Exclusive Q&As: The “American Idol” Final Four
As the final four “American Idol” contestants — David Archuleta, Jason
Castro, David Cook and Syesha Mercado — vie to be crowned season seven’s champion, the quartet revealed its thoughts on their “Idol” experience, musical pasts and future plans in a series of exclusive Billboard.com interviews.
The Kids and the Hall
Jason Castro did the impossible not once, not twice, but three times up on the American Idol stage tonight. With his disappointing performances of ”I Shot the Sheriff” and ”Mr. Tambourine Man, ” the gentle, dreadlocked troubadour from Rockwall, Texas, likely gave the Unsinkable Syesha Mercado a free pass into the final three, helped me begin to understand why 90 percent of the people I know are rooting for a David Cook-David Archuleta finale, and, perhaps worst of all, made me momentarily miss Luke Menard. (For those of you fortunate enough to have forgotten, he’s the dude who ”sang” ”Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” during the last week of semifinals and who gave a typically cheesy thumbs-up from his seat in the Idol audience tonight. Yeah, him.)
Idol (Live) Redux: My Heart Goes Out to Jason Castro
Last week, I thought I had it all figured out. If you’re a preteen, you vote for David Archuleta. If you’re a teen-age girl, you love Jason Castro. And if you are a full-grown adult, you are all about David Cook.
But tonight, sitting in the live audience at Idol, I came to the realization that no matter who you are or what your age, when you hear David Archuleta in person, it is hard not to admit: He is so undeniably talented’ with a voice so flawless and dynamic and pure, it actually resonates in your soul’ that he probably most deserves to be the winner of this year’s American Idol. (It would explain why he got the only full-audience standing O’s of the night’ and two of them, at that!)
Still, here’s the truly ridiculous thing you can clown me for (and I know many of you will): The 13-year-old girl in me weeps for Jason Castro!
More Idol Headlines After the Jump…
American Idol: Four on the Floor
The …Top Four on American Idol were asked to pick two songs each from the 500 most arbitrarily influential rock songs of all time. As a result, we were treated to eight mostly bland covers of songs by such formidable artists as Duran Duran, Sam Cooke, and Bob Marley. It wasnt all bad, but it was mostly not good.
Here are my reviews of the …Top Four contestants. I judged them after each performance, just as Ryan Seacrest decreed.
American Idol Banter: Failing Rock and Roll
The insularity of the world of “American Idol” would be fascinating, if it weren’t so bleakly disheartening.
Tonight’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame edition let the remaining contestants cherry pick through half a century of pop music history, and what did we get?
Rocker David Cook opens the show with “Hungry Like the Wolf.” How many hundred songs from the greatest artists in pop history would you have to fast forward through before you got to this vacuous Duran Duran hit?
Jason Castro may have bombed with his hapless performances, but at least he picked two songs worth singing — Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
David Archuleta reveled in his own private Utah teenage in discussing why he picked “Love Me Tender, ” sharing with his adoring audience that “I wasn’t that familiar with the song” so he surfed the web sites to audition different versions before settling on an arrangement that conjured up not the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll, but the Empress of overbaked ’80s R&B and pop, Whitney Houston.
Still, none of them came remotely close to Syesha Mercado’s blazing egocentrism in explaining her motivation for singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
Rock n’ Roll Live from the Mosh Pit
n the course of chronicling the full immensity of the most important show in entertainment history, this column has strived to take its readers deep inside the machine and the psyches that produce it. From the editing bays to the makeup room to the Idoldome bleachers, I have tried to provide fleeting glimpses into a few of the many mansions that make up house of Idol.
Ultimately, however, if one truly wishes to get to the essential nature of a beast, one must take a long and lonely walk through a dark snowy wood in that beast footsteps. On Rock ‹n Roll Hall of Fame night, this columnist ventured deeper into the core of Idol then any have dared penetrate before. On Tuesday night, I became, provisionally, the first journalist in entertainment history to watch American Idol live from the mosh pit.
Although many of my colleagues in the Idol press bleachers chortled at my desire to leave the comfort of my seats and dive into the teen masses crushed before the stage, and as much as my faltering back and flat feet advised that this mosh pit truly was no country for old men, I knew that the only path to understanding the breathing, pulsing heart of American Idol lay through that pit.
Jason Castro has a disastrous ‹Idol night
Jason Castro has spent the past three months perfecting his image as the slacker dude with the guitar who doesnt try very hard but sneaks by on his natural gifts and personality. Every week, the judges have gotten more and more annoyed at his style, but it doesnt seem to faze him.
