Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Paula Abdul

Lee DeWyze Takes First; Crystal Bowersox 2nd on “American Idol” on Wed., May 26, 2010

american-idol-season-9-promo-pic1“American Idol” ended its run with Lee DeWyze of Mt. Prospect, Illinois being crowned King of the Mountain, despite a very lackluster finale performance, when compared to the always-reliable Crystal Bowersox. Still, both finalists were worthy and both should do well. In fact, other also-rans like Mike Lynche and Aaron Kelly and Siobhan Magnus should do well, also.

After 14 weeks and 500 million votes, the show played out with Randy (in a wild floral shirt), Ellen (white suit), Kara (toga-style dress) and Simon (white shirt/black suit) watching the two remaining finalists who had survived 18 cuts celebrate. Crowds were pictured in Toledo, Ohio’s Huntington Center and on The Village Green in Mt. Prospect, Illinois.

The Top Ten finalists came out attired in school girl and school boy burgundy uniforms (plaid skirt, for the girls) and after that it was a pot-pourri of talent: Alice Cooper (“School’s Out For Summer’), Chris Allen (“The Truth”), Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly singing “How Deep Is Your Love” with the two surviving Bee Gees, Mike Lynche singing “Takin’ It to the Streets” in a duet with a very white-haired Michael McDonald, Ricky Gervais putting in a funny bit, Christina Aguilara, Hall & Oates singing “Man Eater,” “Alanis Morissette doing “Ironic” from her “Jagged Little Pill” album in an duet with Crystal, Carrie Underwood performing a song she had co-written with Kara DioGuardi, Casey James singing “Guns ‘n Roses’” song “”Every Rose Has Its Thorns,” Bret Michaels singing and alive, Janet Jackson performing and, last but not least, Paula Abdul.

Paula came out in a short pink dress and said, “I’ve loved all the fun we’ve shared. I’ve loved all the laughter we’ve shared.  But, as only I can tell you, the show will go on.”

Simon was called to the stage and, among other comments, said, “You’ve got to know when to leave the party.” He added, “Thank you. I’m gonna’ miss you.”

A bevy of former winners, including Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Stoddard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Jordan Sparks, Taylor Hicks and Chris Allen sang a song with the lyrics, “See what we’ve all become, Together we are one.” With them were a variety of also-rans, including Justin Guarini and David Archuletta, as well as many from this year’s contestants. (Beat Box Guy was in there, too).  Simon said, “The truth is you guys are the judges of this show. Thank you, everyone.  The production team.  I’m not going to name names. It’s been a blast. Thank you very much.”

Since the August 31, 2009 auditions in Chicago, both Lee and Crystal have blossomed as performers. He seemed genuinely overcome at his win and kept saying, “This is amazing. I appreciate everything everyone has done,” before he sang “A Beautiful Day,” the song by U2 that he performed on Tuesday night

There were fireworks outside and inside. Some former contestants who had been cut during try-outs came on briefly, but there seemed to be a battle going on for the microphone when the camera cut away.

Watching Lee and Crystal sing “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” with Joe Cocker was great, but trying to figure out why Janet Jackson thought the skin-baring cut-outs on the sides of her cat suit were attractive was more puzzling.
At any rate, it’s over for this year, Lee has been crowned, and, without Simon, “American Idol” will never be the same.  Dane Cook, the comic and actor, took some of Simon’s more outrageous comments while judging the show and put them to music.  For instance, he reminded the audience of the remark that one female contestant sounded like “cats being dropped off the top of the Empire State Building.” There was the remark, “You look like Shrek’s wife,” or the “You must be deaf” comment. My personal favorite: “You have the honesty of Abraham Lincoln and all the charm of the guy who shot him.” (John Wilkes Booth) I’m not sure that Simon really said all those things, but the bit was funny.

So, it’s over, both for Simon Cowell and for “American Idol’s season, and we can all move along now. Nothing to see here any more, Folks.

“American Idol” Loses Bikini Girl, but 75 Contestants Remain


The first night of Hell Week for “American Idol” contestants.

