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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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March 4, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We are here for the Wild Card Round - and according to Simon, it's going to be wild. This round is a combination of people who got rejected by the viewing audience - or got rejected by the judges and never had the chance to make it to the viewing audience. This could mean 2 things - it's either a way to let the talented people who somehow fell through the cracks to get their own shot (which is all very nice, but I'll take the second one - the talent pool has been so unimpressive for this series that they decided to bring some extra people into it to try to spice it up.

And spice it up is right - there are 7 women and only 2 guys. Gee, I wonder if someone wanted 2 girls to go on to even out the playing field, eh? 'Everyone is on the same level' explains Ryan, although some people had more screen time than others. Yeah, right.

And the twist is? 'We're going to make this a Top Twelve' The judges will pick three of them, and America will pick one more person. I am guessing that Frenchie Davis will not be one of those choices.

NOTE TO TV PEOPLE (AND NOT JUST FOX) - PLEASE MAKE SURE THAN WHEN YOU SAY THERE IS A TWIST, MAKE IS A REAL TWIST. THESE 'TWISTS' ARE INCREDIBLY LAME.

But what it does do is that it gives the judges a chance to bring their favorites into the game, regardless of what the wacky audience says. Kimberly Caldwell is a sterling example of the judges picking the Wild Card. She made such a negative impression that I don't think the audience will ever pick her because of what she did to Julia DeMato (don't remember? read the recaps above).

She is obviously a judges favorite, and all she has to do is to sing slightly passable and she will be a shoo-in for the judges. She is MUCH better this time around, though Randy wasn't impressed. Paula says that she was under pitch and Simon thought that she was unimpressive - but that she was impressive before. Maybe the judges and I are watching different performances of her, since we were the exact opposite when she first song. I still think that unless four people knock the judges block off that Kimberly gets in.

The second judges pet... I mean contestant, is Clay Aiken. I didn't like him then - and I don't like him now. He sing 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' I HATE this song. He does perform it well, and again I liked him better now than earlier. Paula says that he raised the bar. Randy gives him props and gives him a standing ovation, saying that he did his homework. Even Simon was impressed 'You are looking better each week.' I'll have to agree - he should be another judges shoo-in.

The third vocalist is Nasheka. She says that she needed to be more comfortable on the stage. She also needs to go back to the vocal coach - not only does she still look uncomfortable (spreading your legs out is NOT a way of being comfortable), her pitch is excruciating. Much better earlier than tonight's performance, which was simply brutal. Simon thought that she was brilliant (WHAT?), but Paula says that it was OK and Randy was looking for more growth and didn't get it.

Next up is Carmen Rasmussen. She did not make the final 32, but she got called back here. It had to be for the image (which is hot) and not for the vocals (which were ice cold) and the warbling pitch. Paula? 'You only get that much better by experience.' Randy wants her to keep trying while Simon breaks it down - 'We brought some people back so that they would have a chance to shine. You didn't. It wasn't good enough. Sorry.' Me and Simon are back on the same wavelength.

The 5th singer is Olivia Mojica. 'This time around, everything is going to be flawless.' I'll say this - she brings a lot of passion and emotion to the table - but like the other 2 girls before her, she is very very off on pitch, and this is the third straight painful performance that I have to sit through. Randy thought that she showed life at the end, but it didn't work for him. Simon - 'I don't think Diane (Warren, the songwriter of 'Because you Lived Me', the song that she sang) is going to be jumping around overjoyed with that rendition of that song.'

Janine Falsone, the woman who got caught in that love triangle in Episode 1, is back. So far, the returnees are 0-2. Make it 0-3. She is better than the other returnees who didn't make the top 32, but her tone is off. She does make it up by playing to the camera, but was it enough? 'You had about as much passion as a kitten mewing...You were so wrong for that song.' The other judges agreed with that, and I have to as well. She even admits that she agreed with the judges.

Chip Days is lucky number 7. Chip was technically sound, and he did have the image thing going. He doesn't do anything musically for me, but it seems obvious that the judges are all ga-ga for him. Well, at least 2 of them - Randy and Paula like him. Simon refreshingly surprises me - 'I thought that was a terrible audition...I think all of these people are capable of doing better - wrong song choice, and Chip I think that you can do better and in this audition, you were terrible.'

