'American Idol': Dolly Parton Days

In a suspicious show of collegiality and generosity, our real TV columnist has given the keys to "American Idol" blogdom this week to Tamara Jones, auxiliary backup Designated Idol Watcher. We are certain the very real danger of possibly hearing nine Idolette renditions of "Islands in the Stream" on Dolly Parton night had nothing to do with this decision.

Well, forge our pigeon, it's Dolly Parton night on "American Idol"! How much weirder can this show get?

The answer is "a lot," if you count the spine-freezing demonstration the country star gives the Idolettes of her ability to play "9-to-5" sans guitar by clicking her acrylic dragonlady fingernails against each other.

The first clue that it's gonna be one of those nights is the pink straw that has appeared in judge Paula Abdul's magic Coke cup, suggesting even the queen of optimism needs a more direct delivery system to ease the pain of the next hour.

Parton's "mentoring" involves hugs but no actual advice, so Brooke White takes what she can from her, namely her false eyelashes. Brooke is so pitchy on "Jolene" she can't even blink in tune.

Paula says, "You are who you are: You are Brooke White." Judge Simon Cowell agrees this is true. Brooke ignores him to go into obsequious overdrive, telling Paula her hair looks great, and Paula says, thanks, so does Brooke's.

An audience scan reveals Vanna White in the VIP row, er, seat, and it is reassuring to know that Fox has a highly trained professional on hand now to provide emergency vowels when Paula needs them.

David Cook is given yet another chance to explain at length how he finds most of his arrangements online, but he hastens to add he's done his own arrangement of "Little Sparrow," which has an appealing Sting-like quality.

Judge Randy Jackson says "Check it out, baby," but it isn't clear whether he means the performance or the entire Joan Rivers collection of bracelets, chains and earrings Randy is wearing. Simon thinks David C. isn't as good as last week, but grudgingly allows that "if you can make a song about a sparrow good, which actually you did, congratulations."

Ramiele Malubay performs "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?" Parton says she "picked a good little song, because she's tiny like me." In truth, Ramiele has just set herself up as her own punch line when she sings the chorus that asks, "I wonder, do I ever cross your mind?"

Nope.

Randy gives it 6.5 out of 10, while Paula gushes that Ramiele "had a really great minute and 30 seconds." Simon thinks she belongs on a cruise ship.

More video of Parton's mentoring shows her tugging on Jason Castro's dreadlocks, which fortunately do not break off, as he told fans earlier this season once happened on a dinner date. Speaking of fans, show host Ryan Seacrest has a handful of postcards he says the same woman keeps sending Jason, and he quotes from one merely saying Jason's voice makes the woman's tensions melt away. The postcard shows a tranquil lake in the Colorado Rockies, and the fact that the Fox police don't have it in a baggie in the Fox Evidence Vault dashes our hopes of exciting stalker plot turns later in the season.

Jason sings "Travelin' Thru." Randy thinks he worked it out and Paula declares it one of Jason's strongest performances. Simon takes yet another swipe at the 62-year-old legendary guest mentor by saying, "This is the point where I lose my season pass for Dollywood."

Carly Smithson turns the bouncy "Here You Come Again," into a lovely ballad, but her critique-basking is cut bizarrely short by Randy and Paula arguing over whether the final note on her song last week was out of tune or not. Simon decrees Carly's performance this week good but not great, and sinks further into his evening-long sulk: "Sorry, just one of those nights."

Then he tells Carly she needs to have a word "with whoever is dressing you at this moment," because he doesn't seem to think the saggy black halter top and muddy leggings and nondescript boots say star quality. Paula thinks the same could be said about Simon's (three-T-shirt) wardrobe.

Dolly Parton gets a social services file opened on herself by repeatedly licking her lips, clasping her bosom and hugging 17-year-old David Archuleta waaaaaaaay too hard. "I can feel the heat," she actually says.

Baby Elmo pries himself loose and changes into Ozzie Nelson's old argyle sweater and an appliance salesman's blazer to croon "Smoky Mountain Memories." He gets mad props from the judges, and whoops of "We love you, David!" from the mosh pit, which seems to be populated by several busloads of middle-aged women.

Kristy Lee Cook is notable on "Coat of Many Colors" only for her bare feet, which Ryan Seacrest notices have a nice French pedicure. The girls seem to be favoring halters tonight -- you won't see that on Neil Diamond night -- and for a frightening moment, Ryan appears to be untying the spaghetti string holding Kristy Lee's tribute to Dolly Parton together.

After Simon dismisses her as "pleasant but forgettable," Kristy Lee shoots him her secret Bad Seed narrow-eyed look and taunts, "Thank you, Simon, love you." We are pretty certain she is going to beat the winning Idol to death with her shoe this year because the medal should be hers.

Syesha Mercado throws caution and humility to the wind and takes on "I Will Always Love You" (yes, it's a Dolly Parton song) and proves yet again she is no Whitney Houston, even though she can hold the word "love" for approximately three commercial breaks.

