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American Idol Season Finale, May 23 May 24, 2007

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Tuesday’s recap: Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis performed three songs apiece — their own personal favorite, one they hadn’t performed on the show and the winner of “Idol’s” first-ever song writing contest. It was called the most evenly-matched “Idol” finale to date.

Wednesday: What a cram-packed show it was! If you were one of the 160 million people watching, you know that after two hours of performance fillers, Jordin was named American Idol for season six.

The evening was filled with performances by the likes of Gwen Stefani, Green Day, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Joe Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, Barry B and Doug E. Fresh, Tony Bennett, BeBe and CiCi Winans, Carrie Underwood, Bette Middler, African Children’s Choir and the top 12 Idols from this season.

More than 3,000 people packed the Kodak Theater. Lots of famous faces and former “Idol” contestants could be spotted in crowd as well.

Although the show was so very long, there were enough commercial breaks to allow me to move around. Everyone wants to advertise on America’s No. 1 show, I guess. I wonder how much an advertising spot cost?

Ryan Seacrest presented three lucky — maybe I should say desperate — people with “Golden Idols” from the first round of auditions earlier in the season. I say desperate because they had to have agreed to come on the show to accept the awards, if that’s even the right word. The categories were Best Presentation, Most Original Vocal and Best Buddies.

Best presentation went to Margaret Fowler. You remember — the lady who dressed like a fowl in her yellow BIG Bird outfit. She kissed Ryan right on the lips Wednesday, knocking him to the ground. She is about three times his size, which really doesn’t say much.

Most original vocal went to Sholandric Stallworth. I didn’t remember him until I saw him. He sang with an extremely loud, but not nice, voice that really carries. Ryan asked him to sing without a mic on stage — and he did. The people in the rafters said they could hear him.

The Best Buddies award went to the odd couple of Jonathan and Kenneth. They were the two that met in line at an audition. One was pretty heavy, while the other was small. The smaller one had huge eyes, and Simon called him a Bush Baby. They showed a picture of a Bush Baby while he was on stage. It was not nice, but oh so funny.

The whole Golden Idols thing was one big exploitation, but, hey, they agreed to be subjected to it. Jonathan and Kenneth ate it up.

Clive Davis made an appearance, presenting Carrie Underwood with an award for selling her six millionth album, which is huge, being she just broke out last year. I could see dollar signs in his eyes as he spoke of the many Idols he has helped launch careers for. It’s unreal how much money this man is probably making off these talents.

Sweet, sweet Sanjaya. You know he was there, hair and all. They did a parody comparing him to great leaders and ground breakers like John F. Kennedy, Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. It was a joke, obviously. I really hope he gets it. But I really don’t think he does.

We’re laughing at you, Sanjaya, not with you.

He performed with Joe Perry. I felt sorry for Joe. First, he has to take second stage to Steven Tyler, now Sanjaya with his hair blowing in the fan? Poor guy. It’s OK, though — Joe Perry later got a chance to play his guitar with a real singer — Kelly Clarkson.

At the end, all the former “Idol” contestants performed a tribute to Sergeant Pepper, which was very cool.

Episode grade: B+

Final thoughts: Bring on season seven!

— Stalked by Stephanie Schell

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American Idol, May 22 May 23, 2007

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Last week: In a shocking turn of events, the odds-on favorite Melinda Doolittle was sent home after receiving the least amount of the 60 million votes cast.

Tuesday night: Correctly described by the judges as “The Great Singer versus The Great Performer,” Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis performed three songs apiece — their own personal favorite, one they hadn’t performed on the show, and the winner of “Idol’s” first-ever songwriting contest — in their last chance to win over viewers and become the next American Idol.

Round One

Blake singing, “You Give Love a Bad Name.” (Favorite previously performed)

Randy: Gave him a 10/10 for beat-boxing but thought the vocals were just “all right.”
Paula: Thought he outdid himself. Gave him a 10+ … or something.
Simon: Said he wasn’t the best singer in the competition but was the best performer.
My take: This was Blake’s best performance all season. Great version of the song, expertly executed.

Jordin with “Fighter.” (The song she hadn’t sang before)

Randy: Thought it was stellar.
Paula: Thought it was stellar. Seriously, she couldn’t come up with a different adjective from Randy’s.
Simon: Liked the song choice but thought the vocals were a bit shrieky. Gave Round one to Blake.
My take: Though she could’ve moved around a little bit, I really liked this performance. It had attitude.

