March 23/24 -
Finals Round 2
Before today's show, I must
admit something. I'm not big on country. I've NEVER been
big on country. And after tonight, I fear that you'll
know why. Either that or I'll be... moderately big on
country. We'll see. First off, a wish for speedy
recovery to a true American Idol, Aretha Franklin. Our
wishes as well. After welcoming the Idols, the Man in
Black, the Darlin', and Bling Bling Jackson, we have our
subtheme, the Idols as kids. I'll tell you right now,
expect many "ooooh-s/he's-so-cuuuuute" moments. Like
this one from Diana DeGarmo, who has been singing since
she was five. She's become the "National Anthem Girl" in
Snellville, but can she fly on Martina McBride's "A
Broken Wing"? Her wings of a perfect stage presence and
a note that shook the heavens (read: one held for more
than five seconds flawlessly. TM Chico Alexander, 2004)
are clipped by pitchiness here and there. But still,
pretty nice start.
Randy: I think this is the best performance she's had so
far. That was incredible!
Paula: I can't picture you doing anything else.
Simon: Definitely a style that suits you. My only slight
worry is that you were like a product of a pop farm.
It's very effortless, but you're not yet connecting with
Have to agree with the Man in Black on this one, even as
a judge fight ensues. I mean, it's really good, but it
seems like it's stereotypically good. Speaking of which,
in the audience today is Steve Young of the 49ers. "It's
all about harnessing the creative tension in the
performance." Words to live by, really. Let's see what
George Huff can do with them. He grew up in the
projects, but was able to find a place of peace in his
church music and in college, where he played in an opera
that made him look like Hercule Poirot. His song: The
John Michael Montgomery/All-4-One tune "I Can Love You
Like That." Like last week, he had to grow into the role
of singer. But once he does, look out. Another note that
shook the heavens caps a fitting performance.
Randy: It was good. I liked it, but I didn't feel the
energy of the George I liked before.
Paula: You have the sexiest voice ever.
Simon: You have a connection. That is a connection. At
the moment, you look like you're totally in the hands of
Judge fight ensues. End result: George = Ruben + help
from the wardrobe department. Fantasia Barrino's next,
and we see her performing in a gospel choir, which could
explain a few things if you've ever seen a) Fantasia
perform and b) a gospel choir up close. She hopes that
she's "Always On My Mind". Doesn't sound like Willie or
Elvis, but in some ways, that's a good thing. She puts
herself in the performance, but, and I wouldn't say this
if it wasn't a personal issue, but it's becoming too
nasal and whiny. But good presence, I must say.
Randy: You proven that you could do a controlled
performance. You probably could sing anything.
Paula: I love the fact that you gave a more subdued
performance. It was so classy. I like the way you are
Simon: You've proven tonight that you are not a
one-trick pony, but my problem is that I hope that this
doesn't continue, because you're not a middle-aged
singer. You are young and fun and different and perky.
Fantasia: Simon, YOU DON'T KNOW CLASS!
See what I mean? A pure whine. And here we go again with
another judge fight, and... my God is that a middle
finger? FCC, Simon! Retract that claw. But at least they
love her getting down with the get down. And so do we.
She just has to cut out the nasality is all. And I then
push the fast forward on my DVR to skip over the adverts
and the Simon/Paula clip form the season two finale.
Shudder, is what I say to that. And speaking of which,
John Stevens is next. We see him back when he was just
plain "Carrot Top". The name had since been trademarked
by, well, someone else, but John's the "King of the
Road" tonight. Again, he goes from strength to strength
(when you have one strength, it's not that hard). But
tonight, he went from weakness to weakness, forgetting
one of his lines. But he covers for it. Will it be
enough to save him? Not, but he schmoozes. He schmoozes!
Randy: Even though you forgot the words tonight, I must
say I enjoyed you tonight for the first time. Perfect
song. Even though you forgot the words. Paula: You
covered it very nicely. You're becoming more seasoned
each week. Simon: On the bright side, you only forgot
the words in front of 30 million people. I actually
think you're great. On the slightly negative side, you
are going to have to learn to get your personality over.
That, and he's starting to wear thin with his shtick
here. Camile Velasco and her shtick are next. She's the
first born and a Navy brat. The Eagles get the Idol
treatment on "Desperado"... which could describe
Camile's performance style. She tries to power her way
through so obviously that you can see it on her face
AGAIN. Even with her otherwise good presence, I'm going
to have to pass on this one.
Randy: It was alright for me. It's all very jerky. I
know you were trying to make it your own, but I just
didn't get it.
Paula: I love your voice, and I see the soulfulness
coming back. You did a great job.
Simon: I've got a horrible feeling that that's going to
sound out of tune (C-Note: justified). I honestly think
your nerves are going to be your biggest problem in this
No judge fight. In fact, a consensus. Camile, you're
your own worst enemy. Those nerves will be the end of
you. And it's the end of this act, as Steven Cojocaru
stops in for a style makeover/Old Navy plug. Going over
to the formerly small Jennifer Hudson, who would eat but
not gain a pound. She gained it all in high school, but
lost it in time for the competition. Looking good,
really. "No One Else on Earth" by Wynonna... Sounding
good, really. Put her own swang on it once she got the
jitters out, and there were jitters. Definitely the best
I've seen her this competition. And the way she works
the crowd could definitely keep her out of the danger
zone this week, even as she sours the end. And parts of
Randy: Overall, I thought it was a good performance.
