Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'American Idol ' - Scotty takes the prize

I decided not to recap the finale, and instead watched it from start to finish without taking notes or writing anything down at all. Who was there and what they sang really doesn't matter much at all. What really matters is who won the season, and as was predicted, Scotty McCreery came away the victor. (You can read MJ's recap here)

Not that the show wasn't entertaining - it actually was. But other than the Top 13 guys and girls performing with various artists and Lauren singing with Carrie Underwood, it could have been one of many award-type shows. 'Idol' needs to get back to celebrating 'Idol' and stop stuffing these finales with every artist who happens to be available on the scheduled night. Beyonce is lovely, but did we really need two songs from her? Why not at least acknowledge last year's winner, pitiful as he may be. Lee DeWyze was in the audience, but didn't get so much as a passing camera shot.

Perhaps I sound jaded. 'Idol' seasons are long and arduous, and by the end, I've pretty much exhausted my vocabulary. This season had its ups and downs, but overall, I enjoyed it a whole lot more than last season. I think Scotty and Lauren will both do well in country music, and we will probably hear from James again as well. Haley, Pia and Casey also have a shot at some sort of post-'Idol' career, and if that's the case, this group could be the most successful since Season 5. I sure hope so, because 'Idol' desperately needs a real star to emerge. 

The tour kicks off in July and stops in Syracuse in September. I'm already angling for a pass to the press conference! For now, though, it's time to give 'Idol' a bit of a rest and move on to 'The Voice!' 

Thanks for reading all of this and for your comments. It's been fun!

'American Idol 10' - Was Scotty thrown under the bus?

Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina at a press conference May 23 (Frank Micelotta/FOX/PictureGroup)
It's no surprise that there's been a lot of Internet chatter about last night's Top 2 performance show concerning what many perceive as the judges' over-hyping of Lauren Alaina and sabotaging of Scotty McCreery . Was all this a conscious effort on the part of the 'Idol' powers-that-be to take the focus off Scotty, who had been considered the frontrunner or did Lauren really deliver?

Prior to the final performance show, Lauren lost her voice. TMZ "leaked" this information (complete with a photo of Lauren and Scotty in makeup - how did they get that, I wonder?) and in case we missed all of this, Ryan trotted out the doctor who had been treating Lauren to reiterate this tragic news. According to TMZ, Haley Reinhart was standing by, ready to step in and steal Lauren's thunder.

But Lauren soldiered on, and while her vocals were ragged at times, her determination was admirable. Combine that with her "moment" (singing "Like My Mother Does" to her mom), her performing second, and the judges whoopty-doing over her every move, it's not surprising some fans of Scotty are a bit miffed. I mean, really, we closed the show with everyone in tears over Lauren's devotion to her mother. Could there be any more of a tearjerker?

There are some who believe Lauren's vocal problems were exaggerated by TPTB in order to get her the sympathy vote as well as to entice viewers to tune in. And what about the two contestants' "coronation" singles? Jimmy Iovine knew exactly what he was doing when he chose "Like My Mother Does" for Lauren. The song, which was originally recorded by Kristy Lee Cook (Season 7), played to all of Lauren's strengths as well as the viewers' emotional heartstrings. As Ryan carefully escorted poor, frail little Lauren down to the audience to hug her mother, you could almost hear the collective sniffling throughout the land!

On the other hand, Scotty's original song, "I Love You This Big" was wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to start. In my recap, I called it a "dirgey ballad." Even the title is awkward if you think about it! Scotty never seemed to find the melody in this and it felt under-rehearsed. He didn't transition well and seemed befuddled at times. It was the first time all season he didn't seem to be comfortable on that stage.

The biggest difference between the two was that overall, Lauren performed like someone who really, really wanted it, while Scotty was almost too relaxed. Of course, Lauren had something to prove and Scotty really didn't. Rather than roll over and use her vocal problems as an excuse, Lauren gave him a real fight.

I have absolutely no doubt that 'Idol' leaked the news of Lauren's vocal collapse to TMZ in an effort to drum up viewers for what looked like the most boring finale ever. How else can one explain the dressing room photo? This clever little ploy ensured that people would at least tune in at the beginning of the show to see if Lauren made it. These initial viewers would count in the ratings even if they turned it off after five minutes.

Was this an intentional effort to steal some of Scotty's thunder? The producers desperately wanted a girl to win this season to break the three "white guys with a guitar" run. Scotty, while country to the core, also fits that description. Lauren was their last hope, really, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if they didn't push her a bit. And how better than to publicize her vocal problems before the show and then watch as she overcame this obstacle and wowed everyone in the 'Idol' universe!

The thing is, over the years,  'Idol' viewers have stayed one step ahead of the producers and have become wise to their attempts at manipulation. Sure, Lauren may have had vocal problems and her performances were inspired despite all that. But in the cold light of day, it really does seem more than just a little manipulative.

Excessive praise by the judges during the finals can also backfire. Remember Season 7? David Archuleta was proclaimed the winner after the performance show, but ended up coming in second to David Cook. Adam Lambert was also the assumed champ, but we all remember how that one worked out. 'Idol' viewers do not like to be told who is going to win and sometimes will double their efforts simply to ensure what they believe to be the proper outcome!

Personally, I think the goal of all of this was to make a predictable outcome less so, and it worked. People are talking, that's for sure. In the end, I really don't think anything can stop Scotty from claiming the title and the producers knew this.  Dial Idol shows him with a substantial lead (5:3), and while their software doesn't take into account text and online voting, it's a pretty good indicator. At the end of the night, I firmly believe Scotty McCreery will once again be singing "Love Me This Big." 

I am still trying to decide whether or not to live blog the two-plus hour finale. There will certainly be many moments to cherish and I haven't missed an episode all season. This is, after all, the last one. On the other hand, I've got a bad cold and would like nothing better than to sit in my bed and watch the show from start to finish. Just two more hours, though, and it will be over! Just two more hours and we can move on to 'The Voice' where rockers still rule!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 2 performance show recap

Are you ready for an all-country 'Idol' finale? Well, ready or not, it's what you've got! Tonight, Scotty and Lauren will face off for your votes, and tomorrow, after two hours of more fluff and filler than you can possibly handle, we'll have a winner.

Lauren and Scotty will sing three songs tonight. They'll each get to pick their personal favorite from the season and we'll hear their "coronation" single. In addition, Lauren will sing a song chosen for her by Carrie Underwood and Scotty will sing a song chosen for him by George Strait.