The first group I heard that seemed to really have it all together called themselves “White Chocolate” and consisted of India Morrison from Kansas City, Missouri and three guys: Justin Williams of Mesa, Arizona, Kris Allen of Conway, Arizona, and Matt Giraud of Kalamazoo, Michigan, all of whom were excellent. It was a Michael Jackson acappella scat-style tribute that was on key (Justin Williams actually is a voice teacher) and impressed the judges, setting the standard for the rest of group night. The bar was set high.

Maryhn Azoff, Austin Sisneros (Riverton, Utah), J.B. Ahfua, Taylorsville, Utah, Shelby Swartwood of Bountiful, Utah and Julissa Veloz of Orlando, Florida had the bad luck to be declared “an absolute mess.” The girls were done; the boys were put through.

Comments like, “I’m done with worrying about the group. I’ve got to worry about me,” came from Nancy Wilson, who seemed rather harsh in her desire to excel and turned out to not have “mad” vocal skills, after all. Her frustration was easy to empathize with, however, as her team began to fall apart.

Alex Wagner-Trugman of Studio City, California, and Ann Marie Boskovich of Nashville made it through; Ryan Pinkston (Boston, Massachusetts)—who, to be fair, had a very good voice— and Emily Wynn-Hughes of Los Angeles, California did not make the cut. Ryan sounded pretty good, of the four performing “Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow” (Bill Clinton’s campaign song), but the group wandered off-key and never found its way back to the true melody.  Ryan did not take his rejection well, saying he felt “manipulated and assaulted” and declaring that he “saw an evil in her eyes” in reference to Paula Abdul. Personally, I was surprised that Emily made it through last night’s (February 3rd) performance. She left tearfully, but not in a hostile way. After all, they cut David Osmond, too, so no one should feel that bad.

The group that sang “Some Kind of Wonderful” is another good one to watch: Jeremy Michael Sarver (the cowboy from the Jasper, Texas oilfields), Adam Lambert (the San Francisco standout), Matt Breitzke of Bixby, Oklahoma and Jesse Langseth (Minneapolis, Minnesota). “I loved it. “It was a hot performance.” “You’re an incredible singer.” “That was a terrific performance.” All good news for the “Some Kind of Wonderful” foursome.

Danny Gokey, the widower from Milwaukee, excelled, as he sang lead vocals, backed by Taylor Haifunu from Hurricane, Utah, Jamar Rogers, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a blonde girl whose name I did not catch. (The Rainbow Coalition).

Rose Flack (blonde) didn’t make it and left saying, “I hated my group so much.” There were excuses from scoliosis in heels from Bikini Girl to “work ethic” issues. Lauren and Katrina got cut. Jasmine did survive her Diva experience, but just barely.

Simon, who said he needed a crateful of Advil, hurled “Horrible,” “useless” and other similar insults at the contestants. As Ryan Seacrest said, “Only the strong survive (d).” Tatiana Del Toro was pretty annoying as she flitted from group to group and attempted to scat her way to the next round. Her group triumphed and all went through as a group. As Seacrest said, “It’s all about Tatiana.” I thought I was watching a bad parody of Sally Fields’ acceptance speech for Norma Rae when she broke into tears and said, “You love me. You really love me,” a sensitive breakdown from which it has taken her years to recover.

“Team Compromise” did some praying, but, as one survivor of the group said, “Nathaniel was so intense that “it’s been very distracting.” Nathaniel Marshall was hilarious. Nancy Wilson of Miami, Florida, who had been trying to get the group to do her bidding all night during rehearsals, was lackluster. Blonde Kristin McNamara of Napa Valley, California will be around in future rounds and showed she had the chops to make it a long way in the competition.

I had a hard time deciding whether Bikini Girl, Tatiana the Terrible Hysteric, or Nathaniel, the Nervous Nelly was the most entertaining this night. [“I tried to make those girls get along. I don’t know what to do.”]  A true drama queen, I did I not find it hard to believe that Nathaniel might not know much about controlling women who were at odds, as his team-mates Nancy and Kristin were on “Mercy” by Duffy. Seventy-five move on and try to make it in to the top thirty-six.

