Posts Tagged Tim Urban

Idol Thoughts — 05.11.10

I’m surprised by this. But as a theme week on American Idol, “movie songs” doesn’t hold up very well for me.

Sure, it’s a way to put some limits on what song the contestants sing. But genre-wise, movie songs can be every and any genre. So musically, it really isn’t a “theme” at all.

On top of that, I never feel any connection between the performance on the Idol stage to the films the songs are from. Maybe they could show some footage from the movie on the screen behind the singers as they perform? Just thinking out loud. I’m sure that costs money Idol producers would rather not spend.

For that matter, it’d be somewhat dubious to resurrect some of last night’s movies. Helping a giant killer whale find freedom? The second worst Batman movie? A 40-year old AFI Top 100 classic–that 80% of Idol‘s audience has never seen?

Jamie Foxx returned last night. With success in both the films and music, you couldn’t book a guest mentor that makes more sense. Even so, there was a tinge of “been there, done that” seeing that Foxx was on just last season. Foxx got in the finalists faces (literally) and pushed them to be “artists,” not “contestants,” even bestowing tee shirts to the singers with those words on them at the end of his time with them. Big Mike seemed a little put off when Foxx tried to hand him the “contestant” tee. Mike said no, he wouldn’t take it. Foxx didn’t argue. Hey, it’s “Big” Mike…probably wasn’t the right size, anyway!

In addition, the duets were back last night. To save the night, I should say. They turned out to be the highlights. I guess I’m not surprised. On a season where there’s been a shortage of personality, there’s a better chance of getting some when you double these finalists up. Here’s everything ranked, individual and duet performances all together:

1) Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox – “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (from the film Once) – Probably my favorite performance of the entire season. This really worked. Lee and Crystal sang as if something really mattered. Not that they don’t on their own. They do. But the passion was stronger here than ever before. I’ve always felt the best duets allow the individuals to spotlight their vocal strengths while finding some shared, harmonic area. Lee and Crystal nailed that. They made a strong argument for a Lee-Crystal finale.

2) Casey James and Michael Lynche – “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” by Bryan Adams (from the film Don Juan DeMarco) – Another solid duet with some tight harmonies and skillful guitar-work from Casey. Although after singing the opening verse, it seemed to me Casey became Mike’s back-up singer; Casey sounded lower in the vocal mix. That said, “Big Mike” was clearly better suited vocally for the song. And Mike made the most of it, getting more mileage out of his singing here than on his solo song.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins (from the film Caddyshack) – Hey, at least it wasn’t “Footloose.” Can you imagine someone doing that? I can. He name is Tim Urban, and he got voted off weeks ago. So, this was kind of a cheesy song choice for Crystal. I’m guessing Crystal loves the comedy goldmine that is Caddyshack (as should everybody!!). As such, Crystal probably has fonder thoughts about this song than are really deserved. On a night where the other finalists’ solo efforts came up short, Crystal made the most of this one, giving it an energetic, bluesy-rock, Janis Joplin vocal.

4) Casey James – “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (from the film The Graduate) – Oh, c’mon! You know Casey was talked into performing this song by someone behind-the-scenes, right? So the show could play up the whole “Kara DioGuardi is Mrs. Robinson” storyline. Hey, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But outside of that particular  storyline on AI9 (like in, you know, the real world), I’m not sure how Casey doing this song is relevant. At least that’s what I was saying as I was tapping my toes and diggin’ this sit-down, ukulele version. It all came together and worked.

5) Lee DeWyze – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal (from the film Batman Forever) – This is a complicated song to sing. If you don’t believe me, you try and sing it! The vocal range needed is huge. Bigger than what Lee has. So he did what he could. I happen to love his voice. So I enjoy even a lesser Lee performance. This was a lesser Lee performance. Good thing for Lee he had the duet tonight.

6) Michael Lynche – “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (from the film Free Willy) – My problem with Big Mike is this. He usually sounds good. Just fine. Nothing really wrong. And yet, I’m just not excited by it. Ever. Well, maybe not ever; “Woman’s Work” was great. So my problem with Big Mike seems to be…I’m not a fan. And it’s beginning to look like that’s not gonna happen. But there’s absolutely nothing about what he’s doing that offends my musical senses. Odd moment: we learned that Big Mike’s goal is to make the Top 3. Really? Not…to win this?