Simon tries to make amends for dissing the guest star all night by now declaring, "You forget what a brilliant songwriter Dolly Parton is" and throws Syesha half a bone while he's at it by concluding she was "good, not fantastic."

Parton is impressed in her session with Michael Johns, the glossy Aussie, who was likewise impressed by her. "I could tell gen-u-winely he was a real fan," she reported, adding that he could become a star "and I think I could probably write some good songs for him."

Johns aces a bluesy "It's All Wrong but It's Alright," and Randy calls him "blazin' hot." Paula babbles verblessly about "all of great melodies, great rock star. A blues star." Simon has just enough time before the credits roll to praise Johns for "the best I have heard you sing."

We've made it through Dolly Parton night before you know it, only to realize we feel cheated that no one went for "9 to 5." And probably no one ever will again, given the nails.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  April 2, 2008; 6:16 AM ET "American Idol"
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Comments

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I didn't think this column could get funnier, but this was terrific.

Posted by: Hillman | April 2, 2008 7:07 AM

You said: "Carly Smithson turns the bouncy "Here You Come Again," into a lovely ballad." It sounded (except for the glory noting at the end) like a direct rip off of the version Clay Aiken sung on his last album. Interesting that David Cook has to explain where he gets his arrangements, but she didn't credit anyone.

Posted by: Diane | April 2, 2008 8:05 AM

Ramiele should go this week. She hasn't had a single good week yet. She's cute, pleasant, forgettable and doesn't stand the slimmest chance at winning this thing.

Syesha goes next unless she knocks one out of the park. She's always good, not great, and also forgettable as a single.

KLC will go out after RM and SM, for the reasons mentioned about the previous two.

I'll go out on a limb and say Carly goes after KLC. While she is clearly one of the best singers in the competition, I am amazed each week as she continues to pick so-so songs, look like crap frankly, and have zero connection with the viewing public. Early I thought she'd go far but unless she sings something that brings tears to your eyes she'll be exiting earlier rather than later.

Jason Castro goes next because he's a one trick pony, although his performances do get slightly better each week. He really just doesn't have a strong voice. I think in any other season Jason would have exited earlier than this but the crop of mediocre females keep in in longer.

Then we're left with Brooke White and the three best male singers. Brooke isn't a strong singer by any means but she does manage to do just enough to stay in. She won't make it to the final 2 but I don't know whether she'll go out as #4 or #3.

Among the final three guys I have to admit that I've liked David Cook's voice from the beginning. He has a lot of power but doesn't overdo it. I'm thinking he gets a record deal regardless of where he finishes and like Daugherty he'd probably be better off not winning in the long run.

Michael Johns is a dark hours to win. He sometimes gets too caught up in his own thing and doesn't realize what it takes to win this thing. If he keeps up like this week he will go far.

David Archuletta will stay in a long time due to the teeny bopper vote alone. Sometimes the tone of his voice is pretty good and he shines on ballads but he has real trouble on up tempo stuff and this will probably keep him from winning the whole thing.

My guess at a winner is David Cook, just based on singing and performance ability, with Michael Johns a strong contender.

Posted by: Ron | April 2, 2008 8:14 AM

Wow, sorry for all the typos. :)

Posted by: Ron | April 2, 2008 8:19 AM

Ramiele Malubay please go home tonight. Her performances haven't been up to par.

Posted by: NYC | April 2, 2008 8:48 AM

Agree, Dolly didn't offer much advice. Just gushing. She is sugar sweet.

I liked Brooke's rendition of Jolene but didn't sound very difficult. None of the songs she does are but I still really like her.
David Cook, another great one! I've liked everything he's done so far. I will buy his album.
Ramiele, sweetie, time to go home. Sorry.
Jason, I like you too, sort of like I like Brooke but I want you to do something
different. Not much market for folk singers these days.
Carly, very good as always but I think she is just being stubborn about her look. Hubby probably has something to do with it. Although I respect (at the risk of sounding like Paula) her committment to stay true to who she is, it will probably get her voted off earlier than she deserves.
Still don't get David A. Guess I'm too old.
This is the first week I liked KLC. Probably because she didn't do a song with deep knee bends.
Loved the beginning of Syeshas song. I thought it was smart that she changed it up so she wouldn't be compared so much to Whitney but then she had to go and ruin it. Then it sounded like a talent show. The glittery eye shadow needs to go.
Michael Johns was probably best tonight. Enjoyed his song alot.

Suprised Simon says he actually likes country music. Did anyone see if his nose grew longer?

Posted by: hodie | April 2, 2008 8:49 AM

Tamara, the keys were left in good hands!

Hard to predict who will go tonight. I've been expecting Ramiele to get the boot for so long that I refuse to get my hopes up again. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Carly--I agree with Ron that she doesn't make much of a connection with the audience, and I thought her rendition of "Here You Come Again" was boring, with a complete lack of vulnerability.

