American Idol, #Nvr4Get

The American Idol series finale was last night, and the country crowned its 15th and final winner La’Porsha Trent Harmon. The show was jam-packed with special performances from former Idol contestants (Tamyra Gray, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, Jessica Sanchez, Pia Toscano, Kellie Pickler), winners (Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, Jordin, White Guys With Guitars, Kelly SINGING A MOMENT LIKE THIS), and Brian Dunkleman. It was clearly emotional for all those involved in the show for the past 10+ years, but it full disclosure, it was emotional for me too.

Yeah, 15 seasons is quite a long run and it’s definitely time to go, but you can’t deny how much of an impact this show has had on reality TV, the music industry, and most importantly, the lives of all those involved. For instance, Kelly Clarkson was waiting tables when she auditioned for the show, and was barely getting by. Now she’s become one of the most successful and acclaimed artists not only as an Idol alum but in pop music, and she probably wouldn’t have been able to reach the level of success she’s at without this platform.

But what I’ve realized over the past few days is that I’m not so much “sad” to see the show go – it’s more of the nostalgia I get from the Idol, yearning for the glory of what the show once was. Case in point last night’s finale. Reuniting the Three Divas (Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson & LaToya London), teaming up Justin Guarini & Jordin Sparks, throwing to Sanjaya & his hair in the audience, and that entire Gospel medley. The producers brought all these people back because THEY are what made Idol great. Back in its heyday, circa 2003 to 2009, Idol became the highest-rated TV show in the United States for an unprecedented seven consecutive years. It became bigger than anyone could ever have imagined. There were even people lit’rally making money off of Idol online with dedicated websites (because the Internet was still emerging as a thing) like Rickey.org and MjsBigBlog, and that type of fandom for an unscripted reality competition series had never been seen before.

But back then, everyone was watching it because it was entertaining. People got sucked into voting for their favorites (or their least favorites – Vote for the Worst, anyone?) and it became watercooler fodder the next day. I am not ashamed to admit that I, too, became a crazed fan of Idol. I purchased not only the winners’ albums but the Idol compilation albums. I’ve gone to a few of the Idol summer tours, and if you recall from a previous post, I may have been in the audience in season one holding up a sign that in all honestly, I partly made so I could get on TV. It worked.

LOL HI

Anyway, all this to say that while a lot of people consider the past few seasons of Idol completely moot, a series finale makes you remember why you fell in love with the show in the first place. Over the past 15 seasons, Idol has definitely given us plenty to talk about, and what better time to talk about all those moments than on the day after the show ends? Thanks for all the memories and lasting legacies you’ve left us with. We’ll Nvr4Get.

The Audacity of Season 1

Season one was kind of a shit show, but a good shit show. Production value was lower than Scotty McCreery’s basso profondo and it took a while for people to tune in. As we know, the auditions are sometimes the most entertaining episodes, and season one was no exception. It was the first we’d see of the extremely outspoken, cutthroat, no filter Simon Cowell. It was like he was being rude to all these contestants (who admittedly couldn’t carry one note) and America was like, ‘Yo, who the hell is this British dude?’ It was also telling of the singers who came in to audition – it was jarring to see a handful of people fight back against the judges and Cowell, since we weren’t necessarily used to the harsh talk back on TV. Enter Tamika Bush, who was one of the very first rude singers to grace the show. I personally enjoy her two-glasses style approach. Why keep your prescription sunglasses in your bag when you can just wear it you head?

Forget JHud, Give From Justin to Kelly An Oscar

Ok, you probably didn’t forget this happened but did you even watch it at all? WELL I DID. In the theater. And maybe with Molly? (yes, and I didn’t realize it would be a musical. YEAH.-M) Either way, it wasn’t that good, but it was along the lines of so bad it’s good. Bless these two for having to do this. The downside of fame, y’all.

Simon + Paula = Saula

In the first couple of seasons, viewers noticed there was an odd chemistry between Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. They’d be at odds with each other one second and the next it felt as if we all needed to leave the room so they could have it to themselves. During the season two finale, producers had fun with this and came up with this little sketch that is something you can never unsee.

World Idol Was a Thing

If you didn’t know, American Idol was adapted from the British version called Pop Idol, which was a huge hit in the U.K. Soon after its major success, more versions of the show started popping up around the world, and by late 2003, when we had already crowned our first and only Idol Kelly, producers of Pop Idol decided it would be a good idea to create World Idol. Think of it as Eurovision, but less importance on the song choice. Don’t get that reference, you lousy Americans? It’s like of the Olympics had a singing event and had one representative from each country compete. Kelly repped the U.S. but came in second to Norway’s Kurt Nilsen, who won with U2’s Beautiful Day. Foiled by Bono again.

Beating the System

For season four, a tricky concept called Dial Idol was introduced, and it’s important to know this had no affiliation at all to American Idol itself. Dial Idol was a Windows program and its associated website that tracks voting trends for Idol contestants. Using your PC’s modem, viewers can automatically vote for their faves and the program reports back to the main website. That site, DialIdol.com, kept track of all the voting data, and therefore was usually a good indicator on who was leading week to week. From seasons four through 13, Dial Idol’s prediction on who would take home the crown was only wrong once, and it was for S13 when the data predicted Jena Irene would win over Caleb Johnson (I barely watched that season too). It was controversial for many reasons, but for those betting money on Idol, it proved to be a secret weapon and guide to win that dough.