Simon's top choice, Alecyn Cooney, is next. Can she do what the returnees haven't been able to do yet? To me, the answer is yes. She is not as polished as Kim or Clay, but she did sound good and she did express passion - but does t cover her lack of hitting the notes? 'It was good - I'm not jumping out of my chair...In the words of Paula Abdul, good job.' Randy also thought it was Ok, while Paula has only heard that one song (she sang 'Angel) and wants her to sing something different. Paula acting like Simon? Yikes.

After a Justin Guraini makes a surprise appearance on the show (and does absolutetly nothing), Trenyce is the last person to sing. She learned a lot from last time - she wears something very skimpy, sells (bordering on whores) herself for the camera, and gets into the song. She, in my opinion, made the most out of her return, and Paula and Randy agree with that with a standing ovation. 'You shined last tine - you were even better tonight.' Simon? 'I'm not quite as excited as you guys...maybe I'm in a bad mood.'

There could be another more sinister reason to invite the people who didn't make the top 32 than the other 2 reasons. Here is the reason - perhaps the judges liked the four people (Chip, Clay, Kimberly and Trenyce) so much that they would be willing to put up inferior talents to compare them to in the Wild Card Round that the singers would advance in a walk and it wouldn't matter who America picked? It sure looks like that to me. Sure some surprise will happen, but the fact of the matter is that the judges were so willing to let their favorites in - even changing the rules of the contest to do it, that it once again compromises the competition. I thought this part was repulsive the first time around, and just as repulsive the second time around.

So who wins? I was waiting for any of the people who didn't make the Top 32 to make a stand - but they didn't. The audience may be trickier to figure out this time - but barring something weird, I'll have to go with the four people who did make the final 32 that sang the best - Kim, Clay, Trenyce and Chip - and I think all four of them get in one way or another, since it's obvious that the judges want them to. Call me Mr. Jaded.


March 5, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We have a special HOUR edition of American Idol tonight. We get to see America's choice - and the judges choice. There is a small written note at the bottom that says 'recorded from an earlier broadcast'. Is this not LIVE? Is FOX AGAIN falsely advertising the public?

Ryan Seacrest introduces the show by reminding everyone that most of these people will be rejected from the show for the second straight time. He then goes to Simon, who was in a bad mood last night. We get to see pictures of him in a pacifier in his mouth - and with a bib on (thanks to the special effects people in the back. Ryan tells everyone to give him a group hug - and they do. AwwwwwwBARRRRRRRF. 'What is happening to this show?' says Simon.

Simon blames the producers for getting him in a bad mood last night. What may make him in e better mood will be to see the 8 people who made it so far. Ryan brings them back out - Charles Grigsby, Julia DeMato, Kimberley Locke, Ruben Studdard, Rickey Smith, Vanessa Olivares, Joshua Gracin and Corey Clark. They all leave, and I am afraid that we have another 20 minutes worth of filler before actually getting down to it. We get the Ford Trucks replay from last night as my fears are starting to be justified.

Kimberly says that she's single as she is hanging out with Clay. Meanwhile, Trenyce says that she likes to give great performances and that she's a good performer. Is it good enough?

We are going to see who America picked first - and Ryan is going through all of the people and who they sang - and what the judges said. I could recap them, but you're better off reading the recaps from yesterday's show. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. So Ryan reads it - and he can't really read it - he says he needs his glasses. To make this also really short, this turns into a lame segway to go into a commercial break. This would be sort of funny if we couldn't see it being telegraphed from a mile away.

Just a note - it really didn't matter if you went to different web sites and missed that this show started tonight at 8 instead of 830. I am guessing that most people will tune on at 8:30 and not miss a single blessed thing. It would be nice to have the results being read maybe at 8:14 and have the rest of it being discussion. Nah, the ratings people would never buy that.

We are back - and the letter is still being translated. Yawwwwn. Meanwhile, Ryan is going over and explaining that each judge will be able to send one contestant to the Finals.

We start with Randy 'Dawg' Jackson. He says that this person hasn't hit potential, but this person could be a star. Randy has chosen Kimberly - which is good, because Kimberly will never win a public vote. She screams and hugs Ryan - and then Randy. Get used to it Kimberly - I don't see you getting past the first three votes. That's one judges pet who gets through - and it will be very interesting to see Kimberly vs. Julia DeMato, Round 3. She sings her reprise and we see them at an Oliver Beene screening to finish off the segment.