Posted by: the anti-Celine | April 2, 2008 8:54 AM

To quote the great Tony Kornheiser from his radio show this morning ... David A. doesn't have a sincere bone in his body. And I tend to agree with him.

Posted by: Steve | April 2, 2008 8:55 AM

What the heck does Tony Kornheiser know...about anything.

Posted by: Washington, DC | April 2, 2008 9:02 AM

Maybe Tony Kornheiser is a disgruntled Danny Noriega fan ...

Posted by: Proud Harry | April 2, 2008 9:12 AM

hodie - None of BaNanny's songs have been difficult, because she doesn't have any range. She has a really awesome-sounding tone to her voice, but that can only get you so far when you can't sing a song with more than 6 notes...or so you would think, beatbox boy couldn't sing a song with more than three notes, so who knows.

IMHO, the only singer in this entire competition who is interesting in the slightest is David Cook. I find the rest of the lot of them to be boring and predictable.

Esp. Baby Elmo, at this point it sounds like he's singing the same song every week. The one time he tried to even slightly step outside his box, he forgot half of the words to the song. He's a 17 year old boy who is singing like a 45 year old man. I'm kind of surprised that Simon hasn't nailed him on that yet.

I think Syesha is going home tonight, she's been flirting with the bottom pretty much every week. All she did this week is prove that she's nowhere near Whitney Houston.

Posted by: Duffman | April 2, 2008 9:22 AM

What the heck does Tony Kornheiser know...about anything.

Posted by: Washington, DC | April 2, 2008 09:02 AM

------------------------------------------

Enough to actually write for a newspaper, while you just post on it's message boards.

Posted by: Steve | April 2, 2008 9:26 AM

Lisa is evil, and she left her even more evil twin in charge while she is away. "Fox has a highly trained professional on hand now to provide emergency vowels when Paula needs them." I love it!! LMAO!

While Carly was singing, I thought, "She has a nice voice, but the total package is way below par." I was glad Simon called her on it. She looked dreadful.

Paula came in a close second in bad wardrobe last night. She WAS wearing her Delta Dawn flower right between her bosoms.

Too bad one of Jason's dreds didn't fall off. Who would want to touch that hair? Ick! It would have been one of TV's greatest moments.

David A. was the best last night, although David C. is right behind him. I was a little disappointed w/ DC's song, though. His previous performances were better, as were Michael John's.

The (one trick pony) BaNanny is getting on my nerves, followed by all of the other women singers. I think the top three will be DA, DC and MJ with DA and DC in the final.

Would love to see Jason go home tonight. What a bore he is. Will tune in at 9:55 to see the results.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | April 2, 2008 9:37 AM

I liked Michael Johns (surprised), Brooke White, Jason Castro, David C. and Carly.

The rest were forgettable even David A (the most annoying Idol ever)

Posted by: Brooklyn | April 2, 2008 9:50 AM

Tamara Jones, welcome to the Island of Snark. Happy to have you with us.

P.S. Had to work last night so I missed Idol (and shamefully forgot to set the DVR before I left the house. Believe me, major anxiety pains suffered throughout the day because of it!)

Posted by: jpstang | April 2, 2008 9:53 AM

Tamara, you did a terrific job. Lisa's stuff is usually by-the-numbers and thus, boring. You put a little life into it and did yourself proud.

Posted by: ifan | April 2, 2008 10:18 AM

Who the heck is Tony Kornheiser?

Posted by: call me stupid | April 2, 2008 11:01 AM

Have we ever had an all male final 3?

Season 1: (2 female, 1 male) Clarkson, Justin Guarani & Nikki Mckibbin

Season 2: (2 male, 1 female) Ruben, Clay, forgot her name Kristen?

Season 3 (all female): Fantasia, Diana & Jasmine

Season 4: (forgot 3rd place but think 1 male 2 female) Carrie, Bo Bice, somebody (black female?)

Season 5: (2 male, 1 female) Taylor, Catherine, Elliot Yamin

Season 6: (1 male, 2 female) Jordan, Blake, Melissa? (ok, third place names don't come easy)

The only time only one gender has been represented in the final 3 was three women in season 3 after which they rearranged the earlier rounds to get more men in the top 12. A final 3 of both Davids & Johns is unlikely (especially since I think Johns & Cooks fanbases overlap somewhat). One of the women will probably make it and it will be a 'shock' that there is a voting block that prefers a female voice more than the 'better' male voices. It's probably White with the Aussie out.

Also, KLC- After singing a song about poverty Ryan comes in and mentions her pedicure- nice.

Posted by: bluemeanies | April 2, 2008 11:05 AM

David Archuletta is like a wee Keebler elf. Apparently, since I'm not a tweener, I am immume to his charms. What's with the shrieking? I mean, really. He's had training, he can sing, but I just don't see or hear a pop idol. I see and hear a perfect candidate for "Up With People."

