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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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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

May 6, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

So we are down to the final 4 - Clay, Ruben, Josh and Kimberley. Maybe we'll get to hear them each sing 3 songs!!! Maybe not. Ryan comes down to say hi to everyone - and introduces the Final 4 and the judges. 'We're in the final homestretch, dawg - it's sink or swim' says Randy Jackson - and they do have to - especially since tonight's songs are going to be based on The Bee Gees!! And the guest judge is Robin Gibb!!!!

I've always liked the Bee Gees - and we get to see a clip of them in the olden days. You see that they are very versatile - we know that they did Saturday Night Live - but they also did Grease and Barbara Streisand - which means that there should be plenty in different genres to pick from.

We get to have 2 performances by the contestants, and we start with 'Jive Talkin' with Joshua Gracin. What about Jive singing? Pitch problems all over the place, but why is he walking around? I hope this is not his version of choreography. Yet another awful performance by Gracin, but he has his legions of fans, so he may not be going off. Randy was impressed - and saying that Josh may be back. Paula thought he was awesome, and even Simon thought he was better than last week, but he should be happy that he's doing 2 songs. It's still not bad, and I have a feeling that Simon is withholding his comments because he does not want the groundswell of fans to come rescue him like they did last week, when they knew that he was in trouble.

Clay is next his song 'To Love Somebody'. I don't know tonight - he's got that Peter Cetera thing going on and I don't know if I like it. It definitely seems like he regressed from last week, when he blew me away. Still very good though - much better than Josh. The judges give him a standing ovation - Simon? 'Probably one of the best performances that I've heard for the entire competition.'

Kimberley Locke just wants to be your everything - at least that's what she's singing. Like Clay, she was not nearly as good this week as she was last week - and she may have been even pitchier than Josh. The crowd likes it. Ricky Smith likes it - why are we seeing Ricky in every episode? He's off already! GET OVER IT. The first three judges fawn over her - but it didn't do it for Simon. 'You can boo all you like, I thought it was sweet and ordinary - it was alright, nothing special.' I have to agree with Simon here - and it's bordering on mediocre.

Ryan asks a little kid with thunder sticks if he wants to see 'The Big Guy' - and the kid says no. Uh-oh. But Ruben Studdard comes out anyways. He sings 'Knights of Broadway' and he's much much better than last week. He finally gets some emotion into it, like he actually needs to sing tonight. He gets the Ruuuuuuuben chants. Randy is very happy about his performance, as is Paula and Mr Gibb, who just says lovely things about everyone. But Simon says lovely things too. 'I think if you weren't in this competition, it wouldn't be the same. Superb.'

One round over - so far, my choice is Ruben, Clay, Josh, Kimberley. But we have a second round coming up! Joshua Grayson decided to also do 'To Love Somebody'. He does it completely country, and he's gone back to his safe happy place. Sure, it's good, but country is the only thing that he can do well. But if it makes his contingency happy...and it even makes the judges happy too. Simon 'That was risky - but you pulled it off. Well done.' You hear some sarcasm with Simon?

Clay is next up - and he sings 'Grease'. Something a little out of his element, but a smart choice. Choreography has to change - this is a disco song, and he's just standing there gyrating. Huh? He sounds good, though. 'Horrible. Everything about that was horrible. He had a great performance, then he throws it all away because he was horrible.' could Simon be trying to advance the Chaos theory by making people think that Clay was in trouble?

Kimberley is singing 'Emotions' - and it should be a much better choice for her than her first song. It is - but she's still pitchy and the background vocals bring back the Karaoke word. The judges love her - gee they are loving everyone - well, almost all of the judges. 'Good - but I don't think it was your best night.' you can guess where that one comes from (besides me).

The last singer of the evening is Mr. Studdard with 'how can you mend a Broken Heart.' Ruben takes a step forward this week - much better than last week, and the choice of songs this week may have been his best effort to date. Simon? 'What you proved tonight - consistency. Both songs were sensational.'

So now what happens? If we bas it on performance, Kimberley and Josh are in the bottom 2, and Kimberley goes bye-bye. If we go back to the chaos theory, we know that Ruben's fans know from last week that he was in trouble, so they will come out in droves. Ruben will also get a boost from Trenyce's fans that can't vote for the now ex-contestant Trenyce. Also getting a boost will be Kimberley Locke. Joshua's fans know that he will be in trouble, so they will also be voting. That leaves...Clay. The guy who took over the number one spot. The guy who voters may feel is safe, so maybe they won't vote for him as hard - and that could cost him. But Clay? Clay couldn't be voted off, could he? COULD he?

