New Idol Crowned During Star Studded Finale

May 21, 2009

With just under 100 million votes cast towards deciding this year’s winner, American Idol pulled out all the stops for its two hour finale.  And what a finale it was!

Two very talented men -- Adam and Kris.  Photo courtesy of American Idol

Two very talented men -- Adam and Kris. Photo courtesy of American Idol

The dark horse prevailed.  Kris Allen has been declared the Season 8 Winner of American Idol.  He’s come a long way from the guy we didn’t meet until Hollywood Week and didn’t get to know until the Top 13.

Ryan never released how close the vote came, but I can’t imagine that it wasn’t close.  We couldn’t have been treated to two more deserving candidates for the finale.  Both men are very, very talented and seem like all around good guys.

And I loved all of Adam and Kris’ performances tonight.  I had a hard time picking my favorite.

In fact, the whole finale was stunning.  Usually, I’m annoyed by all the fluff Idol parade out to fill out their two hour shows.  But this show was completely different.  It was one stunning performance after another.

The opening number of the night saw the return of the Top 13 singing Pink’s “So What.”  It was really nice to see the whole gang back together again.  I’ve already forgotten some of the faces; it’s been so long since we’ve seen them.  But it was nice to see Alexis back in the fold.

Speaking of old faces, last year’s winner David Cook returned to perform his single “Permanent,” a song he wrote with Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida.  The proceeds from the sale of this iTunes song will go to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), a DC-based organization dedicated to finding a cure for brain cancer.

Next we got to get a look back at the auditions with the Golden Idol Awards. 

The first trophy went to Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle for Outstanding Male.  I’m so glad that we got to see Nick one more time this season.  He really added some humor to the beginning of the season.

The next award went to Katrina Darrell aka Bikini Girl for Best Attitude.  Is it me or did the bikini get smaller?  But the best part had to be when Kara came out and showed her up – vocally!  I’ll let you guys be the judge of who had the better body. 

The last award, Outstanding Female, went to Tatiana Nicole Del Toro.  Either she really wants her 15 minutes of fame or she’s a good sport to play along as Idol poked fun at her. 

But then we got down to some serious singing. 

The first duet brought back Lil Rounds and paired her with Queen Latifah for “Cue the Rain.”  I was hoping without the pressure of the judging we’d see the Lil we loved during the early phases.  Unfortunately, singing with Queen Latifah proved that Lil’s voice just isn’t that great.

On the other hand, Anoop Desai and Alexis Grace sounded wonderful as they sang “I’m Yours” with Jason Mraz.  I think it says a lot about Alexis’ popularity that she got a shot at the spotlight tonight.  Last year, only the Top 6 got to perform, other than group numbers, during the finale.

Now, I don’t think of Kris Allen as a country singer, but I loved his duet of “Kiss a Girl” with Keith Urban.  They both looked like they were having a ball.  This duet was one of my favorite performances of the night.

The stars keep coming, the girls from got to do a medley with Fergie before introducing the Black Eyed Peas.

Another good pairing was Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper on “Time After Time.”  I always thought of Allison as a through back to the 80s and this duet proved it.  I thought they sounded perfect togher.  And was Cyndi playing a steel guitar?  I didn’t know she could play.

And while the producers got the pairing right with Allison, I have to wonder what they were thinking with Danny Gokey.  They had him sing a solo of “Hello” before continuing the medley with Lionel Richie.  However, no one will ever compare to the David Cook version of “Hello” from last season.  I think the producers just set up Danny for a comparison he could never live up to.  The rest of the medley wasn’t bad though.

Now the next guest performer shocked me.  I’d have never guessed that they would make an appearance on American Idol.  But with Adam in the finale it seems only right he should get partnered with KISS for a medley.  Now that was a performance that rocked!

But the stars didn’t stop there.  Carlos Santana took the stage with a guitar solo of “Black Magic Woman” before performing “Smooth” with the Top 13.