They might as well give out an immunity idol depending on the mentor of the week's genre. It was pretty clear that Dolly songs would give an advantage/immunity to KLC, and I thought she did a good job last night and had an emotional connection to the song.

Am I the only one bored by Brooke? Vocal range of 5 or 6 notes. I can see her, like Phoebe on Friends, doing gigs in coffee houses but a pop idol powerhouse? I just don't see it.

Right now, I think David Cook and Michael Johns are the two top runners.

Not sure why, but Carly just doesn't do it for me. She's just in her own private universe - doesn't seem to connect to, or feed off of, energy from the audience.

Last night was fun because Simon was extra crabby.

Expecting a group "Islands in the Stream" sing along tonight for the 55 minutes of pointless airtime before the announcement of the latest to depart.

Funniest moment last night: when Brooke said, "Dolly's HUGE (pause - eyes widen as she realizes how this MIGHT be interpreted) a HUGE force in the industry!"

Posted by: NW DC | April 2, 2008 11:10 AM

I couldn't help notice that the boys seemed to be much more receptive of Dolly's hugs than the girls. Hmmm, now why's that? Why did David bury himself, while Carly looked like she was hugging a wet dog?

Dolly's mouth says she'll play The Joker in the sequel to the upcoming "Batman" movie.

Ramiele chose a nice swan song. Jason's song, "Travelin' Thru," once again sung with painful facial contortions, was dedicated to that kidney stone he'll pass onstage anytime now. He and Brooke White will be playing next fall at your local Starbucks.

David C. did as well as could be expected when you consider his style is more suited to a raptor than a seedeater.

Carly sounded nice on "Here You Come Again," which was dedicated to the trashing that was certain to follow from Simon no matter what she does. Carly isn't going to win, but she's always much better than Simon says. And even if he's right about her looks, his wardrobe disqualifies him from sartorial remarks. I'm beginning to think that his dislike of her is an English-Irish thing.

David A. sounded wonderful again, but I'd rather string myself up than listen to an entire album of this stuff.

Kristy is in, as Randy put it, her "wheelhouse," and still comes up lame. I had no idea what a French pedicure was. Does that say more about me or Ryan?

Syesha and all contestants should know by now that singing Whitney Houston is as dangerous as peeing on the third rail.

Michael was outstanding, but his wardrobe suggested that he was performing en route to the Royal Ascot.

Posted by: JD | April 2, 2008 11:11 AM

The best moment of the night was when Simon finally called out Carly on her wardrobe, giving voice to what so many of us have been saying here in this blog. I also agree with those above who think she has a great singing voice, but just can't connect with the audience.

The best performance of the night was easily Michael Johns -- I even replayed it just to hear that brilliant ending again.

The most disappointing performance was Brooke. "Jolene" is a beautifully haunting song of love and desperation, but Brooke sped through it and SMILED all the way -- wrong, wrong, wrong! Simon nailed it when he compared her to a busker.

The biggest surprise for me was KLC the Horse Pawner, who wasn't the best, but much better than I expected her to be. Still, she won't be around much longer.

David C was solid again and showed his voice well.

Of the rest: Jason C is a twit and needs to go, Syesha and Ramen-noodle are generic good singers but little more, and David A just creeps me out.

Finally, props to Tamara for giving us "Elmo" - which should enter the repertoire along with Chiquita BaNanny and Coroner Munchkin.

Posted by: Doc | April 2, 2008 11:16 AM

Well, despite the fact that I agree that Ramielle was weak (even my wife put her at the bottom of her bottom-3, and we both like her), I would be surprised if she left. She has two solid voting block demographics that aren't abandoning her yet.

On the other hand, Sayesha has very little devoted support and after another mediocre at best performance, will not be able to hold on. This is the third time she's tried Whitney and every time someone on the panel (usually Simon) says that she isn't up to it and shouldn't do Whitney. She obviously doesn't learn and that is probably her fatal mistake here. If she's going to do a cover of Whitney, she has to change it up so that it doesn't sound like a cover of Whitney since she doesn't have the chops to support it.

MomWannaBe's bottom three are Ramielle, Carly and Michael Johns with Ramielle going home.

My bottom three are Jason (to me, by far the worst performance of the night), Sayesha and Ramielle with Sayesha going home.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | April 2, 2008 11:46 AM

Anyone heard who the rest of the "mentors" will be?

Dolly is a sweet lady, but last night was WEAK

Posted by: Scrooge | April 2, 2008 11:49 AM

Here's your AI contestants futures:

David Archuletta: Pinocchio at DisneyWorld

David Cook: Hair Club for Men ad model

Kristy Lee Cook: Shoveling Horse Dung at David Fosters ranch

Ramiele Malubay: Elopes with Danny Noriega, only to discover he was gunning for Pinocchio

Carly Hennessy: Tattoos the rest of her face & body, upon idiot deranged hubby's insistence.

