Idol Chit-Chat
This is your place to discuss all things "American Idol." The performances, the judges, the past contestants — it’s all right here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Goodbye to "American Idol"...

Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing the dean of “American Idol” writers, Richard Rushfield, about his book, “American Idol: The Untold Story.” We talked about how the Tri-State area had never had a contestant make the Top 24.

“Maybe that will happen for you next year,” Rushfield told me. “I hope so,” I said.

Be careful what you wish for…

I did get that local contestant I had been waiting for—Point Pleasant’s Chase Likens. And thanks to him, I garnered four front page stories, completely scooped other news outlets more than once and reached an adrenaline high like no other I had ever had in my journalistic career. It was quite the journey.

But what I didn’t expect was that my journey would lead me to a crisis of conscience that would end my career as an “Idol” reporter.

Yes, you read that right. This is my final post on this blog…

Two weeks ago, I found myself fighting back tears as I talked to Chase on the phone about his “Idol” journey. It was just three days after his “Idol” dream ended and the wounds were still very fresh.

Chase wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. I knew he had no chance of making the Top 13, I just didn’t want to come out and say it. But there was something about hearing what the show is capable of from someone who experienced it—someone from my own area—that just hit me upside the head.

I hung up the phone and said out loud, “I can’t do this anymore.”

For seven seasons, I have covered “Idol” and all of its tricks. I’ve even prided myself in recognizing and predicting the show’s manipulative tactics over the years. It’s not that I didn’t care at all about how the manipulated contestants felt, I guess I just didn’t care as much as I did about my reputation as an “Idol” writer. But hearing the voice of someone who was messed over by the show changed all that. I could no longer defend a show that could treat people that way. I told my husband that this was going to be my last season covering “Idol.”

But then a great new career opportunity presented itself and I was able to end my coverage a little earlier. And if you’ve been reading how hard I’ve been on the show lately, I think you’ll agree, it was time…

I’ve had some great times covering “Idol” over the past seven seasons and I’ve been able to talk to some incredible people—David Cook, Kris Allen, Mandisa, Blake Lewis, Phil Stacey and Bucky Covington just to name a few. Unfortunately, I never got to talk to my two faves—Constantine Maroulis and Clay Aiken—but I’m hoping that maybe someday the opportunity will present itself.

There have been so many great people that have helped me along the way, it’s impossible to name them all, but I especially wanted to single out Chloe and Michael from the “Idol” PR team, Todd from FOX and Roger from 19. And, of course, I have to thank Robyn, Andrea, Maureen and the entire team at “The Herald-Dispatch.”

Also, thanks to Chase Likens and his family—Jodi, Samantha, Kim and Elizabeth. And thanks to Vickie, Brandy and all the wonderful people of Point Pleasant, who made my last “Idol” story such a pleasant one.

And last but not least, I want to thank all of you, my loyal readers, for taking this roller coaster ride with me over the past seven seasons. It has been my pleasure to share the “Idol” experience with all of you.

Until we meet again…

Henderson-Bentley, out!

Tonight's Show...

Tonight, for the first time in seven seasons of “Idol,” I didn’t rush around to set up my computer and score sheet and time out my bathroom breaks during the commercials.

And although it was a weird feeling, it was a feeling that I really liked and can seriously get used to…

If you’ve read my other blog, you know that I’m moving on to another career and am giving up my blogs and columns. But, of course, if you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know that I had already given up on “Idol”…

Later tonight, I’ll share my official goodbye. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on tonight’s show here…

Monday, March 19, 2012

Clay Aiken Takes Charge on "The Celebrity Apprentice"

All season long on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” Clay Aiken has been showing a completely different side to his personality—a strong, decisive side that is a lot of fun to watch.

Sunday, Clay gets his chance to lead the team as the Project Manager. He’ll be taking on the show’s most annoying cast member, Aubrey O’Day of Danity Kane.

This week, Clay took his strong side to a whole new level as he challenged Penn Gillette for being overly condescending. Penn didn’t like it, but he totally had it coming. I’m guessing Penn was even more unhappy because the challenge came from Clay.

No doubt Clay’s fight with Penn will affect how the team works together next week. I’m hoping that Clay will earn the respect that he deserves…

“The Celebrity Apprentice” airs for two hours Sunday, March 25th at 9 p.m. on NBC…

Photo Credit: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC

"Idol" Album News

Let me catch you up on some “Idol” album news…

Casey James will release his self-titled country album tomorrow (March 20th) on BNA Nashville…

On the heels of his stint on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” Clay Aiken will release “Steadfast” March 26th on Decca. But don’t get too excited Claymates, there is only one original song on the album. The rest are Clay’s faves from his last album “Tried and True,” plus a couple of new remakes.