May 7, 2003 - Chico Alexander, Gordon Pepper, and Anthony Rojas

Welcome to the special 2 HOUR pregame chat before AI tonight. This one will be long, so grab a beverage. We have Anthony Rojas and tonight's special guest, Chico Alexander.
Chico: I told my brother that I think Clay bought it today.
Gordon: What did he say
Chico: "Sorry, you say something?". Just zones everyone out...
Anthony: Can u hear me now?
Gordon: Clay will be in the bottom 2
Anthony: no way Kim was good
Gordon: No she wasn't
Chico: Yeah, but it wasn't her night.
Anthony: Hater
Gordon: I wouldn't be surprised if Kim or Clay left
Anthony: It better be josh
Chico: I say Clay and Josh, with Josh going home
Gordon: Josh is the male Nikki Mckibbin
Chico: So does that make Clay Tamyra?
Anthony: maybe
Gordon: Clay and Kim, and in the shocker, Clay 'Tamyra' Aiken leaves
Chico: Just what we need, Clay going on Boston Public complaining of his abusive girlfriend.
Gordon: Because everyone will be calling up to save Ruben, Josh and Kim fans will be calling through too, and everyone will think that Clay is safe - and it will be season one, all over again
Anthony: That's what happened to Ruben last week
Gordon: Except Clay isn't as good - call him Clay 'Guarini' Aiken. That's why I think that Ruben will win the whole thing - because he is so strong that even with that, he still had enough fans to come and save him
Anthony: maybe or maybe not
Chico: Needless to say, tonight's vote will be interesting.
Anthony: It could be any of the 4
Chico: Or three. Ruben's pretty much a lock - But then again, that's my opinion - I could be wrong
Gordon: I think Ruben's a lock too. Rate everyone from least likely to most likely to go - I pick Ruben, Josh, Kimberley, Clay.
Chico: Ruben, Kimberley, Clay, Josh. The last two are tied.
Anthony: For some reason I think its Clay, Ruben, Kim, Josh
Gordon: This feels like a Survivor roundtable
Chico: Let's face it, Clay can't dance. He ain't a dancer.
Anthony: very true but remember who's voting
Gordon: Clay can gyrate, just like Todd New...did I say that?
Chico: YEP!
Gordon: Here's what we have from the choreography - Clay gyrates, Ruben waddles, Josh runs into the crowd to hide the fact that he can't sing, and Kim just stands there. Good thing this is not American Choreographer. Which of the following games was created by Russian Scientists in the early 80's? A. Dig Dug, B. Tetris, C. Galaxian, D. Pacman,
Chico: Tetris.
Gordon: Yep. Gordon: And Michelle the contestant uses 2 Lifelines on this.
Chico: The other three were created by Japanese game company Namco.
Gordon: have the games on my mame emulator.
Chico: I have them all on Namco Museum
Gordon: I have the illegal Tengen $1,000 version of Tetris
Anthony: cool. I have Tetris on my gameboy advance
Gordon: I want Gal's Panic
Anthony: i want dungeons and dragons on commodore 64. Remember Bard's tale.
Chico: I still remember DragonLance: Heroes of the Lance on NES. biggest piece of sh#t I never played.
Gordon: In the TV series Happy Days, the main characters attend what high school? Coolidge, Jefferson, Cleveland, Lincoln?
Anthony: Jefferson
Chico: Jefferson
Gordon: Michelle the contestant says Coolidge - she's a $1,000 LOSER
Chico: That was for $1000?
Anthony: damn give to us
Gordon: That was for $16,000. Who needs more talent lessons - the idolers or Ryan Seacrest?
Chico: Ryan. It's clear that he needs Dunkleman to cancel out his... DJ-ness.
Anthony: lol I'd have to second that, Ryan is corny.
Gordon: You guys watching WOF?
Chico: Yep
Gordon: I'm on the edge of my seat
Anthony: Chico tell this guy to join the show already
Chico: Join the show, already!
Anthony: thanx
Gordon: I'm trying
Anthony: I swear he gets everything right

(A 30 minute Dinner break later...)

