw last week was basically, I let you get to me, which was the part that kind of messed me up."... Chikezie then took a pretty good shot at Simon for constantly donning the gray T-shirt... Chikezie said he also loves the song and Donny Hathaway, whose daughter Kenya is also an Idol background vocalist.

David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK

Song: "All Right Now" by Free
Randy said: "You know what I love? I love throwing the picks out into the crowd, like a real rock show! So listen man, you've got the Marshall [amplifier], you've got the Les Paul [guitar], the whole nine. Listen. To me, you're our real rocker for the boys this year. I actually really, really liked that. It was a smart choice of song, it was cool for you. I really kind of believed you right there. Good looking out baby. Good looking out."
Paula said: "David you are the real deal. You've got it -- you've got it, you've got it, you've got it. That's a song that every kid who wanted to play guitar learned in junior high and every junior-high girl fell in love with the guitar player. ['I'm alright with that,' answered David.] It was very smart, very fun, very relevant to who you are. I loved it."
Simon said: "David it was solid. I agree with the guys. It was sort of believable. I don't think that film helped you. Tennis, drag racing, to crosswords. It's boring -- and that's partly your problem -- because you don't have a lot of charisma, which is fine."
Additional Info: David described himself as a "huge word nerd" and a "geek for vocab," as he enjoys doing crossword puzzles and word searches... David performed with a guitar... Paula credited Rickey Minor and the band for "being on fire" following David's performance... Following Simon's comments, David fired back, "Fortunately, I don't have to win you over with my charisma. I've got to win these people over." Simon didn't look pleased. "David, I think by now I know the rules of this competition," he said, adding it's just his opinion. Simon still sat there and looked annoyed. "I'm just slightly irritated by the pointing out what the rules of the show are. I know what the rules of the show are... The criticism is actually meant to be constructive."

David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT

Song: "Imagine" by John Lennon
Randy said: "I've been saying all this year it's about the young ones. Dog, that's one of the best vocals I've ever heard on this show. (cheers) You're singing with such maturity way beyond your years. All you can say is you were born to do exactly what you're doing there. That was brilliant."
Paula said: "David you are ridiculous. I just want to squish you, squeeze your head off and dangle you from my rearview mirror. (laughter) That was one of the most beautiful songs ever written and one of the most moving performances I've ever heard. (cheers) You're destined for superstardom."
Simon said: "Very, very risky to do a John Lennon song, particularly that one. But it worked. I've got to tell you, you're the one to beat. Right now, there are 19 very miserable contestants sitting here tonight. Trust me."
Additional Info: David revealed when he was 11-years-old, he actually met Idol's first-season finalists when he was a studio audience member for the finale. His family ran into the finalists in the hotel lobby, and he even sang for them, which impressed Kelly Clarkson. "It helped me raise my self-esteem," he explained, adding it was "one of the most memorable moments" of his young life... The studio audience went absolutely wild with cheers and screams following David's performance and the judges' comments... Randy asked David why he decided against singing the song's first verse. "I only had time for one verse," answered David. "The third one is actually my favorite and I think it has a great message."... As the broadcast concluded, Ryan thanked Paula and Randy without even mentioning Simon.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

American Idol eliminates first four seventh-season semifinalists

American Idol's seventh season finally began in earnest this week, with Tuesday and Wednesday's first performance shows culminating in last night's live results show that eliminated the four seventh-season Top 24 semifinalists (two male, two female) who had received the fewest home viewer votes after this week's performances.

However before they got to the week's voting results, Idol's producers decided to try and use Paula Abdul -- yes, frequently incoherent Paula Abdul of all people -- to do spin control for the prior professional experience controversy centered around heavily-promoted Top 24 semifinalist Carly Smithson. (After more than a month, the show's broadcasts finally acknowledged Smithson's past during a brief interview clip that aired before her Wednesday night performance.)

"Absolutely not, it shouldn't effect it at all because the whole thing is it doesn't matter if any of these kids sing in the shower or if they're backing up someone who sings in a stadium," Abdul told Idol host Ryan Seacrest after he asked her whether the fact that some of the semifinalists aren't "strangers" to the stage should "effect the voting at home."

"They all went through the same lines, all the times, slept in line, had to put up with [sharp-tongued fellow judge Simon Cowell's] stuff," Abdul continued. "And you know what, by now, these kids are talented, it's a savvy business -- if they haven't already tried to make a name for themselves they don't deserve to be in this competition."

After Cowell -- presumably as stunned as everyone else that Idol's producers had actually selected Abdul to serve their on-air mouthpiece -- openly laughed at Abdul's comments, she ended her response by inventing a former sixth-season Idol contestant named "Brandon Davis." (She presumably intended to refer to Brandon Rogers -- a then 29-year-old voice coach, wedding singer and background singer that finished in twelfth place in last year's competition.)

"Well wait a minute, does everyone remember that Kelly Clarkson had a deal that dismantled? Last season, Brandon Davis, Mandisa [Hundley], a lot of kids," said Abdul.

After the damage control segment, a photo shoot video, and a Top 24 group melody performance of 1960's songs all aired, the results show finally got down to business.

The first semifinalist to see their Idol journey end on Thursday night was Garrett Haley, a 17-year-old Leif Garrett look-alike from Elida, OH.

"It's over for you on Idol Garrett, but a lot more I'm sure is in your future," Seacrest told Haley after summoning him to his side to become the first male semifinalist to learn his fate. "Thank you very much for being on our show, we appreciate it."

Haley had sung Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" on Tuesday night and the performance had left all three judges unimpressed.

"It was boring, your voice sounded a bit whiny, you looked terrified, and you look like you've been shut up in your bedroom for a month," Cowell had told Haley. "You look verging on haunted."