Here’s the tracklist: “There’s a Kind of Hush,” “Bring Back My Love,” “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” “Crying,” “It’s Only Make Believe,” “Misty,” “Unchained Melody,” “It’s Impossible,” “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Moon River”…

Carrie Underwood will release “Blown Away” May 1st. The first single, “Good Girl,” has already shot up the charts…

Adam Lambert’s “Trespassing” will be most likely released in April. It was originally scheduled for release tomorrow, but they decided to work in some new tracks…

Photo Credits: Amazon.com, Arista Nashville, RCA

This Week's Shows...

This week, the Top 10 will take on the Billy Joel songbook. No offense to Billy Joel, but didn’t we already do that one? The show seriously needs some new themes…

This week’s returning “Idol” finalist will be Haley Reinhart. She will be performing her new single, “Free,” on Thursday’s results show. Also, Lana Del Ray will try to make up for her controversial “Saturday Night Live” performance by singing “Video Games” on the results show.

Wednesday’s show is once again two hours with the hour-long results on Thursday…

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jermaine Jones Speaks!

Jermaine Jones has added a little more fuel to the fire as to whether or not his disqualification was a ratings stunt...

Jones told "Showbiz Tonight" that he knows he marked on his application that he had been arrested before. And he says that after his background check, there were some things he had to hire a lawyer for and get cleared up before he could be a part of the show.

So to paraphrase a famous quote: What did "Idol" know and when did they know it?

Hmmm...

You can read more about Jermaine and see his interview here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top 12 Results: Did America Get It Right?

The looks on the judges’ faces when they saw the bottom three were priceless. America had spoken and they rebelled against the show’s mission to keep girls on the show longer. America wanted a girl to go home last week and they were darn well going to make sure that happened this week.

So did they get the right girl? Yes, they did. Shannon gave the worst performance of the girls. I just thought that she was more popular than that. I had picked Deandre to go home, but I am okay with Shannon. I liked her, but her ballads and oversinging were starting to get old already…

I should also give kudos to the show for actually eliminating someone this week. I was sure that the whole hour would be a big waste of time. Now I’m guessing they won’t eliminate someone later in the season or they will bring back “Idol Gives Back.”

What do you guys think? Did the right person go home?

Discuss…

Top 12 Results: And the Person Going Home Is...

8:54 We’re back…Erika and Shannon…Dim the lights…Person who is safe is…Erika. Where did Shannon’s fans go?...The judges definitely won’t save Shannon and I think she knows it…She’s doing “One Sweet Day” again…Her dad is in tears…The swaybots are in full force…This performance is better…or it was. She’s starting to lose it. She knows it’s over. I think the judges are trying to decide who will deliver the verdict…JLo can barely look at her…

8:57 Ryan asks the judges…Randy says no. She’s not surprised and actually smiles…Goodbye video…This Scotty McCreery song does not work…

8:59 The Idols come over to hug her and Ryan pulls her out to thank her fans…And we’re out…

Final thoughts in a moment…

Top 12 Results: The Bottom Three Are...

8:46 We’re back…Heejun, Erika and Hollie…Hollie…Jimmy says he gives Hollie straight As, but he thought she was dressed too old…Heejun…Jimmy says he’s boxed himself in and needs to find some tempo…Erika…Jimmy says Erika fell into the oversinging trap. Jimmy defends his “catchy, jerky arrangement”…Dim the lights…Hollie…safe…I still think it’s Erika in the bottom. Heejun is popular…Erika…Bottom three…Heejun is stunned…The judges don’t look happy…Phillip gives Heejun a big hug…JLo says she is not happy…Steven agrees. Sticks up for Elise…Randy says it’s very strange…One to safety…It’s Elise! The judges are relieved…That leaves Shannon and Erika. I really thought Shannon was more popular than that…After the break…

Erika gave the better performance, but she messed with a popular song, so I think it’s her. The judges love her, but they won’t save her. They’ll save it for their other faves…

Top 12 Results: Daughtry Takes the Stage

8:38 We’re back. Could the bottom three be all girls like it probably was last week if not for the whole twist thing? I think so…Ryan intros Daughtry to debut their new single, “Outta My Head”…I admit it. I still have trouble listening to them after their publicist messed me over…This is a good song, though. Those first two singles were just too same old, same old…Heejun looks sick sitting over on the couch with Erika. He’s probably positive he’s in the bottom three. I wouldn’t be so sure, my friend…Oh he gets an interview with Ryan. Isn’t he special…Ryan asks about their upcoming tour…After the break…