So before we get to Paula, Paula and Randy force Simon to apologize and to thank the producers for making them Millionaires.

Paula starts by making it secret, but after saying that she and Randy gave her a standing ovation, we all know that it's Trenyce. She is the only person that I think deserves the third chance, because I think that she is underrated. Trenyce does her singing reprise.

Time for Simon - this could be a very interesting pick, because I expect Clay to win the popular vote, so Simon doesn't have to pick him - but I can't expect him to pick Chip. Simon backtracks and says that when he talks and then hears the replay, he could change his mind. Ahhhhhhh. 'I'm going to take a risk here, because the person that I chose did not sing the best last night.' Simon decides that CARMEN is his choice to go on. Wow. That came completely from left field. Carmen is shocked. I'm shocked - especially since that he said that Carmen wasn't good enough. My ears will be bleeding at least once next Tuesday - and Carmen's reprise only solidifies that I am guaranteed at least one painful song.

Simon's pick means two things - 1. He is positive that America chose Clay Aiken and 2. Chip's audition was really brutal to the point that Simon was not going to save him.

So does Clay or Chip advance to the next round? Or did America suddenly go tone-deaf and pick someone who really does not deserve to be in the finals? The card has finally been translated, but we won't hear it until Ryan stretches it out - and he find out that there will be a 6-11 year old talent show. BLEH.

The last person to advance is.... CLAY AIKEN. He hugs everyone and is on the verge of tears. He reprises the song. Ryan has everyone else come back - including the judges. Advice? Randy says that consistency is the key, Paula says to enjoy the journey, and Simon says to be afraid. So we have our 12 people, and we fade to black.

My Take? I think there is definitely more talent on this crew than the first one. I'll say right now that my top 3 ONLY based on singing ability and nothing else, is Julia DeMato, Trenyce, and Vanessa Olivares. But add the personality in, and it completely changes to Clay Aiken, Rickey Smith, and Ruben Studdard. The first few votes will tell us what direction America is leaning in - and we'll see that in just 7 short days.


March 11, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We are done with the second phase of the competition and we are into the final round. Here come the finalists as we start with the LIVE two hour premiere. Today's theme is MOTOWN - and we'll get there right after we see the opening montage.

We are LIVE - and Ryan is here with his 2 tons of suntan lotion. We have a live audience - 'The best looking live audience in the world' exclaims Ryan, as we into the 12 finalists.

Ryan goes into the rules - besides no stage diving for Ruben. They sing, we vote. One person gets eliminated each week. The last person left standing in your American Idol.

There are 2 themes tonight - the first theme is that it's Motown night, The second theme is that all of the songs were written by Lamont Dozier - which is even more impressive by the fact that all of the songs were written by him - 76 top ten hits by him. Wow.

We get a quick profile of him doing a master class with the idolers. They revere him, and he is rewarded by being a celebrity judge. So we have 4 judges tonight, as he joins Simon, Paula and Randy.

Kimberley Locke goes first and we see a bio of her (I will spare everyone all of the bios, because all it will do is give me an unlimited supply of awwwwwwbarf moments). She sings 'Heat Wave', and she sounds pretty good. Not the most inspiring that I've heard from her, but definitely passable. Randy agrees with me 'It's hard going first, but you were good - not the best that I've heard from you, but you were good.' Paula says that it was a nice way to start the show. Lamont loved the energy that she had 'You were ready for business.' Simon? 'It was ok...it was good, but you could do better.'

Next up is the story of Joshua Gracin, the marine. Or shall I say the corporal. Or should I say now, the singer, as he sings 'Baby I Need Your Lovin.' What about 'Baby, I need your vocal chords'? Not good at all, but I can't possibly see a marine getting knocked out of the first round. Randy thought that Josh put a lot of himself into it and Paula thinks that he raised his game. 'You're not Levi Stubbs, but you came with your heart, and I can't ask for more than that.' says Lamont, and Simon thought that he was very good, but thought that Josh needed to lose a few pounds. Josh challenges Simon to a push-ups match. I think that Josh could stand to lose a few bad notes.

The third person up is Charles Grigsby. He sings 'How Sweet it is'. He was not describing his tone, which was very flat. Ouch. He did put a lot into it, and he has a very nice stage presence. Randy thought it was alright, but didn't feel enough personality. Paula liked his profile and she thought that he did a great job (wha?). Even Marvin Gaye had to struggle with that song' says Lamont, who says that it's good. I'm waiting to hear Simon bash him. I am disappointed. 'It was good.' I have to disagree here. Yuck.

