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American Idol, Top 8 (Pt. 2): Top Performances For "Top Of The Charts"?
Ryan starts tonight's show center stage and surrounded by the eight remaining finalists. There is nothing new about that. There are a couple things that are new and that I notice right away. First, Ryan looks like he recently got a haircut. It's either that, or he ran out of spiking gel, because he is not sporting his usual "pillow head" 'do. Secondly, since Corey Clark is no longer on the show, it looks like Rickey has inherited the "Supafly" title, as he is outfitted in a knit cap and tinted glasses. Thirdly, and perhaps most shocking of all, is the fact that Ruben is not wearing one of those "205" jerseys! Ruben and/or the fashion gods must have heard my pleas, because Ruben is in a leather jacket tonight, and he looks the most put together that I have seen him so far. Anyway, Ryan says, "Here we go again, America", and I'm hoping that he doesn't mean we're going to have another two-hour show full of filler. He continues, "The #1 show in America gives you #1 hits from the Billboard charts." With this broad of a theme this week, I'm thinking that the group will have no trouble finding songs that are perfect matches for their voice. By the end of the show, I'll know if I am right or not.
We have the normal intro music/titles, and we come back to find Ryan all alone on the stage. Before we talk to the judges and get the performances underway, let's meet the remaining eight finalists again, one by one. They all come out to thunderous applause. Kimberley Locke looks good this week with her hair straightened. Clay looks like he is wearing the same shirt he wore at his Atlanta audition. You know, I really would like to see him sometime in something other than an untucked, long-sleeve shirt buttoned all the way up. I guess Clay can now be my fashion cause, since Ruben has apparently seen the light (at least for this week, anyway). Anyway, one by one they all come out, with Ruben bringing up the rear. Did I mention that he isn't wearing a "205" jersey tonight?
We next meet the judges as per usual. Nothing new here, really. Since tonight's theme is #1 hits, Ryan points out that Randy has produced eight chart-toppers, Paula has released six of her own, and…our third judge is Simon Cowell. Come on, Ryan. I know Simon may not be that well known of a producer here in the U.S., but he has at least had success in Europe that you could mention. Anyway, before people think I am defending Simon too much, let's move on and meet tonight's guest judge. Ryan introduces tonight's guest judge by saying that "this guy closed several deals at the prom for me." Just what kind of "deals" are we talking about here, Ryan? Drug deals? Deals to get some girl to act as your "cover"? What? So, who is tonight's guest judge? Why, tonight's guest judge is none other than…Lionel Ritchie! Lionel joins Ryan on stage, and Ryan acts so excited to have Lionel Richie on the show that I'm afraid he might pee in his pants at any moment. Ryan asks Lionel if he'll be more like Randy and Paula or more like Simon in his critique, and Lionel says that he'll be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I take that to mean that unless they suck eggs big-time, the finalists will hear generally good, middle-of-the-road comments from Mr. Ritchie. Anyway, enough with the pleasantries…let's move on to the performances.
First up tonight is Clay Aiken, and he has chosen to sing the Billy Vera & the Beaters hit "At This Moment". I was hoping Clay might pick something a little more up-tempo, but that's OK. I really like this song, and I figure that if anyone in the group can do the song justice, it is Clay. Clay comes out on stage and starts to sing, and he does not disappoint me. His voice is strong, and he sounds good tonight. And what's this? Clay actually moves around on stage a bit! He sings to the audience, he sings to the camera. I don't think he's left anyone out this week. Clay finishes his performance and then heads over to hear the judges' critiques. Randy says, "Yo, yo, yo, dawg. You have already proven you can sing. Your choice of song didn't really slay me, but I thought you did a good job." Lionel says, "You pulled that off with power and conviction. Great job." Paula says, "You did a good job, but you didn't show enough urgency or heartbreak." Simon, who has criticized Clay's performances the last two weeks changes his tune tonight and tells Clay, "That was absolutely on the money. Well done." Clay, you should definitely be safe this week, but I hope you are not getting too complacent in your performances.
We come back from commercial, and Ryan has gone into the audience to introduce the next performer. Who is that standing next to Ryan? Why, it's Jim Verraros, a finalist from last season! Uh, Jim, you are a nice person and all, but your 15 minutes are up. Let it go, Jim. Anyway, next up tonight is Kimberley Locke. Kimberley's song tonight is the Celine Dion hit "My Heart Will Go On". Ugh…40 years' worth of charts to pick a #1 song from, and she picks this? Oh well, she didn't consult me before making her selection, so there is nothing I can do about it now. As much as I am OVER this song (and the sappy movie it's in, but I digress…), I have to say that Kimberley does an excellent job, and the judges seem to agree. Randy tells her, "Each week, you're just getting better and better. Very nice." Paula says, "With all the songs to choose from, I wondered why you'd pick a song that is so easily identifiable. I mean, it's from the #1 movie of all time, and it was sung by one of the top singers of all time…I didn't understand why you would pick it. But, then I heard you on stage just now, and I understood. You can really sing it." Lionel tells Kimberley, "You know, a good performer knows that there are some songs you just don't need to push. You knew that you did not need to do that with this song. Great job." Simon calls Kimberley's performance "faultless" and tells her she was "superb".
