American Idol: 3/16/04 (First show with final 12)

So…I looked at the website this morning and it doesn’t give any hint of what the format will be for tonight. Any news on who the guest judge might be, or the theme of the show?

Let me be the first to say that I’m hoping against all hope that Leah gets voted out first. She’s downright terrible, and I don’t want to suffer a repeat of last year’s Carmen fiasoc, where she was a whirling vortex of suck, yet she endured from week to week. :smiley:

I heard a promo today saying it was “soul” music, whatever that entails…motown? gospel? R&B? Whaddya bet that even though it’s a two hour show, they still truncate the songs horridly?

Yep, I won’t miss Leah at all. Be even better if she takes Fantasia along for the ride home. :smiley:

Why, oh why, can’t Simon shut his yap about who he thinks should be voted out?? His comment about how Leah should be the one to go home tonight virtually assures that the voting audience will go into “protect the underdog” mode and carry her through to next week. Picking on one person only rouses people’s protective instincts. Idiot.

Look’s like we’re stuck with the suckitude for another week. ::sigh::

Excellent show tonight! Totally agree that this is the best group of twelve so far, very tough year to stand out in.

Fantasia bugs me with the ghetto trashiness stuff, she needs to go away. Leah with straight hair immediately reminded me of Kim Caldwell, she’s got moves and looks and style, but only marginal talent.

Jon Peter the dancing pen salesman, is adorable, but seriously in danger of becoming a novelty act. I really thought he had the pipes, now I’m less sure.

Football Matt is dreamy, a bit over the top, but still the guy I’d most like to hang out with.

Jennifer, George, Fantasia…wouldn’t Gospel Idol be more of an appropriate venue? Maybe because tonight was Soul night…but they seem as one-dimensional to me as Red John, except I love Red John for being a singularity and having such a melty swoon-making voice.

I went in liking Amy, Matt, John and Jon Peter, and still do even though some of the other singers had better performances tonight.


My thoughts:

A) IN GENERAL - You have to admit, the overall strength of the final 12 is way, way, way higher than last year or the year before. The quality of singing this year was vastly improved. My thoughts on each singer are in order as best as I can remember it but I think I messed the order up:

  1. LATOYA LONDON - Sensational, as good as any performance in Round 1 last year. Tremendous performance, but can she stand out enough from Fantasia? I didn’t like her song choice but she outsang it.

  2. CAMILE VELASCO - Extremely weak. Way out of her league, to my surprise. Deserves to be voted off next week, but not before (see #9)

  3. JON PETER LEWIS - I still like him and he wasn’t the worst in the bunch, but he wasn’t in the top half. Does not have the vocal abilities of the real contenders.

  4. FANTASIA BARRINO - Awesome. I didn’t think she was quite as good as Latoya, but it was close enough for government work. Needs to work on looking happier.

  5. MATTHEW ROGERS - A surprisingly soul-free performance. From a guy that big his voice carries very little impact. Competent enough to survive the week; I think he’s better than that.

  6. AMY ADAMS - I picked her as an early favourite to win; she was not good enough to win tonight. Middle of the pack and needs to get better. She seems to be a taller but otherwise perfect clone of Vanessa Olivarez; remember, Amy, Vanessa was voted off first last year.

  7. GEORGE HUFF - A sleeper; he was very good, not the best of the bunch, but he appears to be improving. Much better than last week and he was good last week. He needs to move his feet more when he “dances” - bobbing up and down in place, he looks like a bird trying to impress a mate.

George reminds me of Rickey Smith from last year, except Rickey was killed by bad song selection. Rickey could sing Stevie or Michael like nobody’s business and yet managed to pick no songs anything like that. George picked a very good song for him, and it worked. Song selection is everything in the earlier rounds.

  1. JOHN STEVENS - His voice is smooth as silk, absolutely golden. Other than that he’s as boring as a bag of bolts. Deserves to stay a few weeks but needs to pick up his presentation and his range to prove he belongs much longer.

  2. LEAH LEBELLE - Awful, and frankly, Simon is right; she should pack up. Actually, I think Camile Velasco was worse this week, but I think Camile has potential to overcome her nerves… Leah?

Well, to steal a line from Yogi Berra: Camile is 17 and in ten years has a chance to be a singer; Leah is 17 and in 10 years has a chance to be 27. Leah is the Julia Demato of this year’s batch; way, way out of her league.

  1. JENNIFER HUDSON - Sensational performance; my one problem with it is it’s not terribly distinctive. But she can sing. Yet it’s such a strong field I rank her only sixth.

  2. JASMINE TRIAS - A shockingly first-rate performance. I honestly thought she’d be outclassed, but she was outstanding - powerful, but well controlled, and stood out from the pack in her presentation. Excellent.

  3. DIANA DEGARMO - A very surprisingly competent performance. It says a lot about this year’s competition that I don’t think she’s Top 3 material, whereas last year I’d have been hailing her as the Week 1 favourite to win the whole shootin’ match. Outstanding song choice - stick with the classics, baby.

