Instead of some poorly conceived duets filling time during American Idol's two-hour Top 6 performance show, the finalists — Janelle Arthur, Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller and lone dude Lazaro Arbos — will sing two songs each. One comes from the lengthy Burt Bacharach and Hal David songbook, while the second theme, "Song I Wish I'd Written," is much more expansive. Hollywood.com chatted with the finalists on their final rehearsal day and got the scoop on why they chose each tune.
"My song that I wish I had written is 'Love On Top' by Beyonce," Holcomb tells us. "I just actually got done rehearsing and it’s coming together really well. It's not like a wind blowing, 'wooo' [crazy moment], but it's fun. I love that song; it's upbeat and it shows my voice."
Glover is tackling another diva, the incomparable Adele — specifically, the British singer's cover of The Cure's "Love Song." "I am so excited because this is the kind of music I see myself doing in the future," she explains.
In a slightly more obscure move, Miller chose her favorite worship song, "Love Came Down" by Kari Jobe. "It’s definitely not a well known song but I’m so excited for people to hear it," she says. "She is an incredible singer. It’s more like a worship song, but I’m taking the song and making it relatable to everyone."
Like Miller, Harrison is a songwriter herself. She took the assignment very seriously, finally settling on "How Do You Make It Through the Night." "It’s written by Kris Kristofferson, but so many people who influence me have covered it, like Tammy Wynette to Elvis, so I’m really excited about it," she says. "It was kind of hard for me to choose because as a songwriter, you have [tons of] people who have influenced your writing. This song in particular I thought would give me an intimate moment I haven’t had yet — more country rather than Aretha and everything else I’ve been doing."
Country girl Arthur is also excited to stick with her roots and sing "The Dance" by Garth Brooks. "It was actually in a show that I did when I was 11 years old," she says. "It was one of those songs that really opened up my mind to how deep lyrics can be and how there’s more meaning to it than what you think."
Robbie Williams' "Angels" might not have been Arbos' first pick, but it's a song that's still close to his heart. "It’s not my all-time favorite song, but it’s a song that I do love and I felt it was right for the show," he says. "I do know it well. Hopefully I don’t forget the words since that has been becoming a recurring problem!"
The second theme was slightly more problematic for many contestants, but not Harrison. "For a lot of them it’s like the Dionne Warwick catalog," she jokes. "I’m singing 'What the World Needs Now,' which I love. I’ve always loved that song. Have you ever seen My Best Friend’s Wedding? It’s basically that soundtrack, what we’re doing. I’ve always loved that song and from the list of that catalog this was the one I could make my own more than any other."
Holcomb, however, hasn't seen the Julia Roberts rom-com, despite the fact that she chose the movie's iconic ditty "Say A Little Prayer." "I've seen Date Movie, and that's, like, a spoof of that movie," she says. "The song's in there! Listen, I did watch the scene of the song when the guy sings at the table."
Glover chose "Don't Make Me Over" by Warwick, and although she doesn't want to change the classic too much, "I still want to put that Candice in there," she says. "I never want to have anyone to change me, change my opinion. That's what got me sent home the first couple of times. I want to definitely be myself."
Staying true to her country vibe, Arthur's pick, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," was covered by country greats like Bobbie Gentry, Sheryl Crow, and Trisha Yearwood. Arbos, on the other hand, just went with the producers' suggestions and chose The Carpenters' "Close to You." "I heard it and I loved it," he says.
Miller is going obscure on her second song, too. "Anyone Who Had a Heart," which she didn't know before she chose it, is "really intense and dark, which I like," she says. "It doesn’t have an old-fashioned sound; it has more of a modern sound so that’s good."
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There’s a line drawn in the sand for the top 10 contestants on American Idol. On one side, we have a set of singers so perfectly packaged, so talented, so ready for action that picking a favorite is about as easy picking your favorite Internet hedgehog (I’ve tried and it’s impossible. Those suckers are universally adorable). Opposite these fantastic singers are a group of wannabes: people with decent pipes, but no spirit, no direction, and absolutely no ability to compete with the top contestants. The divide has never been more evident and unless a miracle takes place, that’s not going to change. Lucky for the women on the show, they’re all on the more promising side of the competition, especially Miss Candice Glover.
