Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Phillip Phillips busts into Billboard digital songs chart at No. 2

Phillip Phillips leaves the stage after emotional 'Idol' win (Mark Davis, Getty Images)
Phillip Phillips may be crazy about his 'Idol' coronation song, "Home," but apparently, the music-buying public has different ideas. The single made its debut on the Billboard digital songs chart at No. 2 after selling 278,000 downloads in its first week. This gives PP the distinction of having the second highest digital first week sales of any Idol except Kelly Clarkson, who's 2009 single "My Life Would Suck Without You" sold 280,000 downloads its first week.

"Home" is the highest selling digital coronation song in 'Idol' history and is third overall on the list of single sales. Clay Aiken's "This is the Night" still holds the record with 393,000 single CDs sold in its first week. Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" is second, selling 286,000 copies its first week in the stores.

Here's a list of all the winners' 'Idol' coronation singles (and Clay, of course):

1. Clay Aiken, "This Is the Night" (393,000 first-week sales)
2. Ruben Studdard, "Flying Without Wings" (286,000)
3. Phillip Phillips, "Home" (278,000)
4. David Cook, "Time of My Life" (236,000)
5. Kelly Clarkson, "A Moment Like This" (236,000)
6. Taylor Hicks, "Do I Make You Proud" (228,000)
7. Scotty McCreery, "I Love You This Big" (171,000)
8. Carrie Underwood, "Inside Your Heaven" (171,000)
9. Fantasia, "I Believe" (142,000)
10. Kris Allen, "No Boundaries" (134,000)

12. Lee DeWyze, "Beautiful Day" (95,000)
13. Jordin Sparks, "This is my Now" (74,000)

Two other PP singles also debuted on digital songs this week. "We've Got Tonight" sold 43,000 downloads and entered at No. 41 and "Volcano" opened at No. 54 with 35,000 downloads.  

All this comes after PP was quoted as saying the song wasn't really "him!"

"I wanted to do my own stuff, but we only had a certain amount of time to do everything, so I had to do that one, and it's a really good song," he told MTV. "The writers are really good. It's not really something I would write, so I'm excited to get my own stuff out there."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Phillip or Jessica?

This is it. The end of the season, and of course, the crowning of the next American Idol. Two hours of ga-roup numbers, duets, solos, and guest stars, and then, at 10ish, the coronation. Will Phillip Phillips continue the WGWG streak or will Jessica become the first female winner since Jordin Sparks won 'AI3?' I'm team PP all the way. In fact, I picked PP to win in my pool at the Top 13. If he wins, I can finish no lower than fourth. Not that this means much!

I really debated as to whether or not to recap this show, but in the end, it’s the last show of the season and I’m watching it anyway! 

Frenetic opening in black and white. We see the Top 2 as they emerged from the dressing room to hit the stage for the first time. PP meets Scotty McCreery, who tells him he won’t sleep tonight. And we’re off.

No Voiceover Man tonight? Instead, the Top 12 minus PP and Jessica, all dressed in white, have their first ga-roup number (“Runaway Baby”).  Heejun makes me laugh. Dancers, dressed in black, come out and put the Idols to shame! A female dancer does the jive. The Idols are still be-bopping away on the sidelines. Oh, now they run back while dancers do the jerk. Shannon Migraine looks as though she’s about to burst out of her jeans. You get the picture? 

Voiceover man brings out the judges, who descend the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase, flanked by the Idols. Lisa Renna is in the house. Ryan follows wearing a tuxedo and poufy hair.

Ryan welcomes us to the show. “Tonight is one of the most anticipated events in television and in just two hours, your next American Idol will be named right here.” He asks for the sign-holders to show their stuff. He tells us a “staggering 132 million votes came in.” Out come PP and Jessica, also dressed in white.

Ryan asks if either of them slept. Jessica said she slept a little. PP says he got about nine hours. Oh PP, how we love you. Next up, PP and a “very special guest.”

PP is performing with John Fogarty. Of course, they are singing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” PP holds onto the melody, I mean how can he not. Carrie Underwood is singing along in the audience. PP looks like he’s ecstatic. I sing along! As an aside, John Fogarty’s hair color is pretty unnatural!

PP says the next song is one of his faves and it’s an honor to be performing with John Fogarty. PP strums along and lets John take the lead. It’s fun to watch. Now Carrie is dancing! Her husband is with her too. Like an old time reunion up in here.

A time-wasting clip showing moments with the judges and the stupid auditions.

Joshua is singing “Take Me to the Pilot.”  This song will always belong to George Huff for me, but here’s another Louisiana kid taking it to the pilot, or trying to. Joshua intros Fantasia, who now has waist-length, straight hair now and weighs considerably more than she did nine years ago! . Fantasia is out in the audience screeching away. She looks totally out of it. Joshua can’t even compete. It’s a total, red hot mess! He daps Evil Jimmy, hugs ‘Tasia, and they sing over their allotted time limit! George Huff’s version of the song remains unchallenged!

The hilarity continues. Clips of Jimmy blowing his lines, over, and over, and over again.

Oh gawd, the ladies of the Top 12 sing some disco tunes. Elise’s hair is blonde again. She looks a tad chubby too. Shannon Migraine has a solo. Why is she here again? Skylar tries, but fails. Shannon is really trying to make the most of her time on the stage! This is pretty much unlistenable. Hollie leads us off with “I’m Every Woman.”  Chaka Khan enters via our stairway, escorted by a bunch of guys who rip off her cape to reveal her flesh colored cat suit. She’s completely out of tune, but looks fierce. Erica and Shannon Migraine dwarf her!