Jason Castro: Chokes on his own (broken off) Dread

Michael Johns: Lead in Brisbane production of Rocky Horror.

Nanny: Playing a Casio on street corner near Starbucks

Syesha: Shoveling Horse Dung on Whitney Houston's ranch, alongside Bobby Brown

Posted by: Swami | April 2, 2008 11:58 AM

Excuse my ignorance but what does "forge my pigeon" mean?

Posted by: Ackroyd | April 2, 2008 12:02 PM

It's a reference to Pigeon Forge, TN - Dolly's birthplace/home magical land where it all began.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2008 12:07 PM

Newbies. Dontcha luv 'em?

Posted by: Duh | April 2, 2008 12:08 PM

Have to admit I can't resist Brooke's vocals somehow, despite her relative lack of range. Her version of "Jolene" gets better and better on rehearing (as per usual with BaNanny). It was much better than the judges acknowledged. Still, she was in the Death Pit of singing first, and may end up in Bottom Three Stooldom. She won't go out, for sure. Tonight will test the strength of her fan base.

Ramiele gave her usual high school amateur performance. Deserves to go but won't because of her unfathomable fan base.

Carly sang OK but as usual made the foolish mistake of eschewing Sleeves again; presumably she actually enjoys displaying Hubby's hideous designs. When she performs I just can't keep from focusing on that Horrible Thing all over her arm. If she survives tonight, her tattoo-face Queequeg hubby will probably etch a new tat on her forehead, which she'll brag about during the show. She can't last much longer.

Syesha is tedious and may go tonight. Why oh why does she keep committing suicide by trying to do Whitney?

Jason is sort of goofily charming but has a weak voice, belongs in a university-town coffee shop, and may go tonight (but likely not quite).

KLC at her peak is sill weak, boring, and oh so instantly "forgettable". Voters will probably forget to put her on the Stools tonight, but will soon rectify that error.

David Cook is more and more impressive each week.

Michael Johns proved he can sing something besides Queen. But how long can he keep it up? Probably safe for another 3-4 weeks.

Unsufferably Cute Little David A. sang well. Unfortunately.

SHOULD Be Bottom Three: 3. KHL, 2. Jason, 1. (eliminated) RAMIELE

WILL Be Bottom Three: 3. Jason, 2. Carly 1. SYESHA (eliminated)

Posted by: Christin | April 2, 2008 12:12 PM

Scrooge, the mentors will be Andrew Lloyd Weber (how 'bout that!), Mariah Carey, and I forget the other. Anyone?

Posted by: hodie | April 2, 2008 12:23 PM

Some of us are newbies, and some of us are deaf. Duh, indeed.

Posted by: Ackroyd | April 2, 2008 1:00 PM

Neil Diamond

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2008 1:02 PM

Okay maybe it's just me, but does anyone else have a difficult time understanding Jason C when he sings (especially the lower notes)?

Ramielle exit stage left. Somehow I doubt it though.

Posted by: Afternoon Slump | April 2, 2008 1:14 PM

NWDC - "Am I the only one bored by Brooke? Vocal range of 5 or 6 notes. I can see her, like Phoebe on Friends, doing gigs in coffee houses but a pop idol powerhouse? I just don't see it."

---

No, you're not. She was intriguing at first, but now she's just annoying. She's like the chick you see at an open mic night at a coffee house.

The first time it's like "Hey she's pretty good."

The second time it's like "Oh I remember her from last time, she was pretty good.

The third time, it's like "Oh god, not that chick who only does 'Who will save your soul' and 'Criminal,' let's go somewhere else."

Posted by: Duffmman | April 2, 2008 1:18 PM

And thanks, Lisa (I presume).

Posted by: Ackroyd | April 2, 2008 1:20 PM

Brooke has annoyed me from bloody day one. Bland, Boring, Vanilla.....

Posted by: Sharon | April 2, 2008 2:05 PM

Dolly week was a strange choice for this show, but Dolly's self-deprecating humor was worth it. Loved the bit where she tries not to cry over David A. claiming she doesn't want to lose her false eyelashes. Refreshing.

My guess, AI producers want to keep the huge country audience tuning in, so went with her.

I think she offered less advice because the show's editors didn't want to show that. My guess is the contestants got some, but we don't get to see anything but a mutual admiration society. It's a loss, because I thought show was better when we heard/saw interesting interaction between idolettes and mentor in previous season's.

Think "9 to 5" may be group number.

Love Lisa, love Tamara. My morning coffee wouldn't be same w/o you. Just wish I could read more of your comments, such as ones you had to edit out. My bet is that we only get to read about a third of your original draft. DARN!

Imagine how much more fun this show would be if we could vote them off rather than keeping them on. I think things would look a bit different right now.

