Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Abdul Breaks Nose in Chihuahua Mishap

Interested in spoilers for tonight's performance show? Check the very end of today's post. We don't want to ruin it for those who prefer to be surprised.

Paula Abdul broke her nose over the weekend after she fell while trying to avoid stepping on her Chihuahua.

Her publicist says Abdul is recovering from the mishap and will appear on "American Idol" tonight and its season finale tomorrow.

He says she's a little sore, but is doing fine.

Abdul told TVs "Extra" that she tore cartilage on her nose, fractured her toe and bruised her arm and chest. "I took a nasty fall ... trying not to hurt my dog. I bruised myself on my arm ... my chest, my waist all the way down to my hip. All from my little chubby Tulip," Abdul said.

Abdul's publicist says the dog was not hurt, which was fellow judge Simon Cowell 's main concern when he was told about the incident by Jay Leno on last night's "Tonight Show." "How's the dog?" Cowell asked Leno. "What a cruel person," Leno replied. "Why, I like dogs," retorted Cowell.

"Good, she won't be talking at the finals," Cowell said, adding "Happy ending."

Cowell also talked about the nipples of strippers in Los Angeles and London, as well as tonight's finale. Watch video of Cowell on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno":


In a conference call with the press on Friday, Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks offered differing views on how they deal with the critiques given them each week by Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, the series' three judges.

"I don't think I've ever really listened to the judges," Blake Lewis told reporters. "I kinda nod my head, smile and say thank you."

"Simon's comments always stay with you," Sparks said. "He says what he feels. I understand what he was saying, it was an older song," she recalled about Cowell's comment that Sparks song choice, "I (Who Have Nothing)," sounded a little old. "Yet at the same time it was a song I love," she said.

Nevertheless, she vowed to pick a more "youthful" song for the finale.

Sparks and Lewis will perform three songs each tonight: One provided through the "Idol" songwriting competition, one of their own choosing, and one that they performed on the show earlier.

Neither singer would reveal those choices or what the "Idol" song might sound like.

The praised each other, and vowed that losing wouldn't be horrible.

"I really do want to win," Sparks said. "At the same time, if I don't it's not going to be the end of the world and it's not going to be 'Oh my gosh, I'm never going to sing again.' "

Lewis said a vote for him is for "people out there who like to use their imagination and be creative every day to promote positivity.

"I won when I got into the top 10," he said. "I've already reached my goal, regardless whether I win or lose, I'm a winner already."


(Parts of the following transcripts have been reported here earlier. These are the complete questions and answers. However saluations and congratulations have been removed for the purposes of brevity)

TV Guide: So what can you reveal to us, what can you share about what you're singing next week? It's three songs, right?

We're doing one that was picked for the songwriting contest, one that we pick and one that we've done from the past, and that's all I can reveal.

US Weekly: So when did you realize that you would no longer be Shorty from Bothell and instead you were Blake Lewis from American Idol? Has it hit you yet? I know you weren’t really a student of the show beforehand.

I will forever be Shorty from Bothell. But when I came home, it was amazing to see all the support from everybody. Now I guess, I'm Blake Lewis to the world, but will always still be Shorty from Bothell.

Wireless Flash News: You've kind of been a fashion icon throughout American Idol, kind of like the guy that has the most style on the show. Who is your fashion icon and are you thinking about possibly starting a fashion line, once you get into more of the music business?

I don't think I have a fashion icon. I'm just really into poppy bright colors mixed with — more of a hip-hop fashion mix with like sheik stuff. My old roommate was a stylist and I just — people think I have some style because I don't wear jeans. I like to wear my grandpa pants, as I call them or the grandpa slacks with the cool patterns. I just like to have run with whatever I wear, depending on what mood I'm in.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: When did you first start beat-boxing and who inspired you to do so?

Actually, I started around '98, no, it was '99, a man named Matthew Selby. He was in a group called Impact, which is Rudy Cardenas' group, who was on the show in the Top 24, who I've been friends with for many years. I'd been doing it subconscious my whole life. As soon as I actually saw someone do it, it became conscious and I could do it after that, and I haven't stopped making noise since.

Houston Chronicle: One of the key factors in your progression and your success has been your originality with the songs and your selections. Do you feel sort of more pressure every week to make it fresher or make it newer?

Yes, I think everyone feels that. They want you to up yourselves every week strive for being better every week, and on a personal level, you want to do that, too, you want to progress as an artist. It's really tough to do that, especially for me, because we get caught up in these theme weeks. I've kind of looked as this competition, not as a competition and just try to go out there and have fun each week. If I'm having fun, hopefully the viewers and the people that have supported me are having fun and that's all I can hope for.

I look at this as more of a remix competition from a producer's standpoint, for me, because when I dig into a song on the theme weeks, I want to remix it. I don't want to do it like the original, so I think that has helped me.

About.com: If you had to make a pitch about yourself and ask America for votes, what would you say to the viewers why we should vote for you?

That is very good question. To vote for me, I guess I'd tell all the viewers — that's really tough, you know for all those people out there who like to use their imagination and be creative every day to promote positivity vote for me. I don't know.