The audience has passed Castro along from week to week at the expense of more talented performers, allowing him to drift into the final four. Now, he at a point where he the least adept singer and performer remaining. Combine that with an …Idol staff that seems determined to create a pop star without allowing them to sing any songs that are actually played on Top 40 radio stations and disasters happen.
‘American Idol’ can’t stop the rock
Tuesday (May 6) night’s American Idol theme is about as vague and wide-open as the Top Four could possibly hope for. Songs from the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame? What does that even mean? Working from the Hall’s list of 500 influential hits, surely everybody should find great tracks to sing, right? Let’s see…
American Idol: Top 4 perform
Ryan revealed that three of the final four have been number one in the votes before. If we believe DialIdol that Syesha was the top vote-getter last week (remember that Ryan never declared her and Brooke the Bottom Two, rather stating only that one was safe and one was not), then that pretty much leaves poor Jason Castro as the odd man-out. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Davids have both been in the top of the voter pool at one time or another, and probably several times each. If all of this is true, can Jason save himself this week? Luckily for him, the contestants have the best catalog of music to select from in many weeks with tonight’s theme: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Yet another `American Idol’ hopeful flubs lyrics to a song
“American Idol” hopeful Jason Castro became at least the third contestant this season to flub lyrics to a song.
The Dreadlocked One performed the Bob Dylan classic “Mr. Tambourine Man, ” and forgot the words to the second verse Tuesday.
Wearing a goofy grin afterward, Castro acknowledged: “I lost some lines in there; that’s kinda bad.”
Judge Simon Cowell thought Castro’s gaffe could mean the end of him. “Jason, I’d pack your suitcase, ” Cowell told the 20-year-old folkster from Rockwall, Texas.
The other two judges were less than impressed, too.
American Idol: When rock lies bleeding. . . .
Like the man said at the outset of the show on Rock and Roll Hall-‘o-Fame night ‘ American Idol’s version of Jon Stewart’s Mess-‘o-Potamia, as it would turn out ‘ anything can happen, nobody is safe and nothing is guaranteed.
That man was Ryan Seacrest, and if you take the line “Nothing is guaranteed” to heart, Jason Castro will survive to make it to the final three ‘ mark my words.
Yes, he hit a new low with a pale, wan ‘ and loopy ‘ take on Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff, then topped that by booting an entire stanza of Bob Dylan’s lyrics on Mr. Tambourine Man. But nothing will prevent his legion of teenybopper fans from hitting their cell phones ‘ and only David Archuleta’s larger legion of fans can prevent Castro from winning the whole thing.
Castro was so woeful, so pitiful that, for once, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell looked angry ‘ so angry that Seacrest commented on it, on camera, and asked Cowell if he was, in fact, “ticked off.”
The short answer? Yes.
‘American Idol’ Recap: Jason Castro Visits The Hall Of Shame, David Archuleta Sweeps Rock-Hall Night
It only took them 12 weeks, but on Tuesday night, “American Idol” finally found a theme that would allow the contestants to truly shine. No Broadway curveballs, no Mariah mountains to climb, no Beatles tunes to desecrate. Nope, instead the top four had access to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 (!) songs “that shaped rock, ” and with artists as varied as Elvis Costello, Arrested Development and Dion and the Belmonts represented, there was no excuse for any of the remaining singers to pick a loser. (Although, admittedly, if I were a finalist on “Idol, ” I’d be tempted to turn Kraftwerk’s 20-plus-minute German opus “Autobahn” into a 90-second nugget of trainwreck television.)
The Idolettes Rock On and Roll With the Punches
David Cook, this year’s token rocker on “American Idol, ” was ignominiously upstaged in the rock-and-roll round last night by the millennials’ David Cassidy clone, David Archuleta.
How’d that happen?
Reality Check: Battle of the Davids on ‘Idol’
If it were up to the judges, at this point we could surely declare David Archuleta the winner of “American Idol.”
I mean, we’re at Top 4 time and he’s been delivering strong performance after strong performance and, in the process, racking up nothing but praise from our triumvirate. The night that he forgot his lyrics and made us briefly consider the fact that he may not be the Second Coming? Ancient history, my friends.
Paula Abdul on Jason Castro’s Flub
We’re riding along with PAULA ABDUL for all the post-“American Idol” dish. What does the judge have to say about contestant JASON CASTRO’s lyrics flub on tonight’s performance show? And who does Paula think will be the last two standing? Watch our video to find out!
American Idol Tracker: A Glimpse of Destiny Denied
Tuesday on the Ellen show, the guest performers offered a peek at what might have been and a glimpse at the first stage appearance, out of capitivity, of the next great sensations American Idol will have unleashed upon the world.