Then we got one last Ford Video that was really just a clip of videos from throughout the season as Adam and Kris sang “I Will Remember You.”  And then David Cook handed the keys over to Adam and Kris for their brand new 2010 Ford Fusions.

Idol is full of surprises tonight because I had no idea that Steve Martin had musical aspirations, let alone could play the banjo.  But I liked “Pretty Flowers,” the song he wrote and performed with Megan Joy and Michael Sarver.  The song itself actually suited the pair really well.

Next up, the guys got to sing “Do You Think I’m Sexy” before Rod Stewart came out to sing “Maggie May.”

The final duet went to the two stars of the night. Adam and Kris teamed up with Queen to sing “We are the Champions.”  The rest of the Top 13 joined them on backgrounds.  What a great way to close the night.  And can I say that I think Adam and Kris actually would do well singing together!

Unfortunately, they couldn’t just give us the results and end it there.  Poor Kris had to sing “No Boundaries” again. 

What I can’t understand is if the producers can do such great pairings for the finale, why can’t they (and the judges) do a better job picking songs for the contestants to sing.

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No Surprises in American Idol’s Second 12 Results

February 27, 2009

Why it takes American Idol an hour to give us three names, I’ll never understand. The results of the second 12 group were predictable and boring. The fact that I have correctly guessed the three survivors for two weeks in a row has little to do with my prediction abilities and more to do with the limited talent pool in Season 8.

Of course the hour had the standard filler. We learned that 25 million votes came in Wednesday night. Then we got the “how they got here” clip followed by the group number to “Closer” by Ne-Yo. And, of course, we got another look at the highlights from Wednesday before we even got to the results.

But the repeat of the Idol retrospective to “What a Wonderful World” was a new low in filler. Let’s just cut the results show back to half hour. Please, I’m begging you!

And if you thought the results themselves would pull you from the dullness of the fluff, you were wrong. No matter how Ryan tried to spin it, there just wasn’t any suspense in the announcement of the three contestants that will be moving through to the Final 12.

It was absolutely no suprise that Allison Iraheta, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert were the top picks. Their encore performances all showed why they were chosen.

The highlight of the evening was the return of Season 7 finalist Brooke White who sang her first single “Hold Up My Heart,” which she cowrote.

 

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Allison Iraheta Rocks Idol’s Second 12

February 26, 2009

After a rocky start, Allison Iraheta proved that the second group of the Top 36 wasn’t without some talent as American Idol vets its second 12.

This little girl has a big voice

This little girl has a big voice

But before we get to the performances, let’s talk about the changes this week from last week.  First, they got rid of the uncomfortable parent interviews following the performances.  Like what else are parents going to say but that they thought their son/daughter did a great job?

The judges also had some changes.  First, they sat in opposite order.  Secondly, they alternated who critiqued the contestant first.  I actually liked this format better.  You get a different perspective each time.  My only complaint is when Paula goes first.  She still doesn’t make much sense.

As for the contestants, several of them we have heard very little from going into the night so it was a little hard to predict what we’d see.  Unfortunately, too many of the performances were forgettable.

The Best

I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have anyone stand out tonight.  But then came Allison Iraheta.  This girl might only be 16, but she can rock.  We haven’t seen Allison since her audition so I wasn’t sure what to expect when she said she’d be singing “Alone” by Heart, but I have to say I’m impressed.  The beginning was a little shaky, but we can chalk that up to the stage fright Kara mentioned.  But once Allison found her grove, she proved that she’s a contender.

Also impressive was Kris Allen’s version of “Man in the Mirror.”  I’m not a big fan of contestants doing Michael Jackson, but I thought Kris did a really good job.  He was personable, entertaining and the vocals were great.  Kara said the performance didn’t measure to those he did in Hollywood, but since we didn’t get to see most of them I can’t comment on the comparison. 

While this episode might have had a rough start, it definitely had a solid ending.  Adam Lambert took on The Rolling Stone and I have to say that his version of “Satisfaction” was very satisfying.  Sure it might have been, as Randy said, a little manic, but hey it’s the Stones.  I definitely think that Adam has improved since his audition.

The Clown

But as good as the above three were, the most memorable performance goes to Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle.  Unfortunately, as entertaining as Nick’s version of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls was, he vocals just didn’t shine tonight.

I think it’s about time for Nick and Idol to part.  But I really hope this guy gets some kind of gig out of this experience, because he really is funny.

The Rest

The other eight performances were average.  I don’t think anyone totally bombed it, but overall the performances were forgettable.

Jasmine Murray led off the night with “Love Song” Sara Bareilles.  It was a nice fun song with a little spunk, but it just didn’t do anything for me and I’m a fan of Jasmine.  She had a rough beginning and just never really recovered.

The dueling piano player has dueling song personalities.  Matt Giraud wants to sing pop songs like Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”.  But I – and the judges – like him better when he’s singing the blues.  I also like seeing him behind the keyboard better.

Overenthusiasm got better Jeanine Vailes.  She wanted to get noticed.  Instead she just overdid “This Love” by Maroon 5.  She just tried too hard.

But enthusiasm worked for Megan Joy Corkrey.  The judges really liked her version of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On.”  I think she’s got an interesting voice, but the weird dancing thing was just distracting.

And when will the contestants learn to pick the right song?  Even after the judges told him it was the wrong song, Matt Breitzke said he would have still picked “If You Could Only See” by Tonic.  I really like this guy’s voice, but I have to agree with Simon that the performance was boring.

Jesse Langseth also picked her favorite song – Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes.”  But her performance just didn’t measure up to the original.  I think she sounded better than in the sing off from Hollywood Week, but it just wasn’t memorable.

Standing out was also an issue for Kai Kalama who’s version of “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” by Jimmy Ruffin was a little old fashion for Kara.  This guy definitely needs to find something more hip to sing if he wants to avoid comparisons to a wedding singer.

Mishavonna Henson also came across as much older than her 18 years.  While I like Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” Mishavonna’s performance just fell flat for me.  I think Kara nailed it when she told Mishavonna to loosen up.

My picks for those who will be returning are Allison, Kris and Adam.  We will find out on Thursday who makes it.

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Idol Announces Top 36, Joanna Pacitti Disqualified

February 12, 2009

It was do or die time on American Idol as Hollywood Week came to a close and the judges informed the final 54 who made the cut for the Top 36.  Among the surviving were three that have been very visible during Hollywood Week – drama queen Tatiana Del Toro, funnyman Nick Mitchell and the emotional Nathaniel Marshall.

This final round played out slightly different than in past years.  For starters, the cut was down to the Top 36, not 24 as in years past.  And some contestants who were borderline had to perform in a sing off with one other contender in which only one survived.

Louisville and Phoenix tied for the audition city the produced the most finalists – seven each.  San Francisco and New York City also had five contenders each.

Twenty-three was the magic number for contenders – nine of the Top 36 were that age.  The next two most popular ages were 16 and 27, which had five of each.

But what you really want to know is who made the cut.  So without further ado, here is your Top 36.

Annop Desai, the 21-year-old college student that we first met at the Kansas City auditions.  We caught a glimpse of him in Round 1 of Hollywood and last night he sang “My Prerogative.”

Von Smith sang “Over the Rainbow” in his Kansas City audition.  But we haven’t seen the 22-year-old singer since Hollywood’s Round 1.

Alex Wagner-Trugman won a sing off against pal Cody Sheldon for his spot.  During the Phoenix audition, Alex told us about how he taught himself to sing in a closet, but had to stop because the mold made him sick.  Since then we haven’t seen the 19-year-old college student.

Adam Lambert was in the cast of Wicked before he auditioned in San Francisco.  But we only got to see the 26-year-old stage actor perform once during Hollywood – in Round 3.

Taylor Vaifanua’s parents moved back to the mainland so that the 16-year-old high school student could get her break.  She impressed the judges in her audition in Salt Lake City and we got a glimpse of her again during as a member of the Rainbow Coalition on group day in Hollywood.

Jasmine Murray came to the audition in Jacksonville with a lot of family support among her sisters.  But the 16-year-old high school student has wowed me during every round of Hollywood.

Arianna Afsar is the 16-year-old who told us in Phoenix about the Adopt-a-Grandfriend program she started.  While she was impressive during her audition, we haven’t seen her perform during Hollywood.

Casey Carlson is a 20-year-old bubble tea maker we met in Kansas City when she sang “A Thousand Miles.”  We got to see her again during Round 3 where she struggled with lyrics.

Megan Corkrey, a 23-year-old font designer going through a divorce, auditioned in Salt Lake City, but we haven’t seen her since.

Mishavonna Henson, the 18-year-old we met for the first time in Round 3, audition in Phoenix this year.  Last year she made it as far as Hollywood before getting cut.

Stevie Wright was told by Simon in her Phoenix audition to grow some teeth.  We haven’t seen the 16-year-old in Hollywood to know if she’s taken that advice to heart.

Joanna Pacitti was recognized by Kara during her Louisville audition as having had a previous record contest.  But the 23-year-old struggled with lyrics during the Hollywood Round 3.

Felicia Barton got a last minute reprieve and got added to the Top 36 after Joanna got disqualified.  Felicia auditioned in Louisville, but we haven’t seen the 26-year-old bar singer and mom during Hollywood.

Kendall Beard hasn’t had much screen time.  The 23-year-old college student auditioned in Puerto Rico

Kristen McNamara, who auditioned in Louisville, beat out Jenn Korbee in a sing off.  The 22-year-old survived the group day drama to sing Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You” in Round 3.

Alexis Grace, the 20-year-old stay-at-home mom wowed us during the audition in Louisville, but we didn’t get to see her again until she took on Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” in Round 3.

Scott Macintyre, the visually impaired pianist, auditioned in Phoenix.  But the 23-year-old looked very comfortable behind the keyboard when he performed in Round 3.

Lil Rounds told us about a tornado that hit her home when she auditioned in Kansas City.  Since then the 23-year-old customer service representative and mom of three has proved that she’s a vocal powerhouse with performances in Rounds 1 and 3.

Jessie Langseth beat out Frankie Jordan in a sing off.  Unfortunately, the sing off was the first time we’ve seen this 25-year-old perform.  She auditioned in Kansas City.

Allison Iraheta is a 16-year-old who auditioned in San Francisco, but we haven’t seen her in Hollywood.

Danny Gokey recently lost his wife and auditioned in Phoenix with his friend Jamar Rogers who got cut tonight.  The 28-year-old music teacher has had solid performances through all three rounds of Hollywood.

Ricky Braddy is a new face.  Although the 25-year-old auditioned in Louisville, tonight is the first time we’ve seen him.  We have not yet heard him sing.

Matt Giraud, the 23-year-old dueling pianist, auditioned in Louisville.  During the group round he was part of the impressive White Chocolate group and he sang “Georgia” in the third round.

Ju’Not Joyner auditioned in New York City, but the first time we got to see the 23-year-old was in Round 3.

Jorge Nunez impressed the judges with his accent during the Puerto Rico auditions.  We also saw the 20-year-old during Round 1.

Brent Keith is a traveling musician who auditioned in Louisville. However, we haven’t seen the 28-year-old during Hollywood week.

Stephen Fowler auditioned in New York City, but we didn’t get to hear him sing until the first round of Hollywood.  While Round 1 was impressive, the 26-year-old struggled during Round 3.

Nick Mitchell has entertained the judges since his New York City audition with alter ego Norman Gentle.  We saw the 27-year-old don the persona again in Rounds 1 and 3 and apparently the judges like it because they told him they expected to see it during the rest of the competition.

Jackie Tohn’s start in the music business began at a young age when her father taught her the piano.  And although she carried a guitar to the audition in New York City, we did not see the 27-year-old actor/singer use it when she performed in Round 1 of Hollywood.