Of course, this is assuming Lauren will be able to sing tonight. TMZ is reporting she's completely lost her voice and Haley is standing by ready, willing and able to step up!!! Wow!

Let's get it on.

We open with a video of young Carrie Underwood and David Cook singing. "How will the Dream End?" Clips of Scotty and Lauren's auditions along with some video of them as younguns. Looks like Lauren's in. Ryan tells us this is the "Final showdown."

Voiceover man welcomes the judges. JLo is wearing some sort of spangly corset dress. Ryan comes out in a tux. There's Jacob and Naima! We are, of course, at the Nokia Theater, which give us a whole new perspective. Ryan tells us 7,000 'Idol' fans are "here to party tonight."  Ryan brings out Scotty and Lauren. Sorry, Haley, looks like Lauren's had a miraculous recovery.

Ryan tells us about the story. He asks her about it. She says, "I'm here. I'm ready to sing. Don't worry about it." The doctor comes out to explain. He says that during the rehearsal, Lauren was really pushing her voice and blew out one of her vocal chords. He's got her on medication and says she'll do great.

Personal Choice

Scotty McCreery - "Gone" (Montgomery Gentry)
Scotty enters through the audience. He's much more animated than he was the first time around. He's really working it and looking every bit the champ. Great arrangement, good energy, good choice. Looks like we won't have any judges comments until the end. I'll say it for Randy. "Scotty's in it to win it!"

Lauren Alaina - "Flat on the Floor" (Carrie Underwood)
Lauren doesn't sound all that much worse for wear. Must be some good medication! I'm really not feeling this all-country 'Idol.' JLo is with her. Lauren's voice is a little hoarse, but overall, not terribly bad, all things considered.

I'm giving round one to Scotty, barely.

Celebrity Pick

Scotty - "Check Yes or No" (George Strait) picked by George Strait
Scotty's playing his guitar and makes all his peculiar faces. Good song choice. I like the band playing with him. Scotty doesn't seem at all phased at being in the finals. He's incredibly comfortable and loose. I'm impressed.

Lauren - "Maybe it was Memphis" picked by Carrie Underwood
Carrie has said she wanted to sing this on the show, but it wasn't cleared for her. Lauren is wearing a hideous short gold dress with a poufy skirt and cowboy boots. A friend commented that it looks like a lampshade. Her voice doesn't sound bad at all. She's giving it all she's got, that's for sure. I liked this one better than the first one.

I'm giving round two to Lauren.

Randy says America did a fine job and that it is even. He loves everyone. He gives round one to Scotty and round two to Lauren (slight edge). JLo loved "Gone" but wasn't as impressed by Scotty's second song. She agrees with Randy. Steven gives both rounds to Lauren because she is prettier than Scotty. Randy shouts out, "They're both in it to win it."

Tio Cruz is singing the Coca Cola single. He's accompanied by a robotic drumline and is heavily autotuned. The audio goes out for a while. No big deal. The song is about thinking positive. It's positively awful. This wonderful song is available for download.

Ryan reminds us that the Top 11 are heading out on tour. Really?

Coronation Song

Scotty - "I Love You This Big"
Jimmy tells us this is a big moment and Scotty's got a big voice. The swaybots are working overtime. It's a dirgey ballad. I'm waiting for the rainbows and unicorns. Scotty actually flops over the notes. Horrible song and he's really not doing it terribly well. Plus, they're showing videos of him in the background. Mama is crying. Horrible song and really, I think this is his worst performance of the entire season.

Randy is marveling in the fact that we've got the youngest contestants ever. He does admire the range of the song. He calls it a brilliant vocal and repeats that Scotty is "in it to win it." JLo says Scotty is a great storyteller and that he did an amazing job with the song. Steven says Scotty has come a long way. "You nailed it again."

Lauren - "Like My Mother Does"
Jimmy thinks this song will showcase Lauren's future career. Swaybots are swaying along. And she's killing it. Totally killing it! Mama's got her hand up. Lauren's voice breaks towards the end, but then she goes down to her mother in the audience and they hug. It's a freakin' moment! Honey, you just might have won yourself this competition. Mom and Dad are crying and hugging. Lauren is crying.

Randy says it was a great song and ode to her mother. "Lauren Alaina has arrived, America. That was amazing." He stands up. JLo says Lauren may have won with that song. Lauren starts to cry again. Steven says the first time he saw her she was his American Idol and he thinks America will feel the same way.

Round three to Lauren by a knockout.

Randy says round three was tough, but gives it to Lauren. JLo says it's a tight race. Steven picks Lauren, "hands down."

David Cook closes the show with a live performance of "Don't You Forget About Me." A video tribute of to the season is on the screen behind him. Love the performance. 

Report Card
  • Scotty - A/B+/C+
  • Lauren - B+/A/A
I'm giving this to Lauren. I've never been a big fan, but she owned it tonight and deserves the win. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

'American Idol 10' - How did we get to an all-country 'Idol'

On Thursday, America, or at least the America that votes on ‘American Idol,’ decided it was time for an all-country ‘Idol’ finale. This is the first time two pure country singers have made the finale. In fact, it is only the second time a bonafide country singer has been in the finals, the first, of course, being Carrie Underwood, who just surpassed Kelly Clarkson as the highest selling Idol alum.

Other finalists, such as Bo Bice, Kris Allen, and Diana DeGarmo, have moved towards  country or country rock/pop after ‘Idol,’ but did not present themselves as pure country artists while they were in the competition.

Lauren, 16, and Scotty, 17, are also the youngest pair to reach the Top 2, Lauren having been 15 at the time of her initial audition. They seem so in tune with one another, they could be brother and sister (or boyfriend and girlfriend, but let’s not go there). 

So how did we get here? From early in this season, it really looked as though, once again, males would predominate. James Durbin seemed unstoppable and from mid-season, looked like a lock for the finals. Scotty started strong and never wavered. A Scotty/James finale seemed to be a given.

This assumption was based on historical data. Out of nine completed seasons, five winners have been male. The last three winners have been males, often dubbed “white guys with guitars.” Further, in the past three seasons, only one female, Crystal Bowersox, has made the Top 2. Prior to Season 7, at least one female made the Top 2 in every season except for the second one (Ruben/Clay).