Standing on a snow-flecked outdoor stage in downtown Chicago where Ellen was filming her tenth anniversary week, Michael Johns, the Duende from Down Under, took the mike alongside the most electrifying, likely the greatest performer in American Idol history, the sensational Carly Smithson, to sing U2’s “One” and “Hold On, I’m Coming” backed by Rickey Minor and the American Idol band. (You can watch the video here).
It is impossible to watch this video, see the incredible stage charisma and singing powers these two possess and not feel sadness, not wonder what Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame night might have been if these two were a part of it.
‘Idol’s’ Archuleta will sing at hometown performances Friday
For the first time since he went to Hollywood as one of 24 “American Idol” finalists, David Archuleta is returning home to Utah.
He’s scheduled to sing the national anthem at Friday’s Utah Jazz-Los Angeles Lakers game at the Energy Solutions Arena. (However, after initially confirming that Archuleta would sing, the Jazz have acknowledged there are “rights issues” that “still have to be worked out” between the producers of “Idol” and the NBA.)
And there will be some sort of event earlier in the day in Murray, although details of that are still being worked out, too..
Cook and Archuleta’s Hair War!
I can’t help but smile when I see this photo. It’s as if competing vocally on “American Idol” every week wasn’t enough, these boys also are now battling to have the best right-reaching hair spike! Personally, I think the older David has got the cooler coif, but that’s because I’m Team Cook!
Simon Sounds Off on the Finals, Idol Fixes, Boring Themes & More
Meeting the press to promote the new season of NBC’s America’s Got Talent (premiering June 17 at 9 pm/ET), Simon Cowell inevitably was swarmed with Idol-related queries. Here is what the outspoken Brit had to say about:
It All Coming Down to David vs. David
“It’s what I genuinely believe will happen. I think you’re going to have a real scrap on the night. Without either of them being a red-hot favorite, [the winner] will be [determined by] what happens on the night, and that’s what the show is all about.”
Worcester piano man shares keys to ‹Idol singers success
Another contestant will get booted off …American Idol tonight, but according to associate musical director Michael Orland, it doesnt really matter.
…I used to get really, really devastated over who got kicked off the show, said Orland, a Worcester homey who has been with the Fox mega-hit since the end of season one.
…But after Clay Aiken in season two, it turned out that you didnt have to win to have a career. Jennifer Hudson was the best example of that. She was voted off sixth from the end and she won an Oscar. Chris Daughtry was fourth from the end. It feasible that every single one of the top 12 this year could have a recording career. So I stopped getting emotionally attached to where everyone finishes.
Nimbit Powers American Idol Brooke White
FRAMINGHAM, MA–(Marketwire – May 6, 2008) – Brooke WhiteÃƒ ¢’Å¾ ¢, the nanny that won the hearts of millions on American IdolÃƒ ¢’Å¾ ¢ now has her album available on the Internet. Fans everywhere can purchase “Songs From the Attic” CDs and digital downloads at www.brookewhite.com.
Powered by Nimbit, the www.brookwhite.com storefront uses nimbitSkinÃƒ ¢’Å¾ ¢, a highly flexible storefront solution that enables artists to sell directly from their websites. Since 2005, Nimbit has helped Brooke and New Millennium Records Group (NMRG) bring her first album to market long before her big break on American Idol this year.
‘Sex and the City, ‘ at 40 and even maybe (gasp) 50
Early on in the new “Sex and the City” film ‘ and don’t worry, we’re not spoiling the plot here ‘ Carrie and longtime love Mr. Big are in bed together. A passionate interlude? Nah, they’re just reading. Except they both need glasses, and there’s only one pair.
Sharing reading glasses in bed? These two, who fogged up the small screen with their sexual chemistry during the TV series? Yes, and that small moment is a sweet acknowledgment that they’ve both aged.
As, of course, have we.
The series may be alive and well on TBS reruns. But it’s been a full decade since “Sex and the City” premiered on HBO, bringing us sex columnist Carrie, her three gal pals, and their lustful urban quest for love, good sex and even better clothes.
Parker: ‘Sex’ film needed a woman of color
U.S. actress and producer Sarah Jessica Parker said she feels “extraordinarily lucky” that Jennifer Hudson joined the cast of her “Sex and the City” movie.
In the big-screen follow-up to the iconic former television show, Hudson plays the assistant to Parker’s character Carrie.
“I just think we were extraordinarily lucky that she was interested, ” Parker told reporters in New York this week.
Parker said Hudson’s character Louise, who is younger and more idealistic than Carrie, “was so necessary to contrast where Carrie is now.”