Round Two

Blake doing “She will be loved” (Song never done before)

Randy: “Nice vocal.”
Paula: Most was unintelligible. I think somewhere she said, “sounded great.”
Simon: “A good, safe choice.”
My take: Ugh. That’s one of my favorite songs, and I thought Blake’s rendition was merely OK.

Jordin singing, “Broken Wing” (Favorite previously done)

Randy: “Flawless.”
Paula: said she was “soaring.”
Simon: “Now THAT was GOOD!”
My take: During country week, she nailed this song. Tonight, she topped the original recording.

Round Three

Both singers performed the winner of “Idol’s” songwriting contest, “This is My Now.”

Blake

Randy: thought it was “all right” but “not great.”
Paula: “Great job.”
Simon: Thought it was odd.
My take: I concur with Mr. Cowell. Blake was out of his comfort zone and didn’t make a lot of effort to adjust his style to the song. Sounded slightly off key.

Jordin

Randy: Said she was easily “the best singer tonight.”
Paula: Called her “an angel,” and then promptly exited the Kodak theater on her spaceship.
Simon: Apologized to Jordin. Last week, he thought she wasn’t good enough to be in the final. This week, he realized he was “way wrong.” He said she “wiped the floor with Blake.”
My take: Wow. Her performance gave me chills that I had not gotten since LaKakisha’s way early performance of “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going.” She was amazing.

The show closed with Chris Daughtry performing “Idol’s” exit anthem, “I’m Going Home.”

Episode grade: B+. A great showdown between two soon-to-be pop stars.

Prediction: Your American Idol is … Jordin Sparks.

— Stalked by Charlie Cox

American Idol, May 16 May 17, 2007

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Tuesday recap: The three remaining contestants sang three songs this time. They chose one, the judges chose one and the producers chose another for them. It was a great night for all of them. They each were deserving of their spot in the semi-finals, and put on a heck of a show.

Wednesday: Miss Doolittle’s time was up Wednesday night after 60 million votes were cast. By being the most consistent artist on the stage, she was repaid by getting sent home. She didn’t bat an eye, though. Don’t you cry for her, either. She will get snatched up so quick by a record company, it will make her head spin. She’s such a sweetie, and no one is more deserving of a contract.

They played recaps of the contestants’ home visits, and it was obvious they were overwhelmed. To be honest, the girls looked extremely overwhelmed. Blake looked like he was in his element completely. Jordin and Melinda both received their own day in their respective towns of Glendale, Ariz., and Nashville, Tenn. Melinda even had a street named after her in the city.

It was so in character for Melinda when she was performing her final song on the Idol stage. Blake and Jordin gave her flowers and, as she was singing, she gave them to the backup singers.

Elliott Yamin, a finalist from last season’s “Idol” performed. You remember Elliott, right? The crooked teeth, clean-cut hair, goofy grin. Well, forget everything you remember. He had the wild curly hair working, straightened teeth and a little flavor to his clothes. Maroon 5 also performed, which made my night.

I may not agree with the decision America made by sending Melinda home, but I understand it. I was perplexed at first, but I can see how it happened. She has nothing to worry about, though. Look at Jennifer Hudson. She was a third-place winner on “American Idol,” and now she’s an Oscar winner.

Episode grade: B. It was actually a pretty good results show for once.

Next time: Blake and Jordin go head-to-head for the title. I really have no clue who will take it now that Melinda is gone.

— Stalked by Stephanie Schell

American Idol, May 15 May 16, 2007

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Last week: After a massive 45 million votes, the once-favorite (mine, at least) LaKisha Jones was eliminated from the competition. At that point, she should’ve broken out into a performance of “I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” her first song as a finalist. Now that would’ve been awesome television!

Tuesday Night: The remaining trio, Blake Lewis, Melinda Doolittle, and Jordin Sparks (writer’s note: LOVE HER), performed three songs each. In the first round, the judges chose the songs for the contestants. Round two consisted of the producers’ choices. And finally, the performers were allowed to do a song of their own choice.

Round One

Jordin kicked things of with a solid rendition of “Wishing on a Star,” as chosen by Simon. Randy thought it was “a very good vocal.” Paula complimented Simon on a nice choice of song for Jordin, while Mr. Cowell, however, was not blown away. He thought Jordin sang it brilliantly but the arrangement was awful.

