As we approach the New Year, I thought I’d do a little roundup of the biggest stories of 2011. What I’ve included here are stories related to the shows I cover on the blog, including: American Idol, X Factor, Glee, Dancing With the Stars and America’s Got Talent. The list is mostly show related items, but if a contestant or cast member made some waves, I’ve got it covered here too.
I’ve divided the items month by month and will deliver the piece in two parts, as I just could not cut the list down far enough to fit it reasonably in one post.
Part 2 covers August to December
Chaz Bono First Transgendered Contestant on Dancing with the Stars – Chastity Bono, the daughter of Sonny and Cher Bono became Chaz Bono after completing a transition to male in 2010. After a slew of talk show appearances, and a documentary, Becoming Chaz, Cher’s kid agrees to join the cast of the 13th season of Dancing With The Stars. Paired with professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer, Chaz makes it to 7th place, despite being a clumsy dancer. Hard work and and dancing with heart helps. His famous mom dropping by in Week 4 doesn’t hurt, either.
The Glee Project begins poorly, but gains ratings momentum. In the end EVERYBODY WINS! – The Glee Project is the summer’s guilty pleasure. When it premiers in June, opposite the Tony Awards (SERIOUSLY?) the ratings are dire. By the time the finale rolls around, the numbers DOUBLE, ensuring the competition reality show a second season. The premise? Find a new cast member for the next season of Glee. 12 hopefuls compete in Glee-centric competitions that include singing, dancing and acting in a music video. Glee creator, Ryan Murphy appears at the end of each show to send a competitor home after a last chance sing-off. The winner? Try winners! The feel-good finale has the entire final 4 winning something. Co-winners Damian McGinty and Samuel Larsen win 7 story arcs and runners-up Lindsay Pearce and Alex Newell earn 2 shows apiece.
Kelly Clarkson’s songs Leak and Leak and Leak – Oy. Poor Kelly. As she prepares to release her 5th studio album, song leaks keep popping up on the internet, thanks in part to a hacker who broke into her computer. By August, 2 months before her album drops, Kelly finally speaks out on the matter, “Oh my God, have you ever been robbed? I have. I’ve been physically robbed a couple of times, but this is much worse,” Kelly finally speaks publicly about the incident. In the end, about half of her album, Stonger, is leaked. But, luckily, none of the leaks are final versions. “Those are all demos,” says Kelly.
Adam Levine rips American Idol for Keeping Gays in the Closet – The Voice coach, Adam Levine boasts to Out Magazine that LGBT contestants on his show were free to share their lives with viewers. “The fact that The Voice didn’t have any qualms about being completely open about it is a great thing,” he says. Indeed, the competition had 4 openly gay contestants, two of whom – Beverly McClellan and Vicci Martinez — made it all the way to the finale. Not content to merely talk up The Voice, Adam makes a point of taking a swipe at that other show. “What’s always pissed me off about Idol is wanting to mask that, for that to go unspoken. C’mon. You can’t be publicly gay? At this point? On a singing competition? Give me a break. You can’t hide basic components of these people’s lives.” Presumably, the Maroon 5 frontman was referring to Adam Lambert who never discussed his sexuality during the competition, although he has said the decision not to discuss his private life was one he made with Idol producers.
The X Factor Premiers and Its Ratings are Underwhelming – Actually, a 4.4 rating and 12.5 million viewers is nothing to dismiss, but is well below the 20 million number Simon was bandying about earlier in the year. It’s a prediction Simon comes to regret publicly. X Factor boosts FOX’s fall ratings enough to keep affiliates and advertisers happy. But considering the huge hype and promotional muscle FOX put behind the show, the numbers fall short of expectations. The show goes on to also underwhelm many critics and fans alike with it’s bickering judges, overblown production numbers, and less-than-5-million-dollar-worthy talent.
iHeartRadio Throws a Party in Las Vegas – The highly touted two-night iHeartRadio festival features mega-stars such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood,Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and more. Kelly Clarkson heard Carrie Underwood sing her tune, “I Know You Won’t”, and was so moved by the performance, that she covers it later in concert at The Troubador and on VH1 Unplugged.
David Cook Tour Begins with a Wardrobe Malfunction – Oops! David Cook begins his tour to promote the June release of his album, This Loud Morning at Penn State’s Rec Hall with a wardrobe malfunction as his leather pants rip all the way up his leg. David’s “Dicklaration” (sorry!) doesn’t spoil the fun. Hardly! A fast and dirty mend with duct tape allows the show to go on.
Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed tie the Knot – Paul McDonald and Twilight Star, Nikki Reed met on the red carpet of Little Red Riding Hood during Paul’s run on American Idol 10. The whirlwind romance led to an engagement and a quiet October wedding in Malibu surrounded by family and close friends. Aw.
Chord Overstreet returns to Glee – It’s super-confusing. First Chord was off the show. But wait! He’s not leaving. Nope, Chord is really leaving! Maybe it was fewer and fewer calls from his agent that leads Trouty Mouth to come back to Glee after all, beginning with Episode 8. Any assist to the huge drop in ratings Glee has suffered this year could help right about now. A new writing staff mostly delivers on a promise to bring Glee back to basics after an uneven Season 2 (See the beautiful Asian F and The First Time episodes). But it looks like that iffy Season 2 has done permanent damage to the show’s reputation. Sadly.