I'm a Carly fan, and while I thought Simon's criticism of her style was cruelly delivered, I think he is right. She looks great from neck up, but week after week I shudder when the camera pulls back. Also, shots of her husband are even scarier than shots of David A.'s dad. I hope she stays in for Andrew Lloyd Weber week, but I fear that may not be.

I am even more tired of Ramiele than of Kristy. Soo borrriiinngg both as singer and personality. Tired too of Jason, and Brooke.

I feel like Syesha is in wrong contest. She strikes me as 4th runner up at Miss America. Her interviews and childhood pix scream long time pageant princess in training. All I could think last night is "not Whitney Houston." Hmm.

I wonder where Chickezie's votes went. I don't think he ever had a block/niche, but rather picked up a few votes here and there from voters who distribute votes over several contestants. Michael John's performance last night is likely to pull in some of his votes.

I think I may begin to mute or fastfor. Paula. Same old, same old, and it is not amusing. Laughing at her is getting boring.

I think Simon's crankiness is due to the same boredom we all have. Sitting next to Paula and listening to her ridiculous feedback and blather without being able to say everything he thinks about her probably has him crazed. At least my family and I can shriek aloud.

Posted by: guiltypleasure | April 2, 2008 2:05 PM

I'm not sure Fox encourages or at least screens any actual "mentoring" - which doesn't mean it doesn't go on off screen - though - Dolly did give us a clue that Syesha was already "set" on her Whitney take by the time she got to Dolly. And, for the peanuts they probably pay "mentors", who was Dolly to tell her "Aw shucks, honey, you just ain't no Whitney Houston!"

Simon's absolutely right about Carly's styling - and I think he said it as tactfully as possible. I do think he reads or hears about public "babble" on the show - and the tats, stringy hair, pudgy thighs all come up in discussion. I do think she has a lovely voice - and I'd hate for it to be the 2nd season in a row when the best singer loses due to styling.

Speaking of which, Kristi was done up to perfection - though I was clueless about the bare feet - unless a glimpse of Dolly's "shoes" and "socks" may have convinced her she was the Empress with No Clothes. She actually sang the song well - it was just not one of the best songs.

And for the Dolly-Ramiele meeting - I'll just say I was reminded of a hilarious moment on "Desigining Women" in the 1980s when Big Bosomed Suzanne Sugarbaker's bra cup appeared on top of little tiny Annie Potts' head. I guess that's what Dolly meant when she exclaimed that Ramilele was her "size".

Posted by: Jean | April 2, 2008 2:16 PM

A quick survey of "votes-off" above yields Remiele is strongly deserving, followed by Carly or Syesha, and then Kristy or Jason. In general, ALL of the girls took hits that they won't/shouldn't last. Do you see a pattern here?

Duff- "Syesha proving she's nowhere near Whitney Houston?" I think you fell for the trap set by the pre-show previewers who "predicted" anyone who sang IWALY was destined to fail. Yeah, tough prediction -- like will the sun come up tomorrow? I'm not even going to suggest she get props for choosing it, but her rendition was not off-key, and she hit the "jump" on target. Her only mistake was that showboatish long note. Ron and Hodie at least made mention that she can be good at times, and that at least parts of it were fine last night.

That being said, Syesha is certainly a salmon swimming upstream against a predisposition (read: Simon) that has it in for her. Because she has not had / is not currently a higher profile in the competition there is little chance folks will give her fair reviews hereon. But I wish they would. She may not end up #1 but she's not #9 this week. Remiele is overdue, but somehow is bulletproof from the B3. Maybe this week.

Tamara, nice job on the recap.

My votes of best of night go to David C, Michael, Syesha, David A, and Carly. Simon is right -- until Carly looks like a star we cannot take her seriously, but she has a pure voice. Jason is not an arena headliner; he is coffee house, non-threatening. Brooke remains listenable; there is a husky tone to her voice. Kristy does not distinguish herself beyond "talent show" contestant. Remiele should be home, impressing her high school at their prom.

Posted by: RedRocket | April 2, 2008 2:22 PM

I have never been so excited to see the next idol performances as I was last week. I LOVED DC's performance last week, and most of his before that. SO, I really looked forward to last night's episode to see what he'd do.

I was so glad they gave DC some air time to respond about covering other bands' arrangements of the songs he's chosen. DC really has been getting beaten up on YouTube, and all over blogs everywhere--even despite Chris Cornell (who arranged last week's Billie Jean) having said he liked DC's performance.

And I thought DC did a fine job with "Sparrow." But, it's not one I will download.

I though Jason's performance was the best, and while I respected Michael John's performance--it just didn't connect for me.

I thought the whole show was lame. I like Dolly Parton as much as anyone, and I like to hear HER sing her songs, but that's the extent of it.

AI should really think about these mentors and the unrealistic constraints they add to the contestants' choices.

I bet tonight there will be no bragging about "how many votes" came in. I wouldn't be surprised if a ton of fans sat that one out.

