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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

January-May 2003, Fox
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 25, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

Ryan starts the episode off by trying to comfort everyone during the war - and by saying that our troops are the real American Idols. 'We're just going to do what we do best - and that's to keep you entertained and get your mind off what's going on.' A real classy move.

What's not classy is the goofy looking cowboy hat that he brought with him. 'I haven't caved into the rumors and joined the Village People.' We're doing Country Rock this week. Huh? Weren't we supposed to be doing disco this week? Did I ever tell you that this was the part of the show that I hat - the part where FOX changes the rules to keep (or get rid of) people? I hated it when they did that last year and I hate it now. I guess they want to keep Carmen on the show for another week - which means they also want to get rid of Corey. Let's see how successful they are at it.

Tonight's celebrity judge is Olivia Newton John. Uhhh....Ryan...she is much more disco than country. This is a woman that made hits out of 'Physical', 'Xanadu', was in the movie Grease and was from Australia. She is around as American Country as Jaws the great White Shark is a vegetarian.

Or maybe its another week to put Joshua Gracin in the spotlight. He probably doesn't do disco well, but he does country decently - or maybe its just because the song he picked has the words going so fast that he doesn't have time to sing a long high note. Oh wait - he does. It's still decent and the military member doesn't do anything to hurt his chances to continue on - except for that awful sharp note at the end. But the audience loved that too. Randy thinks that it's the best that he's seen him, Paula thought that he was a pro, and Olivia liked him. Simon? 'I don't know anything about this type of music...the hat looks great...great.' Josh left Simon speechless - that's a good thing.

Is Trenyce singing a ballad from Lee Ann Rymes a good thing? Not really. Not a good performance. Very off pitch and country sets her a step back. Very very sharp through the whole song. I have a feeling that she wasn't too happy about the song change. You can even see it in her face that inside she's going 'I want to strangle these wacky producers.' Randy likes her dress - and the effort. Paula sand Olivia think that she's beautiful. Simon thought that it was the weakest performance that she's done so far, and once again, I agree with Simon.

Kimberley Locke is third - and she sings 'I Can't Make You Love Me.' Kim was smart - she picks a song that was covered by urban artists - and that she can put an urban flash to it. Much better than Trenyce and a very wise song selection. Randy thought that it was her best performance and Paula loves the song selection. Simon thought that it was a well chosen song but didn't understand why that song was considered an acceptable one. Meanwhile, Ryan is trying to make out with Kimberley. Uhhh...ok.

'Drift Away' is the next song - and it will be sung by Corey Clark. I'm guessing that this will be a disaster. Now how is this country rock? This sounds like 60's Yardbirds rock and roll, with cheesy organ to boot. Lots of early pitch problems to boot. Add the Freedom Rock-like holey shirt and frizzy hair bandana, and the 60's peace fest is very hard on the ears. Randy and Paula and Olivia liked it. 'First of all, I wouldn't delve into Ryan Seacrests wardrobe.' but Simon did say it was an improvement over last week's dreadful performance. It wasn't as bad as last week, but that's not saying much. Ugh.

It's Carmen Rasmussen's birthday, and I expect good things out of her on this one. This may be the only genre of music that I will not find her voice annoying - and I don't. But there wasn't as much energy as I thought she would potentially have and her pitch was all over the place. Randy thought that this was her element, and Paula and Olivia agree. Simon hated the song, but loved the way that she sounded. He also congratulated Paula for her rodeo clown outfit. Ouch.

Can Hercules tackle country? In a word, no. He tries to do a country ballad, but he's off pitch too. What's up with you singers that can't make your frigging pitch tonight??? AAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH! He sings 'Darling, I'm dying today.' You're dying on the stage, Rickey. He gets a standing ovation from the crowd. Why? Randy didn't like the choice of song, Paula thought that this was one of his best performances, and I think that the judges are drinking different water in California. Help me, Simon. 'Sorry, but I'm not excited this week. I think this is sweet and nice, but so what?' I'm not either, he was mediocre at best. Ick.

After Rickey mugs for the camera, we hear Kimberly Caldwell doing some Travis Tritt. I expect Kimberly to do well in this field, and I am not disappointed. Her flat pitch problem comes back to haunt her, though, and she is not as energy-packed as the other people, but she is still better than most of the people tonight. Good allows Randy and Paula to give her a standing ovation. Simon thought that it was her best performance. I've heard her do much better - she was ok, but that didn't excite me.

