I predicted it. You predicted it. Even Charles H. Duell could have predicted it. In fact, all were so sure that a Phillip Phillips win was on the horizon, I wrote this first paragraph before American Idol's finale even began.
But it turns out it's true: Our laid-back growler Phillip survived the pain of kidney stones and the torture of awkward group performances to be crowned Season 11's American Idol. And though he might be the unconventional choice (despite the prevalence of rock-inclined male winners of the past), it was a deserved victory — the singer only experienced one vocal setback, "Time of the Season," and is the only Idol since Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia to make a victory song even slightly listenable. Sorry, Jessica Sanchez. Broken Hearts go to this link.
But you’d be cold-hearted to not love the finale’s final moments, during which an overcome Phillip was reduced to happy (or relieved?) tears, unable to sing more than a verse of his first single, “Home.” It’s a great reminder of the artist’s dedication — no matter how many funny faces or sardonic comments he makes at Ryan Seacrest, Phillip Phillips was hopelessly devoted to Idol. Just as much as at least half of 132 million voters were to him.
No doubt, however, the singer has a struggle ahead of him. It’s no secret that Idol’s male rockers have tried hard to tow the difficult line between rock legitimacy and being on a reality series that forced them to dress in funny costumes to shill Ford’s latest model. Of course, luckily (or unluckily) for Phillip, his poor health forced him to skip most of the Ford Music Video shoots, sparing him any future humiliation, but few in his position and genre have surged onto the music charts like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
That said, it certainly doesn’t hurt that his first single is far more listenable than other victory songs of seasons past, which tended to focus too much on rainbows (David Cook), dreams (Kris Allen), and childish grammatical errors (Scotty McCreery), concepts that don’t quite meet Daughtry-esque standards. Instead, “Home” is actually a radio-ready track, something you would feasibly want playing in the background this summer as you sit barbecuing burgers and drinking Old Style Genuine Draft.
But Phillip’s inability to sing more than the first minute of his new track wasn’t the only proof that the finale wasn’t about the music after all: Though the series’ finales typically serve us an Idol ice cream sundae — mixing together all the best elements of all the season’s best singers, with a celebrity guest singer cherry on top — Season 11’s bow served us a popsicle, offering plenty of non-musical stickiness that was no less delicious to ingest. I’m speaking first, of course, of the best surprise of the night: The emergence of diva catsuits. If there’s anything I expected less than Phillip dressed up as a Marshall Applewhite follower at the outset of the episode, it’s Fantasia and Chaka Khan rocking Jennifer Lopez’s 2010 wardrobe. Look, I’m not a fan of body-snarking. And I’m hardly an expert fashionista, seeing as shirts covered in cat pictures occupied most of my closets until I was 15 years old. But not since Nutty Professor have I seen anyone so enthusiastic about Spandex. I hope I’m confident enough at 59 to dress like our “Tell Me Something Good” singer, but I sure hope I’m dead enough before someone slaps Fantasia’s bedazzled Batsuit on me.
NEXT: Indecent proposalSo while Fantasia and Chaka Khan’s wardrobe made it impossible to pay attention to the former’s “Take Me To the Pilot” duet with Joshua and the latter’s “Ain’t Nobody”/”I’m Every Woman” medley with the women, it was impossible not to stare wide-eyed at another terrible/awesome non-musical moment: Idol’s segment inside Steven Tyler’s dressing room. Between the Playboy bunnies, the sloth, and the rocker’s supposed sister aggressively making out with someone right in front of him, I felt like I had stepped into an episode of Mad Men through Roger Sterling’s LSD-fueled psyche. Or New York’s hottest club, Meth Nightmare.