I’m not making this up. Ryan is at the judges’ table while Randy goes crazy over Chaka. Where’s J’Lo? Could there be a performance in the offing?

Back from the break, we watch the Ford tribute to the finalists. Of course, PP wasn’t in most of the commercials. Heejun gets a big hand. Last week, there was a special gift for PP’s brother-in-law, Ben somebody-or-other and Jessica’s music mentor Robert.  They are both invited to the finale. I thought they were getting cars. They are in the audience, and surprise, surprise, they each get keys to a new Ford Escape. Phillip and Jessica get cars too. Everyone gets a car. Jessica’s mentor is still overcome. I want a car for having to endure all of this.

Now we welcome a “global superstar...” Rihanna. It’s big, it’s autotuned, it’s what you’d expect.

Skylar is back. OMG who dressed her? She introduces Reba and the two of them sing “Turn on Your Radio.” Skylar was robbed, methinks. She really holds her own with Reba. They are so similar in voice. I love Reba and this is probably the best performance so far on this endless show.

Now for a fun peak into Steven Tyler’s house? It’s full of Playboy Bunnys. He has a seal. At least I think it’s a seal. Lots of pictures and memorabilia. Randy is now sitting in the dressing room with the Bunnies. Steven’s sister is making out with some old guy. We see Steven’s organ. Steven has a new fragrance, “eau de Low Tide” (see the skunk). We end this ridiculous interlude with Steven and a monkey on his shoulder.

Now, we relive a favorite moment from the season. Jessica is singing “I Will Always Love You.” You should have sung this last night, Jess.

Now for the Top 12 guys. Heeeeeejun. They’re singing Neil Diamond. I wonder who the guest singer is going to be? Poor Jermaine (the one that got kicked off). He could have been up there too. Or maybe he’s better off not!  I’m still wondering where J’Lo is.  Colton singing “I’m a Believer” is not pleasing. Where’s PP?  What, no Neil Diamond? Joshua kind of stars in the finale of this. OMG. Guess who’s here? It’s Neil Diamond after all. Q’uelle surpris. Neil actually looks pretty good, but he can’t sing anymore. And he doesn’t seem to know the words. He can do a pointy pose, though. So that’s something.

I am so ready for this show to end and we still have at least 55 minutes.

Scotty McCreery is in the house. Ryan tells us Adam Lambert’s album is number one on the charts. Now for a fun montage of Randy telling contestants they can sing the phone book. This is followed by the Idols in a choir singing the phone book (song written by Michael Orland). Joshua takes it to church, of course! The others look upon him in disgust. Thank you Michael! Highlight of the night so far!

Scotty has a phone book for Randy. Tee hee hee.

We are bringing out “one of the hottest women on the charts” (could it be J’Lo?). Of course it is. I need ice cream. I wonder if her boy toy will be featured on this one. I’m not going to comment on any of this. Remember last season during the finale she performed with Marc Anthony. Shortly thereafter, they split. When it’s finally over, Carrie Underwood nods her approval, albeit somewhat unenthusiastically.

Lauren Alaina, Taylor Hicks, Ace Young, and Diana DeGarmo are in the house. Ryan calls Ace and Diana up to the stage. Ace’s hair is past his shoulders. He looks like a caveman. OMG he’s going to propose. Ryan has the lights dimmed. Diana clearly had no idea this was coming. "This has always been home to us and I felt that this would be the perfect place to ask a simple question."

Then he gets down on one knee and continues, "We have conquered Broadway together. We have created our new music together. We have an amazing group of people around us. And with the help of David Webb jewelry I have a way to make this last forever. Are you ready? I love you to death. You're my best friend. I want to make this last forever and I will do anything in my power to have the most ... amazing life together if you will have me. Diana Nicole DeGarmo, will you marry me?" Diana cries and Ace puts the ring on her finger. They kiss and we have our first official ‘Idol’ engaged couple.

Hollie has to follow all this with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Who will be singing with her? Oh, it’s Jordin Sparks. Her voice sounds shaky, but she looks beautiful. A choir joins them. Hollie outsings Jordin.

Thirty minutes to go. It’s pretty sad when the best part of the first 90 minutes is a choir singing the phone book and a marriage proposal!

Ryan intros the boys who are honoring Robin Gibb (who performed at the finale two years ago).  I can’t even begin to describe how bad this is. The Bee Gees were about harmony, and this group is so out of harmony and tune, it’s insulting. I want to mute the sound, that’s how bad it is. Joshua takes on “To Love Somebody” and once again, saves the dismal ga-roup number.

Jessica and Jennifer Holiday sing “And I am Telling You, I’m not Going.” J’Lo is back at the desk. Jennifer starts it off and Jessica blows her entrance. Jennifer doesn’t even look like she’s half trying. Jessy, baby, you’re not going to win this one!!! The song takes lungs and depth. Randy is groovin’ to this. She sort of mocks Jessica!  I wonder what Jennifer Hudson is thinking about all this!!!  J’Hol gets a standing O from J’Lo and Randy. Now Steven has disappeared.

Now for Aerosmith. It’s kind of weird watching Steven perform after watching him sit at a desk all season. Really. Joe Perry’s still got it! Song is a little psychedelic, very old school, but a welcome relief.  And, of course they close with “Walk This Way.” That was fun.

Seven minutes until ten o’clock. Will the show end on time?

Jessica and PP have their final duet (“Up Here Where We Belong”). PP is sitting on a stool and they are singing behind the judges. A choir stands on the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. A nice moment.

