Who gets when Idol gives back?
Disguise it however you want. Call it "giving back" and dress Simon up in a white shirt -- it's still a telethon. But, there's no shame in telethons.
I lived abroad for a couple of years and had the opportunity to get to know extremely needy people from many different countries. I remember one from Nigeria who was one of two survivors in a party of 20 that hiked across the Sahara desert and crossed the Straight of Gibraltar to live a better life in Spain. That meant picking melons in the field and living on dirt floors in a house with a bunch of other families -- and he was the lucky one.
I think it's cool that Idol is using its power to make life easier for people in need. I wish there were more in the world willing to do the same. Wouldn't that be nice? Equally nice would be suspicion-free charity.
While everyone is busy being high on being nice, Idol will get a lot more than they're giving. And I wonder what kind of tax break $5 million is worth? What sours the whole thing even more is how the contestants are almost completely shoved aside while everyone else on the show is "giving back." What attracted people to Idol in the first place?
I thought the contestants did a good job sharing the stage with the Ryan Struthers, though. I'm still creeped out by Phil, but he's grown a lot since the beginning. He sounded like he could be Michael Bolton's bald cousin. And I'm glad to see he's taken Sanjaya's place of honor on 'Talk Soup.'
I was nervous about Blake singing 'Imagine' -- I was praying he wouldn't start beat boxing, and it was hard for me to hear Lakisha sing 'I Believe.' I heard that song a lot on tour and can't imagine anyone other that Fantasia singing it. I wouldn't be surprised to see her go tomorrow night.
Melinda was the same as ever and Chris was OK, but Jordin was a highlight. I think she's the one to beat.
This whole "giving back" business has left me with a weird jumble of emotions, compassion, suspicion and a little confusion. I voted for the first time this season -- for every contestant. Can I get a picture of the person I'm helping?
Answers to Reader's Questions:
Who picks the songs for the Idols?
The contestants themselves. In the beginning, you submit a list of five songs you want to sing and hope that they clear for television. As time goes on song selection is more collaborative with the producers.
What were you doing backstage last Wednesday night?
I was shooting for 'American Idol Extra.'
[You can watch Jon's performance on 'American Idol Extra,' which airs on Fox Reality Network, on May 3.]
Jon Peter Lewis was a finalist on the third season of "American Idol." His newly released debut album, "Stories From Hollywood," is available everywhere online and can also be downloaded at americanidol.com. Visit Jon's Web site for more.