Ryan has Ruben's velvet teddy bear as Mr. Studdard sings a version of Sweet Home Alabama. Ruben is - well, he's Ruben, as he turns it into an almost Testify-like gospel song. Again, another smart choice, but even though I wasn't knocked out be his performance, he didn't embarrass himself out there like he could have if he picked a rotten song. Randy and Paula give him a standing ovation and Olivia says that he's a great singer. Simon calls Paula drunk - but also says that Ruben is infectious. Good enough.

The last female singer for the evening is Julia Demato. She sings Faith Hill's 'Breathe'. She needs a better performance than she has been giving - and she does deliver a better performance (though a little pitchy) - and a much better choice of song this time around. She must be tired of being in the bottom three. Randy thinks that it's the best performance that he's seen and so did Paula. Simon says that it looks like she's trying too hard, but it was her best performance.

The last person up is Clay Aiken. I expect him to do well in this performance. He was good - but it doesn't look like he's into it. He's also pitchy, and whats up with the song? Yuck. It should be good enough for him to move on - and he gets a standing ovation - but here comes Simon - 'I thought it was very sweet, but it sounded identical to last had nothing to do with the could have swapped songs.'

My take? If you have to base it just on this performance, then you may be seeing some people (Trenyce, Rickey Smith) in the bottom three along with Mr. Corey Clark. But, as we all know, it's not, so Julia will probably be back there - along with Corey Clark and Carmen Rasmussen (happy birthday, kid). One person is in both lists - that would be Mr. Clark - and that's my guess for next person to go home.

March 26, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

So we will have nine happy people - and one miserable person. And since we have an hour to deal with what should be 10 minutes, we get lots of filler time - like Randy's book of lingo. Sigh. Julia thought that Kim did the best, and Kim was proud with Julia. Yeah, whatever. Carmen liked Josh, while Ruben and Corey thought that Trenyce was the best. (OK, this proves that Corey and Rubin are taking something in the water). Trenyce, more down to Earth, says that she stunk.

Clay liked Ruben and Kimberley Locke (as did I) - and we had MILLIONS of people voting in. After the obligatory recap from last night, we have a group song! Of course. They get to sing 'Where The Black Top Ends' - all complete with bad choreography.

More filler, as we get to see Burt Bacharach give the Idolers a shot at singing 'What the World Needs Now (Is Love, Sweet Love)' as a charity single to help out the Red Cross. I would usually do an awwwwbarf segment here, but it's definitely a nice touch - as long as the money goes to where they they say it will go. The single will be released on April 15.

More filler - ask the judges time. Kimberley Locke says how her hometown is a lot different - and smaller - than Hollywood. Simon, who is asked which judge he would kick off his boat, would say Paula 'because then I'd kill Randy and eat him...he would last longer.' Nice.

Who is the judges idol? Randy says Sly and the Family Stone, Paula says Stevie WOnder, and Simon says Paula Abdul. That deserves an awwwwwwbarf. Clay is asked who he would play in a movie - and he asks Ryan if he's available. VERY uncomfortable silence. No comment. He then says Yahoo Serious - and then Brad Pitt. Hmmmmm...meanwhile, another girl asks Ryan for his number and we go to break before things really get out of hand.

After the break (and seeing Roger go bye-bye in Survivor), we get to see another line - this one of people who want to see American Idol. Can we have any more self-gratification? Sure we can, as we have the final unity song for the group of 10. 'God Bless the USA', which is appropriate considering the conditions right now. That is met with a standing ovation - and tears from Kimberley Locke.

We will be seeing American Junior Idol - auditions start April 12-13. But from the top to the bottom - it's time to start getting the bottom three people. Kimberly Caldwell goes first - and she is one of the bottom three. Wha? I'm a little surprised. This ought to be very interesting.

Ruben is next - and I would be really shocked if he is in the bottom three. He isn't. Clay is also safe. Will Julia get out of the top three this time? Nope. She is back in the bottom three. She and Kimberly hug - and this may be their final battle.

Joshua is next up and he is safe. So is Kimberly Locke and Trenyce. Carmen Rasmussen also escapes the bottom three. This leaves us with Corey Clark and Rickey Smith. Corey is safe, and Rickey is in the bottom three. That surprised me - but I would have to agree with 2 of the three. Randy and Paula thought that America screwed it up, but Simon thought that America got it right. 'I think you let the audience down last night, I think you left yourself down....most of these people are capable of better performances.' Randy and Paula disagree, but such is life.

