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'American Idol' Recap - Haley Reinhart Finally Goes Home + Special Power Rankings

May 20th, 2011 9:17am EDT
Haley Reinhart is eliminated on AMERICAN IDOL
Well, it wasn’t for not trying. If there’s one contestant this year who really developed and emerged over the course of the season it was Haley Reinhart. Look at where she started. A frizzy-haired oversinging novice who only got through because of the softest judging panel since the OJ Jury.

From there she barely snuck through every step of the way and had me flabbergasted that the judges selected her as a Wild Card. I was surprised she even got the chance to sing a second time.

Somehow, she finagled her way into the top 13 only to sit on the bottom of my power rankings just about every s...
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'American Idol' Recap: Stefano Langone Goes Home, Katy Perry & Kanye West Perform 'ET'

April 22nd, 2011 9:19am EDT
AI Stefano Goes Home
It took awhile to do it, but America finally put Stefano out of his misery.

For weeks it seemed like Stefano was just marking time. He hit the bottom three in what seemed like every single results show and carried that weight to each performance. This caused each of his songs to transform into a desperate plea for votes as he overextended himself to no end in an attempt to win people over.

But it never seemed to work. Try as he could, Stefano never quite connected. It could have been an obsession with perfection, it might have been flirty cockiness, it may have been the fact that he simpl...
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'American Idol' Recap: The Contestants Bring it on 21st Century Night

April 21st, 2011 9:23am EDT
James Durbin
I’ve been extremely hard on the judges all season (justifiably so, I think) but it’s caused me to overlook the show’s big bright spot: The addition of Jimmy Iovine.

While the judges have sugarcoated everything like a trio of stage parents, Iovine has worked hard to make the contestants better. He’s often harsh, extremely honest and his suggestions are normally spot on. Just look at last week when he warned Casey away from ‘Nature Boy’ and suggest Scotty stick with ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’. Scotty laid an egg with a boring George Strait song and Casey absolutely made a mockery out of all thing...
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'American Idol' Recap: Thia And Naima Go Home On A Revamped Results Show

April 1st, 2011 9:29am EDT
Naima and Thia eliminated
It only took them ten seasons, but the ‘Idol’ producers finally got it right.

Last night’s results show was the first in the show’s history that didn’t seem forced; didn’t seem like two-thirds filler, and didn’t feel like we were just sloughing through the hour while we waited for the 90 seconds we actually want to see. This was a results show that moved through swiftly with segments we actually wanted to watch.

And it was so simple: Just divide the group performances into several parts. Instead of trotting all the contestants out for one lame lip-synched choreography train, just put them...
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'American Idol' Recap: Elton John Brings Out The Contestants' Best

March 31st, 2011 9:33am EDT
Paul McDonald
I guess sometimes the music’s all that matters.

After promising us no restrictive theme nights this year, the ‘Idol’ producers follow Motown night with a night devoted to not just one musical style, but one musical artist: Elton John. But unlike Motown, this one worked almost down the line.

I think it’s a case of addition by subtraction. The contestants last night were limited to so few songs, but almost all of John’s are so good that it didn’t matter. No matter which way a contestant went, they’d be able to pick a great tune and work with the producers who really on point this week: The ...
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'American Idol' Recap: Casey Gets Saved + Power Rankings

March 25th, 2011 9:23am EDT
American Idol - Casey Abrams Gets Saved
I knew it was coming, but it still twisted my stomach when it did.

Last night, I thought my ‘Idol’ nightmare was over. I thought we were rid of the overrated self-indulgence factory that is Casey Abrams. I thought I wouldn’t have to see why having a beard makes you an artist, why being herky-jerky gives you credibility and why not picking pop songs gives you a sense of musical depth that would make James Murphy jealous. I thought I wouldn’t have to write a single word about that any longer, but I couldn’t help but think that as he sat in the bottom three that the judges would save him no m...
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'American Idol' Recap: The Idols Tackle (and get tackled by) Motown

March 24th, 2011 9:32am EDT
Naima Adedapo performs on AMERICAN IDOL
Lies, such miserable lies. We were promised coming into this season that the restrictive theme nights had gone the way of the dodo. That we’d no longer have to watch anybody struggle outside their comfort zone in a way that would impede their development as artists.

Well, that lasted…three shows. Because last night was Motown night on ‘Idol’ and the Detroit soul was on parade for everyone to mangle.

Yes, one week after ‘Idol’ delivered its best show in years by turning away from those thematic restrictions, it went right back to its old ways, forcing soulful pop from the likes of Scotty M...
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'American Idol' Recap: Karen Rodriguez Says Goodbye And Adios

March 18th, 2011 9:31am EDT
Karen Rodriguez American Idol
I’ll say this for America: They continue to get it right.

One week after America took down one of the few with absolutely no chance of winning, they repeat the feat with the ouster of Karen Rodriguez. I was worried about Karen. Worried that she’d found a way to ingratiate herself to voters with her unique way of switching to Spanish (Ya gotta have a gimmick, right, Ethel?) and her middle-of-the-road song choices. I was worried those voters would put her past some of the more deserving contestants like they’ve done with the Kristy Lee Cooks of the past who had a gimmick (super-overt patriot...
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'American Idol' Recap: The Best Show Of The Season, Dawg!

March 17th, 2011 10:09am EDT
Thia Megia performs on AMERICAN IDOL
And now I’m ready to ease up on this season.

Last night we got one of those vintage ‘Idol’ nights that remind us why this show became so popular in the first place. Solid performances of some of our favorite songs by kids that actually have a ton of talent.

Sure there were a few clunkers, but these were sandwiched in between the kind of transcendent performances that finally give ‘Idol’ fans the ability to scoff at people who scoff at them when they say the watch ‘Idol’. Because those who turn their nose up missed the opportunity to see Pia, Jacob, Stefano and others absolutely slay some ...
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'American Idol' Recap: Ashton Is The First To Go Home + Power Rankings

March 11th, 2011 9:45am EST
Ashton Jones is elimintaed on AMERICAN IDOL
This year – it’s really wide open.

As Ryan ran through the contestants last night, and I thought about my power rankings (which are listed below), I quickly realized something – there is absolutely no favorite this year.

You could make a case for up to 8 contestants to win this year, but I don’t think it’s because the talent is incredibly deep – I think it’s because every contestant is flawed in some way. “Idol’s” been boasting its vast talent pool all season, but I think what they’ve actually stumbled upon is a level of parity. There’s no Adam Lambert. No Lee Dewyze. No David Archuleta. ...
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'American Idol' Recap: The Top 13 Pay Tribute To Their Idols

March 10th, 2011 9:20am EST
Pia Toscano
After last night, it’s official: I miss Simon.

This week the Idols were tasked with picking their own personal Idols and singing some of their best songs. A nice theme without any restrictions that should have allowed the contestants to pick perfect songs and absolutely sing the hell out of them.

Instead, the night was incredibly uneven. Performances varied from pretty good, to mediocre to just downright desecrations of the songs for which the contestants were supposed to have extreme respect. Nobody really stood out on this easy theme night to the point that I wondered how they even got ...
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