The most widely accepted explanation for the predominance of male winners in the past three years is that they appeal to the most important of the show’s core demographic – tweens and young teens!  Young girls have always fallen hard for the “cute guys” and voted their little fingers off for them. The producers know this. What makes young girls such a fierce voting faction is that they are the most up to date technologically and can utilize multiple voting interface tools. These tweens and teens phone, text, and vote online all at the same time.

James appealed more to older women and other less organized voting blocs. When it came right down to it, their votes could not offset the technological wizardry of the tween/teen votes. All things considered, even if James had made the Top 2, he probably would not have won.

Looking back, this explanation can also be applied to Adam Lambert and Crystal Bowersox, both of whom seemed to have an edge approaching the finale, but ultimately lost to a more generic, non-threatening individual.  David Archuleta was very popular with the teens, but lost because David Cook was less polarizing and picked up votes from across the spectrum.  I suspect this one was close, however.  

With James out of the picture and two girls remaining, obviously, the male/male trend was broken. A girl was going to the finals. Haley was a real dark horse in the competition, barely surviving elimination early on, but coming on very strong in the last weeks. She was driven and determined, reminding me a bit of Kimberley Locke who gave Ruben and Clay a run for their money heading towards the Season 2 finale. But Haley may have been too feisty, projecting an air of over-confidence that turned the tween/teens off. Lauren, on the other hand, never lost her "golly gee" attitude and remained humbled and down-to-earth. She appealed to young girls in that she’s not picture-perfect. She’s a little chunky and awkward, a bit unsure of herself, and appropriately silly. Girls can see themselves in Lauren and supported her for that reason. In many ways, she has the same appeal as Kelly Clarkson.

So how did we get down to two country singers in the finale? It's never happened before, but remember, the majority of 'Idol' winners have been from the South (Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, Taylor, and Kris). Over the years, country and country-rock singers have gone deep into the competition as well, and have had thriving careers (Josh Gracin, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington to name a few).

Southern viewers have always supported their own and are generally more zealous when it comes to voting. It's just the way it is.And, considering that country music came out of the south, so it was only a matter of time before this genre dominated 'Idol.' With two country singers in contention, stronger regional support plus the appeal of country music resulted an all-country finale. It was inevitable.

In the end, I believe Scotty will win this, and while we'll never know the voting results, I think it will be a landslide. Lauren got to the finals by default. Once James was gone, the competition was essentially over for a lot of viewers, and while people will certainly watch, the results will be utterly anti-climactic. I could be wrong, of course, I've been wrong more times this season than I've been right!

The one-hour performance show is Tuesday this week, with the two-hour (plus) results on Wednesday. Both shows start at 8 p.m. EDT. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

'American Idol 10' - A pictoral journey to the finale!

I thought it might be fun to put together the "official" group photos for each week for a quick trip down memory lane!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 3 results show recap

Which two Idols make the finals?
The only thing I'm going to predict tonight is that this is going to be one long show!  Of course, the object is to get to the Top 2, but along the way, you can be sure there will be filler galore, including video of the Top 3's triumphant homecomings. I've also heard that there may even be video of James Durbin's unofficial homecoming. Way to pander to the disgruntled James fans!

I'm still thinking Lauren and Scotty, but would happily take Haley over Lauren. I'm so uncertain that I've prepared three photos for my blog, one of Haley and Scotty, another of Lauren and Scotty, and one of Lauren and Haley!  At this point, however, I really don't care who makes it or even who wins.  I don't think I've ever been this disinterested in who wins at this stage of the game. Sad, but true. But we soldier on, valiantly!

Here's a preview for you. Over 95 million votes were cast last night. That's the third highest vote total ever and double that from last year's Top 3 (Crystal, Lee, and Casey James). In case you've forgotten, here are the rest of the Top 3 castoffs in order of their seasons: Nikki McKibbin, Kimberley Locke, Jasmine Trias, Vonzell Solomon, Elliot Yamin, Melinda Doolittle, Syesha Mercado, and Danny Gokey.

Enough of the history and speculation, let's get on with the show.

Cold opening featuring the very best of the performance show. Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan. Karen Rodriquez and Jacob are sitting in the audience. People have "In it to win it" signs. Casey is sitting with Marc Anthony. Ryan is beside himself with excitement. He tells us about the vote tally - the biggest non-finale vote in history. We are reminded that next week's shows are Tuesday and Wednesday. The Top 3 come out looking calm, cool, and collected. Lauren's jeans are just not right on her.

Last week the Top 4 went to a VIP screening of Super 8. There's James. The director tells them he started out making Super 8 movies and thought it would be cool to make a movie about kids doing just that. The scenes are super scary.  When it's over, they get their own Super 8 cameras.

After the clip (there's Naima), we meet Elle Fanning, one of the stars in the movie. Elle's six-year old cousin is a huge fan of the show. Her fave from the beginning has been Scotty. No surprise there.

Back from the break, we watch Haley's hometown visit to Wheeling, Illinois. It's raining, but lots of people are on hand to greet Haley. People are hysterical. She gets the day named after her, although the President (not Mayor) of the town pronounces her last name wrong. Haley says she doesn't want to cry. Haley stops off at her parents' house. And she cries. "Three months feels like forever," she says through her tears. She gets a parade to her high school. She cries the whole time. Her security guy is beefy.

Back on the road to a racetrack, which is full of 30,000 people. Haley sings "Sweet Home Chicago" and  her dad plays guitar. We return from the break and the security guy is on stage with her, crying.

Ford video time. Just three now. They sing "Smile."  Now for a performance by some young Italian group, Il Volo. They sing "O Solo Mio."  They're actually very, very  good. 

Now for Scotty's hometown visit. He's happy to lay on his bed for a little while. Then he stops at Garner High where he pitches a couple of balls. There are Scotty signs all through the school. They love him. He cries. Then Scotty gets to stop at the grocery store where he used to work. He puts on his old apron, takes some video, and they is off to a park to sing. He is completely overwhelmed. Josh Turner stops by to surprise him while he's singing "Baby Lock Them Doors." They sing it together. Scotty tells his adoring fans that he is going to win this thing and bring it back to Garner. Even a callous old fool like me can't help tearing up a little.

Now for Nicole Scherzinger and 50 Cent with the world premiere of "Right There." I've never heard her sing before. This is clearly pre-taped as there is no one at the judges table. I don['t even think there in the Idol theater. I don't know where they are. Here's 50. I'm gonna fast forward through this if you don't mind.