Now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Edward Boddington delivers the envelope. He verifies they are the official votes and a world record 132 million votes have been generated. PP says it’s been an honor to sing on the stage. He honors the band, the fans, everyone. Jessica thanks the crew, the fans, everyone. Ryan thanks them for a great season. Kiren dims the lights. “The winner of American Idol Season 11 is... Phillip Phillips!”  Heejun runs out and practicalloy tackles him. Scotty McCreery hands a guitar to PP - the traditional passing of the WGWG symbol, if you will. “Congratulations, you did it," says Ryan.

WGWG5 sings his single “Home.” Best coronation song ever. PP seems completely unfazed by all of this. Then, suddenly it all hits him and he starts to cry. Oh PP. He keeps playing as the marching band comes by once again, but he is overcome. The confetti falls. PP doesn’t want us to see him cry. He finally gives up when a piece of confetti gets into his mouth. He takes off his guitar, hands it off,  and goes to his family.  Best moment of the night.

As the credits roll, PP hugs the judges and that’s it. End of another season. This could be the last time, kids. But hey, it’s a long time until January!

Thanks for reading this and have a great summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Phillip and Jessica face off for the title

Tonight, Phillip Phillips, aka PP, and Jessica Sanchez face off to determine who will be the next American Idol. Cue dramatic music and cheering crowds. The Top 2 will sing three songs each - one they've sung before, another chosen by Simon Fuller, and (drum roll please) their very own individual original tune (aka the Idol Coronation song). Can you stand it?

I picked PP to win the whole shebang back at the Top 13, so natch, I'll be rooting for him. He would, of course, become the fifth white guy with guitar (WGWG) to win 'Idol' since David Cook inaugurated this run back in 'Idol 7.' But Jessica certainly has a shot seeing that she's the darling of the Philippines, and has an entire country voting for her. On the other hand, poor PP has wicked bad kidney stones and needs emergency surgery immediately. He's literally risking his life for the chance to win this thing. So who's more deserving? I'll let you decide!

Here we go!

Here we go! Cold opening showing PP and Jessica on their way to their initial auditions. And, of course, we watch them as they get their golden tickets. PP told the camera he was going to be the next American Idol. Could be.

Voiceover Man intros the judges. Tonight, J’Lo is dressed in skin-tight black pants and a sparkly black top. Randy is in pastel. Ryan enters via a shortened version of the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. We’re live at the Nokia Theatre and 7,000 fans are in the house. Ryan asks the PP fans to holler out. Then he does the same for the Jessica fans. Sounds about even. Out come Jessica and PP. PP is dressed in a wrinkled blue shirt and white tee shirt. Jessica looks pretty in a black and gray gown. Ryan says he told them to take it all in. Jessica says it’s insane and crazy. PP babbles something nonsensical.

PP won the coin toss, so Jessica goes first.

Round One - Simon Fuller’s choice

Jessica Sanchez - “I Have Nothing”

Good choice for Jessica. She’s using her Jennifer Hudson voice. We’ve heard her do this many times over the season. Her vocals are controlled and she stays right on the notes. She really owns the song. I’ve never heard anyone sing it better... besides the late, great Whitney, of course. Nice job.

We’ll hear from the judges at the end of Round One. Ryan lets us know we have four hours to vote tonight. And we go to break. Dare I dream this show is only one hour? I check my cable guide and yes... just an hour. Saints be praised!

Phillip Phillips - “Stand By Me”

PP is sitting on a stool, guitar in hand. He’s using his Dave Matthews voice. There’s a smile in his voice, if that makes any sense. As usual he contorts the melody (and his face) and the overall effect is a bit harsh. Not sure this actually works. He seems satisfied, however. 

Ryan reads PP’s phone numbers and then PP departs the stage.

Ryan asks the judges how they thought they did. J’Lo says it’s tough because it’s a battle of the opposites. She praises Jessica’s voice and calls PP a modern day crooner. “At the end of the day, America has a tough job... who’s making you feel like picking up the phone and voting.” Randy gives Round 1 to Jessica, as do I.  Coming up, the world premiere of Jason Derulo’s Coca-Cola ‘Idol’ single.

Back from the break. J’Lo also feels Jessica won Round One. Jason D. will sing “Undefeated.” He starts out sitting down. He is no longer wearing his sparkly neck brace. He plays with a chair and stands on it. His girlfriend Jordin Sparks is singing along with him. Dancers appear, and whirl and twirl around him. Not a lot of imagination in the lyrics. He gets lifted up on the same device they used to “raise Joshua up.” Thrilling.

During the break, we are forced to listen to “Undefeated” again in a Coke commercial.

Round Two - Contestants’ Fave

Jessica - “The Prayer”

I think she should have gone with “And I Am Telling You...” This song isn’t “big” enough and is not as effective with one singer. She’s scratchy on the glory note too. She seems a bit tentative and there are some slightly off notes. She really needed a moment here and I don’t think she delivered. It was nice, and on any other week, would have been just fine, but this is the finale.

Phillip - “Movin’ Out”

PP’s wearing a black shirt and jeans. Good choice. A bit more energy and a neat arrangement. PP is a lot more comfortable on this one too. It’s classic PP all the way and I’d call cacophonous! Yay PP! You did it that time.

Evil Jimmy is clapping and smiling. He knows PP just owned that one! Long after he stops singing, the crowd is still cheering. PP leaves the stage.  Ryan asks Steven what he thinks. He says “You don’t always have to be a good egg, hatch or go bad.” He gives the round to Jessica. Randy thinks this round was a dead heat. J’Lo goes with PP. She says this was “authentic Phillip.”

I give Round Two to PP.

Round Three - ‘Idol’ Coronation Song

I am breathless with anticipation. 