The Three Divas Debacle

This was an epic moment from season 3, and maybe the best/worst elimination ever? (Watch it above around the 28:23 mark) It was the results show revealing who was going to make the top 6. Ryan divided the remaining contestants into two groups – on the left side of the stage, it was Fantasia, LaToya and JHud. On the right side of the stage, it was Diana DeGarmo, John Stevens and Jasmine Trias. Ryan then told the remaining contestant, George Huff, that he was safe and to go to the group he also thought was safe. He apprehensively approached the groups, with the Three Divas motioning to come to join them. The audience cheered but then Ryan announced the plot twist – he had joined the wrong group. Note: they did this fake out again in S6, but Melinda Doolittle (in the George Huff position) decided to sit in the middle of the stage and didn’t pick a side lololol). Anyways, the result was the shocking elimination of Jennifer Hudson, but I hear she’s been doing fine since then.

Queen of Crying Memes

Ah, crying girl. The most memorable fan to come out of the pits of the CBS studio audience. Crying girl, aka Ashley Ferl, was 13 years old when she was left in hormonal teen tears after Sanjaya seductively moved his hips as he sang You Really Got Me in season six. The camera only panned to her for a few brief moments, but she’s lived on in the Internet forever. She’s now 22 and a college student majoring in liberal studies. And while she may not be a Fanjaya anymore, she’s still an Idol viewer. Wonder what she thought about Sanjaya’s random wig appearances on the finale last night.

American Juniors

After the unprecedented success of the first two seasons of American Idol, producers decided to capitalize on it even more by launching a spin-off show called American Juniors, looking for the best five young talents to create the country’s next big pop group. The format was a little different than Idol Senior, wherein each week one kid would get voted into the group as opposed to being eliminated. The group barely became anything, but the only thing you need to take out of it is that American was introduced to Lucy Hale of Pretty Little Liars fame. She made it to the group, but now runs from some Big Bad trying to kill her and her friends in designer clothes.

American Idol Experience

In 2009, a theme park attraction called the American Idol Experience, opened at Disney’ World’s Hollywood Studios. It was basically set up to be just like the show, with singers actually auditioning and performing in front of a real audience for a real shot to audition for the real show. There were a handful of Idol finalists from the AI Experience who made it to the show, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that at the grand opening of the attraction, a bunch of Idol alum took the stage, including winners S1 through 7, and that provided for a duet of two of my faves, Carrie and David Cook as seen above. And if you want to go to this attraction, too late. It closed in 2014.

The Best Hollywood Week Groups

Hollywood Week is notoriously difficult, and maybe my favorite part of each season. The contestants are really put to the test, and it always seems like everyone is sleep deprived, hates most people the interact with, and can’t remember the words to well-known songs for the life of them. Tensions run high, people get sick (S11 winner Phillip Phillips even had to be hospitalized during Hollywood Week due to kidney problems) and many are cut from the competition. But every year it’s the group rounds that separate the best from the worst, and in season six, four guys did their damn thing. Three of them even made the semi-finals, with Blake coming in as the runner-up to Jordin. Special shout out to White Chocolate from season eight.

Pants on the Ground

Civil rights activist “General” Larry Platt auditioned with this song in season nine and it became a viral hit. The actual track is meant to protest the practice of guys sagging their trousers, but I have a funny feeling most of the people who bought the single didn’t even realize the real meaning behind it. Either way, it was so memorable he even made a brief appearance on the series finale.

Idol Gives Back

Idol Gives Back was a charity campaign that happened three times throughout the run of the show. The episode featured performances from current and past Idols, celebrities, and music superstars in an effort to get people to donate their money to charity. From the three specials, the campaign raised over $185 million for underserved communities in America and around the world. And also Brad Pitt.

The Scandals

Listen, you can’t have thousands of people across America going to an open call for a hit TV show without meeting a few folks with colorful backgrounds. It began in season two with Corey Clark who was disqualified during the finals (he made it to the top 9) because of an undisclosed criminal record. He later claimed he had an affair with Paula during the show, and that led to her giving him preferential treatment. That went away, but he became a hot mess afterwards. Similarly, Frenchie Davis who I thought was going to be a frontrunner (see: Band of Gold that I still listen to to this day), was disqualified for having previously modelled for an adult website. Other notable controversial contestants include S4’s Mario Vasquez (a frontrunner, left on his own accord citing personal reasons, rumored to be related to lewd conduct with a crew member), S6’s Antonella Barba (racy pix of her surfaced online), S7’s David Hernandez (used to be a stripper), S11’s Jermaine Jones (concealed arrests and outstanding warrants).

Seacrest’s High Five Faux Pas

There is no back story to this besides Ryan can’t read the room.

The Life of Pablo

That time Seacrest used his connections to get Kanye to audition.

“Other Door”

Contestants in the initial rounds had a lot of trouble figuring out which door to leave through, and this montage still gets me cracking up every time. In recent years, they’ve noticeably put an Idol-branded sticker on the door to indicate which one they should go out of.

Bikini Girl

In season eight, a gal called Katrina Darrell showed up to the auditions in only a bikini. It became this whole thing and she even managed to steal a kiss from Ryan. Second-hand embarrassment. She surprisingly made it to Hollywood but got cut in the group rounds. She appeared in the finale alongside judge Kara DioGuardi, who also showed up in her bikini and sang. This show, I swear.