Lauren's hometown visit is next. Mommy is with her on the plane. Lauren starts out at a radio station. She stops at an AT&T store. Little girls scream. Then she stops at Rossville High School to celebrate Lauren Alaina Day. Then they take a ride past some of the areas destroyed by the tornadoes. She meets a little boy named Tyler who saved his baby brother. She performs in Chattanooga at a park. There are a lot of people there. She sings "Anyway." She also tosses out the first ball at some game. Lauren is in tears after the video ends.

Now, perhaps we can get to the results we've all been waiting for. Scotty and Haley join Lauren center stage. The lights dim. "After the nationwide vote, I can now tell you the results... after the break."

Back from the break. "The first person with a shot at the title is... Scotty McCreery." Rather anticlimactic. Who will it be, Lauren or Haley? "The person who competes against Scotty in the finale is... Lauren Alaina." Told you. Haley looks stunned and mad. After her farewell video, the audience is chanting "Haley, Haley, Haley." She says this has been the best platform ever. She sings us out with "Benny and the Jets." Jacob, Naima, and Karen groove with her and Casey is gong nuts. She hugs her dad and mom. And, like several other third placers, I think Haley will do just fine.

So, we have our all-country Idol final.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 3 performance recap

Three contestants, three songs each (one selected by the judges, one selected by in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine and one individual choice), and the title of American Idol 2011 as the prize. With James' elimination last week, the game has certainly changed.

I don't think it's a stretch to predict Scotty will make the Top 2. He's been running in the lead pack all season and for him not to make the finals would be even more surprising than James' getting the boot. The question, then, is who will join him, Haley or Lauren?  I still think Lauren and Scotty will split the country votes and Haley will slip in. Haley is the spoiler here, ala Lee DeWyze and Kris Allen, who both bounced the "assumed" winner (Crystal and Adam Lambert). It could happen again, it really could.

But first, we have to get through the Top 3 performance show!

Beyonce is mentoring the kids tonight.

Round 1 - Personal Choice

Scotty McCreery - "Amaze" (Lonestar)
Beyonce calls Scotty a "cutie pie" and says he's so innocent. He hits some high notes, but his strength is in his lower register as it has been all season. He delivers it well enough - not great, but enough.

Steven says he thinks Scotty keeps getting better and better. "You kicked that song into the middle of next week." JLo says Scotty's grown so much as a performer. Randy talks about producing a version of this song for Boyz II Men. He points out a couple of pitchy notes but say he put a period on the end of the song. "That’s money. Scotty’s got money!"

Lauren Alaina - "Wild One" (Faith Hill)
Beyonce says she loves to see Lauren loosen up and have fun.  She thinks Lauren's nerves are healthy, but when the camera is on, you have to deliver. Lauren says she'll think of her friend when she performs this song. Lauren's wearing a short red dress/top over black leggings and white cowboy boots. She's really channeling Carrie Underwood on this one. Lauren seems to have a great deal of composure, and her vocals are clean. A bit breathy, but overall, she delivers.

JLo says Lauren came out and attacked it. She says every time you come out, you have to create a moment. Randy says he loves seeing her having fun and remembers the fearlessness they saw in her the first time out. "When you let yourself go, you're at your best." Steven says she was having fun back then and now. He thinks she's "ready for America to be all over her!"

Haley Reinhart - "What is and What Should Never Be (Led Zeppelin)

Beyonce thinks this song shows Haley's gut and that she's a risk taker. She says Haley makes you believe in what she believes in. Haley is hoping her father can play guitar on this with her. That would be cool. The song is a strange choice, but she wrings out the beginning beautifully. And it looks like Daddy is on the stage with her. Go Daddy! This is a great choice, seriously. The song allows her to move through various tones of her voice. She slips and falls, and loses a lyric, but overall, this is super duper. Having her father up there might have been a bit of a distraction, but this was great!

Steven and Randy give Haley a standing O. Randy says, "This is what it's all about." He says she's fearless and chose a song that's not for the weak of heart. "This was one of your best performances ever." Again, "Haley's in it to win it." Steven says it's not about how many times you fall, it's how many times you get up. JLo says they've all fallen at some point. She tells us the sound went out on her over the weekend.  "It was a good, good, good round for you."  Ryan says this is the first time they've had a parent on stage with a contestant.

I say Haley wins round 1. Randy says, "Round 1 is hands down Haley." Steven says, "Haley got her freak on." JLo goes with Haley as well since the "moment" was created.

Round 2 - Jimmy Iovine's choice

Scotty - "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" (Thompson Square)
We see Scotty's first audition and "Baby Lock Them Doors!" Girls in the audience are screaming. Hey, we've got to fill two hours some way, right? Jimmy says this song reminds him of some old Tom Petty stuff. Scotty's playing guitar. I don't know this song, but I'd say it's a good choice. Scotty's voice is fuller on this one and the song fits him better than "Amaze."  No vocal slip-ups on this one.

Steven says he's never heard Scotty deliver a chorus like that before. "Real character showing through." JLo says there were so many moments she loved. "That's what the zone feels like." She wants him to shave his head like it was in the audition. Randy says Jimmy picked a good song - "perfect, right in your range." He says Scotty's approaching the "Garth" level and thought he was at a Scotty concert. Again, "Scotty's in it to win it." Steven looks bored. Ryan says they have trimmers in the back and Scotty is game for a haircut.

Lauren - "If I Die Young" (The Band Perry)
Lauren's supposed to have a sit-down with Ryan, but she's ripped her panty hose and is getting makeup put on her legs. She was wearing panty hose? We see Lauren's initial audition, including her song with Steven. Jimmy says he's always wanted to hear her sing this. It's a good fit, actually. Nothing wrong with her performance at all. She seems totally loose and it helps so much. There are a couple of bum notes in there, but nothing really hideous.

JLo says Lauren has the most beautiful tone of all the finalists. She says Lauren had a very honest moment that Lauren got caught up in. Randy says it was great when Lauren realized she didn't hit the modulation and got back up. He also loves her tone and says this was another great choice by Jimmy Iovine. Lauren gets a little less enthusiastic "she's in it to win it." Steven says she has a beautiful voice and nailed it again. Lauren's pageant Mom says it's been crazy watching her daughter and she's aged twenty years.

Haley - "Rhiannon" (Fleetwood Mac)
We see Haley's audition - her second shot as it were. Great pick, Jimmy. If she does this right, it could win it for her. She opens strong, but loses something when the song kicks in. The background singers are totally off her key and distract from her vocals. She gets a fan to blow her hair around. When she's by herself, it's outstanding. Maybe she's a tad over-confident here. I don't think she did it.

