‘American Idol’: Now it gets serious as the finals begin
With 13 finalists, one of several changes at least partly meant to spur interest in the long-running show, Idol apparently will have to eliminate two during one week. The particulars will be announced tonight. Executive producer Ken Warwick also promises another surprise tonight or during Wednesday’s elimination show (9 p.m. ET/PT), on which Kelly Clarkson and Kanye West will perform.
‘Idolatry’: Who’s your season 8 fave? And who’s suddenly loving Paula?
I hope everyone is limbering up their speed-dialing fingers RIGHT THIS SECOND, because we’re about 24 hours away from the very first episode of American Idol’s eighth season finals, after which you can vote for whatever contestant rocked Michael Jackson night the hardest! (And the whole world has to text or else call, just to tell you once again: Who’s bad?!?!) I am shocked to report that I got a sudden surge of the internal squealies as I typed that last sentence, despite the fact that none of this season’s top 13 contestants has yet to turn me into a megafan. (Allison Iraheta, you’ve come the closest. Do not disappoint me and choose something atroshe like “Ben” or “Heal the World.”)
More Idol Headlines after the JUMP…
After so much fluff, the main course
They’re just bringing out the entree for the annual American Idol contest tonight, with the 13 finalists competing head-to-head for the first time. And already it seems like the longest Idol season ever.
It’s not just that Fox squeezed every last advertising dollar out of the preliminary rounds, padding them so badly they resembled a playground full of kids in snowsuits.
There’s also the superfluous addition of a fourth judge: the curiously one-note Kara DioGuardi. The judges’ comments now take longer than the performances. And with the exception of Simon Cowell, they’re all saying the same thing anyway, in their own annoying idiom.
‘American Idol’: Our Advice for the Top 13
From Scott’s retro charm to Alexis’ Aretha obsession, we eye the strengths and weaknesses of the 2009 season’s contenders — and suggest some songs we’d love to hear ’em try
Tiffany in Connecticut: Are we going to see major makeovers with the American Idol contestants now that we’re in the top 13?
Yes. In fact, American Idol stylist Miles Siggins tells us that there will be “two major makeovers.” Anoop Desai and Michael Sarver. “You should’ve seen how long it took us to persuade Anoop to wear that Polo shirt last Thursday, ” Miles tells us. “It was very adventurous for him. And Michael needs some help too. I’m going to help them look the best they can.” Oil rigger Michael tells us he’s up for the challenge: “I’ve been shopping a lot lately and trying to take my style more seriously. I was never a shopper before.” Meanwhile, Idol makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy has some big plans in store for rocker Adam Lambert: “My goal is to tone Adam’s makeup down. Instead of people paying attention to his song, they’re like, ‘Oh my God. He has so much bronzer on.’ I’m going to help him with that.” Yay for Wet Wipes!
Former Idols Advise the Top 13
As the top 13 compete for the first time tonight, Us enlisted finalists from seasons past to handicap the competition and tell Us what the newbies are in for this year.
JIM VERRAROS, season 1 (2002)
“I’m rooting for Adam Lambert all the way! If he doesn’t make it to at least the top five, there is something seriously wrong with America!”
DIANA DEGARMO, season 3 (2004)
“Scott MacIntyre’s story is incredible, but Adam is a theater actor, like me, [who’s] showing that he can truly cross over to the pop genre. I respect that so much.”US
‘American Idol’ needs to open the closet door
Adam Lambert isn’t the first contestant to have a back story that doesn’t fit perfectly inside the homogenous whole the show tries to present.
This week, the lucky 13 contestants in the latest top tier of “American Idol” begin the serious phase of competition with a dip into Michael Jackson’s songbook. Jackson, who just has returned from isolation to announce a series of comeback shows, is the single biggest influence on the young R&B stars that many “Idol” strivers emulate, but he’s also the ideal subject for what’s turning out to be a rather strange season.