Next up is my favorite punching bag, Kimberly Caldwell. She sings 'Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide.' Every time that I have seen her, she sings better and better - and every time I've seen her, me and the judges have completely disagreed. Not this time. 'Excellent. Best so far tonight.' says Simon. I completely agree.

Rickey Smith is up next. I expect big things from him and Ruben Stoddard - both of them sang Motown tunes in order for them to get this far, so with this being the requisite, you would think that they would have no problem with this. Rickey sings '1-2-3'. It's weird - he nails the hard parts, but he is off-tone for the easy segments, almost like he wants to sing up high and avoid the low notes. I'll have to keep a reference in the back of my mind. Randy was impressed, while Paula felt that it was a perfect song for his voice (which Lamont agreed with). Simon thought that he motored through the first part of the piece - and he didn't like Rickey's intro.

The singer at the halfway mark is Julia DeMato. She also had a little bit of soul in her auditioning songs with 'Son of a Preacher Man'. She gets to croon 'Where Did Our Love Go?' Nice and sweet - not the best singer to go, but she's up there - and Randy agreed. Randy thought that it was the best that he's heard from her so far, and Paula says to give her some stage presence. 'That song was meant for you.' says Lamont. Simon wasn't that impressed.

Will Simon be impressed by Clay Aiken? He sings 'Can't Help Myself' and he just nails it. A perfect song for him and he puts himself into it. Far and away the best performance of the evening - and he even makes love to the camera correctly. He gets a standing ovation from the audience - and from the judges. 'You look like you've already arrived' says Lamont. Let's hear something nice from Simon 'I thought you sounded very good but if you want me to be honest, I thought it sounded more like Motown the Musical.' Simon gets booed by the audience.

Vanessa Olivares is number 8 - and she sings one of my favorite songs ever - 'You Keep Me Hangin' On'. It's a very tough thing when you have to go after that sort of performance by Clay, and you can feel the energy level drop, but she does do a very good job and I think that she fit the song. Randy liked the vibe, but he and Paula both felt that it was a little pitchy. 'I just see you more as a better entertainer than what we are looking for in this competition.' says Simon. I thought part of being a singer is being an entertainer. Wha?

Corey Clark, my least favorite contestant, is next - but I said that I was going to judge this strictly on talent, not on personality (hence the lack of intros), so I will keep that on the back burner. He sings 'This Old Heart of Mine', which is a tough one to sell. Corey has the same problems as Rickey did - he nails the hard stuff, but is very off-pitch on the easy stuff and the low notes. He does perform well on stage, but he definitely could have picked a better song. 'I didn't know you can sing that high, Dawg...I didn't think that it was the best seen you, but it was alright.' says Randy. Paula liked it, while Lamont thought he was a new Smoky Robinson. Simon thought that Corey needs to cater to his wild side and that he's refreshing. Wha? Did Simon step into the Twilight Zone with the last 2 people?

Carmen Rasmussen is next. She has a country voice and I didn't like it last week. Now we have to hear her country voice grinding against a Motown song. I am bracing up for the worst. She picks an easy song - 'You Can't Hurry Love' (which I think is smart) - and it's perfect for her vocal range. She plays to the crowd wonderfully is dead on in pitch, I can't stand her tone, but it's her tone and she's going to stay with it. Randy and Paula think that it's the best that they have heard of. Simon? 'You justified my pick. Congratulations.' I am forced to agree - she was very good and it looks like I will be stuck hearing her annoying twang for another week.

Trenyce is number 11. I'm expecting a lot out of her, too. She sings 'Come See About Me'. She does not disappoint, and she even adds some girrrl power to it. Much much better in terms of stage presence and she's a definite keeper too. Randy and Paula were impressed, Lamont says that 'You made that song yours.' Simon - 'Something I don't like doing, I have to congratulate Paula for picking you. That was outstanding.'

Finally, it's Ruben Studdard. He croons out 'Baby I need your loving'. He does out his own rendition, and the crown is already standing in the middle of it. He didn't blow me away like some of the other people did, but I would have to put this in the top half of the performances tonight. Randy thought he was brilliant, Paula thought that he was refreshing and Lamont loves to have singers like him sing his songs. Simon thought that it was an amazing performance.