Sting, er, Blake performed the Paula-chosen “Roxanne,” which Randy thought was a great performance. He labeled it an “A.” Though I was in desperate need of a translator who spoke Abdul, I believe Paula called it fantastic and said Blake “did her proud.” Simon thought it was more of an impersonation than an original performance. “Good but not great,” said Simon. I concur.

For Melinda, Randy picked “I Believe in You and Me,” which was originally recorded by Whitney Houston. I had previously thought Houston material was strongly discouraged, but what do I know? Randy said he wanted to challenge her, and he labeled her performance as “HOT!” Paula called it fantastic. Simon thought she won the round hands down. I thought it was grand.

Round Two

The producers chose “She Works Hard for Her Money” for Jordin, a pick that surprised me. I thought it was an electric performance. Randy said it was “hot” (again). Paula called it fantastic (someone should buy the judges a thesaurus). Simon thought it was merely very good.

Blake went modern with “This Love,” which is a favorite of mine. Her turned in what I felt was another imitation, not that it’s necessarily a terrible thing. In fact, if you were to close your eyes, you would’ve thought Maroon 5 was performing. Randy thought Blake gave off a “good vibe.” I think Paula said he was “in his element,” but once again, she was speaking Abdul. Simon thought he was very comfortable with the material.

Melinda shed her shy girl image with “Nutbush City Limits,” which was a nice change, in my opinion. Randy called it “solid,” while Abdul blurted, “We love you!” Simon’s thoughts were more developed. He said she was simply brilliant.

Round Three

Jordin’s final song was one of my favorites from the night. She chose “I Who Have Nothing.” I adore Jordin and thought this was a great performance. Randy called it “her best of the night.” Paula said she sounded great. Simon, on the other had, wasn’t pleased. He thought the song was “too old” for Sparks.

Blake went with Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone.” Randy wasn’t ecstatic, calling it cool and just all right. Paula thought it was the cap of three great songs. Simon called Blake a “risk taker” and liked the performance a great deal. I didn’t. It didn’t really gel for me. I don’t know, I guess I’m just not a fan off excessive beat boxing. He needs to learn to do it in moderation. Seriously, I think this guy would beat box to Celine Dion if given the chance.

Melinda closed the night with a fun, alive performance of “I’m a Woman.” Randy praised her range. Paula loved that she’s finally enjoying the spotlight and called her fantastic (sheesh!). Simon said she should be in the finals next week.

Review: This edition was thankfully devoid of the tedious filler that I was growing to hate. The performances were among the better of the past few weeks, which is expected now that the competition is in its final stages. The banter between the judges and with Ryan Seacrest was top tier, with the host and Simon bickering four times, by my count. Funny also was that Cowell and Paula continued to act like silly teenagers, laughing at inside jokes and even fake making out at one point. Best of all, I never heard Randy refer to anyone as “dawg.” We’re making progress.

Overall, a superior episode.

Grade: A-.

Prediction: Though it physically ails me to type this, I think Jordin Sparks will be sent home tonight.

— Stalked by Charlie Cox

American Idol, May 9 May 10, 2007

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Tuesday’s recap: The fabulous four worked with seven-time Grammy winner, songwriter, producer and singer Barry Gibb. Each contestant was responsible for performing two different songs. It appeared to be a weak, and off, night for most of the contestants.

Ryan Seacrest made a good point Wednesday night on “American Idol” — it would really suck to get cut after making it to the top four. Well, sorry LaKisha, but it must suck for you. Not really, because every contestant to this stage so far is probably guaranteed a contract with some recording company somewhere.

After more than 45 million votes, LaKisha’s performances Tuesday night were the least favorite. She is truly a classy person. I’ve always thought that. She held her head high. I think she knew it was coming, though. She had become so lethargic, I think. She lost her spunk somewhere. Blake was on the chopping block as well. He received the second fewest amount of votes. He was nervous. I could see it in his eyes.

A couple of performers graced the stage Wednesday for the stretched out, hour-long results that took 30 seconds. You gotta love it. Pink sang her new hit “Who Knew.” She cut her hair off short again — like how she looked when she first broke onto the music scene. She looked great, and sounded great, too. I’ve always liked Pink.

Barry Gibb sang a bit as well. He performed “To Love Somebody.” He scared me at first, but then settled in and sounded OK.