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For the incredibly loosely defined “Idol Songs” week, Candice chose “I (Who Have Nothing)” which was performed by Jordin Sparks on the show, but is actually by Ben E. King (and if we’re splitting hairs, she did the Shirley Bassey version of the song). However, bending of the theme aside, Candice brings her usual brand of unbelievable vocals to the performance, finally finding the right emotional sweet spot for her voice. In a few minutes, she jumps right to the top of heap and brings the entire panel (except Mariah, who’s trapped in a seated position by her impossibly restrictive skirt) to their feet.
Fortunately for us, she’s not the only incredible presence on that stage. Here are my rankings of this week’s Top 10:
1. Candice Glover with “I (Who Have Nothing)” as performed by Jordin Sparks (Duh)
2. Angie Miller with “Surrender” by Celine Dion and as Performed by Kelly Clarkson
While Jimmy Iovine may be concerned that Angie looks too much like a beauty pageant winner, this girl is not slowing down. Performing yet another song that feels like it’s her own, Angie has complete control over the stage, over her vocals, over Dion’s classic ballad. Here’s hoping viewers are on board too.
3. Kree Harrison with “Crying” by Roy Orbison as performed by Carrie Underwood
Again, Kree turns in an incredible performance. It’s so predictable that the lack of drama is almost annoying. Luckily, Nicki made up for the lack of surprise by comparing the happiness she hears while Kree’s singing to her favorite weekend ritual of toasting waffles, melting the butter on top in the microwave, and then covering them with “buttermilk syrup.” I’m not sure what possessed her to use that description, but am I nuts to think it’s actually kind of accurate?
RELATED: Can a Girl Really Win 'Idol'?
4. Burnell Taylor with “Flying Without Wings” by Ruben Studdard
Once again, Burnell is adorable. Incredible. Capable. Wonderful. I do miss his glasses and his goofy little baseball cap, but I can see why the stylists have made him a little more slick. The fog machine, however was cheesy. Burnell is already magical, he doesn’t need a misty lagoon to prove that. But visual annoyances aside, this performance is perfection, as usual. It’s easy for him. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: If a girl doesn’t win this year, let the winner at least be Mr. Burnell Taylor (even if that means we’ll have to watch Randy throw another parade for “the great city of Baton Rouge” — we get it, dawg, you’re from Louisiana).
5. Amber Holcomb with “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson
I want to say I loved this performance, because once again, we can see Amber’s incredible talent being put to inappropriate use. Jimmy suggested Amber do a more upbeat version of the Kelly Clarkson song, but I think perhaps what he really meant was less Mariah or Whitney Houston in the ‘90s (hey, even Mariah noticed that she stole that fan move from Miss Butterfly herself). Amber continually sings flawless ballads with so little effort it’s infuriating, but she can’t seem to make herself a contemporary artist. Rather than Clarkson’s throwback hit or even Whitney’s hits, Holcomb should try on some Beyonce or even (dare I say it) Adele. She’s wildly talented, but if she doesn’t figure out a way to update her sound, she may slip from voters’ notice.
6. Janelle Arthur with “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry as performed by Scotty McCreery
Janelle tries to follow Jimmy’s good advice and find a way to be unique and sort of succeeds, even if her vocals are slightly spotty. She tries to play a bit of the easy going bad girl, and it mostly works (Idol’s own graphics certainly weren’t helping her to lower the cheese factor though). When she’s done and the judges are confused because the big notes in the song just weren’t there, she explains that her mouth went dry while she was singing. It might be an excuse, but her vocal is a little out of whack this round.
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7. Curtis Finch, Jr. with “I Believe” by Fantasia
Here’s where I draw the line. Despite my overwhelming distaste for Curtis, I can acknowledge that the guy has a good instrument, it’s what he does with it that’s the problem. Jimmy warns him against going too old fashioned, but he can’t seem to change it up too much. He steps onto the stage in a coat made out of a square of the Windsor Castle carpet, with a gospel choir in tow. It’s the same ol’ same ol’ and everyone but Mariah is bored. When Randy comes right out and says it’s boring, it’s usually time to change it up, dawg.
8. Paul Jolley with “Amazed” by Lonestar as performed by Scotty McCreery
Paul tries to heed Jimmy’s advice to ditch the theatrics and oversinging, but he only slightly gets it. He starts off his song a little quieter, sitting at the back of the stage and resisting the urge to get to his favorite spot at the front of the stage, but all he’s really done is make his performance more bland. Again, he’s got great parts of his voice, it’s just not adding up to a potential star when he hits the stage.
