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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.

The second season of the blockbuster series crowned a champion in Ruben Studdard, whose album, "Soulful", went to number one upon its release.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper (and a few friends), GSNN


FACT FILE:
Airdate:
January-May 2003, Fox
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


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February 11, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We are up to the second round. Will we be getting better performances this week, or will we be seeing 'Fireworks', according to Simon? We start out with fireworks, as the tabloid The Sun shows us some early pictures of Simon - shirtless and with a big mullet. Oh yeah, that will get Simon nice and ornery for these 8 people that will be performing tonight.

The first person to go is Clay Aiken. He is singing 'Open Arms' (which I remember from the Heavy Metal Soundtrack - and I enjoy the song - or I used to enjoy the song). He can not hit the high notes and this is genuinely painful to listen to. He is coming off flat like Kimberly did on the first show. The judges are shocked that the voice that's coming out tone-wise is different than the guy who's singing. I agree with the judges in terms of the tone - but all of the tone in the world doesn't do you any good if you are not on pitch.

Paula and Randy are surprised that such a beautiful voice (beautiful in their opinion) Simon agrees - but 'That's why we've opened up this contest to the general public...I don't see you as the American Idol. Maybe the public will.'

Candace Coleman is out next - and during the rehearsals, she was in tears with the vocal instructor. She sounded better now than in rehearsals - but she wasn't adventurous enough - and the song wasn't as daring as I would have liked. Randy agrees with me, Paula liked her voice (but then again she likes everything) and Simon says that she needs to perform better. I'd agree with that. She was good, but not 'blow you out of the water' good.

Now Rebecca Bond, on the other hand, picked out a more challenging song - 'Caught up in the Rapture' by Anita Baker. Unfortunately, she mangled the top notes of it, but she was more adventurous than Candace and I'd give her bonus points for that. 'I think you have a very smoky bluesy, cabaret type of voice. I don't think you're right for this competition.' says Simon. Rebecca and Paula disagree with Simon, but Randy agrees, which gives us your traditional men vs. women argument.

Jacob John Smalley is next - and this one should be unanimous - he is off tune - and really badly. Not a good performance on any level. For whatever weird reason, Paula liked it. Randy brings him down to Earth. 'I did not enjoy the performance - you've been much much better many other times.' Simon? 'The good news, I liked your voice...you are very cute, girls will love you...the performances are not good enough...All of you are capable enough...raise your game. Forget about me - you're performing for America. Americans are thinking - we have some great artists here, we want great performances. If you walked into my record company and sung like that, I'd throw you out within 30 seconds.' Jacob, who says 'God bless you all', is playing to America. It did not come off well and I don't think it's going to work.

Our fifth singer for the evening is Hadas. She may not have the best voice, but she by far has had the best performance so far. She sings 'You Light Up My Life'. Paula loves it, and Randy likes it, but he's not being blown away. 'Give me vocal fireworks...something...' Simon goes half-way. 'It's half a compliment'. She's my favorite female performer so far.

Now I'm expecting something from Mr. Ruben Studdard, based on what I saw from him in the earlier rounds. I was a bit concerned, because he was a little shaky at the start, but he got stronger as the song progressed and he banged it out near the end. Randy clapped and gives Ruben a standing ovation, Paula gets a hug and even Simon was impressed. 'You are what this competition is all about - We're looking for a star. You are a star. Everything about that performance was sensational. You set the standard for this competition. Congratulations.' Ruben bounds back to the Red Room - and he and his equally large (300+ pounds brother) squish Ryan on the sofa.

Kimberley Locke is the 7th singer - and she would be my other favorite to make it, because I think that she could be as powerful as Ruben was. She was very good - but I think she could have done better with a better song - but she was great with what she had. Randy gives her another standing ovation. 'I feel like the competition has just started.' Paul was blown away as well. 'I don't have the same buzz that I got from Ruben, but I thought that she was fantastic and was the best technical singer so far.'