Exclusive: ‘American Idol’ Stamps Revealed
‘American Idol’ is giving back to the community by putting your favorite contestants on postage stamps. Each Thursday, Ryan Seacrest announces which former winner graces the next ‘American Idol Gives Back’ stamp, but we have your exclusive sneak peek right here every Tuesday.
This week’s stamp will be (drum roll please!) Season Five winner, Taylor Hicks. The limited-edition stamps already revealed include Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood and Ruben Studdard. New photo stamps will be released each week featuring an ‘Idol’ winner until this season’s finale, after which the new winner will get his or her own stamp.
Flint’s LaKisha Jones, of ‘American Idol’ fame, returning home for a free concert in July; Grand Blanc’s Beth Stalker also to perform
Flint’s “American Idol” standout will perform for free at the 4th annual “Bringing It Home” community celebration July 12 at Perani Arena.
Stayed tuned to mlive.com/flintjournal and The Flint Journal for more details on LaKisha’s concert in Flint as they become available.
Kellie Pickler Goes to Washington
Kellie Pickler will sing Wednesday afternoon (May 7) on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as part of the AARP GrandRally, an event targeting grandfamilies — grandparents raising their grandchildren. Pickler was 2 years old when her parents separated and her mother left. Her father has been in and out of prison on a variety of charges, and Pickler was raised by her grandparents, Faye and Clyde Pickler Sr. At the rally, Pickler will perform “My Angel, ” a song she wrote about her late grandmother. As her charity of choice, Kellie has donated almost $50, 000 to the AARP’s Grandparenting Foundation, which addresses the financial, legal and medical challenges faced by grandparents. “Having been raised by my grandparents, I know the struggles they face raising their grandchildren, ” Pickler said.
Jordin Sparks Back To Work
Jordin Sparks is officially back to work after a vocal cord injury leaving fans worried if she would ever sound the same. The songstress just filmed her promo for her next single, and seems to be in good spirits after the break.
Looks like the rest, combined with support from her fans, made the healing process go quickly! Just a couple weeks ago, she told MTV, “I’m feeling good. “I’m supposed to be on full vocal rest, which means no talking, laughing, giggling, and singing. Can I tell you how hard that is!? I want to tell my fans: Thank you for all the prayers and your concern. You guys are what keep me going, honestly. But not to worry! I’ll be better in no time!”
America Next Top Mormon
When brothers Ryan and Craig Simmons auditioned for the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race” in 2003, they hoped the novelty of their religion would give them an edge. Their audition tape showed them outside the Mormon temple in Provo, Utah, while the narration played off those classic Mormon ads (“Family: Isn’t it about time?”) with a question for the casting directors: “Mormons: Isn’t it about time?” It certainly is now. Since then Mormons have colonized reality TV as if they’d been assigned there by Brigham Young himself. They’ve won “The Biggest Loser, ” “The Rebel Billionaire” and “Survivor” (along with two second-place finishes on “Survivor”). These days you can’t turn on “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dancing With the Stars” without seeing at least one, and often several, members of the church. And they’re closing in on the biggest reality TV prize of all: cherub-faced Mormon David Archuleta is one of four finalists left on “American Idol, ” and his chances just soared following the elimination last week of Brooke White. White is Mormon too, and now that she’s off the show, the two of them won’t have to split the faithful’s vote anymore.
Behind the Idols (part one)
American Idol remains one of the most watched programs on television, and has its share of Christians among the contestants. Though some have expressed skepticism that believers can have any impact on a show with “idol” in its title, three finalists from the nation’s biggest singing competition have demonstrated you don’t have to win it all to be relevant or on a stage to make a difference. Mandisa, Chris Sligh, and Phil Stacey all made it into the Top 12 of the popular singing competition, but none of them walked away the top winner’ Mandisa placed ninth in Season 5, while Chris placed tenth in Season 6 and Phil made it to the Top 6 that same year. Nevertheless, all three landed record deals and have plenty of stories about the relationships they forged behind the scenes. And since their time on the show, American Idol has become more tolerant and receptive of Christianity, never more clearly demonstrated than a live performance of “Shout to the Lord” on national television. Did these contestants play some small part in that? All three vocal sensations were more than willing to walk us through their Idol experience and share how their faith was demonstrated throughout.
Clay Aiken Not Ready to Put Rumors to Rest
Believe everything you read about Clay Aiken. Go ahead, ask him yourself. The onetime American Idol runner-up and current Broadway star tells OK! he has no rumors to clear up ‘ not even the one about his sexuality.