Randy says Haley cracks him up. He says he thinks she did a good job, but it was a somber moment. Steven says she sang the song so well it reminds him why he fell in love with Stevie Nicks. JLo says it was a beautiful moment. She thought Haley was going to take it a little further at the end. "Beautiful, ethereal moment."

I'll give this round to Scotty. Steven thinks Lauren, JLo says Scotty, and Randy picks Scotty. Jimmy says we saw Scotty transform to a rock star. Lauren showed incredible poise, and what Haley did was not easy. So, he doesn't pick. Neil Sedaka is in the house next to Jimmy and gets a round of applause.

World premiere of Beyonce's video "Run the World." the song is auto-tuned to death. Awful. Hello mute button.

We have 28 minutes left in the show and three more performances to go.

Round 3 - Judges' Choice

Scotty - "She Believes in Me" (Kenny Rogers)
Why? Scotty gets the whole string section, but that doesn't really help him all that much. JLo sings along. Scotty blows some notes and doesn't really relax into the song until halfway through. It's not a good fit and he doesn't really catch the melody all that well. He booms out the chorus, though, saving himself in the end. Not a bad performance, just a lame choice.

Steven says this is the first big chorus he's heard Scotty sing. Someone in the audience shouts out "You're going to the finale, Scotty." JLo says they picked the song to see if he could hit the chorus. Randy says it's about stretching himself. He knows Scotty was probably not comfortable with it, but thinks he did a good job. Ryan asks Scotty's father what he'd like to say to him. "Words can't describe how proud we are of him," he says. "We're just humbled by the support he's getting... we're so proud of you." Dad sings "Baby Lock Them Doors." Scotty needs to sing this for the finale.

Lauren - "I Hope You Dance" (Lee Ann Womack)
They keep the strings out for Lauren. She's wearing what looks like a bad bridesmaids dress. This is actually a good pick for Lauren in that it gives her a chance to power out some notes, while at the same time staying in her comfort zone. Nice job, actually.

JLo has goosebumps and says you can't buy those. She says Lauren won the round for her already. Randy says Lee Ann is his friend and Lauren slayed it. He loves the dress.  "Ryan, this girls also in it to win it." Steven says Lauren walked out like she owned the Grand Ole Opry. Lee Ann is also his friend too. Lee Ann has a lot of friends.

Haley - "You Oughta Know" (Alainis Morrisette)
Haley gets off to a rather shaky start, but man, once she gets into the meat of it, she takes complete control. She totally gets into the zone and owns it. The chorus is crazy good. Whoa. The good outweighed the bad.

Randy says "America's got their work cut out for them." He loves seeing her rock out in a soulful way. "Haley is in it to win it." Steven says she nailed the choruses perfectly. JLo says there's no one who can match her in the chorus. The middle, not so good. Some moron shouts out, "You're the winner, Haley."

Lauren wins this round for me. Steven agrees. JLO sticks with Lauren. Randy also picks Lauren.

Report Card

  • Scotty - B-/A/B-
  • Lauren - B/B+/A-
  • Haley - A/C/B+
Will you look at the scores!  Lauren actually scored the highest. Now that's a surprise. Scotty is second and Haley third, but it's really, really close. I'll guess Scotty and Lauren, but it could be any combination of the three.

I missed James tonight. I wasn't his biggest fan, but his presence added something distinctive to the performance shows and without him, it was rather dull. He should have been there. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

'American Idol 10' - The fall of James Durbin

Blogger was down Thursday night, and when it came back up, it appears my performance show recap got lost in the shuffle. An entire 90-minute recap gone. Sheesh. And, of course, I was unable to do the results show recap. This wouldn't normally be such a big deal, but this was the one week people probably would have been interested in reading. Oh well. I'm actually more aggravated by the loss of the performance show recap.

I have to say I did not see James' elimination coming. Even when Haley was sent to the stools of glory, I figured Scotty would be out. Certainly, though, no one was more surprised than James, who had completely bought into all the hype and clearly thought he'd be in the finals. And why not? Randy all but placed the crown on his head two weeks ago, and the judges constant pimping of him had to make him feel pretty damn secure.

What really frosts me is that all this really hurt James, both with the viewers and personally. Viewers do not like to be told who is going to win four weeks before the finale. Period. This kind of heavy pimpage has been the downfall of many very good contestants on this show, and certainly led to James' elimination. Daughtry is one, but over the years, there have been numerous contestants who have been prematurely "crowned" only to see their 'Idol' journeys end way too soon.

Earlier this season, it was Pia who found herself on the short end of the voting tally in what was a pretty surprising elimination. Remember Melinda Doolittle, the judges' darling from Season 6? She is probably one of the best pure vocalists the show has ever had, but found herself edged out by Blake Lewis for a spot in the finals with Jordin Sparks. LaToya London (Season 3) sang circles around Jasmine Trias, but found herself out in the Top 4. And of course, there's Tamyra Gray, the first season's early favorite, who was also eliminated in the Top 4.

But James' elimination might have been the toughest to watch. Here's a guy with two fairly debilitating conditions who has overcome a great deal in his life to get to where he is today. And although the producers capitalized on his disabilities early on, James never used this as an excuse or tried to play on it in any way. But these conditions made him more vulnerable than the average contestant and he doesn't have the same filtering mechanisms in place. His emotional reaction to his elimination was one of the most "real" moments we've ever had on this show, and while it made for great TV, it hurt.

The judges (and producers) should have taken James condition into consideration before proclaiming him the victor. Someone should have seen his increasingly over-confident behavior and had a talk with him. It might have helped soften the blow.  I certainly hope he was able to talk to a professional after the results show. I wasn't his biggest fan, but I felt so bad for him.

In the end, James will probably do okay. I hope he gets picked up by an established band. I think that would be the best fit for him. He is a great frontman and certainly has the chops to succeed. He needs someone to guide him, though, and I hope he isn't taken advantage of.

James' elimination really dummies down the finals. We could end up with two country teens in what might be the dullest finale ever. Haley could spice things up, but in the end, it's Scotty's to lose. But that's what she said!!!

Hopefully, Blogger will get these issues resolved before next Wednesday.  Now, I'm off to watch 'CMT's Next Superstar!'