Gordon: And here we go - 30 minutes before someone gets knocked off. Ryan starts be being his corny self. 'We're ending the relationship with one of our singers'.
Chico: Way to state the obvious.
Gordon: 22 Million votes
Anthony: I wonder who is getting the boot?!
Gordon: Can we end the relationship with Paula Abdul?
Chico: What'sup dawg?
Gordon: Someone's number is up - and instead of a number, since we have 30 minutes, we just get the idolers and a quick recap
Chico: Last night, we had Robin Gibb, Clay's good rendition of "To Love Somebody" and Josh's crappy rendition of "To Love Somebody"
Gordon: It was actually good last night - well, compared to what he usually does.
Chico: Bee Gees Medley.. since there are only four and we've got time to kill
Gordon: Goodie goodie
Gordon: And Josh is showing us why he can't sing
Chico: I can hear Josh sucking
Gordon: I don't need that image in my head, Chico
Chico: Mind out of the gutter, Pepper.
Gordon: And here is Kim, singing the medley better than what she sang last night
Chico: She should've chosen this one. Or "How Deep is Your Love?"
Gordon: Absolutely right - much more inspired tonight - where was that?
Chico: Check that.
Gordon: Ruben sings that - he's been on these past 2 days
Chico: I have to wonder who's mic they cut off... Not Ruben's. Not Kim's.
Gordon: You realize that when Josh sings, they have the other three people singing background behind him?
Chico: My guess: Bottom two are Clay and Josh.
Gordon: He's the only one that has background singers - the other singers sing acapella
Chico: I'm going by how much we hear in the medley - I've noticed that there's a pattern.
Gordon: Do tell
Anthony: lol
Chico: The night Carmen got her walking papers, I couldn't hear any of her warbling
Gordon: Unfortunately, I can hear Josh
Chico: I could hear Clay's voice at the end, so I'm guessing Josh buys it tonight
Gordon: I could see Josh buying it - or Clay - or Kim
Chico: It's just too close at the bottom right now
Gordon: Last chance to say Final 2 - I'll stay with Kim and Clay
Chico: Josh and Clay
Gordon: American Juniors coming in May - catch the love
Anthony: Josh and...Kim
Gordon: Here we go - we start with Kimberley Locke.
Gordon: Kim is in the Bottom 2
Anthony: I knew it
Gordon: that's one for me, one for Anthony and 0 for Chico
Chico: Well, it's bottlenecked in the bottom. Next is Clay and....
Gordon: Clay is next - and that means that he's safe
Chico: yeah
Anthony: yep
Gordon: Which means we are down to Ruben and Josh. Ruben couldn't be in the bottom 2 again, could he?
Chico: Josh is down, Ruben's safe
Gordon: I have to agree with that. Does this mean that he actually have a smart audience this week?
Anthony: We'll find out after the break
Chico: Throws your whole chaos theory into whack
Anthony: maybe; maybe not
Chico: On second thought...
Gordon: Not really - people still voted up the gills for Ruben, but it could mean that everyone voted for Ruben - and no one voted for Kimberley, which means that all of her expected votes never came, because the surge that she was supposed to get never came in.
Chico: And Clay is the Scarlet Pimpernel in the Ford commercial.
Gordon: That was awful
Chico: yes it was
Gordon: Are we all in agreement that Josh joins Kim in the bottom 2?
Anthony: ya
Chico: True
Gordon: I'll say that KIM gets booted tonight
Anthony: no
Chico: I have to agree with Anthony on this one
Gordon: Because I think that if she didn't get enough votes to surpass Clay, she may not have gotten enough votes to surpass Josh
Anthony: Who in the blue hell voted for Josh?
Gordon: Uh...gee...the whole South and the military?
Chico: BOO-fricking-yah!
Gordon: Josh goes into the Bottom 2
Anthony: duh
Gordon: Randy says that the 2 best are still there, Paula says that it's tough, and Simon couldn't understand Paula - and neither could anyone else in the free world
Chico: oh shut up, Paula
Gordon: Simon says that they both should have been gone - how nice
Chico: Kimberley this week, Josh last week. Process that, what goes into the minds here?
Anthony: I say JOSH is out
Chico: Agreed
Gordon: JUST to disagree I'll have to go Kim (though Josh is probably gone)
Anthony: dammit Gordon why u jinxing stuff again
Gordon: Its the chaos theory man - can't fight the chaos
Anthony: Matrix RELOADED may 15th
Chico: I'll have to bring up what was said last week: the outcome of tonight's show will determine the rest of the series. That said, what happens now?
Gordon: I think it's Ruben Vs Clay regardless...I thought if there was any time that either of them would get knocked out, it would be this show. The winner of Josh/Kim gets third place
Anthony: Hmm, i dont think so...if Kim is safe she will be 2nd
Gordon: And after the break - Josh is gone
Chico: Kim's safe
Anthony: See
Gordon: The audience has finally gotten hold of it's senses. Hooray
Chico: Next week, Kim vs. Ruben vs. Clay. Tomorrow, Clay returns to Raleigh to sing the National Anthem for the Durham Bulls.
Gordon: A special thanks to Chico Alexander for hanging out with us for the past 2 hours
Chico: Had a blast, man
Gordon: Later to everyone for another week.