…At this point everyone knows everything, Clay tells OK! …I had a fan a few years ago say ‹I know everything about you except for what your favorite color is. In that case, Im never telling anyone my favorite color. Ive stuck to it for five years ‘ no one knows. For the most part, people know quite a bit. After five years, people have figured out as much as there is to know.
LGBT PRIDE TO BE CELEBRATED IN WEST HOLLYWOOD JUNE 6 – 8
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 2008) ‘ The 2008 Los Angeles LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender) Pride Festival will take place in West Hollywood, CA on June 6 ‘ 8, 2008. The 38th annual parade and festival, which happens along Santa Monica Boulevard and throughout West Hollywood Park, celebrates the culmination of its three-year theme, “Our Agenda: Love. Equality. PRIDE.” LA Pride’s 2008 message is about taking pride in who you are, your family, your community, and the world around you. During Pride weekend, locals and visitors can expect to enjoy a parade, vendor booths, food, exhibits, dance pavilions and live entertainment.
LA Pride breaks new ground with an entertainment line-up on the WaMu ® Mainstage, and a myriad of LGBT community favorites. Musicians Joss Stone, Olivia Newton-John, and Kimberly Locke will headline the event on Saturday and Sunday night. Festival-goers will see the inclusion of over a dozen of CSW’s cultural partners and theatrical organizations who have joined in support of the LGBT community. The Parade Grandstand will once again accommodate Honorees, LGBT leaders, officials, and VIP guests and will be set alongside the broadcast at the Veterans Memorial triangle. The 2008 parade will take place Sunday, June 8, starting at 11:00 a.m. The parade will run west along Santa Monica Boulevard from Crescent Heights Boulevard to Robertson Boulevard.Out In Fresno
Ryan Seacrest may be replacing Larry King
Ryan Seacrest might be adding hosting duties of another kind to his schedule in 2009. A source from within CNN says that Seacrest, who has filled in for his friend Larry King in the past, is involved in “serious negotiations” to take over …Larry King Live around year end. King told The New York Times in April 2007 that Seacrest would be his first choice to take over the show when the time came.
…He the classic generalist, King told the Times. …The only thing I dont know, and Ive gotten to know him pretty well, is how versed he is in politics, world affairs. Does he read the paper? Is he interested in Iraq? Because if he is, he going to be very good.
AI Aftermath: 5th place finishers – VIDEOS
Welcome back to “AI Aftermath, ” where we explore Idol’s past. Each week, as one more American Idol hopeful is eliminated from the competition, we take a look back at contestants past who were eliminated in the same week. We’ll examine how they did on the show and what they’ve been up to since their eliminations. In honor of Brooke White’s elimination last week we’ll be looking at other fifth place finishers.
This week: 5th place finishers, featuring featuring RJ Helton (Season 1), Trenyce (Season 2), George Huff (Season 3), Scott Savol (Season 4), Paris Bennett (Season 5) and Chris Richardson (Season 6).
“Kellie Pickler High School Hook Up” Promotion Results in 2 Million Text Messages for Citadel Broadcasting’s #1 Atlanta Country Station KICKS 1015
Leading mobile advertising network mSnap today announced the groundbreaking results of a campaign launched April 14-23, in partnership with Citadel Broadcasting’s #1 country music radio station in Atlanta. The text-to-win promotion received over two million text messages, resulting in the largest mobile marketing campaign for the Country music genre that Citadel Broadcasting has ever executed.
WKHX-FM / KICKS 1015 FM kicked off the “Kellie Pickler High School Hook Up, ” targeting all high schools in the Atlanta metro area — for a chance to win an exclusive, private concert with the Sony BMG/BNA recording artist and American Idol Season Five finalist. The promotion was powered by mSnap, which enables both radio and television broadcasters and advertisers to easily create and manage SMS-based mobile campaigns.
Hacking American Idol
As long as American Idol has existed, there have been accusations that it is rigged. And we wouldn’t be surprised, given the number of gambling sites like Bookmaker.com and Bodoglife.com taking bets on the show’s results. Currently on Sportsbook.com, Syesha Mercado is listed with 30-1 odds, as opposed to David Cook’s 10-11 odds of becoming the next American Idol.
But besides the betting bookers or tech-savvy hackers, some say it’s the producers who manipulate votes in favor of certain contestants’ whether they’re awesomely good or awesomely bad’ to generate better television ratings. Of course, that doesn’t explain the early boot of this season’s favorite, Michael Johns. Fans flooded the message boards with their rage, accusing the producers of kicking off Johns early to spark controversy and create drama. This isn’t anything new, given the similar situations with Season 5 rocker Chris Daughtry and Season 1 powerhouse Christina Christian.