Then we go into personality. 'I'd give Ruben a 10 on personality - I'd give you a 4.5.' growls Simon. After Kim gives him a zero and continues to insult him. 'I used to think you were sexy, but now I think that you suck.' Simon raises the rating up to a 6. After Kim cools off in the Red Room, we get to see the Idolers work out - with punching bags that have a picture of Simon attached to them. The idolers act the way that you expect them to, and we have shredded pictures of Simon on the floor.

The last singer is Jennifer Fuentes. She decides to go with an upbeat tune - and she sounded dreadful in her pre-interview rehearsal. Not much better here. She is not hitting the high notes, and like Clay, this is absolutely painful to listen to. The judges agree. Randy 'I thought you were better when I saw you in Miami.' Paula was wondering about the selection of the song, and Simon breaks it down. 'I thought that they were being very polite. I think the sensible thing would have been after Kimberly and Ruben was to have stayed in that room.' That gets a smack from Paula, but she did say that 'You chose the wrong song.' Kimberly's response? 'You want ballads, I'll give you ballads.' But you can't have that option when you only get one song, and the poor choice of song selection will likely knock her out of the competition.

So who do I think will advance in the competition? If it was just based on talent, then Ruben and Kimberley are (pardon the pun) locks to continue. But it's not and charisma plays a part in the selection process (See Grigsby, Charles). I think Ruben still gets in, but I think the second spot could be open between Kimberley and Clay (who I thought was lousy, but Chico's sister forced him to vote for him. How depressing.) with Rebecca as a Dark Horse.


February 12, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

Ryan will be your host for the next 30 minutes - and last weeks 8 million votes were upped by 3 million - 11 million people voted this past week. The judges predicted who would be the 2 finalists - and if you remember, none of the judges picks from last week were correct. Will they all stay 'imperfect', or will the judges actually get their finger on the pulse of America?

Simon is not there in person (he's in New York), but we do see him on a 'Squawk Box' - and we do see a quick recap of the singers. We also saw their viewing party - and they got American Idol goodies, including a poster of SImon. What's the door prize?

We have an AT and T poll on Simon - is he sexy or does he suck? (This of course, was from Kim's quote from last night - 'I used to think you were sexy, but now I think that you suck.'

Jennifer is going first - and America didn't like her. She starts bawling and Candace holds her. Candace is next - and she also doesn't gets picked. They can now cry in each others arms. But they don't.

Ruben is up next - and America agrees with the judges. He is one of the Top 3. Rebecca is next, but she is not joining Ruben. Clay is up next and he is joining Ruben up on the stools.

Jacob John, who was blessing everybody, did not get blessed by the audience. He does not get on, and he can start cursing everyone once the cameras stop rolling.

That leaves us down to Kimberley and Hadas. After the commercial, we find out that Clay needs to pee (do we really need to know that?). We also find out that Kimberley has made it to the group of three. I am 3 for 3 this week (yeah, baby) and now 5 for 6 for the show.

And the Judges? Randy says Ruben and Kimberley, Paula says Ruben and Kimberly and Simon says Ruben and Kimberly. They all also say that Ruben is the top vote-getter and his 300+ pound brother comes in to hug Ruben - and mug Ryan in the process. Ryan goes to clean up his bloody lip while Ruben sings his reprise.

So we will be now hearing the results....of the AT&T Poll. 58% of Americans say that Simon SUCKS (while 42% of you people are misguided). 'American once again has gotten it wrong, I demand a recount.' says Simon, before Paula pulls the plug, literally, on him.

And now the second place winner is...Kimberley! She edges out Clay as the second finalist. She sings her final song, and this time around, instead of hearing Clay, Ryan ends it by reminding everyone to tune in for next week.

And speaking of which, Week 3 has the following - Ricky Smith, Equoia Coleman, George Trice, Vanessa Olivares, Jordan Segundo, Kimberly Kelsey, Ashley Hartman and Corey Clark.