Jessica - “Change Nothing”

Lots of strings and schmaltz. Jessica starts out sitting on the piano, which is white this week. The song is too low for her! It’s a love song about not fitting together or something. No rainbows? No unicorns? Oh man, she goes totally off on the bridge. She’s shouting off-key. Jessica, you just lost it. The song is crap, devoid of soul. I think she knows she blew it too. Terrible.

Jessica faces the judges. Randy says he did not love the song, but that she made something more out of it. “I thought the song was just okay.” J’Lo says she thought Jessica sang the song well, but it was a pop ballad and missed the soul in it. “When you go to make your record, you have to be able to say to someone, this is not me... or change songs... everything has to be you.” Steven says he knows how good she can sing and doesn’t feel it was the proper song for her to sing.

Wow... Jessica says she agrees with the judges and wanted to do something urban, but chose something else? You blew it girl. Sunk by the crappy coronation song.

Phillip - “Home”

PP is wearing a jacket. Song is just right. Neat arrangement - almost bluegrass. PP is wailing on the guitar and singing the melody.  A marching band passes by! I laugh out loud. PP is almost celebratory. It’s awesome! Poignant, emotional, and right on the freakin’ money.

The judges stand. Randy is yowling. PP, you just won ‘American Idol.’

Randy says he loved the song, PP, the production, the marching band. “Your best performance of the night... reminds me of Mumford and Sons... genious.” J’Lo says it was so different and she couldn’t think of anyone else. “It was just Phillip.”  Steven says he heard a little Paul Simon and other ungodlike creatures. “You are the man.”

“The rest is in the universe,” Ryan tells us.

Round Three to Phillip. Game over. PP will be 'American Idol's' WGWG5.

Jessica says PP is an amazing artist. PP says Jessica’s an amazing person and is one of the best singers he’s ever heard. They hug.  “Tomorrow night, one of their lives will change forever.”

Scotty McCreery (WGWG4) sings us out with “Please Remember Me,” and we look back over the season. And it's a wrap.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Who will join Phillip in the Top 3?

Perhaps you think I'm a bit premature with the title and all, but really, is there any doubt? I'll be shocked if PP doesn't make the finals. The real horse race tonight is who gets the other spot - Jessica or Joshua? I'm going to say Joshua.

This scenario reminds me a lot of Season 5. We had Taylor Hicks, who, once Chris Daughtry was eliminated, was pretty clearly going to the finals. Like Taylor, Phillip has strong support from the key demographics - young girls and middle-aged women. That season, the second spot came down to Katharine McPhee, who like Jessica shone on the big ballads and Elliott Yamin, who brought on the soul just like Joshua.

Remember, the results that week were very close and the producers decided it would be lots of fun to pull out white boards to reveal the percentages and who ultimately got the second spot. It was, of course, Katharine McPhee who faced Taylor for the crown. It was never even close. Ultimately, I believe Phillip will win the whole thing handily, no matter who he faces. But tonight, at least, TPTB will play this for all it's worth!

 Let's see how this all shakes out.

Cold opening with Simon and Garfunkel singing “Homeward Bound.” We watch clips of the Top 3 and their triumphant (or semi-triumphant) returns home. “One goes home tonight!”

Voiceover Man intros the judges who enter through the audience. J’Lo is wearing a big turquoise skirt and raspberry halter top. Ryan gets the audience pumped up about the finale and pimps the tour. He lets us know that Adam Lambert and Lisa Marie Presley are in the house.

The Top 3 perform “Got to Get You Into My Life” complete with full horn section. It’s a jazzy arrangement that suits Joshua and Jessica. PP, not so much! The camera twirls around them. PP seems more hunched over than usual. Stupid song choice.

Now for the Ford video. It’s set like a silent movie. As usual, PP is not participating. He hasn’t been in one for weeks.

Jessica is nervous and excited. PP says it’s a blessing to be there and whoever makes it through deserves it. Joshua is nervous as well, but says he’ll support whoever makes it.

Ryan starts with results. Joshua is first. About his performances, Evil Jimmy says Josh had a good night - not his best. He feels the judges were very generous on the first song. He gave it an eight. On “Imagine,” Jimmy says he believes Joshua is the most exciting showman in the competition. He says Joshua overcompensated with riffs and runs, and it didn’t work. “It was overblown and overemotional... kind of like putting a Ferrari on a racetrack and leaving it in park. As for “No More Drama,” Jimmy thinks he needed a big moment, but there was something missing. He knows it was the song. There wasn’t enough melody. Evil Jimmy feels it was his fault. But he thinks Joshua belongs in the finale 100 percent.

Joshua says he listens to everything Jimmy says. Did Joshua earn a spot in the finale? We’ll find out in just a little bit.

Stupid bit with J’Lo pimping ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift.’ More pimpage with the Top 4 in the recording studio doing some song for the movie.

Lisa Marie Presley performs her new single. She has a very deep voice and sounds like she smokes three packs a day.  Very limited range and she hardly moves at all. I never, ever say this, but seriously, I can sing better than her! I guess this is why I didn’t even know she was recording. You didn’t get Daddy’s vocal skills, that’s for sure. Priscilla is in the audience. She looks embalmed. So much for that.

Ryan tells us auditions for Season 12 start next month.

Jessica is up next. We start with the Mariah song. Evil Jimmy says everyone needs a shock and awe moment. But he doesn’t think this came together enough. As for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Jimmy says the judges felt it all came together, but he’s looking for more than that. She’s got it all, but she has to have the most magical moment she’s had so far to win. On “I’ll be There,” Jimmy says he chose the song because her voice reminds him of MJ. What he didn’t think of, was that it’s only two minutes, and forgot the Jermaine part. He thinks she’s worthy of singing on the Grammys.