And those are your 12 finalists for Round 1. My take? If you base it just on this one performance (but no one ever does), then Joshua Gracin, Vanessa Olivares, or Charles Grigsby is going bye-bye. If it was on personality and screen time, then Carmen has to be the underdog. If you are basing this on the audience's voting habits, then the person to go will be Kim Caldwell. So I have no clue on how the audience will vote. But that's what the fun part of these things are, isn't it?


March 12, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

Seven days ago, when we did this for an hour, it was incredibly dull, the first 30 minutes was a waste, and the only grace was that 4 people got selected. This time around, there's only one person. How in the world are you going to tap dance for 30 minutes? Lots of recaps, that's how. Yech.

We are back in a live audience setting. 'I will be breaking someone's heart tonight...the journey and the dream ends for one of our top 12.' laments Ryan. We meet the judges, as Simon gets booed by Paula and Randy.

Over 13,250,000 people voted. Not too shabby. We get the obligatory recap as Simon attacks everyone.

So what will we do for filler? We'll have all 12 people sing a reprise before we eliminate one of them! Yeah, that's the ticket! They all sing 'Heat Wave', and they sound pretty good. As the singers saunter around, the choreography means that they are getting ready for the next musical tour. We get to see Trenyce screw up a line long enough before the camera switches angles. Oops. I guess they are not singing live after all. Trenyce gets to play the role of Milli Vanilette.

So in the reverse move, he will be pulling the three lowest voters. This is one group that you do NOT want to be part of.

We start with Ruben - and he's safe. Vanessa is not - she's in the bottom three and she gets to sit in one of the stools of DOOM.

Clay is third - and he is safe. Kimberly Caldwell is safe also - which means that talent will indeed be rated over personality. But if that's the case, then Rickey is safe too for now - and he is. Julia is the last woman on the top - and she is not safe either. She gets to join Vanessa on the stool of DOOM.

Trenyce leads off on the bottom row, and I would be shocked if she made the bottom three. I'm not shocked, as she survives the first week. Joshua is safe - maybe not from the armed forces, but he stays for another week. Charles Grigsby is safe too and so is Corey Clark.

This leaves Kimberley and Carmen. If Kimberley is picked, then that would mean that the three weakest singers from yesterday gets picked. If Carmen is picked, then my thoughts on the audience picks are right and Carmen may as well start packing her bags. The final person who gets a seat of DOOM is...Kimberley. She joins the other two.

I would have to agree - even with Simon. 'I think that 5 people should have been in the bottom three, but I think that America got it right.' Ryan gets to call one of them back to safety, and that one person is Kimberley. She screams and goes back to the safety of the other 10 people.

Someone's storyline feud is going to end very prematurely. Either Julia loses her feud with Kimberly Caldwell, or Vanessa loses her big booty battle with Simon.

I'll let Ryan announce this one.

'The journey ends here... for Vanessa Olivares.'

Julia is in a state of shock, and she looks more like she is the one who got eliminated. I'm a little surprised, because I thought that it would be Charles Grigsby, but I can't disagree with it. We get to see her good-bye montage. 'Thank you so much, but you haven't seen the last of me, so keep watching.'

Vanessa sings her good-bye song. Everyone else has a look of sadness and disbelief. Even Kimberly Caldwell looks sad (though that could be because Julia survived the first vote). Everyone has just learned the cold hard truth - there can only be one American Idol.

Next week, someone else will learn that first-hand.


March 18, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We are back for another evening of musical wonder and musical torture. Speaking of torture, the celebrity torture continues - and this time, it's Randy that gets to experience his 80's flashbacks - leather pants, afro-mohawk, and all. The theme this week is 'Going to the Movies' so we get all sorts of movie tunes. I have the feeling that for some of them, I am going to want to walk out of the theater.

We also have another celebrity judge - Gladys Knight! She is in a new movie (Hollywood Homicide) and is one of the biggest stars on the strip. Since we hale 11 singers instead of 12, we get to see a nice montage of the history of Gladys Knight. We see how she it tied in with Randy Jackson.

And now we see how Randy Jackson is tied in with Corey Clark, who is the first person to perform tonight. He sings 'Against All Odds'. And it's against all odds that he can hit his pitch. Flat, Flat, Flat, Flat, Flat. And unfortunately, I can not walk out of this recap. Randy and Paula liked the fact that he did some ad lib. Gladys loved the range. Simon, please bring us back into sanity. 'I don't think you pulled it off at the end...actually, I thought it was quite painful.' I agree with Simon.