Another stage for American Idols–the iPhone
If you can’t get enough of “American Idol, ” the producers behind the hit celebrity-making reality show are giving fans from the rabid to shyly closeted an official app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The release of the $1.99 app, called (verbosely) American Idol Season 8 Exclusive Videos, is opportune, just in time for the season’s final 13 contestants to really battle it out as more Idols get axed.
Each week, the app will stream exclusive videos, many of them confessional, that take you deeper into the contestants’ worlds–for instance, what inspires them and what makes them tick. The “Idol” app may center around the 78 videos airing on just the iPhone by the season’s end, but it also includes the same daily newsfeed and blog post you can find online, a handy section on the singers’ biographies, and links to the iTunes music store, where you can directly buy the tracks performed by your favorite up-and-comers.
Jasper residents proud to be in national spotlight with Michael Sarver’s Idol dreams
A decade ago, the town of Jasper became synonymous with hate and racism as news media across the nation reported the tragic story of James Byrd Jr.’s dragging death.
Today, news organizations give Jasper air-time and print space once again. This time around, residents hope Michael Sarver’s bid to become the next “American Idol” can somehow show the nation that Jasper is as humble and friendly as Sarver shows himself to be on television.
“This is Jasper, Texas, and for 10 years there has been a cloud over our city …” Sarver said during a brief visit home three weeks ago. “This is more than about Michael Sarver. It’s about Jasper, Texas, and a city that has more to give the world than hate.”
“Idol” gets Latino flavor with Puerto Rican Nunez
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “American Idol” is going to be hearing a lot more Spanish this season.
Puerto Rican college student Jorge Nunez, who divided the judges over his heavy accent, won congratulations from Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez after singing his way through to the coveted Top 12 of Fox’s top-rated talent show.
Encouraged by the superstar music couple, Nunez said he hoped to sing a few verses in his native language in future rounds of the competition, saying “my voice sounds best when I am singing in Spanish.”
You heard it here: Hometown hero Gokey will win on ‘Idol’
At the risk of being labeled a homer, here’s a prediction that Milwaukee’s own Danny Gokey will win the eighth season of Fox’s “American Idol.”
If you haven’t been following “Idol, ” Gokey and a dozen other finalists take to the stage for the first time at 7 p.m. Tuesday on Channel 6 to compete for viewer votes.
And, in many ways, Gokey’s an easy pick. He has a complete package of attributes that makes it almost impossible for him not to win:
Matt Giraud’s former bandmates host ‘American Idol’ party to spur votes
KALAMAZOO — Forget the pain of the criticism from “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell.
Local songstress Emily Jamieson has found that being a friend of show Top 13 finalist Matt Giraud, of Kalamazoo, comes with its own share of “pain” — the kind from phoning in hundreds of votes for him — but she said she hasn’t minded if it means he will win.
Carrie Underwood Ready To Send 12 Losers Back Home
This year, in the always delicious and shamefully manipulative results show, twelve American Idol hopefuls will be banished back to their normal lives (or given major label contracts) when they fail to secure enough votes to advance to the next round. And when they stand on stage for the last time they’ll be ushered back off to normalcy (or begin the road to pop stardom…damn you Daughtry et al for making things complicated) with what AI euphemistically refers to as the “farewell song, ” an institution that has brought such abominations as Daughtry’s “Home” and Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” into the mass cultural consciousness. This year the torch has been passed to Carrie Underwood. But what Underwood ditty will be twisting the knife a little deeper/giving succor to the losers?
This week’s Idol airplay chart
Half of the songs in the Top 10 of the Idol airplay chart see spin increases this week. Kelly Clarkson My Life Would Such Without You, of course, stays in the top spot with nearly a thousand more spins (12, 357 to 13, 309). She currently at 3 on USA TODAY Top 40 airplay chart and 4 on its Hot AC chart.
CD Review: ‘All I Ever Wanted’ by Kelly Clarkson
By the standard of her second album, Kelly Clarkson’s third effort was a commercial disappointment: “My December” has sold only a fraction of the copies that “Breakaway” did.