February 18, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

The question that Chico Alexander posed to me was will this be an image vs. talent war? If the answer is yes, then so far, the talent is destroying the image. Kimberly Locke and Ruben Stoddard, arguably 2 of the least image-like in the whole competition, made it out of week 2. We will now see who we get to vote for in Round 3.

Simon is back - and everyone wishes that he was back in his box. Simon has his own video - he reminds us all about Ryan getting squished by Ruben and his brother. 'You looked pathetic. You showed in front of 25 million people that you are a woman.' Ryan - 'I've been doing that for a year now.' No comment.

But let's start out the singing portion of this show with a real woman, shall we? Kimberly Kelsey is hoping to step up her game (as she remembers Simon's warning from a few weeks ago). She sang 'It's all coming back to me now' - and once again, the first singer for the third straight time was flat. Not bad, but not mind-blowing, and the judges agree. 'What we are all saying is that you are capable of doing better than this.' says Simon, who added that it was just 'Alright'.

Jordan Segundo is next up. He is representing Hawaii - and I didn't realize that Hawaiian singers were that flat. He picks it up at the end to make it up to OK, but the beginning was pretty atrocious. He has love for Paula - and Paula gives her love back to him. Does Simon agree? 'There was no spark in your eyes - you looked dead - like a fish on the slab...I would try a couple of cartwheels on the way back.' said Simon. Jordan panders to America? Note to Jordan; Yes, it was a decent performance, but pandering to the camera never works.

What does work is dynamite singing - and Vanessa Olivares is looking to do just that. Vanessa blows Kimberly out of the water in terms of energy, but I wasn't thrilled by her choice of song (though she did do it incredibly well). Randy liked her conviction and Paula likes her personality. Simon? 'Great Personality, brilliant choice of song...I think you need to lose some pounds.' Vanessa - 'I know I have a big butt, but it worked for J-Lo.'

Mr. Cowell is trying to say that as a compliment, but Vanessa is not buying what Simon is selling. Vanessa does an impression of Keith (the male who butchered the Madonna songs - see the January 28 episode for details) and that turned me off. It's never good karma to make fun of bad singers - even if they were brutally grotesque.

The 4th performer is Rickey Smith - and he does a Hercules satire in the form of 'Vote for me! Vote for me!' He was very shaky throughout the song with his voice - he did not hit all of the notes, but like Ruben, he got his act together at the end and he had a sweet exit part. Randy - 'I was waiting for you at the end to do something, and you did something, so I'm good - I'm all good' Paula 'You did your thing - and you did it really well.' Here comes Mr. Simon 'It was good - I'm not jumping out of my chair, but it was good...better than being bad.' Rickey - that's the best that Simon has said about someone, take it and run with it. Mom agrees 'You did great...If the worst he had to say was good, then be good with that.'

Samantha Cohen is singer number 5. She goes the bluesy route, with 'Giving them something they can feel', which is very nice - but the bluesy rout has not gotten anyone very far this year. Simon 'I'm seeing polished good singers - but I'm not excited'. Randy - 'I just haven't been blown away - it was good, but I wasn't feeling Oh my G-d.' I have to agree with that - nowhere near as strong as the second group - but better than the first group.

The next one up is Lou Gazzara. He does 'How Am I Supposed to Live Without You' and he definitely supplies the energy - but not the pitches. I also question the choice of song. Simon - 'I think that Lou is the RJ of this competition from last year...nice looking boy, should be in a boy band, not a star...a bit 'so what'...sometimes you walk away saying from these shows and thinking 'G-d that was amazing', and sometimes you walk away saying 'so what'?' Paula disagrees - until the judges press her and ask if she's going to remember this performance. Then she cops out with 'I remember everything that they do.'

Will 7 be Equoia (Coleman)'s lucky number? It could be as she sings a sweet rendition of 'The Way We Were' - but she did not pick out a good song for her, I thought. She sings the heck out of it, but she needed a better showcase tune. 'It was a very interesting choice of song for me...there were a little pitch problems at the beginning and at the end, but I thought that you brought something to it and it was the most passionate performance that I saw out of it.' Paula agrees, but Simon agrees with me - 'I think it was quite a cabaret performance...she's capable of better than this.'

