Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spoiler: Judges' Songs for Top 3 +

This really isn't much of a spoiler as the judges' choices are announced at each Top 3 contestant's hometown visit. Jordin Sparks even revealed her own choice for Tuesday. The unknown? Clive Davis' choices for the Top 3. Here is what is known so far (we'll have a major wrapup of the hometown visits, with photos, in tomorrow's blog):

Jordin Sparks: Simon Cowell picked "Wishing on a Star" by Rose Royce (also covered by The Cover Girls and, more recently, by Beyoncé) for Jordin. Not much of a vocal stretch and the lyrics are saccharine sweet, but perfect for her voice and range. Jordin also announced to her classmates that her personal choice, usually a song the contestant has done particularly well earlier in the season, would be "I Who Have Nothing," from British Invasion week. Great choice. We still get chills listening to her rendition. It was her best to date.

But that's two ballads for Jordin. Will Clive Davis pick a third? Jordin has so far proved incapable of singing anything but a ballad well. We'd like to see her really standup to a challenge for a change and hope that Davis does, too.

Blake Lewis' song was chosen by Paula Abdul. Her pick was "Roxanne" by The Police. Interesting, especially since Blake has always reminded us of Sting. He should be able to handle this ably, including a bit of beat boxing. But nobody is going to soon make us forget the amazing version of this song about a hooker done by Dilana on "RockStar Supernova" last summer. It was the definitive version, even killing the original.

Melinda Doolittle received the very uninspired choice of "I Believe in You and Me" from Randy Jackson. We think that Melinda is being set up for the fall. A Blake-Jordin finale would guarantee a Jordin win, which the producers have been pimping for lo these many weeks. It's absolutely shameless. We hope Melinda knocks it out of the park. We think they underestimate her ability to rework a song to perfection.


Starting out so strongly as an early favorite, did that prove to be a difficult cross to bear for you?

It did because I believe that everybody wanted that I'm … moment every week. When you're singing different genres of music, and because it's such a different style of music, those styles don't necessarily have that big song that everybody is expecting every week. I think I did the best with what I was given, and I went out there every week and I gave it my all.

What does your three-and-a-half year old have to say about Mommy’s run on the show?

Oh my gosh, she's happy. She's four now. I was crying last night. She wiped my face and said, "Mommy, I'm not mad." I just thought that was really cute. It was almost as though she was telling me, "You know what, I'm proud of you. I'm not mad." So it works for me.

I have to know, is Simon a good kisser? Is he the kind of kisser that's going to give you butterflies, or does he have some things that he needs to work on, as far as technique goes?

He is a good kisser. I would do it again.

So nothing he needs to work on, were his lips chapped? How did that work out?

His lips were really soft and thin.

What are your plans now that the show is over? Are you going to go back – I know you were big on singing at church and things like that. What are you going to be doing now?

I have a lot of interviews. I'm going on tour. After that, hopefully, I'll be recording.

I got the impression from last night that you were bracing yourself to go home. Why did you have that expectation, or seem to have that expectation?

I knew on Tuesday, I'm hoarse right now. I was hoarse on Tuesday, and I tried to sing past my hoarseness and give it my all. Of course, with American Idol, you can’t say, "My voice is jacked up and I can't sing this week." You can't say that, so you have to just do what you've got to do. I kind of knew last night, that those weren't the best songs, but I did the best with what I was given.

Some people have questioned sometimes your song choices, especially when you did Carrie and Fantasia back to back. What were you thinking behind doing songs by two former Idol winners?

I was thinking that they were two winners. I was also thinking the message within the song, "Jesus Take the Wheel." I was going through some things and I needed Jesus to take the wheel. I was like, "You know what, I can't do this competition by myself so, Lord, you're going to have to help me get through it." I do believe in myself, and I do believe that no matter what happens, God has a plan for me, and that I will be successful.

I'm curious about your relationship with Simon. What was your favorite comment from him and what really got your steamed? Maybe you thought he was in the wrong.

My favorite comment from him would have to be, "She's in a league all of her own."

Is there one you thought he was in the wrong about?

"You're shouting."

As far as Oprah is concerned, I know you said during Bon Jovi week, that you had only known of him through Oprah. What was it like to be on her show?

Absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to go into the actual studio and talk with her and sit down. She is an awesome woman.

Tell me the story about the dress that got destroyed at the dry cleaner and how that affected you.

It actually was a blouse. Oh God, it just messed me all up because in my mind, kind of like when you go on stage, you become this character when you're putting on your show. I needed that blouse; it gave me that extra oomph, made me feel extra sassy.

What did the judges say to you after the show last night, mainly Simon?

He told me that he was really proud of me, and that he knows that I'm going to have a successful career.

What kind of album would you like to put out? You came from a gospel background. Do you want to do gospel?

I'm not sure exactly what I want to do yet. I know I want it to be kind of sassy and soulful with a little inspiration, if that makes sense.