The fraction happens to be about one-fifth, which sounds bad until you consider that “Breakaway” was a once-in-a-career effort, and that “My December” has still shifted 2.5 million units worldwide — an unqualified success by any other standard, especially in an era where million-sellers are increasingly rare.
Review: Kelly Clarkson’s ‘All I Ever Wanted’
Kelly Clarkson has learned her lessons well.
She figured out that the problem with her last album, “My December, ” wasn’t that it was dark, but that it was unfinished. The emotions were valid, but the way she expressed them was a bit lacking.
No problem with that this time. Not only is “All I Ever Wanted” (RCA) overflowing with potential hit singles, but it covers all the same ground she wanted to cover the last time – esteem issues, betrayal, longing – in a far more effective way, using a wide variety of pop styles to make her points.
A chastened Clarkson stays true to formula
Only three forces in the universe can never be denied: death, taxes and Clive Davis.
Kelly Clarkson found that out the hard way when she released her last album. The original American Idol squared off against her mentor, the great god Clive on her third CD, 2007’s “My December, ” insisting on doing it her own way.
Defying both Davis’ wishes and his wisdom, she employed darker instrumentation, explored a more individual point of view, and offered fewer, hit-’em-between-the-eyes pop hooks. She even brought her beef with Clive to the press, causing a temporary rift between the two
Kelly Clarkson comes back with big pop-star hooks
Now that’s more like it.
Kelly Clarkson, the original and best “American Idol, ” returns from the abyss on her new album, “All I Ever Wanted” (in stores today). Her 2007 album “My December” marked a gloomy foray into Serious Artist territory, and nearly derailed her career when a nasty spat with her label and record-biz head honcho Clive Davis over the album’s direction went public.
But Clarkson rolls up her sleeves, smiles and re-embraces her pop instincts on “All I Ever Wanted.” And it’s good to have her back.
Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted
Kelly Clarkson, what have you done. You’ve gone and turned in one tight little pop album that should get all of your American Idol cousins (except Chris Daughtry) a wee-bit green-eyed. Right from the opening guitar riffs of the megahit “My Life Would Suck Without You” (ours too, Kelly), we are hooked on your poppy, essential album that features tons of likely chart shredders that we happily will be burnt out on by Summer’s end. Unlike what went down on your moody My December (that now deserves a revisit and a personal apology from each maligner), your energy level is spiking again, and you prove Simon Cowell correct when he once stated on Good Morning America that your pipes were better than your fellow Idolsters “by a mile” (okay, that was years ago, but still…).
Going the distance
“This time last year, I didn’t have a deal, ” says Taylor Hicks. “I think it’s a pretty good comeback story.”
The comeback involves a couple of things, but at the moment it’s mainly about “The Distance, ” the album that Hicks releases today.
It is his first studio album since the self-titled release that followed his May 2006 victory in the fifth season of “American Idol.”
That one went platinum, hit No. 2 on Billboard’s album chart, and squeaked a couple of singles into the adult contemporary Top 20. This one may be the acid test for establishing the dimensions of Hicks’ career, now that the “Idol” glow is fully behind him.
Taylor Hicks travels ‘The Distance’
Taylorhicks250 The new album from”American Idol” Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks hits stores on Tuesday. The former champion is also currently touring with the road company of “Grease, ” performing in the role of Teen Angel. During the tour, he will also play solo shows for “The Distance, ” which is his second studio album. The first single from “The Distance, ” “What’s Right Is Right, ” is a catchy hit, with a sleek soulful video to boot.
We caught up with Hicks over the phone during the San Diego leg of the “Grease” tour. L.A. is the next stop, with Grease going onstage at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater March 10-22 and Hicks playing Sunset Strip’s The Roxy Theatre March 18.