Carole Bayer Sager and Rita WIlson honor Donna Summer. Donna was Carole's friend. Jimmy says everyone in the dance business today owes something to Donna Summer. I’ll miss her too. Sad to see her gone.

Adam Lambert sings “Never Close Our Eyes.”  Hard to believe it’s been three years since his season. Adam has a new hairdo, a little poufier on the top. He’s a little off-key here and there. There’s his little guitar player. I like the song. And he’s not lip-synching. That’s how it’s done, kiddies! That’s how it’s done.

They’ve cleaned up the stage after Adam and now it’s PP’s turn. First, it’s “Beggin.” Springsteen? Really? Jimmy says PP did a great job. He says’ PP’s sound is becoming more and more original and less derivative. On “Disease” (which I loved), Jimmy says what he likes about PP is he’s willing to risk everything. He agrees with the judges. “It was a total snoozefest... not strong enough for this point in the competition.” Finally, “We’ve Got Tonight,” Jimmy says PP won the night with this one, hands down. He thinks it was the best of the entire season. “He hit notes I didn’t believe he could hit... he was flawless... I was genuinely knocked out.” He says he sound like what he saw in the hometown video. “There was a cry in his voice and a depth that I haven’t seen all year from him.”

“We’re about to do it.” Ryan asks the judges to set up the stakes. Randy wishes them all the best and says they are the best ever. J’Lo says it’s been such a journey and she feels like losing anyone of them tonight is heartbreaking for her and all of us. She says she’s never felt so connected to them. “It’s a big moment for the show to have three such talented contestants.” Steven says he loves them all because they have he courage to have a dream and it’s beautiful.  “Who goes to the finale? Find out live after the break.”

Oh boy, here we go. Ryan has the card. “Dim the lights. Here we go you three. After nearly 90 million votes, the first person to compete in the Season 11 finale is... Jessica Sanchez.” She looks shocked. Her family is shocked. “The person going head to head against Jessica is... Phillip Phillips.” Joshua smiles. "Which means we say goodbye to Joshua." I’m sorry Joshua. We watch his funeral video and see all the standing ovations.

Joshua sings us out with “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.” Skylar and Hollie go berserk. He hugs J’Lo and doesn’t miss a beat. Then he walks to the audience and brings he mother up on stage. J’Lo is waving her hands around. It's a classy singout from a classy guy, who in my opinion, deserved to be in the finals. But it is what it is. Make way for WGWG5. It's gonna happen!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'American Idol 11' - Top 3 perform for spot in finals

Well, we've reached the Top 3! I suppose I should write some kind of commentary, but really, I don't have a whole lot to say. Is there any way to stop the Phillip Phillips steamroller? Will he vie for not only the title of American Idol but also WGWG 5?

We won't find out until Thursday, but tonight might provide some hints as to how the 'Idol' Powers that Be want this to shake out. Who gets the coveted "pimp" spot? What song did the judges pick for PP? How about Jimmy? I think this will make things a bit more clear.

Cold opening - the Top 3 are shown on a giant screen behind Ryan, and then on the stage. “Who will make it to the finale?”

Voiceover Man welcomes the judges. J’Lo is wearing a pink pantsuit.Randy is in salmon. Ryan descends the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Heejun is in the house! Ryan tells us it’s going to be a huge night tonight and next week, we move to the Nokia Theater for the finale. Note, the final performance show is Tuesday next week.

Ryan brings out the Top 3 again. Jessica is wearing a purple gown. PP is in double-gray. The Top 3 will sing three songs each tonight - a judge’s choice, the contestant’s choice, and one picked especially for them by the evil Jimmy. Sink or swim time, folks.

Josh has the death spot.

Joshua Ledet - “I’d Rather Be Blind” by Etta James (Randy’s pick)

Josh is using the old-fashioned mike. Lots of brass. The song gives Josh a lot of room for his vocal gymnastics while at the same time, requiring a lot of restraint. He gets a chance to delve into his lower register before moving into his comfort zone.  Josh has a maturity in his vocals that totally belies his age. Good song choice and a solid performance.

He gets a standing ovation from the judges - his 15th? Steven says this is another Joshua moment. He thinks it’s surreal to hear someone singing this old song and have the audience respond. J’Lo says they struggled with song choice for him. Modern or not? Randy says Joshua is a classic stylist and this fit like a glove. He hopes Joshua can bring this into modern times. He says R&B needs a lift as it’s ailing.

Ryan says this is like watching a sporting event. Joshua says this journey has taken him through a lot of things, and while it’s tough, he thinks about what he wants and doesn’t give up.

Interesting, the Kraft ad following Josh’s performance features the same song! Heh!

The rest of the Top 12 is in the house. Heejun has a new “do.”

Jessica Sanchez - “Smile” by Mariah Carey (J’Lo’s pick)

J’Lo says she picked this song so we could hear the tenderness in Jessica’s vocals. Very, very nice. Jessica has a beautiful voice, and while the arrangement is pretty much the original, her voice is nothing like Mariah’s so the feeling of the song is different. She soars on the bridge. Very, very nice.

The judges do not stand. Randy says that was beautiful, perfectly the right song (boasts about Mariah), he says it’s one of the best times Mariah’s been performed on TV. J’Lo says it’s a hard song, but Jessica did it in her own way. She loves that Jessica has the kind of control to get through it. Steven says when Jessica sings, people hang on every note. He says she should get used to encores. He says she’ll be the last one standing. Ahhh.

Ryan asks if Steven had just made a prediction. He says, “Don’t I always?”  Jessica says she always wanted to sing this song, but it’s so hard.

Heejun is in the mosh pick with PP!