9. Devin Velez with “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood
Jimmy tells Devin to stop aiming for old fashioned styles like those of Josh Groban and Michael Buble and unfortunately, that’s exactly what he does with this Carrie Underwood song. The most exciting thing about this performance is the new special effect the Idol set department seems to have discovered this year (where are we? A bubble galaxy? Is Devin still singing?).
10. Lazaro Arbos singing “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
Once again, Lazaro proves his biggest weakness is his inability to recognize the great parts of his voice. Since this competition began, he’s never been able to pick a song that really highlights who he is. Jimmy warns him about this, but he still sings Clarkson’s hit and to uncomfortable effect. He doesn’t have the range or the connection to the song. It simply doesn’t work. I want to like Lazaro because he’s adorable and has a great backstory, but the vocals just haven’t been cutting it.
Who do you think will go home?
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[Photo Credit: Fox]
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At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Six thousand dollars for a Madonna ticket?
Yeah, you heard it right.
The cost of seeing your favorite performer is getting steeper, and the number of fans who are able to afford going to concerts decrease day after day.
Rock concerts and live tours have seen a significant drop in ticket sales for the first six months of this year. The top 50 acts sold two million fewer tickets-from 12.9 million to 10.9 million--and suffered a 12 percent drop from the first six months of last year, the concert trade magazine Pollstar said in its midyear report.
According to Pollstar's editor-in-chief Gary Bonjiovanni, ticket prices in 1998 cost $32.71, whereas in the first half of 2001 they have gone up to $46.69. He added that concert tickets "are nonessential items that people have to buy out of their discretionary funds."
One reason cited for the increase is the introduction in the 1990s of premium pricing for the best seats, which the industry enacted in response to the high prices some concertgoers would pay for a scalper for their tickets.
But, according to ABCNews.com, the downturn in the economy may have kept some fans from attending concerts, while the high sales for some of the hottest tours will prompt concertgoers to be more selective.
Let's take the Material Girl--for some reason that name is almost suitable--as an example. When tickets for the American leg of the Drowned World Tour went on sale in May, the concert tickets valued at $150 each sold out within 15 minutes.
Though music fans complain about the high cost of seeing Madonna, they continue to shell out money to buy the tickets. Some, in fact, decide to purchase better seats through brokers and scalpers, often paying hundreds of dollars more than face value.
The ticket agency Todd's Tickets.com is one of the many ticket brokers selling Madonna tickets on the Internet. Their tickets to her opening night show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in August are being sold for an unbelievable sum of $6,000 per seat. Now how is that for a bargain?
"We serve like a travel agent," Daniel Gentry, sports manager at All Events Tickets Inc., who specialize in re-selling sports and concert tickets, said. "When people call us for a ticket, we go out there and find it for them."
Brokers serve as second buyers, who will buy the ticket from ticket holders, whether it is Ticketmaster or even an artist's fan club member, and then resell them to third parties.
"We resell the tickets for more depending on how hard it is [for the public] to find the seat," Gentry said. "But it is very justified to pay a lot of money for a show, depending on the performer such as Madonna."
Celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Elton John, and George Michael might not think the same way, after they were declined free tickets to Madonna's London performance in July.
"If you want a ticket for one of her shows, you have to pay," Madonna's spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg told the New York Post on July 11.
Yeah, like Madonna needs the money that badly. Somehow, my gut feeling tells me Madonna would have no problem granting free tickets to her pals Rosie O'Donnell and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Pollstar revealed the top four most grossing artists for the first half of 2001.
The Irish rockers of U2 had the highest grossing concert draw of the first sixth months of 2001, generating $69 million in ticket sales after 50 shows. Billy Joel and Elton John come in second grossing $57.2 million after 31 shows. In third place, the Backstreet Boys, with $51.6 million in sales so far into their Black and Blue tour (currently postponed until A.J. McLean leaves rehab for treatment for alcoholism). The boys of 'N Sync pulled in fourth place with $38.7 million in ticket sales.
Not too long ago, I ran across an old The Doors concert handbill, with Jefferson Airplane as an opening act for a New York performance in 1966. The cost? Five dollars at the door.
Wow, times have changed.
Sometimes it's hard to say "no" to an opportunity to see an artist whom we'd really like to see. Spending $150 dollars at a concert with a big production is not as outrageous (I confess, I did that for 'N Sync). But when the price for a single seat reaches $6,000, it's time to give it a second thought.