May 13, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We have a Clay, we have a Ruben and we have a Kim. In 25 hours, we will be saying good-bye to one of these people - but until then, let's hear some music, shall we?

After the standard intro, we start with the 'Random Choice Round' - which means that the singers will get a random song that they have already sung sometime during the competition. Yawn.

Kim Locke start with 'Band of Gold' . If you remember, she sang this with Frenchie (Gee, I wonder what she's doing now). She sounded very nice. Randy thought that she has been the most improved singer of anyone in the past 2 seasons, and Paula thought that she was out to win. Simon calls Paula Al Capone and starts, 'Last week, you were dreadful - you shouldn't be there tonight...(of course, the audience boos the heck out of him at this point, until he's allowed to talk again) tonight, that was sensational. Well done.' The audience cheers again.

Is it just me, or is the Vanilla Coke guy getting on everyone's nerves?

Ruben is next - and he sings Stevie Wonder's 'Signed, Sealed and Delivered'. Now is sounds like Ruben came here to win - he blasts Kimberley Locke out of the water and now I'm finally hearing the inspired Ruben that I heard at the beginning of the competition. Randy's happy that he switched it up a little and Paula was happy that he was having some fun some here. 'Looks like we have a competition up here. Superb.' says Simon. About time, too.

Clay singe the song 'Vincent'. He gets a slow ballad-like song, which makes him right at home. Unfortunately, here comes back the bad habits, he makes it Broad-way like, and did he screw up a line in the piece? I know he has his fans, but that effort was decidedly below the levels that Ruben and Kim gave out. Randy thought that it was Clay's weakest performance, and Paula thought that it wasn't his best performance. I can't wait to hear Simon's spiel now. 'It was a dreary rendition, you forgot the're very lucky that you have 2 songs left, because that was terrible.' Agreed - and after Round 1, my rating is Ruben, Kim, Clay.

Round 2 - The Judges Choice. Each judge gets to pick a song for an Idoler. Kim gets 'Anyone who had a Heart' and she's 2 for 2 in the good song category. Randy, who gave her the song, thought she sounded great - and so did Paula, who thought that she was having fun. Simon wasn't blown away, but he said that it was a safe good song. Is it just me, or is she wearing her hair like Kelly Clarkson?

Simon selects the next song - 'Smile' - for Ruben. This would definitely be considered a 'Safe' song for Ruben = but I want to know if he can do with it what he did with the first song. He doesn't at the beginning - but then he does at the halfway mark and makes it his own. A nice ending and I'll give him bonus points for that. Randy thought that he did his thing, Paula loved to see the dimples and Simon thought that it was well done.

Randy points out Quentin Tarantino in the audience - and we get an American Juniors promo for our troubles. Don't forget that it's May 27!!

Paula says that if Clay can nail 'Mack the Knife', then he will be known as something more than a lounge singer. Sorry, but he sounds EXACTLY like a lounge singer. You know all the praise that I was giving Clay for the past few weeks? He is doing his best to wipe that all out in 2 songs. Sure, he sounded great, but it's AMERICAN Idol, not lounge singer Idol. Randy and Paula gives him a standing ovation, while Simon thinks that it was brilliant. Why, Simon, why?

The final round is the Singer's choice. Kim comes out and sings Inseparable. Kim was 3 for 3 and was the most consistent of any of the singers - and I don't need to hear another song by Ruben or Clay. Randy and Paula were thrilled about her song. Will Simon agree? 'This is the only time that we've had 3 good people in the final 3. I don't know which ones are going to make it.' Good words - we'll see how that plays out...

Ruben sings 'If Ever You're In My Arms Again.' This is a pretty song, and he does a bang-up job of it. He gets the standing ovation and Randy thinks that Ruben's trying to win this competition. Paula thought that he had a great night. Simon? 'I honestly don't think that the final would be the same without you, and you've proven that you should be there.'

Finally, Clay does his last song - Unchained Melody. I can't wait until he's done. This is absolutely painful to listen to, and it easily drops him to third. Apparently, Randy and Paula are watching a different show than me, because they thought that it was the best song of the competition. WHA? Simon thinks that it was over the top, but instead of voting off a singer, Simon would rather vote off Ryan Seacrest. How well can Ryan sing Unchained Melody?

If this was just based on these three songs, then I would have to say that Kim and Ruben advance, and that Clay is on the outside looking in. Of course, it's not, and there will be a riot if it wasn't a Ruben/Clay Final. Still, you can't help but wonder how badly Clay hurt himself tonight...