Ryan announced that the Idol Tour has 50 shows scheduled so far. I hate to be the one to say this, but it will be refreshing to see the Top 10 back together. When the top four performed together Wednesday, they sounded good, but were so boring. It almost made me miss Haley Scarnato and Sanjaya Malakar.

Not really. But they do add a little something that people like. I can see it now.

Ryan also announced that the remaining three contestants get a chance to go home for a visit, which I’m sure is much needed. And “Idol” has started another contest. They now are looking for the best music group in America, and anything goes. Check out americanidol.com for details.

Episode grade: C

Next time: The semi-finals are next week. If they don’t turn it on and step it up now, they might as well start packing. Jordin Sparks is not playing, and she very well may be the one to beat.

— Stalked by Stephanie Schell

American Idol, May 8 May 9, 2007

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Tuesday on “American Idol”: The fabulous four worked with seven-time Grammy winner, songwriter, producer and singer Barry Gibb. With the group the Bee Gees, Gibb defined 1970s dance music. He also turned out to be a thoughtful and gracious coach for Blake Lewis, Melinda Doolittle, Jordin Sparks and LaKisha Jones.

Bad, bad beat-boxer: Blake probably had the worst night of the bunch. His first song, “I Should Be Dancing,” just sounded out of tune, and although I like his beat-boxing, it didn’t work here. Randy and Paula agreed, and Simon said “it was absolutely terrible. His second song, the little-known “This Is Where I Come In,” sounded better to me and Gibb liked it, but the judges weren’t impressed.

Not Spark-ing: Gibb might have said of Jordin “this is going to be one of our greatest female recording artists,” but this youngster had a hard night, too. Gibb said of “To Love Somebody” that he hadn’t heard a greater version; the judges were pretty impressed with it. They didn’t, however, like “Woman In Love” so much.

Blah-linda: Melinda’s always good because she has that kind of voice, but “Love You Inside and Out” was pretty blah — and Randy and Simon said as much, although not in those words. Her vocals in “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” were Gladys Knight-esque, and Simon said, “I think the second half of this song put you in the semi-finals.”

LaKizzzzzzzzz: Just nothing of interest here with either of her songs, a slowed-down “Stayin’ Alive” — bad choice — and “Run to Me.”

New wardrobe, please: Who is dressing these people? OK, yeah, it’s a singing competition, but the clothes are ugly. Jordin’s clothes are too old for her. Why is Blake wearing so much argyle? The vertical stripes drawing attention to LaKisha’s midriff are wrong. And the tight clothes on Melinda don’t work at all, although her black outfit wasn’t bad at all — for a change. Get new wardrobe people.

Grade: C-. It wasn’t a good night for anybody. Maybe the music was just too old for everyone, or too unusual, in a sense. There wasn’t a lot that was good or interesting, even though Gibb worked and worked with the competitors. It wasn’t all bad, don’t get me wrong — it just wasn’t that great.

Prediction: As Simon noted, LaKisha and Blake are on the chopping block. I really couldn’t tell you who’s going home. It’ll be a nail-biter.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

American Idol, May 2 May 3, 2007

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Tuesday’s recap: The contestants were mentored by rocker (and stud, I might add) Jon Bon Jovi. Constants attempted his songs. They all did pretty well for the most part. Even Melinda Doolittle brought out her wild, unexpected — yet slightly mild — rocker side.

Ryan Seacrest announced Idol Gives Back, the campaign to help the needy based on last weeks votes, brought in an unbelievable $70 million between corporate and private donations. President Bush and first lady Laura made an appearance via video to recognize the efforts.

Wednesday: It was not a night to rally for the men. Because one constant was spared last week because of the soft hearts caused by Idol Gives Back, two contestants went home Wednesday. Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson didn’t make the cut.

And then there were four.

The performance episodes are going to start getting so good now. The top four — Blake, LaKisha, Melinda and Jordin — are all so deserving of their spots in the competition. There’s no question they all have talent. So, looks like it’s going to come down to audience appeal and versatility.

Hottie Jon Bon Jovi performed Wednesday night. Contestants were mentored by him for their performances Tuesday. Robin Thicke also performed Wednesday night. But at the end of the evening, all the star-studded goodness couldn’t save Phil and Chris from elimination. It was time, though. They just can’t hang with the newly-formed fabulous four.

In a nutshell: Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson were sent home.

Episode grade: B

Next time: The fabulous four bring it.