However despite voicing his own previous less than flattering comments about Haley's performance on Tuesday, Idol judge Randy Jackson attempted to lift the teenager's spirits after his elimination.

"Man just keep trying to work it out dude, you can definitely sing," said Jackson. "Every time you have to step up here it has to be your best, it can't be kinda so-so and [Tuesday night] wasn't your best."

Next it was time for one of the Top 12 female semifinalists to be sent home. After calling Kristy Lee Cook to his side in a manner similar to what he'd done with Haley, Seacrest revealed Cook had made it through to the next round and Amy Davis -- a 25-year-old Lowell, IN-native who was still sitting with the rest of the female semifinalists -- had been eliminated.

Well you should rest up because you're SAFE and you'll be back again next week," Seacrest told Cook. "Get some rest, okay?"

"I will, thank you," Cook, one of several female semifinalists that been battling the flu during her Wednesday night performance, responded.

"[Instead] the person leaving us tonight unfortunately is Amy Davis," said Seacrest.

Similar to Garrett, Davis' Wednesday night performance of Connie Francis' "Where the Boys Are" hadn't impressed the judges, who had instead mostly complimented the graduate student/trade-show model's looks.

That focus continued right on through to Abdul's parting comments to Davis.

"It's just getting more experience and knowing who you are as an artist and picking the right songs," Abdul advised Davis. "But this is the most amazing platform for you, because now you have millions of people and it's your chance now to do what you want to do. You gotta go paint that door and that knob and go for it because you're a beautiful, talented girl."

After another break for the world premiere of the music video for Abdul's new "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" single, the eliminations resumed with the focus still on the girls.

"I can tell you everyone [still] sitting on the sofa is safe and will be back again next week," Seacrest announced after calling Amanda Overmyer, a 23-year-old nurse from Mulberry, IN, and Joanne Borgella, a 25-year-old plus-size model from New York, NY, to the stage.

Once Borgella was revealed to the second female semifinalist going home, both Jackson and Cowell reiterated their prior comments about her Wednesday night performance of "I Say Little Prayer For You."

"It's tough... I think your nerves got the best of you [on Wednesday]," said Jackson. "Really, you just never quite got it together, you know what I mean? It wasn't your best performance and you needed it, you needed it."

"It was a horrible song choice and it wasn't a great performance," Cowell scolded. "And that's a lesson learned... you can't breeze your way through it. We've heard you better, it was your worst performance and that's what happens."

Finally it was time for the night's second male finalist to be eliminated. After calling Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA, and Colton Berry, a 17-year-old from Staunton, VA, up on stage, Seacrest revealed that Berry's Idol journey had also ended.

"America voted... one of you has to go [and] that person is Colton," said Seacrest. "Chikezie you're safe, you may have a seat."

Berry had sung Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" on Tuesday. Although Jackson had termed it "pretty good," both Abdul and Cowell had been less positive -- with Abdul admitting that she hadn't thought it was his "best performance" and Cowell terming it an "okay" performance that was still "just a complete waste of time."

Abdul attempted to advise the high school senior that he should keep honing his singing and still has "a whole career ahead" of him, however Cowell wasn't nearly as encouraging.

"I wouldn't agree with Paula actually Colton," said Cowell. "I would say get a good job -- no seriously -- and then [just] enjoy singing, because I don't think you'll make a successful career out of it... I don't."

American Idol 7' Top 12 male semifinalists take the stage and perform

I have to say tonight's show was a mixed bag for me. There were a lot of surprises for me with the girls' performances, some good and some bad. I went into the show with a few clear favorites and a few that I didn't have high hopes for and it all got turned around on me. There wasn't as much of a "Wow!" factor with any of the girls and actually none of them earned the patented DOUBLEPLAY, but that's not to say there weren't some great performances.

I give Idol a lot of crap, and most of it is pretty well deserved, but one thing they've been hyping is absolutely true. This Top 24 has the deepest pool of talent, and if we (that means you and me) can truly get rid of the twelve weakest singers we're going to have the most amazing Top 12 we've ever seen. If that happens, I guarantee you the ratings questions about Idol being down this year will disappear as those ratings shoot right through the roof.

Apparently the flu bug made it's way to the girls' rooms or something as there was no mention of it last night but tonight we were told that several of the girls had been struck. If that is what's to blame for some of the lackluster performances then I feel bad for these girls. Two of them may pay the ultimate price for not being able to fight through it.

Kristy Lee Cook (24, Selma, OR) - "Rescue Me," Fontella Bass
Kristy's makeover really worked for her. I like her with straightened hair, though it takes away a bit from her country style. She looked authentic down-home in a sparkly tank top and strategically torn jeans, though. Her performance showed confidence, charisma and stage presence, which was even more impressive when we found out she was double-shot with the flu and bronchitis.
Randy: "It wasn't your best performance ... you had some pitch problems all the way through ... [It was] a little rough around the edges."
Paula: "Being sick and being the first one [is] a double whammy ... You don't want to ever let anyone see that you're having a ... tough time. You did a good job."
Simon: "What did we get from that? Not a lot. The song didn't suit you ... [It's] designed for someone who's going to belt out a song. The performance was robotic ... It just wasn't really anything to grab hold of ... You really didn't make an impression."
Jason: "You turned an R&B/Soul song into a country ballad and you know what? For me, it worked. And you looked really comfortable up there. Did anything about that dazzle me? No, not really. It was fun and energetic but you never really pushed it up to that next level and I was kind of waiting for it."