MTV News: What's the difference between winning this week and not?

Honestly, I don't know anymore. I've never looked at it as a competition. I've always looked at it as — because I'm such an eclectic artist, I've just tried to represent myself, be true to myself this whole time, and I think I've done that. And I think the support from the show and all the fans of me on the show have seen that, and that's why I've gone this far. So I've never looked at it as a competition, so I think I've won, regardless. I won when I got into the Top 10, so I've already reached my goal. So regardless of win or lose, I think I'm a winner on this show already.

San Antonio Express: Post Idol, what kind of CD would you like to cut?

I love grid pop music, like a lot of stuff coming out of the 80's, so I definitely have this more of a dance electro kind of feel in my music. I've listened to a lot of electronic music, so it would definitely have more of a dance vibe to it. I love having people have a good time — people lose their inhibition when they listen to music and good dance music, and I really like that fact. So it's going to have definitely a dance flare, but then I have more of a softer jazzy side to my bit that not a lot of people have gotten to see on the show.

I've been writing music for the last seven years and I have a lot of different tracks, because I'm inspired in so many areas of music. So it's going to have a pop, kind of electro-jazzy feel to it, hip-hop electronic. I lie in that realm, so maybe loop-based, good vocal arranging and some beat-boxing. I want everybody to go — when I hear my love albums, they take me a journey through the whole thing. So from start to finish, I want it to have a mix, like an electronic mix to it, so each song flows into the next.

People Magazine: The other night when you sang Maroon 5's, "This Love," it was out of this world. Was it a struggle to get permission to sing that song, and what was it like to meet them on Wednesday night?

Well, actually that's kind of a funny story. I've known them for about six years. And about two years ago, I had lost my cell phone, it was stolen, and I lost touch with them. I was really good friends with Ryan, the drummer. And I just happened to run into someone who was dating him, actually someone I went to high school with, and I got reconnected with them about a month ago.

I didn't ask then, but I called them last week and asked if the boys would pull out a solid for me. I called them the night before we had to pick our songs and they said I could sing anything I wanted to, so it was really a solid from them. And then getting back in touch with them, it was a really good experience and I've been a huge fan since when they were Cara's Flowers back like seven years ago before they were Maroon 5.

Calgary Sun: Going into the finale, what do you think gives you the edge to win and why do you think maybe Jordin has the edge to win?

Good question. You know at this point I can't tell. I have such an amazing support right now, I never thought I'd get this far in the first place, I never thought I'd be on the show in the first place for the finale. I don't know about edge or whatnot. I'm just going to stay true to myself and hopefully have three good performances, because we're doing three songs. So that's all I can hope for.

And for Jordin, her and Gina were my pick in the beginning to win this whole thing. So I think she's an amazing woman. She's 17 and she's already a woman. She performs. She's good-looking. She's got a fantastic personality and it reads really well on camera. I love Jordin Sparks, so regardless of the finale, I think she already won it in my mind, and she was my pick in the beginning.

Gannett News Service: You're one of the only guys who have experimented with hair color on the show, which has been really interesting. Tell me your thinking: First of all, with the frosted tips you had earlier and then when you came back with the really dark black look one week?

What was the question?

Gannett News Service: I wanted to know your thought process on it, what made you go with those different looks?

I've been doing different stuff for years. I had my hair red, blue, blue tips, I think green for Halloween for like three months. Whenever my hair color goes away, whenever it grows out, at that time the frost tips were going away, I just have fun. It really depends, it's like "What am I going to do this time?"

I'm kind of a like a chameleon. I like to change with my environment. And depending on how I'm feeling, I'll do this one day, it the same way with how I style, how I get up in the morning, how I even style my hair. It just really depends on the day. I live my life day-to-day.

So with hairstyle, I went black, because I'm not huge into image, although I am at the same time. It's kind of weird, because I really wanted to do really well on that song for Bon Jovi Week. I had been planning to dye my hair dark brown for like two weeks and it just happened to fall on that day. Really, I wanted the performance to outshine. I didn't even get any questions about my hair for like a week after that. So I was just really counting on my performance to outshine an image and just prove to myself that image doesn’t really have to play a big part.

Orlando Sentinel: How do you decide how much beat-boxing you're going to add to a song and what have you thought of the criticism that maybe you've added too much to some songs?

You know criticism has never really affected me. I try to do my own thing, I really — if it's not constructive, because I rarely, I don't think I've really ever listened to the judges on the show. I kind of nod my head and smile and say thank you. By the way, what was the first part of that question? Sorry, I kind of skipped to the second.

Orlando Sentinel: How do you decide how much you're going to put into a song? Is that sort of natural and how much will we see Tuesday night?

You'll definitely see some stuff Tuesday night. As far as adding it, it's a big part of me; it's 50/50 with my singing. I've been singing for years, since I was a kid, since I was 5. I've been making noise since I was 5 and as soon as I figured out you could turn noise into an art form, it became a really big part of me when it became conscious and not subconscious. So each week when I get a piece of music, it really depends on that piece of music, and especially when it's not my own music. My own music will be totally different, not totally different than I've done on the show, but yes, there's going to be beat-boxing in it and it's not going to be every song. I mean I never have beat-boxed on a ballad.