Here’s some predictions. Yep, I continue to make them, even after three consecutive misses! Hey, Shaq doesn’t stop shooting free throws, does he? The Bottom Two tonight seems clear: Casey James and Michael Lynche. Not making the Top 3: Michael Lynche.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 04.21.10

When America gets it right and I get it wrong…well, it’s hard to be upset about that. The man they call “Teflon Tim,” Tim Urban, was eliminated during last night’s Idol Gives Back charity event.

My own rankings had Tim at the bottom almost every week on American Idol this season–including this week. Even so, I felt his Teflon-mojo would slide him through another week.

Why Tim got the ax last night, during a stretch where’s he’s been improving, instead of weeks ago when his performances were especially weak, will have to go down as one of those Idol “Unsolved Mysteries.”

The other big story last night was the appearance of Casey James in the Bottom Two. I wrote about this yesterday, saying Casey would take a big hit with Idol voters. I happen to dig the blues-rock that Casey’s been churning out week after week. He’s consistently good, and his performances generally go on my iPod the next morning.

But in the Idol-verse, here’s the problem. Casey’s song choices look lazy and repetitive–like he’s not progressing. Never mind that what that what he’s doing he’s doing very well. Viewers (and the judges, from the feedback they’re giving) want to see other “layers.” The solution: do some more ballads, like his recent heartfelt “Jealous Guy,” or take a page from the David Cook playbook and surprise us by re-inventing a well-known song. Casey’s needs to show some other sides. Or else the opportunity to be in the Top 5, which I feel he deserves, will slip through his guitar-virtuoso fingers.

Other than that, a tip of the hat for bringing back Idol Gives Back. With the show being a cultural phenomenon, American Idol is in a unique position to really raise awareness (and money) on the issues of children in poverty, world hunger and malaria. It’s the kinda thing only Idol could pull off on this scale. And it’s cool that they choose to do it.

That said, might I suggest that the time to alert viewers that the broadcast will run over-time would be the night before, not an hour into the night of. Grrrr. That’s two nights this week I’ve had to go hunting on the web for the material my DVR didn’t record because Idol went too long.

Or maybe that’s their revenge on us for skipping through the commercials. Hmmm. Topic for a future blog, perhaps.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 04.20.10

Seems like Songs of Inspiration Week would be the perfect time for the Top 7 to step things up on American Idol. Well, with only a couple exceptions, there wasn’t much “climbing the highest mountain, swimming the deepest ocean” going on last night.

Inspired was the choice in mentors, though. Alicia Keys! A true artist assisting on the season with the largest number of finalists who seem to know “who they are” as artists.

Here are last night’s performances ranked:

1) Crystal Bowersox – “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield – So, why was this the standout performance of the night? Was it because Crystal broke into tears at the end of the song (photo)? No. But that doesn’t hurt her cause. Crystal’s kept her emotions under wraps all season. So much, you have to wonder if Idol voters believe Crystal even wants to win. When the report came out this week that Crystal almost quit the show a couple weeks ago, I’m thinking most Idol fans said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” Never has there been a front-runner who seems so reluctant. A sign that all this matters is what the audience wants to see from Crystal. So the tears last night were a good thing. So was losing the guitar. The instruments, whether it’s her frequent acoustic guitar or the piano a couple weeks ago, have unintentionally been another barrier between Crystal and the audience. And looking ahead to the finale, where she’d be performing three songs, Crystal’s going to need to mix things up (maybe a song on guitar, another on piano, the other as front-woman sans instrument). So it was a big night for “Mama Sox.” But why was it the standout? Because it sounded the best. An effortless greatness that also was the most inspirational.

2) Lee DeWyze – “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkle – This was something special. Lee continues to make inspired song choices. One of his best performances this season. And as my girlfriend said last night, Lee is “getting cuter and cuter.” I suspect that means the Idol stylists are doing their jobs, the makeover tweaks preparing Lee for a possible finale showdown with Crystal. But I’m not saying that’s a done deal. A big part in determining who makes the finals is popularity (naturally). There’s five weeks of competition between now and then. Still time for others up their games, make fans, and earn votes.

