Archive for American Idol

Melinda, You’re Still Our No. 1

In the end, Melinda Doolittle’s superior singing abilities were no match for Jordin Sparks’ adorability factor or Blake Lewis’ showmanship in the “American Idol” competition.

Doolittle consistently came through on the vocals, but never quite captured the hearts of “American Idol” voters the way Sparks and Lewis did. Sparks’ vocals kept getting better and better each week, but what keeps her in the game _ and makes her the favorite to win the whole thing _ is that she simply looks and acts like a young teen idol.

From the beginning, the women kept outshining their male counterparts in the competition until Lewis started bringing on his A game. While Doolittle depended on her pipes to get her through, Lewis kept putting his own spin on each song. Last night, he really pull out all beats for a stellar night. He stole the show with “This Love” and brought it home with “When I Get You Alone.”

Simon Cowell chided Sparks for choosing the old tune “I Who Have Nothing,” but it was Doolittle who came off looking old fashioned with the pop tune-turned-ad “I’m A Woman” and wearing a dated pants suit.

Doolittle should be quickly snatched up by a record label, so we won’t shed any tears for her. And we look forward to the Lewis-Sparks showdown next week.

American Idol is down to two contestants? Will it be the very sweet Jordin Sparks or beat-boxer Blake Lewis? I give my take, along with Mercury News news reporter Sandra Gonzales and Contra Costa Times TV critic Chuck Barney.

We discuss Melinda Doolittle leaving the show, the judges, the fans, and give their own predictions for the winner. Mercury News music writer Marian Liu moderates.
Here is the link:

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And then there were three…

All the smart money is on Jordin Sparks for the win in this season of “American Idol.”

Until May 22, it’s all just counting down to the inevitable.

Tonight, to no one’s surprise, Blake Lewis and LaKisha Jones were the last two standing in the eliminations. With Blake the lone boy left in the competition, it was obvious that LaKisha would get the boot tonight.

LaKisha looked worried from the start of the program _ a concern that played out in the end when it was announced that she was eliminated from the competition.

LaKisha started out the season strong, but kept dipping along the way while Jordin just keeps gaining ground.

Most of LaKisha’s problems were of her own doing.

She has consistantly chosen bad songs and each week can’t seem to stop from screaming out the lyrics.

Things started to crumble early on in the competition when guest singer Lulu couldn’t convince LaKisha that “Diamonds are Forever” was a bad way to go.

It just went down hill from there.

We suspect Blake is next on the chopping block, with a showdown between the always polished Melinda Doolittle and young Jordin, who just seems more like an “American Idol” kind of girl.

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And then there were four…

It’s not good to tempt fate.

On Tuesday, Phil Stacey opened the competition with a decent rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory, ” which proved to be his swan song. (“I’m goin’ down in a blaze of glor-reeee …”).

Even with a strong performance on Tuesday, Stacey has been hanging on my his fingernails throughout the competition. Stacey came back strong during the last two programs, including a nice country performance, but it wasn’t enough to get past the flashier performances.

Stacey got the boot first, followed by Chris Richardson, who wobbled badly through his Bon Jovi tune “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

Things looked bad for the Justin Timberlake wannabe when he couldn’t even remember the words to the song during his practice session with Jon Bon Jovi. Bovi Jovi told him to “find the blue note” in the song. Turned out it just found the brown note.

Blake Lewis, who was in the bottom three, did a fantastic job on doing the Bon Jovi hit “You Give Love a Bad Name” Blake beat-box style. Jon thought he was making a mistake fooling around with a beloved song.

Simon proclaimed after the performance that “half the audience will hate it, and half will love it” and that Lewis’ risk would pay off by saving him from having the ax fall on him this week.

Once again, Simon was right. Blake took a chance and it paid off big time for him.

And after picking bad song after bad song, LaKisha Jones FINALLY chose wisely and belted out “This Ain’t a Love Song.”

Now it’s down to the best of the bunch, with Melinda Doolittle leading the pack. It’s not going to be easy for any of them to catch up to the amazing Melinda, who has been beating the others soundly week after week. She outright spanked the Bon Jovi song “Have a Nice Day.” No wonder Jon wants her to join the band.

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Sanjaya says Bye

Sanjaya says he’s looking into getting a bodyguard.

Can he really be that popular? Or that deluded?

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The kid came across as a naive young man who says he got his GED as a sophomore and thinks of his time on “American Idol” as his “junior and senior year in high school.”

“It was my mom’s idea for me to get my GED,” Sanjaya says in a teleconference with journalists today. “ I got into a little bit of trouble in school and didn’t do my homework. It was a horrible habit that I had. I just wanted to move on and focus on my music.”

And he says that he thinks that Howard Stern and Web sites like votefortheworst had little impact on him.

“I don’t think (they) had enough people voting for me to make a dent in anything,” Sanjaya says. “The reason why I’m here is solely because of the support from my fans.”