So it just really depends on the mood of the piece. If I feel like it needs it, because I really honestly haven't done it that much on the show. We get a minute and a half and maybe a song is 30 bars in that minute and half, and I think the most I've ever was the Bon Jovi and that 12 bars. But other than that, I’ve only done like four bars of actual beatboxing and then like the vocal scratch stuff, maybe my accent on a couple words. So it honestly has to do with the piece of music and if I feel that it needs it or not.

CCB: I saw your performance with Sir Mix-A-Lot, recently. I was wondering how you hooked up with him and what that was like?

Actually, I did a show with him about four or five years ago. I used to MC a lot of hip-hop and Rave style parties, more electronic stuff. And he was playing it and I beat-boxed, I opened for him one night. I was like the main MC, so I was pretty much opening for everyone, while they got their stuff set up. I met him then and that was cool, and then he kind of wanted to get onboard when I came into town, and it was pretty neat.

Ynet Israel: What kind of music are you going to — if you're going to produce an album now for Jordin — what kind of music would you like her to sing? What do you think is the best style for her?

You know Jordin really has such an amazing voice and such amazing phrasing and tone, she really can do it all. But I would definitely go — to me she's like a record label's dream, because she's so young. Honestly, she knows who she is right now, but she's still trying to find herself. At the same time as we all are, I think we're all growing, so that's why she's a record label's dream and a producer's dream, because she works well with other people.

So I see a very poppy album; she's got a little bit of rocker in her as well, more of like the Kelly Clarkson. But she really loves Christina Aguilera and I could see her doing some stuff with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. A lot of more hip-hop influence tone, because she really loves hip-hop, she really loves rock and pop. So I just really hear this, not like Kelly Clarkson, she went a little bit too much rock, I hear a little hip-hop influence in there as well. I can't wait; I will buy it as soon as it's out. I can’t wait for Jordin Sparks' first album; it's going to be great.

Dallas Morning News: Who are some people in the entertainment world that you would like to work with on an album?

I would love to work, I've already talked BT and I'd love to — I was talking about the whole album with him. He's one of my main influences in music, hands down. I love producers. There are so many, there's DarkChild, there's Dan the Automator, it really depends on the piece, too.

That's another thing that I'm going through right now. It's like if I get the opportunity to work with these amazing producers, what will my album sound like, if I just stick with one. Will.i.am would be awesome. I love more of the hip-hop electronic producers, so it's definitely going to have that influence on it. So definitely BT, DarkChild, who did Michael Jackson's last album and 'N Sync and he's done everyone, like Britney. Amazing producers that have a really good ear, also, Pro J who did the two Robin Thicke albums, he's very good. Yes, there's just so much, I couldn't even tell you. I love producers, but those are a few of the names that I definitely would love to work with.

Philippine Daily: If you were sent home earlier, what week would that have been? Was there ever a time that you thought you were going home?

The week before Bon Jovi or the week before Inspiration [Idol Gives Back], I can't remember anymore. It's been such a long journey and there's so much that goes on. I try not to think negatively like that, even though going home is not necessarily negative. But I try to focus on the positive and day-by-day, so I don't really ever think of it. I hope I can stay in and, hopefully, good things will come after the show.

I have such great friends. They keep me sane and they tell me not to worry about, and I try not to get heady. I try not to get on the Internet or watch television at all and get my mind wrapped around the negative. So I don't know, maybe I'll go home. We're both going home this week somehow. Maybe I'll go home a winner; maybe I'll go home a loser. I thought that it might have been Melinda and Jordin in the Top 2.

SC Magazine: Can you take us through the arrangement process? When it comes to arranging your songs and picking what to mix up, can you take us through your thought process?

I use this great program called Ableton Live. It's just an amazing program, just a program in general, as far as recording and producing and remixing, it's a very loop-based program. So you can stick loops that you already have made, in there and make beats, slow the temp down, take the pitch and put it where you want to. So it's really great for me, because I can take the original song and cut it up. Because every song on the show is a minute and a half to two minutes, as long as they allow, however much they allow us each week. I hope for two and half or three, but that has never ever been the case. So it's really hard to arrange a great song that's already great and making it yours and cutting it down to a minute and a half. So you've really got to dig into the piece and listen really closely.

For me, I just make some beats. I pretty much brought my portable studio here with me. I've got a couple of guitars and my keyboard and my mini controller and all my stuff. So I just go in, I make a couple of sense lines if I feel I need it, slow it down. Depending on the piece, it really depends on how I hear it. I look at it as more of a producer standpoint. The three songs I've done the most to were "Keep Me Hanging On," the first theme week, Bon Jovi and then the second Barry Gibb song I did, "That's Just When I Came In," [sic]["This Is Where I Came In"] which I totally took, which was just an acoustic guitar song and I totally changed it all around and made it kind of funky.