Phillip Phillips - “Beggin” (Steven’s pick)

Steven says he picked the song because of the melody. Ohh...PP in the pimp spot. To me, he still sounds like Dave Matthews. The song has more kick to it than some he’s done, and he is singing the melody. I don’t know. Another WGWG winner would not be good for the franchise, but PP has a whole lot more edge to him. He might be able to pull this off. I kinda liked that performance.

Steven wonders if we can believe this guy. J’Lo laughs and tries to yell over the crowd. She says PP can’t help but messing with the song. “It was great.” Steven says it’s been beautiful to watch PP unfold. He’s hoping PP will write his own songs and says PP could be a new-age Boss. High praise. Randy likes Steven’s poeticness! Randy says we were just at the PP concert. “You are so in the zone and you have been in the zone... you don’t care what’s going on around you... that was another incredible performance by you.. You are who you are and we love it.”

PP says three songs is.. screams interrupt.

Round one to PP, although it’s close. Joshua’s being in the death spot worries me. With PP in the pimp spot, it would seem TPTB have given him the edge.

Randy isn’t going to pick a clear-cut winner. He says Joshua has a slight edge vocally. J’Lo says PP’s performance really got her. Steven says the way PP crawls into a song and turns it into himself - he’s on the fence.

Round Two - Contestant’s Choice

Joshua Ledet - Westlake, Louisiana

Josh says the most memorable thing about being home was selling out the arena. He says it was touching that so many people came out to support him even though they didn’t know him. We see c lip of Joshua on the private jet. He’s nervous on the plane. He puts his shoes on and gets off the plane. Mom and Dad are there to greet him. “Son of a Preacher Man” is playing in the background.

He hits the Sheriff’s crawfish blowout. An old white woman says “Welcome home.” He goes to Daddy’s church.  Daddy sings “We love you Josh.” An infant is wearing a Team Josh shirt. His little niece gets to ride with him in the parade. Some guy has his name etched into his hair. It’s like Mardi Gras.

Even the dogs are excited. A woman with an eye patch takes his picture as he arrives at his high school. The cheerleaders cheer and Josh signs autographs. Then it’s off to the arena, which is packed. Josh sings “It’s a Man’s World” as Mom and Dad stand by watching proudly. Josh is like a superstar. Fireworks close out the day.

Joshua is singing “Imagine.” He’s going to take this to church, I can feel it. I just want to listen,. It’s moving, emotional, and original. J’Lo is singing along. He doesn’t oversing, but still manages to bring it up and over. He’s feeling the words and interpreting them for his own meaning. I applaud you Joshua. That was phenomenal.

Steven says this was another Thank You God moment. “You are so fine... damn.” J’Lo says it was pulled back and controlled, and a beautiful thing. “We have three different voices and all of them are beautiful in their own way... but the performance quality, the way you dig into the words and meaning, makes you very special.” Randy asks why he picked this song. Josh says he was riding in the car with PP and Jessica, and didn’t know what he was going to sing. This song came on the radio and it had a strong message. Maybe John Lennon was speaking to him! Randy says everything Joshua sings should mean something and be special to him. “Every time you sing people feel what you sing.. brilliant, dude, brilliant.”

Jessica Sanchez - Chula Vista, California

Jessica says it was weird going home because she was home-schooled and not popular. She gets to ride on a helicopter and they land in the stadium where she first auditioned. Jessica gets into a limo and hits the radio station. Then it’s into an arena where she tells a huge crowd she loves them. Morning comes and she’s back in the limo. She pulls up to the family home and sees her doggies. Her brother is happy to have her home and she tells them she’s going to try an win it for them.

Her family rides in the limo and her brothers are with her in the parade. She arrives at the high school, where apparently, she didn’t go? There’s lots of security. Nowhere near as much fun as Joshua’s trip! THe mayor declars it “Jessica Day.”

Back in the limo she’s at the U.S.S. Midway where lots of sailors are on hand to cheer her one. She dedicates a song to the service people. She sings “Dance With my Father” to her Daddy. Back into the helicopter and she returns.

Jessica is singing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Kiss up much? Odd choice. Nothing wrong with her vocals, maybe a bit too much melisma, but it’s the song choice. For me, it’s a bit contrived and transparent. This is the best you could come up with? She finishes sharp. Jessica, you just might have blown your lead here.

Steven stands up and pats his heart. The other two are sitting firm. Steven says she just took a great song and made it greater. He thanks Diane Warren for writing it for him. J’Lo says this is a big deal for Steven. She says, “That note at the end sent everyone into the heavens.” Randy says she is choosing some tough hills to climb. “This girl is bold...”  He says he was waiting on a big moment and she delivered.

Phillip Phillips - Leesburg, Georgia

Finally, we watch PP’s trip home. I read somewhere this trip brought $500k to the town. Actually PP and Joshua shared a plane, although we don’t see this! PP arrives and is greeted by a fawning TV reporter. People are going crazy. It’s morning. PP goes back to the pawn show.  Another crowd of screaming mimis. Good for business! Dad is there to greet him. He’s happy to have his son home so he can put his hands on him. PP Sr. says this is a dream come true. PP gets all choked up. PP sits by the stuffed turkey, them he leaves. Daddy is riding in the limo with him. Mama wants to squeeze him ‘til she can’t no more.” And she does. The family is all gathered.

Mom and Dad ride with him in the parade. Pretty girls throw themselves at PP who is all emotional again. 

At the concert venue it looks like he’s drawn the biggest crowd of the three. PP’s gonna win this thing, you know that, don’t you?  

PP sings “Disease” by Matchbox 20. And, he’s not wearing gray. Nice arrangement. PP is totally loose. He isn’t making horrible faces either. This is good. No, this is real good. What I like about PP is that he and his guitar are like one. It’s not an affectation, he’s really good.  He gives the sax player (female) a little kiss.