May 14, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We'll be having our usual gang of wackos on next week's blow-out finale, but for this week, it's just little ole' me. Let us go back a few months ago to the first audition set (February 12, 2003 to be exact), where we had our first voting for a group of 8 people going into the semifinals. If you remember, the Top 3 were Ruben, Kimberley and Clay. Ruben came in first, then Kimberley, then Clay.

Fast-Forward to last week. Your top vote-getter was Clay. Ruben was second and Kimberley was in third. If you decided to stick them all in the one position that they haven't been in, that would put Kimberley in first, Clay in second and Ruben in last. Which pattern will hold true for tonight?

Now, in the final three, there is no final two - just the announcement of who will be leaving. So why is there an hour special? THE FILLER!!!!!! So what sort of filler are we getting this evening? Justin Guarini and Tamyra Gray! Way to market the present stars by luring people back with the past stars.

After the silly judges introduction and yesterday's recap, we are off with the contestant's introduction. Since they are all holding microphones in their hands, my guess is that they are going to be singing. Sure enough, it's a musical threesome with a medley of songs. I'm going to do the Chico Alexander method of figuring out who goes - who's microphone do they turn off near the end of the performance? It sound like they turned off ... KIM's mike!!!!! We'll see if Chico is right...

But before we do that - it's Alumni night! Tamyra Gray starts off with 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'. While she is singing, I am reminded of Simon, who says that the bar this year is much higher than last year. He is right. Would Tamyra Gray have made the top 3 this year? I'm not sure - and I certainly don't think that she would have beaten out Clay or Ruben. Think about it and ask yourself who you would have voted for in the final 3 if it was Clay, Ruben and Tamyra...

From the male side of the alumni, we have Justin 'Screech' Guarini. He pitches the movie (it's June 13th, you know), and he describes it. Fortunately, we don't get stuck watching a piece of it. Unfortunately, we are stuck listening to Justin sing 'Unchained Melody'. Please, America, PLEASE explain to me how Tamyra did not make the Top 3 and this guy wound up in the finals and in a movie with Kelly Clarkson.

So here we go with the results...oh wait, it's not one minute left for the show to end, so we're not there yet. What to do...oh I know, let's see a blurb on a day in the life of each Idoler! We start with Kim's day at her school and church. The next video is Ruben's trip to Birmingham and 205. Finally, it's Clay going down a slide, teaching his special ed kids and singing for the Durham Bulls baseball team.

OK - Now's there's 2 minutes left, and Ryan calls Kimberley over to him. And Ryan calls Clay - and Ryan calls Ruben over too. OK - what was the point of THAT? After the traditional spiel of how close the voting was (4% separated first from third), we find out that to no one's surprise, KIMBERLEY is eliminated. We see her saying good-bye and seeing her last song, then we fade out.

So sure enough, it's Ruben vs. Clay in the finals. Does this mean that regardless of who wins, we'll get a movie called from Ruben to Clay? I hope not...but we will see who gets to play the lead - and wins the American Idol competition - next week...

May 19, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

So what do we do for filler? We get a whole BONUS HOUR of filler. Yuck. I will make this as painless as possible - and as quick as possible. We introduce the judges, and we see a montage of them in action. We get playful bantering from the judges, and a promotion for the Simon Cowell bobble-head doll, but nothing revealing or important.

We also get a lame promo for Mr. Personality - and a goofy Haley, who messes up her lines. Memo to FOX - if you have people making a cameo, PLEASE HAVE THEM LEARN THEIR LINES - or at least learn how to read. Almost every guest that has been a non-actor or singer on this show has been excruciating painful to watch. But it's a great way o throw a plug - READ CHICO ALEXANDER'S MR. PERSONALITY FINALE!!!!! OK - I'm done with that sort of silliness - for now...

But what wouldn't a Final 2 show be without music? Here are your American Idol finalists - singing 'What the World Needs Now'I thought this was a Final 2 special? Silly me. We see all of the contestants - which is actually a hidden plug for the American Idol tour. Go watch them so you can give them money!

But what would a Final 2 show be without the Final 2??? It's time to learn more about the finalsts!!!! (Of course this is now starting the second half of the show, so I wouldn't expect much depth here). We start first with Ruben's background. He went back to town and met everyone. We finsd out, thanks to Reuben's brother, that he hates sushi, he got into a fight over a turkey sandwich, and that his brother beat him up when Ruben started to sing. That's the in depth dirt we find out about him, and he sings 'Breaking Up is Hard to do'. If this is the depth that we are going to be getting of the contestants, I'm not expecting much here from Clay.