So it really depends on the piece, of how much arranging it goes into, because Latin week, I really didn't do much at all. And Country week, I didn't really do much at all. And, of course, I would never take a song as great as "Imagine" by John Lennon and do anything to it, because I'm already in love with that piece, front to back. So there are those pieces that I would never touch in my wildest dreams.


US Weekly: You mentioned a while back that when you turned 16 you weren’t necessarily excited to get your driver's license; you wanted to audition for Idol. How has it lived up to your expectations, being the two last out of 103,000?

It's so crazy; it's something I always wanted to do and then I auditioned and I made it and I was surprised because I mean, when you walk into those arenas there are thousands of people and you're like, oh my gosh, I only have a 1 in a 10,000 chance of making it.

So I was really surprised when I made it through that round and then Hollywood round came and I made it through that and then I got to the Top 12; everything has been surprising me and now that I'm here it's just so amazing because I'm doing what I've always wanted to do so it's really amazing.

Gannett News Service: You're a real nut for both football and basketball. Why did it turn out to be music is what you do? Were you also playing football or basketball?

Yes, before I started just focusing solely on the career I was playing softball in eighth grade and I was playing basketball so I was just having a lot of fun with that. I wasn't the best person on the team, but I loved playing and I loved being a part of a team. So it was really fun and it was really hard to have to decide either or, but I'm really happy with what I chose so everything is all good.

In Touch Weekly: How has this experience changed you? Do you feel different in any way?

You know what? I feel like this whole experience has made me stronger and a better person. I can handle so much more than I thought I could. I mean, they throw a lot at us and it's pretty intense, but each week I go out there and I get the criticism and I get the praise or whatever and I don't know; I take what I can get from it and then I put it towards myself or towards something that I can use in the next week and I don't know, overall I think it's just made me a better person and a better performer and able to emote better and I'm just so glad I'm going through it. It is kind of intense, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

MTV News: What would be the difference between winning this week and not winning?

You know what? I'm not really sure. I came into this competition and I really do want to win, I do. But at the same time, if I don't it’s not going to be the end of the world; it's not going to be, oh my gosh, I'm never going to sing again kind of thing.

So I would be happy if I won and I would be happy if Blake won. So I think it's pretty cool. I'm just glad I got a chance to be a part of it and that I made it this far.

Houston Chronicle: A comment that Simon made this week, when he said that in terms of song choice, you were sounding kind of old, is that something that's in your head now as you're going into next week that you're going to maybe try to be a little more youthful?

Simon's comments always stay with you, so I guess yes. But at the same time, I can't really base what I'm going to do off of that, even though I can and you know, sometimes I do. But he says what he feels and I understand what he was saying. It was an older song and it was kind of old fashioned. But at the same time, it was a song that I love so it was kind of just a you know, I just wanted to sing it really badly and I loved it.

I guess next week I have a more youthful song in my repertoire that I'm going to pull out next week so I'm really excited for next week and I’m really excited to get everything started.

The Orlando Sentinel: Have there been any tense moments for you in all of this? You were sort of treated wrong on [Idol] Gives Back night, where it looked like maybe you were out.

You know, I just take everything that comes with a grain of salt and I just try and just let stuff that is criticism roll off my back and take what I can from what the judges say and everything that happens happens for a reason and I don't know, they have to make a great TV show and it was pretty cool; afterwards we were all laughing about it from Saturday night, but for that split second my heart just sank so far down. I was so sad, but it was really cool that everybody got to stay. I was really excited that everybody else was staying, even though for that split second I thought I was gone.

It’s crazy, but I'm holding up pretty well, so thank you.

People Magazine: Do you have a stress food that you go to or do you do something activity-wise to kind of counter balance the stress that you're under?

When I usually get stressed, I love, absolutely love to read, which I guess is pretty weird for a teenager, but I love to read. Reading is one of my favorite things. Then, I like pickles so I guess that's my comfort food. I love pickles; I could eat a whole jar, I'm not even kidding. And I just like to chill out with my friends and just be able to talk and vent a little bit.

The Sacramento Bee: What are you thinking about wearing next week? What might you be doing with your hair or your clothing?

I’m thinking about doing it, blowing it out straight again this week, just because with the costume changes with how many songs we have to sing, that it will be easier to do different styles and then I'm pretty sure I'm going to be wearing some really nice dresses so you've got to look out for that because they're very nice. I got them yesterday, so I can't wait.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: At age 17 how has this show expanded your musical interests? Has it sparked any new interests for you music-wise?

I love every sort of genre, so it's been really cool to be on this show and each week get to do every different kind because I like everything so much so I really do, I have grown more appreciative towards the whole pop side because everything could fit in there, you just have to find; like I don't know really how to explain it. I guess pop is such a broad kind of thing that I could do a lot with it if I wanted to and I think that's what I would love to do on a record is just infuse a whole bunch of different genres into one album. So I hope it works.

The Calgary Sun: Can you tell us a little bit about the Idol song? Is it a slow song, a rock song and is it something you can hear yourself singing on the radio?

Am I allowed to answer that? I was just wondering if I was allowed to answer that about the songwriting song.