— Stalked by Stephanie Schell

American Idol, May 1 May 2, 2007

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Last Week: Last time on “American Idol,” the two-hour philanthropic special aired live from two locations, with Ellen Degeneres hosting at Disney Theatre and Ryan Seacrest in Hollywood. They helped raise money to support efforts in Africa and domestic concerns.

After receiving 70 million votes, of which the first 50 million helped raise $5 million, Ryan announced that no contestant would be going home because it was a charity week but that two contestants would be leaving the following week.

He also announced the staggering figure raised by the charitable effort: $70 million.

Tuesday Night: Ryan Seacrest began the night with the announcement that with America’s combined efforts, the money from company donations, and all the private donations, Idol Gives Back had raised more than the staggering $70 million.

He then announced the night’s guest mentor for the previous week was Bon Jovi and that all of the songs performed by the six remaining contestants would be Bon Jovi songs.

Phil Stacey began the night singing the popular song “Blaze of Glory.” His vocals actually sounded pretty good on this night and, like the country night where he performed extremely well, I found myself not hating him. I think he still may be the next to go home because I do not understand what appeals to people about him, but he did not sound terrible.

The radiant-looking and Sanjaya-esque hair-styled Jordin Sparks performed next, singing the mega-hit “Living on a Prayer.” She looked better than she sounded, although she sounded excellent. This style of music fit her younger voice very well and the outfit she wore was perfect and reminded the audience of her youth.

Lakisha Jones could not keep up the momentum from last week and sounded good but not as competitive as she used to sound. She sang “This Ain’t A Love Song.”

The beat-boxer was back when Blake “The Beat” Lewis proved once again why American originally fell in love with him. This “boy-band bad boy” beat-boxed boldly to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” His vocals were solid but the entertainment factor of his human beat-box ability is through the roof.

Chris Richardson really brought it home singing Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive.” He sounded better than he has in weeks and performed the song more than he sang it. Randy complimented him for putting his R&B style into the song. Paula also thoroughly enjoyed Chris’ vocals but Simon Cowell warned him that he may not have done enough to stay in the competition.

Bon Jovi told Melinda Doolittle to “take it to church” with her attempt at “Have a Nice Day,” the band’s latest single hit. She began with a soulful yelp, of sorts, and really did bring the soul to the song. It was by no means her best performance, but she did prove how many diverse styles of music she is capable of singing and once again proved herself to be miles beyond the other “talents.” Randy told her she brought the Tina Turner attitude into that song. Simon agreed, calling it a “young Tina Turner” and told her she was “vocally a leader tonight.” Paula told Doolittle what she already knew: “You’re a rock star!”

At the end of the night, President and Laura Bush made an announcement thanking America for its generosity during the last week’s donation effort. Then, they cracked a joke and Ryan once again added $70 million dollars had been raised for the initiative.

Episode Grade: A-

— Stalked by Kevin Duke

American Idol, April 25 April 26, 2007

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Tuesday’s recap: “Idol” contestants were mentored by philanthropist and U2 rocker Bono last week as they chose inspirational songs to sing. It was in honor of the Idol Gives Back episode, where every vote that came in for contestants increased the donation amounts promised by big corporations like Coca-Cola, Ford and AT&T.

To be quite honest, nearly everyone sucked. The judges — even Simon — were giving out these compliments that were not true. I was wondering if we were listening to the same performer. They were bad — really — except for Melinda Doolittle, who literally brought a tear to my eye.

Wednesday: WOW! What a long episode this one was. It’s OK, though, because it appears the two-hour special results show was successful for poor children all around our country and the world, with millions of dollars in donations pouring in for the Idol Gives Back donation episode. It was a success for “Idol” contestants as well, being that no one was sent home Wednesday night.

Ryan Seacrest kept telling the audience to prepare for a “shocking” vote-off surprise at the end of the show. The predictable shock was that no one was voted off. Ryan said, “How could we let any body go on a charity night?” Easy — tell him or her to get on outta there. They will pay double next week, as the votes from this week will be added with next week’s, and two “Idols” will hit the road. Seriously, though, “Idol” did not need the cliffhangers this week. The content of this episode was a cliffhanger in itself.

The images shown throughout the show of poor children in Africa to the ones right here in our own state were, in a word, devastating. A segment on the show featured people living in Appalachia in eastern Kentucky, and their need for literacy and simple learning tools like books.