Joanne Borgella (25, Hoboken, NJ) - "I Say a Little Prayer," Dionne Warwick
She's a plus-size model who said everyone expects soul or neo-soul when they see a plus-sized woman. Going into that performance, Joanne looked and sounded like she may have the flu worse than Kristy because her lower register was very scratchy and her eyes looked a little glazed over. The energy level was way too low for the song. It was almost painful to watch because you know she's much better than that performance. She barely moved on the stage. If it wasn't the flu then it was classic "deer in headlights."
Randy: "That was pretty good. The first part was a little weird for me but you got it together towards the end ... Your voice ... felt a little unsure for me."
Paula: "We've seen you .. where you have this unbelievable ... sense of yourself ... [a] real confidence. It's very nerve wracking what you're doing right now. You've got to pull it together and shine through ... I liked it, I didn't love it."
Simon: "I didn't like it at all ... You've gotta come out and nail it ... You did ... a very average cabaret song ... I thought the second half of the song was worse than the first half. There was no confidence ... It was very sub-standard ... I don't accept this thing about nerves at this point."
Jason: "If you're not struggling with the flu then you should be very disappointed in yourself. In hearing you speak, you sound okay so I'm not sure what happened out there. If it was nerves then you've got to pull it together or you're never going to make it through the rest of the season. That wasn't nearly good enough."

Alaina Whitaker (16, Tulsa, OK) - "More Today Than Yesterday," Spiral Starecase
The youngest contestant on Idol. Her birthday is tomorrow which means she'll be eliminated, right? Isn't that the pattern? I call Alaina "generic blonde girl" because she hasn't stood out at all and in her talking with Ryan she continued her string of not standing out in any way. In watching her perform she does kind of look like she thinks she's not only great but way better than you. It was a bit off-putting. It was confidence pushed over into arrogance for me. She did manage to stand out by putting on a good performance, though.
Randy: "Season 7 is turning out to be the year of the young ones ... The beginning was a little rough but you sang it with so much conviction and confidence ... I was like 'What?!'"
Paula: "It's such a feel good song ... You nailed it. You had the best ending that I've heard on that song."
Simon: "I think you're very good. I do. [That was] the first time tonight we haven't seen any nerves. I hate the song ... It's just so corny. If you can make a song as awful as that sound okay, when you've got a decent song you're gonna be great ... You are sailing through to the next round after that."
Jason: "I agree that vocally you were great. You were strong and confident, if a little pretentious. Just don't let the praise you get from the judges go to your head or it'll show through on stage and be off-putting for the audience."

Amanda Overmyer (23, Mulberry, IN) - "Baby, Please Don't Go," Big Joe Williams
Amanda has sworn off Janis Joplin after Simon told her it had already been done in Hollywood. I think her vocals were a little overwhelmed by the band throughout her performance. She's got the big rock hair and the black tank top with patchwork pants and a choker so she's got the look down. Vocally, though, I worry that the Idol audience won't like her. She's raw and authentic but very atypical for Idol; even more than Chris Daughtry because he could be tamed vocally but I don't think Amanda can be. And Chris didn't even make Top 3. I could definitely see her headling a rock act. And tonight, we learned that Amanda made her own jeans and Simon had never heard this song before tonight.
Randy: "I love that, man ... I like the trousers too, man."
Paula: "I just love everything that you do ... You're authentic ... A one trick pony, you're not."
Simon: "I really like you because I genuinely think you're authentic. It wasn't the best performance ... I hope you stay around for awhile. I think at some stage you've got to come out and prove what a great singer you are ... [but] I like you."
Jason: "I'm worried for you, Amanda. Not because you're not good at what you do, because you're great at it. I'm worried because there are a lot of stupid theme weeks coming up and I don't know how well you'll adapt to them. There's a very distinct rock edge to your voice that might hurt you in mainstream America. But we've seen it before and I believe in you, so prove me wrong, girl! Tonight, your voice got lost in the music a bit, but you brought it together in the end."

Amy Davis (25, Lowell, IN) - "Where the Boys Are," Connie Francis
She's a trade show model and grad student. Tonight, she got a glamorous and classy hairstyle. Vocally, though, she was pitchy and weak. I hate to say it, but this was the worst performance of the night. I found her incredibly boring. She showed some vocal chops at the end but it may have been too little too late. She better hope the fact that she's pretty can net her some votes.
Randy: "I didn't think it was great ... A lot of country singers scoop up to the note ... but when you [do that] you've got to hit that note dead on and there were just a lot of pitch problems ... It wasn't great for me."
Paula: "The camera loves you." This means Paula did not. "The nerves got a little bit of you. I don't know if it was the most engaging song for you to sing ... It was a little lackless(?)."
Simon: "It was what it was ... You look great, but you didn't sound great ... It was a very boring song ... incredibly cabaret. The arrangement was very boring ... It sounded like you went on for about ten minutes ... I think you're gonna struggle after that."
Jason: "It didn't work at all. You were all over the place through the first two-thirds of that and it got painful to listen to. You're definitely better than that, I don't know if the nerves are killing the girls tonight but there's definitely a problem. And I hate to say it, but you just got the worst of it so far. It wasn't good at all."

Brooke White (24, Mesa, AZ) - "Happy Together," The Turtles
The singing nanny was a "good girl," having never seen Rated-R movies. Simon said he could bring her over to the dark side, but Brooke says it's not going to happen. I think her hair looked even poofier than usual but she looked great on stage nonetheless. She was graceful and confident. Her performance was a little over the top in places but I think she sang the song well. Oh, and can someone get her a cookie. Or a dozen?
Randy: "It started a little rough for me, but by the middle of the song you kind of got your confidence back and you kind of worked it out at the end ... If you come out here and slay it, that's what's supposed to happen ... The back part you started getting your slaying on .. The front part of the song was not good, the back part of the song was good."
Paula: "This competition is about originality. That's what I love about you ... That's what this whole business is about ... You picked the right song and I think you did a great job."
Simon: "You chose the right song." He then started going on about "washing up liquid" and blonde hair and the '60s. It just wasn't his cup of tea. He can't handle that she's sunny and happy, I guess. Honestly, he sounded like Paula during this tirade.
Jason: "You've got a really nice quality to your voice. You're confident on the stage and there's no question you know who you are as an artist. I think you and Jason Castro should probably do a duet. You'll be fine, though. Probably straight on through to the Top 12. Wow factor to make it to the end, though? It wasn't there tonight."