Next up is Ruben Studdard. Ruben will give me some musical pleasure tonight, right? Right. He sings 'A Whole New World' He's a little nervous, but he's on tune and he does a very nice rendition of the song. 'Man this guys Dope' says Randy, and him and Paula give him a standing ovation. 'You are - and will some day be the world's velvet teddy bear.' croons Gladys Knight. Even Simon is happy.

Will they be happy after hearing from Trenyce? I was. She sings 'I Have Nothing' from the Bodyguard, and she is so much improved from the original qualifying round. She may have jumped into being my favorite female vocalist. 'Another great classy performance' says Randy. 'You were born to perform on this stage' says Paula, and Gladys thinks that she sells the song nicely. Simon is worried that the young kids are looking old, but he likes the performance.

After a display of the American Idols fielding questions for an interview (snore), and an embarrassing segment from Simon Cowell's mom, we get to see Clay Aiken. He sings 'Somewhere Out There.' he was good, but it was not one of his better performances - the energy was lacking this time, and although it will get him past this one, if he continues to sing lackluster, he won't make the top 5. Another standing encore from Paula and Randy, and I'm guessing that if Roseanna Barr sang the anthem up there, they would give her a standing ovation too. Simon? 'I just love songs about mice...I think after this performance tonight, you're the one they've got to beat. I really do.' I disagree.

Kimberly Caldwell is next. She sings 'The Shoop-Shoop Song'. I felt with her the same as I did with Clay - not the best performance, lacking energy, and although I think she gets past this one, she is flat and could be better. Randy thinks that she can be a star, Paula and Gladys think that she is excellent (can I just skip Paula and Gladys, since they will say that she is wonderful with every person). Simon agrees with me. 'I can see that performance in any theme park across America...you've got to be better than that.'

We get to see where the Idolers are staying - in a palace across and over the sea. It's nice to see that Kristin Holt is actually doing something to earn her money. She'll be giving you the gossip each week. Oh, goodie.

Joshua Gracin, who doesn't want to miss his daughter, sings 'I don't want to miss a thing.' Not on tune, but better than his usual. Unfortunately, that's not saying much from me. Randy thought that it was the perfect song (and another ovation from Paula and Gladys - blah). Simon was confused about his voice, but he liked what Joshua was doing.

We're up to Carmen Rasmussen's rendition of 'Hopelessly Devoted to You' from Grease. I love that song - or I used to, before it turned into a flat country rendition. I'm sorry, I do not like her country twangy voice - she's great for country, miserable for almost anything else - this included. Randy - 'I don't think you shined tonight, dear.' Paula wants her to wear less make-up and she was disappointed. Uh-oh, Paula said something bad. Here comes Simon - but this was his pick and he's not going to be mean to her. 'You should replace one of the Dixie Chicks.' I think Carmen may be the one that may be replaced.

Next up - another Kelly Clarkson montage. Is there anyone that's not getting tired of the intermittent pitching of Kelly and Justin Guarini's new movie? Justin still can't sing, and the placing of Justin and Kelly are just a little bit TOO convenient, if you know what I'm saying. We get to see some movie bits, and then Kelly Clarkson herself comes out. After some lifeless banter, we get to see Charles Grigsby.

He sings 'You Can't Win.' It's a good representative song. I want the lifeless banter back. All performance, no tone or pitch. Him and Cory are close to the same mold, but Cory is more talented. And the judges will be handing out their second straight negative review. 'I did not love that song on you - it didn't work for me.' says Randy. Charles disagrees with Randy, but Simon is about to lay the Smackdown. '50,000 movies, and you chose The Wiz...Not your best performance, I agree with Randy.'

After some more shenanigans with Simon's mom, we get to listen to Rickey Smith. He sings 'It Might Be You' from Tootsie. I have to agree with an earlier Simon comment - 'The best singers i this competition will be getting better.' As much as I like Rickey, he is not getting better. This episode is clearly defining your front-runners, and right now, he is not one of them. He is having pitch problems throughout the piece, and although it won't kill him now, he has to raise his game up. Randy thought that he was brilliant. Paula loves him (awwwwwbarf) and Gladys and Paula think that he picked the right song for him. Simon? 'What I didn't hear there was something that I have heard from you before...something original...you were certainly good enough to stay here for another week.' I'll agree with that.