But the night’s most uncomfortably entertaining non-musical moment came courtesy of Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, an Idol power couple I found out about just days ago, despite the fact that they’ve been dating for two years. (I’m enraged! Why do I not get such important inter-Idol dating news sent to me via text alert?! #CNNFail) Now, I’m as big an Idol fan as they come, and watching two alums get engaged on the finale stage is a bigger jackpot than watching Paula and Simon’s Season 2 kiss on a continuous loop. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us viewers), Ace’s proposal was the equivalent of a jackpot at Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal: As tacky as Tara Conner in daisy dukes. (Excuse me for a minute — I’m short-circuiting on metaphor overload. Beewwwwwwwwop! Okay! Rebooted!) It’s true every woman wants a romantic proposal set in a meaningful location, but, last I checked, “Will you marry me?” typically isn’t paired with, “With the help of David Webb jewelry… “ Let’s just be thankful it wasn’t Coke, Ford, or Bravo? Aww, shucks, I’m still a sucker for Idol romance — good luck to those kids. Here’s hoping they have a long, happy life, and many healthy babies who come out of the womb singing “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” or “Against All Odds.”
Of course, all these unexpected diversions only partly distracted from the fact that there were a few quality musical performances throughout the finale. Though Season 11’s bow didn’t boast the star power of seasons past (though I get miffed when big acts — ahem, Rihanna and, yes, Jennifer Lopez — show up to the reality series finale, only to not perform with any members of our Top 12), a few helped show off our young contestants’ abilities. Take Reba McEntire, who sang alongside Skylar Laine while sweetly still allowing the young country hopeful to step into the spotlight. The two singers were nearly indistinguishable during “Turn On the Radio” — not only did they look alike, but Skylar managed to brandish an on-stage presence that rivaled the country star spitfire. No wonder our fifth place finisher dressed like a pirate — girl stole the show! (Not to mention outshined Season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina, who boasted a “moment” with the song during semifinals. Yarg.)
NEXT: Diva Duel!And how could I forget the epic diva duel between 16-year-old runner-up Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday? Reba and Skylar’s number might have been collaboration, but Jessica and Jennifer’s was a friendly competition. There was no word that Jessica could enunciate that Jennifer couldn’t over-enunciate harder. There was no note Jennifer could sing that Jessica couldn’t sing louder. There was no hair Jessica could flip that Jennifer couldn’t flip faster. It was thrilling; it was awe-inspiring; it was revenge against any voter who didn’t call AT&T for Jessica. It was also aggression we haven’t seen from Jessica in weeks. It's obvious the young contestant performs much better when she’s actually having fun on the stage. Getting the opportunity to match vocal chords with one of her idols does more for her on-stage spirit than forcing her to rehash a tired Whitney Houston ballad for the umpteenth time. (Yes, “I Will Always Love You” repeat performance, I’m looking at you.) And how lucky was Jessica to go out on such a powerful note with Holliday? Idol’s introduction might have insisted that both our final two’s “stories will end very differently,” but is that even remotely true? Last I checked, both Phillip and Jessica were a lock for recording contracts — and perhaps the young, sheltered Jessica is better off enjoying hers out of the high-pressure Idol spotlight.
But if Jessica and Phillip deserve contracts, so do Skylar, Colton — the only consistently on-key performer in the rest of the best — and Joshua, if only for simply shrugging his shoulders and moving on after an embarrassing fall during the Top 12’s “Runaway Baby” group performance. (A number far more entertaining than the boys’ ill-advised Neil Diamond medley. Diamond himself sounds so karaoke singing “Sweet Caroline,” I couldn’t help but immediately go on karaoke autopilot, getting up to go to the bathroom to bide time until the song was finished.) And Jimmy Iovine himself deserves a contract… to sit on the judges’ table. Especially after learning that the producer consistently calls Jennifer Lopez “Jessica,” we cannot possibly pass up the opportunity to watch the diva gradually fill with pent-up rage throughout the season. Idol, it’s worth whatever number Jennifer’s currently floating your way.
