American Idol 2, March 18: Grooving to the Moviesby David Bloomberg -- 03/19/2003
We begin this second episode of the finals of American Idol 2 with the announcer telling us, "The screw twists ever tighter." Ooookay, a little overdramatic perhaps, but we'll move on. This episode will feature music from movies. And what a coincidence - last year's American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson is on hand to sing a song from her movie (with Justin Guarini) that is due out next month!
But first, we are reintroduced to the final 11 and the judges. Ryan tries to encourage the audience to boo Simon, but he gets applause from pretty much everyone, except Randy Jackson. But wait, revenge is at hand. Just as they dragged out old embarrassing photos of Simon during the semis, they have some of Randy now. He was much thinner then. But, well, he's wearing the styles of the time, and it isn't pretty. First we see him with Sammy Hagar, then on stage playing bass, then in a photo with Journey where he has a square haircut. No, I don't mean "square" as in out of style, I mean square as in the shape!
With that behind us, we meet this week's celebrity judge, Gladys Knight! How does she fit into movie themes? She sang the theme for the James Bond movie, License to Kill. We get a photo/music history of Ms. Knight and then she joins the judges - Ryan refers to them as "Gladys Knight and the Drips." That Ryan, he's so clever. I almost didn't see that coming a mile away.
We begin with Corey Clark. In his segment, he says he's been spending a long time working on his music, bouncing around the country, etc. His favorite thing right now is sleeping, but he doesn't have much time to do it. But he's doing what he wants to do. He is singing "Against All Odds," originally by Phil Collins from the film of the same name. I'm going to follow the format used by Sting7, who usually does these recaps (it's a long story, but we kind of switched this week; I'm here and he's doing my usual Foxes On Idol article) - remember, the statements from judges are quoted to the best of my ability taking notes, they might not be exact though:
Randy: "good… made it your own… like the high register."
Paula: "took some risks doing ad libs… nice that you take advantage of the stage."
Gladys: "great looking… wonderful with the high register."
Simon: "not as enthusiastic as these three.. the song's a 9… didn't think you pulled it off at the end… painful… maybe I'll watch later and it'll be good."
Corey responds to Simon (uh oh) that he's glad he changed his shirt. Um. What? See, this is what I mean when I say that one reason not to argue with Simon is that you just aren't all that witty, people! I mean, come on - the best he could do was comment on Simon's shirt?
Next up is Ruuuuuuuuben Studdard! In his clip he says that no matter what happens or how famous he gets, he'll always represent 205. They've been getting the star treatment, but that means working hard too, getting up at 6 am and going to bed at 11 pm. It's what he asked for, though. He says they were out on the street one day and he looked up to see his own head on a billboard. He doesn't think people really want to look at him all that much. He is singing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin.
Randy: "you consistently bring it .. this guy's dope!"
Paula: "seamless… America is having a love affair with Ruuuuben."
Gladys: "you are and will probably be the world's velvet teddy bear… your voice strokes the spirit."
Simon: (First asks what the hell Randy meant with "this guy's dope") "sensational… fantastic recording voice."
Me: Wow. Right from the beginning he had screams coming from the audience. This was the perfect song for him.
Following him is Trenyce. She says the other day she was in customer service, now she's getting photos taken of her and the like. It's fun and she loves the interaction with the audience from on-stage. She sings "I Have Nothing" from The Bodyguard, originally by Whitney Houston.
Randy: "another great classic performance" (he gives a standing ovation).
Paula: (stands with Randy) "you have the most amazing stage presence… you know how to work the stage."
Gladys: "sometimes we call it selling the song.. very very very good at doing that… your pipes are over the top… the fact that you chose a Whitney Houston song - amazing… like the way you dressed up for the audience."
Simon: "slightly disagree about the clothes - young kids are looking old… amazing singer, sensational… comes back to me that compared to some of the clowns last year, this year's group is much better."
Me: She continues to show off her strong voice. Well done.
We get a time-filler about how the kids met the press at the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences and were made honorary members. We see Julia saying she saw Kelly last year and it inspired her to compete this time. Ricky says his mother inspired him with song. Speaking of moms, we get to briefly meet Simon's, who is in the audience today. Okay, that was exciting, let's move on.
It's time for Clay Aiken! Two weeks ago, he says, he was a student on his way to becoming a teacher. Now he's being styled and dressed and given the star treatment. He sings "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail because it shows his range and also because kids love it and adults still remember it.