We see the Idolers go on a shopping spree next. Blech.

Julia DeMato was one of the people who was on the bubble last time - she needs a good performance this time around. She is certainly better with her choice ("What a Feeling" from Flashdance), but she needs to pick some music that will show us her explosive range - which we saw a lot of at the beginning but not a lot now. It was alright for Randy, and Paula agrees. Gladys thinks that she is not having any fun. 'The first part of the song was ok, the second part was terrible...this could have been disco on ice.' - that comes from Simon, ad I agree, if Julia survives this one, she has to have more fun up there and be more daring when she sings.

Our last singer for the evening is Kimberley Locke. She sings 'Home' from the Diana Ross movie. Much much better than last week. Back come the standing ovations. 'What an improvement over last week.' says Randy. Paula and Gladys ogle after her and even Simon thought that it was a lot better (thought he thought the dress makes her look too old).

We get to see Charles house Rickey in pool - and we have 10 minutes worth of show left. What does that mean? We get more self-adulation with Kelly Clarkson, as she sings a song from her new movie. Gee, you don't think that they are trying to PITCH this, do you? Simon announces that she will come back in 5 weeks to sing her NEW single. Oh goodie. We get the vote recap, and then the end of the show.

My take? There were three singers who were obviously at the bottom this week - Corey, Charles, and Carmen. If you base it just on performance, this is an easy pick. As much as I dislike Carmen and Cory (which I do), Charles performance was the weakest of the three, and although I think that Carmen may not have the fan base, I think Charles will be booted if you are just basing it on performance, We'll see tomorrow if I'm right.


March 19, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

So we are back with Ryan and the finalists - and the tables are turned - we now get to see pictures of a young Ryan. Ryan talks to Carmen about having a tough time. Ruben says that he doesn't have a mean side, and I am falling asleep while waiting to hear about the bottom three. This is not stopping me from recapping Survivor at the same time - and a special thanks to Anthony Rojas for helping me to cover both at the same time.

2 hours provided close to 14 million votes - and we get the obligatory recap. And since it's an hour, we also have to get the obligatory time-filler - in this case, it's a musical song of 'Footloose'

We also get to see a sequence of the guys living in the mansion - the highlight is when they do a version of Madonna's Like A Virgin - done in Keith Style.

Hoe can we waste more time? I know - ask the judges! Randy says that everyone can have a future in the business, while Paula rebuffs an admirer. Simon then is asked to do push-ups with Josh. He does - and he royally kicks Josh's a$$ all over the stage. There may be another reason on why Josh may not be called into battle any time into the future - man, is he out of shape.

Simon's mom screws up a question about what happened to the finalists - and we see another time-wasting filler on what happened last night (of course, if you wanted to really see what they were doing, you can catch my recap of their special earlier, since this was an almost carbon copy of the special).

And we're back, so since we still have 30 minutes left, let's do another song! 'I've had the time of My Life' from the Dirty Dancing movie. Argh.

Let's see - more time to waste - oh I know - more video footage! This time more house shenanigans as people push each other into the pool, which messes up the cell phones. Too bad - heh heh heh. This is a pretty lame waste of time for the first 45 minutes of the show.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZOh Wait! We are finally down to the elimination time! We start with Josh - and he is not in the bottom 3. Trenyce is next up - and she is safe. So is Ricky - but Julia is once again in the bottom 3. Clay is safe - and so are both Kims. Rubin is also in no danger of going bye-bye.

That leaves Charles, Carmen and Corey. Carmen is safe, while Corey and Charles both get to join Julia in the bottom three. Julia gets a pair of new people to play with.

'If you did not have Corey in the bottom three, then you did not have the volume up on your TV. It was diabolical. It was terrible.' That comes from Simon - and it was about Corey. I'm forced to agree. I also agree on what I'm about to hear next - Julia once again gets to go back to the happy side, because she does not have the lowest total of votes.

So 2 of the people who I thought would have been gone already are here - and one of them will stick around for another week. That person is Corey. Charles Griggsby is the second person eliminated from the game. We get the final montage of Charles - and his good-bye song. And the way he singe it, we are all better off not hearing it.

We'll see who the next person that gets to sing their bye-bye song is next week.

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