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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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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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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Funnyman Norman Gentle Shines during Idol’s Hollywood Round 1

February 4, 2009

The most memorable performance of American Idol’s first round of Hollywood Week was not that of a vocal powerhouse.  Instead Funnyman Nick Mitchell – aka Norman Gentle – wowed the judges with his humor. 

Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle makes the judges smile.

Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle makes the judges smile.

But under all that jesting lives a bit of vocal talent, at least enough to send Nick through to the next round.  And for all you that have waited with baited breath – bikini chick will be returning too.  Kara and Paula still aren’t fans of Katrina Darrell, but apparently they were outvoted.

Given the choice between the two, I’d take Nick over Katrina in the Top 24 any day.  At least Nick entertains you.

Season 8 Hollywood Week is now if full swing, complete with boot camp and Barry Manilow as a guest mentor, but alas not much more singing time than before.

Over the last three weeks, we got to meet 61 of the Hollywood contender in eight cities – that’s less than half of the 147 that made it to the Kodak Theatre.  So, we should get to meet some of the rest now that we are in Hollywood, right?

Wrong.  In this round, we got to hear three – yes a mere three – new people sing.

Tonight we met Nathaniel Marshall from the New York City auditions.  He tried to wow the judges with his rendition of “The Anchor Holds” by Ray Boltz.  I think he might have been better served with a more well known tune.  And personally the tears did nothing to win me over, but apparently the judges saw something I didn’t.

Also new to the screen from Stephen Fowler, another New York City auditioner.  Now this guy impressed me.  He had a nice solid voice.  I’m definitely looking forward to hearing him sing some more.

Unfortunately, the third person we met for the first time – FBI agent Erika Wesley – did not make it through to the next round.

Much of the show’s time was spent showing us the judges’ comments for singers we never heard.  But we did get to see a few of our favorites from the auditions.

My picks for females in Round 1 were 16-year-old Jasmine Murray from the Jacksonville auditions and Kansas City auditioner Lil Rounds.  Lil’s got a nice powerful voice, but I hope she doesn’t limit herself to ballads alone.  Jasmine is the whole package – cute, talented, and sweet. 

Rocker Emily Wynne-House and Rose Flack, the orphan from Idaho, still show some potential, but the pressure is clearly getting to them.  Rose struggled in boot camp and Emily switched her song at the last minute.  But they hung in there for the next round.

Jackie Tohn also made the cut.  She has an interesting growl to her songs that might prove enough for her to hang on.

We saw a lot more guys in this round than the girls.  I’m not sure in that’s a sign that the guys are stronger though because there were several I don’t think should have made it.

Roughneck Jeremy Michael Sarver continues to be my favorite.  I don’t know there’s just something about such a tough guy have such a soft voice that if very appealing.  I also liked the aforementioned Stephen Fowler and David Osmond, although we only saw a glimpse of David.

Widower Danny Gokey and Puerto Rico-native Jorge Nunez showed potential.  Hopefully we’ll hear more of them in the next round.  I’m totally undecided about Anoop Desai who auditioned in Kansas City.  We didn’t hear enough of him to gauge.

A few of the guys really shouldn’t have made the cut in my.  Danny’s buddy Jamar Rogers was just over the top and Von Smith is still shouting at us.  The next round should be critical for them.

Although we didn’t get to see them perform, we learned that the sight-impaired Scott MacIntyre, moms Frankie Jordan and Alexis Grace, traveling musician Brett Keith Smith, nanny Anne Marie Boskovich and actor Adam Lambert will be returning for the next round.



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