Ryan sends Rickey Smith back to safety - but it's clearly a wake-up call to him - he was not good last night and he better shape it up. The final battle between Julia and Kim ends here. Will Julia once again beat Kimberly out, or will Kim win the all-important rematch? If you judge it by last night's performance, Julia wins, but Kim has been the better singer for the competition and the signs have looked like Julia is toast.

According to Ryan, Kim is safe, and Julia is gone - which doesn't really surprise anyone and I think Julia knew it for a while. Kim is crying again - she has cried on everyone. We get to see some highlights on Julia. We're even seeing Kim cry during Julia's intro. Stop staring at Kim, damnit!

Julia was floundering around, though, so this is not a surprise. She reprises her last song, and she is out of the game. We get a reprise of 'Proud to be An American', then we fade to black. But unlike, the crowd, someone else will no longer be proud to be an Idoler in 7 days.

April 1, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

So let's see...We had 9 people - but Corey Clark decided that beating up his sister would be more fun than being on American Idol. As reported on, Corey Clark has criminal charges filed against him, and because he did not disclose this to the producers, they released him. This is the scuttlebutt going around, BUT notice the date on when this show will be airing. So I figure a few things could happen...

1. Fox continues as usual and 8 people are left. This is the logical (and probably best) choice to make, but I do not see that happening, because this means that Fox loses a week on their cash cow, and there's no way that FOX, the leader of milking the cow, will sacrifice an udder (though this past stunt was udderly ridiculous).
2. Corey comes out. APRIL FOOLS!!!!
3. Someone else comes out to take Cory's space. Frenchie Martin?

Ryan comes out - with 8 people. Wow. I am surprised - I figured FOX would be smarter than that. Oh well. I'll still be holding out for the FOX April Fool's surprise. But for now, 'Get your groove on', says Ryan - it's Disco Night!

Before we get to disco night, Ryan does address the Corey situation. 'Corey Clark is no longer a participant in today's show...Some of you may have recently heard or read the news of charges hanging over Corey. Those charges were certainly news to all of us. We actually screen the contestants with background checks before they get on stage. That process is compromised when the contestant is less than honest. Corey chose not to reveal his arrest, so we had to release him from the competition.'

We get a video of Corey trying to defend himself. He denies the charges. He also adds that it was his fault that he didn't tell the producers - and that things could have been different if he did. He realizes that he is going to be cut by the producers - and he apologizes to the people whom he screwed over and that could have been in his place right now. As you all know, Corey wasn't my favorite contestant to begin with, and the video makes him come off looking like a completely brainless moron. I have a feeling that Julia DeMato, Vanessa Olivarez, Charles Griggsby, or any of the people who he knocked out (like Patrick 'Mr Rocker' Fortson) will not be sending him any 'feel better in jail' cards any time in the near future.

But enough of him - let's get to the judges. Our special judge this week is Verdine White - who was on Earth Wind and Fire. We get to see his bio (but who doesn't know the Disco Funkers Earth Wind and Fire? Oh yeah - you guys, you young whipper-snappers).

Rickey Smith starts with 'Boogie On Down' from - who else - Earth, Wind and Fire. He needed a better performance than last week - and he didn't deliver. VERY off on the pitch, and he was much more concerned on hitting his moves than getting his grooved on. Randy thought that he had some pitch problems. 'I feel like tonight is the start of a very bad wedding reception.' Thoughts of Adam Sandler are ringing in my head, but Paula completely disagrees with me and Randy. Simon says this. 'The show is called American Idol...I saw someone who should be performing at a children's can see that at any children's party across America. It just wasn't good enough.' Rickey disagrees, but I agree with Simon. Awful.

Carmen Rasmussen is next with 'Turn the Beat Around'. We are going from Bad to Worse. Her voice does not fit this song at all, and Randy thinks that it was karaoke night on American Idol. Paula and Verdine liked it. Simon thinks that of all the girls left, she is the most commercial. Wha? Maybe the most commercial, but not the best performance. Yuck.

Kimberly Caldwell sings 'Knock on Wood.' Now she picked a good song for her voice, which accentuated the good parts that she could belt out. Very smart. A little pitchy though. Randy hated the arrangement, but he loved her performance on it - and showed that Jewel was in the house. Paula thought that Kim was off-pitch, and was afraid that she is getting complacent. Verdine agrees. Simon also thought that it was mediocre. '6 and a half out of ten. Whoopie.' Not her best performance, but a smart one and better than the first two.

