American Idol 2, April 8: No, Really, What Did You Think?by Sting7 -- 04/09/2003
It's for real. You could feel the tension among the contestants. They all seemed to have a little extra gusto, a little more brio in their performances. This week, more so than any other week this season, the judges, (including the special guest) had definite, decisive opinions of our hopefuls' performance. Not an 'eh' to be found! It was a night of demonstrative performances... and uncanny song choices.
Ryan Seacrest welcomes us to "a little show we like to call American Idol!" You will forgive me if I just learned that American Idol has consistently been the number one show in the country! Per the Nielsen's, It is flat-out outperforming last season's numbers. The winner of this show is guaranteed to be bigger than Kelly Clarkson! How can Fox resist the urge to do AI3 in the fall, despite Simon's very public objections? We'll worry about that later.
Ryan reminds us that anything can happen in this hour, and probably will. He introduces the eight remaining contestants, tentative waves from all... they know someone will be going home, unlike last week when Corey's expulsion eliminated the need.
Ryan says this week, the contestants will be serving up Number Ones, as decreed by Billboard Magazine. Frankly, in the music business , you are not number one until Billboard says you are. Period. The contestants visit the headquarters of Billboard Magazine and speak with "Chart Beat's" Fred Bronson. Josh asks, "What song was number one longest?" (Not a damn thing canned about that question!) "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Even that couldn't make Glitter watchable.
Clay mumbles that they released a single, how do you think it will do? Bronson says he is expecting a very high debut and he is sure it will be a number one. My dead pet rabbit, Josie, could have told them that!
That was fun. Ryan intros the judges, Randy Jackson (produced eight number one songs), Paula Abdul (had six number one singles), and Simon Cowell who does a number one everyday. In the bathroom. And, I, Sting7, get plenty of emails that say I'm number one! Usually with a rendering of a middle finger.
Tonight's guest judge is the amazing Lionel Richie! They paid me to say that, Lionel grated my nerves as a teenager, but there is no arguing with success, I suppose. (Lionel turned out to be the best celebrity judge they've had this season! I wouldn't mind him being there every week, frankly!) Of course, Lionel comes with the obligatory video package explaining to the three people in America who didn't know, who he is and what he's done. Lionel says he is a fan of the show, and babbled something about wanting to be 'the artist's judge.' It's nice that he did his homework, and he will know who it is that he is critiquing!
Number one's, songs we know, three performers (Kimberley, Carmen, and Trenyce) on the bubble, since they were the bottom three of last week's results show and the scores will be added to this week's. It should be an exceptional night! On with the performances!
Clay Aiken, "At This Moment"
Randy - "you've proven you can sing... song didn't slay me... shows less of your voice"
Paula - "it was good, but it's a gut-wrenching song... not enough heartache"
Simon - "that song was perfect for you... absolutely on-the-money!"
Lionel - "still in awe that all of that is coming from that body!... would have chose different song but you sang it with power and conviction"
Sting7- Clay is at a critical point in this show. He has clearly proven that he can sing, and he can be a star. However, I feel like he is coasting. Good news is that he was not as Broadway as he can be tonight and he sang as well as he always does. Disco week was too much for me, this week was too little. The song choice was horrible. Like someone over-qualified for a job, this song was beneath him and it held him down.
Kimberley Locke "My Heart Will Go On"
Randy - "didn't blow me away... very nice"
Paula - "out of 40 years of songs not sure why you chose the most recognizable song from the most popular movie ever... because you can! Well done!"
Simon - "I must congratulate you... faultless!"
Lionel - "if you don't have to push song, just come out and do the rendition you can do... you didn't push it... excellent"
Sting7- This was a brilliant performance in my opinion. First, you all know how I feel about Celine Dion songs. Ugh. Kimberley did a controlled, understated version of the song, kept to the verses that suited her, avoided the over-the-top parts, it was smart, measured, and perfectly executed. Very, very, well done. And the fact that I can say that about a Celine song means tons!
Rickey Smith, "Endless Love"
Randy - "you did your thing!"
Paula - "Lionel is lucky you didn't do it first... made me forget Diana Ross was in the song!"
Simon - "didn't like Lionel's performance! (not sure he was kidding)... hat was appalling... sounded fantastic!"
Lionel - "do you know how difficult that song was? It took me three weeks to get it... maybe I'm prejudiced, but I think you did a great job!"
Sting7- I will tell you why I think Rickey Smith is quickly becoming the darkhorse in this competition. He surprises you, week after week. My esteemed colleagues may disagree with me, but I don't think he has had a bad performance this whole show. His song choices are very diverse, he doesn't rely on ballads like some. He is performing songs in front of the original artist, and that is bold! And two weeks in a row, the original artist came away genuinely impressed! Like Paula, I too did not miss Diana at all in this rendition and that is not easy. The high notes of this song have slain many talent show contestants, and he nailed them. Rickey could back door his way into the winner's circle, trust me!
Hey look! The Idols have Nokia phones! That rascally Clay sent Ruben a text message that says 919 beats 215! Ruben laughs good-naturedly (of course, this is a commercial for all intents and purposes!). Those kids.