No. Do you want to ask another question?

The Oklahoman: Throughout the run of American Idol these singers have been asked to sing older songs, classic songs and this was the case with you as well. Do you think that the criticism from Simon in your case was fair because singers have been asked to sing 30- and 40-year-old songs before?

Everything just kind of rolls together, but in some ways I agree with him because we are in the 21st Century and it is today, but at the same time I love older music and so singing older music doesn't annoy me. It's where the new music comes from, it's where we grab things from and so I was kind of like, okay, well, all right. I don't know; I really didn't know what to say, but I guess it goes with each week.

I guess I could have picked a younger song because we were supposed to pick a song from off the show that we did and I guess I could have picked another one, but I love that song so much that that's the one I wanted to do. So he can like it, take it or leave it, I guess.

Soap Opera Weekly: Can you speak about how age is a positive factor and possibly a negative one in Idol?

Well, I guess being 17 I am young and I guess people don't really think that I can handle what is going to happen if I win or I guess people just think I'm a little young to break into this industry because it's harsh, I guess. But if it's something I want to do, I mean, it's what I want to do and I take that risk and I guess a part of this competition, it could be a plus and a minus.
It can be a plus because I am 17 and I'm doing something so out of the ordinary and at the same time there are a bunch of older, more experienced singers so people can think I don't have enough experience to actually keep doing it. So I don't know, I guess it works both ways, but I think that it's working out kind of good right now, I guess.

Wireless Flash News: Have any girls in high school who are looking for cute prom dresses tried to contact you like, where can I get that? I want to wear that to my prom or anything like that?

Nobody contacted me personally, but after I did "Broken Wing," which is Country Week, I wore this Nicole Miller dress and it was the gold and the orange long, it just totally looked like a goddess dress and after I wore that, after the East Coast feed aired they were sold out on the West Coast, like they were already gone and sold out and so I was just like, oh my gosh because it is prom season. So it was just so crazy to hear that. It was on the Internet and I was like, whoa! So I guess I did that, but nobody has contacted me, but I'm sure there are some people who bought it so that makes me really excited because it was a gorgeous dress.

The Arizona Republic: Prior to Idol you were working on your second CD. Since then how do you think you've grown as a singer and once you're able to get back in the studio, do you think you'll completely scrap that album and start fresh?

You know, I was working on three songs. I guess it was sort of a CD, but I didn't really have much from the three songs, but after Idol I would love to take those songs and try and turn the music a little bit towards what I'm liking now. Like I love, they're all more country-based and don't get me wrong, I still love country music, but I think to the flow of what I kind of have in mind I'd have to tweak it a little bit, which I don't mind because I kind of helped write them and it would be really cool to just tweak them a little bit. And I don't know; I hope to make a record that has those three songs on it because I like them and they're very important to me and I kind of wrote stuff that I was feeling about and so it would be really awesome to have that on the album. It's going to be great. I can't wait to see what happens after Idol.

San Antonio Express: Why do you think people should vote for you for American Idol? What makes you stand out, besides your age?

I don't know; I'm very, very strong willed and this is what I want to do, it's what I've been wanting to do for so long and I think that if people did vote for me that I could represent it well if I actually won. And it would be amazing. I would love to win. It would be really cool. I don't really know what to say because I don't want to sound too like, vote for me because I'm the best. But I don't know, just vote for me if you like me.

Antonia Blythe: What’s the first thing you’re going to splurge on, like what are you going to spend your money on, the first thing?

I have no idea. Somebody asked me that the other day, and I just go, no, I'm not going to splurge on a house because I can't live on my own yet so I can't splurge on a house. But I think I would love to; I don't know I think I might save it and if not, I think I might put it towards a really nice system in the car that I drive. I would love to do that, or give my brother a couple of bucks and let him buy some shoes.

BET.com: Which celebrity guest judge were you most excited to meet and who gave you the best advice?

I was really excited to meet all of them because I mean they are who they are, so it was really exciting to meet all of them, but I loved meeting Martina McBride because I've listened to her music for so long and she was just amazing.

And I loved meeting Gwen Stefani because I hear about her every day of my life and she's my generation and she's just so -- well, I guess she's not my generation in terms of age -- but everybody my age listens to her so it was just really crazy meeting her. I think I cried when I met her.

I think the person who gave the best advice had to be Jennifer Lopez. She was just so amazing. We went in there and she just made us feel so relaxed and so it's okay, don't worry; sit down, let's talk for a while. She just said if you can give out the emotions in the song that's all that matters. If one person feels the music then you've done your job and I think that is so true because I want to reach people and if I just reach one person in the audience, it doesn't matter to me. I will be fine and so she was just more talking about that and it doesn't matter if you sell a million records or 500,000 records if you touch somebody with your music you're doing well. So she was really great and she was one of the sweetest people I think I've ever met, not to mention the fact that she was fabulous, so she was great.

Starry Constellation: Tell me a little bit about how much that you think that arrangements really factor in with voting and performances.

You know what? I'm not really sure, but I guess I'm sure it sways some people because they're so used to hearing a song one way and then if we change it up a little bit they'll be like, oh, why didn't they do it the original way? Why didn't they do it like I like it? You know what I mean?

So I guess that could turn people off, but I have no idea. We just do what we do, we just go out there and sing and we just pray that people like it. So, yes, I think it could factor in a little bit on how the voting goes. I mean people do like their songs the original way so I don’t know, I guess.

The Flint Journal: What is the mindset, the strategy, going into the finale; how you're approaching it and how you distinguish yourself from Blake and his voters?

You know, Blake and I are just two totally different singers so it's really crazy. He's an amazing performer and he's so entertaining and he's great. I feel really honored to be in the finale with him. I don't really have a strategy. I guess if I had any strategy, if I was to call it that, it is just to give all that I can give. I know that sounds so cliché, but when you're out there and you have to leave it all out there and you have to give every single ounce of yourself to the song or it’s just not going to work.

So I guess I'm just going to try and do my best and hopefully people like the songs that I picked and you know what, whatever happens on Wednesday will happen so I'm just going to give it my all and leave it all out there.

Straights Time Singapore: What sort of advice would you give to people who want to be exactly where you are right now?

Oh, my goodness; if I could give you any advice it's don't give up if you think you can't do it. I didn't think that I would make it at all and trying out, I mean you'll never know if you don't try and so trying out has been one of the greatest things that's ever happened because now I'm actually here and I mean I can't believe it, I can't believe even remotely I even thought that I wouldn't try out for it, I was too scared or whatever.

But just keep going and if you want something just work hard at it. I know it sounds kind of cliché, but it's seriously true if you work hard for something and you want it bad enough you can get it. So it's just been so amazing to be able to kind of actually take my own advice because I've been working so hard towards this and now that I'm actually here I can't even believe it so it's really amazing and I feel so blessed.

About.com: American Idol is a bit different from the other reality shows because you never really have to make a pitch on why we should vote for you. So if you had to do that what would you say?

Okay, I really don't know what I'd say; I don't know. People vote for you if they like you and they don't vote for you if they don't like you. So I guess vote for me if you like me and I'm going to try and I think I can represent it, so vote for me if you think I can, too.

YNet Israel: People really admire you in Israel. They watch the show and are you surprised to hear that people in such a far country like you and just want to see you win?

Oh, my gosh; I am flipping out. I have no idea of what's going on anywhere because I'm in such a bubble here, but when I hear about it I get very surprised. I mean, I'm just me and I don't know and just being myself and it’s cool to hear that I've affected people or that people are rooting for me and I just want to say thank you and I hope that I make you proud on Tuesday.

The Boston Herald: Were you surprised at all that Melinda was knocked out of the competition or is it just one of those things that after a while you just get used to the fact that these amazing singers get sort of weeded out?

You know, when it was down to the three of us it could have gone anyway. There were 60 million votes and that's way more, besides Charity Week, any other week and so it was just so crazy. I was so sad to see her leave, but at the same time she is going to be totally fine. We were talking about it and she was having an amazing night and I was just looking at her in surprise and she was just like it will be okay, it will be fine and at the same time I knew that because she is one of the most amazing people I've ever met and she is an amazing performer and I feel very blessed to be in the finale with Blake because I thought it was actually going to be me going home so I am really surprised and she'll be fine and we're all going to be okay and the finale will be great because all 12 of us will be there. So it's going to be really cool.

Dallas Morning News: What are some past Idol contestants that you really look up to and would want to model your career after?

I guess I love all the past contestants, but I love Kelly Clarkson; she is the first Idol and the way her career has gone it's gone so amazingly well for her and she's got Grammys and No. 1 hits. I mean she still manages to stay out of the tabloids and she just seems so amazing. I love how she has a whole bunch of different genres in her albums and that she isn't anybody but herself so I would love to do something like that.

Carrie Underwood has also had an amazing career after Idol. Grammy winner, Country Music Award winner and she's just doing so well and I would love to have careers like that and be able to entertain as long as I can.

Sun Sentinel: Your father being a professional athlete, you have some frame of reference to being in the public eye. Has that helped you at all?

You know what, I think it did because with my dad and everything it was, I mean we took pictures a lot and my dad did interviews all the time so I was constantly watching him and he actually told me the other day that when he would sign autographs I would just be watching and watching so intently and he said it was really weird because he was watching me do it the other day and how it's like all turned around.

So it's been really crazy, but I think it has helped me because being in front of a camera or taking pictures or taking interviews, it doesn't really scare me so I think it has helped me and thanks, Dad.

New York Daily News: Earlier in the season there was the scandal with Antonella and then we moved to Sanjaya’s hair. How much of that stuff impacts you folks behind the scenes? Are you talking about it? Do you talk amongst each other about it or does it just not faze you?

We do talk about it, but the thing with Antonella was so crazy and that's totally different than Sanjaya's hair; I mean it's two totally different things and it affected them in two different ways so it was really crazy, but we try not to think about it, but it's really hard not to when it's kind of in your face all the time and people constantly bring it up, but we just take for it; I don't know, we try and be able to let it roll off our back and usually it kind of does and I'm sure they're both going to do amazingly well. So I don't think they have anything to worry about.