Alexandrea Lushington (17, Douglasville, GA) - "Spinning Wheel," David Clayton-Thomas Combine / Blood, Sweat & Tears
She pronounces her first name like two separate words, Alex and Andrea. She was the girl with the delightful great-grandmother at the first-round audition. She started her performance at the top of the steps and commanded both the stage and the audience masterfully from there. What an incredibly confident performer for 17. I hate to say it but I'm surprised at how good she is.
Randy: "You blew the doors off that ... You stayed on the note. You got it. It was hot, baby. it worked."
Paula: "What I loved so much about this performance is you took control of how your entrance was going to be. You thought about ... your performance from top to bottom ... I saw more confidence in your performance than any performance tonight so far and what I loved is your interpretation of a song that could be on the radio today the way you did it."
Simon: "I didn't get it ... I didn't think the vocals were great ... It reminded me of ... some terrible '60s musical ... I didn't think the vocals were great."
Jason: "I'm going to have to disagree. This was an outstandingly good vocal. The best performance of the night so far. You owned that song, that stage and that audience from the first note like no one before you. What a revelation you just turned out to be. We've got a dark horse contender."

Kady Malloy (18, Houston, TX) - "A Groovy Kind of Love," Diane & Annita
She looks almost exactly like Kristy Lee Cook, which could be a detriment to them both. She still does an amazing Britney Spears impression and was our first girl to sing on a stool with dimmed lights. It was clever of her to select a song that she might have some familiarity with, considering the Phil Collins version from 1988. I always like it when the contestants can pull off little tricks like that to find songs more in their comfort zone despite the forced theme of the week. Too bad her pitch was all over the place and the performance pretty bad overall. I know she's better than that.
Randy: "This song was okay for me. It was so restrained and controlled ... [It] never really quite got there for me. I thought that you got lost a little bit in the song."
Paula: "You look really pretty ... We fell in love with ... your personality ... [so] I want to see the life in you more; the fun .. We want to see the fun Kady." This means she didn't like the performance.
Simon: "I agree with Paula. That was like Night of the Living Dead. When you do the Britney you're brilliant and then when you do you, the lights go off. Literally. It's like watching two different people ... You came across as 80 in that ... Kady, you've got to lighten up. I don't know who could impersonate you. A pencil?"
Jason: "I hate to agree with Simon, but in a way he's right. There was no personality in that performance, it was very by-the-book. You were overthinking it all, trying to figure out what you thought you should be doing and how you should sing each line. You need to cut loose, have fun and feel the songs."

Asia'h Epperson (19, Joplin, MO) - "Piece of My Heart," Erma Franklin
She had an emotional audition in the first round, two days after her dad died, but now she's living his dream in the Top 24. She blasted onto that stage with sass and attitude and I liked seeing that. She not only showed confidence but she showed that she put herself inside the lyric of the song. The song was made famous by Janis Joplin, but Asia'h doesn't try to Joplin-ize the song, despite where she's from (*Boo! Boo! Hiss!*)
Randy: "I love that ... You did your thing with that. I was impressed ... Nice."
Paula: "You had some really good moments in that song."
Simon: "It was my favorite of the night. You let go. You're fun, you're likable, you've got a good voice, you're not taking yourself too seriously. It was what it's all about."
Jason: "You just had an amazing night and made your dad proud. You made that song your own. I could totally hear the Asia'h Epperson version on the radio. Your vocal was nearly flawless with just the right attitude for the song. You actually sold the emotions and story of the lyrics rather than just sing them. Great job!"

Ramiele Malubay (20, Miramar, FL) - "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," Dusty Springfield
She's the tiny little Fillipino with the big voice. There must have been some change in the water they got in the red room because Ramiele came out and owned this just as Asia'h did before her. She had the saucy passion the song demands and just a beautiful pure tone to her voice. A very impressive start for her.
Randy: "You know what I loved about that? ... You saved [your big voice] to the end ... [and] made it your own. Very classy, almost like a pro ... That was hot!"
Paula: "You're a force to be reckoned with. I hope you sail all the way in there ... There's such a beautiful range in your voice, the tenderness how you started ... You had a really great performance."
Simon: "I'll be the first to admit it. I didn't like you when I first saw you. During Hollywood you were the most consistently good singer ... tonight, you outsang every single person."
Jason: "Well, I'm the first to admit that I called this from the beginning. I thought you were one of the clear favorites to make it all the way toward the end and you proved me right with an amazing performance tonight. You sang that like it was written for you. Keep on keepin' on, girl!"

Syesha Mercado (21, Sarasota, FL) - "Tobacco Road," John D. Loudermilk
She's a working actress in Miami. She lost her voice in Hollywood but still managed to pull off an amazing vocal performance when needed. She sang from her soul and even though she couldn't talk, her singing voice was amazing. The same voice came out of her tonight. Her voice was powerful and spot on. And she hit the mother of all Idol power notes there at the end.
Randy: "You definitely can sing ... there were a couple of pitchy things in there ... [but] all in all I liked it. [It was] not my favorite performance."
Paula: "[You are] consistent ... joyful, fun, big! ... Way to go!"
Simon: "I agree ... it wasn't your best performance. Having said that ... I don't think it really matters because you are probably one of the most talented girls in the competition ... I thought it was terrific."
Jason: "You've got a big old voice to go with that big beautiful smile. Definitely the strongest, in regards to power, performance we saw tonight. Did that last note really last forever? Seriously, you just wrote yourself a ticket to the Top 12 with one performance."