Nicki vs. Mariah

Like what even happened that season? Rumors of their fighting surfaced (maybe that should be in quotes) on TMZ long before the first episodes even aired, and it continued for the whole season. It was annoying. It was even more annoying because the focus turned from the contestants to them, and that’s not fair.

Bigger and Better Than Idol

Listen, not everyone can get it right. And that includes Idol judges. There have been a handful of singers who auditioned for the show, didn’t make it, but eventually became superstars. For instance, Tori Kelly got cut during Hollywood Week, and Simon was not a fan of hers. Cut to 2016 when she got nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy. Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, COlbie Calliat, and Glee’s Amber Riley both didn’t even make it past the preliminary rounds, while The Swon Brothers’ Colton Swon and The Hunger Games star Alan Ritchson also didn’t make the cut.

#YouTried

And finally, here’s an ode to all the finalists who left an impression on me and other Idol fans throughout the 15 seasons. Most of the contestants listed below were underdogs and/or underappreciated, and I feel like they need one more shout out before Idol rides off into the sunset… for now (an actual phrase Seacrest said at the end of the finale, which could mean anything but I don’t need it to come back).

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The Best Of: Carrie Underwood Cover Songs

Anyone else always forget that Carrie Underwood began her career as an American Idol winner? Maybe I forget because that season aired my first year of college, and I was too busy going to frat parties, watching Shaun of the Dead in a crowded dorm room, and excessively highlighting my textbooks in lieu of reading them. Or maybe it’s because Carrie didn’t follow the Idol tradition of having an underwhelming career after the show (other exceptions include Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson).

But when you look at how great she is at cover songs, it all makes sense. Idol is all about covering well-known songs, except for that one usually awful original song in the finale. Sure, you have to “make it your own” and “not be pitchy” or whatever, but mostly the game is just to sell a cover.

It’s summer, and in our book, summer means country music. So in the spirit of our post highlighting the best of Kelly Clarkson’s covers, here is our fav country singer/Idol contestant’s proof that sometimes a stint on reality TV really does pay off.

See You Again – Wiz Khalifa

This made the rounds big time a few weeks ago. I’d be lying if I said I don’t like country covers of hip hop songs… just not when people do that country-rap thing where it sounds like they’re saying a nursery rhyme.

Fix You – Coldplay

Have I mentioned ever how much I hate this song? I hate this song so much. There. Said it. But this cover makes me not hate it, which is saying a lot.

Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams

Sobering moment: if this song were released today – it’s originally from 1985 – it would be about the Summer of ’99. Yet it sounds fresh and new in this cover.

Sweet Child Of Mine – Guns N Roses

Problem I didn’t think I’d have: picking which Carrie Underwood Guns n Roses cover to include. She also does a great rendition of Paradise City.

Different Drum – Linda Ronstadt

It’s always interesting to see who gets chosen to cover songs at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Sometimes it’s an artist who has worked with the person being honored, sometimes it’s someone from a totally different vibe, and sometimes it’s this – something I wouldn’t have predicted, but it works.

Something Good – The Sound Of Music

Let’s talk about the NBC Sound of Music production. It was not… very… great. It was not great. We also didn’t hate it, though – it was fun, and that was the point. Plus now we have Carrie Underwood singing what is both of our favorite song from The Sound Of Music, so, I mean, somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good.

Everybody Hurts – REM

Another song to file under “I usually don’t like this but it’s fine as a cover.” I think it’s not even the song I dislike, it’s just a Pavlovian reaction because it was used to signify that something sad was happening in every movie or tv show that came out when I was a kid.

 

Adios American Idol, Hello All-Stars Edition?

Well it finally happened. Fox execs finally cut the cord on American Idol, and they announced on Monday that the show that brought you everyone from Kelly Clarkson to the Pants on the Ground guy, will be ending next year at the end of its 15th season. FIFTEENTH. Over the past few years, AI has been one of those shows that when you hear about it, you might be like, ‘That show is still on??’ I admit that I fall into the other category, because I’ve more or less watched every single season since the beginning.

American Idol debuted the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, and that summer just so happened to be the same summer that I visited some family members in Los Angeles. Since it was still the first season, I got tickets to the live show fairly easily, and long story short, I was in the audience for the Top 7 performances, I made a sign for *justin*, I was briefly on TV, and I met Mario Lopez (yes, AC Slater). I had to dig deep for this video footage from 13 years ago, but here it is. You’re welcome, Internet.

ais1t7

started from the bottom… still at the bottom but maybe a little higher (and we’re here)

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that I have a long history with the show, and I used to be a hardcore fan who knew all the contestants’ names and hometowns and went to their concerts and bought the CDs and made YouTube playlists of everyone that’s sung I Have Nothing. I drank the Idol Kool-Aid. That fangirl turned into someone who kept stating to people, ‘I’m not going to watch this season because everyone sucks!’, but still do anyways (this season is actually really good, y’all). So next season will be bittersweet in a way, even though I’m not quite as crazy as I used to be.

Fox bosses said that next year will be a “season-long celebration”, hinting at surprises and appearances by former judges and contestants. To me, that seems like a good deal. One last hurrah and Idol is off to reality TV heaven with The Swan and Temptation Island. But the mention of former contestants got me thinking – there are plenty of aspiring singers who I was rooting for but never made it to the top. Where are they now, and can they get a second chance? While I 100% know this would never happen, maybe a decade from now, Fox can use this idea for an American Idol: All-Star edition and bring back the folks who were so close to winning, but never did. Also to clarify, the people on this list are Idol alums who deserve a second chance at stardom, I.E. you won’t see Chris Daughtry or Jennifer Hudson on this list. Also not on the list: Justin Guarini. While I bet a bunch of Idol losers still eligible to audition will return for the fifteenth and final season, here are some that won’t get to make the cut, but one can only dream.