The last singer for this group is George Trice - and I'm glad that he is the last one. He absolutely butchers 'Unchained Melody' and it may have been Simon's favorite before - but it may not be now. Another one of those painful to listen to performances - WAY too much vibrato - it was like he was playing to the public instead of singing the song, and it did not come out well. Paula says it was a seamless beautiful performance (wha?) while Randy liked it. Simon, please help us here. 'It kind of reminded me of being in an Italian restaurant where one of the waiters had a few drinks and he belted out Unchained Melody.' Thank you Simon.

Once again I am forced to agree with Mr. Cowell on his general sum-up speech too. 'This show tonight is very interesting, because we said all along that we were going to raise the bar. I think what I have seen tonight is that I've seen some professional performances, but a lot of bad song choices, no sparks, a lot of nerves, and I will say 2 things to you. #1 - The show next week will blow this group apart. And something else that's going to be surprising - you know what I think will be the best group of them all? The wild card group, I guarantee you that this will be the best group of this competition. 100%.'

That ends this group. My take? interesting. If I was just going to take the top 2, just based on this one performance, then I would have to take Samantha Cohen and Equoia Coleman. But neither of them will be going on, and here's why - the voting public has always picked one man and one woman, the people that they've picked have traditionally been the minorities if they sound reasonably well (See Charles Grigsby) and the ones that have gotten the air time have been given the benefit of the doubt even if their performance has been shaky (See Julia DeMato). Do I sound stereotypical? Yes, but part of my gig is to detect the trends and to predict, so there you go.

Based on that analysis, my prediction is that Rickey 'Hercules' Smith (who my family would have voted for even if he pranced to the stage in a Scottish Kilt and sang the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner in Greek) and Vanessa 'Wild Colored Hair' Olivares get the nod in, with probably Equoia (or Samantha) as the one on the outside looking in. But I agree with Simon on this two - none of them brought their A Game, and whoever advances will have to do better or they will quickly be advancing out of the competition.


February 19, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

So how do we know that this is live? When Ryan Seacrest has no sound when he starts the show. We then chat about Joe Millionaire - and Simon thinks that Joe made the wrong choice and should have picked Sarah.

Ryan gets another microphone - and we talk to Vanessa - who wore vertical stripes to elongate her butt. OK. We also get to see Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, who plug their new movie and will show you a piece of their new movie - and ask Ryan if he's still wearing his girlie shirts ('Yes, I am' he replies). Their new movie is called 'Timeless' and we see pieces of the duet - which honestly looks ghastly as they are singing in the same boat and are not looking at each other - except in a split screen - and even then it looks contrived. What sort of chemistry is that? Awful, awful, awful. AND the song sucks.

Here's the poll question - Which judge do you most agree with? A. Simon, B. Paula, C. Randy. If I was voting (which I am) I would say I mostly agree with SIMON. EEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!

We get a quick recap of last night (but if you want a detailed recap, you can read up there). We start with Samantha - and she does not make the top three. Vanessa does and she is the first person up.

Jordan did not get in, and he and the family start tearing up. Lou gets to join Jordan in the suck pond. Rickey does not join them - he is also one of the people who advance to the final three.

George, who's the warbling waiter, does not get in - so that leaves us Equoia and Kimberly. Equoia gets in, and I am now perfect for the second straight week. (And 8 out of 9 for the season - I am just soooo studly).

And the judges? Randy - Vanessa and Kimberly, Paula - Vanessa and George, Simon - Vanessa and Kimberly. The judges continue their imperfect record. Is it talent of style, or is it personality over talent? Simon says - 'Maybe things are being takes a bit too seriously here . Randy 'It's talent over weight' Simon 'Paula, how many fat dancers do you work with?' Paula - 'I think (Simon) needs to see a doctor. I think he needs some help.' Simon - 'Back to them...Vanessa, you did great, Rickey, I think you're here because of your personality, because I thought you sang flat last night, and Equoia, you're capable of doing better, honestly.'