Paula: You need to get your personality back again. I
thought you were holding back a bit. I thought the real
Jennifer wasn't shining through.
Jennifer: I got funk. I got style. I got attitude. I can
give you whatever you want.
Simon: I think you're out of your depth in this
Yeah, she is one of the better singers, but she's is
only ONE of the better singers. She can sing, but she's
got to beat about three or four others. Another ONE of
the better singers (in terms of this competition) is the
man they call JPL, Jon Peter Lewis. "I didn't do
anything sweet when I was a kid." Very direct, this
middle child is. He sings Kenny Rogers' "She Believes in
Me". Not the power performance we're used to, but at
least he's not dancing. And he's not tiring. I don't
think. It's a good song, but I would've changed the
arrangement or done something with it or something. But
still, not bad. Just not as dead-on as we're used to.
And if you get past the dancing, yes, he's dead on to a
Randy: You know what's really weird, you're not being
your funny self, and the vocal wasn't really there.
Paula: I thought it was pleasant. Kind of safe. You need
to lay off the mic a bit when you're going for the power
note, but all in all, good performance.
Simon: You have an odd voice, but America seems to have
fallen in love with you.
Listening to you sing, I'm puzzled. You look like the
guy from the Waltons. You know, John Boy? And that's why
part of the reason you're going to get a lot of votes.
Reminds me of one Clay Aiken, really. Jasmine Trias, a
native Hawaiian by birth, got her start in singing by...
crying. She learned the piano, the ukulele, and the
voice (not in that order). Hopefully, she also learned
how to "Breathe" a la Faith Hill. Very classy looking,
but off-pitch and off-tone in more than one crucial
point. In the chorus alone. Song choice notwithstanding,
though, her personality just glows. It's almost amazing
to watch, albeit a little painful to listen to.
Randy: You look beautiful tonight, but I don't think
that was your best performance. It just didn't quite
connect with me.
Paula: It was pitchy, but having said that, you've had
so many strong performances that this isn't going to
hurt you one ounce.
Simon: Nothing much I need to add, really. It's very
mumsy, dadsy, very sweet.
It's just becoming a little bit boring.
Come on, man. Be kind. "I like puppies." Okay, that's a
start. Big man Matt Rogers is next, and believe it or
not, he used to be a small fat kid with a slight "R"
problem. He's close to Tim, his big brother. In fact,
he's "Amazed" (Lonestar). Good someone is, because
again, it's a song choice that any sane singer wouldn't
have really made given the circumstances. He tries to
make the best of a bad situation, and it really shows.
Just not in a good or bad way. Still, not as bad as it
could be, but damn pitchy.
Randy: I like that, man. It's one of your better vocals.
I still don't know if I would look at you and say, like
Cowell would say, the American Idol, but you definitely
got the American Idol personality.
Paula: I think it's good you're in touch with your
female energy, because that's what makes him a
well-rounded performer. You're more subdued and I like
Matt: Hi, dad!
Simon: I think you're a fun guy, a nice guy, but from
the beginning where you had that terrible smile like you
were singing at some ghastly children's party! It was
The judges agree that this is becoming safe night. Oh
gosh have we lost the season so soon after we got it
back. Simon and Matt trade "I love yous" and we're going
forward. Ryan's in the audience with second season
Idoler Josh Gracin, whose single, "I Wanna Live", is
blowing up on country radio right now. His album's due
out June 15, and I believe that would make him the
fourth season two vet to have an album behind Ruben
(obviously), Clay, and Kimberley Locke. If you remember,
he sang at last year's country show, Garth Brooks' "Ain't
Going Down 'til the Sun Comes Up". And that's exactly
what La Toya London sings. Tomboy as a kid, she shows
that some habits can be harnessed for just the right
moment. Enter the right moment... NOW. She does it
better than Josh did it last year, and that's pretty
hard to accomplish. Very nice playing to the crowd, and
the stuff that she can do with stiletto heels is
amazing. And somewhere between all that, note that shook
the heavens #3. And all I have to say is "Final-fricking-ly,
a risk taker."
Randy: Another incredible performance tonight.
Paula: That was the most fun performance of the evening
tonight. You are on fire.
Simon: That's what I've been waiting for. You took a
risk and it worked. Fantastic!
And was Simon clapping? I think that's worth a few
thousand votes in and of itself there. Before we get to
the final performance, here's a clip of the Idols at a
country bar flaunting their dance moves... or absence
there of. Hero button time! *pushes button, Marie Del
Giorgio, dance instructor, appears*. She teaches the
line dances to our group, who has to rely on Fantasia's
pipes to call expert wardrobist Miles ("As luck would
have it, I collect cowboy boots."). Okay, less dancy,
more singy. Final performance is Amy Adams. She had
always loved music, or "oogits" as she would call it.