Kimberly Caldwell

{season 2 – seventh place}

Ok, so with these early contestants, you have to consider their talent with a grain of salt. Production was shotty, people still didn’t know what they were auditioning for, and most times the performance ended up being too *karaoke*. But back in season two, Kimberly Caldwell was better than most. She had a deep, raspy voice that wasn’t as belty as third-place finisher Kimberley Locke’s, but she had that blonde, ‘stylish’ look that would be admired in a pop star. Speaking of which, note Paula’s critique: ‘Your hair, your whole outfit, right on the money’, WHICH TO BE FAIR, PROBABLY WAS IN 2003.

Jasmine Trias

{season 3 – third place}

As a young Filipino girl growing up in Western New York I didn’t really recall seeing many people like me on TV (#RepresentationIsImportant). Jasmine, a Filipina, was a big deal not only in my house, but for the Filipino community in her native Hawaii and back home in the Philippines. Which is probably why her voice is more suited to be an Idol back there and not in America.

Mario Vasquez

{season 4 – top twelve/withdrew from competition}

Mario Vasquez was kind of controversial. Not Corey Clark controversial, but controversial in the sense that he was considered a frontrunner, then quit during Top 12 week, citing “personal family issues” as the reason for his departure. He later admitted that he wanted more artistic freedom than what he would’ve been given as winner of Idol, and that’s why he signed a deal with J Records shortly after leaving – the same label of Fantasia and Ruben Studdard. He had like one or two mediocre singles after the show, but whatever really went down, IDC. He had a great voice and for better or worse, he knew it.

Elliott Yamin

{season 5 – third place}

Ah. Elliott Yamin. While the majority of American Idol voters like ‘White Guys With Guitars’ (I enjoy them as well), my personal favorite sub-genre of singers is ‘White Guys With Soul/Could Be Black’. I was actually studying abroad during this season, so I only watched a variety of clips on YouTube, but I did watch every single video of Elliot’s. I get why he didn’t win (I still don’t get why Taylor Hicks did), but gosh, does Elliott have some pipes on him.

Chris Sligh

{season 6 – tenth place}

Chris Sligh had me at hello. Once he made a reference to David Hasselhoff crying in the previous year’s season finale, I knew I was going to like him. Then he started singing and I was a fan for the rest of the contest. Like a lot of contestants, Chris unfortunately peaked early, especially during the infamous Hollywood Week, when he and three others had one of the best group performances ever. EVER.

Matt Giraud

{season 8 – fifth place}

I’m gonna be honest with you. Part of the reason I even decided to do this post was because of Matt Giraud. He is ‘The One That Got Away’ in terms of my relationship with Idol. He also falls under the category of ‘White Guy With Soul’, so you might be noticing a trend here. Whenever I think of Idol contestants who should’ve been more successful/won the show, he is at the top of my list. He can sing saaang, play piano, saaang and play piano well at the same time, and has a great personality. Although Matt was the recipient of the first ever Idol Judges’ save, it couldn’t save him on elimination night when it was down to him and Adam Lambert. But no bitterness here. Just enjoy all the videos of Matt Giraud instead. Like him singing Part-Time Lover, or another unforgettable Hollywood Week group song with winner Kris Allen, or the time he sang Let’s Get It On on Ellen and she laid on the piano while I swooned at home.

Andrew Garcia

{season 9 – eighth place}

Andrew Garcia, a YouTube star who, like Chris Sligh before him, peaked early and got a little too adventurous for the judges’ tastes with his reimagining of pop songs. This was and still is one of the best covers on the show. Too bad Paula wasn’t there to dance and clap along to it.

Didi Benami

{season 9 – tenth place}

Didi didn’t have the conventional pop star/belter voice like a lot of other contestants who go through the Idol bootcamp. Her soft tone was destined for her not to win, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t go far or make her mark. Again, my favorite performance of hers comes during Hollywood Week, when she covered a song written by judge Kara Dioguardi (remember her??), and later sung better, IMO, by S5 runner-up, Katherine McPhee.

Johnny Keyser

{season 11 + 12}

Johnny tried out for Idol season 11, which is when I became obsessed with this audition. I remember making a big deal out of him and he promptly got eliminated. Then he came back season 12… and got eliminated again. He kinda came across as cocky on TV (both seasons), but there’s no denying his audition is pretty hot. And gave J Lo the goosies.

Michael Simeon

{season 14 – top 24}

To me, Michael was poised to be the resident ‘WGWG/heartthrob’ of the season, but like the Chris Slighs and Johnny Keysers before him, he used his best material for the audition, as seen in this clip in which he serenades J Lo with Sam Smith while they slow dance and Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. serve as his backing band. It’s probably for the best that he didn’t make it, because this season proved to be chock full of talent. When the winner is crowned on Wednesday, the other two runners-up will automatically be added to this list. Because they’re all just that good. Seriously. And even one of them is a White Guy With Soul AND White Guy With Guitar!

Wildcards:

The ever dramatic Tatiana Del Toro, American Juniors ‘winner’ Danielle White (still listen to this song from time to time), season one host Brian Dunkleman in a face-off with Seacrest, just for funsies.