Clay Aiken is next - and he sings 'Everlasting Love'. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that Clay only does one sort of musical style - which is the sweeping Broadway style - md he's done it for three straight disposable weeks. It wasn't bad, but it doesn't send chills across my spine. 'Thats how you do it, dawg' says Randy. Paula was expecting some choreography and Verdine thought that he had chops. Simon? 'Simon on his last American Idol...within the context of this competition, I thought that was terrible...maybe I'm missing the plot here, I'm looking for a future Superstar, and based on that, I just didn't get it. Sorry.' He wasn't that bad - but Simon makes the great point - Clay has to raise his game, and he hasn't done it.

Trenyce has definitely raised her game. She sings 'I'm Every Woman'. Tons of energy and emotion, and though she was a little pitchy, she brought to the disco genre what Clay should have, moves and everything. Randy thought that it was one of the better performances and Paula was impressed on how she changes her voice and style per week. I have to agree. Simon thought it was OK, but it didn't blow him away. I thought it was very good.

Ruben is next - and he does 'Can't Get Enough of Your Love.' Barry White he isn't, but he makes it his own, and its the best I've heard so far. Randy completely agrees and Paula and Verdine are blown away. Simon? 'As working for a record label, you try to separate what separates good singers from future superstars. I think you should win this competition.'

Our 7th singer is Kimberley Locke, who sings 'It's Raining Men'. She has a great disco voice, but what a brutally poor choice of song. Anytime you need to change the song almost completely to fit your vocal range, it's a bad choice. She couldn't hit the low - or the high - notes. A complete 360 from last week, where she picked a brilliant choice of song. Randy gives her points on the fact that it's a very difficult song to do (which it is, so I'll give her some points there), Paula and Verdine thought that she did carry the song, while Simon chirps 'I thought you did Ryan Seacrests favorite song justice.' Ouch.

The last singer for the evening is Josh Gracin - and he sings 'Celebration' which I will be doing when he is done with his song. There's a rumor that the army is holding him out just for this competition, because although the army says that they are not going to deploy him until his unit goes, rumor has it that 60% of his unit is already there. He may want to think about packing his bags after this performance. He admits to Randy that he's sick, but to be sick in your worst genre is not a good thing. Simon just digs the 'If you sang like that when we saw you, you wouldn't have gotten past the first round. That was absolutely dreadful.'

Ryan asks the people what they thought. Clay was disappointed by the fact that Simon was completely different than Randy and Paula (I have news for you, Clay, Simon is pretty much on the money), while Kimberly says that she's having a good time. We get the quick recap, and we're out of here.

I'm sort of surprised at FOX - the show is set on April first, Cory gets himself knocked out, and we don't get any chicanery by either FOX or the people at American Idol. I'm surprised, and in a good way. Unfortunately, there will probably be a week of American Idol filler to replace the week that they will lose from Clark so it can fit nice and neatly within the sweeps period, but at least they didn't compromise the show - and that may be a first for FOX.

But enough niceties - there were exactly 2 good performances, 2 mediocre performances, and 4 bad ones. Kimberley Locke, Rickey, and Josh should be the bottom three, and although Josh should be the person who gets knocked out, I think that Rickey will be.

Maybe Adam Sandler could have sang better than these guys - and one of them will be spending their time renting one of his movies instead of practicing for the next song in 24 hours.

April 2, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

Ah...ah...ah...ah...Staying Aliiiiiiiiive. 7 of these people will be singing that. One of them will be singing at Studio 54 this upcoming weekend.

As for who it was who should be leaving? it's hard to say. Almost everyone was lousy. Ruben and Clay are safe in my mind, and almost any of the other six people wrote their ticket to bye-bye-ville. But since only three of them get to the bottom three, three people (well, actually five people) will have sung badly and gotten away with it.

Even though I thought Trenyce was good, her criminal record, which was revealed via the smoking gun this week (as well as Corey Clark), could also do her in. Even though she told the producers, she didn't tell the viewing public (that would be us) about it. It is very possible that the backlash that eliminated Corey in the form of the producers could come back and eliminate Trenyce in the form of the voting public.

But before we get to that, we get THIRY MINUTES OF FILLER!!!! YAYYYYYY!!!!! And this filler starts with the usual introductions of the judges and contestants.