“American Idol” Cuts Field to 104 Contestants


“We’ve seen drama before, but never like this.” The speaker? Ryan Seacrest. The event? Tuesday, February 3rd’s episode of “American Idol.” Nothing like a little hyperbole to get things rocking and rolling on the television show that has become our national obsession, which continues tomorrow night with group auditions.

The evening’s auditions put some truly outstanding singers through to the next round, such as Stephen Fowler of Beachwood and Jorge Nunez of Puerto Rico and David Osmond (son of Wayne Osmond, one of the Osmond Brothers until multiple sclerosis cut short his career). M.S. also threatens to cut short the career of his son, David, but, for the moment, David is looking and sounding like a star.

We, the audience, didn’t get to see and hear all of the talent…yet. For example, Adam Lambert, a standout from the San Francisco try-outs, was on for about 2 seconds as the program ended. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing quite a bit more of the handsome Lambert. If he can sing, that would be nice, too.

There were some funny moments on tonight’s show. Case in point: rocker Jackie Tohn of Silver Lake, California tells the camera that an attractive blonde girl standing near her is “my best friend for life” and then says, “What’s your name again?” while high-fiving Deanna, her new BFF.

There is footage of Ryan Seacrest makng out with the candidate dubbed “bikini girl: (real name, Katrina Darrell of Chino, California). Bikini Girl made it through, despite seemingly alienating both female judges and so did the kitschy Norman Gentle/Nick Mitchell, whose Richard Simmons-like schtick made him “ridiculous” and “hilarious,” according to Judges Randy (“You are hilarious.”) and Simon (“It’s just ridiculous.”) Norman/Nick’s schtick also led to an unintentionally hilarious gaffe from Paula Abdul, who said, “It would be very interesting to hear you sing a song all stripped down.” (No, Paula, I don’t think the at-home viewers are up to the task of watching candidate # 95437 “stripped down.” It’s bad enough as it is. Randy’s pronouncement that Norman/Nick “has skills” has not yet been put to the test. I’m inclined to agree with Simon, whose opinion was, “It’s just ridiculous.”

One individual who struck Simon as fairly “annoying” (#70090) was Von Smith of Greenwood, Missouri. Simon declared Von’s audition to be “indulgent nonsense, a horrible song, a horrible performance.” You almost wanted to say, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” when he got done trashing the contestant, who was then put through. (I doubt that he will last long if he doesn’t tone it down.) Von took it all with what seemed like humility, declaring “it is very humbling. I’ll have to work really hard because I really want this.” I feel that this is akin to saying to the leopard, “Lose the spots.” Von can sing, but he was annoying this night.

A few candidates were less-than-thrilled with the auditioning experience. Contestant # 34070 is seen and heard on camera saying, “I screwed myself over. I picked the wrong damn song.” The North Highlands, California fleet manager (age 29), Jeeno Valenzuela, having been cut, said, “I need to catch the first flight out of here and get to Sacramento and get back to work. I’m done with this.”

Erika Wesley of Oregon—who, I felt, got somewhat shortchanged when co-contestant Emily Wynn Hughes was passed on and she was not, although Emily had arguably done a better job…showed a great deal of determination and maturity in asking the judges to hear her out one last time. She was pulling out all the stops (“It’s my husband’s birthday.”) but it was all for naught. The judges were having none of it, and Erika was gone, for this year, anyway. She left In a mature way, which was nice for a change.

Emily, meanwhile, a tattooed pop rocker, sailed through on the strength of a song she did only so-so on, which she picked at the last minute, dumping the original song choice, “I put a spell on you.” The song title may explain why Emily is through and Erika, who was arguably better, is not. (Better luck next year, Erika!)

Contestant #36762, Jeremy Michael Sarver of Jasper, Texas, a good old country boy from the oil fields, made it through. I was not blown away by his audition, but the panel seemed to be.

We didn’t get to know enough about all of the contestants. Candidates like Scott McIntrye and Frankie Jordan (a new mom) and Alexis Grace, Brent Keece Smith, Anne Marie Boskoeicz were mere mentions, while Jamar Rogers of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a 26-year-old bartender, sang a Mamas and a Papas song that had the ironic lyric, “I’d be safe and warm, if I was in L.A.” Jamar is the main cheering squad for his Milwaukee friend Danny Gokey (age 28), who is a recent widower and sang a Seal song (“Kiss from a Rose”). For me, personally, neither one seemed to be the very best singers of those that were showcased, but we will only know by staying tuned for “American Idol.”