Ryan reads off first place - and it's Vanessa! Vanessa shakes her butt for America and for the judges. She doesn't sing (we don't have time), but we have time for some more commercials before seeing the second winner.

But before we get that - here come the results, and 49% of America agree with - SIMON!!!! Paula is in the middle with 30%, and Randy has 21%. 'I love America' says Simon, while everyone else boos him.

And the second person to make it is....Rickey!! And he is crying now too. It's a cry fest on American Idol. I am 2 for 2 for the second straight week (and I would have been perfect if I was smart enough to realize that they would be going 1 man and 1 woman for each round.) That makes me 5 for 6 in terms of selections. I am just too good.

The last set of 8 will be the following - Corey Clark, Ashley Hartman, Chip Days, Nasheka, Joshua Gracin, Sylvia Chibiliti, Patrick Lake, and Juanita Barber. Only 2 of them got any serious airtime - and they are both guys, so those are my early picks - but I'll save that for next Tuesday when we actually get to hear them sing.

*********************************************************

That's it for this week in terms of the competition. But we are up to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly - the best of the rest of American Idol. We will be showing the best of the singers that didn't get to the 32 - and some of the really rotten singers.

We start with Carrie from Los Angeles (who I recapped earlier on in the series) - but Carrie was just ok in round 2 - and ok didn't cut it. 'Carrie, you lost something, and I don't know what it is...it's a shame.'

We also relive the butchering of the National Anthems. (All of the stuff that I recapped, by the way I will just touch on - and you can see it in the recaps)

Randy's un-favorites was Dino in Los Angeles, Monica the sheep woman in Miani and Michael the car starter in Detroit.

Next up is Paula - her favorite was Antorey, who did some Stevie Wonder - Paula, you officially have no taste - he was awful. And he continued to be awful in the second round. And unfortunately for him, Paula didn't judge him - Simon did. 'That was like a musical nightmare. If ever I want to put a hotel out of business, I'm booking you to be the cabaret.'

He was from Mo-town - and we hear a melody of awful singers trying to do Motown. 'Shmotown Gold - only $234.99. Call 1-800-TRASH - From A Idol Records (And no, do not dial the number, it's obviously a satire).

Randy - 'Sometimes we have to sit there and hear these people all day...I feel so bad for the songwriters... these people just destroy all these songs beyond all recognition...the lyrics are all torn up...for any contestants coming in next year, please does the songwriters justice - do not butcher these songs.'

We bring in Edwin McCain, the songwriter for 'I'll Be' as he makes fun of the singers. 'If any of you are out there are thinking of singing my songs, please, please be gentle.' This PSA was brought to you be American Idol and the American Songwriter Society (A.S.S).

Next up - twins. We saw the New Jersey Morgans do well, And Paula likes the Gomez twins as well but not the shepherds (Unfortunately, you doubled the pain moaned Simon) or the Shepherds (See the L.A. Episode) or the Mariah Carey look-alike (from Miami) - and unfortunately the return of Edgar (also from Miami).

Edgar came back to Los Angeles and tried to get in there - and spoke to Kristin and tried to get into the auditions for a second time - and this time he sang in Spanish with a sort of new look - his hair was combed forward. Either way, it was awful. Simon? 'Number 1, you can't sing, Number 2, the faces of Paula of horror is what an audience is projecting when they are listening to your voice, because you can't sing. Edgar 'I was thinking that Paula was about to cry.' Simon 'She was going to cry out of pain... it was painful... this is supposed to be about joy, not misery... you're not going to Hollywood, you're never going to Hollywood.' Bye-bye Edgar.