Top 12 Results: Another Singer in the Bottom Three

8:27 We’re back…We’re looking to build the Top 10…Colton, Shannon, Deandre, Jessica…Deandre makes a face…Deandre…Recap…Jimmy’s comments are going to be interesting…Jimmy says maybe it was the wrong song, but ultimately it’s their choice. Deandre came in with three choices and they weren’t exciting, so they made suggestions and he chose “Endless Love.” Jimmy says he did better in rehearsal and he could be in trouble…Colton…Jimmy says it was the wrong song like Steven says and that Randy confused him by saying the song doesn’t matter. Yeah, I was confused by that too. Clearly Randy likes Colton…Shannon…Jimmy says she pushed too hard last night. When she pushes she shows her weaknesses. I totally agree…Jessica…Jimmy says he supported her choice to do an upbeat song but she screamed last night and that messed her up. He says if she goes home “we should all go home”…Randy says again that it’s not about the songs. Songwriters everywhere are thrilled to hear that…

8:33 Colton…safe…Deandre…Ryan makes him hang tight…Jessica…safe…Deandre and Shannon…One safe, other in bottom three…Deandre…safe. YIKES! Didn’t see that one…Shannon in bottom three. Heejun looks sick…After the break…

Top 12 Results: Demi Lovato Takes the Stage

8:20 We’re back…Ryan intros Demi Lovato to do “Give Your Heart a Break”…I don’t think this sounds like her at all. Her voice is really changing…Props to her for actually singing live…But why are the backup singers so loud?...Um, that ending was hideous. What were those weird notes from the band?...After the break…

Top 12 Results: The Bottom Three Begins

8:09 We’re back…Ryan reminds us of the Judges’ Save that they can use once before the top five…Ford commercial…“Ghost Town”…Haunted house. Some are investigators and some are ghosts. Fittingly, Jermaine is a ghost…

8:10 Wonder if he’ll ask any of them about Jermaine? Guess not…Phillip, Skylar, Elise and Joshua…The urinal chairs are set up…Phillip…Recap…Jimmy says he went far beyond the call of duty and that he’s rooting for him…Skylar…Jimmy says she’s better than she was last night but she will stay. Of course, he’s still complaining about her song choice…Elise…Jimmy says she killed it and blew his mind and will be in it for the long haul. Not sure America will agree there, Jimmy…Joshua…Jimmy says Percy Sledge loved it. He says all the Interscope people should eat crawfish before they sing. He says it is a two-horse race, but it will become a three horse race next week…Ryan asks JLo who that third horse is and she talks around it…

8:15 Ryan reads email from Percy Sledge, who says he’s very proud of Joshua…Dim the lights…Joshua…Safe…Phillip…Safe…Joshua went to the wrong place. He was running to the stools behind Ryan…Elise and Skylar, one in bottom three…Elise…Bottom three. Told ya, Jimmy. Elise walks away dejected. She is not happy…After the break…

Here’s the thing, Elise. It wasn’t your performance. You were great. The show did you wrong with the whole twist thing last week when you should’ve gone home. The question is, if Elise is the lowest votegetter—which she could very well be—will the judges save her? As they did last week? Hmmm…

Top 12 Results: Ryan Sets It Up

So will “Idol” continue its road to ruin and actually waste an hour of our time tonight to not eliminate anyone, or will someone actually go home?…

Let’s get it started…

8:00 Video of last night with kid pictures of the contestants…Heejun says he has to face it that he’s not as good as he thought. ‘kay…

8:01 Opening credits…Judges intro. JLo is VERY gold tonight…Jimmy Iovine in the house…

8:02 Ryan reminds us about Jermaine…Daughtry on tonight…Demi Lovato…“Plus the outcome of your votes.” Hmmm…Ryan is saying that we’ll pick the Top 10 tonight and decide who goes on the tour. Hmmm…JLo says her new single and video will hit March 29th…JLo on the cover of “Vogue”…Video of Tommy Hilfiger talking about being the image adviser on “Idol.” Whatever…Tommy says Adam Lambert gets it…Carrie Underwood good example…If they follow my lead, I hope they’ll look great…He’ll start next week…After the break…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top 12 Performance Show: Who's Going Home?

So before I discuss who I think is going home, let me remind you what Ryan Seacrest said. He said that it was business as usual, BUT he said that the person with the lowest number of votes will be “at risk” of being eliminated.