So why did he get the boot this week?

“Honestly, I’m not a country singer and I didn’t have enough really strong performances for people to forgive me,” Sanjaya says. “LaKisha had enough strong performances to get her through. So that’s what got me this week.”

Sanjaya, whose father is a construction worker, says he still wants to go to college at the Berklee School of Music some day, but right now he feels is the time to focus on his career and “ `American Idol’ was a great way to do that.”

The 17-year-old says the only time he felt he was in over his head was during Hollywood week.

“That was completely intense. I had my sister there and she really supported me,” Sanjaya says. “I just wanted to get past that.”

He says it was surreal for him to become a cultural phenomenon. And he still isn’t sure what to make of it.

“You just don’t have the slightest idea of the capacity of this show and the impact of this show,” he says. “Once in a while, you get inklings.”

“I had no idea,” he says. “It seems kind of unnatural. I’m just a guy from Federal Way. It’s crazy.”

He says he liked the skit “Saturday Night Live” did on him, and believes you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

Which brings us, of course, to Simon Cowell.

“I think he had gotten to a point where I hadn’t fulfilled the potential (he thought I had in the beginning) and didn’t think I belonged there, which is OK,” Sanjaya says.

Sanjaya says he’s looking forward to being part of the season finale and to go on tour. After that, he’ll be looking at opportunities in acting, modeling and perhaps even Broadway.

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Sanjaya’s Going, Going, Gone

Well, we won’t have Sanjaya to kick around any more.

Sorry, little cowboy. Time to pack up the pony and hit the trail.

Despite the efforts of Howard Stern, and little girls all over the planet, Sanjaya finally got the boot. We blame it on the headband. And the fact that he cheated by singing a non-country song on country night.

Oh, and also because, as Simon the eye-roller mentioned on Tuesday, Sanjaya sounded like some of the rejects from the auditions blooper reels.

We can imagine Simon’s doing the happy Snoopy dance right about now.

Sanjaya warbled out a horrendous version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” while barely containing his frizzed-out hair in a tall red bandana.

When the votes were read on Wednesday night, the bottom three included Sanjaya, Blake Lewis and LaKisha Jones. Although both Lewis and Jones have proven themselves to be good singers, it’s time for both to kick up their games.

Lewis looked a little geeky _ and non-country _ in a blue argyle sweater singing the Tim McGraw barely-country ballad “When the Stars Go Blue” and LaKisha test drove former “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood’s hit “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

Each week, LaKisha has ignored the advice of the guest vocal coaches and, as a result, she’s been making some poor song choices. I hate to say it, LaKisha, but I have a little bit of Mandisa deja vu going on right now. I think it’s getting close, and you won’t make it into the top two.

My picks right now are Jordin Sparks, who might just win this whole thing because of her youth and spunk combined with great talent, and power singer Melinda Doolittle who can do no wrong.

A notable change in the cellar-dwellers: For the first time in weeks, Phil Stacey didn’t make it into the bottom three. Phil’s been doing a good job these last couple of weeks and it finally paid off for him.

It now comes down to week to week as to who might be kicked off the show next. If LaKisha doesn’t start paying attention, she could be next.

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What’s up with Simon?

Did Simon Crowell really roll his eyes when Chris Richardson offered a heartfelt comment about the tragedy at Virginia Tech?

Simon’s telling anyone who will listen that he was horrified to see himself on TV having that reaction.

TMZ reported this morning that Simon says “I couldn’t hear what Chris had said. I was talking to Paula. My reaction (rolling his eyes) was to what he had said previously, that singing nasally is a form of singing.”

Do we believe Simon?

Actually, he probably wasn’t paying attention to what Chris was saying, because Simon’s notorious rude when it comes to the post comments comments by the contestants.

He’s had his say and then he tends to jabber with the other judges while Ryan Seacrest talks to the singers.

But that hasty little comment Simon made later in the program was absolutely damage control. He offered up his own sympathies to the families which sounded rushed and, to use terms Simon has used on the contestants, I just didn’t feel it.

click here for video of Simon’s eye-roll and his own condolence to the Virginia Tech families.

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Haley Goes

Not to be rude, as our pal Simon would say, but Haley Scarnato has overstayed her “American Idol” visit by at least a few weeks. Her ouster tonight was a long time coming.

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Haley’s performance last night was enough to make dogs howl and children cry. She cavorted on stage like she was trying to win a third-rate talent contest. And once again showing that if the title was for Best American Legs, she’d certainly be in the running.

Also in the bottom tier with Haley was Chris Richardson and Phil Stacey. We like Phil pretty well, but as the field narrows he’s going to find himself squeezed out of the competition.

He’s certainly the next one off the good ship Idol next week. After Phil, we’re betting it will be Chris.

Which brings us to the final five.

And we’re betting that group will be Sanjaya, Blake, Jordin, LaKisha and Melinda.