Paula is griping about Simon's griping 'There are points where Simon goes a little too far with her comments.' Here are some of the ones that we didn't hear previously - 'This is the bad news - this is a singing audition... I know you are ill, but if you sang like that, the audience would be screaming for the wrong reason... It says here that you worked as a wedding singer? How many did you end in divorced... If I were you, I'd phone up the war department, because you just invented a new form of torture... I'll give you a future tip for singing auditions - don't."

Then we get to the weight issue - and Simon and Paula get over her weight - her voice was beautiful, but she had some poundage - this ends up in Paula yelling at Simon. What does Simon have to say for himself? 'Yes I am criticized for being tough on the contestants, but first of all, you have to preserve the integrity of the competition. I have to invest millions of dollars into the winner of this competition, and we get an awful lot of people who are useless.

Adam - 'If there was a woman judge, I think I'd flirt with her...' Simon - 'Adam, they'd have to be deaf.' Adam gets convicted of murdering a good song.

You have other people making excuses of being sick or having nothing - but Simon isn't buying what any of them are selling. We get to see the pleading contestants - one of which does get in and the other one doesn't.

Aliceyn is another singer that has a nice voice but did get past the second round, but mysteriously got cut. Explain this one, Simon. 'The difficulty when you judge a competition of the size of American Idol 2...is that you can't remember certain people afterwards... Aliceyn, we loved her when we first saw her...for whatever reason, we were having a bad day, she slipped through the net, Unlike Adam, who should be trapped under a net.'

Adam did a rap of Baby's Got Back and it was dreadful. 'You have a disease called Cantsingitis, it will be a medical term in at least 2 or 3 years - it is people with zero talent who believe they are fantastic.'

We get to see people with Cantsingitis. We also see people who are fashion disasters - and then we get to Nathan from New York (see the top for the full full-blown details).

Lindsay is a witch - but she gets through to the second round after enrapturing Simon. 'She went to round 2 - she lost the magic' says Simon. And we finish it off with the 'Worst' singer in the competition - Keith. My vote for worst singer is Edgar - but Keith would be in the top 5. But the reaction from Randy in the whole bit was priceless. We end with some bad dancing and we fade to black.

On Tuesday, I hope we get to see some better examples of singing as the last 8 first-timers grace the stage.


February 25, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We have seen 24 of the 32 American Idol Semi-Finalists. We get to see the final 8 tonight. They are the following people - Corey Clark, Ashley Hartman, Chip Days, Nasheka, Joshua Gracin, Sylvia Chibiliti, Patrick Lake, and Juanita Barber. No Frenchie Davis, so I guess she is stuck shilling for Entertainment Tonight as they thumb their nose at the Idolers. According to Simon, this groups will 'Knock (the last group) out of the water.'

So will they? Or will they be drowning in the ocean of high expectations?

One way to find out...

Ryan checks out his microphone to see if it works - Simon is hoping that it isn't, as Ryan covers his mouth. 'Can you keep your hand there the whole time? asks Paula. Meanwhile, Ryan and Simon bet Randy $100 that he didn't say Dude, Dawg or Man. He agrees - and blows it within the first 60 seconds. Randy says a 4 letter word that is not dude and he gets bleeped out.

We will start the round with Sylvia - and she is acting like a diva. Is it just me, or does she have a large mouth? She sings 'Didn't we almost have it all', and she sings it decently, but once again, a poor choice of song. Now what is a poor choice of song? Something that does not give you the vocal range to shine so it sounds average. The tone is off too. Randy thinks that her tone is off, while Paula, who actually criticizes someone (for once), thinks that she oversang the song.

And, of course, Simon adds his 2 cents worth - 'You sing like a ventriloquist puppet...When you look back at the tape, it seems like your mouth is doing some strange things.' She disagrees and admits to Ryan that she doesn't know what Simon's talking about. This girl just does not get it, and her acting defiant over her technical problems makes her look more like a reject than a rebel.