David Cook Bests David Archuleta in Surprise American Idol Final

david-cook2    The vote is in for “American Idol” and the outcome is as surprising as the 2000 Presidential election (and, if you believe Archuleta’s voice coach, who is on the Internet saying “the fix is in,” possibly was just as legitimate.)

     My good friend Pamela, an astute observer of the “American Idol” season, has very cogently argued that David Cook would win for some very good reasons. David Cook has the maturity that goes with his age advantage and, therefore, often seems more poised during interview opportunities. There is also the matter of David Archuleta’s meddling father, which finally culminated in the senior Archuleta being banned from the backstage area(s) of the show completely. (He cost the show money when he insisted that his son insert lyrics from a second song into the song David was to sing, even though he had been specifically warned not to do so.)

     David Archuleta seemed to have the Big Mo, i.e., Momentum, working in his favor. However, having said that, David Cook took a big chance on the final night of competition with his Collective Soul choice, and, although Simon proclaimed the night a “Knockout” for David Archuleta, Cowell reneged on that comment on Results Night on Wednesday, apologizing to David Cook and admitting that, in rewatching the show, he might have been disrespectful to David Cook and have misspoken. (Earlier in the day, Cowell had predicted a win for Cook over Archuleta.)

    Cowell (unlike my firm conviction that David Archuleta’s young fans would bring him home the win) had vacillated. I never vacillated in my belief that the younger of the two contestants had the best pipes, and I still feel that way. Having said that, I can understand why the show might prefer the older, more seasoned contestant with the gritty distinctive sound of a Daughtry. He’s not in high school and they don’t have to worry about meddling parents or tutors for the lad.

     Having given my reasons for understanding the choice the show claims was made nationally, I’d like to recap the action of the night.

    Opening: The final 12, all clad in white outfits, came out and sang “Get Ready ‘Cause Here I Come” with contestants from the show “So You Think You Can Dance” providing some dance moves. Up tempo. Interesting. Great to see the Final Twelve again.

    Then, the Davids dueted on “Hero” by Chad Krueger. Truly enjoyable. David Archuleta sang harmony; David Cook sang melody.

    Next up was a humorous bit advertising Mike Myers’ new film “The Love Guru.” The film also has a cameo by Stephen Colbert and Jessica Biel co-stars, but Myers was tonight’s big draw, constantly using MariskaHargitay as a greeting and mocking the Maharishi of the Beatles years. As Guru Piti, he suggested a shave for David Cook and gave out loopy advice to David Archuleta like “Make a boom boom in your pull-ups,” which seemed to have the younger David on the verge of outright laughter throughout the bit.

     Syesha and Seal sang “I Have Been Waiting for You” while Ryan Seacrest said, “Your results are coming up in a …..well, nevermind,” as the show dragged on for a full two hours before winding down.

     Jason Castro sang “Alleluia.” Two Escape Hybrid cars were gifted to the two finalists (keys handed to the happy contestants onstage.) All six of the final female contestants sang Donna Summer songs and Donna Summer herself descended the steps and sang with Syesha Mercado, the last girl standing. (“She Works Hard for Her Money,” “Hot Stuff”).

     Carly Smithson and Michael Johns sang “The Letter”, while Jimmy Kimmel asked, “How much should I tip Sanjaya,” implying that Sanjaya was parking cars outside the Nokia Theater. (Shot of Sanjaya in the audience, laughing at the joke at his expense.)

     Michael Johns and the other male contestants sang a medley of Bryan Adams songs, followed by Bryan Adams, himself, singing songs such as “Summer of ’69.”
    David Cook sang “Sharp Dressed Man” with Z. Z. Topp,  a great combination.

     Brooke White sang “Teach the Children Well” with Graham Nash.

     Ads using the Tom Cruise version of “Old Time Rock and Roll” from “Risky Business” utilized both of the Davids, recapping the famous scene where Cruise sang in his boxers in his living room. (Here, David Cook seemed to do a better job of recapping Cruise’s dance moves.)

