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March 10, 2011

American Idol 10: Top 13: PERSONAL IDOLS WEEK


TOP 13
Kristen the Yellow Lab and I are looking through our well-preserved scrap books,  gazing at the cover photos progressing from Tiger Beat to Rolling Stone, from Dog World to Modern Dog. After all, what better way to spend an afternoon during "Personal Idols Week" on American Idol than reminiscing over our own fan girl days? I remark that Donny Osmond is still the same wholesome, good-looking fellow he was back in the days of my puppy love. And how about that David Cassidy? John Travolta? Eddie Van Halen? Bruce Springsteen? Fortunately, Kristen and I no longer engage in silly crushes and adoration of the stars. We're beyond it. Right Kristen?
Ryan tells us THIS is American Idol, and Kristen and I have no choice but to believe him.  The judges come out at the command of the big, scary voice from off-stage, all arm-in-arm and huddled together. Ryan congratulates JLo on the fact that the single she performed on the show last week went to number one on iTunes. (Which is not the same as having a number one single. Kristen and I just felt we should point that out.)
The Idols enter the stage, and Ryan delivers some information to the unsuspecting viewing audience.  Beginning this week, the kids are working with Jimmy Iovine, producer and chairman of Interscope records. Jimmy will bring in his own stable of producers to ensure that every song the Idols sing is a hit! Except, they were already hits. That's why the Idols are singing them. 
On with the show!

 First up is perky little country gal, Lauren.  Guess who 16-year-old Lauren calls her idol? No, not Taylor Swift.  Guess again. No, not Carrie Underwood. Lauren loves Shania Twain!  What a pleasant coincidence since AI has already secured the rights to her catalog.  Lauren, dressed in droopy leggings and a pale blue flouncy blouse, enters the stage singing "Any Man of Mine.  She starts the song off a bit breathy and seems to be moving to some pre-prescribed choreography rather than bopping around the stage.  This is a big song that requires a measurable amount of oomph.  Lauren doesn't bring it, tonight. Steven wanted the song to be more kick ass. JLo wants her to prove that she's working for it. Randy says he wants to see her shine beyond belief. Lauren pouts and whines, "But, I had fu-un!"  Kristen and I give her 2 Tiger Beats for the fun part. (Labs like fun!)
Up next? Casey. His inspiration? Joe Cocker.  Why? He heard him on The Wonder Years.
Casey begins "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the staircase, starting off with a sweet tone unrecognizable from the gruff performances he has been giving. Then, he moves into it.  He feels the song, and the audience does as well. JLo tells him we go by what we feel, and she felt it. In fact, she felt up Randy's leg while he was singing. That's how much she felt it! 
Randy, obviously distracted, says he is Season 10 remix. ???  Steven calls him a rainbow of talent and plethora of passion.Paula would be so proud!
Kristen and I give Casey 3.5 days of standing in line for concert tickets. 
Onto Ashton, who claims Diana Ross as her personal Idol. She has chosen to perform "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" while draped in a silver sheet. It opens pitchy. It closes pitchy. It is pitchy in between. Randy says "Yo."  He liked it. He felt she grew as a singer because she knew when she was going sharp and flat. (Which was pretty much the entire song, Randy.) Steven says, "There's more in there than you're showing us, and you're going to!". (We know. We didn't get it, either.)  JLo says she's so confident! However, she wants her her to pick songs that are more familiar. That's actually good advise. Ashton needs to know her audience a bit better. Kristen and I give her 1.5 pleas for an autograph.
It's Paul. 