My rankings after Week 1: (All RickRankings are cumulative, with the current week weighted heaviest but not the entire score.)

  1. Jasmine Trias
  2. Latoya London
  3. Fantasia Barrino
  4. George Huff
  5. Diana DeGarmo
  6. Jennifer Hudson
  7. Amy Adams
  8. Matthew Rogers
  9. Jon Peter Lewis
  10. John Stevens
  11. Camile Velasco
  12. Leah Lebelle

Whew…tough top 12. Only Leah was the weak link/the one I dislike. Anyway…

  1. Latoya–Great song for her as she shows that she can sing without the glory notes. I do agree with Paula. Unless there’s some kind of disaster, Latoya is here to stay! However, I think she can do better.

  2. Amy–Well done! But, I have a bad feeling that she won’t last much longer. Hopefully, she’ll outlast Leah.

  3. Matt Rogers–My mother can’t stand him, buy I like him just fine. I thought he did well, but he could do better considering his operatic abilities.

  4. Camille–I liked it very much, but I’m with Randy. Good, but not “WOW!” There’s room for improvement, but she’s safe. My mother keeps harping about how she was turned off by the fact that Camille snores and can’t seem to dress.

  5. Jon Peter–He’s better than Craggle, that’s for damned sure! I agree with Randy. People love and so do I. He just might win. He’s got the fanbase!

  6. Fantasia—LOVED her to PIECES! Great! Near perfect! A young Aretha—Oh YES! The only thing that will hold her back is that people either love her or hate her. It’s a 50/50 split. Too bad.

  7. George–People love him and so do I! Perfect, except for the cheesy sitting on the toilet moves. Best so far. Oh, hell! He was the best!

  8. Jennifer–A few baubles here and there, especially at the end, but otherwise AMAZING. Love her to pieces, despite the oversinging.

  9. John Stevens–Perfect! Wonderful voice, wonderful job! He stands out among the divas, the quirky and the princesses. Okay, he should go all the way and thankfully, he’ll be around long enough to do so. I fear he might end up in the bottom three, but his fanbase should save him from elimination.

  10. Leah–Oh no! Imitating Trenyce AND K. LO??? OH! HELL NO! Anyway, while not awful, Vanessa(who sang this song last year) would have wiped the floor with her. Hell, everyone in this top 12 certainly did!. I agree with Simon. It doesn’t help that A LOT of people hate her and I don’t think she has the personality to get many sympathy votes.

  11. Jasmine–Well done! Very well done! She’s not my favorite(I like her, but there’s others I like better), but she’s in the top half for sure!

  12. Diana–HEE! She’s ADORABLE! Excellent! Like Jasmine, she’s not one of my highest favorites, but if there’s any justice, she’ll be safe. Wonderful job.


  1. George
  2. Fantasia
  3. Jennifer
  4. Jasmine
  5. Latoya
  6. John Stevens
  7. Diana
  8. Jon Peter
  9. Matt
  10. Amy
  11. Camille
  12. Leah

I think we really saw the field separate itself into the contenders and the also-rans this week.

LaToya: Flawless performance, every strong start to the show.

Amy: I can’t stand her personality. the faces aren’t endearing, they just make her look like a camera hound. I don’t find her off-beat or funny (Scooter Girl was off-beat and funny) I just find her attention hungry. The “what did you think of my package” stuff was just so needy and desperate (and no, Amy, making faces and scatting does not make you “crazy,” crazy, just irritating…and please…lose the hai). Her performance was lackluster and pitchy. She does not have the talent to go far in this contest.

Rose Bowl: Sucked ass. The most souless rendition of an Otis Redding song ever and the cheesy stunt where he went down to the audience cemented his status as this year’s Josh Graycin, only he’s a worse singer. I predict he’ll be the second one gone after Leah.

Penboy: I think he did well. Maybe I’m alone in this but I like the crazy dancing and I think he sang well tonight. I think he has charm. He’s not the best singer but he has charm.

Camile: Mediocre performance. She won’t be a contender. She looked hot in that bikini, though.

Fantasia: Very good performance, and her chops are excellent, but she still sounds just like Macy Gray. That may hurt her down the line.

George: Probably his best performance. He has a really booming voice and what seems to be a genuinely sweet personality. He’ll be around for a while.

Jennifer: Another really good performance. Jennifer is one of the contenders for sure.

Teen Martin: Um…he sang it fine but…isn’t this soul week? He just seemed like he was on a different show this week. I think he’ll be safe this week, though. Others were much worse.

Leah: Godawful. Lackluster. Out of key. Very, very sucky overall. She easily sucked the most ass of the night.

Jasmine: Good, but I find her a little too cutesy. The flower is old already.

Diana: Another good performance. She could be a sleeper like Kelly was.

Top three:

Bottom three:

Who will go:

Diana was this week’s big, big surprise for me. She really blew me away. With a couple years vocal lessons, I think she could make the big league.

The only problem I had with Diana was she said “come on.” I subtract 5 points for anyone who tells me to “come on” during a performance.

Is anyone less qualified to host a soul singing night than Ryan Seacrest?