Who are you looking forward to seeing most when you go on tour?

I loved them all. I don’t know. Probably I would say Sanjaya [Malakar], I'm going to miss him jumping all over the place.

So it will good to be reunited with him.

Yes, because he has just this energy.

Was there any frustration for you that you got to the top six, and then just as you're getting to the most important part of the competition, there were two consecutive weeks of themes with songs written by and originally performed by white men? Was that a frustration at all?

White men?


It didn't matter if they were white or black. It wasn't the color that had anything to do with it. It actually was just the style of music.

Could you go on that then, maybe that's really what I meant more than anything racial, just that it got two somewhat more restrictive themes?

It was just basically the style of music is out of my comfort zone. It was a very difficult genre of music for me to sing. So I had some times with it, especially the Bee Gees style.

Could you talk about trying to make "Staying Alive," which is such a very iconic song, sound different trying to make it your own the other night?

I did the best with what I was given.

I'm calling from Houston where I know you've spent a lot of time. First, just tell me a little bit about your experiences here in Houston and what that was like? Then if you were aware of the huge support you had here, I know your church was doing viewing.

Yes. Dr. Ed Montgomery and the Abundant Life Cathedral, my church was really supportive, and my pastor called me, prayed for me, sent me words of encouragement and everything, him and his wife. I just love the city of Houston. I was there for six and a half years. If I could say anything to them, I would just say thank you for believing in me.

I know you had some success here in terms of you did, Gimme the Mike, and I'm sure you had some other singing experience. How do you think stuff like that here in town specifically prepared you for where you're at now?

Well, I've been singing in church, basically, since I was 5 years old. So I think that just growing up in church singing, and not stopping, basically, because I've kept singing, has enabled me to just do my best no matter wherever I'm at, and no matter what platform.

I've got to tell you, I think your Bon Jovi song was absolutely one of the best of the season.

Thank you very much.

You said oftentimes throughout the competition, that the reason you did it was to provide for your daughter. I’m wondering, with any money you made while you were in the top 10 and what you’ll make on tour, is it what you expected going into it?

All's I can say is, I'm not going to complain because it's better than what I was making.

Then you talked a little bit about Sanjaya earlier. In his interview, he talked about how you comforted him a lot during a lot of the stressful times that he faced. How did you all spark up that sort of a relationship?

Man, Sanjaya was like a little brother that got on your nerves all of the time. He'd be jumping all over the place, and he has this energy. And I could be like having a moment and he's jumping all over the place. I'm like, "Sit down somewhere." But I appreciate the fact that he trusted my judgment, he took my advice, and that he was also there for me when I needed him.

I was wondering since you do have such a young daughter, how was it for you being able to deal with being away from her? How did you cope with that?

It was really, really hard, but I have a strong support system. I have my mother who takes care of my daughter while I'm away. I have my grandmother who’s supporting me and encouraging me, and praying for me. Every chance they get, they are out here, so it's good when you have a good support system.

When you were singing the second song and your voice cracked at the end, what was going through your mind at that point?

I kind of gave up because I was as hoarse as I am now, and you could only sing so much until your voice is like, "Okay, enough." You guys don't know that we do dress rehearsals before the actual show. So I had sung that song, all of the songs, at least four times that day. So it took a strain on my voice, it really did.

I was wondering what your favorite performance was this season and why?

"And I'm telling you."

Why did you like that one so much?

Because that was my opening number and the message was, "I'm telling you America that I'm going to stay and I'm not going nowhere."

I also wanted to ask about the remaining contestants. Like if you had an idea of who might win, or why you think they all made it to the top three?

They're all talented. Whoever supposed to be the American Idol will be the American Idol.

How are you holding up?

Holding up. I'm trying to get my voice here together because it's a mess.

How aware were you of the support you had here back home? And what the kind of strength you may have gotten from that?

My mom told me all of the time. She said, "LaKisha, you ain't going to believe this, they've got a big old billboard up with your picture. Oh my God, you look so cute." She was so happy and so excited to see something that I've worked for for so long. It's like my dream came true. I just wanted to sing, and I wanted everybody to know above and beyond church that Kisha can do this, and I want to do this for the rest of my life. I was just thankful that my hometown showed me so much love and support, and encouragement. Keep the prayers coming. I need them.

When are you coming home?

I thought I was going to come home, but I'm not coming home. I'll be here until the finale. I have to go to New York and do some more interviews and shows, and things. They've got me busy.

Do you think you might be able to squeeze something in between the finale and the rehearsal?

You hit it right on the head. That would probably be it.

How do you feel about finishing fourth? Where does that fit with your expectations going in?

The only thing I can say is look at Chris Daughtry.

Who do you think is the front-runner, or even if you could predict the top two for the finale?

I don't think there is a front-runner.

What qualities could you say that each of them have?