Tatiana Del Toro auditioned in San Francisco with a creepy laugh.  Since then the 23-year-old singer/actor/model has brought nothing but drama to Rounds 2 and 3.  She left this round with a ring from Paula.

Nathaniel Marshall beat out pal Jackie Midkiff in a sing off.  The 18-year-old auditioned in New York City, but we didn’t see him for the first time until Round 1 where he begged the judges for a reprieve.  Despite the drama of the group performance he survived to perform in Round 3.

Jeanine Vailes auditioned in San Francisco, but we have yet to hear the 27-year-old sing.

Kai Kalama plays music at night so he could take care of his ailing mother.  The 26-year-old auditioned in San Francisco and performed during Round 3.

Anne Marie Boskovich actually auditioned twice in Jacksonville.  After her first try, Simon told her to come back and show them who she really was.  We’ve also seen the 22-year-old nanny perform in Rounds two and three.

Kris Allen auditioned in Louisville, but the only time we’ve seen the 23-year-old perform was during the White Chocolate group performance.

Matt Breitzke took a chance from his family responsibilities to audition in Kansas City.  The only other time we’ve seen the 27-year-old welder perform was during the group round.

Michael Sarver auditioned in Phoenix.  Since then we’ve seen the 27-year-old roughneck sing in all three Hollywood rounds.  He’s my favorite male contender.

From here, the contestants will perform in groups of 12.  First up are Casey, Stephen, Jackie, Ricky, Anne Marie, Brent, Alexis, Michael, Stevie, Danny, Tatiana and Anoop.

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Drama Queen Survives Idol’s Hollywood Round 3

February 11, 2009

It looks like more faces survived this third cut of American’s Idol’s Hollywood week than didn’t as the judges sent contestants of only one of four rooms home.  Many of the top favorites put in stellar performances to seal their fate.  But also among the surviving was drama queen Tatiana Del Torro.

Should she have survived?

Should she have survived?

In her audition, she scared us with the creepy laugh and last week we saw Tatiana torpedo two groups with her drama.  Tonight, I was sure she’d be gone.  Her performance was mediocre, but what was really weird was how much she congratulated herself afterwards.

But if the judges wanted to see how far they could push this girl, they nearly succeed in sending her over the edge when they played musical rooms with her.  In the end, she got at least one more reprieve.

Overall, the evening moved quickly as we were shown glimpse of many of the final Hollywood solo performances.

The men put in strong performances to kick off the night.

Stage actor Adam Lambert chose to sing Cher’s “Believe.”  While I thought the song choice was a little weird he held his own and will be back tomorrow night.  Anoop Desai put in a decent performance of “My Prerogative.”  Jorge Nunez also put in a solid performance.

My favorite male is still roughneck Michael Sarver who sang Westlife’s “All or Nothing.”

Buddies Jamar Rogers and Danny Gokey will also be returning.  Jamar surprised me with a decent rendition of “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T.  I’m not a big fan of Jamar’s but I think his performances are improving.  However, I liked Ju’Not Joyner’s version of the song better.  Tonight was the first time we’ve seen the real estate consultant who auditioned in New York City.

Danny also chose a song that was better sung by another contestant.  But then again I thought Lee Ann Womak’s “I Hope You Dance” was a weird song choice for him to begin with.  I don’t think it highlighted his talents. 

However, I did think the song was better suited for Anne Marie Boskovich who will also be retuning.

Several of the contestants took the opportunity to add an instrument to their performance.  Maybe it was the keyboard that saved Stephen Fowler (he was in the first room to get the good news) who struggled with his solo performance.  Also returning was Nathaniel Marshall who played the guitar to Rihanna’s “Disturbia. 

But looking really at home behind that keyboard was pianist Scott MacIntyre who would have made Chris Daughtry proud of his version of “I’m Going Home.”

But MacIntyre wasn’t the only contesting banking on the hit of a former Idol for a pass to the next round.  Among the best was Jasmine Murray’s rendition of Jordin Spark’s “Tattoo.  Murray remains one of my favorites.

Kristin McNamara made it through with her version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You.”  Outside of last week’s drama, we got to see that McNamara doesn’t have a bad voice.  And Alexis Grace put in a solid performance of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheat” to return.

Lil Rounds, singing Jennifer Lopez’s “Baby I Love You” proved that she is a contender too.

Others were feeling the stress.  Despite struggling with lyrics, Joanne Pacitti, the contestant that had a previous contract, and bubble tea maker Casey Carlson will be returning tomorrow.  Kai Kalama was also reprieved even though he was having some issues with his voice.

The other big surprise of the night was Nick Mitchell who put on his Norman Gentle persona for “Georgia” and earned a reprieve.  The performance was funny, but the man can sing.

And although we didn’t get to hear them sing we learned that Arianna Afsar, Jackie Thon, Jackie Midkiff, Cody Sheldon, Matt Breitzke, Alicia Barton and T.K. Hash were also in the rooms that got the good news.

In the dreaded Room 3, we say goodbye to Michael Castro, Kaylan Loyd, Lenesha Young and India Morrison.

I really liked this round because we got to see more contestants sing.  However, the way they left the decision to the end made it difficult to see how everyone faired.

Tomorrow they cut the list to the Top 36.

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Confidence Abounds at Idol NY, San Juan Auditions

January 30, 2009

Confidence was the name of the game tonight as American Idol combined auditions from San Juan, Puetro Rico and New York City before heading to Hollywood.  Unfortunately, much of that confidence was misplaced.

Adeola Adegoke was so sure of her talent that she actually quit her job as a bank teller in preparation of her journey to Hollywood.  Maybe instead of a resignation letter, she should have let her boss critic her version of Jennifer Hudson’s “And I Am Telling You.”  It might have saved Simon the call to ask for her job back.  Who says that Simon doesn’t have a soft side?

Confidence didn’t work for Jessika Baier, a waitress in a 50s café, either.  She won the trip to Puerto Rico to audition in a contest and was sure that was her ticket in.  But after hearing “I Surrender” the judges thought differently.

But the self-assured did win out in a few instances.

Cut up Nick Mitchell, who couldn’t even get through “Amazing Grace” without some antics entertained the judges enough for a second chance.  It’ll be interesting to see what he brings to Hollywood.  But as Kara said, he doesn’t have a shot in hell.

And nine-year-old Christopher had enough confidence to help snag a golden ticket for his sister Monique Garcia Torres.  Her version of the Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” resulted in a split vote.  Personally, I liked this girl, but she definitely needs to be choosier about her songs.

Pleasantness just oozed from the very upbeat Melinda Camille who aptly chose to sing “Feeling Good.”  Kara called her a vitamin boost.  However, I have to say that I will remember her bubbly personality more than her voice.

A healthy dose of optimism helped Jackie Tohn through when her first song choice “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz left the judges a bit undecided.  Personally, I’m not totally sold on her either, but she was kind of funky and it’ll be interesting to see what she does later in the series. 

For a couple contestants, their fluency in Spanish was enough to secure them a spot in Hollywood.

The judges were not initially impressed with Patricia Lewis Roman when she sang “I want to Dance with Somebody,” but when she sang in Spanish the judges – all but Paula – were swayed. 

College student Jorge Nunez got a similar reaction when the judges preferred the Spanish version of “My Way” to an English version of “Wonderful World.”

The accent was very alluring in their singing and adds an interesting dynamic to their voice, but I have to wonder how well they’ll fair – especially when they will have to sing on theme nights.

Among the clips of the wild and weird, we were treated to a montage of a trio headed to Hollywood but who we didn’t really get a chance to hear sing – Ashley Hollister, Kenny Hoffpauer and Kendall Beard.

Overall not a bad night of auditions.  Nine tickets were given out in Puerto Rico and 26 in New York.  The only down point was a return visit from Alexis Cohen did nothing but swear in the Philadelphia auditions last year.  I don’t have a problem with her auditioning again.  I hate the Idol gave her more air time.

Next week we start with Hollywood Week.

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