It is unreal how many spoiled brats live in this country, me included, who fight tooth and nail because they don’t want to go to school. They leave their books at school because homework is no fun. Well, being illiterate is no fun either. Not being able to find work because you’re not properly educated is even less fun. I don’t think we realize how good we have it terms of public education. It’s easy to forget that our own are going without right here in our own backyards. That is unreal to me.

For two hours I cried, trying to take in how anyone can live the way so many in this world are forced to. The show did more than tug at my heartstrings. It tugged them, tied them in knots, then ripped them out. I’m poor, but not by those standards by any means.

There was plenty of money floating around that place Wednesday night, with all the celebrities who were there trying to use their celebrity power for a good cause. All the teasers that led up to the donation show were right on when it said the two hours would be jam-packed with stars. It truly was.

There were performances by Kelly Clarkson; Earth, Wind and Fire; El Divo; Annie Lennox; Josh Groban; Rascal Flatts; and Jack Black. Carrie Underwood filmed a video in Africa while there for Idol Gives Back. She sang “I’ll Stand By You” to the orphans there and that was aired Wednesday night.

Ellen DeGeneres served as co-host from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with about a crowd of about 1,600. Other appearances were made by Ben Stiller, Dr. Phil, Teri Hatcher, Rob Schneider, Gwyneth Paltrow, Quincy Jones, Forest Whitaker, Seal, everybody’s MySpace friend and founder of the network Tom Anderson, LaBron James, Miss Piggy, The Blue Man Group, Kirstie Alley, Kevin Bacon and others.

At the end of the show, Ryan mentioned $30 million in donations came in. He didn’t say if it was from callers or corporations. I’m sure final totals will be available soon.

Summary: The two-hour Idol Gives Back episode was everything I expected. There were pleas for donations, clips of the less fortunate and lots of famous faces. The surprise of the evening was that none of the Idols were sent home because it was a charity show. However, two will go home next week, as the votes from this week and next week are combined to send two packing.

Episode grade: A+ for the great efforts taken to help others.

Next time: The same six contestants will perform again.

— Stalked by Stephanie Schell

American Idol, April 24 April 25, 2007

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Last Week: Last week was country week with mentor Martina McBride there. Sanjaya Malakar finally went home after his very weak performance.

Tuesday Night: “Idol Gives Back” began tonight with host Ryan Seacrest reminding America that her votes this week will help end hunger in Africa. NewsCorp will donate ten cents for each vote for the first 50 million calls which is five million dollars. Also, Ford and Coca-Cola sponsored the initiative. Equally exciting tonight was that Bono was this week’s mentor—Bono, the lead singer of U2, one of the greatest bands of all time and a huge philanthropist. They then showed clips of Seacrest’s and Simon Cowell’s trip to Africa which prompted the initiative. Cowell was left speechless by the appalling conditions in which the African children live: “This is quite literally Hell on Earth. I have never seen anything like this.” They also showed clips of American philanthropic needs showing homelessness, rural Kentucky illiteracy, and healthcare issues which the initiative will help. The musical theme was, aptly, inspirational songs.

Chris Richardson sang “Change the World” by Eric Clapton to begin the night. I got chills during his performance so I turned off my air conditioner and realized his vocal was average at best, although I love the song. However, at the end, he went back to his “runs” and finished with a bang making the otherwise forgettable performance something to talk about. The judges loved it telling him he was for the first time capable of winning.

Even though my air conditioner was off, I got chills with the second singer but this was because it was Melinda Doolittle. Cowell told her she had taught a “vocal master class.”

Blake Lewis was next to perform and he chose to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” probably the greatest song ever recorded. He sang it very pleasantly but without making it modern or his own like he usually does.

Lakisha Jones sang “I Believe,” a song that inspired her. Her soulful qualities came out a little more this week and she sounded better than she has the past few weeks.

During my summers growing up I used to go to a contemporary church camp with vocal performances extremely similar to Phil Stacey’s performance tonight. Not to say this type of music has no merit, just that it is not for American Idol. Stacey is not an American Idol. The judges, though, loved him, even Simon.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was a fitting end to the show which was about helping others. Jordin Sparks sang it decently but to be perfectly honest, I think due to the gravity of the show’s message, the judges would have even told Sanjaya he was good had he not been kicked off last week.

Episode Grade: A-

Prediction: Goodbye, Lakisha.

Stalked by Kevin Duke