Randy: "feel good… still saying 'where is that voice coming from?!'… wow man, you did your thing."
Paula: "another one… you are effortless with your voice… so natural… amazing to watch you guys."
Gladys: (Standing ovation) "you're a mystery… own look, something very magical about your look… your voice is so pure… something exceptional is gonna happen for you."
Simon: "I just love songs about mice… seriously, you're the one they've got to beat."
Me: Wow. As I watched him, I was thinking that he's at least as good as any male ballad singer I've ever heard. That said, I can still hear a little bit of his accent peeking through now and then.
Next up is Kimberly Caldwell. She says she's excited to be wearing crazy clothes, doing photo shoots, etc. It's overwhelming and great and she loves it. She's singing "Shoop Shoop" by Cher from Mermaids because it's a lot of fun.
Randy: "looked like you were having fun… great stage presence… still can be a star… mad vibe, mad personality."
Paula: "your family is beaming… excellent job."
Gladys: "so much charisma, so much power… I can see you in the movies."
Simon: "the problem with you is that we haven't seen your potential… I could see that performance in any theme park… you just have to find your X factor… no big deal… whoopee."
Me: I thought she made good use of the stage - she is a performer and has been pretty much her entire life. It was a good song for her - both personality-wise and her voice.
After the performance, Ryan tries to encourage her to speak back to Simon, asking if there is anything she wanted to say to him. She is smart and says no, she'll keep them to herself. Good for you, Kimberly! Then Ryan sees a guy in the audience who has a sign that says he wants a birthday kiss from Kimberly. She obliges.
Another time-waster - and, oh no, Kristin Holt is back! Man, I had even gotten e-mails about how glad people were that they hadn't seen her since the semi-finals. But she shows us around the new house the finalists will be living in. She makes some comments that I think were supposed to be funny, and then she tells us that she'll be living with the finalists and will give us the gossip every week. Oh joy.
Getting back to what this show is actually about, we have Joshua Gracin. He reminds us that he normally lives on the Marine base, where there are no frills, as opposed to now when he's getting the star treatment. But he still has to find time to stay in shape. Also, he's a father and husband and it's difficult to be away. His daughter can say his name (I'm guessing "dada" not "Joshua") and was asking for him, which really upset him. He's singing "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from Armageddon, originally performed by Aerosmith - now there is a group you don't often hear from on American Idol!
Randy: "great job… perfect song… perfect rendition."
Paula: (Standing ovation) "great country folk quality to your voice… you are who you are, no BS."
Gladys: "I love country music… you are country… you didn't miss a thing."
Simon: "fabulous song… amazing… only thing I'm slightly confused about is you didn't sound like that last week - two different voices, who is the real you?… stick to what you are, you are a country singer."
Me: I definitely wasn't expecting a country version of an Aerosmith song, so that kind of threw me. I found it to be okay, not great. But then I'm not a fan of country so I may be a bit biased.
When Joshua was asked by Simon and then by Ryan Seacrest about the difference from last week, he said this is the real him and last week he tried to do something different - it was Motown, after all, and that's not easy to do in a "country" manner.
Next up is Carmen Rasmusen, who says that two weeks ago she was in high school, and now she's doing photo shoots and riding in limos. She still has three hours of school every day. She sings "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Grease, originally done by Olivia Newton John.
Randy: "started kind of shaky, pitch problems… didn't think you shined."
Paula: "took about 30 seconds to hear you come alive… you should wear less makeup" (Carmen amusingly points out that she doesn't do her own makeup for the show).
Gladys: "you're on the brink… as you grow."
Simon: "you did really well… halfway through you found yourself… great country singer… you should replace the girl in the Dixie Chicks."
Me: Another country take on a song. I found nothing special in her voice this week - in fact, I thought it was kind of flat. She did get better near the end, as several of the judges noted, but it still wasn't great.
Next we get to see the first American Idol - Kelly Clarkson! No, she's not singing yet. Of course they're going to hold that to the very end of the show. But we see a clip from the movie with Justin with guys and girls hitting on each other on the beach while they sing about it. Then a quick clip of Justin and Kelly making out - Ryan asks her if Justin is a good kisser or shoved his tongue down her throat. Thank you, Ryan. Kelly looks good but is overly made-up. Must be the same person who did Carmen.