But there we have it — another season come and gone, allowing us Idol fans to finally get some Vitamin C and a life. That is, of course, until the American Idols LIVE! tour comes to our town… Ugh, I'm already going through withdrawal! Forget barbecues and the beach — is it January 2013 yet? But tell me, friends: Were you satisfied with the Season 11 conclusion? Or did Jessica’s numerous appearances throughout the finale make her seem more worthy of the win over Phillip, who only sang with CCR’s John Fogerty and, later, his runner-up? Does anyone else wonder if the living legends who agree to sing with our contestants feel peeved hearing the audience scream louder for someone else covering their own song? Are you jealous that Phillip somehow managed to get 10 hours of sleep and you didn’t? Did Ryan’s declaration that “We look forward to making many more memories next season” in front of the judges’ table mean that Jennifer might indeed be returning to us in Season 12? Do you, like me, get angry when unpopular dark horses like Hollie Cavanagh get more singing time than unfairly eliminated musicians like Colton? Oh my god, remember Jeremy Rosado? Did you too have a five-minute conversation with your dad about how Dean Cain was not, in fact, on Early Edition? And, finally, what am I going to do now on Wednesday and Thursday nights?! Read books?! Help.
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
[Image Credit: FOX]
American Idol: Dream Duets For the Finale
Phillip Phillips Backstage at Idol: 'I Was Scared to Death'
American Idol Recap: Opposites Attract
S2E17: The after-school special variety of Glee is back with a vengeance. When they released footage of Sue Sylvester and her legion of doom earlier this week, I thought maybe we were on the right track to get back to the show we originally fell in love with, but alas we were not. The show also squandered another golden opportunity to use its unlikely good luck charm, Gwyneth Paltrow. As much as I hate Goop.com, I have to admit, the few episodes she’s been on had a little more punch and were just way more fun. Sadly, that reign has ended. Gwynny's was one of the worst parts of the entire episode.
But it’s not all her fault. I blame the episode itself. They eschewed any semblance of a reasonable plot and what we were left with was a Gleetastic variety show for no one and a PSA about cyber heckling celebrities and TV shows. Yeah, we hear you Ryan Murphy. You can’t take the fact that people are bashing your show. How about you produce better episodes and then maybe we’ll stop.
“Brittany was the only one we could get on short notice. We bribed her with dots.” –Artie
So, out of nowhere Artie, Mike, Tina and Brittany are part of the academic decathlon and they’re in more need of funding than the glee club. (The only thing I loved about this was that Artie clinched the title because they had a category called “White Rappers.” I guess all that painful rapping was worth it. Well, almost. What kind of academic decathlon tests your knowledge of Vanilla Ice and Eminem?) Naturally, because he’s still stuck in 1992, Mr. Schue thinks they can raise the funds for both the glee club and the academic team selling taffy. I’m sorry, but that alone is insane. Even out-of-touch elementary school teachers know that’s not going to work.
Anyway, they finally come to the conclusion that the taffy idea sucks and Holly convinces Schue to hold a benefit in its place. It’s called a “Night of Neglect” because the glee club and the academic team are so neglected. Boo hoo. This is the first time any of them have gotten a slushie in the face in a long while (and yeah, it was finally Santana), but this whole boo-hoo act just isn’t working for me. It’s probably because they’ve spent so much time allowing the show to be aware of how much of a pop culture behemoth it is, that when they want sympathy, no one cares.
“You’re hunky and I’m what they call predatory gay.” –Sandy
And the award for squandered opportunity goes to: Sue Sylvester’s Legion of Doom. Sue has lost most of her bite. She’s almost become annoying at this point, but with this legion I thought she just might be back. Just maybe. I was wrong. All the potential was completely squandered. Sue had this nebulous, sprawling plan that I guess is ongoing, but that involved the coach from Vocal Adrenaline seducing Holly Holliday. Mega fail. It also involved former glee coach, Sandy Ryerson, enlisting a few hecklers to make the gleeks cry at their benefit concert. Also mega fail. She's also got Terry Schuester in the mix, but we're still not sure why.