3) Casey James – “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac – I think Casey’s gonna take a hit this week with Idol fans. Yes, Casey critics, I agree with you. We’ve heard the song Casey did last night several times this season. Yeah, the song has a different name. But it’s basically the same song, right? Well here’s the deal. Casey was full of energy and joy and sounded great (again) last night. Sure it was another missed opportunity. Casey would benefit from another ballad moment like his “Jealous Guy.” And Inspiration Week would be an obvious time to pull that off. But despite its not being what we were hoping for, Casey’s “Don’t Stop” simply out-shined the four less-inspired efforts listed below.

4) Aaron Kelly – “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly – Looks like Aaron Kelly has a new strategy: sing songs by artists with “Kelly” in their names. Next week, some Kelly Clarkson? I say this song with too big for Aaron’s voice, and another in an increasing long list of “hacky” song choices. But Aaron still has a voice I like listening to. He’s going to sound great in the studio. Not crazy great last night. But on a night with few home runs, this effort put him solidly in the middle of the pack.

5) Michael Lynche – “Hero” by Chad Kroger featuring Josey Scott – When they said Big Mike was singing “Hero,” I was like, “Which one?” There’s, like, 50 songs called “Hero.” So, it was the Spider-Man song.  I’m cool with that. Simon Cowell wasn’t. But c’mon, Simon. What’s more inspiring than Spider-Man? And in those months after 9/11, I remember our audience really responding to this song when we played it on the radio. Anyway, Big Mike’s version was just OK. From the way it started, I thought he might take it in a “Seal” direction. Maybe “Kiss From A Rose” the song up. I think Mike should’ve done exactly that, instead of retaining the original’s rock structure. To my ears, Mike didn’t have the fullness of voice to pull it off. But I am impressed that Big Mike has a “playbook,” a list of songs he’s been keeping in case he ever made it to Idol. That shows a desire to win that we haven’t been seeing from front-runner like, well, Crystal.

6) Siobhan Magnus – “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey – Gotta give Siobhan props for guts. Idol contestants don’t usually do well singing Whitney songs. Or Mariah songs. Siobhan did the one that’s by both! Here’s the best way I can explain what Siobhan’s problem is: during her song last night, she hit an especially bad note, then immediately followed that with one of her best. That inconsistency and unevenness sums it up. Siobhan has a big voice. But the way she uses it isn’t always pleasing to the ears. Sometimes I love what I’m hearing. Other times not. And lately, it’s been both of those in the same song. Ultimately, I can’t put half-satisfying performances on my iPod. Siobhan has got to put it all together.

7) Tim Urban – “Better Days” by the Goo Goo Dolls – This was a step backwards for Tim, who’s still striving for believability and credibility. To be fair, it was a step down from his performances the last couple weeks, still a step up from his early season efforts. Tim had trouble staying on-key last night. And the song was a little larger than what he bought to it. I’d say Tim should stick with the intimate ballad interpretations he’s had the most success with, like last week’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

So, how will things go down tonight? It’s a week ripe for surprises. Before I pick a Bottom Three, let me say who won’t be in it and why. Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze, because, well, duh! Also Siobhan Magnus and Tim Urban. Their fans have bought tickets to ride their respective trains. Those people are now “invested” in Siobhan and Tim, regardless of their weekly performances. And the numbers of those fans are big.

So, here’s what I’m feeling. In the Bottom Three: Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche and…Casey James. Casey gets sent to safety. And between Big Mike and Little Aaron, Michael Lynche gets the ax.

Where’s Spider-Man when you need him?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 04.13.10

Tim Urban had the best performance of the night? Yes. And also in today’s blog, up is down, right is the new wrong, and we’re now encouraged to mix stripes and plaids.

It was Elvis Night on American Idol, and the contestants went last night where, well, Idol has gone several times before. Last season’s runner-up, Adam Lambert, was on hand, the first former AI contestant to mentor the finalists. Acknowledging to the contestants that he’s at the beginning of his own recording career, Lambert mainly focused on encouraging the contestants to make their performances more interesting both vocally and visually.

The case can made that Elvis Presley was America’s first idol. He was part rocker and part crooner, part rebel and part choir boy. Musically, there were a lot of flavors in the Elvis catalog to choose from–a little something for everyone. As usual, the finalists’ choices ranged from inspired to hackneyed.