We get the traditional flashback of what happened last night. And with that, here comes the 8 idolers with 'A Night to Remember'. They singers still can't sing this genre of music, which makes this 'A Song To Forget'. Yuk yuk yuk.

AT and T Wireless Poll time. Simon was n a foul mood last night. Why? A. He hates Disco, B. He Hates everything, C. His tight pants was rubbing against his crotch. Huh? What about D. The singers sucked?

The audience gets to ask questions. Vanessa (not THAT Vanessa) asks Randy for singing advice, and he says to be the best that you can be every time you get behind a microphone.

Yoli asks Paula - If she saw Simon for the first time, would she run 2 steps back, or 10 steps forward? Paula says that she would run right into his arms and kiss him - but when dared to so it, 'There's just something inside of me that can't.' Like her sanity.

Question for Simon - if he was on an island, which American Idol contestant's CD would he have with him? Simon's not going to answer it, and Randy boos him.

Question for Ruben - What has been his favorite Genre in the competition? Ruben thought that he liked country - and he doesn't have a least favorite. Suck up.

Question for Ryan - Since Simon said that Ryan's favorite song is 'It's Raining Men', Does he know SImon's favorite song? Ryan says that SImon went to the Manhole and liked YMCA. I'm guessing he knows about places called The Manhole due to experience.

Question for Kim Caldwell - Is she dating JD Adams? She throws it to JD, who is in the crowd. JD isn't saying - but he's sitting with Kim's family. Hmmmmmmmm

Documentary time - and the Idolers will be singing 'God Bless the USA' for their new album - no sign of the ousted idolers - but Corey is in the shot. OOPS. We get the full version of it dubbed over them singing it in the studio - though we don't hear them singing it in the studio. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

We have 15 million votes that got tallied. We get to see who they were tallied for - NEXT! Oh - we mean after this quick clip about the Idolers getting facials, manicures, and stress relaxers. Do we really meed to see this?

Here we go with the bottom three. Ruben starts the people - but he doesn't start in the bottom three. He's good to go. Kimberly Locke is next - and she will start in the bottom three. The audience boos. Don't boo her - well, actually, you can boo her, she wasn't too good.

Rickey Smith wasn't too good either - but I guess the public liked him discoing with a big afro - he's safe. Joshua Gracin was also horrible - and the audiences vote also keeps him safe. Josh is going to be staying for awhile, because if that horrific effort didn't put him at the bottom, almost nothing will. He may as well sing Prokofiev and wear a fencing outfit next week, he won't be going anywhere.

Trenyce is up next - and she also gets sent to the bottom three. I guess the criminal rap sheet carries much more weight than I originally thought and could have outweighed her good singing. Clay Aiken is also safe, but that was a given.

This leaves Carmen and Kimberly Caldwell. Kimberly is safe. Carmen is not. Randy was surprised that Kimberly was there, Paula is surprised that all three of them was there, and SImon thinks that a woman should not be there - and a guy should. He won't say who, although both Rickey and Josh are bowing their heads down.

Kimberley Locke is safe, and she heads back over to the happy couch. This means that either Carmen, who was terrible, leaves, or Trenyce, who wasn't terrible, but has a deep dark secret that's no longer secret, joins criminal brother-in-arms Corey.

We have something different this week - we have both of the soon to be departed people to sing their final songs. That actually works better, since I'm sure someone who just got voted out isn't really going to want to sing. Carmen goes first, then Trenyce.

We have the results...of the AT and T poll. 47% says that he wore tight pants. That's nice. NEXT!

So we have Carmen and Trenyce - and Ryan announces that...

NO ONE goes home.

Surprise! FOX does bring April Fools day around - just a day late. I KNEW FOX wasn't going to ruin their cash cow for a week.

Apparently the producers also knew that cutting a week off was bad. Because they got rid of Corey earlier on this week, no one else has to leave. So what happens to the votes? The votes will be CARRIED OVER to next week - so Kim Locke, Carmen and Trenyce better bring their A Game, or the next disco song may be 'Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, Good Bye...

April 8, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We still have 8 people - but unlike other weeks, we already know who is on the bubble. With the votes carrying over from last week, Carmen, Trenyce and Kimberley Locke better be singing like their existence on the show depends on it - because it does.