She does succeed in one accidental way. Sunshine Corazon makes an unexpected appearance. For some reason that makes no sense whatsoever, she wants to perform in New Directions’ show and she offers up her 600 twitter followers as bait. She sings “All By Myself” and yes, the girl has an amazing voice. But it makes no sense that she was in the episode and she’s pretty cardboard when it comes to dialogue. (Then again, part of that was because the dialogue was poorly written.) Sue spills the beans about the gleeks’ idiotic plan to add Sunshine to their show and the Vocal Adrenaline coach quickly removes her from the lineup. Boom, the benefit is rendered pointless because no one is buying tickets.
“You just got poked. Poked by the dagger.” –Sandy
So despite the fact that no one is coming, the glee club puts on the show anyway. Can I just point out that they are the most well-funded glee club with zero funds in their account ever? When my dance team put on a benefit in high school, we had to use a boom box and costumes from the 5 dollar store. That is what it’s like to be a school club in dire straights, not hiring a gospel choir to sing behind Mercedes. Anyway, they perform numbers by “neglected” artists, except that only one could maybe be called neglected, and that’s Lykke Li. It might have been a cool performance, but the hecklers yell over the whole thing and it’s just plain awful. We see Mike Chang dance to Jack Johnson, which was really fantastic, but once again completely ignored the premise.
In the meantime, Mercedes has decided she wants to get more attention and more solos and Lauren Zices turns her into an over-the-top demanding diva and she ends up refusing to perform in the show. While Rachel turns her bipolar switch back to sweet and convinces Mercedes to perform, Holly takes the stage and attempts Adele’s “Turning Tables.” Yes, one of the most critically acclaimed and most talked about artists is definitely neglected. Not. Also, as I thought, Gwyneth can’t cut it for this one. Adele’s a tall order for a Glee cover.
Finally, Mercedes gets up there and sings Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” fantastically. (But sorry, Aretha Franklin is not neglected by any stretch of the imagination.) So fantastically, in fact that Sandy Ryerson stops heckling and decides to donate the entire amount the two clubs need from his medical marijuana sales. Was he selling it to these writers? This is the most haphazard plot we’ve seen on here in a while.
“I am both awesome and unavailable at the same time.” –Holly
Well, since Schue and Holly are dating we have to run a little update on that front. We all knew it wouldn’t last – probably because Matthew Morrison spilled the beans that it wouldn’t earlier this week – but this was Holly’s last episode. While the Vocal Adreneline coach’s seduction doesn’t work, she sees that Schue is still in love with Emma and takes a job in other town as a French teacher. Oh, by the way, Emma is suddenly single and very interested in Will. I know Will and Emma are supposed to end up together. They’re the Ross and Rachel of Glee, but come on. Could you tease us a little bit longer? That’s been a problem this whole season. They’ve got seasons and seasons of conflict that they’ve already brought up and solved in two episodes. They don’t give us time to worry and feel and pine before these romantic or otherwise emotional issues are solved.
In fact, I went back and watched the first season of Glee last week, and I think that’s one of the major reasons this season has descended into madness. They’re churning out plotlines like they’re pulling them out of a giant hat filled with slivers of paper scrawled with ideas. Chill out for a second, guys. The romantic plot between Kurt and Blaine could have been huge. This plot between Will and Emma should be huge. Even the romantic plot between Santana and Brittany could have been huge. They constantly squander these opportunities by wrapping them up before anyone can feel anything. Slow down, smell the roses, and take a little more care and maybe, just maybe we could have a little more of that Glee we used to love.
S10E7: WE DID IT. Sound the little kazoos and whatever those spinning, clicking noisemakers are called because we’ve managed to get through all of the audition shows for American Idol's 10th season. That’s right, tomorrow is the beginning of Hollywood Week. Finally, we’ll get to get down to the cutthroat competition. We’ll get to separate the decent singers from the showboats from the super-talented. But, before we can enjoy all of that, we’ve got to get through the last handful of contestants in San Francisco.