In other words, no one is going home tomorrow night. It’ll be just one more lame twist in a season full of them…

But if someone does go home, who will it be? I think the bottom three will be made up of Deandre Brackensick for that emotionless rendition of “Endless Love,” Erika Van Pelt for changing too much of “Heaven” and Elise Testone because I think she’s who America wanted to go home last week. Out of that three, I think it’s between Deandre and Elise and I’ll go with Deandre. But I still believe no one will go home tomorrow…

So what do you guys think? Who do you think is going home? And what do you make of the whole Jermaine thing?

Discuss…

Top 12 Performance Show: My Thoughts on Jermaine's Departure

So a guy gives a false name to the police twice, has four outstanding warrants against him and he gets a better and more heartfelt goodbye than most contestants in “Idol” history. You’ve got to be kidding me…

The big “confrontation” by the show’s producers, Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe, looked like too stern headmasters scolding a student for putting a tack in a teacher’s chair. It was unbelievably lame. And they acted like Jermaine did nothing wrong. He LIED…TO POLICE! That is WRONG with a capital W. The show shouldn’t have passed it off like nothing. And for him to be able to share part of the song he was going to do this week like he was leaving due to some terrible illness or family emergency just glamorized it even more.

But worst of all for the show, it did nothing to convince people that this entire thing wasn’t some elaborate ratings stunt. If anything, it probably just cemented those opinions for people. And it did nothing to change my opinion that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the show…

Back with my thoughts about who’s going home—if anyone is going home—in a moment…

Top 12 Performance Show: Hollie Gets the Pimp Spot

Hollie Cavanaugh, “Power of Love”: 17

Yes, she has a great voice, but this one? Seriously? And she just sang it a little too straight. I think she should’ve tried some Laura Branigan type stuff there…

My thoughts on Jermaine's disqualification coming up...

Top 12 Performance Show: Joshua Blows the Roof Off

Joshua Ledet, “When A Man Loves A Woman”: 20

This guy is amazing. And he didn’t get the pimp spot, why?

Top 12 Performance Show: Skylar Sneaks Up On Us

Skylar Laine, “Love’s Sneaking Up On You”: 18

Kudos to Skylar for sticking with her original choice. It was a good one. And how does JLo not know that one?

Top 12 Performance Show: Erika Takes Us to "Heaven"

Erika Van Pelt, “Heaven”: 15

I have to really agree with Steven on this one. Erika got away from the melody too much on this one. And that whole music stop Jimmy suggested didn’t work at all. And with all the great female stuff from 1985, I’m not sure why she went with that one anyway. Plus, what was up with that roaming around aimlessly…

Finally, we confront the issue of the disqualified contestant. I have SO much to say about this, so I’ll hold it until the show is over…

Top 12 Performance Show: Colton Brings Back White Lion

Colton Dixon, “Broken Heart”: 18

I don’t remember this one either, but it’s White Lion, so you have to love it. Colton’s performance was great, but it was missing something. I think will.i.am was right. The band wasn’t hard enough. The song needed more edge. But that wasn’t Colton’s fault…

Top 12 Performance Show: Shannon Puts Me to Sleep

Shannon Magrane, “One Sweet Day”: 15

Zzzzz…I mean, it was pretty but these power ballads every week from her are getting old. Even though it was a shameless plug for the new Beats box (or whatever it’s called), I think Jimmy’s thought about No Doubt’s “Speak” was a good one…

And how short was that dress?

Top 12 Performance Show: Deandre Struggles With Song Choice

Deandre Brackensick, “Endless Love”: 14

It’s a little unfair to give him such a low song choice score since he clearly didn’t make the choice since we saw Jimmy pick it; but he could’ve nixed it. It was pretty, but it wasn’t a good choice. However, I don’t think “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was a good choice either. He needed something a little more exciting…

Top 12 Performance Show: Elise Makes a Comeback

Elise Testone, “Let’s Stay Together”: 17

I think this was a perfect choice and she sounded great. Elise’s problem is that she doesn’t show enough personality. She showed a little more tonight, but she needs to show a little more…

Kudos to the “Idol” gang for pulling off an Elise-President Obama duet…

Top 12 Performance Show: Heejun Takes On Richard Marx

Heejun Han, “Right HereWaiting”: 17

I think this was the perfect choice. And it was very pretty, but it just lacked a little something. I’m not sure what, though. But it didn’t lack pitch as Randy thought, or am I just not paying attention tonight. And how cute is his mom? But Heejun, don’t ask for Fergie’s phone number when you have a girlfriend…who’s in the audience…

And is it just me or does Jimmy Iovine not like Heejun?