Carly Smithson (24, San Diego, CA) - "The Shadow of Your Smile," Tony Bennett (The Sandpiper)
She owns a tattoo shop with her husband. She admitted to being signed to a major label., though the company folded (MCA Records) and she was left in the cold. Simon told her she was one of the top three vocalists in the competition in an earlier audition. She has had a consistently beautiful quality and purity to her voice and that came through again tonight. It was a sultry performance that was better if you didn't watch it. I can see where the mic pulling in and out can be a little annoying. Question: do newer microphones have the feedback issues of older mics where they had to do that or has it been fixed, or is it just done to control volume now?
Randy: "The best vocal of the Top 24."
Paula: "You're reliable ... You do not even have to power your voice. The tenderness of your voice. Everything, every choice you make, beautiful inflections."
Simon: "I didn't get it ... There's so much hype about you, so much expectation ... The song was way too old-fashioned ... Your mic technique was very cabaret. Everything about it to me was a let down ... I was genuinely expecting something fantastic. I didn't think it was fantastic."
Jason: "I'm actually going to agree with everyone. That was spot-on a professional performance. Your voice sounded great and your control was amazing. That said, the 'Wow' factor that I fully expected to get from your performance tonight wasn't there. Maybe the hype is hurting you at this point as our expectations have been raised too high. I don't know. Take all that away and it was one of the better performances of the night but I definitely don't give it best of the entire Top 24. Sorry."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Team Bruno wins Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann

Team Bruno may have lost a couple battles, but they ultimately won the war.

The Bruno Tonioli-led singing and dancing group was revealed to be Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann's winners during last night's live finale broadcast of the ABC reality competition series.

"I am so delighted. I am lost for words, and coming from me -- I'm telling you -- it takes a lot of doing," Bruno told Dance War host Drew Lachey following the victory. "It's such a great opportunity for these young men and women. Their strength, what I've been through with them, you have no idea. I worked them to the limit. Never a complaint. They worked like professionals from Day 1."

Team Bruno's four members -- Kelsey Bourg, a 20-year-old from West Monroe, LA; Phillip Bernier, a 24-year-old from Sterling, VA; Lacey Mason, a 22-year-old from Nashville, TN; and Zack Wilson, a 25-year-old from Saratoga Springs, UT -- received the grand prize of a recording contract with Hollywood Records.

"I can't even explain it," Kelsey told Drew after her team's victory. "We worked so hard. I can't even explain it. I can't."

It was a comeback of sorts for Team Bruno, as the Dancing with the Stars judge was forced to eliminate two members of his team -- Charity Baroni and Tony Czar -- after his squad received the lowest number of home viewer votes during the first two weeks of the competition.

However home viewers came through for Team Bruno the next week, as Team Carrie Ann -- led by Bruno's fellow Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba -- had received the lowest number of votes, forcing her to cut Alyssa.

Home Viewer votes cast immediately following last Monday night's live Latin-themed broadcast -- which saw Team Carrie Ann perform "Conga and "I Need to Know" while Team Bruno performed "Sway" and "Whine Up" -- crowned Team Bruno the show's champions.

"Thank you! Thank you!" gushed Bruno when the final voting results were read, falling to his knees and blowing kisses to the home viewing audience.

Team Carrie Ann's five members -- Marquis "Qis" Walker, a 26-year-old from Los Angeles, CA; Bradley Johnson, a 24-year-old from Nashville, TN; Mariel Sarangay, a 19-year-old from Chicago, IL; Elizabeth Huett, a 20-year-old from Riverside, CA; and Chris Holyfield, an 18-year-old from San Bernardino, CA -- looked disappointed after Drew revealed the results, but Carrie Ann seemed to take the defeat in stride.

"It's not as tough as I thought it would be," said Carrie Ann following her defeat. "This team is so incredible, and just remember -- Elizabeth, Bradley, Mariel, Chris and Qis -- you guys got great things coming to you. You guys were wonderful."

Prior to last week's voting results being revealed during last night's broadcast, the two teams each performed their best routine from the season, with Team Bruno performing "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'" and Team Carrie Ann performing "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone."

In addition, each squad performed the single they recorded earlier in the week, with Team Carrie Ann performing "Come With It" while Team Bruno performed "Falling In Love."

"That was incredible," commented Zack after his group performed their first Hollywood Records' single. "I mean, I'm sure it's all our dreams to have our own song and be able to perform it. But to be able to perform it in-front of millions of viewers for the first time, that was incredible. I loved it."

Dance War's finale broadcast also included a group number with Team Bruno, Team Carrie Ann and Drew -- Dancing with the Stars' second-season champ and a former boy band member -- performing "Stepping Out with My Baby."

American Idol 7' Top 12 male semifinalists take the stage and perform

The Top 12 male semifinalists kicked-off American Idol's seventh-season during last night's Fox broadcast, singing songs from the 1960s.

Some semifinalists distinguished themselves from the rest by performing current and unique renditions of songs that are more than 40-years-old, while others fell into the trap of delivering forgettable performances.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 12 male semifinalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.

Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox, the Top 12 female semifinalists will also perform songs from the 1960s during a two-hour broadcast. On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following this week's performance episode broadcasts.