Let’s hope the Sanjaya insanity stops there, and won’t affect the best singers in the bunch. Although we have to admit we’re a little interested in seeing Sanjaya go country next week with Martina McBride

While were in the business of ranking, how about those coaches each week? Jennifer Lopez was sweet and tried her best to inspire the “Idols.” She obviously does watch the show and cares a lot about the singers.

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But we still have to put Gwen Stefani up as one of the best coaches so far, followed closely by Lulu. Tony Bennett looked like he’d rather be anywhere else. Peter Noone was nice enough, but didn’t offer much in the way of good advice. And dear diva Diana Ross simply seemed to be more wrapped up in herself than in genuinely helping the “Idols.”

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Next American (Songwriting) Idol

Hey, where would those singers be without the people who write the songs?

Now, “American Idol” producer Simon Fuller is asking for potential hit makers to join the American Idol Songwriter competition, giving Idol fans their first chance to write the next American Idol’s hit single.

Additional details and online submissions, which open today, can be found at

Fuller and his 19 Entertainment A&R staff will select the initial Top 20 songs from all the entries. Beginning May 2, fans will then be able to go online, listen to and vote for their favorite songs.

The song chosen by the nation will then be performed live in front of millions of viewers on the season’s finale.

But that is only the beginning.

The song will be recorded and released by this year’s American Idol. The winning songwriter will receive a music publishing deal with 19 Entertainment; a cash advance on royalties; and the thrill of watching their song belted out by “American Idol” finalists on the show’s final episodes.

Key Dates for American Idol Songwriter Competition

April 4 – Launch contestant submission phase on

April 17 – Submission phase ends

May 2 – Online voting commences

May 8 – Online voting closes

May 22 – The songwriting winner announced on American Idol finale

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Sanjaya Safe Again

At least we know who is in the top, middle and bottom of the “American Idol” competition.

Tonight, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato and Phil Stacey all landed in the bottom. Phil got the first reprieve. I thought he sang better last night, and I think that saved him.

Then it came down to the rocker and the wannabe Vegas show girl.

Apparently, Haley’s scheme to keep viewers interested with her revealing wardrobe just begging for a malfunction is working.

Voters ousted Gina, who was significantly better last night than Haley. At least Gina got a chance to do a sing-off.

It was more than we got from Tony Bennett, whose bout with a cold led to the legendary singer’s no-show. He was replaced by the next generation of crooners, Michael Buble.

Michael managed not only to wow the crowd with his singing, but also with his joke on former contestant Antonella Barba.

“American Idol” let viewers know who was in the first tier, and it came as no surprise to see LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks on top.

That left boy singers Chris Richardson, Blake Lewis and Sanjaya Malakar planted firmly in the middle.

Can it be that Sanjaya’s time can be coming close to the end?

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Is American Idol Tamper Proof?

Let’s say some big radio jock _ we’ll call him Howard Stern _ decides he’ll mess around with the biggest show on TV.

Can he really muck up a show dependent on American voting, a show we’ll call “American Idol”?

Producer Ken Warwick says no way in Hades.

With close to 40 million votes cast each week, Warwick says the impact anyone like Stern has on the program is “minimal.”

“There’s very little hype anyone could do that would affect the vast number of votes cast, even if all of Howard Stern’s audience cast votes,” Warwick ays. “The gap above and below Sanjaya (isn’t affected by Stern).”

So, Sanjaya is doing this all on his own merits?

“Say what you may, but he’s a good looking kid and young girls like him,” Warwick says. “He’s not as bad as everyone makes him out to be. Part of this business is communicating with your audience and he does that. If the American public likes him enough to put him up at the end, it’s out of my hands. We always have one or two contestants that shine for reasons you think they shouldn’t, but it’s part and parcel of the show.”

Chris Sligh, who was voted out last week, says he thinks people are coming down too hard on Sanjaya.

“I think that people underestimate Sanjaya. I think that Sanjaya is actually a very good vocalist,” Sligh says. “I have a lot of respect for him. I do not envy his position at all. He’s a very, very sweet kid and he’s just 17. I think that he gets a bum rap.”

Warwick says that people might be surprised at how fluid the weekly results are, with so-called front runners often ending up near the bottom of the mix.

LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle aren’t necessary shoo-ins just because he and others believe they are the best singers on the show.

“Last week, there was someone who was second that the week before was ninth or 10th. They move around like no tomorrow,” Warwick says. “It depends on their performance (that week). Some grow through the series. It’s always the way that the winner comes up in the competition and was not there (in the top) from the beginning.”

Which bodes well for someone like Jordin Sparks.

Warwick says in the history of the show, there has only been one contestant who was always the favorite who ended up winning the entire competition.


“America normally gets it right in the end, and I’m confident that Sanjaya will not be the `American Idol,’ ” Warwick says. “(If he does), it’s because the American public wants him. (`American Idol’ has always been) the story of a journey of somebody who started out with nothing and ended up a huge star.”

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