Top 12 Performance Show: Jessica Turns the Beat...and the Judges

Jessica Sanchez, “Turn the Beat Around”: 18

At the risk of sounding like Randy Jackson, it’s hard to believe that this girl is 16. I don’t really care for that song, but I didn’t think the tempo lagged. If she keeps singing ballads, she’ll be this year’s Pia Toscano. I’m also a little concerned that will.i.am’s suggestion to cue the band in the middle of the song might have looked a little cocky…

Heejun is doing Richard Marx? Nice…

Top 12 Performance Show: The Show Must Go On

So Ryan addresses the disqualification at the beginning of the show, but doesn’t tell us who the contestant is. He promises more on that later. Of course, he does…

Now the show is going on like normal with my favorite theme, “Songs From the Year You Were Born.” But I’d get into a lot better if they just dealt with this Jermaine thing from the beginning instead of using it to keep people tuning in…

Phillip Phillips, “Hard to Handle”: 17

The song was the perfect choice and he sang it well. And you do have to give him props for returning back to the stage after surgery. Although the judges’ reminders were a tad obvious…

Tonight's Show,,,

Back in Season 2, finalist Corey Clark was disqualified from the competition after it was revealed he hid arrests from the show’s producers.

“Idol” dealt with it by showing a videotaped apology from Clark before that week’s show began. It was pretty painful to watch as Clark was clearly reading a statement given to him by the show.

But this was in the days when “Idol” was young and just starting to take off. And we were all naïve about how the show worked. Plus, “Idol” had no competition and stood at the top of the heap alone.

Those days are long gone as the show is facing competition from every side. There is no way that the show will deal with another disqualification the same way. It needs the buzz and attention.

But I believe that how they deal with this—and the cries of ratings stunt surrounding it—is the defining moment for the show. We could very well be witnessing the beginning of the end tonight…

Back in a few…

At the Chase Likens Homecoming Celebration...

So since all of the “Idol”-related news is so negative today, let me tell you about something positive…

Saturday, I was privileged to attend the Chase Likens Homecoming Celebration in Chase’s hometown of Point Pleasant. Over 300 people came to Point Pleasant High School to see Chase receive honors from his high school principal, Point Pleasant’s mayor, the County Commissioners and the Governor’s Office.

They also waited over two hours to meet Chase and get pictures and autographs. It was a pretty special occasion.

For those of you wondering what Stevie Wonder song Chase would have done if he made the Top 13, he revealed it at the celebration—“I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Chase was only able to sing a short chorus since he is still under contract to the show, but it was pitch perfect and would have no doubt made women swoon everywhere if he had been able to perform it on the show.

Chase shares a laugh with Mason County Commissioner Rick Handley. March 10th was declared Chase Likens Day in Mason County and in Point Pleasant.

Celebration Host Brandy Barkey-Sweeney reads a proclamation from W.Va. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin as Chase looks on.

Chase sings "I Just Called to Say I Love You" to the gathered audience.

It was my pleasure to cover Chase's journey, but it no doubt has changed my perspective on "American Idol" forever. But I'll share more of that in the coming days...

Is the Jermaine Jones Disqualification a Ratings Stunt?

Oh, “American Idol,” you’ve got some serious explaining to do…

Only problem is, it probably won’t. But if it wants to shut down all of the discussion that the Jermaine Jones disqualification is just a ratings stunt, then it probably should jump out and defend itself…

Shirley Halperin of “The Hollywood Reporter,” one of the premier “Idol” journalists, discussed the possibility of it being a stunt in an opinion piece today. You can read it here.

We’ll see how the show deals with it beginning tonight…

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Breaking News: Report Says Jermaine Jones Has Been Disqualified

And people wonder why I say I’m losing my addiction to “American Idol”…

Jermaine Jones, the surprise 13th male contestant that stole a spot in the Top 25 from a more deserving guy because of his touching backstory and popular personality has been disqualified, according to “The Hollywood Reporter.”

The report says he concealed “multiple crimes.” According to TMZ, which tends to be the expert on these kinds of things, Jones was charged with two crimes in 2011, one involving violence. In both arrests, Jones gave a fake name to police and he did not reveal to “Idol” producers that he has outstanding warrants.

The “Reporter” said Jermaine announced the news on his Twitter account, but I couldn’t find it. My guess is that the show removed the post…

So the show forced a contestant like this down our throats while shafting more deserving contestants like our own Chase Likens? Are you kidding me?

Part of me thinks this serves the show right, but I feel bad for the shafted contestants…

This news comes on the heels of a report that Jermaine lied to the show about his father abandoning his mother.