Class of ’04: What’s My Age Again?

You can tell me that we graduated 10 years ago, but I still have a difficult time convincing myself that that much time has passed since I last used a locker and attended a gym class (note I didn’t say ‘participated’). And when looking back at pop culture a decade ago, it’s hard to believe that some of these things happened so long ago. Here’s a list of just a few things that happened in 2004 that will make you want to pull out your Sony Discman and blast Blink-182 in an attempt to reclaim your youth.

Oops… I Did It Again

January 3rd: Britney Jean Spears decided to go to Las Vegas and marries her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel, the same place where Paul Newman married Joanne Woodward and Pamela Anderson tied the knot with Rick Salomon (the first time).

January 5th: Brit filed an annulment petition stating she “lacked understanding of her actions” and two hours later, her marriage was completely dissolved.

July 5th: Brit gets engaged to dancer Kevin Federline, whom she met three months earlier. Besides the fact that their relationship was on the fast track to marriage (read: divorce), they were under a lot of heat since Kevin’s and his ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson was still pregnant with their second child.

September 18: B & KFed get married. This is a picture that was taken during the reception.

Nipplegate/Boob Bowl

February 1: Ah yes, the floppy breast that all Americans young and old were exposed to during Super Bowl XXXVIII. As we know, JT ripped off a piece of tear away material covering Janet’s (Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty) right boob, and in their defense they deemed it a “wardrobe malfunction”, but conservatives called it “a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture”, while others just said to “calm the fuck down”. The legal ramifications from the FCC and subsequent lawsuits seemed to be never ending – in fact as recent as 2012, the Supreme Court declined an appeal from the FCC over the $550,000 fine on Nipplegate.

Kanye Drops College Dropout

February 10: Kanye West releases his debut album, The College Dropout, which hits the top of the charts and receives critical acclaim. It’s hard to believe there was a time when we ALL liked Kanye because his music was so good, but then he started talking too much and grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift, etc. and he became one of the most polarizing artists in music. But no one can deny just how freaking good this record was. Even the weakest track on the album was better than most of the rap songs released that year.

You Go, Glen Coco

February 20: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was the first of two leading roles Lindsay Lohan had in 2004, which is considered her breakout year. After appearing in Freaky Friday in 2003, Linds landed another Disney movie with the teen musical that pitted her against a young Megan Fox.

April 30: You know it, you love it, you wear pink on Wednesdays. Mean Girls was released and became a defining teen comedy of the 2000s and launched LiLo into superstar success.

May 1: Luckily, Lindsay had connections at Saturday Night Live thanks to Tina Fey/Mean Girls, and hosted the show for the first time, AKA the show with the most epic (and first) sketch of Debbie Downer.

June 5: Linds becomes the youngest host of the MTV Movie Awards at just 17 years old. Meanwhile, I think I was busy “studying” my Sparknotes for my AP English exam.

December 7: Lindsay’s first album, Speak is released and surprisingly gets certified platinum. I’m not going to lie to you, she has some pretty catchy tunes that may or may not have been downloaded via Napster. But seriously though – Over?!

Jimmy Meets World

May 15: Jimmy Fallon makes his last appearance as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, closing out his six-season tenure with a rousing all cast musical rendition of Grease’s Summer Nights, with his leading lady, Tina Fey.

You Can’t Be Sirius

May 23: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban hits theaters. I admit, I was such a late bloomer to HP. Like I didn’t start reading until the day the 7th book came out :\ I hang my head in shame (And I also blame my parents who I’m convinced believed that reading the books legit made you some kind of witch frreal). Anyways, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed installment grossed a total of $796.6 million worldwide, making it the lowest-grossing in the whole HP film series, but still ranks it the 44th highest-grossing film of all time. Whatever. This was my favorite movie up until the last one, and arguably my favorite book.

I Believe In Miracles

May 26: Fantasia Barrino wins the third season of American Idol in one of the most memorable and dramatic reveals in all of television history. Reminder that this is the same year Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson placed seventh and Diana DeGarmo was the runner-up. (Sidenote: I just saw Diana and hubs season 5 Idol alum Ace Young in the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tour and like a fine wine, her voice has just gotten better with age. Ace, maybe not so much. They’re cute tho. Go go go Joe!)

Closing Time

Our beloved Friends came to a close (which you can reminisce over at our Friends 10 Week tag), while shows I was too young to watch (Ed, Sex and the City, The Practice) and shows I was too old to still be watching (Lizzie McGuire, Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, CatDog) also met their demise. RIP Lizzie + Gordo, forever in our hearts.

Meet Michael Phelps

August: The 2004 Summer Olympics are held in Athens, Greece and the main takeaway is that America came out with a new sports legend in Michael Phelps. At just 19 years old, he won 8 medals, 6 of which were gold, the other 2 bronze, well on his way to becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympics history. In the video above, Michael wins his 5th gold of the games in the 4×200 relay, helping his team edge out Ian “Thorpedo” Thorpe and the Australians by a hair. UGH I miss the Olympics.

Pieces of Me

October 23: Ashlee Simpson gets caught lip synching on Saturday Night Live and I have second hand embarrassment for all involved.

Beyonce Realizes Her Full Potential

November 16: Destiny’s Child releases their fourth and final studio album, Destiny Fulfilled. This record is not as solid as The Writing’s On The Wall (but really, which DC3 record is?), but it has one of my all time favorite Destiny’s Child Songs, Girl, as well as Cater 2 U. It’s fine, they all did well after the breakup. Right, Michelle?