(Commercial - Matt, the first contestant on Married by America, needs a wife - what he really needs is a good plastic surgeon who does tummy tucks on faces)

Next up is Chip Days. He says that he is anything but corny. He is anything but on tune or pitch in the beginning of his song. He recovers and is decent - but once again, there is no soul to his song. It seems like they are trying to make love to the camera and not to the song that he's singing. Simon hates the clothes and thinks that he looks like he is in pain 'You sang better like Rickey last week, but you don't have Rickey's personality.' Paula likes his voice but Randy agrees with me - no emotion in that song whatsoever. Listen people;

PLEASE PEOPLE SING THE FRIGGING SONG AND MAKE LOVE TO THE SWEET TUNES OF NECTAR INSTEAD OF STARING AT THE CAMERA AND MAKING GOOGLY EYES AT US AUDIENCE MEMBERS!!! I DON'T CARE IF YOU STARE AT ME - I WILL NOT VOTE FOR YOU IF YOU STARE AT ME AND SUCK!!! ARGGHHH!!!!

Thank you.

Juanita Barber is the third singer for the evening. FINALLY we get some soul and energy - and it's about time. No, she is not perfect, but at least she is pouring herself in the song, and that's more than most people have done. The judges, however, decide to bye hypocritical and decide to go against her. Paula - 'I'm seeing a lot of oversinging' Simon - 'That was not good...you really chose the wrong song.' Juanita - 'I think America picked the wrong judge.'

Juanita and Simon continue yapping at each other with nothing in terms of substantial argument. Then Juanita and Randy get into it by arguing that each person doesn't know who the other one is (yes, it's as dopey as it sounds) and she finally leaves the stage. Ok, she does look like an idiot by picking on Randy (Simon I can understand, but Randy?), but this is a VERY interesting point (assuming that we don't have singers who do both) - do you vote for the person who hits the notes and who has the soul of a dead fish? Or do you vote for the one who may not be accurate but who brings energy to the table?

Patrick Lake is ready to rock. He is the only rocker in the field - and the only male in this group that is painted in a positive light. Barring a musical disaster, he should make the final 2. There were some shaky parts, but he does do ok - and he does put some soul into it. Again, the judges disagree as Randy thought that he was better in Atlanta 'It was like you were almost shouting...it didn't quite work. 'Paula thinks that he's refreshing.' 'Honestly Patrick, I think that we made a mistake putting you here...I see s sheep in wolf's clothing.' 'It's not Rock and Roll Idol, it's American Idol. Rock and Roll is American.' Simon is just liking anyone today. Maybe he's wearing saggy diapers that leak.

(Another married by America contestant - he wants a woman to look just like his mom. No comment.)

Nasheka starts the second half of the singers. She really hasn't been seen, but the field is wide open for her with a great performance. She is good technically, but she doesn't excite me either. No one has excited me. Yawwwn. 'My biggest complaint from you is that I didn't feel anything from you, performance-wise.' says Randy. Paula thinks that she needs to improve her showmanship, while Simon says - 'You look the part, you could sound the part, but the song is not for you.' and Simon adds that she has taken a page out of Tamyra Gray's book - but Tamyra sounded better. She did sound the best of the three women singers so far, but it still hasn't really set herself off.

Joshua Gracin is singer #6. He already has a problem with Simon, 'who's not only not a singer, but is also a Brit'. Joshua has the same problem as Juanita the energy was there, and he makes love to the song - but his pitch is off and it's bordering on brutal. 'Finally a good singer who's singing a song that's good for him.' Joshua says that if his unit is called, then he will go to duty. 'It just looks right that your standing there where it says American Idol.' says Simon. Paula - 'I think Edwin McCain would be proud.' AwwwwwwwBarf.

The final woman to sing was Ashley Hartman. Same problem as the other females - lots of energy, no pitch and no pitch quality. It didn't work for Randy, while Paula thought there was a vibe. Simon? 'The good news is that you're beautiful...when I first heard your voice, I can imagine you as a singer on a cruise ship. In the second half of the song, I can imagine the ship sinking...certain people deserve to be here based on what they did before - based on that performance, I'm afraid you don't.' Ouch. She comes sit to Ryan - and she already has accepted the fact that she is not advancing onwards.