The theme is 'Billboard's Best'. These are all songs that are number one on the Billboard chart. I loved reading Billboard - and I still love reading it. We see a quick montage of the Idolers in the offices of Billboard Magazine.

Randy Jackson has produced 8 #1's. Paula Abdul has released six #1's - and she can't remember them all. Simon think that he's number one (now don't go griping at me - ) The guest judge has 40 awards - Lionel Richie! We get the obligatory (but well deserved) retrospective montage - and Lionel will try to put Simon in his place - and bridge the gap between Paula and Simon. That should be interesting.

The first #1 hit will be 'At This Moment' - and it will be performed by Clay Aiken. I wish that he would stop singing at this moment. the song was not a bad choice - but the vocal range was. Too high - and when he's that high he is not on pitch - consistently sharp. Another painful performance by Clay AIken. Randy did not like the choice of song - and thought that it was theatrical. Lionel is awed by the fact that it was coming out of his body. Lionel agreed with Randy - but he thought that he did a great job. Great - a male Paula Abdul. The female Paula agrees, but didn't think that there was enough emotion. 'This show proves that Randy Jackson doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.' says Simon, and he liked Clay's performance. Although he was putrid, Clay is not on the bottom three, so he doesn't have to really worry this week.

Kimberley Locke does - she sings 'My Heart Will Go On'. Let me start out by saying that this song was incredibly overplayed on the radio - and it's also a very tough song to sing because you automatically compare it to how Celine Dion sings it. And Kimberley, as much as I like her, is no Celine. As Clay was sharp, she is flat, and another poor choice of song from the idolers. Will the judges agree with me? Randy thought it was nice - but he wasn't blown away. Lionel thought that she did a great song. Paula agreed with Lionel. Simon congratulates her on it as well. I didn't like it - which is weird because I usually like her.

Rickey Smith is singing Lionel Richie's 'Endless Love' - and he's singing both roles. No comment. I've been hard on Rickey for the past few weeks. He redeems himself this time - a MUCH better choice of song - and he's on pitch - except for the end, Yeecch. But before the downward progression, he was very nice - and very emotional - something that he was lacking the past few weeks. Randy thought that it was very good. Lionel was impressed with Rickey's arrangement. Paula said that she forgot that Diana Ross. Simon? 'The bad news is that the hat is appalling, the good news is that you sounded fantastic.' He's the best of the three that I've heard so far.

We get a BLATANT Nokia Phone Ad weaved into a montage,and then we hit a break.

OK - break's over. Kim Caldwell sings 'Everything I do, I do it for you.' Like the first 2 singers, this is a rotten choice of song, and the vocal range is just not good for her voice. Randy agreed with me and thought that the song didn't suit her. Lionel agreed with Randy - and Paula, although she likes the way that she sung, agrees with the other judges. Could we see the first unanimous decision? Yes we can - and do, thanks to Simon. 'After that, I don't even think that Robin Hood could protect you. Wrong song. Totally wrong song. You know that.' She sings mediocre, but the cushion that she had from last week should protect her her.

Joshua Gracin is next - and he sings another ballad - 'Amazed'. What's up with the ballad's tonight? He picks a great song for his voice - too bad he's not on pitch for most of it. I'll give him for points though for good song selection, as the twangy ballad is perfect for the twangy voice. Randy and Lionel agree. 'Josh is Back' proclaims Paula. Simon agrees 'One of the few artists tonight who chose the correct song. Perfect. Well Done.' Josh is very safe.

Carmen is not - so she needs a good song. This was not it. She sings 'Call Me', and her voice it one that needs a ballad or a country tune. This song doesn't do it - and she's off pitch. If she wasn't the lowest singer last week, she should be this week, unless Trenyce is worse - but I don't see how that is possible. Randy didn't feel it at all. Lionel doesn't like the song selection and Paula agrees. Simon has been very nice so far tonight. I'm expecting that to drastically change right now. 'That was absolutely dreadful. Terrible. Completely wrong song. You just can't sing songs like that.' Tell us what you really think, Simon. I agree.

Here comes Trenyce with 'Power of Love'. VERY good choice of song - and although not as emotional as Rickey, she does a great job with the song. There is NO way that Trenyce should be eliminated over Carmen due to singing ability. Randy thought that she is back, and Paula and Lionel agree. Simon keeps his streak of agreeing with the judges - to two. 'You deserved to be in the bottom two last week, you deserve to be in the bottom two this week. It was cabaret.' It was cabaret, but I did not think that being cabaret was a bad thing, and there were much worse performances this week.

