Phillip Phillips

"Capitol Fourth": Big crowds, big variety

Yes, there really is musical variety on TV ... but only if you promise fireworks and more. There's a terrific range to this year's "Capitol Fourth" concert on PBS. Here's the story I sent to papers:


OK, we're sort of happy for Phillip

It wasn't the ending I wanted, but it was the one I expected. And in its final moments, when Phillip Phillips was too emotional to sing his own song, "American Idol" had achieved one of its goals: A true unknown, a talented rustic, had come from nowhere to win.

I prefered Joshua Ledet or Jessica Sanchez, who finished third and second. With the exception of Adam Lambert (another runner-up) and maybe Carrie Underwood, they are the best "Idol" singers ever.

For a while there, Jessica had a victory

For two-thirds of Tuesday's "American Idol," I really thought Jessica Sanchez could pull an upset. Then, alas, the final song changed everything. A few comments:

1) Randy Jackson's rule used to make sense: Never sing Whitney or Mariah or Celine; the comparison will hurt you. Then came Sanchez tonight, tackling the work of three great voices -- Whitney Houston, then Celine Dion, then Jessica Sanchez.

"Idol" finale: Quiet kids seek loud success

OK, by now I'm reasonably excited about the "American Idol" finale, Tuesday and Wednesday. My original bitterness -- Joshua Ledet, maybe the best "Idol" singer ever, is gone -- is subsiding; this will still be fun.

I've sent papers two versions of an "Idol"-finale story, the second one adding comments from Jimmy Iovine, the show's mentor. Here's that version:


Joshua leaves; despair arrives

What is true stardom like? How should an "American Idol" winner sound and feel?

Tonight, we saw two splendid examples. Alas, neither will be an "Idol" champion.

First was Adam Lambert, the most talented male the show has ever had. He finished second (to Kris Allen, likable and forgettable) in 2009. His guest performance tonight was sensational, as usual.

Then was Joshua Ledet, the second-most-talented male the show has had. We now learn that he's merely finishing third to Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips.

A quick look at CBS and Idol

This has been a busy day, so let me rush through  two things:

-- After some bold moves by the other networks (see previous blogs), CBS had only a couple surprises.

-- And for "American Idol," I see a Joshua-Phillip finale. Details:

1) CBS' big surprise involves nudging "Two and a Half Men" over to Thursdays, where a better show ("Big Bang Theory") can boost it. That makes room for one new comedy (from the "Will & Grace" guys) on Mondays, with "2 Broke Girls" at th crucial 9 p.m. slot.

"Idol" finalists: Swinging kids in a grown-up world

Amid the multi-million-dollar glare of
“American Idol,” it's easy to forget the basics: These are kids –
teens, often – in a grown-up business.

Listen to Hollie Cavanagh – who made
the final four before being eliminated Thursday – talk about
Wednesday, when she and Jessica Sanchez were singing while on swings:
“We had fun with those swings during rehearsals,” she said. “We
were trying to swing higher.”

"Idol" re-defines the California sound

This may be the broadest definition ever offered for music's "California sound." Tonight's "American Idol" even included a song performed by Josh Groban.

Hey, it doesn't work that way. Cole Porter grew up on an Indiana farm, but that doesn't mean he wrote country music. Classical pianist Ruth Laredo grew up in Detroit, but that doesn's mean she had the Motown Sound. And Groban grew up in Los Angeles, but that doesn't make his powerhouse, classical-tinged music any relation to the Beach Boys and The Eagles.

"Idol" ousts Elise: Being the old-timer isn't always helpful

Elise Testone seemed wedged into an
“American Idol” sub-category.

“(Erika Van Pelt) always called us
'the old girls,'” she said today (Friday). “And she's two years younger than I

A strong and faithful fairwell

Yes, I'm surprised to see Colton Dixon leaving "American Idol" so soon. Here's the quick-turnaround piece I just sent to papers, from his interview this morning. Also, please read the three previous blogs -- one on my comedy gig Sunday and two commenting on "Idol" this week:


It may take a while for Colton Dixon to
realize he's not on “American Idol” any more.