American Idol: competing with the Olympics

As Fox tries desperately to compete with NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage, they keep unveiling “first time in American Idol history” type stuff, which really is just a small break in format during Hollywood week.
But I’ll give them this…they are getting down to the final 24 quickly. Almost too quickly.

Last night’s two-hour episode began with the final 71 contestants being broken into three rooms. Two rooms would hold those advancing to the next round, and one room full of those heading home. This, after one final shot to impress the judges with a solo performance.

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American Idol: Like Hollywood needs more drama

So last night’s “American Idol” brought us back to Hollywood week again, and Ryan Seacrest announced that there were 107 remaining contestants. Hmmm. The night before, he said there 104 left. Did the judges feel bad and bring three of them back? Or did they not count correctly? Regardless, it was time for group competition, something that polarizes the hopefuls of this competition like nothing else–you either shine brightly, or your ego gets in the way and creates enough drama to make the producers of the show start foaming at the mouth.

Such drama was prominent in three of the groups they focused on for the first half of the show. Remember Tatiana from the San Francisco auditions? The psycho with the annoying laugh? Well, watching her try to play nice in a group was just painful. She quit her group, joined another one and then went back to her original group, pissing off everyone along the way but then trying to act like she’s not the crazy one. There was also the group that included Rose and Katrina, a.k.a. “Bikini Girl,” a group that had exactly one singer worthy of advancing, but more on that later. Finally there was the group Tatiana was part of for five minutes….the one with Nancy, Kristin and Nathaniel, who called themselves The Divas. Yep, pretty much.

Well, Katrina was tired from her high heels, and tried to catch a few hours of sleep Read the rest of this entry »

  

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American Idol: Hollywood week showcases some fine talent

Hollywood week began on “American Idol” last night, and I believe they had promised us an extended Hollywood experience on TV this year, which is fine by me, especially when they continue to keep these episodes to a bearable 60 minutes.

There were 147 contestants plucked out of the tens of thousands who auditioned in the eight cities last summer. And in last night’s episode, they whittled it down to 104, meaning only 43 were sent packing. This season, there are makeup artists and vocal coaches to get these singers ready to perform in front of the four judges, and even Barry Manilow was a surprise coach and speaker.

The contestants were then put into groups of eight, and each group had to line up on stage at the Kodak Theatre, and sing a cappella in front of Randy, Paula, Simon and Kara. Then they were asked to either step back or step forward, and one line or the other was told they were through to the next round, and the other line was headed home. Immediate elimination Read the rest of this entry »

  

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American Idol: Say hello to Hollywood

Mercifully, the audition rounds of “American Idol” Season 8 are in the books. We have endured eight stops and seven episodes in the last few weeks, and now the scene is shifting to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood next Tuesday. Last night they lumped two audition stops into one, and those were New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The back and forth during the episode was a little confusing, but the talent was as bad and as good in both places as it had been in Kansas City or Salt Lake or Phoenix or wherever else. Here were the good and bad of the ones who had the most airtime on Thursday night….

THE BAD

Adeola, who had quit her job because she was so sure she was going to Hollywood, sang a Jennifer Hudson song and was just awful, and I mean every note was off-key. Lucky for her, Simon Cowell was nice enough to call her former employer and get Adeola her job back. Who said Simon was a tool? That was classy…..Jessica Byers, a 20 year old who sang Celine Dion, was so loud and emotive that she made the audition uncomfortable for everyone. She claimed she was just nervous, but no, she just wasn’t good….Joel Contreras was a crazy rocker dude from San Juan who called himself the “human iPod” and was more talented at being nuts than at singing…Alexis, who auditioned last season and was also a bit of a wack job, returned to the New York City auditions and claimed to have toned down her act through stuff like yoga. Yeah, okay. Alexis attempted Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and let’s just say she can also go back to being nuts, because she is better at that than at singing. Also true to form, she gave the judges the finger on the way out. Nice.

THE GOOD

Jorge Nunez, a 20 year old from Puerto Rico, sang “My Way” and had a nice Latin flair about him. The judges started saying he may have trouble singing in English, but Simon correctly pointed out that they came to San Juan to find Puerto Rican natives with talent, otherwise they would have gone to Omaha…..Melinda Camille, who admitted she likes to dance naked in her bedroom while singing, sang “Feeling Good” and had a really great voice. No confirmation on whether or not she will bring her clothes to Hollywood….Jackie Tom, who sang Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours,” picked an odd song but had a nice tone to her voice and got through….Nick Mitchell, who goes under the moniker “Norman Gentle,” had this cabaret thing going on, and tried to inject humor into everything he did. This pissed off Simon to no end, but even he laughed when “Norman” made a crude joke about Simon and Ryan Seacrest. Anyway, when dude stopped joking and sang “Amazing Grace,” I think I speak for all of America when I say it was a pleasant surprise. Norm is off to Cali, and he will no doubt be polarizing to everyone there….after a medley of good auditions and yellow tickets, things were winding down. Next up was Monique, a 16 year old who brought along her 9 year old brother, Christopher. The kid was like a used car salesman to the judges, and since Monique was above average but not great, an assist goes to young Chris for sending his sis to Hollywood….finally there was Patricia, a 20 year old who took on Whitney Houston. That’s never a good idea, because artists like Whitney or Stevie Wonder or Aretha Franklin are just so hard to live up to vocally for an amateur. Anyway, Patricia did earn her ticket, but barely.

So our initial auditions are over, and now we head to Hollywood for the next round. Soon we will have our Top 24 and a clearer picture of who some of the contenders will be. See you all next week!

  

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