Sunday, May 20, 2007

Brilliant Entertainer vs. Great Singer

Simon Cowell says this year's "American Idol" contest is too close to call. He also thinks that Melinda Doolittle should have been one of the two finalists. Reuters reports that:

British music mogul Simon Cowell says he is not as smart or as mean as people think -- he cannot predict who will win "American Idol" and he wants contestants on the show to be rude to him when he is offensive to them.

The grumpy judge, whose acerbic comments draw boos each week on the top-rated televised singing contest, said on Friday this year's show has come down to a choice between a "brilliant entertainer" and a "great singer."

Jordin Sparks, a bubbly 17-year-old [really!?] with huge voice, and spiky-haired Blake Lewis, 25, who puts a modern twist on classic songs, will square off next week in the two-part finale on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I can't call it at this stage," Cowell told reporters on a conference call. "For Blake, he's a brilliant entertainer, but the negative is he's not a fantastic singer. The advantage for Jordin is she is a great singer and the negative is she hasn't done one performance yet which I can remember as a 'wow.'"

Cowell also entreated the "Idol" contestants to give back more of what he dishes out to them.

"They all think they are going to be voted off if they are rude to me," he said. "If I'm rude to them they are more than entitled to be rude to me back."

Cowell said he was amused by the long "Idol" run of Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant known for extreme hairstyles and mediocre singing.

"The whole Sanjaya thing was hysterical," said Cowell, who once threatened to quit if Malakar won. "I don't think I'd be happy if he was in the final, but looking back I think it was quite amusing."

Cowell said it was "unfair" that contestant Melinda Doolittle was eliminated from the show this week.

"She had delivered 10 weeks in a row better than anyone else," he said, adding that the experienced backup singer's age -- Doolittle is 29 -- may have made her less appealing to the show's teenage viewers.

"When you allow the public to choose, you've got to live and die by the vote," Cowell said.


We're beginning to get that sneaking suspicion. Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Hicks have already been confirmed. American reports that, "Fans can be watching for Carrie [Underwood] to return to the Idol stage for a performance on the show's May 23 season finale." That just leaves Fantasia and Ruben Studdard.

Fantasia is currently appearing in "The Color Purple" on Broadway, but Wednesday's show is a matinee, the easiest to skip out of. She could take a red-eye to Los Angeles after Tuesday night's show and another one back Wednesday night (the show ends at 7 p.m. in Los Angeles), plenty of time to be back for her Thursday night 8 p.m. performance.

Ruben is currently not on tour, so he should be available as well.

What tipped us off even more was a snitty remark by finalist Chris Sligh in a video shot this week by as he was making a trek across the Les Deux parking lot. He jokingly remarked, "you guys have five 'American Idols' ... and you've got me." (The video starts with Paris Hilton.)

What a coup that would be for the executive producers, to bring all six American Idols (including this year's winner) onstage together!

BTW, Chris Daughtry will be appearing on Tuesday's performance show. What a week!

CLARKSON TALKS ABOUT 'MY DECEMBER' reports that Kelly Clarkson did a photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly and a video in which she discusses her forthcoming album, "My December." In the video, which shows snippets of the cover photo shoot, Kelly says that although she loves her first two albums, "My December" is different and better. She also says she's been watching Idol this season and likes Jordin Sparks, calling her "Really cute. She's a beautiful girl, and sings very, very well. And is a little bit different than anyone who's ever won. So I like her."


Entertainment Weekly conducted a series of online polls related to "American Idol" and here are the results:

What was the best performance this season?
29% Jordin, "I (Who Have Nothing)"
29% Blake, "You Give Love a Bad Name"
24% Melinda, "My Funny Valentine"
9% LaKisha, "This Ain't a Love Song"
9% Gina, "I'll Stand by You"
[How could they pick that for LaKisha instead of "And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going," one of the few "wow" moments of the entire season. People are still talking about it]

What was the worst finals performance this season?
64% Sanjaya, "Bathwater"
17% Haley, "Turn the Beat Around"
9% Jordin, "Livin' on a Prayer"
7% Blake, "You Should Be Dancin'"
4% Chris R., "The Boss"
[Frankly, Phil Stacey's "I Need You" was a train wreck]

Who was the best mentor this season?
38% Jon Bon Jovi
35% Jennifer Lopez
16% Tony Bennett
7% Diana Ross
4% Barry Gibb
[Personally, we thought Peter Noone and Lulu resulted in some pretty amazing performances on British Invasion week]

What was your favorite Sanjaya hairstyle?
44% The Ponyhawk
28% The Perm
16% The Hair Straightening
12% The Slick Back
[Our favorite? The bandana -- because it was the week he went home]

Which semifinalist was robbed of making the finals?
56% Sabrina Sloan
23% Sundance Head
17% AJ Tabaldo
5% Antonella Barba
[We agree, but think our homie, Jared Cotter, should have made the list]

Who was your favorite audition-round disaster?
39% Jonathan Jayne and Kenneth Briggs

29% Ian Bernardo
17% Martik "Eccentric" Manoukian
8% Tashawn Moore
6% Jasmine Holland
[So many names, so little space]

Face-off: Simon or Paula?
84% Simon

16% Paula
[Er, where does that leave Randy?]

Who's your favorite previous Idol winner?
49% Kelly Clarkson

35% Carrie Underwood
7% Taylor Hicks
6% Fantasia Barrino
2% Ruben Studdard
[Five years later, Kelly is still No. 1. The sign of a true Idol]


American reports that Carrie Underwood 's debut album, "Some Hearts," is now RIAA-certified Sextuple Platinum for sales of 6 million copies. One of only two female country debuts ever to reach this milestone, "Some Hearts" now ranks alongside Leann Rimes' "Blue" as the best-selling debut by a country female in RIAA history.

Released November 15, 2005, the disc's unstoppable sales momentum has powered it to #1 for a remarkable 26 of its 78 chart weeks – holding the #1 position on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart across multiple weeks in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

With a 29% sales jump to more than 56,700 copies sold this past week, "Some Hearts" reclaims the #1 position on Billboard's Top Country Albums and surges to #8 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. This sales leap preceded Carrie's performance and triple win on Tuesday’s 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, where she was awarded Video of the Year ("Before He Cheats") and two of the night's top prizes: Top Female Vocalist and Album of the Year, for "Some Hearts."

"Wasted," the fourth #1 country airplay single from "Some Hearts" (following the success of "Jesus, Take the Wheel," "Don't Forget to Remember Me" and "Before He Cheats"), also becomes a #1 video this week on GAC’s viewer-voted Top 20 Country Countdown.

Carrie's massive cross-format appeal has also delivered Top 10 success at Hot AC and Mainstream Top 40 with "Before He Cheats," becoming a Top 5 favorite video on VH1’s VSpot Top 20 Video Countdown as well as the first country video ever to air on MTV’s TRL and the first country video added to MTV since 1999.

With this week's SoundScan sales numbers, "Before He Cheats" also breaks new ground on the digital frontier, as release-to-date total sales vault to 1,228,511 downloads, ranking "Before He Cheats" as the best-selling digital country song in chart history.

"Some Hearts" remains the best-selling, single-disc country album by a solo artist (male or female) in the last six years (since Tim McGraw's "Greatest Hits" released in November, 2000) and the best-selling, single-disc country album by any artist since the release of the Dixie Chicks' "Home" in August 2002.

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© 2007

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