Last  night’s performances ranked:

1) Tim Urban – “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Yep. Tim’s breathy and tender acoustic take on this classic wasn’t perfect. But it was the performance most people will remember from last night. Tim’s tweaks were spot-on and he made the song feel “new.” Anyone who reads my stuff knows I haven’t been drinking the Tim Urban Kool-Aid. I’ve been pretty critical. That’s because I call it as I see it. Last night, what I saw was a guy with the most memorable and satisfying performance.

2) Lee DeWyze – “A Little Less Conversation” – I can’t help but say that I’ve always blamed this song for sending Chris Daughtry home prematurely because he performed this song that ill-fated week. Of course, Daughtry tried to play it straight up Elvis-style. Lee made it his own, giving one of his strongest, most confident performances.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “Saved” – Leave it to Crystal to stump me with her song choice. I thought I had a pretty good overview on Elvis tunes. But Crystal strayed from the hits most people have heard, and dove into his Gospel catalog for this one. It was something different and authentic from the woman who’s known for that. (Known for being different? That sorta makes anything “different” not different, yes?)

4) Michael Lynche – “In The Ghetto” – You had to think that this would work even before you watched him do it. And, it did. Nice, acoustic-driven interpretation of this classic, validating the judges decision to “save” Big Mike last week. Hey, maybe Crystal should’ve let Michael sing “Saved”!

5) Casey James – “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” – Another good vocal. But a missed opportunity. Felt similar to the blues rock he’s churned out in the past. This is one of those times I wish I could pick a song for a finalist. I would’ve suggested Casey do “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road,” a lesser-known Elvis nugget that Casey could’ve owned. But “Lawdy” was not interesting enough to make my iPod this week. I make a point to say that only because Casey performances the last two weeks have been showing up in shuffle.

6) Siobhan Magnus – “Suspicious Minds” – Loved her look again. Never a good thing when I mention looks before vocals. This was really two performances. The first half of the song stayed true to the original. It was okay, but she looked uncomfortable playing it straight. On a second listen, I realized I originally liked that part mainly because I love Elvis version. The second half of Siobhan’s split-personality performance had her slowing it down and pushing herself to some of those vocal histrionics we’ve heard in past weeks. This half actually worked better. But here’s the deal on Siobhan lately. She’s like a boxer who swings wildly and repeatedly, whose punches aren’t connecting.

7) Aaron Kelly – “Blue Suede Shoes” – Difficult week to be Aaron. He’s done so many ballads lately, he kinda had to go upbeat this week. But an Elvis ballad would’ve been the better choice (just ask Tim Urban). Aaron looked to me like he was in his high school’s production of “Grease.” And Aaron was shooting for Danny Zuko. But came up Kenickie.

8 ) Katie Stevens – “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” – After last week’s top-notch “Let It Be,” this uptempo, lesser-known Elvis song was the fall of the week. As a performer, Katie generally feels a little contrived–like every move had been carefully thought of in advance. I actually prefer her on the ballads, in part because she stays put. Overall, she hit some bad notes last night, and sounded to my ears a little weak-voiced.

9) Andrew Garcia – “Hound Dog” – Awful vocal. Horrible performance. I tried to listen a second time to verify my original reaction, and couldn’t even re-watch the whole thing. “You ain’t nothin’ but a…goin’ home tonight!”

So, thanks to “The Save” last week, tonight two will be packing their bags. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a complication–a “wildcard”–when it comes to predicting what’s going to happen. Predicting the one who’s the most likely to go is pretty easy (did it…see above). But that other is the harder one to nail.

Here what I’m feeling. The Bottom Three will be: Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens, and Andrew Garcia. And heading off to Heartbreak Hotel: Katie Stevens, and Andrew Garcia.

Whatcha think about that?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 04.07.10

So, the will of the voters was overturned by a group of judges, who changed the outcome to one more to their liking. But, hey, enough about the 2000 election (ba-dum-CHING!).

When it comes to our American Idol, we actually look forward to this moment. I think the reason is this: anybody who’s watched more than a couple episodes has recognized that…sometimes “America gets it wrong.” So starting last season, the show instituted “The Judges’ Save” to right one (and just one) of these wrongs. It can only be used once, and only between the Top 12 and Top 5 episodes.

