American Idol

Ok, there is no doubt Sanjaya Malakar was not the most talented idol contestant, but I really do believe, he was one of the most entertaining. I personally would tune in just to see what his hairstyle would be the current week, and hoping his performances would get better. Millions of viewers will concur with me on his entertainment value, as he survived all the way to the top 7. My question is, could he have gone farther? Did American Idol boot him before his time?

After the top 12 results show , Sanjaya was gaining momentum each and every week. He was not even in the bottom three until he was voted off. Contestants such as Chris Richardson and Phil Stacy were consistently in the bottom three. However, when Sanjaya was voted off, these two were in the top bracket!

Sanjaya had the support of Howard Stern, and his millions of fans. Sure, Stern does not have the audience he used to when he was on terrestrial radio, but he does have approximately five to six million. He urged his fans to vote early and often for the San-Man, and many did. They used any method available to register as many votes as possible for the loveable underdog. This is what may have lead to Sanjaya’s demise.

At the end of each American Idol broadcast, read the fine print. It says something to the affect that the producers have the final decision and the rights to disqualify any votes that appear to have been automated or unfair to give one contestant an advantage. Now, some Stern fans have admitted they used fiendish software to cast hundreds if not thousands of votes in one shot for Sanjaya. Were thousands of votes eliminated or disqualified?

Look, sure American Idol lets us, the viewers, vote for the next superstar. However, do you really think they would let the least talented become the next idol? Sanjaya had fans, but he was not the best singer, not by a longshot. In the end, American Idol will do what’s best for American Idol.

Farewell Sanjaya. You will not be forgotten for at least another week or so, when your done with the talk show circuit.

Anyone who follows American Idol knows that there are times when there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to who is selected – and who is rejected. According to the ‘American Idol Advantage,’ this is because the judges aren’t selecting candidates on the principles we think they are.

“Talent is not the most important factor in making it past these first auditions,” said Andy West, a marketing specialist and representative of www.AmericanIdolTips.com. “The singers who have a clearer understanding of this are the ones who make it past the judges.”

If there is anything that gets results in the American Idol auditions, it’s not talent – it’s how much time and effort people have put into their presentation. Singers who desperately want the opportunity stand out from the crowd, not because they’re talented, but because they have done their homework: they know how to market themselves in order to get the judges’ attention.

‘American Idol Advantage’ explains the factors that actually determine the judges’ choices in the first round of American Idol auditions – those that separate the chosen few from the rest of the crowd. The e-book is full of trends, tips, and other information that reveals how American Idol auditions are really won: songs that boost a candidate’s chances, versus those that bomb; how successful candidates tend to dress; and how to interpret the judges’ reactions to you and your audition. ‘American Idol Advantage’ also includes analysis and interpretation of past American Idol auditions, showing real-life examples of what works – and what doesn’t.

“There’s a lot more to these initial auditions than just singing,” said Mr. West.

As with everything else in life, the American Idol auditions are about more than just showing up – they’re about being prepared. ‘American Idol Advantage’ provides everyday people with a shot at making it onto American Idol – by teaching them how to prepare.

“The singers that do their homework and are the most prepared will make it on to the show, plain and simple,” Mr. West said.

Everyone snickered a month ago when there were still 8 singers in contention for the coveted American Idol crown and at 18-1, I must have been the only person in the world that suggested you plunk down so hard earned cash on Elliot Yamin. Yesterday highly touted publications were predicting the demise of my main man.

I mean even one of my own employer’s followed up my so called perceived ridiculous statement, with a rebuttal from another writer. Hey, to each his own and it’s like I am bang on with every one of my predictions.

Let’s turn the clock back to April 14, 2006:

AT 18-1 ELLIOT YANIN WILL SHOCK THE WORLD!

Okay I admit I have hit rock bottom as I am about to write an article on American Idol, but on the flip side, you have to admit, this show has power! I have in this competition sat on my couch with my wife who loves the show and in this particular competition have seen the contestants twice. The first time I saw Elliot Yamin sing he was doing a Stevie Wonder tune called ‘If You Really Love Me” and I said then and there that the competition was over.

This guy blew the competition out of the water and even Simon had to admit the guy has the chops. This past week I watched the competition and it was the show with the “Queen “theme and this is not an easy group to imitate. I was stunned they did the voting and he was placed in the bottom three which meant there was a chance he would get eliminated. BS I cried out to my wife, but then it call hit me like a ton of bricks, the guy is short and ugly and the superficial callers, could not get past this issue.

I can’t be the only one to notice that Elliott Yamin has the worst teeth on American Idol. But could his dental dilemma be due to diabetes and not poor hygiene?

But Elliott’s teeth aren’t the only unusual feature on the 27 year-old contestant from Richmond, Virginia. His Abe Lincoln-style sideburns make him look like a cross between an Amish farmer and street gangster. And sometimes he even looks like a leprechaun cautiously coveting his pot of gold.

But seriously, Elliott can use his weirdo/outsider/creepy look to his advantage. Think about it – if his confidence continues to grow (and it should if Simon keeps stroking Elliott’s ego), he could be the unlikely long-shot that is the next American Idol.

American Idol sells the sizzle that anyone can win this competition and what better way then to select a Diabetes sufferer from a poverty stricken family to be the next winner. Believe me folks American Idol will by the show Extreme Makeover and send Yamin there and he will come out looking by Brad Pitt.

I gave you the White Sox, I gave you Mickleson and now you have an 18-1 longshot!

Now I don’t want to come across as some pompous you know what, but this whole American Idol is no different them betting on pro sports. The Phoenix Suns were buried by the public after game 5 of their series against Lakers and everyone was talking about the great Kobe and Phil Jackson for coach of the year.

After game 7 it was all Steve Nash and his posse. The Suns then took apart the Clippers in game one and everyone was talking about all the unsung heroes on the Phoenix team. I warned you that the spread of Suns -4 ½ was too low, but the guys with all the money in Vegas, knew that betting is 90% public perception. The Clippers mauled the Suns last night!

American Idol attracts millions of viewers and wants to continue that trend. They sell the American Dream that anything is possible, plus they want controversy at the water cooler the next day!

Elliott Yamin is the Steve Nash of American Idol that suggests that it is alright to “Dare to Dream”!

The premise of a show like American Idol is to find the best singers in the country and let them go toe to toe in a karaoke style contest in which viewers of the show vote and have a say in the outcome every week. The show has been popular since the first season, and former idols winners and losers for that matter have gone on to achieve great success. Former loser Jennifer Hudson recently won an Academy Award, and season one winner Kelly Clarkson is a best selling artist and Grammy Award winner.

Recently their has been a call to arms to vote for the worst, which at this point happens to be Sanjaya Malakar, a moppet haired guy with no discernable singing talent. This is of course a fine mess and there are a few problems with voting for the worst:

Motivation

The self proclaimed king of all media, Howard Stern, is requesting that his listeners vote for the worst contestant, the aforementioned Malakar. There should be someone questioning the motivation of Stern. Is her completely bored, after earning a truck load of money after switching to satellite radio? Rumor has it that that the company may be going out of business and perhaps Stern wanted some listeners to trickle over after the controversy.

Another company, website Vote for the Worst is trying to make a name by piggybacking on the success of American Idol. There is of course tons of information on what they perceive to be the problem of American Idol, the unfair practices of the judging process on how contestants are picked and moved on throughout the contest.

The fact that there are t shirts with the logo of the company being sold begs the question of whether or not their reasons are altruistic. They make the argument that they care about the great contestants being passed over for a myriad of reasons. I wonder if they are donating their profits to this undiscovered talent.

Ruining American Idol

While voting for the worst contestant may seem like fun at first, it can have long term effects on American Idol. Maybe Stern wants to see how much muscle he actually has to see if he can actually get his legions of fans to follow his edict and determine the outcome of the American Idol race. If it holds perhaps Stern can put his evil genius to good use and help elect the next president in 2008. Yet Idol will be ruined in the process.

Viewers like to look at A.I. in the beginning of the season to see the misfits and delusional people who think they may actually have some form of singing talent. However, we all know that we could not look at a series of terrible singers all season long. Viewers will begin to tune out in droves if the only option is to tune in week after week to see only the most mediocre of contestants. Not to mention the unfairness of booting legitimate singers such as Stephanie Edwards. They deserve their time to shine as well and are being robbed of the chance by a cruel grassroots campaign.

Singers like Sanjaya Malakar and Antonella Barber belong between the pages of Star Magazine and the National Enquirer in their Where are They Now section. In the meantime, tune out Stern and the opportunists from the website Vote for the Worst. Let them hawk their merchandise elsewhere or by piggybacking on hard work of someone else.

American Idol is getting stronger and this season has got to its most serious part. There are only four contestants left trying to achieve a goal that will change their lives. Fame and money will come along with the chance of developing what they like to do most: singing. The fifth season of American Idol began on January 17th, 2006.

Auditions for this season took place in Boston, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Greensboro, North Carolina and Las Vegas. Memphis auditions were cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina. 12 men and 12 women were selected as semi-finalists. American Idol’s fifth season has been noted for the diversity among its participants.

At the beginning, the favorite picks to become the new American Idol were: Paris Bennett, Kellie Pickler, Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Katharine McPhee and Mandisa Hundley. But at the end there are four contestants: Chris Daughtry, Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin.

Chris Daughtry is an intense and charismatic rocker.

Taylor Hicks, the gray-haired who knows how to entertain the audience has a very strong talent.

Katharine McPhee, the only girl left in the American Idol’s contest. Besides her ability to sing and stage presence she has her look on her side.

Elliott Yamin has a soft voice and a good personality. Plus, one of the judges: Paula Abdul said he was most consistent than any of the finalists.

Some analysts believe Katherine McPhee will be the first one to leave the foursome and then Elliot Yamin even though he has a refreshing personality and a smooth voice he has been victim of a bad selection of songs. And there would be just Chris Daughtry and Elliot Yamin running towards becoming the next American Idol. Tonight’s decision will depend on Elvis Presley’s songs, since they have a different style every week. The American Idol contestants have performed songs with themes like: 1950’s, the Billboard charts, country, Queen, The Great American Songbook, Stevie Wonder, Classic Love Songs and the 21st century.

Yes, it was only a little less than five years ago, June 11, 2002, when American Idol was first televised and a show bigger and more popular than most people could have imagined was born. Today it would be hard to find a person in America who hasn’t at least heard of American Idol. Love it or hate it, it is an American icon of a show that doesn’t show signs of slowing down. In fact, it only seems to be getting bigger.

What was the first season like? The first two shows were dedicated to the judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell going to auditions (held in Chicago, New York, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, and Los Angeles) and finding contestants to send on to Hollywood week. One hundred twenty one contestants made it to Hollywood to try to earn one of the 30 spots to move on to the rounds where the public started voting.

During weeks three, four, and five of the show, 10 of the 30 contestants performed. America voted and only 3 out of each group of 10 moved on. Then, on week six, five wildcard contestants returned to the show with the judges picking one of those contestants to go on, for a total of 10 contestants in the final rounds.

The following week, two contestants were sent home. Then the show started eliminating contestants one by one until there were only two contestants left.

Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini were the season one finalists. Kelly took the crown on September 4, 2002 and has gone on to become a very successful pop artist with a couple of Grammy awards to her name, several hit songs, and several highly successful albums. She’s become one of the top names in pop music.

After the first season ended, Kelly and Justin made a movie aptly titled “From Justin to Kelly,” but their American Idol popularity didn’t transfer to the big movie screen. The movie was a flop, although the poor plot may have had a lot to do with its terrible performance.

Although the runners up in later seasons of American Idol have had as much, and sometimes more, success than the winner, that wasn’t the case season 1’s runner-up, Justin Guarini although the American Idol rules at that time probably contributed to his difficulties. At that time the Idol rules didn’t allow Justin to release any albums or taking outside offers of any kind until Kelly’s album was released. He was forced to turn down several offers to appear on television shows, to model for Tommy Hilfiger, and doing the soundtrack recording for at least one film.

By the time Justin was allowed to release his own album, he was competing with the releases of the Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, the season two winner and runner-up. His appearances on the newly syndicated show, American Idol Rewind, seem to be helping him gain more notice again.

Tamrya Gray, who finished fourth on the show, has been doing okay. She has released her first album to tepid sales, but has had some success with several acting projects she has done.

Nikki McKibbin, who finished third the first season, has struggled since American Idol ended but she is finally getting back to her musical roots. Her debut album is slated to be released May 1, 2007.

