Archive for the 'ruben studdard' Category

Final 3: Results

Quick and dirty tonight. The Idolettes are singing “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” which I think is what Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken sang to each other during the Season 2 finale, no? Syesha Mercado is wearing an ensemble from the “Eh, Fuck It” collection: A simple white tank top, jeans, and white sneakers. Even her hair is less sassy. She milks her solo parts for all they’re worth, though.

Recap! David Archuleta with his omnipresent outstretched Hand Across America; Syesha “standing there at number three in the competition,” in the prescient and disheartening words of Randy Jackson; David Cook doing a generally awesome job with Robert Flack. Round Two gave us Archuleta massacring Chris Brown, Syesha busting out one of those runway-only bejeweled Victoria’s Secret nighties; Cook being kind of off-key. Round three: Archuleta back in his wheelhouse with Fogelberg; Syesha being thrown off a cliff by Nigel Lythgoe; David Cook getting a full orchestra to back him up on that song about asteroids and love.

Fantasia is here, along with Manic Panic hair and a trio of gam-alicious back-up singers, to sing something, I don’t really know what. She rocks the place with her unabounded joy and passion and screaming, but the most she can wrangle out of Syesha is polite golf clapping. Heh. Back to Fantasia gyrating. This is a woman who ain’t concerned with pretty, and depending on where you fall, that’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing. Some random rapper (probably someone very famous whom I should recognize, were I up on my pop culture as a good little pop culture blogger should be) joins in. he backbeat on this song sounds kind of like M.I.A.’s “Boyz,” which equals instantaneous awesome. There’s a cut to Simon, who has the most dumbfounded expression on his face. Fanty is working on an album and is preparing to tour.

The Jordin Sparks stamp is available for purchase. What, you don’t care? Neither do I.

Ryan brings Archuleta out first, which is how you know he is safe. Oh, Lord, I forgot — this is the night of those insipid hometown visits. In his video, David tells us that he is “stoked and pumped,” but fails to mention “emotionally stunted.” David’s homecoming is attended almost exclusively by middle-school girls, just like you knew it would be. It’s hilarious. He cries, which is touching — to have huge crowds of people come out and support you? That has to be one of the most awesome feelings in the world for a performer. David’s adorable mom and crazy dad travel to his high school with him, where the mayor/stock evil villain declares it David Archuleta Day (or maybe he doesn’t; I’m actually just kind of assuming that happened). Ryan not at all ironically reminds David that’s okay to show human emotion in front of the masses. We run down the performances again, and Ryan asks David what his biggest obstacle was. David does not say “learning to make decisions on my own ever since Daddy was banned from the rehearsal room.” David’s Bad Day/Home/ montage is shown (those damn dolphins!), just in case he doesn’t make it to the finale.

For her hometown visit, Syesha was ferreted back to Sarasota, Florida. And oh look, there’s that annoying guy from Tampa Bay Fox 13 who gives me a splitting headache after each week’s Idol broadcast. Syesha storms through the streets of Sarasota. Cops tell some lady to keep her filthy paws off Syesha. A county commissioner declares it Syesha Mercado Day, and Syesha too is overcome with tears. Her parents seem like nice, humble folks; how they managed to raise such a full-of-BS daughter I don’t know, but hey, maybe her affectation is limited to the stage and she’s a really awesome girl in real life. High school, helicopter rides, natural hair, a crappy performance of “Proud Mary” on a crappy audio system. In the back of her limo, she bawls like crazy, telling us that this is her dream and she’s living it. It’s very, very touching. Syesha, honey, when you speak honestly like that, it’s incredibly refreshing. You don’t need the fakety-fake smiles, the political pandering, the shimmy shimmy shakes — you don’t need all that crap. Just be yourself. Syesha refuses to say that Paula was too hard on her, but Simon says it for her. We get Syesha’s reel, and they flashback to her “Imagine” performance and that gorgeous green BCBG dress (side note — I tried that very dress on today, and it looked sensational, but alas, I didn’t have $400 to plunk down on it).

David Cook came to support his little brother, but producers apparently forced him to audition, which is really weird. The brother comes onstage, looks really uncomfortable, and sits back down again. Hometown time — David Cook also gets a huge reception. At least everyone’s turnout was pretty equal this time; I don’t seem to remember Melinda inspiring that big of a crowd last year, and we don’t even really need to mention a certain L.A. competitor’s pathetic turnout. Cook is the third Idolette to tear up, although they are Manly Tears. The judges have nothing new to add during the recap. Oh, I’d forgotten that David had some obnoxious colors going on in his hair when he first started this whole dog-and-pony show.

And now, the completely unsurprising results. Paula tells the three that “the world will remember every single one of them,” which is a lie. Simon says that he likes the three contestants, and that if he gets the final he’s hoping for, the finale will be “a real hum-dinger.” Okay, when did Simon Cowell become my dad? Anyway. The final two are: David Archuleta (ugh) (and Dadchuleta, you can stop acting like this is all about you any time now) and David Cook. Cook looks numb. Syesha, to her credit, is still smiling, and instead of trying to sound like a Foreign Affairs editor, gives us a simple “thank you.” Aw, Syesha. Sometimes I really liked you, sometimes I hated your bland affectations, but I think we can all agree that you got one hell of a raw deal last night. I look forward to seeing you claw your way to the top, and I wouldn’t object one iota if you managed to take out McPhee along the way.