Acts Shine on Country Radio Seminar’s New Faces Show
Kellie Pickler, James Otto, Chuck Wicks, Lady Antebellum and the Zac Brown Band displayed their musical wares to an appreciative audience Friday night (March 6) at the Country Radio Seminar’s annual New Faces Show.
Staged at the Nashville Convention Center, the show was the final event on the Seminar’s agenda. This year’s audience was noticeably smaller than those of the recent past, possibly a reflection of the nation’s tightening economy.
“I want to welcome you to the hillbilly Cirque du Soleil, ” joked Charlie Monk, who hosted the proceedings. He continued with a barrage of jokes aimed at the soft spots of prominent radio and music industry figures
Jennifer Hudson Rocks Jessica Simpson ‘Pouchy Pants’
Jennifer Hudson did her best Jessica Simpson impersonation this weekend at the 2009 Women’s Empowerment Series in Indianapolis.
Girl knows how to rock a black pouchy pant. Take note Jessica Simpson, all black works better than light denim, especially if your gonna confine that belly with a tight brown belt.
When wearing a fitted one-piece that gives you a fupa, tons of necklaces draw the eye up to the face instead of down to the … um fupa. It’s all smoke and mirrors Jess!
Ruben Studdards Talks to Sister 2 Sister About New Album
He talked about his upcoming album (due out the day before Mother Day) on which he had the chance to work with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis who, in case you arent familiar with them, have an incredible track record in the industry. Im really looking forward to hearing what they came up with! When Jamie asked what fans can expect from the album, Ruben said: …It just a lot of great, classic songs. I got a chance to do a record with some guys that I looked up to in my adolescence, and that Boyz II Men. Yeah, I did a song with them, a Bryan Adams record, …Heaven. I did a song with Kenny G, …Careless Whispers. It just a lot of great music. Terry kept saying that he wanted us to pick songs that people can really see the Ruben that they voted for [in] and not somebody that let people pick the songs. They just wanted to hear I could really, really sing.
Newbies impress on ‹Dancing premiere
No …Dancing With The Stars season has ever ‘ ever ‘ started with a celebrity saying anything as utterly fantastic as …I am dedicating my first dance to my girls at the Federal Detention Center.
That was rapper Lil Kim, introducing the cha-cha she and Derek Hough performed. Her incarcerated peeps had reason to smile: Lil Kim opened the show with a decent if unspectacular dance. It wasnt the breakout performance that marks a frontrunner, but it was solid, and as all the judges noted in giving her straight 7s, it showed promise.
Melissa Rycroft on ‘Dancing With the Stars’: ‘It’ll show everybody I’m okay’
Wearing a sequined turquoise dress and dancing to a song that only days earlier was meant for Nancy O’Dell, Melissa Rycroft — a.k.a. The Bachelor’s most famous reject ever — closed out the premiere of Dancing With the Stars Monday with a waltz to “show everybody I’m good, that I’m okay.” Rycroft stepped in for O’Dell on the morning of March 7 after a knee injury forced the Access Hollywood host to quit the competition. Rycroft, who was dumped on national TV March 2 by Jason Mesnick, had already returned to Texas to resume her career as an event planner when she got the call about DWTS on the morning of March 6.
‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: Steppin’ Out
Welcome to season 8 of Dancing with the Stars, the Little Reality Show That Could…add a Playboy Bunny and a Bachelor Dumpee at the very last minute and somehow play out rather normally. The Girls Next Door’s Holly Madison and recent ABC darling Melissa Rycroft replaced former contestants Jewel and Nancy O’Dell, both of whom withdrew last week due to injuries. Apparently, Dancing With the Stars’ primary goal for season 8 is to support the flailing industry of general surgery. All Cheryl has to do is fling Gilles Marini and his troubled groin into a spin fast enough, and she’ll keep the dream alive! Don’t you dare do it, Cheryl. Here’s how the 13 couples ‘ let’s call ’em The Top 13, for Steve Wozniak’s sake ‘ ranked after either the waltz or the cha cha cha ¦.