Ken Jennings Makes Jeopardy! Event Television

November 30: Ken Jennings’ 74-consecutive win streak finally ends at the hands of competitor Nancy Zerg. He’s won a total of $3,196,300 from the show, which is… a heck of a lot of money and knowledge. Question: Where is Nancy Zerg now?

BriWi Takes Over

December 2:  Tom Brokaw resigns as anchorman of NBC Nightly News after 22 years at the desk and is replaced by Brian Williams. Love ya Tommy B, but if you didn’t retire, we would have never been able to get MC BriWillie out of his shell.

 

Live Blog: My Mom watches the Dancing with the Stars finale

Dancing with the Stars is one of the biggest reality TV shows on the air, and naturally I have to watch it and keep up with it and write any news pertaining the show. But I always forget that the one person who is pretty much the ideal demographic fort this show is my mother. Like suburban, older, women usually like this show. Naturally, she was excited about the season finale. I just happened to be with my parents on the night of this past week’s season 16 finale, and I could only get her reactions to the last hour of the two-hour finale, but they’re still entertaining none the less. It’s like she was betting money on it or something, that’s how into it and stressed she was over the show. I mean, I tend to get emotional about telveision, but it’s so uncharacteristic from her that I was more amused than annoyed. Here are some quality quotes from the Dancing with the Stars shit show. BTW – this was mostly said in Filipino, so this is all a rough translation of what she said…

During Pitbull’s performance: “(Judge) Len (Goodman) better be careful or he’ll break something!”

This man may be 69 years old, but he’s a ballroom champ and legit was helping finalist Jacoby Jones in practice the day before.

When cameras panned over to the audience: “Oh it’s Kristi! Kristi’s there!” (Yamaguchi, because she’s on a first name basis with her, apparently.)

When missing the part where the top four was narrowed down to three, and NFL pro Jacoby Jones was still in the competition: “JACKoby? JACKoby will probably win now!!” – It’s pronounced Jah-CO-bee.

And finding out Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman placed fourth, below Jacoby: “Aly probably cried… Jacoby’s good but not as good as the women. How disappointing.”

After Jacoby’s instant salsa: Jacoby’s mom is too much (she was holding up her own a ’10’ sign from the audience): “They’ll probably give him a 10. That is not right… That’s why he has a lot of fans- because of this touchdown dance.”

On Zendaya’s instant jive dance: “Ohhh her music is so good (It was the classic, Rockin’ Robin).”

On 16-year-old Zendaya’s footwear choices: “See, she can’t dance in heels. She should be dancing in heels. But she’s a kid… she’s not wearing heels.” (She actually wears heels 90% of the time on the show)

Zendaya’s video package talking about her final dance on the show: “It’s definitely going to suck” – Zendaya
“HA ‘SUCKS’! SHE’S A KID!” – My old mom

On appreciating figure skate alumni in the audience: “Oh Dorothy’s there too. Dorothy and Kristi are sitting next to each other!” (the DWTS mom version of fangirling)

“They need to improve the mirrorball trophy.”

On last season’s American Idol runner-up (and 1/2 Filipino), Jessica Sanchez, who performed: “Ay it’s Jessica!!! She has too much makeup on… she has on too much makeup.”

Still not over Jacoby making it over Aly: “It will be so disappointing if Jacoby wins… See he has the lowest cheers.” (from the audience)

After Jacoby was eliminated, leaving Zendaya and American Idol alum Kellie Pickler in the top two: “There – there it won’t matter who wins between the two of them… even though I like Kellie.”

When Kellie Pickler was named the champion of DWTS: “They’re (Kellie & pro partner Derek) shocked!! It’s because of their performance from last night. Because she’s very artistic… But derek won again – how many is this that he won? She didn’t become the American Idol but she was the Dancing with the Stars champion.”

Forgotten American Idol Contestants

Tonight is the final singoff of this, the 97th season of American Idol. It is now down to one young girl who sings songs versus another young girl who sings songs. If you hadn’t guessed already, I am part of the reason that American Idol ratings have plunged so drastically in the past several years.

Lo, those 11 years ago, I waited with bated breath to find out whether Kelly Clarkson or Justin Guarini would take home the prize. I boasted a mini-crush on Guarini, and may have brushed away a few (okay, a flood) of happy tears as Clarkson belted “A Moment Like This.” “It’s really true!” I cried in my 15-year-old heart. “Some people really DO wait a lifetime for a moment like this!”

It’s hard to say when things started to change for me. Maybe it was the shakeup in the judges panel. Maybe it was when I realized that I didn’t have 2-12 hours a week to devote to the show (for real, the episodes are SO LONG and SO FREQUENT, it’s almost the exact opposite of my workout schedule). Or, maybe it was when I realized that for every Kelly Clarkson, there was a Lee DeWyze.

I’m not even going to get into the people who were voted off after one episode.  I’m limiting this to folks who at least made the top five, because otherwise it’s just not fair and also those guys aren’t on Wikipedia. All of these folks made it fairly far into the show, maybe even to the finale. But unless you’re a mega fan, or a friend or relative, you probably haven’t given them a second thought for years:

Season One:

Wikipedia Count (number of finalists boasting their own Wikipedia page in 2013. If you aren’t on Wikipedia, you may as well not exist. NB: I do not exist): 8/30

Oh yeah… him of the year: Justin Guarini

Guarini was appealing, in an innocuous, Raggedy Andy way. His most recent credit was a 2012 Radio Play of It’s A Wonderful Life. This makes me wonder whether  the reason Guarini has been absent from the pop culture landscape is because he has time-travelled to 1932. Personally, I think he’d be GREAT in talkies.