We see someone who claim's to be Clay's biggest fan. She was able to give Clay a hug. Then they asked her some questions - like how much the jacket cost - $1,200 - and his YMCA nickname was Gonzo - and he was 5 years old when he was the mascot. Gee, can we say PLANT???? Clay sings 'Don't let the Sun Go Down on Me.'

It's questions for the contestants! Ruben is confident about tomorrow. Clay says that he wants to leave with the knowledge that he is enjoying it. Advice from Randy for the other judges? Paula needs to stay nice and Simon needs to get a tan. Paula says that Randy doesn't have to do anything - and neither does Simon. Simon gets shit up by Paula before he can talk.

We end this one with a coin toss - Clay wins it and he decides to sing second. Ruben will sing first. After that, we get the 18,654th singing of'Proud to be an American' with the rest of the finalists - including Vanessa, who we haven't seen before since the last ice age.

So what did we get out of this episode? Almost NOTHING of substance - but we did get to see the likeable qualities of the finalists - and that's what seperates this show from the other contests. You fall in love with the competitors, instead of just seeing all of their bad parts. All of the TV execs should take note - and we will all be taking note tomorrow in deciding who we will finally fall in love with.

May 20, 2003 - Gordon Pepper

We are down to 2. Ruben and Clay. Clay and Ruben. There's no reason to start with the chit-chat. Let's get into it.

And we get into Ruben first (as he loses the coin toss from last night). He has a very impressive rendition of 'Still in Love' He's doing his thing according to Randy and Paula's heart is with him too. Simon thought that it was good, but not the best. The audience boos him.

Now it's Round 1 for Clay. He sings his own song 'This is your night.' He's into the pop-rock mode, which is very nice, considering his style and genre movement, so I'd give him points on creating himself. However, Ruben definately sounded the better of the two. Randy loves his workm while Paula says that he finds the Matrix of a song. Lame. Simon 'You really were ugly then, and now you were handsome...what I didn't like about it (the song) was that it was American Idol - the Musical. I expected better.' Ruben 1, Clay 0.

Second Round - Ruben sings 'Imagine' This is the first time that Ruben, going out of a genre, has impressed me. This was nice. I take back what I said about Ruben not being able to move out of a genre. This was genuinely sweet and Clay has to make up a lot of ground to avoid falling into a 0-2 hole.

Clay takes on a Beatles song of his own - Paul McCartney's 'Here There and Everywhere.' Clay gets a harp - which is a good counter to the guitar that Reuben had for Yesterday. It was a good pretty effort, but once again, Ruben did the better job. Randy accused Clay of bgin safe, but Paula thought that he was vulnerable. Simon was also not blown away. Ruben 2, Clay 0.

Final Round - Ruben's last song before we cast our vote is 'Flying Without Wings'. This is a nice song - and it's a safe song, but he put a lot of emotion into it. Very nice. Paula and Randy give him a standing ovation. Simon 'So you saved the best for last. Over to you, Clay - that was fantastic.' Can Ruben get the 3-0 sweep?

Clay's last song is Bridge over Troubled Waters. Clay gets the works with this song - it's the best one of the evening - but he also got 20 or so gospelk singers to croon with him. Where's Ruben's 20 gospel singers? Randy and Paula thought that it was his best. Simon thought that he was a little off, he thought that that performance could win him the competition. I don't but, I will give Clay te win in this round - but only barely, because he has to use the 20 gospel singers to do it.

So my take? If you consider this just on musical talent and versatility, there is no question who should win this contest - Clay got out of Broadway-ville and is the most well-rounded singer there, while Ruben stayed in R&B mode for almost the whole competition. Clay is truly the better singer.

But as we all know by now, it's not called the better singer (see Gray, Tamyra), it's called American Idol. There is only one person who fits that image - and that's Mr. 205. Ruben is the personification of American Idol - and I think that he outsang Clay tonight 2-1. Ruben Stoddard is the American Idol and he is my choice to win.