Observations: The mixing on the show was terrible, and especially effected the first two performances. Randy is annoying, his taste is simple-minded. Paula seems to think every singer is amazing and I guess nobody’s told her that one person every week will be gone. So why boo Simon for telling the worst singer to pack her bags? Who does Paula think should go instead?


  1. Leah really should pack her bags.
  2. Camille was second worse. She was just too nervous and looked like she was going to cry.
  3. I thought Matt was boring and soulless. He strikes me as the singer of a bar band you’d see in Fargo. My girlfriend likes him for some reason.
  4. Penboy is a goof, and there’s some entertainment value there, but he doesn’t even belong in the finals.
  5. Amy is just not interesting enough to go far in this contest.
  6. John Stevens is a classy guy and a good singer, but I think this is probably not the best contest for him, and definitely not the best night, even though he found a song he could go Teen Martin on. He also needs to mature as a singer. He will be very good, when he’s older. He’s got good taste and he’s really committed.
  7. Jasmine gave a solid performance, but I just find her pretty and bland, not sexy or interesting. I actually like Camille better, just as an interesting person to see and listen to, even though Jasmine is a better singer.
  8. Diana surprised me. I didn’t expect such a big voice from her, or so much personality after the “average teen” video clip.
  9. Jennifer… wow, talk about an upgrade in appearance! She actually looked pretty hot tonight, at least compared to the pink monstrosity from last week. Sang well too. I see her making the top 5 or 6, then losing a battle of attrition to the other gospel queens.
  10. George gave the best male performance of the night. I think Otis stopped spinning from Matt’s “Hard to Handle”. Good song choice for him. He’ll be around for a while.
  11. Fantasia did pretty well. She’ll be around for a while.
  12. La Toya obviously the most professional and accomplished singer in the group. If it was just a matter of singing, she’d win.

I will wager that the last three people in this competition will be John Stevens, George, and La Toya.

I have to ask again: is anyone less qualified to host a “soul night” than Ryan Seacrest?

Ack, I mean AFFECTED of course.

I missed the first ten minutes, so I didn’t see LaToya, who everyone’s raving about. So my thoughts on the other eleven…

Usually I like the ladies better than the men in general, but tonight none of them really did anything for me (well, except for Camille, but that wasn’t because of her singing…). There were some good performances (Fantasia, Jennifer, Amy), but as Randy says, “It was just a’ight for me.”

Tonight it was a couple of the males who I really liked. I thought George was awesome. And John Stevens was also very enjoyable.

Leah did indeed truly suck ass. I hope she goes next. If not her, Matt was also pretty terrible. And what was up with the background he had going on on the big screen behind him? It looked like a psychedelic version of Hell itself.

I get my rule of thumb from last year’s finals, when it was down to Ruben and Clay. Clay sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, prompting Paula to say, “You took a classic and made it sound like an original!” So for me, it’s a matter of whether or not the contestant really makes the song their own. IMHO, George succeeded most admirably at that, with Fantasia a close second. (I’m not familiar with Macy Gray, so I can’t say whether she sounds too much like her or not).

I’m not disagreeing with your point, but you do know Clay lost, right?

Well, I just got finished watching and I have to say I agree with one thing: this group, compared to the two that went before, is amazing. Even Leah was better than almost everone from the first year and most from the second.

I think that it mostly comes down to individual taste, because apart from Leah I think they were all really terrific. I have a weakness for George simply because he’s so damn sweet, though.

This is going to be really entertaining to watch.

I’m really ticked off. Paula picked Leah and I didn’t understand why at the time, especially considering that she could have picked the big redhead who sang like a dream. So now the big redhead missed her chance and Leah gets to be the sucky first off.


Yeah, but by a hair! And he’s been outdrawing Ruben ever since. The public and media are practically acting like he did win.

Clay got a recording contract and has sold more CD’s than Reuben, and it seems by the way the judges talk about him now, he’s the standard by which others are measured. He didn’t win the show, but it’s hard to argue that he lost.

Commenting on just a few:

Matt: I’m not a fan of the jock type, but I reluctantly admit I liked him last night. He’s a very charming guy when things go his way, but I feel he’s got an ugly side to him as well.

Jon Peter: Getting better looking all the time! I had a big grin on my face the whole time he was on stage. I also liked it when his dad got up and made a fool of himself. I really like this kid! That said, I can’t understand a word he sings. Someone should help him fix that.

Amy and John Stevens: I once thought they would add variety, but I’m ready to settle down to the real contest now, and they’re just getting in the way. Amy has the funky look, but she picks sweet sappy songs that aren’t right for her and she’s just not that good. John’s talented, but awfully young and inexperienced. Maybe he should come back in a few years.

Fantasia: I wish she weren’t in this contest. Fantasia doesn’t need AI; she’s going to have a career with or without it. What I mean to say is, she’s so damn good she takes all the suspense out of the contest and makes all the others look like amateurs.

Diana and Jennifer: Good strong competitors.

Everyone else: Filler. (Except for Jasmine, because I missed her performance, so I can’t say.)