American Idol: A Top 13 (Hey, It’s My Lucky Number!)

As much as I dwell in a pit of American Idol cynicism every year since Jordin Sparks won, I can’t believe that America (you!) got things right this time. Was there a “no Bieber-no Bieber-no Bieber” filter in the voting system? Did Ryan Seacrest see another pile of ashes flying at him? Did the Mayans arrive early? No, what we have in store is shaping up to be a real competition for the first time in years, and Lord knows the show needs it. A level playing field of dreams for the masses. Let’s skip the “melting faces” of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez and get down to brass tacks shall we? The top 13 are as follows…
Phillip Phillips-Okay, Phillips has been a shoe-in for the top 12, 13 from his first audition, however I see another Dave Matthews knock-off, Lee DeWyze contestant in the making. Thus, I’m not sure how far he will go…the votes have made it clear, America is only interested in two types of music: pop and country, the remaining gray area will be tricky for Phillips.
Jessica Sanchez-She is my favorite female so far, she’s 16 and she is a powerhouse of talent…holding her back? Possible vocal cord issues but a friend of mine pointed out she sang sick the other night, thus when she heals, LOOK OUT!
Hollie Cavanagh-I don’t remember her from Hollywood Week, and really, do we honestly want to remember Hollywood Week? Her speaking voice may be weird, but she can sing and she took a risk on ladies’ night, all good, but we’ll see.
Joshua Ledet-He has the top male voice in the competition and he can prove it over the next few weeks, at least we hope he can prove it and bring it! So real and so refreshing.
Heejun Han-Polarizing is the best word to describe Han…personality-wise, he wins my vote, but how far can he go with his “oh well” attitude and jokes? But again, he can sing, an interesting contestant who could hang around for a while.
Shannon Magrane-Well Shannon is the daughter of a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, she already has my attention, I kid…she was another contestant who took a risk singing Kathy Trocolli’s “Light Your World” which is totally random, but it meant something to her…whey a contestant feels what they are singing, it’s a good sign.
Skylar Laine-or as I’m calling her, “Lil’ Miranda” as in Lambert…I love her energy, she will capture of lot of young votes and even more country votes…forget Lauren Alaina, Skylar is already catching fire in a big way…she’s a young one, but she’s a firecracker!
Elise Testone-If Sanchez is the one to beat, Testone could do it, but she has to avoid that gray area…her Adele cover was great, I can’t wait to see what else she can do.
Colton Dixon-The guy from Murfreesboro, the guy who couldn’t break through to the top 24 last year, the guy whose sister didn’t make it through, he has a multitude to prove…in all honesty, I’m not a fan…he’s not dynamic enough, and he might fall into that gray area category, he could get lost fast, but we’ll see.
Jermaine Jones-Mama’s boy, lucky 13 when the guys performed…I like him, and I can’t get his “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” duet with Curtis Law (didn’t like him!) from Vegas out of my head, that’s a good thing…he’s older, but he can compete.
The Wild Cards:
Erika Van Pelt-I really like her soulful voice…this DJ is a force to be reckoned with, that is if she can just pull out more from within…older, but she will rock it out. 
Jeremy Rosado-Young and big, he has the potential to be a true dark horse…he has soul and soul works every time.
 Deandre Brackensick-He’s perhaps another polarizing contestant…and he just missed the top 24 last year…I liked his Vegas group performance, but I never saw him during Hollywood Week or his original audition…I hate when we’re left in the dark…I like his falsetto, but he’ll need to be careful how much he relies on it.
American Idol will be good this year? Yes? Maybe? I pray so, the talent is there, let her/him rip!
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No Alarms and No Surprises….However…