Last night, the judges saved Michael Lynche (“Big Mike”). It was unanimous. And it was the right thing to do.

Let’s face it. Looking at the Top 9, Big Mike is hardly a ninth-place finisher. This was probably the moment to use the save. In the coming weeks, it’s unlikely a bigger, more glaring injustice will happen. Of course, if it does…tough beans. But clearly the judges wouldn’t have used their one and only save to keep Tim Urban around. Based on his inconsistency, I don’t believe they would’ve saved Andrew Garcia (who was in the Bottom Two last night). Or even Aaron Kelly (Bottom Three last night), if he goes home in the next few weeks.

The Save is for eliminations that just don’t feel “right.” The judges must feel pretty confident that Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, Siobhan Magnus and Casey James will make the Top 5. So last night made sense. It was great TV, too. Big Mike singing almost heroically for his save, with plenty of cutaways to his wife in the audience streaming tears down her face, as he repeated his best performance to date, “This Woman’s Work.”

So next week will be a double-elimination. That’s the “hangover” to last night’s good times. Two people will go home. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects Tim Urban, who avoided the Bottom Three altogether last night, but who manages to “Brer Rabbit” himself out of the Bottom Two most weeks. If he lands there next week, it’s over.

Thoughts?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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04.06.10 — Idol Thoughts

With 25 percent of the Top 12 gone, you’d think they could’ve taken care of business on American Idol last night in just 90 minutes. But nope. Two hours again.

I can’t help but notice they’ve been trying a bunch of new things on Idol this season. Kicking off the show last night from the control room. The backstage interviews with the contestant that just performed when the show returns from commercials. And a more casual exchange between Ryan Seacrest and the judges.

I welcome these tweaks. The show does feel looser and a little fresher. This is not a bad thing, considering the show’s nearing its tenth year. But these changes gave us a lot of filler last night. The guy whose been yelling loud from the audience all night? You’re bringing him up on stage and we get to see him? Oh, lucky us!!

So the theme was the Lennon/McCartney Songbook. The beauty of a night like this is the songs themselves. They’re some of the greatest written in the rock era. Beatles songs…at the very least, if you simply sing them as written, you have a decent chance of coming off good.

So, how did the Top 9 do? Here are my rankings of the performances:

1) Casey James – “Jealous Guy” – There’s always talk on Idol about having “a moment.” This was Casey’s. He connected with this John Lennon solo song in a way that was unmatched last night. Dressed in a white Bee Gees suit and black shirt, on acoustic guitar and accompanied by cello, Casey reached deep inside and brought out something believable and transcendent. Kudos on being the only contestant to pick a song from Lennon or McCartney’s solo material.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Come Together” – Crystal operates on a whole ‘nother level. Her vocals are so strong, which was evident again last night. This time around, she seemed more infused with energy and had a little more fun then usual, accompanied by a guy on the didgeridoo.

3) Katie Stevens – “Let It Be” – Yes. Katie Stevens. That’s right, the same Katie Stevens that’s been in the Bottom Three the last couple weeks. She sounded great last night. Of course, the song was “Let It Be,” and she wisely stayed true to the original, while offering just the right amount of her own vocal stamp. Her best. So far.

4) Siobhan Magnus – “Across The Universe” – It’s a compliment to Siobhan that…I wanted to like this a little more than I did. She’s set the bar high for herself, with some of her previous performances and her personal style, and now I expect a lot from her. I think she made a good move restraining herself last night. No big scream. Yikes. That would’ve been a disaster on this quiet and beautiful song–which I like a little better each time I hear it. I’m looking forward to next week when Siobhan meets Adam Lambert, who’s mentoring. The rest of this season’s very “earnest” cast of contestants could learn something about “pizazz” from these two.

5) Lee DeWyze – “Hey Jude” – Wow. For me, this was a step backwards for Lee. I’m a fan. But this came off as a little corny. And ironically, not because of the bagpipes. Lee took some heat from the judges for that. But that was the best thing about it! It’s interesting. Lee’s needed to come out of his shell. And last night he did. But once out, you have to know where you’re going. And I just didn’t but into the whole “sing-along” vibe he was putting out. I wish Lee had pulled a Casey James, and looked at the solo material. I think Lee could’ve slayed with something like Paul McCartney‘s “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

6) Andrew Garcia – “Can’t Buy Me Love” –  Simon called this performance “not relevant.” Maybe. But I’d rather listen to this one again then the ones listed below. And that’s why I’ve ranked Andrew’s swing take on this Beatles uptempo pop song here.