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Clean sweep.

Despite my long and comfy hibernation, I felt compelled to author a post after the recent spate of Idols parting ways with the Sony/BMG behemoth. Unless you’ve been hibernating right along with me (and if you have, I tend to kick when I’m dreaming, so I’m sorry about that), you know that Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, and Katharine McPhee are no longer footsoldiers in the Dark Lord Clive Davis’s empire.

The Studdard news is hardly new; he and J Records haven’t been working together since May of 2007. The Hicks and McPhee news comes as more of a…well, not necessarily a shock, but at least it’s fresher. To date, Hicks has sold 699,000 copies of his self-titled work, while McPhee has moved 366,000 copies of her also-eponymous debut.

While the media reports regarding Hicks’s and McPhee’s statuses differ in their headlines, billing their departure from J Records as a mutual split, a parting of the ways, or a one-sided kick to the curb, here is what the actual suits have to say. Regarding Studdard:

The exec noted that Studdard put out three albums, “but there comes a time when we have to recognize the market for adult-oriented albums is tough. We allowed him to be a free agent, to make the record he wanted to make.

And with regard to Hicks:

“The same thing with Taylor Hicks (above, left). We didn’t want to shove any songs down his throat. We wanted to make an album in the style he was comfortable with. We mutually agreed that he’d work on an album [on his own], we’d listen, and we’d see where we go from there. There’s no acrimony.”

It sounds like at least Hicks, and possibly Studdard, still has some kind of deal with Sony, wherein Hicks will be recording his next CD on his own (and likely without any financial support from the label), but if J likes what they hear, they’ll have an opportunity (probably the right of first refusal) to distribute the album. Depending on where you fall on the coin of Hicks, this is either good news or terrible news. If all you care about is Taylor putting out a good album (perhaps something more along the lines of his earlier indie releases), then you’re probably raising a glass of champagne and toasting this recent news. If, on the other hand, your dream for Hicks was for him to obtain million-mark sales and the fawning approval of the blogosphere, start rending your garments: Unless a new Hicks album spawns Daughtry-like sales, he’ll likely remain a popular punching bag.

Perhaps more interesting is the exec’s commentary regarding McPhee:

We put millions behind Katharine. Many of us at the label still love her songs. But we’re in the major leagues. We didn’t think she could break into the mainstream. We would rather be honest. (McPhee is talking with another label and is due to star in the movie “I Know What Boys Like.”)

I’m a little confused by this — why would a record label spend millions on an artist that they never thought could have top sales in the first place? — but it’s interesting to note that there is no mention of McPhee having the same right of first refusal deal that it looks like Taylor got. Whether this was simply an oversight in the interview I don’t know, but I will have to say that even though I am not a fan of Ms. McPhee, her record label is extraordinarily stupid if they don’t have a similar arrangement with her. The girl does have a small spate of movies coming out (even if her oft-hyped “starring role” in the abovementioned Anna Faris comedy is reportedly only a small part with minimal speaking and her other “starring role” was handed to her by her boyfriend/fiancee, who also happens to be the film’s producer). On the off-chance (or on-chance, if she really can act) that McPhee becomes a box office darling, why in the world would RCA want to cut its ties with her? Wouldn’t they want to keep her contractually bound? Then again, it’s possible that RCA could always rerelease Katharine McPhee if her movies pick up steam and see if the album gains similar momentum.

It’s also worth noting that some of McPhee’s fans grumble that RCA never invested anything into her album and that she was never truly given a chance to take the market by storm. I don’t know who was pumping the money into McPhee’s coffers, but given that she did have a hit single (“Over It”), two videos (one of which did very well on rotation), a major endorsement deal (Big Sexy Hair), an almost endless stream of obnoxiously open-mouthed magazine covers (including Lucky and Shape), several fashion spreads (including Cosmopolitan, OK!, and In Style magazines), a weeklong hosting gig on TRL, and very in-demand producers like Ryan Leslie and Danjahands (who don’t come cheap) behind her, I’m hard-pressed to say that her album sales (which, really, weren’t all that terrible for a first-timer) were the result of lack of promotion. Again, whether she was financed and pushed by RCA or her management company, I don’t know, but it’s not as though you had to look hard to find her face.

I’m curious to see what the future holds for these three, though. Katharine, who I still maintain makes a better Madelaine Peyroux knockoff than a Fergie knockoff, probably has the best shot to keep her fifteen minutes going just on her looks alone. If she can add a truly good musical or acting performance to her physical appearance, she might have some legs in the industry. Hicks, in my opinion, might want to consider collaborating with the artists who have always supported him (and who still played with him despite him bearing the nasty Idol stigma) — Keb’Mo’, Buddy Guy, Earth Wind & Fire, Warren Haynes, and Widespread Panic, just to name a few. While I’m a fan of Hicks, I think his songwriting needs to be polished, so collaborations can probably only help him. And Studdard seems to be taking different career roads already. Wherever they wind up, whatever levels of commercial success they obtain, and however they are labeled by the Internet, I wish them all — and their fans — good luck.


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What the kids are sayin’



"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."



"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."



"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "