AMERICAN IDOL 3
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In the world's ultimate talent search - where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper and Chico Alexander, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Host: Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP: Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America
Airs: Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET and Wednesdays at 8:30p ET on FOX


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April 21/22 - Finals Round 6

Welcome to the whitest episode of American Idol since Neil Sedaka was guest judge last year. I say that because we have in the house, as the theme and the guest judge, Barry Manilow. "This is what Clay Aiken is going to look like in 30 years."

Yep.

But don't worry, as Barry has redone his catalog to fit the Idols' vocal strengths. Good for him. First on the block is Diana DeGarmo, with her Hollywood intro to "One Voice". And this one voice starts out shaky, but then again, this is reminiscent of Clay's "Solitaire" performance last year. No doubt her best, but then again, that's not saying much. If she can mature even more next week, then... and ONLY then... will I be impressed.

Randy: You were a little pitchy, BUT the most ambitious 16-year-old I've ever met, because you choose these songs that are so much bigger than what you've grown to vocally, and you just win'em!
Barry: I dreamed this song, and when I wrote it, I imagined somebody like you singing it.
Paula: This is a big moment for you. You needed it. You deserved it. Congratulations.
Simon: Without question, your best performance in the entire competition.

I wouldn't say all that now... Okay, so what if I'm tired of her. That's just me. Next is George Huff, who, according to Barry, has fantastic vocal acrobatics. Will we flip over "Get That Feeling Again"? He needs to get the feeling of Halls, it sounds like. But itchy throat aside, it starts out alright. A little subpar, and then he realizes it, turning on the trills. Yes, he overtrilled. But that's him again. If he focused more on his tone, he would've rebounded from last week, but as it stands, it's just as average.

Randy: It was a good song choice. Did not love that rendition. Trying to do way too much with it. It's a simple song with a great melody, just sing it!
Barry: I thought you did it great no matter what.
Paula: You took a different twist, you put your George Huff into it. You went behind it and even with all you did, you stayed in time.
Simon: I thought the arrangement was too fast and you made a complete mess out of it. And you'll notice that there aren't too many boos out there because the audience agrees with me.

And then the audience boos. Nice one, Simon. Next up: Jennifer Hudson, who calls working with Barry a dream. Dream song: "Weekend in New England". It's textbook Jennifer. She sings, I smile. But before I turn into a Naomi here, she seems to play off every arrangement she's given, which is not a bad thing, until she overplays. But the kiddies seem to like it. Oh, did I mention... note that shook the heavens?

Randy: Unbelievable, you just get better every week!
Barry: You took it all the way, sweetie.
Paula: Looks like you're staying on that cap and not looking back.
Simon: You created something we've never heard before - "Battle of the Divas".

Jennifer says "This is Jenny's world." And welcome to it, I say. Gee, I wonder who's in the audience today? Oh look, it's Australian Idol Guy Sebastian and three of the finalists on "The Swan"! Fremantle, free ticket. Guess I'll have to unseat Richard Karn. Anyway, onto Jasmine Trias, who thinks that Barry is a genius. "I'll Never Love This Way Again" takes the stage as Ryan takes a punch from Simon. Again. I'll admit, Jasmine is finally starting to get ahold of the whole Idol thing. But when she hits the strata again, she starts to crumble. But given a few weeks, she may learn to stop doing that. Well, one can only hope, right? And where's the flower?

Randy: Very good job. You're finally coming back.
Barry: I think you give (Dionne Warwick) a little competition.
Paula: Beautiful job.
Simon: Well, I'm glad we lost the silly flower at last (no we didn't, man). Barry, what've you done to the girls? You've made them all sing very well!

La Toya London is next, and Barry would love La Toya to sing more of the truth. And she does with "All the Time". She just goes from strength to strength, power to power. And that's what we love about her. Honestly, what can be said about her that hasn't been said already?

Randy: Great performance. I feel like the show is starting, already!
Barry: You made me proud to be a songwriter.
Paula: That one note just gave me chills all over. You are consistent.
Simon: It was great. You are, I think, the best singer in this competition.

And she believes it. Females of America, your man is next. Here's John Boy. John Stevens steps up with "Mandy", as Barry tells him not to worry about singing and just tell the story. He scored in rehearsal, but can he score here? Yes, it's about as flavorless as he comes. He poured on what juice he had in him, which, admittedly enough, wasn't much. End result, different energy, same old John Stevens.

Randy: Did I tell you that I like you and you're just the nicest kid? I just think it was a little above you.
Barry: I think you did just fine.
Paula: You kinda fell off just the middle, but you turned 17. That just comes with experience.
Simon: The problem is that Mandy fell asleep. You've gotta think about what the song it. Tonight more than anything else, I'm really getting the feeling for who the best singers are. You're not one of them. And you remind me of Stan Laurel.

**Compiler's brother from the other room: "Man, I will (^_^) you the (^_^) up!" ** Well he does! Okay, one more and then we can leave the vote to you, America. Fantasia Barrino gets a squeaky intro from Ryan, as she feels the spirit, quite literally, in "It's a Miracle." And lookie here the old Fantasia is back. Good thing or bad? You be the judge. But she brought back what America likes about her, and she was funky, so at least one person's happy. It's total Fantasia. It's her stage. It's her church, really. She's the pastor, we're the congregation, and I can only milk this metaphor so long, so let's go to the judges.

Randy: I feel the spirit in here tonight! The spirit of Fantasia Barrino! You did a good job! I love the energy.
Barry: I don't know what to say. This has been a long while. You should open your own concert with that one.
Paula: This is the Fantasia we've known from the beginning. What can I say, it's great!
Simon: You bring excitement, you bring danger. It's very tempting to go the safe route, and it could've been very sugary. Thank God you're still in this competition.

And the baby comes out in a last-ditch effort for votes. And it might work. So it comes down to "who should be in the bottom (Jasmine, George, and John)" versus "who will be in the bottom (Jennifer, Jasmine, and John)". I'll stick to the middle route and put in Jennifer, Jasmine, and John. And if America is anything like me (which I doubt, but if), then George is going to have all the ladies to himself next week. IF... We'll see if middle works with Gordon and the results tomorrow.

---

Chico's Idol Chart - Barry Manilow (or: "Aiken Incarnate")

1 - La Toya
2 - Diana
3 - Fantasia
4 - Jennifer
5 - George
6 - Jasmine
7 - John

After six rounds:

1 – La Toya (68)
2 – George (62)
3 – Fantasia (57)
4 – Jennifer (55)
5 – Diana (44)
6 – Jasmine (42)
7 – John (31)


Results coming...

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