There has been no official word from FOX on the disqualification, how it will be announced or whether or not Jermaine will be replaced. My guess is he won’t be because it would be Jeremy Rosado that would come back and the show already made it clear they don’t want him…

More on this as it comes in…

UPDATE: TMZ is reporting that Jermaine was confronted on camera today and the footage will be shown tomorrow night. Seriously? They're turning this travesty into a ratings stunt?! And why they didn't find this information earlier? Or did they?...

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Idol Column: It's Personal

For those of you who didn't see my "Idol" column in Tuesday's "Herald-Dispatch," I wanted to post it here. It will probably explain a little more about my "Idol" mindset these days...

Every year on “American Idol” we see it happen. A talented contestant who doesn’t get as much camera time as the other contestants goes home because America had gotten attached to those other contestants and just couldn’t make room in their hearts for one more.

Is it fair? No. But it’s just the way the show works. I’d actually gotten used to it. But when it happens to one of your own, it’s different. It’s personal.

There is no doubt that Point Pleasant’s Chase Likens was this year’s lack of camera time victim. While we saw Heejun Han make fun of the other people in his group, Jermaine Jones break down from nerves and Colton Dixon worry about his sister, we only saw Likens sitting in the audience or hanging out in the back of a room. Some nights I actually had to pause the recording to make sure he was still in the competition.

Last week, I wanted to believe that there was still a chance that Likens could make the Top 13. I wanted to believe that talent could still win out. But in my heart I knew better. It was just too much of a disadvantage to overcome.

Now, in all honesty, there is a lot of talent this year and there is no way of knowing if the outcome would have been different if Likens had gotten more camera time. But I would have liked for him to at least have had a fair chance.

I have to admit that this season has given me an entirely new outlook on “Idol.” It’s not that I didn’t know this is how the show works. After all, each year in this column I remind everyone that “Idol” is first and foremost a television show. But when you hear someone who actually lived it telling you his story, it really brings it home.

As Likens told me when I talked to him this week, “you are not always going to get through just because you’re talented, just because you have the look, just because you can perform.” Sadly, he’s right. Jones gave a very shaky performance, but he could’ve sung names out of the phonebook and still made it through to the Top 13 because of his popularity. Popularity not from his singing, but from his personality and the show giving him a second chance just sealed the deal.

And what about Deandre Brackensick? He has yet to impress me with a performance, but because the judges see commercial potential in him, they put him through over Reed Grimm, who would have been way more entertaining.

I believe that “Idol” needs to bring back the group semifinals where the three best contestants from a smaller group (instead of all 24) advanced to the finals. That’s how Season Eight winner Kris Allen made it through when he didn’t receive any camera time. With the current system, I’m not sure he would have survived. And “Idol” without Kris Allen would have been a real shame. Kind of like “Idol” without Chase Likens.

“American Idol” airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. on FOX.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Top 13 Results: Did the Right Person Go Home?

It’s at this time each week that I ask the question, did America get it right? But I can’t ask that question this week because we don’t know what America wanted.

There is NO doubt in my mind that Jeremy was not who America wanted to go home. I’m willing to bet he wasn’t even in the bottom two. Remember, this was the bottom girl and the bottom guy. The bottom three could have been made up completely of girls—which is entirely possible—and then Jeremy above them. So how is that fair that he went home? The answer is, it isn’t.

Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer, was adamant in his “Idol” conference call a few weeks ago that “Idol” wasn’t broke so he wasn’t going to do anything to fix it. And yet, what did he do? He pulled out a stunt straight from the “X Factor”/“So You Think You Can Dance” playbook. And for what? To increase buzz? To help ratings? Or maybe it was just to push me further over the edge…

I know this was a one-time only thing, but it was wrong. Period. This is “American Idol.” Not Who the Judges Want Idol. America should have the choice. And I believe with all of my heart that they would’ve chosen Elise.

So now the question is what stunt the show will pull next week. Let’s face it. There’s much more competition now. “Idol” is slipping off the top of the mountain and they’re grabbing at any little thing they can to try and hold on. It reeks of desperation and I thought “Idol” was better than that…

Someone told me today that I sound like I’m on “Idol” methadone and that I’m kicking my addiction. I think they’re absolutely right…

What do you guys think? Do you think the right person went home? Is anyone else kicking their “Idol” addiction?

Top 13 Results: And the Person Going Home Is...