Are there people who are more forgotten than Guarini from Season 1? Sure. (Christina Christian, anyone?). But with a piss-poor Wikipedia rate, the pickings are slim.

Season Two:

Wikipedia Count: 12/32

Oh yeah… her of the year: Trenyce.

Somebody tried to tell me fashion hasn’t changed much since the early 2000s. To them, I offer this photo.

I could have gotten real obscure (Grimsby), but it didn’t seem fair so I limited myself to the top 5. I remember the name Trenyce but not the person. Since leaving AI, her theater credits include The Vagina Monologues, a credit probably also shared with That One Girl From Your Dorm Freshman Year Who Was Really Into Women’s Studies. Judgment aside, she’s stayed out of the spotlight but, per Wikipedia, has built a pretty solid theater career for herself. I still don’t think that means she gets to go by a mononym, though.

Season Three

Wikipedia Count: 10/32

Oh yeah… him of the year:George Huff.

Huff is notable as the only top-5 contestant to make it through after another contestant was DQ’ed for a drunk driving arrest. On looking up his photo, I did think he was cute at the time and liked his old-school crooner style. I’m only able to get to 2011 with this guy, when he was singing backup for Jennifer Hudson. Those AI types like to stick together, you know. If you’re wondering who you do remember from Season Three, he didn’t even make it past the audition round. William Hung. Remember him, a little? That was shameful for all of us.

Season Four

Wikipedia Count: 12/24

Oh yeah… him of the year:Scott Savol.

Yeah, exactly. If you remember anything, it’s that there was a controversy because before competing, he was arrested for beating his girlfriend. However, Wikipedia also notes that he received a strong vote from the Christian contingent because he often thanked God after his performances. America, you’re embarrassing yourself.

He played the Cowardly Lion in Lubbock.

Season Five

Wikipedia Count: 11/24

Oh yeah… her of the year:Paris Bennett. Paris was adorable, heiress to a singing legacy, and has been off the face of the planet for the past 4 years, I guess. She now has a baby, also adorable.

This season also featured Daughtry. When I was at a small-town Wal-Mart, I had to spell my last name. “Oh, that’s kind of close to Daughtry!”, the teenage cashier said. “Yeah, I suppose,” I answered. She continued: “You must get, like, a lot of publicity for it.” So, hey, Daughtry and season 5 of AI as a whole, THANKS FOR ALL THE PUBLICITY.

Season Six

I don’t recognize a single one of these people.

Wikipedia Count: 14/24

Oh yeah… him of the year:Phil Stacey.

I remember nothing about Stacey, but evidently he served in the Navy so maybe that upped his vote count? He’s signed to a Christian label so, who knows, maybe he’s really big in church.

Remember Sanjaya? That happened this season, too.

Season Seven

What I remember of this season: a guy I knew had a crush on David Archuleta, and I was all, that’s weird how you like BABIES.

Wikipedia Count: 14/24

Oh yeah… her of the year:Brooke White.

If it helps, she played the piano. Like 70% of Idol contestants, she released a Christmas album at one point.

Season 8

Wikipedia Count: 14/36

Oh yeah… her of the year:Allison Iraheta.

She had brightly dyed hair, so maybe that jogs your memory. Prior to AI, she competed on a reality show called Quincenera on Telmundo, which I definitely watched a few times (up there with Mira Quien Baila!)

Season 9

Wikipedia Count: 12/24

Oh yeah… him of the year: Casey James

Blonde hair, played guitar, was once in a car accident? My other choice for Oh yeah… him of Season 9 was Michael Lynche, but his wife had a baby during the season and that sort of rang a bell.

Season 10

Wikipedia Count: 12/24

Oh yeah… him of the year: Like the entire list, I swear to God. Haley Reinhart? James Durbin? Jacob Lusk? You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone you barely remember. I could probably swing a dead cat in my office right now, potentially hit one of these people, and STILL not realize that they’d been on American Idol.

Season 11

Wikipedia Count: 13/24

Oh yeah… her of the year:Skylar Laine. Though she has plenty of time to make an impression in the future, as evidently girlfriend was born in 1994. 1994! I have nailpolish I’ve had since then. She’s working on a nursing degree, which seems wise. Atta girl!

Season 12

Wikipedia Count: 11/20

Oh yeah… him of the year: Sorry, I didn’t watch this season.

Albums I own that I probably shouldn’t have paid for

I think we’ve all been the victim of buying one or two (or three or four) CDs that make us question if we were sane when we purchased them. I’d say my collection of records that fall under this category was a result of the TRL, the need to be cool, and wasting time in the mall record store.

Of course, most kids these days don’t have the luxury of going to an FYE/Media Play/Virgin Records, etc. and scouring through a bunch of albums, but when I was a young, impressionable teen, these are some of the gems I purchased – with my parents’ money.

A Rosie Christmas

Back in middle school, Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show was the absolute hottest thing to take daytime TV, and I was obsessed. So naturally, A Rosie Christmas was on my wish list. It’s basically an entire album of Rosie singing with celebrities. Including “Angelica Pickles”, the hit pop singer from the Rugrats.