May 21, 2003 - Pete Bourke, Gordon Pepper, Anthony Rojas, and Aldo Villalona

Gordon: We are here for the FINALE of American Idol 2 - this is Gordon
Anthony: sup America. Ready for your new AI?
Gordon: I am - who wins?
Anthony: Well considering that I missed last nights show and heard a number of things like Clay was very good and Ruben was cool,...its up in the air for me but if you want an answer, I'd say Clay.
Gordon: I think Ruben wins in a walk
Anthony: I hope for Ruben to win though
Gordon: There will be NO fence straddling - CLAY or RUBEN???
Anthony: lol damn, ok I'd go with my first theory, CLAY
Gordon: I say Ruben - so we disagree again
Anthony: what else is new
Gordon: So we start this show with a recap of how we got to this point - with awful singers
Anthony: Awful is an understatement
Gordon: How do you think that these people who are watching themselves on TV right now feel?
Anthony: I think half are saying I'm on TV and the other half are like oh boy, you cant escape my love
Gordon: Can I escape his voice? So now we have a recap of the worst singers of the world.
Anthony: I'm waiting for Madonna boy - like a virgin boy
Gordon: I knew there was something weird about you
Anthony: yea ok deep inside you still laugh about that image
Gordon: My ears are crying and screaming to be released from their wax-like prison...OK - there's Like a Virgin boy - and Keith wins for worst singer in the world.
Gordon: So we have one of our special guests - he is the heartbeat of New York - it's ALDO!
Gordon: You've been watching American Idol. Aldo?
Gordon: so who do you think wins?
Anthony: lol
Gordon: That's 2 for Ruben, one for icky Clay. Defend yourself, Rojas - Defend the 'champion of skinny white guys' everywhere
Anthony: Well I'm certainly not white
Aldo: Anthony is white, but he's not skinny
Gordon: We see the Birmingham pep rally
Anthony: Aldo, you're the whitest person in this room.
Aldo: hell no its Gordon
Anthony: told you, who can forget him
Gordon: Ruben has won the state of Alabama - big whoopdedoo
Pete: hello all
Gordon: We welcome the return of the Pulse of America - PETE!
Aldo: He's the anchor of America
Gordon: How are you doing, Anchor of America?
Pete: I am fine and Ruben is the size of Alabama
Anthony: lol
Pete: how is everyone tonight?
Gordon: Clay wins North Carolina - too bad it's based on votes, and not states. We're getting the word on the street - which is TV talk for - oh goodie, more filler - only 110 minutes worth of filler to go. So Pete, who wins American Idol - Ruben or Clay? What will the pulse of America say?
Pete: I believe the newly crowned Barry White does - Ruben
Gordon: That's 3 votes for Ruben - and 1 vote for Clay
Aldo: I feel they r both talented - and eventually both will get record deals somewhere
Gordon: So we now interview the judges - do you guys find any of this filler entertaining?
Pete: out of the top five, who will get the bigger break?
Gordon: Out of the top 5, I'm guessing that Clay will get the biggest break - he is Mr. Broadway
Pete: Remember Tamyra is on Boston Public and not the top 2 from the last
Gordon: And we get more filler from the rejects who did not make the cut - this is brutal. From both sets of twins to psychotic Edgar to Mr. 'I'm Spent'.
Anthony: OH BOY BRUTAL ?! It's more like Why?
Pete: cars are crashing outside right now
Gordon: Little cats heads are exploding in the city. Oh wait - they explode in the city anyways
Aldo: my screen popped
Anthony: Is this their way of filling two hours?
Gordon: When does All-American Girl's final starts? I may want to watch that instead of this filler. But now with that hideous mess over with, Ryan talks to the audience. Ryan says that the vote was really close - do you believe him?
Aldo: yes
Pete: bs bs bs bs
Gordon: I take that as a no
Pete: aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh no
Aldo: Yes it is. Cause of racist white people voting just so the black won't win
Gordon: Can't a brother get a little love?
Pete: ok Malcolm
Gordon: Let's see what the next filler is - ah - we finally get to see the finalists - only 30 minutes into the show.
Anthony: The winner won 50.28% Vs. 49.72%
Gordon: 24 million votes - only separated by 13,000 votes. And we get another ridiculously stupid montage in a boxing motif - all trying to be made legitimate by Sugar Ray Leonard
Aldo: haterade
Pete: I think that America is being called stupid.
Gordon: Not America - just the people behind the video packaging. If I was to fill the show with filler - why not with...oh...THEM SINGING??????
Pete: if you think that we are this dumb to think this is entertaining...then I'm a chimp
Aldo: id rather see amputees beating each other up with their amputated limbs
Pete: I'd pay
Gordon: Well we are getting the American Idolists singing - that's better. Would you rather see this or the amputees?
Pete: amputees
Aldo: What a swing
Gordon: Well, we get a special singing performance by Ruben, Clay, and Kelly Clarkson - and her pitch is all over the place - but it's not in tune. This is terrible
Aldo: I'd like to pitch it to Kelly
Anthony: You never have pitched to anyone how could you?
Pete: I wouldn't kick her out of bed
Gordon: That was awful...Hey look - it's a cameo from The Shield's top cop!!! That wouldn't happen to be a FOX show, would it?
Anthony: Ahh YA
Gordon: At least we're now getting singing filler. Kelly Clarkson sings 'Miss Independent.' Unfortunately, this is a good song, which was just ruined by Christina Aguilera's orchestration. What do you guys think of this song?
Anthony: I'm tired of it.
Aldo: I fell asleep
Gordon: We continue with Clive Davis, who's the head of RCA records. He just got done with Justin Guarini's album - and they are starting with Clay and Ruben - which album will you be buying first?
Anthony: neither - I'll download it - maybe
Aldo: dl it?
Gordon: Clive gives her a Platinum Award. Awwwwwwwwbarf. Comments?
Anthony: I think she knew
Gordon: Of course she knew - And now another garbage filler - this one with Simon and Paula making love to each other at the dining room table. This may not have an awwwww in front of it, but definitely a barrrrrrrrrrrrrrf.
Anthony: it must be a nightmare for Paula
Gordon: It's a nightmare for me watching this
Anthony: WOW
Gordon: And Simon wakes up with Randy Jackson
Aldo: That was funny - I'm out.
Gordon: Ew
Anthony: I guess its just u and me like Randy and Simon - but this is a nightmare I'll wake up from
Gordon: hey baby - gimme a kiss
Gordon: I know you have to cover Bachelor 3, so let's wrap this up - what did you think of this series?
Anthony: I think it was much better than the first, and alot of commercials
Gordon: So we have a medley - and Vanessa finally gets to join the group again
Anthony: maybe she was late
Gordon: All of the finalists doing a medley of all of the judges songs - and we already have cracked voices - CUE THE CAT
Anthony: Meeeeeeeoooooooooowwwwwwwww. Time for Bachelor 3 - go CLAY!!!!!