Kimberly Caldwell, "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)"
Randy - "you look beautiful... the song just didn't suit you for me"
Paula - "look pretty tonight... I can say you are broadening your range" (Kimberly says she did that just for Paula, who said Kimberly was becoming "complacent" last week. Paula said she believes that like she believes Simon wants to kiss her right now.)
Simon - "(never one to miss an opening) I don't... I don't think even Robin Hood could protect you after that performance... wrong song, you know that."
Lionel - "look is getting better (was something wrong with it???)... pulled it off, it was great (don't think he meant it)... song could have been better."
Sting7- Paula said Kimberly was complacent, I say she was mediocre and complacent with the mediocrity. There has only been one week where Kimberly really wowed me. Sure, she is beautiful and looked awesome tonight, but this ain't Miss USA. Sadly, this was another mediocre-to-poor performance. She can't afford any more.
Joshua Gracin, "Amazed"
Randy - "you had some pitch problems, but perfect song, perfect rendition, good job!
Paula - "three words: Josh is back!"
Simon - "one of the few contestants tonight that picked the right song... perfect"
Lionel - "look out Garth Brooks... the Marines have landed!"
Sting7- Josh Gracin, USMC, Pick To Click, has pissed me off. He should have been charged with a crime for what he made us endure last week. I really wanted him to come back and show it was a just a bad night (and how he avoided the bottom three is a travesty that will be written in the annals of American Idol history). What he did was he went back to his old shoe - country. I would say the same thing about Kimberley Locke if she went back to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" after that hideous "Heat Wave." Yes, he did improve from last week, but he has not redeemed himself yet. If Kimberly Caldwell is complacent, Josh has completely taken root!
Carmen Rasmussen "Call Me"
Randy - "I didn't get you tonight... didn't feel it tonight"
Paula - "that's a bad girl song... wrong song for you"
Simon - "to be honest that was dreadful... completely wrong song ... you can't sing songs like that"
Lionel - "it is so hard to come out here every week and perform (his Paula moment)... 'A' for performing... song selection wasn't good"
Sting7- Call me crazy, but Carmen is growing on me. That vibrato is intriguing, and as David Bloomberg said in his column, you want to hear more of it. Tonight, it was practically extinct. Not good enough, as Simon would say. Not feeling it, as Randy said. She is on the bubble, and tonight's performance did nothing to get her off it.
Speaking of on the bubble.
Trenyce "Power of Love"
Randy - "to quote Paula, this week you are back!"
Paula - "another beautiful performance"
Simon - "you deserved to be in the bottom two last week, and you deserve to be this week... cabaret!"
Lionel - "strong with attitude"
Sting7- I beg to differ with Mr. Cowell, she did not deserve to be in the bottom two last week, because that would mean she was as bad as Josh, when she was not. That said, Trenyce picked up the ball and ran with it! She wasn't perfect, there were some pitch problems, and that last note... I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but she saved it admirably. As I watched her perform, she showed that stage savvy that she has, that seductive little wink into the camera, I think is adorable, some find it annoying (but it wasn't grating when Justin Guarini did it last year?). Maybe the diva routine is rubbing folks the wrong way. Tonight, Trenyce easily outperformed four other people so there is no reason for her to be in the bottom three. She showed some power, showed some range, and sold the song. All we can ask from her.
Ruben Studdard "Kiss and Say Goodbye"
Randy - "unbelievable, you should teach a class" (standing ovation)
Paula - "you know a secret no one else knows; the audience wants to applaud you and not judge you" (heh?)
Simon - "the performance of the series so far, if you released that as a single, next week it would be number one!"
Lionel - "from one Alabama brotha to another, you did a fabulous job!"
Sting7- Ruben left the 205 gear at home (so shut up about it!), and left everything he had on the stage! You know, even my mother called me to squeal over Ruben! No one has made her squeal since Al Green! Definitely points for pulling that Manhattans nugget from the vault, and for singing the living hell out of it!
Backstage on the red couch, Ryan asks Kimberley about performing in front of Lionel Richie. She loved it because she used to watch the "Penny Lover" video all the time. Rickey says it was an honor and a privilege to be able to sing one of Lionel's songs for him. Sly as a fox.
Ryan reminds us that the results show is tomorrow. He did not say it was an hour long. Thank goodness.
So, those were the performances. Due to the unexpected exit of Corey Clark, two weeks worth of votes will determine who leaves us. Here's what I predict, based on these two weeks:
4. Kimberley L.
7. Kimberly C.
I think Kimberley and Trenyce will have shown enough to escape this week. I think fans of Kimberly C. and Joshua will wonder what exactly were they voting for? And Carmen just showed she's not ready yet. In no way do I think she'll disappear into oblivion with Nikki McKibbin, that voice is interesting, and she's pretty, working on beautiful. Someone will sign her, and in time, she was learn better control of that voice and how to highlight that tremolo... but for now, she's gotta go.
Am I right? We shall see.
Sting7 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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