A Very Rosie Christmas

Like I said, I was obsessed. But that’s a story for another day. This is the follow up to A Rosie Christmas, because apparently, the first one was such a hit. (BTW, what ever happened to Billy Gilman?)

NBC Celebrity Christmas

So I totally forgot I owned this until I came across this jam on Tumblr – John Spencer, Martin Sheen, and Stockard Channing ‘singing’ Wonderful Christmastime. I was like, ‘What in God’s name is this and where is it from?’ Then I remembered I actually owned the very album it came from. Oops. Other notable NBC celebs on the cd: Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally, and the devil Jay Leno.

P.O.D. – Satellite

So this is where the TRL influence kicks in. Because let’s be honest, I would have no idea who P.O.D. was if Youth of a Nation wasn’t my jam.

Lit – A Place in the Sun

Hey you know what, it’s no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy.

Ruben Studdard – Soulful

When American Idol first aired in 2003, I was a fan immediately. I even went to a taping during the first season, was on TV with an embar sign, and met a 90s teen heartthrob (again, a story for another day). But season 2, I wasn’t even that big of a fan of Ruben, in fact I was more of a Clay Aiken fan – whose album I did have, but please note it’s not on the list. So why did I have his album? Because I fell intro the trap. I mean the lead single from this album is called “Sorry 2004.” Literally the lyrics are “This is my sorry for 2004.”

Krystal Harris – Me and My Piano

Never seen this person before? Well probably only a small niche of people have, so it’s ok. Krystal Harris was the “first” singer signed to the Backstreet Boys (now defunct?) record label. She opened up for them on their Black and Blue tour, which is how I’m familiar with her. However she did have a super minor “hit” with a song called Super Girl, which was featured on The Princess Diaries soundtrack. [Ed note: I just listened to this song for the first time in years, and it’s actually pretty catchy?]

Limp Bizkit – Significant Other

I was so bad ass as a kid that I didn’t even do it for the nookie. I did it to impress my friends because I wanted to show that there was more to me than a BSB fan. I was wrong.

Movies I Actually Paid To See In the Theater: Part 1 – Shame

In part 1 of a 2 part mini-series, I reflect on some films that some consider to be the worst of the worst, but I consider to be… well still maybe the worst, but I gave them the benefit of doubt to be potentially really good.

Here is a list of the movies I am embarrassed to have paid money for, but in my defense, most of these were when I was a teenager, so there’s that.

From Justin to Kelly (2003)

IMDb Plot Description: “A lonely, sexually repressed man. A depressed woman. A summer camp. On this fateful night, they will meet… and their hearts will become one.”

This outing was only prompted by the fact that American Idol was the biggest thing in pop culture that year, and I totally fell into their ploy. I even went to a taping of Idol that year, and had a sign showing my allegiance to Justin that may or may not have made it on air (That’s also where I met Mario Lopez, but that’s a story for another day). So naturally, I felt like I had to see the movie too. Even as a teen, I knew it was bad. But now we can all watch it and make it a drinking game, so really, win-win.

Marci X (2003)

IMDb Plot Description: “A Jewish-American Princess is forced to take control of a hard-core hip-hop record label and tries to rein the one of the label’s most controversial rappers.”

Again, I only wanted to see this movie since Lisa Kudrow was in it and I was at the height of my Friends obsession. Looking back, this movie had a few comedic moments, but overall it was just second-hand embarrassment for Pheebs, not to mention, the movie is actually a little racist?

Serving Sara (2002)

IMDb Plot Description: “A process server tries to serve an elusive female target.”

Apparently I would literally see anything that any of the Friends cast was in, because I saw Matthew Perry in this movie too and it wasn’t good. Newsflash, pretty much all of the movies the Friends made between 1994-2004 were not good. Save for maybe The Whole Nine Yards and all the Jennifer Aniston movies.

Corky Romano (2001)

IMDb Plot Description: “The loser son of a Mafia honcho must go undercover for the FBI.”

I guess another thing to note was that my default for going out with my friends in high school, like a lot of teens, is to go to the movies. But to go to the movies not for its quality, but to go because you recognize the star in it and there’s nothing else to do. Enter Corky Romano. I was also really into Saturday Night Live, and although Chris Kattan was not my favorite by far (Jimmy Fallon, obvs), he was on SNL so it had to be funny, right? Absolutely not.

Sydney White (2007)

IMDb Plot Description: “A modern retelling of Snow White set against students in their freshman year of college in the greek system.”

Well, I was thisclose to putting this movie on my other list (of movies I have no shame in seeing), but looking at the big picture, I paid like $3 to see Sydney White at a second run theater during a matinee because I didn’t have that much faith in it. To my surprise it was actually quite entertaining, and it’s a nice reminder of how Amanda Bynes used to be before this happened.

The Best Of: Kelly Clarkson Cover Songs

KC did this awesome thing on her recent Stronger tour where she asked fans to send in their requests for songs they would like to see her cover during every single stop on the tour. The result was fantastic, as she murdered pretty much every song she performed. Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of  all of them, but here are my favorites if you want the abridged version.

*PS: Note to ALL YouTube uploaders: It is absolutely annoying when you talk during the video and the viewer can hear every single word out of your damn mouth. Shut it.

I Know You Won’t – Originally by Carrie Underwood

Fix You – Originally by Coldplay

Gravity – Originally by Sara Bareilles

Crazy For You – Originally by Madonna

Poison and Wine w/ Duets contestant Jason Farol – Originally by The Civil Wars