His idol is Ryan Adams with an R, not to be confused with Ryan Adams with an R. He has opted to sing, "Come Pick Me Up." Ugh. His voice is just so weak and off the pitch. Ugh. He dances.
 Steven likes his voice but wants him to be careful with the pitch.  JLO hopes America gets it, but she apparently does not. Randy says he gets it, but hopes America gets it. Doesn't seem too sure about that. As an added treat, Ryan attempts the Paul dance.
Kristen and I give him nothing.  Did we not warn you we no likey?
Here comes Pia in yet another cocktail dress. This one has a strange cape hanging down the back. Her idol is Celine Dion because she cares about family.  That's why she is singing Eric Carmen's "All By Myself." Vocally, it's pristine and powerful. Emotionally, it's pageant. Still, it's lovely, as is Pia, and should put her in front-runner position. There is a problem with the way the song was cut to fit the 1:40 mark, however.  Apparently, Pia wanted to have as many big notes as possible to sing, so she edited it so that she is basically just singing the chorus over and over and over. "All by myself, don't want to live, all by myself, don't want to be, all by myself, don't want to live, all by my..." you get the picture. Kristen's response?
 JLo can barely speak, she's so overcome.  Randy says she took on one of the Big Three, and you should never tackle Celine, Mariah, or Whitney if you can't do them justice.  He says Pia did Celine justice.  Steven calls her beautiful. *drink!*
Kristen and I give her 3.5 requests for a picture.
James admires Paul McCartney. Therefore, he is singing "Maybe I'm Amazed."  He opens the song softly, something new for him, and hits the notes beautifully. It's an excellent performance - controlled, pitch-perfect. He has a lovely falsetto at the end.  Kristen and I disapprove of the way he smiled at the camera, and the sort of wink and nod he gave us just before he did the ending falsetto. But, it was still stellar.  Randy tells him he is one of his favorites. He tells him he slayed it. Steven says he has taken everything he ever felt and kicked it into next week.
 JLo says he has such a quality beyond the screaming - melodic quality. James then attempts to work the crowd into another cheering frenzy, obviously annoying the time-conscious Ryan. *awkward!* Kristen and I give him 4 attempts at stalking his hotel.
It's Haley. Leanne Rimes is her idol. Hmm. So. You like over-sexed adultresses with no moral compass, Haley? Hmmmm?
Haley is singing "Blue;" Actually, she spends a lot of time yodeling through "Blue." Some will like it. Some will hate it. Kristen and I are in the latter. Steven says "Haley that is beautiful. *drink*
JLo says America is getting to know her. Randy says it was a little boring if he's being honest. Kristen and I give her 2 fan letters written on pink stationary.
Jacob!! We learn that he was a spa concierge.We also learn that  R. Kelly is his idol. Wha...?? Really?
Jacob has chosen "I Believe I can fly."  It opens rich, with his deep, caramel-like tones. Then, a gospel choir swings onto the stage, and the trouble begins. Jacob goes sharp, goes shrieky, goes over-the-top. It's a hot mess. Steven tells him he can't judge him as that's how good he is. JLo says it is hard to judge because he makes them feel so much.  Randy  says his talent is unbelievable. Um... guys? Kristen and I ADORE Jacob. But, that was awful. Someone needs to break it to him. Since you all are getting the big bucks, Kristen and I nominate you.
Kristen and I give him 2 tear-stained t-shirts baring his picture.
Thia claims Michael Jackson is her idol. Thia is 15. The only thing she's old enough to know of Michael Jackson is that he's a creepy guy with a weird nose who sang songs her parents like. Oh, and that Randy Jackson told her she sounds like him.  Good enough! Because of her broad knowledge of his catalog, she chooses one of his massive hits, "Smile." Jimmy tells her it was actually a Charlie Chaplin song, but she's not interested. Michael Jackson? Charlie Chaplin? Two old guys. What's the differerence? She starts off with her very  pretty voice giving the song a nice lilt. It's still robotic, but she does try to smile as frequently as possible because the lyrics tell her to. She picks up the pace, but the notes can't keep up. Randy loved the intro. He heard both Michael and Adele in her voice. (Adele?)
 Steven said it was a little pitchy in middle but liked it all and all. JLO said the beginning reminded her of last week and said that is her strength. Thia looks heartsick at these wicked jabs from these cruel, cruel judges! She'd never survive Simon. Kristen and I give her 2.5 fanclub memberships.
Stefano's idol is Stevie Wonder. Yes. That's exactly the music I'm sure Stefano has in his i-Pod. Why didn't they just call this week, "Music I Chose Because It Has Already Been Cleared By Idol Even Though It  Is Nothing I'd Ever Dream of Singing In Real Life." Stefano is singing "Lately," and it starts off shaky.  It remains shaky. All of a sudden, the lights start flashing, the whistles start blowing, the cocaine is blowing, and it's disco time! The good news is Stefano finds his vocals, again.  He puts his heart into it, hits some killer notes, and ends with a bang! Kristen and I like him! Steven felt he pulled it off from beginning to end. He says, "Beautiful! Beautiful!"
 JLo said he had her dancing.. Randy said it started off rough but he slayed it. Kristen and I give him 3 groupies!
Karen's idol is Selena.  She has been singing her songs since she was a tot. She looks very pretty, tonight, with killer ear rings! She sings something or other by Selena, and misses half the notes. JLO tells her she looks beautiful. Randy said it felt she was fighting the song.  Steven felt the energy was lacking throughout. But, he knows she can sing. Kristen and I give her 1.5 hand-made friendship beads.
Scotty's idol is Garth Brooks.
He performs "The River." Pitch perfect. Check.  Comfortable on stage. Check. Finishes strong. Check.  What's missing? Not much.  Except everything he sings is beginning to sound exactly the same. Randy tells him if it ain't broke don't fix it. Steven says he did garth justice and that he is riding high.  JLo saw him open as a performer. Kristen and I think he needs to do something uptempo. Otherwise, we give him 4 stalking visits to his hometown.

Finally, we're onto Naima. She claims Rhianna is her idol.

Really, Naima? Rhianna? Anyway, she's opted to sing the rather tuneless "Umbrella." We soon learn why.  Naima starts the song off with a dance, and just about the time she gets into high gear, she shouts, "Boom.... FIYAH!!!" and lightening jolts across the stage! She adds a reggae rap she wrote herself, moves back into the melody of the song, and finishes to a standing ovation. It was awesome. Steven said she's crazy good  A little pitchy. JLo says she's got the fire. She does point out that she has to learn breath control if she's going to dance and sing. (Of course, she could always lip sync like JLo does.)  Randy cares about the pitchiness. If she's going to dance, he wants her to breath! He, however, loved the whole reggae thing. Kristen and I give her 3.5 requests for backstage passes!

Kristen's rankings:

Keith Patridge (Not the real deal)

Donny Osmond (Puppy love, but not quite good enough)

Springsteen (Almost perfect)

Prince (Always and forever!)

Going home: Ashton

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