The most current season of American Idol, season 6, will have several more episodes in it than the first season. Another notable difference is that during Hollywood week the judges (yes it’s still Randy, Paula, and Simon) decide who the top 24 contestants are. Then for three weeks, the guys and girls sing on different nights and only compete among themselves. Each week, 2 guys and 2 girls are eliminated. Then when there are 6 guys and 6 girls left, those final 12 will start to compete head to head, regardless of gender.

Even if you aren’t a fan of singing, you may want to watch the show just to see Simon Cowell, one of the judges, spew his very creative criticisms of the contestants each week. It’s a fun show.

If you’ve watched American Idol in the past, you may be wondering what has happened to the singers from American Idol Season One. Here is a brief look at how some of the more popular contestants have faired:

Top Ten Finalist – Ejay Day

Ejay performed along with the other finalists on the 2002 U.S. American Idol tour. He’s sang at several events for boxing champ Muhammad Ali and assisted in writing Raven-Symone’s song “Pure Love” for her Undeniable album. Currently, Ejay is performing on the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas.

Top Ten Finalist – Jim Verraros

Jim has been active in both music and acting since American Idol ended. Jim recently released his album Rollercoaster, featuring the dance hits “I Want You” and “You’re Getting Crazy.” He starred in the 2004 film Eating Out and is set to reprise his role in Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds.

7th Place – Ryan Starr

Despite finishing 7th, Ryan has been one of the busier contestants from Season One. Her single “My Religion” peaked at #7 on the American iTunes Top 100 and she plans to tour in 2006-2007. She made guest appearances on several shows and also appeared in the VH1 show The Surreal Life in 2004. She also starred in the movie Ring of Darkness.

6th Place – Christina Christian

After American Idol, Christina guest starred on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and is now a correspondent for the TV Guide Channel.

5th Place – RJ Helton

RJ Helton made the top 10 as a wildcard choice. RJ signed with Gospo-Centric Records and released an album, Real Life, in 2004, which made the Billboard Christian Top 20.

4th Place – Tamyra Gray

Tamyra had a reoccurring role in Boston Public that allowed her to sing as well. She also guest starred on Half and Half, Las Vegas, Tru Calling, What I Like About You, and All of Us.

She co-wrote and sang duet with winner Kelly Clarkson on “You Thought Wrong.” She appeared on Season Three of American Idol and co-wrote the song “I Believe” which was a number one hit for Fantasia Barrino. She received writing credit for “If You Were Mine” and “The Lover in Me” on Jessica Simpson’s A Public Affair album.

In 2004, she took to the stage with the Broadway show “Bombay Dreams.” She had a supporting role in 2005’s The Gospel and one song on the movie’s soundtrack.

3rd Place – Nikki McKibbin

Nikki signed with 19 Management and RCA Records after her American Idol success, although she is currently under contract with Astral Records. Her single “The Lie” reached #1 on the Idol Waves online radio station.

She has appeared on several reality shows, including Fear Factor and Kill Reality and appeared in the made for television movie The Scorned.

Runner-Up – Justin Guarini

After coming in second, Justin starred in the unsuccessful movie From Justin to Kelly with winner Kelly Clarkson. He secured a deal with 19 Management and RCA, but he had to wait until Kelly’s album was released before he could work on any solo projects. Because of this contractual obligation, he had to refuse a guest role on Friends, a role in The Fast and Furious, and a modeling contract for Tommy Hilfiger.

When his self-titled album did come out nine months after his American Idol success in June 2003, it flopped and he was eventually released from his contracts. His second album Stranger Things Have Happened was released in late 2005.

He appeared on stage in the musical Good Vibrations at Vassar College but declined to accept continue the role. He’s been in several independent films and is involved in many charities such as Support Music Education, Habitat for Humanity, and Children’s World Organization.

Winner – Kelly Clarkson

The most successful of all the American Idol contestants, Kelly signed with RCA and released two singles. “A Moment Like This” shot to #1 on the Billboard charts. In 2003, she released her debut album, Thankful, that certified double platinum, selling over 2 million copies. Her single “Miss Independent” reached the Billboard Top 10 and earned her a Grammy nomination in 2004.

Her second album, Breakaway, produced four top 10 singles and she won the Grammy award for “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance” and “Best Pop Vocal Album.”

She’s appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The View and she is scheduled to headline an HBO concert featuring her greatest hits in February of 2007.