Who has to follow Kelly? Charles Grigsby, that's who! He says he never flew on a plane and now he's going first class and being treated like a superstar. He sings "You Can't Win" by Michael Jackson from The Wiz.
Randy: "I like you… not the best we've seen… didn't like that song on you."
Paula: "adorable… had fun… the best is yet to come."
Simon: "50,000 movies to choose from and you choose The Wiz… not the best song."
Me: I'm still not impressed by Charles' vocals. He gave a decent enough performance and the audience were on their feet, but it seemed almost like they felt that they were supposed to be on their feet, not that they were really feeling it. I know I wasn't.
After Randy's criticism, Charles pulled a Julia to some extent by saying that he had fun with the song and then asking the audience if they had fun. Charles, Charles, Charles - did you not pay attention last week?
Now it's time for Rickey Smith. He says he used to drive a beat-up Honda and now he's riding in a stretch limo - it's amazing. He can't believe it. He's still just Rickey Smith and he'll stay humble, but he does love the star treatment. He sings "It Might Be You" from Tootsie because he did an up-tempo song last time and wants to switch gears so the crowd can feel the song.
Randy: "brilliant… great controlled performance… better every week."
Paula: "I love you… you have a knack for picking songs… beautiful voice."
Gladys: "magnetic… sound so fresh."
Simon: "what sets you apart is you're a nice person… didn't hear something totally original… certainly good enough to stay in another week at least."
Me: He was smooth and did a good job. Based on that performance, he can't compete with Ruben or Clay, but it was still very good. I even enjoyed the high notes, which he has previously hurt my ears with.
Hey, look, and Old Navy shopping spree for the contestants! Woohoo! Moving on.
Julia DeMato is next. She says before she came to Hollywood, she was just the girl next door. It's great and she loves it. We even see a shot of her hugging Kimberly Clark. She sings the theme song from Flashdance, "What a Feeling." She says it's about finding that confidence inside of you and bringing it out, so maybe it will help her do that.
Randy: "alright… little pitchy… not overwhelmed."
Paula: "kind of agree with Randy… you light up the camera… not my favorite performance."
Gladys: "feeling like you're not really having fun with this… if you don't believe it, I won't." (This may be the only negative comment Gladys gave all night.)
Simon: "first part of the song okay, second part not… like disco on ice."
Me: I liked the ripped shirt - I remember when girls were actually wearing that after the movie came out. She is just not showing herself to be a great performer. I don't know what Paula is talking about when she says Julia lights up the camera. When I see her I feel like she looks nervous as hell, like a deer in the headlights sometimes. She even reverted to doing the side-to-side dance again. The song gave her the opportunity for a great and lively performance, but she didn't rise to it. It was better than last week, but…
My impression was enhanced further when Ryan tried to help her out by asking if she is indeed having fun. Julia gave a half-hearted "yeah" and said she's trying her best. At least she didn't mouth off to the judges this week.
Last, but not least, is Kimberley Locke. Before coming to Hollywood, she was studying for her LSAT (law school test), now she's getting the star treatment. She definitely enjoys the pampering. She is singing "Home" by Diana Ross from The Wiz because the lyrics have a lot of meaning and she can put her passion into it.
Randy: "what an improvement… sang better, very good."
Paula: "we should charge for tickets… beautiful."
Gladys: "love your voice… so rich."
Simon: "a lot better than last week… not crazy about the dress… the competition starts for you next week because you redeemed yourself this week."
Me: I agree with Simon about the dress - and that her singing was definitely much better this week. She put a lot of power into the performance.
Coca Cola moment - Charles beats Rickey at pool. Woohoo!
Now it's finally time for what we've all been waiting for - Kelly Clarkson singing "Anytime" from her upcoming movie. If you haven't heard the song because you didn't see this episode, it's not going to do any good for me to try to describe it. But Kelly is still the super-power singer we know and love. The only thing that I don't like is that makeup - the eye shadow is horrible - and the strappy leg things she has on. But, hey, it's Kelly, so who cares!
OK, I'm not used to handicapping who did better than somebody else, but I'm going to give it my best shot. In my opinion, here is the way they lined up tonight:
So, by all rights Carmen should be voted out. However, I think Julia already has two strikes against her from last week and since she didn't have a stellar performance, she may be the one to go. But, hey, pretty much nobody predicted Vanessa's departure last week, so who knows?!
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at email@example.com.
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