Thursday, May 5, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 5 results show recap

The Top 5 and Ryan after Wednesday's performance show.
I rather enjoyed last night's show, especially Haley's second, breakout performance. It's been a while since we've had a genuine "moment" on this show and I'm happy it was Haley who gave it to us. But it's all academic now as we prepare to learn who survives and who goes home this week. I'm pretty convinced it'll be Jacob, but you never know.

Just to put it all into perspective, Top 5 eliminations have included RJ Helton, Trenyce, George Huff, Nadia Turner, Paris Bennett, Chris Richardson/Phil Stacey, Brooke White, Matt Giraud, and Aaron Kelly. Need I say more!

Cold opening featuring clips of the performances, judges' comments, and a dire warning from Ryan about how important this week is. Voiceover man intros the judges. JLo is wearing some sort of poufy skirted number. Ryan enters via the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. Ryan tells us 60 million votes came in, the highest of the season. He congratulates Steven Tyler as a "soon to be best-selling author." Steven says he's very excited about his new book. It's also a big week for JLo. She's performing "On the Floor" (again?) and we get a sneak peak of the video for her next single "I'm Into You." Randy's got a bake sale coming up. Heh! And Lady Antebellum is performing (although not live).

The Top 5 sing "Happy Together." It's as awful as you'd expect. Could James' pants be any tighter? They're about to split when he kneels down! I miss Casey. It's like they've all regressed into bad audition mode! Finally, this mess ends.

Ryan announces the start of auditions for 'American Idol 11!' Wow. Now for the Ford video. James juggles with a chair on his nose. Jacob is lapping up every second of camera time tonight. More fluff and filler. The kids go to Chef Ramsey's kitchen. The are challenged to make an omelet. Tee hee hee. They all mess up. Jacob sings to his eggs. Someone curses. Ramsey throws Haley's in the trash and says Jacob's looks like a plate of vomit. James gets a "good effort" and Lauren recieves high praise for her creation. Scotty's is indescribable. Ramsey spits it out. Lauren wins and Jacob comes in second. You'd think they'd just won 'Idol' or something. And this stupidity is "to be continued."

Lady Antebellum performs their new single, "Just a Kiss." I'm going to make a sandwich. Results are next.

More filler. The finalists tell us how they choose a song. Scotty says he flips index cards, but James tries to be serious about it all. Then they talk about wardrobe. Jacob says his plaid jacket was fun, and they all put the jacket on. This is just plain annoying.

Now for some results? Ryan says we might be surprised. Not Jacob? James is first. He's got some blond highlights in his hair. Jimmy Iovine comments that James' voice closed down during "Without You" and "that really hurt him." He says James has been a 9 or 10 for the past few weeks, but last night was an 8. James is sent off to the left side of the stage.

Lauren is next. Some strange things happen with the audio. Jimmy liked "Flat on the Floor," but that she pulled back on the biggest not of "Unchained Melody." He says fear overcame performance and this could keep her out of the finals. He thinks she will be in the Bottom 2. Lauren goes to the right side of the stage. James looks like he's hyperventilating. "What does this all mean?" asks Ryan. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until JLo "heats up the stage."

Oh man, more with Chef Ramsey. Lauren and Jacob are in a blind taste test. They have plate of food and have to identify it.Neither of them much care for the tofu. James thinks it's lard.

Back from the break. Ryan is sitting in the audience with Steven and Randy. JLo's song is No. 1 in 18 countries. Randy intros the song. Pitbull comes through the audience. JLo is all in gold lame genie outfit. She is singing live and gets a bit breathy there for a moment. It's quite the production. Where are the Idols?

We return from the break, and while JLo is changing, there's a sneak preview of her new video. She's all over some buff model guy. Wonder how scrawny Mark feels about all this? She's back in her seat and we get back to the results.

Jacob joins Ryan. He looks like a little boy. Jimmy Iovine says Jacob had a rough night  and both songs were slightly off. He says everyone knows when you lose confidence. He ranks Jacob a 6. Jacob joins Lauren.

Haley is next. The audience cheers. Jimmy says Haley was running fourth or fifth, and he thought she needed to do something risky. He says she didn't let the criticism get to her and gets a ten for the night. He thinks she's a lock for the finale. She joins James.

That leaves us with Scotty. Jimmy says Scotty killed him last night and calls the performance stellar. He thinks he came up short on "Always on my Mind." He has no doubt Scotty will "have an extraordinary recording career whether he wins or not."  Ryan tells Scotty that last week, although he stood with Casey, he wasn't in the bottom 2, and in fact, never has been. Scotty is safe. Ryan asks him which group he thinks is the bottom 2 and tells him to go stand with that group. He refuses to do it. Ryan slides him over to James and Haley, and then tells them they are all safe.

This leaves Jacob and Lauren as the bottom 2. Lauren is crying. We go to break. Again.

Back from the break. The lights dim. "After 60 million votes, the person going home tonight is Jacob. Lauren, you are safe." I score!  Lauren goes over to Scotty and hugs him. Jacob says America has fallen in love with him, and now he can put out that good old R&B. We see his video clip. Lots of screaming and wild Jacob antics. Jacob is LOVE! He looks like he's about to cry, but then starts laughing. "Dreams come true, and I'm a living witness." See you on the tour baby!

Jacob sings us out with "House is not a Home."  He doesn't want to stop and riffs out right over the credits! So, we have two guys and two girls. Looking more and more like a Scotty/James finale folks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 5 performance recap

It's been quite a week, hasn't it! But it's Wednesday and once again, time for American Idol!This week's theme is "Now and then." The Top 5 will sing one old song and one new one, and Sheryl Crow will be on hand to coach the Idols. Hmmmm... back in 2007, Crow made the following comment about the show in an interview on MSNBC: "Let’s face it, it undermines art in every way and promotes commercialism, I am sad people love it so." Change your mind, eh Sheryl?

The show opens with the judges in place and Ryan in the audience. Ryan reminds us the finale is just three weeks away. Wow! Ryan brings out the Top 5 and tells us this is one of the most important nights of the season. Randy tells we are all wondering who is "in it to win it?" Then we get a video clip about Sheryl Crow. Did you know she started out as a background singer for Michael Jackson? Hmmm. She thinks we'll see a lot of different sides of people tonight.

Round 1 - Contemporary songs.