8:58 We’re back…Ryan asks JLo for a decision…She’s milking it for all it’s worth. They save Elise. No surprise…Jeremy’s exit video…Scotty McCreery’s “Please Remember Me” is the exit song…I think this is so wrong. More on that in a minute…

9:00 Jessica is in tears…And of course there’s no time for him to sing…Ryan waves the contestants over to hug him. JLo looks pretty upset…Since Elise will probably go home next week, this was a waste, in my opinion…

9:01 And we’re out…

MANY final thoughts in a moment…

Top 13 Results: Who's left?

8:52 We’re back…Elise, Jermaine, Shannon and Jeremy…Steven says Jeremy deserves to go home tonight. Hmmm…Jeremy says it stinks to be up there…Dim the lights…Jermaine…Ryan walks over to him to look into his eyes. He’s safe…and pretty excited about it…The safe girl is Shannon. Told ya…That leaves Elise and Jeremy. Now who is going home? It’s up to the judges…

8:55 Randy says America didn’t get it exactly right, but pretty close. The decision is after the break…

I think they’ll definitely go with Elise. But again, just because Jeremy is the bottom male votegetter does not mean he was anywhere near the bottom in the overall vote. That’s why I hate this because it’s takes it out of America’s hands…

Top 13 Results: Mary J. Blige Takes the Stage

8:44 We’re back…Ryan intros Mary J. Blige to sing “Why”…I thought she was on tape. But apparently she’s live…I guess this is good. I’m not really a fan…Mary J. says thank you to everyone and hello to the judges…After the break…

Top 13 Results: More Twists and Turns

8:32 We’re back…Ryan is back with the contestants…Erika, Shannon and Skylar. Got to believe it’s Shannon…Erika…Jimmy says she wasn’t made for this song but did a really believable job. He says she has a presentation problem. I think she looked so effortless singing that…Jimmy says the nerves got to Shannon and she needs a lot more experience…Shannon said in her backstage video that she only cracked one note. I think it was more than that…Skylar…Jimmy disagrees with JLo and says he likes nasal…

8:35 Dim the lights…Erika…Bottom three. Remember that’s bottom three GIRLS…Shannon and Skylar…Safe is…Skylar. Shannon is the third of the bottom three girls. No surprise there…The bottom three girls are Erika, Shannon and Elise…

8:36 The rest of the guys…Joshua…Jimmy says he is concerned people will get bored of his voice and that he’s worried about him. ‘kay…Deandre…Jimmy says he was a pleasant surprise…Phillip…You just are. I like that…Jimmy says he’s a great musician and that he really knows who he is. Jimmy is concerned the girls will outshine him in the weeks to come. Clearly he’s planning on him sticking around…Jeremy…Jimmy says Stevie ballads are custom made for him and he didn’t perform. Jimmy says he’s going to go home. I don’t agree with that…

8:40 Dim the lights…Phillip is safe…Jeremy…Bottom three. Remember, bottom three GUYS…Deandre and Joshua…Deandre is safe. Uh-oh. Did Joshua get bit by going first?...No, he didn’t, because Ryan pulls a classic move and tells Erika and Joshua are safe. That leaves Jermaine and Jeremy and Elise and Shannon. I still say it’s Elise. And I’ll go with Jermaine. The problem with this twist is that whoever the bottom girl or guy is does not mean they are in the bottom two overall. And they could still go home. THAT’S not fair…

Top 13 Results: Lauren Alaina Returns to the "Idol" Stage

8:24 We’re back…Ryan congratulates JLo on success of “Q’Viva.” It’s on Saturday, Ryan, it can’t be that successful…Ryan intros Lauren Alaina to do “Georgia Peaches”…Is it just me or has she lost quite a bit of weight? Reminds me a little of the Carrie Underwood transformation…Lauren sits in between Colton and Phillip…She’s having some serious in-ear monitor issues. She finally just throws it aside…This is a good song for her…She seems so much older, doesn’t she?...The judges give her a standing ovation…But Ryan doesn’t talk to her?...After the break…

Top 13 Results: The Bottom Threes Begin to Be Built

8:10 We’re back…The Top 13 are on the couch…Ford Music Video…“Big Time”…The Idols are giants watching the Fords drive through the city streets. Did they just film it today because Erika is wearing the same outfit she is tonight…