They're all talented. They're all extremely, extremely talented. Again, it's fair game at this point, so whoever is supposed to be will be.

You said you were looking into recording an album, and you weren't exactly sure what about, but would you plan on working with any of the Idols on it, or do you have any idea for either collaborations or what you’d like to write about if you have any songs written already?

I don't have any written already. I don't know. I haven't thought about all of that yet. That's a good question. That gives me something to think about while I'm on tour.

Are you looking forward to the tour?

I am.

I'm just wondering is your daughter going on the tour with you?

They're trying to make preparation.

Is she looking forward to that or is she nervous?

She really don't care, as long as she's with me.

With the remaining three, no one knows them probably better than you because you spent so much time with them. So if I can start with Jordin, what is it you like about her, what is it about her talent that really gets you going?

I like Jordin. One, she's so doggone cute. She just has a wonderful spirit about herself. She's really genuine.

And Blake?

Blake, I love him. Blake keeps me going. At times that I was like, "Oh my God." Blake was like, "No, come here." He'd start making up something to make me laugh and smile. He was really cool and he has originality and personality, and he's great.

Lastly, Melinda?

Melinda, that girl has so much soul and power.

The original Fox material said that you'd had years of classical music training.

I didn't have years of classical. I went to the University of Michigan for two years, and I studied vocal music.

So it was basically classical at U of M.

It was classical musical theater.

The original Fox thing listed you as from Maryland. You always mentioned Flint.

I am from Flint, Mich. I lived in Houston for six and a half years. And before I auditioned for American Idol in July, I moved to Baltimore, Md.

So right after college right after the U of M years, then you went to Houston for six and a half years at that point.


Then what brought you to Maryland?

I got a job and a better opportunity.

Was that the bank clerk one?


But you were recently laid off from bank clerk.

No. I was working as a bank teller in Baltimore. I just started that job and then I made it to American Idol, so I had to leave that job.

So right now you’re back in Flint if you had to say where you live right now.

No. It would be either Houston or California.

If you had a do-over on any song or performance during the show, what would it be?

Last night's performance.

The one from Tuesday?

I'm sorry. From Tuesday.

Which one, the first song or the second?


What is it you would have changed about it?

The songs. I wouldn't have sung either one of them.

You mentioned last night in the clip package that they had, the going away video, you said, "Everyone has a story," and you teared up when you said that. What were you alluding to?

Everyone has a story, but nobody knows mine like I know.

When are we going to hear that story?

I don't know, maybe a movie or something.

I'd be interested in having you critique yourself as a performer. You obviously have learned a great deal from being on the show. What do you think are your strong points as a singer and what do you think are some growth areas for you?

Being on a show like that, I've never, never had to sing those different genres of music, so that was a challenge for him. Definitely. I don't know, would I try out for American Idol again, I probably would. I came into it for one reason and one reason only, and that was to have a better life, so hopefully I have achieved that.

Technically do you think you need to do better at song selection, better at breath control and phrasing. Do you think that you are particularly good at this thing or that?

I need to work on my breath control. Phrasing, I think I have that. But breath control would definitely be something I would need to work on and, also, probably song selection.

Have you been contacted – somebody had said you’ve been contacted by agents.

I have not heard from anybody.

So no recording contract and no Broadway people?

Not yet.

When you go on the Idol tour, how will you handle the baby-sitting duties for your daughter?

The tour is this summer and my mom is a schoolteacher.

So she'll be there to help out.


Will it be back to the bank, or will you pursue a music career? I’m just interested in what you have planned next.

After the tour, I just plan on singing. Hopefully, great opportunities come my way.

What's the first thing that you're going to buy to splash out on with the money you make?

A new home for me and my daughter. I don't ever want to rent again. I want to have a home. It don't even have to have anything in it. I just can't wait to get the keys and open the door and let my baby run through the house.

Did you get to meet the Fantastic Four last night after the show?

No, I did not. I had interviews and stuff to do and I didn't get to meet them, but I'm going to see the movie, though, definitely.

Did you see Barry Gibb fall over?


Was he okay afterwards?

Yes. [An Internet search uncovered a newspaper report that said "some staffer tripped Barry Gibb and he totally fell on his face during the break after his performance. I thought the women in front of us who loved him were going to go into hysterics, especially considering it took him awhile to get back up. But he was fine and gave us a bow and we all cheered for him."]

I think you said earlier in the interview that you like to do that one big song, and you like the genres, and that you do the one big song.

No. I didn't say that.


I said everybody looks forward to me doing the big songs, and when you're given those types of genres of music, it doesn't necessarily have those types of songs in country or rock. Do you know what I mean?

Right. But I noticed that you do like to do the big songs.

I’m a ballad singer. I love ballads.

Did you ever think that you wanted to do, like how Simon was telling Melinda, he just wants to see her do something like really crazy. Did you ever think about something like that?

I like to be me.

Was there anything that you wanted to experiment with?

Not necessarily.

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