Galaxy Magazine: With fame and stuff, a lot of things come out and are written about you in the press. For example, one of the most interesting things that I read on the rumor circuit is that your win has been like on the cards as being predicted from the very start. How do you address things like this?

You know what, it's funny because I never knew stuff like that. I don't know. I just auditioned. I was one out of 100,000 people and I don't know how people can think it's rigged or whatever because I had no idea that I would make it and making it has been a complete surprise to me so I don't know. I guess I'm just saying you can think whatever you want to think, but it's still surprising me.


Paula Abdul talked to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show about the word game (or the phrase game) Simon Cowell plays with her and Randy Jackson, where he gives them words, such as "platypus" or "greyhound," and dares them -- sometimes for money -- to work the word into their critique. Ryan said that when he sees Simon doing this to Paula he desperately wants to pop Simon's mike up so that people can hear what he's doing to her; Ryan even suggested that he and Paula should speak to the sound people this week and have them do that to Simon without his knowledge. The two also discussed the finale possibilities. The interview was amusing and you can hear it here here.


Ryan Seacrest also spoke with Randy Jackson the same morning, who wanted to know if he was caller 102. Ryan called Randy the glue that holds "American Idol" together. Ryan talked about how Simon Cowell had some drama before they went on the air last week having to do with his hair, so he grabbed some gel. After the show, Seacrest said, Cowell sent him a text message saying, "It really works for me." When Ryan asked what "it" was, Cowell texted back, "The gel." Randy jumped in and said, "I think it wasn't actually gel. I want to go on record and say I really believe it was Jeri Curl Juice."

Jackson said he's working on an album with tons of guest artists. He's producing and playing on it. He wouldn't divulge what stars would be on the album, titled "Randy Jackson Presents the American Music Club, Vol. 1," but did confirm that Paula Abdul will "definitely be in the house" on a "Hot track with LL [Cool J]." He also said he'd like to get Simon rapping (can't wait, oops, yes we can).


Ryan Seacrest also recently spoke with Kellie Pickler. He told her she had made quite an impression when she appeared on Idol a couple of months back, then tried to get her to say whether or not she had had breast augmentation surgery, but the conversation just kept going around in circles. Finally, Kellie said, "Ever since the show, and your little comments, all I hear about is my boobs, for some reason. But you know me, Ryan, I love to be the center of attention, and right now, me and 'girls' we're pretty much getting a lot of attention from your little stories, so I'd like to keep it a mystery. Let the mystery live on, because as soon as I say 'yes' or 'no,' then nobody's gonna care anymore."


More tidbits from People magazine on things that last week's in-house audiences were privy to on Tuesday and Wednesday that the TV audience didn't see:

Last season's "Dancing With the Stars" winner Mario Lopez was instantly spotted by the warm-up guy as well as fans while chilling in the front row of Wednesday's audience and was given a Blake Lewis-like welcome when they did so. When Corey the warm-up guy shouted, "Mario Lopez in the house" things lit up like he was the next American Idol. "I love you, Mario" was heard so much throughout the show, he might as well have been onstage with the other three Idols. Mario had no choice but to stand up and wave to the delighted crowd.

LaKisha Jones was larger than life as she made her way over into the front row of Nigel Lythgoe's section. Corey the warm-up guy quickly shouted, "LaKisha – what up, girl?" sending the fans into frenzy, cheering and even giving her a standing ovation as she made her way into the room. Other former Idols that made the scene: leggy Haley Scarnato and Season 2's Josh Gracin.

For the first time since the season started, it was Ryan Seacrest who made the first appearance of the night with only three minutes to air. Then it was Randy Jackson, of course, Simon Cowell, and then the Idols ... where was Paula Abdul? With only 40 seconds to make it to her seat, Abdul casually cruised down the aisles and right into her chair without batting an eyelash. But the judges may have been there physically, not mentally. If this were a classroom, all three would have been given detention. During most of the going-home videos Simon and Paula chatted away like they were in a café somewhere. And then it was Randy and Paula chatting away, at times not even bothering to look up at the screen.

Each and every time Elliot Yamin's name came up the fans went absolutely wild. Maroon 5 also performed on the show, but maybe it was home-court advantage because fans were giving Yamin a standing ovation before he even began his set. But there was definite Maroon 5 lover in the house: Blake Lewis, who covered one of their songs the night before. The guy had definite "Levine-envy," as he mouthed the words to their new tune as well as ogled the front-man before making his eager way over to the band members one-by-one to shake their hands after their set.

British invasion week took place early on in the competition, but singer Lulu made her return to the studio last Tuesday night – this time, as a fan and not a mentor. "I was in town on business and Nigel [Lythgoe] told me to stop by for the show if I wanted. And of course, I wanted to. I'm a fan." Who did she think would make it through to the finals? (Remember this was before Wednesday's announcement of the finalists.) "Well, I predicted early on that it would be Blake and Jordin in the finals." Smart lady.