J’Lo says this wasn’t the Wow performance, which “we are needing and wanting right now.” Steven says he feels the same way. Randy asks the other two if they didn’t love it? They didn’t. Randy says, “Wow, this is weird.” He didn’t like it either because it was subdued and PP could do it in his sleep. Ouch. Where’s the bus? I thought it was perfect for the moment and the mood. So, if you were going to throw him under the bus, why the pimp spot?

I’m giving Round Two to Joshua, then PP, then Jessica. 

Round Three - Evil Jimmy’s Pick

Joshua - “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige

Evil Jimmy says Mary J. brought this number to church at the Grammys and he want Joshua to do the same thing, 

I don’t like this song for him. It’s too choppy. And, for the first time all season, Joshua is off-key. And his dancing. He rips off his jacket midway through and goes all out. His ear piece falls out. Joshua is going nuts on the stage. The Top 12 are digging it. In the end, he pulls it off, but I'm not sure it wasn’t the moment Evil Jimmy was hoping for. BFF Hollie has her hands in the air. There’s a tall blond with the Top 12 whose name I honestly don’t remember. Also that chubby guy. Jeremy something or other. I guess the guy who got kicked off doesn’t get to come back. Pretty bad when you can’t remember and of their names!

Randy says, “At this point, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ve laid everything on this stage there is to lay.”  I immediately think of geese or swans or some feathered creature. Randy says this is what being a great artist is about. “Joshua Ledet has got it Jennifer, what do you think.” J’Lo says it’s magic and feels so natural. Steven says he watched him and felt the last forty years in the music business., “It was over the top.”

Josh says he was so nervous performing the song, but believed in himself like Jimmy did. Please, America, keep Joshua. He so deserves to be in the finals.

Lisa Marie Presley and Adam Lambert perform tomorrow.

Jessica - “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5

Jessica gets the song via text after receiving a new AT&T Beat Box. Jimmy says he wanted to pick something that is young, but will appeal to older audience. Good choice, at least on paper. But, her plunge into her lower register felt a bit too stark. She’s much better in her upper reach. The song isn’t “big” and maybe since we’ve seen her slay so many of the big ones, this felt a bit too simple. Okay, not her best. Evil Jimmy seems pleased, though.

Steven says the song reminds us of “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” J’Lo says it was a good choice and that she sounded like Michael in the beginning. Randy says he didn’t love it, but liked it okay. He says we’re at the end and there was never a “moment moment.” He would have preferred the Mariah version. Evil Jimmy crosses his legs emphatically. I totally agree with you Randy.


Phillip - “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger

PP gets his Beat Box as well. I don’t think anyone knows what it is! Evil Jimmy picked a song to address both guy and girl fans. Also, it has a melody that he thinks PP will hold onto.  And here he is, your winner. Dressed in black, bathed in light with just a piano in the background. The piano player looks as though he’s swooning. PP is showing us his vulnerable side. A huge string section bursts through. PP might have missed a lyric or something... there seemed to be too much empty space. The song shows off the roughness of his vocals. He’s not a pretty singer. I preferred his other two songs.

The judges stand. The tall blonde Top 12 girl whose name I still don't remember loved it. Randy says this was the perfect song at the perfect time and his best performance ever. “You had a giant moment.” He says PP can sing the melody but chooses to do something else. “This boy right here is in it to win it and he’s ready.” J’Lo says there are 20 million girls who wish he was singing the song to him. Steven says something that’s bleeped out. That PP sang with passion.

Round three to Josh by default, although I wasn’t crazy about any of the Evil Jimmy song choices.

I’m giving Joshua the win for the night because of “Imagine!" PP is close, though. Loved “Disease." Jessica’s in third place, and I predict she will not make the cut. Joshua so deserves it. But, in the end, it’s moot. I think PP has this thing completely sewn up.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'American Idol 11' - David Cook, J'Lo perform on Top 4 results show

David Cook
Season 7 winner, David Cook, performs tonight at four become three on 'American Idol 11.' Judge Jennifer Lopez will also break out the dance gear, performing her newest single. We'll all be on pins and needles waiting to see if the Top 4 elimination shocker trend continues! I'm sticking with Hollie!

We start off with clips from home visits from Idols past. Always get a little teary when I see Elliott Yamin’s sweet mother in the convertible as part of his parade. But only three will return to their hometowns in triumph, and for one, the dream ends tonight.

Our buddy, Voiceover Man intros the judges. Tonight, J’Lo is wearing a short white halter MuMu. Ryan comes out sans tie. He tells us this is the cut every contestant is desperate to survive. He lets us know David Cook is in the house tonight. Ryan pimps the tour. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 11. Everyone in the audience is getting a ticket to a live show. The crowd goes wild.

The Top 4 sing “California Dreamin’” - what else, right. The girls make a little arm bridge for Joshua who is wearing a rainbow tee shirt. There are a bunch of girls on the stage clapping along. PP looks particularly pained. Word is, he’s having surgery as soon as the season is over.

We go on the set of a Ford video. This week, they’re promoting Ford’s new electric car. Then we get to see the video. PP is not involved. Home sick again. Joshua gets to drive the car, which appears to be an electrified Focus.

Now for some results. First up is PP. I have to say, I really enjoyed “Volcano.” Jimmy says about PP’s first song, he’s beginning to hear his voice. “It was just the beginning of a night where he was beginning to find his identity and his voice.” About the second performance, Jimmy says, “PP finally delivered on the promised we’ve been looking for all year... it all came together... if I had seen him in a club, I’d sign him right there.”
Jimmy is in the audience looking smug. PP says it’s been a long journey and he feels blessed to be there. He wants to go home for the good part.