7) Micheal Lynche – Eleanor Rigby – So “Big Mike” made the boldest changes of the night to a song. I wasn’t a fan of this arrangement. But kudos on the commitment he made to it. And there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the vocal. It was what it was.

8 ) Tim Urban – “All My Loving” – Tim’s not going down without a fight. He changed up the song a little, and crooned his way through this. I think the song lost a little energy with the alterations; Tim could’ve probably performed this one as written–and better achieved his goal of “having fun.” The sneaky thing that happened last night is the judges all found ways to praise Tim. I can guarantee this is no accident. As he smiles through each flogging he gets from the panel, Tim has  become more and more of a martyr with voters. So now the judges are taking away the abuse. The idea being Tim will have to live or die on the merits of his performances. We’ll see how this plays out.

9) Aaron Kelly – “The Long And Winding Road” – It saddens me to list Aaron way down here. His is still one of my fave voices. But song choice, song choice, song choice! This was a bad idea. The arrangement was old-fashioned. I’m guessing it was old-fashioned even back when it first came out. His vocals didn’t carry the song. And again, thematically, a young guy singing about a long and winding road simply isn’t believable–nor true to his life experience. If I’d have been consulted, I would have steered Aaron in the direction of the Paul McCartney solo catalog.

This week’s a tough one to call. Nobody really screwed up last night. I say there’s four guys (yes, guys) who could land in the Bottom Three. In any normal universe, Tim Urban would be going home this week. But this is the Idol-verse. So here’s my prediction. The Bottom Three will be Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche and Tim Urban. Tim gets sent to safety. And between Little Aaron and Big Mike, Michael Lynche goes home.

What do you think?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 03.31.10

It’s definitely getting harder for DVR freaks like me to speed past the commercials on American Idol. In between ads disguised as part of the show for Clash of the Titans, and Ford, we did actually get some results last night.

Didi Benami was “ushered” home, and now seeks an answer to the very question she sang Tuesday night: What becomes of the brokenhearted?

Well, for starters, there’s the Idol concert tour. Didi will be part of that. But traditionally, tenth-place finishers don’t go on to massive recording careers.

Hey, sometimes Idol winners have trouble selling albums. Enter Ruben Studdard, who performed early in the show last night, a new song called “Don’t Make ‘Em Like You No More.” While Ruben, Season 2’s champ, is far from Idol‘s most successful victor, he’s not it’s least, either. Taylor Hicks, ears burning? Ruben’s song was clearly designed for the Urban AC (Adult Contemporary) radio format. And while I’m not rushing to iTunes to download it today, it seemed to be a respectful effort for his audience. And kudos on the whole health thing. “The Velvet Teddy Bear” has shed some pounds and gone vegan.

There was also news last night of an upcoming concert tour featuring Ruben and and Season 2’s runner-up Clay Aiken. Ummm…good times, great oldies?

Also on the bill last night was this week’s mentor, Usher, who performed (a little out-of-breath) “OMG” with will.i.am. And joining the festivities later was Diddy, who was simultaneously humble, gracious, over-the-top and a great salesman, with his new thing (group? project?), Diddy Dirty Money. Backed by a couple female singers, and a huge crew of dancers, everybody dressed in white and surrounded by smoke, they did a song called “Hello (Good Morning)” and America went looking for their pagers, blurted out “Waassssuuuup” and enjoyed a collective 90s flashback.

As for the Bottom Three, that went as I suggested yesterday: Katie Stevens, Tim Urban and Didi Benami. Katie being sent to safety. And between Tim and Didi, Tim dodging yet another bullet, and Didi Benami going home.

Tim’s got a little Diddy in him–the salesman part. Or maybe he’s more politician. They keep asking Tim, a seeming “resident” of the  Bottom Two, why he always smiles. Same reason any person running for office who’s 30 points behind in the polls smiles to their followers: to inspire some confidence, to make people feel they’re not wasting their vote, and to make they feel they’re part of something.

Well, during Idol, there’s always another election coming. And it’s less than a week away. Thoughts today?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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