Actor Scott Wolf and his wife, Kelley Limp attended the show for the first time ever. The former "Party of Five" star, who's in Los Angeles starring in the Neil LaBute play "Fat Pig," says he and Kelley watch Idol every night. "Melinda [Dolittle] is by far the best vocalist," he said. "She could be one of the great ones of our time."

LaKisha Jones has praised Simon Cowell for being a good kisser with soft lips. So it's no wonder a grandmother from Grand Rapids, Mich., asked during a commercial break if she could see for herself. Simon enthusiastically obliged with not one, but two smooches.

Outstanding signage for the night? "Simon, Can I Be Your Puppet?" and "I Love My Agent For Getting Me These Tickets."

It's not often that the Idol contestants remain on the stage during a commercial break. But after Blake Lewis performed an impressive version of Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone," the Seattle native took his time as he shook hands and hugged bandleader Rickey Minor. He then walked through the band section to shake hands and hug the musicians and the backup singers, thanking them for making his final performance at the CBS studio a memorable one. Next week the finalists will perform at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.


The Gauntlet reports that according to World Entertainment New Network, Kelly Clarkson's artistic skills paid off at an auction in Hollywood on Thursday night when a guitar she painted to raise cash for a children's charity raised $3,000. The singer decorated an axe and turned the instrument into the auction's highlight -- beating out bids for guitars designed by rockers Dave Navarro and Rob Zombie.

But there was a very special reason behind Clarkson's offer to help raise cash for the Little Kids Rock charity - the auction was held as part of a House of Blues tribute to late rocker 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott. Clarkson is a longtime fan of Abbott's bands Pantera and Damageplan, and once waited on the tragic guitarist when she worked in a restaurant he frequented. Abbott was shot dead by a crazed fan during a show in Ohio in December, 2004. Before the concert, the guitarist was posthumously inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk on Sunset Boulevard.

Clarkson must have a thing for guitars. In April she was spotted walking the aisles of a Best Buy in West Hollywood, where she grabbed a little taste of rock stardom. The dressed-down star was seen in the video aisle where she grabbed several DVDs as well as the electric guitar simulation game Guitar Hero 2.


Simon Cowell 's mother appeared on "Extra" recently and was interviewed by his girlfriend, "Extra" correspon-
dent Terri Seymour.

Julie Cowell, 81, said she can still pull her weight with her naughty son. When Simon walked onstage to "American Idol" with gum in his mouth, Julie did what any mother would do – yell!

"He walked out and I thought, 'I can't believe he's chewing gum,' " Julie said. "And I went, 'Simon!' It was like he was 3 years old and did it [spit it out] immediately."

Mom said that when Mr. Nasty shows his mean side she calls him up. "Mother still has a go," Julie insisted, but insisted he also has a sweet side.

"I had a new car from him a few weeks ago, which he insisted on buying me, so I'll take that as a Mother's Day present," Julie said.

As for anything else she wants from her famous son? Julie said she wants Simon to marry Terri Seymour.

Watch video of Julie Cowell here.


Spoilers this season have not held a high degree of accuracy, so take these with a large grain of salt.

Idol Thoughts reports "Rumor has it that Blake will (not surprisingly) reprise 'You Give Love a Bad Name,' his showstopper from Bon Jovi week, while Jordin will bring back 'Broken Wing,' which she originally sang during country week.

"Blake's new song is apparently Maroon 5's 'She Will Be Loved' (making it three Maroon 5 songs in two weeks on the show) and Jordin will attempt Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" (good luck on that one!) If they turn out to be true they are interesting choices indeed.

As for the new single, American Idol music director Michael Orland calls it "very pretty" and says that "Jordin loves it" in an interview with ew.com. He said he has yet to speak to Blake about it, but that it is "positive and uplifting."

Here are some other quotes from the EW-Orland interview:

So what is this week like for you?
I still work with Jordin and Blake is still working with his people. They're singing their single from the songwriting contest and then singing a favorite song of theirs, and then a brand-new one they've never done. They're each doing three songs tomorrow night. We just keep protecting them from oversinging. There's a girls' medley, a boys' medley for Wednesday, but we're keeping Blake and Jordin's stuff to a complete minimum. They need to be ''on'' on Tuesday night. On top of everything, Jordin is trying to bank some hours of school because this week is going to be crazy.

Can't she just cut school this week?
I asked her teacher if I could write a note to get her out of it.

Can you give us any hints about the song from this season that Jordin is choosing to sing?
She's going back and forth between two songs still. I told her she could have a couple of days to make her mind up. Even though we tell them not to, we take the judges' comments into consideration. She's thinking about that now. Both songs are completely different from the single she's going to sing and the song she picked herself. They're both great songs. There are way worse dilemmas to have.

Are you also working on Wednesday night finale songs?
I did a couple of the medleys and I'm working with some of the guests coming in. I'm nowhere near done.

Is the finale going to be as good as last year's? Will there be a Prince moment?
Not that I know of right now, but I don't know everything going on. I know there's a lot of top-secret stuff, but even if it's just what I know about, believe me, it's going to be great.

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