     The Jonas Brothers came out and sang a song. One Republic performed “Apologize” and David Archuleta joined the pianist/lead vocalist to good effect.

     Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr., did a humorous skit with Gladys Knight that purported to show her early days of selecting the Pips. At one point, Jack Black ended up being depantsed. (Some may not know it, but Robert Downey, Jr., has an album of his own and was once asked to open for “Duran, Duran” on tour.)

    Carrie Underwood sang “Last Name” and looked lovely in white.

    George Michael emerged after a medley of his songs was sung (Michael Johns was particularly good here) and sang.

    The judges commented, Paula burbling, “You two are truly amazing. It’s the start of the destinies of your careers.”

     The vote was announced as having been 12 million votes more for David Cook than for David Archuleta, with something like 56 million for the winner and 44 million for the second place finisher. 

    I hesitate to use the term “loser.” If this season is anything like the other seasons, the “winner” will do less well than the “loser” overall (Taylor Hicks, anyone?). Daughtry only finished fourth, but is a bigger star than that year’s winner. Clay Aiken has a career on Broadway, while this is the first time most of us have seen Reuben Stoddard since his win over Aiken.

    For my money, Archuleta “won” the final night’s competition, but the competition was not just decided on the basis of one night’s performing. Archuleta has an amazing voice and  a great future, if Dad doesn’t get in the way. David Cook will now be promoted by the label that signs and promotes all “American Idol” winners and he is an interesting, innovative, poised performer. Neither is a dud, and both should do well.

    Either way, it is going to be fun to watch both their careers unfold (And, for the record, I still don’t believe that George W. Bush won over Al Gore in Florida either, if anyone out there cares.)

David Archuleta Knocks Out David Cook on Final “American Idol”

    David Archuleta nailed it tonight on “American Idol.” I’ve had an article up on my blog (www.weeklywilson.com) for days, now, saying that David Archuleta would become the next American Idol, but his superior, stellar performance tonight practically guarantees that outcome.

     “Idol” used the boxing analogy to intrigue viewers, almost to the point of cheesiness, but that gimmick couldn’t detract from the wonderful performances of the two Davids, especially Archuleta.

    The two finalists sang three rounds. Clive Davis picked the first round of songs. Davis selected “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” for David Cook to sing at the beginning of the competition, and it was arguably Cook’s best performance of the night. The U2 song fit his style and distinctively gritty vocal quality, and he made the most of it, although the sliding up to the final note that Judge Randy Jackson praised seemed unnecessary, to me, and detracted from the overall quality of Cook’s presentation.

     David Archuleta’s first song was “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” an Elton John song, selected by Andrew Lloyd Webber. He sang it so well that, even though the judges had pronounced David Cook’s performance just prior as “phenomenal,” they said that David Archuleta’s singing was “beautiful, beautiful, stunning performance” (Paula Abdul) and “One of the best performances of this season.molten hot.” (Randy Jackson). Simon said that Round One had gone to Archuleta, and that pattern continued throughout Rounds Two and Three.

     Round Two was a round given over to new songs composed especially for the night. David Archuleta’s song was just better than David Cook’s, as all the judges agreed. Archuleta’s lyrics, speaking of “staring through windows at my own reflection” was just a better song than “Reach Out for Something More”, which Cook tried.

     The final round allowed the singers to either pick a brand-new song or one they had sung earlier in the season. Cook tried a new song from Collective Soul, but it paled by comparison to David Archuleta’s revisiting of “Imagine,” which he was, quite simply, brilliant on.

     So, as I said on this blog and others days ago, this year’s American Idol will be David Archuleta.

Lament for the Lovely Brooke White

Oh, woe to all the “Idol” fans

Who cheered for poor Brooke White

She’s voted off.

She’s gone for good.

It just was not her night.

It really was a sad departure;

Tears did freely flow.

But when all was said and done,

It was time for her to go.

You can forget your words on one occasion,

Maybe even twice,

But when you do it three times running

You’re gone,— although you’re “nice.”

So good luck, Brooke.

Your hair did shine,

Your smile was great as well.

But lousing up those lyrics, Girl,

It made them sound like hell.

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