Lame.

Duffman: I agree about Syesha. I think it's bye-bye for that reason.

Posted by: Sam | April 2, 2008 2:23 PM

Really, I do have a life but.... just wanted to point out another AI column by the Baltimore Sun (This one is way better!) But it is interesting that the opinions on that column are so differnt than this one. For the MOST PART on this column, we all love David C and don't quite get David A. On that column, they hate David C and love David A. Didn't know Washington and Baltimore were so far apart....

Posted by: hodie | April 2, 2008 2:49 PM

I've been baffled by the praise heaped on Brooke week after week -- finally Simon had it right this week. Here she was singing a song about a woman in such utter desperation as her marriage is falling apart that she's reduced to pleading with the Other Woman to cut her a break, and she sounded more like someone making a reasoned appeal to their teacher to let them turn a term paper in a day late. Too bad Amanda wasn't there to do it in her Janis-Joplin wail -- that might have been interesting.

Simon is the only one who seemed to be watching the same show I was, and I really felt that his remarks to Carly were tactful ("whoever is dressing you is not doing you any favors") and he WAS doing her a favor if she can start dressing in a way that's more flattering and less distracting.

And sorry Dolly, you seem like a nice person, but Carly made the best song choice of the night -- a song written by someone else. I think the evening revealed that without Dolly to put the songs across, the songs themselves were mostly pretty conventional examples of their type and not that interesting musically. (I guess that's how she's managed to write 3,000 of them, if Ryan Seacrest is to be believed. But who's counting?) David Cook and Michael Johns were the only ones who found a way around that.

Posted by: owingsmills | April 2, 2008 3:04 PM

glad to see David C got a haircut and got rid of his ridiculous side burns and went easy on the Brylcream!

Posted by: just me | April 2, 2008 3:05 PM

David A. proved he COULD sing the phonebook....as everthing he sing SOUNDS JUST LIKE THAT !

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2008 3:23 PM

I had the same thoughts about Brooke -- it's a song about a woman desperately trying to hold onto the man she loves, pleading with her rival -- "Brooke, don't SMILE!" I used to think that sometimes with Katharine McPhee, when she'd smile her way through an angsty ballad. I do some vocal coaching, and do remind my students that singing pretty is great, but you also have to sing the WORDS.

About Simon's critique of Carly -- he's right, and I don't think he was even being personally offensive. He wasn't criticizing her, he was criticizing whoever is styling her, and saying that she deserved better. When Paula or whoever pointed out in return that Simon's not a fashion setter -- that's not relevant. Simon's not trying to be a breakout young pop star. Who cares what he wears? Carly IS trying to be a breakout young pop star, and she needs to look like one.

Posted by: abigail | April 2, 2008 3:25 PM

Sorry -- could I add one more thing? I'm really getting tired of the waving arms in the mosh pit being so much in the television pictures. It makes me seasick -- sometimes I have to look away. If I was the singer, I think I would find it very distracting to have all those arms waving so close up to me -- especially when they don't all wave in time, or in sync with each other. I really wish there was a way to get them out of the TV frame, because it drives me nuts. Thank you. I feel better.

Posted by: abigail | April 2, 2008 3:34 PM

I disagree about Simon's critique of Carly's appearance not being overly harsh. Can you imagine being a young woman on national television being told before an audience of millions you look like crap?? Yes she needed to be told but it should have been done off camera or at least a bit more tactfully. But that is why we so love Simon.

Posted by: hodie | April 2, 2008 3:38 PM

Hodie ... wow -- did he actually tell her she looked like crap, or words like that? I don't have it on tape and so I only remembered what I thought I heard him say when I watched it. But if he did personally criticize her, then I agree with what you said. I thought he was criticizing whoever is dressing her, and implying that she is prettier than the stylist is making her appear. Which is true. But if he did outright directly insult her appearance, that's different, and I agree it's going too far!

Posted by: abigail | April 2, 2008 3:57 PM

abigail, He did not say that she looks like crap. He said you need to speak with your stylist or whoever dresses you, they are doing you no favors. Ok so I overembellished but that is exactly how a young possibly slightly insecure young woman would hear that comment. But any AI idolette should know that they may get humiliated by Simon. Still doesn't make it right.

Posted by: hodie | April 2, 2008 4:25 PM

Don't be shocked with Syesha staying. She is the only black contestant left and her fanbase got the pre-warning on her vulnerability so she'll get a bottom 2 bounce (happens all the time -someone is assumed safe ends up in the bottom 2 one week next week the fanbase votes their butts off). Based off Dial Idol she has the highest score (a range of 2nd through 8th) of all the girls and is the only girl who is safe (guys who are safe are David A (1st) & Michael Johns & David Cook (2nd-8th)). All the other contestants range 2nd through 9th except Ramielle who was 5th through 9th.