Yep, we were all bamboozled by Fox and the American Idol powers-that-be.  As evidence by the picture above, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler will be the new judges, with old reliable Randy Jackson rounding out the panel.  I didn’t see Ryan Seacrest’s big, live stream announcement; I saw the J-Lo introduction footage on a local Fox newscast.  The Aerosmith frontman was apparently introduced first, I guess because J-Lo is the bigger name…yeah, right!  By the way, Aerosmith is now pretty much done unless they forge ahead with another singer, which never works.  As for Lopez, I think she’ll be a good judge, although I think part of this process is to re-launch her fledgling career, and if her career doesn’t fly again, at least she’ll be seen by millions of viewers every week on one of the highest rated shows in the history of television.  Steven Tyler as a judge is the question mark; I think he’ll be helpful, but how consistent will he be week to week?  
As I got settled in to research more tonight, I discovered there are more changes ahead for Idol.  Specifically, an “in-house” mentor for the entire season; and who would be so crazy to take on this task?  None other than Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine which I think is a great choice, however, he won’t be alone.  Other big producers will be helping contestants behind the scenes this time.  Of course the string attached in this is Idol’s new partnership with music distributor and Interscope parent, Universal Music Group.  Yeah, there’s always a tie-in.  So, you’ll be seeing Iovine a lot, which I don’t mind, he’s one of the most successful A&R guys in the last 20 years, not to mention a former producer, a la Randy Jackson.  
Another big change coming to Idol…no more artist-specific theme weeks.  Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, “The styles of music will be more about decades…”  In other words, a rock guy won’t be thrown into country week.  However, a lot of Idol alums end up on the country charts.  Well, without any doubt, all these changes are fine and good, but what’s really missing is talent.  Without the talent, Idol is toast!  You can get all the big names in the music business in the world to help, but it won’t sell the winning Idol’s records.  Hell, even a great producer can’t make that happen.  We’ll see in early 2011.
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(UNOFFICIAL!) J-Lo Will Be An Idol Judge After All????…

Holy crap FOX!…This is getting a little old….and I mark this blog as “unofficial” because who knows if any of this is the truth…according to TMZ, a deal between Fox and Jennifer Lopez for Lopez to become a judge on American Idol is “imminent”…this after Lopez was said to be out of control with her diva demands and the network was tired of negoiating…well, all of that?…not true!…the network is said to be in “typical negoiations” with J-Lo…and the kicker?…the deal could be announced as early as next week!…right….and apparently another source is reporting a deal that would’ve brought Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler to the show as a judge has fallen through..again, all of this is unofficial…of course, Randy Jackson is definitely coming back, which was recently confirmed…I just happened to catch Ryan Seacrest and Paula Abdul chatting on the Emmy red carpet the other night…they were going to have lunch soon…LMAO!…Paula had to move on and that’s okay…I guess if an annnouncement about judges is going to be made, Seacrest will be all over it….ass!
Also on the judging front, the following lady is said to be in the running to be on the new US version of The X Factor, debuting next fall:
KATY PERRY!…She’s been one of the better audition judges Idol has ever had and now, she might be rewarded for it by Simon Cowell himself…once again, all of this is very unofficial…one source is even saying Perry will be paid $300,000 a week for her services…however, since Perry is hot right now, who knows what will transpire in a year’s time…
If and when this big American Idol judge announcement takes place, don’t worry, a blog will be written…HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND!

Joss Gives Back!..and there’s more!