James Durbin - "Closer to the Edge" (30 Seconds to Mars)
Jimmy says James really fits with current music. "I don't think there's anything between him and greatness tonight." James enters through the crowd and is in full rocker regalia. He wants to hear the audience scream. His vocals are shaky, very shaky, as he prances through the audience. He does interact well with the crowd, but all through this, he is screaming off key. Sorry, not impressed with this.

Steven starts. He says James kicked the song's ass. "You're ready for Freddy." JLo says James showed us he wants it. "It's yours to take, James." Randy says he thinks this shows where James could go as an artist. "James is in it to win it... this guy right here... he wants it."

Jacob Lusk - "No Air" (Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown)
In a sit-down with Ryan, Jacob says he is definitely in it to win it and is proud to have come out of Comptom and be a role model. Sheryl says she feels vulnerability. Jimmy says we should all be proud of Jacob. He starts out in his falsetto. He's doing both parts. He goes off a bit, and the background singers don't seem to be in sync at. He's doing some sort of strange body wavy gyration. I don't think this was a good pick for him at all.

JLo says she's glad he said this is the kind of song he will record because she's been struggling with this. She says it's going to be important for Jacob to pick songs that tell us who he is and what he wants to sing. He shouts out "Yeah baby." Randy differs with JLo. He doesn't think this is the direction for Jacob. He said it was corny for him and points out that parts were sharp. He sees him more as a Luther/church kid. Randy says Jacob is neither Chris Brown or Jordin Sparks! Yup, I agree totally. Steven says he's waiting for Jacob to find a niche. He loves his voice, but is waiting for that something that's 100 percent Jacob. "Find that song... find it." Jacob says Luther did all kinds of music. Randy says Jacob's voice is bigger than either of the two he covered tonight.

Lauren Alaina - "Flat on the Floor" (Carrie Underwood)
Jimmy says Lauren's coming to fight tonight. She's got the fiddler and the Carrie hair. I think she's trying too hard to be Carrie. But I can see her doing this type of music. She actually does quite well.

Randy says this is the direction for Lauren. He loves her showing her fun and energetic side. "Lauren is in it, ya'll." Steven says the way she found her niche is as good as it gets. "I think you're it." JLo says she ate that up. "That's what you've got to do... every time."

Scotty McCreery - "Gone" (Montgomery Gentry)
Sheryl thinks Scotty has a big career ahead of him. Jimmy says people are going to be really moved by this. Scotty starts out in the audience. The song starts in his lower register. He leaps off the stage at the bridge. He's very animated! This is really not a singer's song, more of a performance song. But it does show his range and his ability to do move around. Good job. The audience goes wild.

Steven says up to now Scotty's been like a Puritan, but he saw him dance with the Devil tonight. "That showed a whole nother side of you." JLo says she lost it for a second she was so excited. "That was some 'American Idol' stuff right there!" Randy wonders about dancing with the devil. He says he felt like he was sitting at "concert Scotty." "This guy's in it to win it too."

Haley Reinhart - "You and I" (Lady Gaga)
This is an unreleased Gaga song and Haley talked to her to get her blessing. This is an incredibly smart and gutsy move. A song we haven't heard before. Haley starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. This is Haley's song, combining her bluesy side, with some serious depth. She owns the stage and this song. Very, very impressive.

JLo says she loved the way she sounded, but didn't think this was such a great idea. She thinks Haley needs to choose songs people can connect to and love. Haley looks sad. Randy isn't sure it's that great of a song. He says he thinks of her in a Joss Stone way. It's' risky to take on something no one knows. He doesn't know if this did her any favors. Steven says she put all of her range into it and made it her own. "You're one perfect song away from being the American Idol."

Haley says it was an opportunity and she took it. I'm glad she did.

Round 2 - Oldies

James - "Without You" (Harry Nilsson)
The lyrics move James to tears. Sheryl thinks it will be magic if he breaks down on stage. Awwww... the song gives us a chance to hear his voice - no screaming, no antics, just his vocals. He wins me over when he powers it up. He's feeling it, and although the vocals aren't perfect, he sells it. He tears up at the end. James, you just might win this thing..

Randy says this is a mark of truly a great performer and says it was "emotionally perfect." He says the competition is James' to lose. Steven says it's a beautiful thing when you let the emotion get to you. "Your emotions were incredible." JLo says everyone knows he can sing and that he is a true, true artist who is serious about winning this thing. She says it takes a lot to control your emotions and deliver something. James says that every single week he leaves everything on the stage. He's still crying. James, you just won me over.

Jacob - "Love Hurts" (Nazareth)
James is accompanied by a harpist. He puts on a singing clinic. Yeah, he hits some horrendously bad notes, but he;s got the emotion and commitment. He puts it all out there at the end, like he's begging us for our votes. He may have bought himself another week.

Steven says he's a sucker for passion and praises Jacob's delivery. He hopes we could feel that at home. JLo says he bobbled in the middle, but brought out the tricks in the end. "Really good." Randy says "This is what's good about nights like tonight... you redeemed yourself on this one." He thinks that might have been the highest note ever on this stage.

Kelly Preston and Sir Anthony Hopkins are in the house tonight.

Lauren - "Unchained Melody" (Righteous Brothers)
Ahhhh, Simon Cowell's favorite song. I'm not all that sure about this one. The song leaves absolutely no room for vocal error and she doesn't make any. She goes for the high note and misses it. This throws her off a bit. Wrong song, but nicely done.

JLo says there's nothing to judge. "It was a beautiful song, sung beautifully done by you." Randy says he's happy to see the other side of her. "Very nicely done... very tender moment." Steven says it was perfect and he could listen to her all night. "You're just beautiful."

Scotty - "Always on My Mind" (Elvis Presley)
I love this song, but isn't this Willie Nelson? Sheryl says she can't wait for Scotty to move to Nashville. Scotty does it as you would expect. He flattens out there for a moment. Not sure this is the best song for him either. Not his best, for sure, but another solid performance to add to his 'Idol' body of work!

JLo says between the two songs Scotty shows what a well-rounded artist he is. She loves that there's nothing awkward about him. Randy says they call Scotty their youngest veteran. He says the simplest things get the loudest reaction. He says this shows what kind of artist Scotty will be. Steven says Scotty's been "taking us up and down the trail." He says it was a beautiful, beautiful rendition of this song. Scotty's Puerto Rican grandmother is in the audience. "He's my Scotty," she says!