Our third performer of the evening is Usher. No, wait…it's Brian McKnight. No, I'm sorry…it's Rickey Smith. What is Supafly #2 going to sing tonight? He has chosen "Endless Love", made famous by Diana Ross and tonight's celebrity judge, Lionel Richie. I cannot help but notice that this is the second week in a row that Rickey has chosen to sing a song made famous by the celebrity judge. Hmmm…Rickey wouldn't be trying to suck up to the judges, now would he? I don't know that Rickey's performance tonight was the performance to end all performances, but he was much, much better than his horrid "Let's Groove" last week. The judges seem to agree. Randy tells him, "You did your thing, dawg…you did your thing." Lionel says, "You did a great job." When it's Paula's turn, she turns to Lionel and says, "You're lucky you recorded that first." Then, she turns back to Rickey and says, "You made me forget that Diana Ross was even part of that song." I don't know if I would go that far, but I will say that Rickey's performance tonight almost made me forget about last week's debacle. Don't get me wrong…Rickey did a good job tonight, but there is only one Miss Ross. Before he critiques Rickey's performance, Simon looks at Lionel and says, "I didn't like your performance of that song. I have to be honest." Oh my…anyway, moving on, Simon tells Rickey, "First off, the hat is appalling." Amen, Simon! I could not have said it better myself. He continues, "…but you sounded fantastic. Good job."
The next finalist to sing tonight is Kimberly Caldwell, and she has chosen to perform Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)". Hmmm…I don't know about the song choice, but I will give her a fair shot. Anyway, Kimberly looks great, but she turns in one of her worst performances yet (in my opinion, anyway). She starts off flat, and, while her voice becomes stronger as the song progresses, I just wasn't feelin' her tonight (so to speak…I mean, it'd be a little tough for me to actually feel her since we're several states apart, but I digress once again…). The judges aren't all that impressed with Kimberly's performance, either. Randy tells her, "The song didn't suit you." Lionel says, "I agree with Randy. I would have gone for a stronger song." Paula tells Kimberly, "I see the growth in you, but I don't know about the song choice." Simon is much more direct (Simon? Direct? Imagine that…). He tells her, "That was totally the wrong song, and you know it. Not even Robin Hood could protect you after that." Well, don't hold back, Simon. How do you really feel?
The fifth performer of the evening is Joshua Gracin, and he has chosen to sing the Lonestar hit "Amazed". I had pretty much figured on him singing that even before Ryan announced it. I mean, given that he's decided to "go country" for the rest of his time on the show, he didn't have a whole lot of other choices. What else was he going to sing? Olivia Newton-John's "Physical"? Anyway, Joshua delivers a good performance of a song that is right for his voice, and the judges seem to agree. Randy tells him, "Perfect song…perfect rendition. Good job, dawg." Lionel says, "Look out, Garth. The Marine has landed." Paula says, "I only have three words to say…Josh is back." Finally, Simon tells Joshua, "That was the right song…perfect…Well done."
Carmen Rasmusen is up next, and she's decided to sing the Blondie hit "Call Me". Now, I have grown to like Carmen, and I feel that she's definitely improved as the competition has progressed. But, I just do not know about that song choice. I mean, Carmen does fine with up-tempo songs, but I just don't see her singing that particular one convincingly. Since she was in the Bottom Three last week, she really needs to nail her performance tonight. Unfortunately, she doesn't nail it at all. There is no excitement in her performance, and her vibrato seems a little more pronounced to me than it has in recent weeks. Compared to what the judges have to say, I am being charitable. Randy tells her, "I didn't get you tonight, dawg." Lionel says, "Song selection is key." Paula says, "That was the wrong choice of song." Once again, Simon is the most direct of the bunch. He tells Carmen, "That was absolutely dreadful. You just can't sing songs like that." I hate to say it, Carmen, but it looks like your fans are going to need to be out in force and calling tonight.
Our next-to-last performer of the evening is Trenyce, and, like Kimberley Locke, she has chosen to sing a Celine Dion song, "The Power Of Love". Trenyce's voice sounds strong, and I think she does a very good job. The crowd loves it, and we get a glimpse of Tamyra Gray in the audience. The judges seem to think she did well also. Well, most of them do, anyway. Randy tells her, "I'm going to have to borrow a line from Paula…You are back. That was wonderful." Lionel tells her, "That was strong with attitude. Fantastic." Paula says, "That was another great performance." Simon apparently heard something completely different. He tells her, "You deserved to be in the bottom two last week, and you deserve to be in the bottom two this week. That was just cabaret." Now, Trenyce is another one who really needs to step up her game this week since she was in the bottom three last week. Did she do well enough to keep her out of the cellar again?
Ruben Studdard closes out the evening with his rendition of The Manhattans' "Kiss And Say Goodbye". He ambles out onto the stage (By the way, did I mention he isn't wearing his "205" jersey this evening?), and, as soon as he starts to sing, the audience starts cheering. They love it, and when Ruben's done, we see Julia DeMato in the audience clapping wildly and shaking her head in awe. Needless to say, Ruben does not hear anything negative from the judges. Randy says Ruben's performance was "unbelievable, baby…unbelievable." Lionel tells him, "You did a fantastic job." Paula says, "Ruben you know a secret that not many others know—the audience is here to applaud and embrace you, not judge you." Finally, Simon calls Ruben's performance "the performance of the series so far" and says, "If you released that tomorrow, you'd have a #1 song on your hands."
Well, that's it for tonight's performances. Now, remember…the vote totals from last week will be combined with the totals tonight to determine who goes home tomorrow evening. Kimberley, Trenyce, and Carmen were in the Bottom Three last week. Did they do well enough tonight to escape once again being in that group this week? Did someone who was not in the Bottom Three last week do so badly tonight that they will fall into that group after the votes are totaled? We'll find out tomorrow, so be sure to tune in!
Best performance of the evening: Kim L, Ruben
Worst performance of the evening: Carmen
Bottom Three (tonight's performances only): Carmen, Rickey, Kim C
Bottom Three (Overall): Kim C, Carmen, Trenyce
Voted off: Carmen
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Last edited by lobeck; 04-09-2003 at 12:30 PM.
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