The goofball is back as she lays down the Dixie Chicks'
"Sin Wagon". A bit rocky to start, but definitely in her
element in all aspects. Not the best of the night, but
damn near close. To say that it should be enough to
avoid the red zone for another week would be an
understatement at this point.
Randy: As a former A&R guy, this is your style of music!
This is the best performance you've ever given!
Paula: You're so in the pocket. It proves who you are as
a person. You could release this song right now, and it
would go to #1 on the country charts (C-Note: I don't
think Josh is happy with that).
Simon: I don't understand this kind of music and I hated
the song. I just don't get, but yeah, it was... umm...
yeah. Honestly for once, I haven't got a clue what to
Silencer, baby! SILENCER! 1000 points! Another risk
taker, another good choice, and another fine performance
to cap your night of country music. Votes are tallied
all night and into the morning if we have to. Next time,
Gordon has the RE-sult, and someone's riding into the
sunset. I don't know who, but I have a good idea...
Chico's Idol Chart - Country (or: "After the Finger of
Death Mix, Part Two"!)
1 - La Toya (once again, top of her game)
2 - Amy (in her element)
3 - George (again, had to grow into the role)
4 - Fantasia
5 - Jennifer (shaky to start, but workable)
6 - Jon Peter (also shaky, but down with the ladies)
7 - John
8 - Diana (a little pitchy)
9 - Jasmine (a little more pitchy)
10 - Matt (still a little more pitchy and bland)
11 - Camile (shaky to start, and to end. The middle,
After two rounds:
1 - La Toya (23)
2 - George (22)
3 - Fantasia (19)
4 - Jon Peter (15)
5 - Amy (14)
6 (tie) - Jasmine and Jennifer (13)
8 - Diana (12)
9 - John (10)
10 - Matt (9)
11 - Camile (4)
Here is my AI
chart - again brought out before seeing the results -
1 - LaToya
2 - George
3 - Diana
4 - Jon Peter
5 - Fantasia
6 - Matt
7 - Jennifer
8 - Amy
9 - Jasmine
10 - John
11 - Camile
Not a heck of a lot of change here. Matt slips down
because it's obviously not his forte, but everyone else
stays the same and Fantasia slips down due to her hissy
fit with Simon. Camille was once again awful and she
should be going - but maybe the red-hared Mr. Stevens
will be joining her.
But now that we know a little about the voting, let's
talk chaos theory. Everyone knows that Camille and
Jennifer are both on the bubble - which means that the
fans will be coming out in droves. They will probably
not be going home. The question is - who gets to go in
After some more gratification and a recap, we get a
quick concert by Kimberley Locke, who sings "8th World
Wonder". If I remember correctly, both me and Chico
predicted that Kimberley, Ruben, and Clay would all have
#1 hits. Message accomplished, as Kimberley's single
debuts at #1. After a cute trip through the judges (in
which Simon says that she could make it to next week),
Kimberley thanks the fans and implores them to buy her
album "One Love".
Enough of the pleasantries. John Stevens, the man who
mangled his words...is safe. This is not looking good
already and I am wondering what the audience was
drinking when they were voting. My confidence is better
when Fantasia is safe - but then takes a u-turn when
Matt Rogers find themselves in the Bottom Three.
George is safe. Jasmine, who was awful along with Camile,
is safe - and so is the over-gyrating John Peter Lewis.
The awful Camile...is in the bottom three and she may as
well be packing and joining Leah. Diana or Amy will be
joining her, and that person is...Diana. What were you
Time to hear from the judges. Paula is very surprised
and didn't expect Diana or Matt there - but tells Camile
that she needs to be more excited. Simon wasn't
surprised and said that Matt chose the wrong song. Being
able to rectify her mistakes for next week is Diana, as
she is safe. That leaves Matt and Camile. Either
everyone thought that Camile was awful and she's gone,
or Hawaii knew that Camile was awful, so they called up
like crazy and Matt, with the supposedly 'safe'
performance, got caught in the backdraft.
The person who's going home is.....Matt Rogers.
The Chaos Theory has claimed it's first victim.
So what happened? Well, everyone has their favorites -
and people will vote for the person in danger, which
means that if you turn in a performance that people
think is 'safe', and you don't have the fan base, then
you may be in trouble. For Matt it may be that - and the
fact that he threatened to squished SImon's head like a
grape. Matt realizes this, and changes the lyrics to
loving Simon before he leaves. That's a lesson that he
learned a little bit too late.
So who's next? Well, Camille should be safe, as should
Diana, as their fans will be calling off the hook for
them. Fantasia, George and Latoya must have their fan
bases - and I don't think that the men are in danger yet
- just simply because John Stevens should have been in
the bottom three and he isn't. That leaves Jennifer,
Jasmine and Amy. Based on prior performances, it will
between Jasmine and Amy next week to see which one is
toast, and I think that Jasmine is a very edible