8:11 Ryan is building the bottom three girls and bottom three guys…Video of Jimmy Iovine talking about how difficult it was for girls and guys to do Stevie and Whitney. Not sure what the purpose of that was…Elise…Hollie…Jessica…I guess they wanted to intro Jimmy’s comments…Elise…Did JLo actually say, “Whitney’s a beast?”…Jimmy says Elise is in trouble and that she got hit with the Whitney Houston stick…Does anyone else think these comments are slightly inappropriate…Jimmy says she delivered…Jessica…40 million people? Steven, what universe are you in where 40 million people are watching “Idol”?...Jimmy says it was one of the best “Idol” performances ever, but he interestingly says that she reacts to the applause a little early and gets overconfident. I agree with that …Jessica is safe…Elise is in the bottom three. No surprise there…Hollie is safe…And the bottom three get the urinal chairs. That’s not fair…

8:16 Heejun, Jermaine and Colton…I think Jermaine is in the bottom three guys—but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get a lot of votes, remember. It’s just the bottom three GUYS…Jimmy says the song showed off all of his flaws and that he needs a lot of work…Jimmy is concerned that he hasn’t found his truth yet…Jermaine…Jimmy says he had an internal battle going on that he lost…Jermaine says he kind of disagrees with Jimmy…Dim the lights…Colton…safe with a classic Ryan fakeout…Heejun and Jermaine. One safe, one in bottom three…Heejun…safe. Jermaine in the bottom three, but I don’t think he’s the bottom male votegetter…After the break…

Top 13 Results: A Group Number, Of Course

Let’s jump right in…

8:00 Quick look at last week’s Top 13 party…Recap of last night…Elise was a little unhappy about the judges’ comments…For one night only, the judges decide. Why? What stupid stunt are they going to pull out of the “X Factor” playbook next week. Oh yeah, I said it…

8:02 Judges and Ryan intro…Ryan sets things up…Lauren Alaina, Mary J. Blige…Ryan walks over to the judges…JLo appears to already be making the choice. Of course, she is. You know the producers have already discussed it with them…

8:03 Top 13 are singing Stevie Wonder’s “As”…Jessica and Joshua really do stand out…These key changes are wreaking havoc with them. But at least they’re singing live…Elise doesn’t look happy…I love Skylar…Colton gets a lot of screaming…Wow, this is going on WAY too long…Heejun is loving these dance moves…That wasn’t bad, but it was just too long for my taste…Thank goodness this is only an hour…After the break…

Top 13 Performance Show: A VERY Quick Recap

Believe it or not, we’re just minutes away from results show time and I still haven’t watched last night’s “Idol.” Welcome to my crazy life…

So I just quickly watched a little bit of each of the performances on the website. Here are my general thoughts on each one…

Joshua Ledet, “I Wish”: Joshua was amazing. I just hope that people didn’t forget about me because he was at the top of the show…

Elise Testone, “I’m Your Baby Tonight”: I’m not sure this showed off her voice all that well. And she never connected with the audience.

Jermaine Jones, “Knocks Me Off My Feet”: This one was much more in his wheelhouse than last week’s. But he still had some wobbles. I don’t get him, but America loves him…

Erika Van Pelt, “I Believe in You and Me”: Good, but something off for me. Looked gorgeous…

Colton Dixon, “Lately”: Colton’s got a whole David Cook thing going for him. And of course, I like that…

Shannon Magrane, “I Have Nothing”: Shannon’s performance is a good example of why the judges always say to stay away from Whitney Houston songs. Of course, she had no choice here. But the song was too big for her. She should’ve made it her own a little more instead of trying to copy the original…

DeAndre Brackensick, “Master Blaster”: I still don’t get him, but he did give a decent performance…

Skylar Laine: “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”: Jessica Sanchez is getting all the headlines today, but I thought this performance was very solid and a good countrification of a Whitney song…

Heejun Han: “All In Love Is Fair”: It was pretty, but terribly boring. He could be in trouble if he wasn’t so popular…

Hollie Cavanagh: “All the Man I Need”: Solid, but a little blah. I think she could’ve shook it up a little…

Jeremy Rosado, “Ribbon In the Sky”: This was beautiful. And I really like him…

Jessica Sanchez, “I Will Always Love You”: Just as gorgeous as everyone’s been saying all day…

Phillip Phillips, “Superstition”: Sorry. This didn’t work for me at all. And clearly he’s a show favorite since he got the pimp spot when the show clearly should have closed with Jessica…

What I have the most opinion about is the twist of the judges deciding who goes home. But I’ll discuss that more in depth later tonight…

With the new twist in mind, I think Elise will be the lowest female votegetter and DeAndre the lowest male votegetter. And then the judges will have to choose between two of their faves. I think if it comes down to this twosome, they’ll go with DeAndre, because they see him as more commercial…

For the record, I think the worst performances were Shannon and Jermaine, but I think they’re more popular with America..

Be back in a minute…