“Just because somebody farts, let them finish singing, okay?” –Contestant
Steven’s goal in San Francisco was to be mean, like really mean. Well, Mr. Tyler, mission accomplished. Maybe he was a bit angry that he had to tone down his candid commentary and decided to take it out on the unsuspecting contestants, but whatever the reason, it was hilarious. I do feel bad for those that endured his “playful” teasing, but thank God the audiences at home had more to grab onto because let’s face it, the audition stretch gets stale by the end of it.
“I did some shower scenes and that type of thing.” –Contestant
Well isn’t this special. Inessa Lee, originally hailing from the Ukraine, is convinced that she’s a pop star. She’s made tons of music videos (apparently with shower scenes, yikes) and she spent her Idol interview comparing herself to every successful pop star ever. Too bad her rendition of “All Out of Love” sounded like a 3rd grader whose parents forced her to try out for the school musical. She was tone deaf, not really singing, and she looked like a bouncy little cartoon character. She also sounded like one when they told her no. I thought she might be faking it, but those elevator tears coupled with her fierce narcissism point to DELUSIONAL.
“He was howlin’. You can relate to that.” –Steven
After that embarrassing display, two decent singers waltzed into the audition room. First up was Stefano Langone singing “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” He marked the first contestant with a saddening backstory (and get ready because there were a few toughies this time around); he survived an accident that by all odds he shouldn’t have and against the odds (again) he recovered in four months with the ability to walk despite his doctor’s predictions. He had a great voice – a no-brainer for Hollywood.
Next up, is Clint Jun Gaboa. He sang “Millionaire” by Bruno Mars and while the judges were all kinds of stoked, jumping up and down over what a great “tone” he had, I was yawning. Yeah, he kind of sounded like Bruno Mars, whose voice I can’t stand and whose voice sounds like a million other singers. The fact is, Gaboa could sing, but he wasn’t anything special or anything to get excited about. Being able to carry a tune well doesn’t mean you should be a pop star.
“Your outfit was slammin’ and I really like your voice….JOKING.” –Steven
Here’s where that mean streak I was talking about started to kick in. Idol treated us to a few little bad singer vignettes, first there was the kid dressed as a monkey, warbling some unrecognizable song about the jungle. Next. Then came the dude who sang one of the most recognizable songs out there, Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” but for the life of me I could not tell what song he was attempting to sing. The judges were so taken aback they couldn’t even speak. Finally, they’ve figured out that sometimes silence speaks louder than a few tired witticisms at a contestant’s expense.
Finally, we were treated to Drew Beaumier, the guy who showed up as an actual TRANSFORMER. I usually get annoyed at these folks who show up in costumes in hopes of getting a few minutes on TV, but the dude made an entire Transformer costume from scratch. I’m not even mad, I’m just impressed. He sang “Born to be Wild,” but who are we kidding? No one cares what the dude was singing; he was a fucking Transformer. Brownie points to that guy.
“I was right. I’m going home.” –JLo
After that slew of baddies, let’s take a little solace with some people who could carry a tune. First we’ve got Julie Zorilla who was gorgeous and sang a beautiful version of “Summertime” – and I agree with Randy here, very few people ever do that song justice, but everyone thinks they can sing it. She got her ticket to Hollywood, but not before we heard her parents’ story of escaping violence in Colombia. Someone needs to slap whoever chooses the music for these bits though because Michael Buble music does not go with a sound-bite of her mother talking about guerillas stealing her money and forcing her out of her own country. Insensitive much?
On the good side, we also saw Emily Anne Reed, whose range wasn’t spectacular, but whose voice was refreshing and a bit old fashioned. She has endured the hardship of watching her house burn down – the second sad story of the hour. The cute-as-a-button singer has a bluesy, Billy Holliday-esque quality to her voice and while some disagree with me, I think she’d be a great eventual member of the top 12. We don’t always choose the musicians we listen to because they can hit the highest notes, we choose them because they bring something interesting to their music, and this girl does that. The judges of course had to have one moment this episode when they put someone in suspense about their trip to Hollywood; this time it was JLo who got to wait those excruciating five seconds (but not really, because we knew what was going to happen) to tell her that she had a golden ticket after all. Thank goodness that's over. Am I right? Yes, I am.