Yes, Joss Stone and Jeff Beck WERE the Idol Gives Back show…yes, yes, I loved Annie Lennox…I’m just bummed that damn volcano ash kept her from being on live…I did not see the Black Eyed Peas, but I heard good things and bad things…they are the group of the moment, so it was fitting to have them open the show…I guess I shouldn’t say “of the moment” but I digres…this week’s mentor, Alicia Keys, sounded a little rough, but she rocks, damn, I love to hear her talk, she’s so smoove…okay, I loved-loved-loved Joss Stone and Jeff Beck’s performance of “I Put a Spell on You”…oh yeah…that was true artistry right there folks!…if say, Crystal and Siobhan want to look at possibly what their future careers can be, Stone provided an excellent example…Elton John was great, Carrie Underwood was okay, the Mary J. Blige all-star group was good, but didn’t totally rock me…I think the whole fake phonebank joke segment with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill was okay…I mean Slash!…hello?!?…Wanda Sykes was the funniest of the night…her joke about telling Big Mike to go home was hilarious…season 7 winner David Cook appeared but did not perform, boo to the producers on a missed opportunity…Seacrest was Seacrest…I really hope he goes along with Simon at the end of the season, he’s exhausting to watch anymore…
If you think Gleeks were upset Wednesday night…Idoloonies may be upset about last night..the broadcast ran oh, 20-25 minutes long…but I’m sure by now, you know Tim Urban or “Turban” finally bit the dust on his Idol run…he was cheesy, but he had gotten a lot better in the past few weeks…in fact, I participated in the LA Times’ Idol Tracker chat yesterday and promininent critic Ann Powers said she feared Tim might WIN?!?!?…I guess she’s eating her words today…and of course, leave it up to the producers to force the “Big Mike in the bottom 3” issue yet again…I’m tired of it, really tired of it…Casey James was sent to safety, leaving Big Mike and Tim waiting….there’s just too much drama in the elinination episodes this year…at this point, with the exception of Crystal, who the hell has a chance of winning????…I know I’m not the only one who feels this way…I’m losing faith in Siobhan, although I’m still confident she can pick it back up…however, next week, Shania Twain will be the mentor and the Idols will choose from HER library…yes, it’s mostly country, but Twain cashed in on the whole country-pop crossover niche way before Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood…but I have no idea who this niche will favor out of the 6 contestants remaining…man, it sucks Katie Stevens couldn’t stick around long enough for Shania week, since the judges tried to force her into a country direction…oh well…
So here’s what we’ve learned…always set your DVRs to record at least 20 minutes longer than scheduled, the Idols are STILL lipsynching the group numbers, and I’m over this season…just kidding on that last one, but really…

No Save For You!

Oh yes!…America’s first vote for who goes home in the coveted top 12 goes to Lacey Brown…America?…I may just forgive you…my good fortunes were almost swept away when I remembered that the judges could have saved her…yes, the dreaded “judges’ save” that can only be used ONCE all season up until the final four…my heart sank for about 20 minutes when I realized Lacey could be saved…however, in the first week, this usually doesn’t happen…it all depends on who gets the boot, and then that person has to lipsynch for his or her life…OOOPS…I mean sing one last time to convince the judges he or she still deserves to be there…sorry Lacey, but she NEVER deserved to be there…however, I was a bit baffled by America’s choices for the bottom 3: Lacey, Paige Miles, and Tim Urban…Urban was sent right back to the couch by Seacrest…and Urban is damn lucky, because he doesn’t show any promise whatsoever…Paige Miles will be that “fly under the radar” singer this year I guess…she was okay the other night, but I still don’t see why she’s still there…and yes, Katie Stevens is still around, as is Aaron Kelly…you have to wonder what criteria the nation votes on…is it who they like or is it who is the better singer/performer?….At this blog time, it is not known what next week’s theme is…it doesn’t matter, the weak ones will be cast off one by one just like the weaker teams in the upcoming NCAA tournament..
How’s that for an analogy?

Crunk No More…

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Paula Abdul is NOT coming back to AMERICAN IDOL and I don’t know whether I should cheer or cry…Paula revealed via Twitter last night her simple statement not to return…it was confirmed just last week, Kara DioGuardi, will be back…gigantic mistake!…word is Paula had asked for up to $20 million this upcoming season; she made $4 million last season…I’m sure the blow was increased with Ryan Seacrest’s new 3-year $45 million contract to continue as host…

Despite her loopy, perhaps drug-induced behavior, Paula will be missed and IDOL’s continuing decline in viewership will increase…the nice judge is gone; she had a few harsh criticisms, but for the most part she was very encouraging to all the contestants…I’ll personally miss her dancing for every single performance, not knowing her back was giving her mega pain…I’ll miss her love/hate relationship with Simon Cowell…I’ll miss her tears for the contestants who don’t quite make it…I definitely think Paula needs to establish a new identity outside of the AMERICAN IDOL monster…and she has via QVC….it’s better than nothing…

Adios!