The final singer for the night is Corey Clark - now he got a lot of camera time - and most of it was negative, as it showed him going out at night and somehow getting to this round despite the fact that he was horrible. He wasn't much better when he sang - he could not hit the high notes and this was also painful to listen to. If he thinks that he can skate on the looks and personality, that will be the only thing that gets him in, because it won't be on the vocals this time around. The judges give them standing ovations - they must be whipped on the guy, because they apparently were listening to a different performance than I was. 'You put me in a good mood'. said Simon. Corey says that he redeemed himself - 'I haven't been out since that night.'

This one is a tough call - because no one really set themselves up for greatness. The audience usually picks a man and a woman, but that violates the TV rule - the people with the good airtime get picked. I will lean more towards that, since I don't think that the women proved themselves, and I will say that Patrick 'Rock Power' and Joshua 'Mr. Marine' get in, with Corey coming in third (for a 3 man final 3). If there is a woman who gets picked, then it should be Nasheka. This is the group where there could be a surprise coming out - we'll see tomorrow.


February 26, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We are back with group 4. Ryan brings us back to yesterday, where the judges and singers are sniping at each other. Juanita now loves Simon, but doesn't like his opinion. Simon, on the other hand, loves being abused by women. Meanwhile, Patrick wants to spike Simon's tires, and Corey (guy with the hat) wants to slit them with him. Can you just feel the love here?

But we are not here for love - we are here to see who advances to the final 10. Ryan will start us off - but before we do that, we will get to pick the favorite poster of the movie. BLAH.

Nasheka is the first person up - and she is the first person that gets rejected for the week. Joshua is next - and he did make the top three. He smiles and walks over there.

Ashley is third, and to no one's surprise, she does not get in either. Corey is fourth up - and America voted him in the top three as well.

Sylvia is up next - and she did not get into the top three. Juanita is next - and between the bickering singer and the bickering judges, the bickering singer loses. She does not get in.

So it comes down to Chip and Patrick. Ryan lets Chip read the card - and it says 'We'll find out right after the break.' Chip nods his head down in agony, while Patrick just exhales a huge sigh of relief. That was meaner than most of Simon's barbs, gang.

But we are now back after the break - and your final person up is... PATRICK. I am once again three for three. Yeah baby. That makes me three for three for the past 3 weeks and 11 out of 12 for the series. If Patrick and Joshua get in, then I will by 7 for 8 in picking the finalists - not a bad record, if I do say so myself.

The judges? Josh and Corey all around in a unanimous decision. That's impressive for the judges. The number one winner is JOSHUA as the Marine takes first place. He sings his reprise song while Patrick and Corey are both visibly twisting in the wind.

And without further ado, the SECOND place winner is - COREY CLARK. Nothing like the audience to make me a little humble. But I am still 6 out of 8 total for the finalists, and that's not half bad. He sings his reprise to end the show.

Unfortunately, this is also a disturbing trend - because if you've been following my columns, you know that the people who got in did not necessarily sing the best - but they did get the most camera time. This is the hint for all of you singers for next year - MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE SILLY AND GOOFY AND PLAY FOR THE CAMERA - because the more face time you get, the better chance you have to make it into the finals. It's not about talent, or even personality - it's about mugging for the camera.

So how do we decide who comes back? They will pick the best people that they saw - which means that some of those people will be ones who DIDN'T make the 32, Hmmmm - interesting. In addition to that, there is a twist. 'There is something coming - and it's good.' says Simon. We will see...

And those 8? The first four are those who did not make the final 32 - Aliceyn Cooner, Janine Falsone, Olivia Mojica, and Carmen Rassmusen. The final people are Kimberly Caldwell, Trenyce, Clay Aiken and the judges decide that Chip from this show will be coming back - and they also pick Nasheka as well. So we have now 9 people in the 8 person semifinals.

I'm guessing that the twist is more than that. Come back next week to see what it is - and who the final 2 people are.

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