While we're at this lull, a special thanks to Anthony Rojas, Chico Alexander, Pete Bourke and Aldo Villalona for being the special guest voices every week. You'll be hearing more of them in American Idol Juniors and other shows this Summer.

We are back - and Clay has won New York. Wha? First of all, you can't tell who has won what state, since it's based on phone calls and the internet, dippy. The third season of AI MUST get some better material - this sucks.

What doesn't suck is more singing - which is what most of this show should have been. We get to hear a three person montage of Ruben, Kimberley and Clay. Is it just me, or are they really showcasing more of Ruben than Clay this evening? And is that secretly intentional? By the way, Ruben wins Florida. Whatever.

We get another solo performance by Ruben. This time, the song is 'Flying Without Wings'. I have come to the realization that we are getting no new material tonight - but the singers can knock this old stuff out - which is nice to hear. All except Kelly Clarkson. When he's done, we go to Ruben's hometown - and his pastors, who are praising him. Ruben looks like he's about to cry. Awwwwwwwwbarf.

But we have to have the counter-song. Here comes Clay and 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters.' Well, it's not the song, it's the accompaniment that's impressive. Why doesn't Ruben get dozen of gospel singers around him when he sings? So Clay is done - and it's off to Raleigh to see Clay's fans. And Clay has won Ohio. Ryan will reveal the winner right after the break. Sure he will.

It's time for another polling of the audience. Clay and Reuben. We get a duet from both of them 'Ain't No Stopping Us Now.' For all you people who actually thought that you would get the results after the break, you can pick up 'The Best of Edgar and Keith' as a Vinyl Records store near you. We'll have the results right after the break - says Ryan. Not with 20 minutes left of show, you won't.

But after the commercials, it's only 10 minutes left, so it's time to get to the vote. We go to the judges for the final comments. Randy says that they are both winners, and Paula says to follow your path. Simon? 'It's image verses talent. Talent won. We're going to put their albums out the same week - that's going to be the challenge.'

Ryan says that it's the closest vote in American Idol history by 1,330 votes, not 13,300 (which I don't buy, by the way) - the winner is - RUBEN STUDDARD, Alabama and the studio goes nuts. Ruben thanks God and everyone who voted for him - and he sings 'Flying Without Wings'. And me, Pete, and Aldo will have bragging rights over Anthony. YAY. We look at Ruben's gospel singers now as well.

Clay is a gracious loser - but they will both be very rich, so there's no reason to be bitter. Clay and Ruben thanks all of their relatives - and their relatives come up on stage, Kevin gives Ruben a big hug. AwwwwwwBarf.

But a well deserved Awwwwwwbarf, as Ruben was the epitome of American Idol throughout the competition. Everyone hugs and we fade to black.

My take? Despite my moaning and ranting, the talent here was far superior than the first one, and it was a much better show. Now can they do it again for a third season? I think they can, and we'll find out in January. For all of us here, thanks for reading the summaries.

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