Dim the lights. “After nearly 70 million votes... the nation has decided... that you will be heading back to the couch to wait for the results.” Boo, they’re not telling now?

Hollie is next. About “Faithfully” Jimmy says, “All the things that concern me about Hollie’s singing... actually aided her in this song... but it was in the wrong direction.” Jummy was not as impressed by “I Can Make You Love Me.”  He says during rehearsals he wasn’t going to push anyone in any direction. He assumed Hollie understood the core of the song - she didn’t. He thinks she crashed and burned during the chorus, and lost out to the other three. Hollie goes back to the couch to wait it out.

David Cook, WGWG 1.0, performs “The Last Song I’ll Write for You.”  The song is innocuous enough. I like David Cook, he was the worthy winner his season and has done quite well  post-’Idol.’ The song has a good hook.

Another ad for ‘The Choice,’ the dating show with spinning chairs. I read today that Taylor Hicks is going to be one of the bachelors.

More results. Ryan calls up Joshua. The staging for “You Raise Me Up” was stupid!  Jimmy says, “This song works great in high school graduation... it might have worked if he’d kept it simple, but this didn’t work... you can’t use that trick on every song... ‘You Raise Me Up’ let him down.” On “It’s a Man’s World,” Jimmy says James Brown and Joshua Ledet came together and created a piece of magicd that has never been seen on ‘American Idol.’ “It was so captivating, I want to see it again, and again, and again... how do we find an original song as good as that for his album.”  Ryan tells Joshua to “hang tight on the couches,” and brings Jessica up for her critique.

Jimmy says she did a great job on “Steal Away,” but was impersonating a “great, older jazz singer a good idea? No. After a while the trick gets old, the rabbit gets old.”  On “And I Am Telling You,” Jimmy says she brought all her artillary in the right proportions. “Everything she chose was flawless... she murdered it.” He says Tommy Motollo emailed him and wants to go to Jessica’s first concert. He says last year he knew Scotty was going to win the whole thing. This year, he hasn’t a clue. He thinks it all depends on the right song choice and performance. Well, hey, that’s kind of the point, right Jimmy?

J’Lo performs her single “Dance Again.” She’s wearing a blue sequinned, low-cut tank bathing suit with black tights and high heels. And she’s lip synching. Lots of men without shirts dance around her and she shimmies and shakes. She solos with one dancer who might just be her boy toy.  Album cover pose to end it. She’s totally out of breath as she thanks the audience. The boyfriend fiddles with her hair. “He’s so cute,” she says as she leaves the stage.

Back from the break. The Top 4 are on the stage with Ryan. He asks Steven about PP’s evolution. He says we’ve gone from PP not caring, to showing what he’s got and still not caring. He says PP is not just a one and done.” He asks J’Lo about Hollie’s growth. She remembers the first audition like it was yesterday. She says she has always believed in her voice. She knows Hollie’s first song was a moment when she felt comfortable and found herself. J’Lo is very emotional.

Randy says when they first saw Joshua they knew he had “mad potential.” He’s so happy Joshua and Hollie came back. He feels they’ve seen some of the best performances ever. Again, he says Josh’s “It’s a Man’s World” was one of the best singing on any singing show.

Ryan wonders about Jimmy calling Jessica’s singing a trick. J’Lo says, yeah, right... singing great is a trick!

“The first person heading back to their home town for a heroes welcome is a girl who comes from Chula Vista, California...” Jessica. “The next person to head back to their hometown is the pride of Westlake, Louisiana... Josh.”  Yay Josh, busted into the Top3... first black male in the Top 3 since Season 2. Joshua FTW!

Who else gets a seat on the plane. We find out what happens, after the break.

Ryan reminds us of the Top 4 curse. Dim the lights. “After the nationwide vote, the person who takes the last spot in the Top 3 and heads home for a heroes welcome is... Phillip Phillips.”  No surprise this year.

We watch Hollie’s funeral video. No tears from Hollie. She says being on the show has given her confidence and she believes so much more in herself. Hollie sings us out with “The Climb.” J’Lo is tearful. Josh is solemn. PP looks like he is praying. Hollie goes over to the couches of safety and hugs the Top 3.  Hollie bids the judges farewell, and now, Joshua is weeping openly. The judges hug Hollie, Josh wipes his tears, and we are out... on time!

'American Idol 11' - The dreaded Top 4

Historically, the Top 4 has seen some of the most shocking eliminations in the history of the show. 'Idol' fans will always remember the night Katharine McPhee bested Chris Daughtry in one of the most shocking eliminations ever. There was also the Season 1 shocker when Tamyra Gray was ousted in favor of Nikki McKibbon and Season 2, when we watched as LaToya London ended up going home.

Viewers chose Danny Gokey over Allison Iraheta in the Season 8 Top 4 - not quite as shocking, perhaps, but unwarranted, at least in my opinion. And, last year, James Durbin, who seemed a lock for the finals, saw his 'Idol' journey end in the Top 4, shocking many fans.

So, what will happen this year? Who's elimination would be considered shocking? I would say anyone but Hollie at this point. Last night, both Joshua and Jessica had standout performances, so either of their eliminations would be unfortunate, but shocking... not really.

One note on Joshua. No African-American male has made it past the Top 4 since Season 2 when Reuben Studdard won it all. Michael Lynche was eliminated in the Top 4 on Season 9, and George Huff and Jacob Lusk only made it to Top 5 during their seasons.  Joshua's elimination would be the most disappointing for me and would also continue the losing streak for black male artists on the show. In my opinion, Joshua's the one to beat. We'll see how it shakes out.