David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ

Song: "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett
Randy said: "This is cool man. I like that you sang it with a whole kind of gospel vibe in the front, because I was like, 'Yo, man. I remember this guy from the auditions. He can definitely blow.' You definitely proved it in front of that. I think you did a really good job. It fell a little apart at the end, and the only thing I'll tell you is just watch the long phrasing -- because you've got all the short [Stevie Wonder]-kind of stuff -- just add some long notes. But baby, the way you started it off, yo, the competition's on!"
Paula said: "It's always unnerving when the first contestant comes out because I feel for you. But you've got brilliant vocals to rely on, and what you do with them and how you color them up and go into your falls, it's lovely. You've got perfect vibrato when you need it. It's really cool, really cool. Good job."
Simon said: "David, it actually was better than I thought it was going to be, to be honest with you. I felt the beginning of the song was terrific. Middle part was a little bit like rabbit in the headlights. End, I didn't like. I think that you lost the note. I think you've got to loosen up a bit, to be honest with you. Very stiff, very nervous. My only criticism -- once the song got going -- is I didn't hear anything distinct particularly in your voice. But then again I loved the beginning of it, so it was better than I thought it was going to be."
Additional Info: During a video package prior to his performance, David said he comes from a "pretty broken family," which includes being raised by a singly mom and living in low-income housing... David said he felt "challenged" by Simon's comments when he was accepted into the Top 24 and hopes to prove him wrong... After his performance, David said he was glad to get his first performance over with.

Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA

Song: "More Today Than Yesterday" by Spiral Starecase
Randy said: "Chikezie is in the house. So yo man, it was pretty good man. You know... The only problem for me is that you're a little kind of an old-fashioned singer, right? So this kind of thing -- the 60s -- you've got to always remember for you, what's going to help you is make it new and fresh, young... You can definitely sing man. It was alright. It was alright."
Paula said: "Chikezie, nothing makes me happier than to see you here on the stage. Really, you've come a long way and you're here. You are here. You look great. People may not know it, he lost a lot of weight. I love Chikezie singing. You're a throwback to great R&B, and you're infectious. Your smile's infectious. I think you did a very nice job."
Simon said: "Here's my problem Chikuzie... Chikuzie, Chikezie... Okay, forgive me. But I absolutely hated the whole performance (boos from the studio audience). The suit is hideous... Let me finish. The suit was hideous. The wink was hideous. The woo was hideous. It was all old-fashioned, corny, cheesy. To be honest with you, this could have been something we filmed 40 years ago, 30 years ago. It was so old-fashioned."
Additional Info: Chikezie made it all the way to the end of Idol's sixth-season Hollywood Round before being cut, which made him work harder for this season's auditions... Chikezie wore a red suit during his performance... Chikezie tried to defend his wardrobe and vocal rendition of the song after Simon bashed both... "I understand I need to do more current music, which is difficult to do on 60s night," said Chikezie.

David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK

Song: "Happy Together" by The Turtles
Randy said: "So check it out dawg, check it out. This is kid of funny for me because when is started I was like, 'Dude, what song is this? Oh my God! No!' So you started it and it was a little weird for me, but dude, you know what, you worked it out and made a rock joint out of 'Happy Together.' Dude it was crazy! I was like, 'If he can pull this off, he can do anything.'
Paula said: "I couldn't agree more. I have to tell you, it was a bit 'worthy.' It's worthy of great praise. You rocked it. You made something original. If it was wordy, that's not your fault, it's the writer's fault."
Simon said: "I can't remember if I said 'wordy' or 'worthy.' I genuinely can't remember. So, I won't be able to answer that. I thought it was good. I thought you shouted the song a little bit in the middle... It was a weird song to choose because I've never heard that song sung like that before. You almost made it believable."
Additional Info: Prior to David's performance, fellow semifinalist Colton Berry said from certain angles, he looks like Ellen DeGeneres... David said he was "legitimately nervous" during the Hollywood Round after going into the competition with no "preconceived idea of how things were going to go"... David said he was still confused about Simon's audition comments that his performance was "worthy," perhaps thinking he meant "wordy"... Randy reiterated he loved the song's "whole rock edge" of the performance.

Jason Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO

Song: "Moon River" by Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's)
Randy said: "I think you definitely did a pretty good job with that song. It's a tough song to sing, tougher than you probably even thought right? ('Yeah, absolutely,' answered Jason.) Because it's a simple song, great melody, made famous years and years ago. But the thing is, I must say I'm really impressed with all the boys I've seen thus far because all you guys can definitely blow. You had a couple problems with that song just pitch-wise. Make sure you never lose your concentration while singing a song like that, you know what I mean? In the middle of that, it felt like you went somewhere a little bit in your head. Stay in it man, stay in it."
Paula said: "I have to say that's very good advice Randy because the simpler the song is, it's very difficult to sing and staying on track is important. But I have such sentimental value to that song -- I did my first ballet recital to that song."
Simon said: "I bought my first puppy to that song (the audience laughs). David, how old are you? 28. You came over much older on that song. I'm going to be honest with you, I think it was very cruise ship, the whole performance (boos). I do. And I think there are going to be a lot of young people watching this performance at home with a huge question mark over there head... You can cover 60s songs, the problem was, it was neither here nor there. You didn't go the kind of Frank Sinatra route with it, which would of been great. It was just very, very middle of the road. You're like a dependable, old dog aren't you? We can rely on you, but it's not going to be exciting."
Additional Info: Jason said his son was "blown away" when he met Ryan Seacrest during the Dallas auditions... Jason added he'd love to win to show his son that dreams are achievable... Jason's dad and son were in the studio audience, and he dedicated his performance to his grandmother, who taught the song to him as a child... Randy professed his love for dogs after Simon's comments... David said he was aware he was walking a fine line with his performance being too old-fashioned.