The last singer up is Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuben. He did a lot of homework this time around - he goes back to the 70's for the song 'Kiss and Say Goodbye'. He was good - no, very good, the best one there tonight - but he was not the usual Ruben that I am used to. Is it possible that he is listening to the people around him and is getting maybe a little too happy up there? Randy gives him a standing ovation, Lionel joins him, and Paula wants the audience to embrace him. SImon thought that if he released the song next week, he'd have a number one hit. Maybe it didn't come out like that on tv - I thought he was very good, but not knock you out of your seat good like he has been previously.

We finish the show with everyone talking about Lionel Richie. Then the mandatory recap. Then the mandatory fade to black.

I don't think that anything tonight changed last week - maybe that Kimberley Locke sung her way out of the bottom three, but it will still boil down to Carmen and Trenyce. Either Carmen goes because of her lousy past few weeks, or Trenyce goes because of her lousy criminal record. We will find out with a not-so-lousy (at least I hope not) show tomorrow.

April 9, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

Let's get down to business. We all know who the bottom three people will be - Kimberley Locke, Trenyce, and Carmen Rasmussen. They were the bottom three people from last week, and since the votes from last week are added to the votes for this week, and since none of them really did enough to get out of the bottom three, they should all still be there. As a matter of fact, Carmen and Trenyce should be in the same place where they were a week ago - staring at Ryan, wondering which of them will be leaving the show.

However, we still have 60 minutes worth of filler to get through before we find out who will be going. Ryan is back - and so is everyone else. Ran makes note of all of the signs in the crowd (and Gordon Pepper signs? no? didn't think so). Could there be any surprises? 21 million votes came in this week - 6 million more than last week - came in. Could the extra 6 million votes mean that enough people saw someone (or someones) in the bottom three that they did not want to see there and voted to send someone else in her stead? We shall have to wait and see...

Anyone want to hear Ryan sound like Simon Cowell? 'What would this program be without any real talent? Well, it would be shorter and called 'Nashville Star'. OUCH. Was the adding insult to injury really necessary, Ryan? I guess the Idol producers are a little sore that Nashville Star blatantly ripped off their gimmick, eh?

We meet the judges - and the singers - but we'll meet them as they sing Lionel Richie's 'All Night Long' I happen to like this idea better than just introducing them. Maybe it's a nice touch - or maybe the show really will be limited to 30 minutes and they have to do what they can to squeeze everything in. That in itself wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Or maybe not - we get to hear Kelly Clarkson do a cut from hew new album/movie. They do 'Thats the Way I Like it' from the new Kelly movie, while she sings 'Miss Independent' from her new album. Both of the songs get the same reaction from me - repulsion. The choreography is awful too. This just emphasizes the raising of the bar this season - Kelly is good in her own right, but she probably does not make the top 5 in this year's batch.

The show is only 30 minutes long - and we get to the contestants early. Trenyce goes first and apparently the extra 6 million did not like to see Trenyce down there - they bring her back out of the Danger Zone. Maybe the bad rap is gone. The same can not be said about Kimberley Locke - she stays in the bottom three.

Ruben, of course, is safe, so we won't even worry about that. The same thing can be said about Josh. Kimberly Caldwell is not safe - she goes down to the bottom three - and she and Kimberley Locke hug and point to the crowd. Huh?

Clay is next up - and of course he is safe. This leads us to Rickey and Carmen. Here's another shock of the evening - Carmen, the women who butchered Blondie's 'Call Me' last night, is safe. Rickey is not, and he goes into the bottom three. Huh? Apparently, between Carmen and Josh, the South is a very strong contingency - and is not necessarily accounting for taste.

But can I really disagree with the bottom three this week? Not really. Each of the bottom three did have a disaster song either last week or this week (or in both Kim's case, both weeks). This time around, Kimberley Locke gets sent back to safety and the happy couch.

This leaves us with Kimberly Caldwell and Rickey Smith. Kimberly Caldwell is safe - which leaves Rickey Smith eliminated. Hercules has been swatted by the 12 tasks of Hades. I wonder if all of the people who voted were so concerned with saving the three people on the bottom that they forgot all about the middle people right over them - and maybe neglected the fact that they needed some votes.

Hercules is gone - and we are down to 7 singers. Another one of them will get nailed in their Achilles Heel next week.

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