Scotty McCreery and and Lauren Alaina’s albums debut – New partner, Universal Music Group proves its mettle as Scotty McCreery’s debut album, sells a healthy 197k its first week out. By the end of 2011, Clear as Day is nearly platinum, with 833K in sales. Lauren’s numbers for her debut, Wildflower, aren’t as impressive, but she’s got a good shot at going gold with sales totaling 214K by the end of the year. A newly-invigorated American Idol’s overall ratings are better than the season before, spawning a profitable summer tour and a winner and runner-up who could move units. The predictions of American Idol’s imminent demise? Greatly exaggerated. Lesson Learned in 2011: Nigel Lythgoe, rather than Simon Cowell is the player American Idol couldn’t live without.
Adam Lambert performs with Queen at the MTV European Music Awards – Adam Lambert triumphs as he joins the remaining members of Queen at the MTV European Music Awards to sing “The Show Must Go On” and “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions”. It’s redemption time, as Adam’s impressive collaboration with Queen goes far to prove that the Season 8 Idol alum can wow an audience with his artistry sans the controversy that weighed down his 2009 performance at the AMAs. The appearance is a perfect way to begin the promo push for Adam’s single “Better Than I Know My Self” and his next album, Trespassing, due out March 2o. -corrected
Howard Stern replaces Piers Morgan on the America’s Got Talent Judges Panel – Sure. Simon Cowell’s decision to hire polarizing “shock jock”, Howard Stern to replace Piers Morgan pisses off the PTC. But it’s actually a genius move. Howard’s over the top personality is the perfect fit for a show that’s pretty much already a trainwreck. Howard threatens to call out stage mommies and bad talent alike. The next season of AGT could be very entertaining, indeed.
X Factor limps to the finish line amidst outbursts and meltdowns – Yikes. X Factor’s ratings stay fairly steady throughout its inaugural run and is renewed for a second season . That’s the good news. The bad news? It’s not a very entertaining show, unless you consider outbursts from bratty teenagers (teen rapper, Astro, nearly quit) and tween meltdowns a fun time. Viewers are especially horrified when 13 year old Rachel Crow crumples in a devastated heap after learning she is eliminated. The judges panel proves to lack charisma, with the bickering between judges taking the focus off the contestants. Nicole Scherzinger earns the wrath of viewers and critics with her fake blubbering and inability to make decisions. And host Steve Jones’ robotic hosting style both annoys and amuses viewers. Both will probably be gone after the bloodbath Simon Cowell promises in the wake of X Factor’s underwhelming season. Old-fashioned belter, Melanie Amaro wins the crown. Not a surprise after Simon set the stage by cutting her and then running down to Florida to reinstate her after “changing his mind.” Wink. The show’s often stagy and reality-show fake vibe just doesn’t seem to be cutting it with American audiences.
Star Studded Trevor Live features performances from Kris Allen, Stefano Langone, Darren Criss and more – Glee and American Idol stars come out to the The Trevor Project Gala to help the organization bring awareness and funds to crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBQT youths. Kris Allen sings a lovely and moving version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” while Stefano Langone brings the star-studded crowd to its feet with a powerful “O Holy Night”. Darren Criss entertains with a performance of “It’s Not Unusual” and Amber Riley brings the crowd some holiday cheer as she belts out Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You.” Chris Colfer introduces the Jamey Rodemyer family, who presents the Hero Award to Lady Gaga. Jamey, a huge Gaga fan, took his own life last fall after the bullying at the hands of classmates became unbearable.
David Archuleta announces he’s leaving show business to become a Mormon Missionary – In a tearful, heartfelt announcement, David Archuleta tells a stunned crowd at a Christmas concert in Salt Lake City that he’ll be embarking on a two year Mormon mission in 2012. Fans have mixed emotions–happy that David is following his heart, but also sad that the decision effectively puts his music career on hold for two years. David will soon know which part of the world his mission will take him.
Adam Lambert is arrested outside a gay bar in Finland – Adam Lambert and his Finnish boyfriend, Sauli Koskinen, spend several hours in a Finnish jail after being arrested outside a Helsinki gay bar. The two engage in a drunken argument, which they keep going out in the street after being asked to leave the bar. “Jetlag+Vodka=blackout. Us÷blackout=irrational confusion. jail+guilt+press=lesson learned. Sauli+Adam+hangover burgers= laughing bout it,” tweets Adam the next day. After the media has a field day with the story, including some who wonder if Adam batters his boyfriend (NO), Adam tweets again, “Violence is not to be taken lightly. Embarrassed by drunkenness. No punches thrown, no injuries and no charges. Media always exaggerates.” Indeed, the police release Adam and Sauli without pressing charges. No harm, no foul. On to the next news cycle.
Kelly Clarkson endorses Ron Paul. Pisses a bunch of people off – An innocent tweet from Kelly Clarkson, endorsing controversial Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul results in the twittterverse turning on her. Kelly likes Paul’s anti-big government ideas, but seems unaware that some folks consider the candidate to be a nutty racist homophobe. Oops. Kelly is also really really surprised by the twitter backlash. “Man my eyes have been opened to so much hate tonight. If y’all ever disagree with something I say please don’t feel the need to attack me….,” tweets a bewildered Kelly. The upside? Within 24 hours, her Amazon “Movers and Shakers” rank increases by 200%.
And that’s a recap of this year’s headlines! On to 2012!