Robbie Carrico, a 26-year-old from Melbourne, FL

Song: "One" by Three Dog Night
Randy said: "Nice one Robbie, very nice one man. I love that song, it was one of my favorite Three Dog Night joints right there. A nice version you did of it, you had me rockin out. I was like, 'Yeah... I like this!' So you moved me baby!"
Paula said: "I think you picked the perfect song for you. You're authentic, you really are, and you stay true to who you are. You look fantastic tonight. You know what, the vocals weren't over the top, but they were right in the pocket, the way they should be."
Simon said: "I would say it's the only performance we've seen tonight which has any semblance of making sense. It's the only current performance. It was. I thought it was a good performance. I'm struggling a little bit with what Paula said about the authenticity. I'm not quite sure yet whether you're very comfortable in this rock thing. Is it really you? I mean you're a pop singer."
Additional Info: Robbie mentioned his Boyz IV Girlz boy-band background, but said he truly is a rocker now... After his performance, Ryan commented Robbie looked like Justin Timberlake. Robbie scowled and shook his head... Paula added she thought you could hear Robbie's rendition of the song "as a hit"... Robbie told Simon he's "definitely not" a pop singer and professed his love for rock... Simon said he still wasn't buying it, although Randy and Paula were.

David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT

Song: "Shop Around" by The Miracles
Randy said: "David Archuleta, dude how old are you man? You know look man, I'm a big fan. I thought that was really brilliant, and what I love dude is you were just born with this gift. Because I'm saying -- you sang that song so mature for someone who's 17 -- I'm like, 'Yo man, this kid is ready to go.' I loved it. I loved it."
Paula said: "I feel it was a very brave and bold choice of song for you. We've never seen that side of you, and what's interesting is I forget all about how old you are. I just look at this unbelievably confident older soul, that just knows what's best for you. You really did a great job David. You really did a great job."
Simon said: "When you've got it, you've got it. David, that was by a comfortable margin, best performance of the night so far."
Additional Info: David sees his Idol journey as a "huge opportunity"... His parents were in the studio audience for the performance... David appeared to be in shock following the judges' comments. "I wasn't expecting that," he said while looking wide-eyed... "You can only vote for him," Ryan reminded home viewers. "You actually can't adopt him." This brought "awwws" from the crowd. "I'm 17, man," David told Ryan. Ryan answered, "Yeah I know, but the ladies love you, and you love that they love you."

Danny Noriega, an 18-year-old from Azuza, CA

Song: "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley
Randy said: "Danny what's going down man... Just a little Idol Season 7. You know what I love about you, you know how to have a good time. You don't care what's going on around you, you're going to have Danny's good time, right? ('I bring the house down everywhere I go,' replied Danny.) Well yo man, I actually thought it was pretty good. The vocals, I thought they were okay. It was an interesting song choice for me for you. It didn't allow you to do your thing. But you had a good time, so I loved the performance out of you. That was cool man. It was kind of hot..."
Paula said: "It was very warm -- almost scalding -- one of the most amazing vocals, especially when we saw you in San Diego. I love hearing how your voice goes in and out of these beautiful colors. This was in some ways a safer song that allowed you to just be the performer, which is very important too. I think there's going to be a lot of colors with Danny, coming out."
Simon said: "I don't understand a word of what you just said. Not a word. What color was that? Danny I thought the performance was verging on grotesque (gasp from Paula, boos from the audience)... If you're going to take on Elvis, at least do it well. I mean the whole performance was hideous, and I'll tell you why I say that Danny. If this was the first time anyone tuned into this show by accident, and saw that -- which is somebody destroying an Elvis Presley song -- they're not going to believe that this is the most talented group of kids in America. It was awful."
Additional Info: Danny was cut from the first day of Idol's sixth-season Hollywood Round and added he spent the following week "bawling"... He hoped to bring his "swagger and attitude" to his performance... David's mom cried in the audience as he performed... Paula disagreed with Simon's comments and said she loves his "performer side," but he didn't care and disregarded it as "nonsense"... Ryan joked that he liked the judges' "difference of opinion," adding, "Kind of hot, colorful, grotesque. That's American Idol!"... While he liked the song, Danny admitted it might have been a bad choice since "some people weren't liking it."

Luke Menard, a 29-year-old from Crawfordsville, IN

Song: "Everybody's Talkin'" by Fred Neil
Randy said: "Luke man, for me this time dude that song... It was very pitchy for me all the way through. I know that's like a word Paula and I use a lot, but it was almost consistently sharp the whole way through the song, meaning you sang the note higher than the actual note went. It never settled for me. It wasn't great for me dude. Was not great (boos)... Just keeping it real."
Paula said: "I'm going to agree in the sense that I don't feel like this was the best song choice for you and I'm really grateful to have heard amazing auditions for you -- when you sang Grace Kelly, when you sang your earlier auditions. I can tell you're range is unbelievable. You have a Kenny Logins tenderness to your voice, and I hope you'll be picking better songs."
Simon said: "What color was it? ('Well it wasn't black or gray, I'll tell you that,' answered Paula.) Luke, even though I'm not sure whether you're pitchy or not, your problem was, it was forgettable. No one is going to remember that as being either a great performance or a great vocal. You fell into the absolutely worst trap you could fall into, which is no one's going to remember you. It's true. (boos) Luke, you have to stand out. You have to put your stamp on this stage of the competition, and you didn't."
Additional Info: Luke auditioned in Memphis for Idol's sixth season but didn't make it through to the Hollywood Round... He added that gave him the drive to improve... Luke disagreed with Simon's "forgettable" comment and was glad it's now in home viewers' hands. "I think people are going to remember this tomorrow," he said. Simon fired back, "No one's ever going to admit to being forgettable."