Haley - "House of the Rising Sun" (The Animals)
Sheryl suggests Haley start out a cappella. Holy schmoley. Haley tears this up and then tears it down. Her voice, her intonations, her emotion. It's one of those performances that sneaks up on you and suddenly you  realize you've seen something truly special. Congratulations Haley, you've just had a real 'Idol' moment. The judges give her a standing ovation.

Randy says what he loves about the show is that every week someone comes out and slays it. "The award for the best performance tonight goes to Haley." He thinks she sold it to them. JLo says that song has never been sung like that before. She wonders if Haley came out angry at them!

Report Card
  • James - B- /  A (Average B+)
  • Jacob - C /  B (Average B-)
  • Lauren - A / B+  (Average A-)
  • Scotty - A / B  (Average A-)
  • Haley - A  /  A+ (Average A)
The grades don't lie. Jacob is going home this week. I think Lauren will join him in the bottom two. Not much else to say! If Haley goes home, I'm gonna be pissed! 

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    TV talent shows - Whatever is old is new again!

    It seems to be the season for TV singing talent shows. American Idol 10 is building towards its finale, and NBC has just launched The Voice. Nigel Lythgoe's brainchild, CMT's Next Superstar, is catching on and later this month, the sixth season of America's Got Talent returns. Then, in September, Simon Cowell brings the X-Factor to the US.

    We haven't seen this many singing talent shows on the air since 2003 when network execs who had passed on Idol, scrambled to put something on the air to capitalize on the show's massive and surprising popularity. But this genre is far from new. In fact, competitive singing talent shows have been around for 75 years!

    The first competitive singing talent show, Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour, debuted on CBS radio in 1936. The show ran for ten years, ending in 1946 when Edward “Major” Bowes, the creator and host of the show, died. The show launched the careers of a number of popular singers, the most notable being Frank Sinatra who appeared on the show in 1937 as a member of the Hoboken Four singing group.

    In 1948, the program was revived with simultaneous television and radio broadcasts. Ted Mack, who was a talent scout and assistant to Major Bowes, was the new host for the show, which ultimately bore his name. The format of the show remained the same as it had on radio and was surprisingly similar to that used on today’s shows. Contestants had to go through an initial audition process, and those who were accepted performed live before a national audience.

    Each week, the show began with the spinning of a wheel to determine the order of the contestant’s appearance (“Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows”). Viewers and listeners chose the winners by voting, either by phone or mail. The winners returned the next week and competed against new challengers. After winning three times, contestants were awarded prizes, including cash, scholarships, and a chance to be part of a stage show, which toured the country.

    Many notable performers got their start on this show and the list includes Gladys Knight (who performed as a 4-year old), Pat Boone, Teresa Brewer, and ventriloquist Paul Winchell. The Original Amateur Hour ran until 1970.

    At the same time Ted Mack was getting his show on the air, talent agent Arthur Godfrey, who had been doing a popular radio talent show for ten years, launched a televised version of his show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. This show, which was on the air from 1948 to 1958, was different from Mack’s in that the contestants did not necessarily have to be amateurs. Talent scouts went across the country looking for talented people who were struggling to get recognition and brought them back to New York to perform before a live audience. Each week, after all the performances were complete, the audience would indicate their preference by applauding. Their reaction was measured by an “applause” meter. Whoever scored the highest reading on the meter won the prize!

    Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts was instrumental in launching many successful careers, including those of Tony Bennett, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Leslie Uggams, Lenny Bruce, Steve Lawrence, Connie Francis, Al Martino, Roy Clark, and Patsy Cline. In fact, Patsy Cline, who sang “Walkin’ After Midnight” on her first appearance, was so well-received that the applause exceeded the capability of the meter and nearly broke it!

    Godrey’s scouts didn’t catch everyone, though. In March 1955, Elvis Presley auditioned but was rejected. Buddy Holly was also turned down. Nonetheless, this show was popular throughout the 1950s and frequently finished in the top 10.

    The TV talent show disappeared during the 1970s, although an “anti-talent” show, The Gong Show, was launched in 1976 airing until 1989. This show was strange indeed, and was more along the lines of the American Idol “bad” auditions. People would perform their acts in front of a panel of celebrity judges. The judges had the option of booting the contestant at any time during his or her performance by hitting a huge brass gong with a mallet! If they were really bad, the contestant might get pulled off the stage by a big hook!

    Those performers who were not “gonged” were rated by the judges, and the contestant scoring the highest was awarded a cash prize of $712.05! People were allowed to compete more than once, and became minor celebrities in their own right. One such repeat performer was the “Unknown Comic,” a comedian named Murray Langston, who wore a brown paper bag over his head when he did his routine. The list of those whose careers were launched on this show is rather short, but does include Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) and actress Mare Winningham.

    The first Star Search debuted in 1983 and ran until 1995. Ed McMahon served as host, and the show featured singers in various categories, dancers, and comedians. Star Search did not limit contestants to being amateurs and the show launched the careers of many struggling artists. The alumni from the original Star Search is impressive, and includes Alainis Morisette, Aaliyah, Christina Aguilera, Tatyana Ali, Girl’s Tyme (the precursor to Destiny’s Child, including Beyonce), Drew Carey, Linda Eder, Brad Garrett, Tiffany, Sharon Stone, Jessica Simpson, Carlos Mencia, Dennis Miller, Rosie O’Donnell, LeAnn Rimes, Ray Romano, Sawyer Brown, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Sinbad, Usher, Phil Vassar, and Dave Chappelle.

    American Idol, which debuted in June 2002 and proved to be a ratings smash, lead to a revival of the TV talent show genre. A new, but not-improved version of Star Search, launched in 2003, and ironically, served as a training ground for many Idols-to-be, including David Archuleta, Alexandrea Lushington, Nadia Turner, Jessica Sierra, Lisa Tucker, Joe Murena, Melissa Walton, and Amanda Avila. Bianca Ryan, who won the first America’s Got Talent was a contestant on Star Search, as was Jordis Unga, who was a finalist on Rockstar: INXS

    A flood of TV talent shows soon followed, none of which were able to come close to matching Idol’s rating share. Again, many served only to introduce the public to future Idols, including Diana DeGarmo and Jordin Sparks (America’s Most Talented Kid). The list of TV talent shows that have sprung up since Idol is long. Some of these shows, including Nashville Star and the Rockstar series, were moderately successful, while others like The One, failed miserably. Although Dancing with the Stars is running neck and neck with Idol for ratings this season, Idol remains king of competitive talent shows after nearly ten complete seasons.

    Note: Portions of this article were first published on Foxes on Idol.