Posted by: bluemeanies | April 2, 2008 4:35 PM

I don't think Simon was being cruel to Carly - he was telling her the truth. Week after week she DOES look like crap.

Remember the ugly red blouse with the flowers on the neckline from last week? Then usually on results night she is dressed in all black.

Almost every night she's sleeveless which is another turn-off. And the stringy, greasy-looking hair is just, just - ICKY.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | April 2, 2008 5:31 PM

My sides are aching! Make it stop. This is one funny AI recap. David C. got a haircut but he still had a combover?

Posted by: Sunny | April 2, 2008 5:39 PM

I agree with bluemeanies that Syesha may get a bounce, esp. since her performances have improved. She will probably pick up some of Chickezie's votes. I think AI producers are worried about losing their last African American contestant so early. Kind of blows their pride about diversity. It was kind of a surprise to lose Asia and Andrea - young, enthusiastic, with strong voices. Especially since African Americans have won half of the contests and/or finished 2/3 in all contests.
Syesha was last performer last week, and next to last, last night - definitely an advantage if you don't blow it, because viewers will remember you better. I don't think that was an accident. She also got to sing the much coveted "Yesterday" last week. There was a lot of buzz that other contestants wanted that one. Sooo.. AI is doing their best to keep her in.

I think she is the second best female vocalist, but just doesn't inspire voters. I think it was said by someone else (guiltypleasure) that she was pageant-like. I couldn't agree more. It's hard to imagine her as your loyal friend. Too bad. Just overcoached to promote herself in any interview, which is why she won't make it much longer.

I agree with so many other posts - Ramiele has GOT TO GO. Now there is a singer with a Sanjaya-like voting base. Good voice - zilch personality and performance skills.

After last night's criticism by Simon, I'll be curious as to Carly' appearance tonight. Hope it is not too late for her to look like a star. I'm surprised that no one has gotten to her before and changed her up. Kristi and Syesha both changed up to more starlike appearances, which I think helped save them. Syesha looks like she belongs on a stage now, rather than having coffee with her girlfriends, and Kristi is done mucking the stalls. I thought she looked the best last night. Her wheelhouse last night was a yacht, not a bass-fishing boat.

Posted by: Serena | April 2, 2008 7:11 PM

It hadn't occurred to me until I read the posts, that Brooke could possibly end up in bottom three. She won't go yet, but she is wearing thin, and her performance last night was utterly forgettable and off in every way. I'm not sure there is all that much difference in the vote totals of the ladies, thus the bottom three will most likely all be women. The only male who may be there would be Jason again, but he probably has a "bounce" too after last week's scare and his improved performance.

Posted by: Idle fan | April 2, 2008 7:19 PM

Well all is right in the world because Ramiele went home last night. It doesn't really matter who else was in the bottom three. At this point in the competition you'd better bring your A game every week.

Why is it that AI has to pick older stars as mentors, stars that are clearly past their prime? It's painful and embarrassing to watch formally great singers come on stage and just mangle a song. Dolly was just the latest in a long list of great singers that just don't have the voice anymore to demonstrate that very fact to tens of millions of viewers on the AI stage.

Perhaps I should be careful what I say because one of the mentors is going to be Mariah Carey and she can clearly still sing. But what was AI thinking? With the exception of Carly, the female contestants will have a hard time doing Mariah songs. None of them have the power and range. I have to admit I've never been a Mariah Carey fan. I think she over sings and shows off on just about every hit she's ever released. I want to scream, just sing the melody and forget about all the showboating crap. We know you can sing, make me feel it. I think that's the big difference between a Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston or Celine Dion. Whitney and Celine can make you feel the emotion and suck you in with the raw power of their voices, but it doesn't come across as showing off. I think the Mariah as mentor week is likely to be a train wreck but I hope I'm wrong. Andrew Lloyd Webber week should be fun though. If Carly is still in and picks wisely, she should have the upper hand that week.

Posted by: Ron | April 3, 2008 6:31 AM

Ron, I agree with you. In previous seasons, mentors gave some good advice, but were sadly unable to sing. Very embarrassing. Diana Ross comes to mind - much worse than Dolly.

Ditto - don't like Mariah Carey. Her showboating has already had too much influence on star wannabes. I think it is a week where some are really going to struggle (Jason, Brooke in particular).

I love Andrew Lloyd Weber music and think Carly has best voice for it, though Michael Cook could be awesome (think Gerard Butler's Phantom). But really now, is this appropriate music for AI? I don't think of this show as a showcase for theatrical music, though some contestants in past have been well-suited to it.

I think AI is giving wrong challenges to its contestants. I frankly don't care if they can sing Neil Diamond, whose work I enjoy. All this blah blah about timeless... then contestants like Chickezie get beat up for being too old in style. There is incredible hypocrisy in the production of this show. I feel like producers and judges have battling minds.

Posted by: Idle fan | April 4, 2008 7:36 AM

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