Colton Berry, a 17-year-old from Staunton, VA

Song: "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley
Randy said: "Colton you had a good time. You were jumping at the end, I love that man! You were really feeling that right, you love this song right. Well listen, you did a pretty good job on it. It started a little rough for me, but by the end you started feeling yourself and finding your way with it. So all in all, I actually thought it was pretty good."
Paula said: "It was nice to see a different side of you, because we've heard the ballads. It was nice. You were having fun out there. I don't feel it's your best performance, but I do think you gave it an eager and fun attempt. I really do."
Simon said: "Colton it was okay. It wasn't quite as bad as the other Elvis song. But I'll tell you where I have a problem with what I just saw. The whole idea of this show is to find a recording artist, so what did I get from that performance? Nothing. It's just a young kid who might have a career in musical theater. But you have no relevance in today's chart or in the music industry. It was just young kid singing an Elvis song quite well. I'm not listening to a recording artist. That is my issue. You didn't represent yourself. It was just a complete waste of time."
Additional Info: Colton revealed he sings the Teletubbies theme song in his head when he gets nervous... He added he was in "complete and utter shock" when he made it to the Top 24... Simon further explained his comments, saying Colton didn't make his performance "current" and labeled it as "karaoke"... Simon also took a shot at Colton's hair, but Ryan stood-up for the semifinalist. "That's called hopeless, that box cut you've got," Ryan said to Simon, which drew a smile from the judge and a laugh from Colton.

Garrett Haley, a 17-year-old from Elida, OH

Song: "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" by Neil Sedaka
Randy said: "That's a great Neil Sedaka song. I mean I love the song. But the thing that struck me with this performance here is you didn't do anything with it. Don't be afraid to make these things your own. Just because wherever the songs from -- any song older than six months ago is old -- so you've got to bring something new and interesting to it. You had a couple of pitch problems... just kind of boring."
Paula said: "When you have songs like this, it's okay to get into [music director] Ricky Minor's ear and say, 'You know what, I'd like to split up the song. I'd like to start off slow and then I'd like the to grab the beat and change it up.' Because if you stay at that slow tempo, it brings the performance down... Don't be afraid to be courageous."
Simon said: "I think they've said it all. It was boring. Your voice sounded a bit whiny. You look terrified, and it looks like you've been shut-up in your bedroom (boos)... It looks like you've been shut-up in your bedroom for a month. You're verging on haunted. Pale... You need some fresh air and you need to make yourself young. Seriously... The problem here is that once again, you're not making yourself relevant, young, current."
Additional Info: "I too look like Ellen DeGeneres," Garrett told Ryan prior to his performance, before admitting people do tell him he resembles Leif Garrett or Peter Frampton... Garrett auditioned in San Diego while on vacation with his family... Randy and Paula found Simon's comments comical... "I'm going to take it as constructive criticism," Garrett said of the comments.

Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX

Song: "Daydream" by Lovin' Spoonful
Randy said: "I like the little accent with the whole guitar-vibe, with you strumming along with it. I love that. You tried to make some interesting things vocally with the melody and stuff. Little pitch problems, especially with that little high note there at the end -- it got away from you a little bit -- it went a little sharp. It was alright. It was alright. Didn't blow me away, but it was alright."
Paula said: "For me, you did blow me away. You got me right back hooked into when I saw you the first time. Given the song choices, you picked a song that was absolutely perfect for you. Your take on it -- it was so minimal and effortless and really joyful. The expression less is more, I really feel like you nailed that. I felt like you're a performer who's coming back and just getting up and playing something on his guitar."
Simon said: "Jason i thought that was in the Top 2 performances of the night. I'll tell you why. You -- like David [Archuleta] -- has just got it. You're great with the camera, very good choice of song. Actually, I wouldn't have had the band -- it would have worked better just you and the guitar. But you made it sound current, and it proves my point it doesn't matter how old the song is, it's what you do with it... It was effortless, you have charisma, I thought it was terrific."
Additional Info: Jason grew-up playing the drums, donned a guitar during that Hollywood Round, and was the only semifinalist to perform with an instrument during last night's broadcast... Like David Archuleta, Jason seemed shocked by the positive comments he received... Jason looked to exit the stage as quickly as possible after the judges' comments. "It's scary up here," he told Ryan... Following the performance, Simon asked Paula what color Jason was. She replied, "every favorite color that I know."

Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA

Song: "Light My Fire" by The Doors
Randy said: "What a way to end a great night. I'll tell you what man, I love you the day that I saw you. You just throw all caution to the wind -- you're always you. You sing great. I always feel like I'm seeing a true legend, rock performer. You're like a [former INXS frontman] Michael Hutchence, you don't care. You were the bomb tonight baby. That was hot man. I love that."
Paula said: "It was an excellent way to end the night, and you did set everyone on fire. This was a great, great ending. Really was. You are a great part of the show. You really are."
Simon said: "I would say Michael, you are the most consistent contestant we have. Everyone of your auditions I've loved. I didn't like it as much as [his Hollywood Round performance of] "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the way, because I think you were over-trying. But you have the natural charisma of a lead singer... You've just got it."
Additional Info: While he was born in Australia, Michael said he's lived his whole "adult life" in the States, meaning he's resided here for the last 10 years... Michael's wife was in the studio audience... Michael also sang "Light My Fire" during the Hollywood Round.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Evan Dollard & Monica Carlson Win Season 1 of American Gladiators

Congratulations to Evan Dollard and Monica Carlson for winning Season 1 of American Gladiators. Both contenders out dueled 22 other hopefulls to each win $100K prize money, a Toyota Sequoia and the opportunity to be American Gladiators in Season 2.

The finals pretty much went as I thought with Evan taking control throughout the events giving him a 30-11 lead over Alex Rai and a 9 1/2 second headstart in the Eliminator. Alex gave it all he had but was just overmatched by Evan and his abilities. In the Eliminator Evan broke his own record by 4 seconds to take the title.

Monica and Shanay battled back and forth throughout the events and it came down to the Eliminator when both competitors were neck and neck to the travelator. Monica made it up the travelator on her first attempt and took home the title beating Shanay by a few seconds.

Season 1 was full of some great excitement and dissapointments for some but overall the show lived up to the hype. Lets hope Season 2 is just as action packed as this one. Check back often and soon for all the latest on Season 2 of American Gladiators.