“You oughta be arrested for that voice. Do you have handcuffs?” – Steven
Steven continued his mean streak with Dave Combs, who really couldn’t sing but wasn’t the worst we’ve seen so far. When the dude asked for a chance to sing a different song (a privilege that everyone seems to get on this show whether the judges allow it or not) Steven flat out tells him no over and over until he leaves. Ouch. This continued as three more contestants swept through the audition room. I mean, I was rolling on the floor laughing as this went down but I did immediately feel a tiny bit of remorse for all the crushed dreams in the room…but then I kept watching. Hey, it’s television and it’s the 10th season of this show. If contestants don’t know what they’re in for at this point, their inabilities to sing aren’t their biggest problems.
“You sing from where you’re supposed to sing.” –JLo
Finally, the auditions ended with the sob story to end all Idol sob stories. James Durbin has had an impossibly difficult life leading up to his big break on Idol. His musician father had a drug overdose when he was 9; he was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and Asperger’s Disorder, he and his girlfriend accidentally had a child, he has no job, and he can’t even afford diapers. Talk about a sad story. It’s almost unreal. Luckily the dude can sing, reminding me a bit of Adam Lambert, who oddly enough, was also discovered in San Francisco. The episode ended with his smiling face, so at least it wasn’t too depressing in the end.
You did it. Tomorrow is Hollywood Week and I hope you’re as pumped as I am. I look forward to seeing just how critical these judges get when it’s no longer a matter of good versus bad, but instead good versus better. It should be an interesting road – as long as Steven stops trying to use the phrase “melodic sensibilities” because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what that means.
Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson has triumphed at the seventh annual Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards.
The Oscar-winning star picked up two prizes at the ceremony at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium on Tuesday, where she was named Best Actress and Best New Artist for her role in Dreamgirls.
After performing alongside original Broadway Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday on "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the musical-turned-movie, Hudson was shocked to have been awarded the awards, telling the audience, "I can't believe I'm still winning awards!"
Hudson's Dreamgirls costar Beyonce also picked up two awards for "Irreplaceable"--which was named Video of the Year--and Best Female R&B Artist, despite being nominated in six categories.
O Jays singer Eddie Levert paid a moving tribute to his late son, Gerald, who died in November last year, by performing "Wind Beneath My Wings" alongside Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams. An emotional LaBelle later described Gerald as "one of the best voices around."
Hip-hop star Ne-Yo, who was named Best Male R&B Artist, dedicated his win to the late singer, who was also nominated in the same category.
Legendary performer Diana Ross was given a Lifetime Achievement award, with Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu and Chaka Khan paying individual tributes to the star.
Ross told the crowd of her career, "I have tried to keep the standards high. We do not have to say the f-word, we do not have to pump and grind, we do not have to do some of these things to have longevity in our career... I will do the diva master class for you!"
50 Cent, T.I., Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Fabolous, Diddy, Keyshia Cole and Lil' Kim were among the stars who performed at the star-studded award ceremony.
The full list of winners is:
Video of the Year: Beyonce--"Irreplaceable"
Best Group: Gnarls Barkley
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker
Best Actress: Jennifer Hudson
Best Hip-Hop Artist: T.I.
Best Collaboration: Ludacris Featuring Mary J. Blige--"Runaway Love"
Best New Artist: Jennifer Hudson
Best Male Athlete: Lebron James
Best Female Athlete: Serena Williams
Best Cool Like That: Gerald Levert
Best Gospel Artist: Kirk Franklin
Best Male R&B Artist: Ne-Yo
Best Female R&B Artist: Beyonce
Viewers Choice Award: Birdman and Lil Wayne--"Stuntin' Like My Daddy"
Humanitarian Award: Don Cheadle
Lifetime Achievement Award: Diana Ross
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.