On Idol, when have you "arrived"?

by Jon Peter Lewis, posted May 17th 2007 12:41PM

Jon Peter LewisI like surprises. Aside from Sanjaya, this year hasn't had very many -- although, he's probably enough surprise for an entire season. Melinda, Simon's longtime favorite and subsequently everyone else's, said goodbye to all our company. M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.

(You won't get that if you weren't forced to watch everything involving Annette Funicello as a kid. My mom knew how to punish us when she was mad.)

And now without the protection of success, the media wolves are already laying into whatever they can get. Some are taking this opportunity to assuage their own egos by claiming that they weren't surprised at all.

They claim Melinda's age, look and ancient song choice was a dead giveaway for her departure. Others say she peaked early and didn't have anywhere to build. Fickle! Et tu Brute?

Say what you will. It was a surprise. You all know at one time or another you were talking to some other Idol watcher when no one else was looking and were like, "Oh yeah, that Melinda Doolittle sure can sing. She'll be in the finals for sure, don't 'cha know." But, I don't think the surprise is as important as whether or not making it in the top three is enough to expect to have, as Paula says, "arrived."

On a show like Idol, I always wonder at what point the contestant becomes a star. Sure, once you're on TV for a while you get a complimentary Z-list celebrity pass. With a show like Idol maybe "X" or "Y". But, when do you become a star? I think it's this episode. I mean, screaming fans and flocks of girls are enough to convince me. Also, I think having your own holiday counts.

While on my way home from a recording session in Atlanta yesterday morning, I was randomly on the same flight with Stephanie Edwards and Phil Stacey. They were headed to L.A. to prep for the finale next week. By the way, anything negative I said about Phil was wrong. He's a real stand-up guy -- not creepy at all. He deserves an apology. Sorry Phil.

Anyway, he said something pretty interesting during the course of our conversation. Talking about the show production, I said back on season three it was "ghetto Idol" and he responded "Yeah, no offense, but we do have much better hook-ups." Then he told me about some private party they all went to at Rupert Murdoch's house.

Ya know, I'm almost convinced that being in the top three nowadays might be enough to say, "I've arrived." Almost. At the end of the day, though, Melinda is a massively popular TV star, and that ship just sailed. So, until she has a CD and a few Grammys under her belt, there won't be any resting on laurels.

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.

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I appreciated your comments about Phil. It takes humility and character to revise earlier statements as you did.

I'm also eager to hear more about your recording in Atlanta. That sounds exciting. Can you tell everyone what you were recording and how that went?

Also, at some point, I'd love to hear you discuss sound engineering issues. At tonight's finale performances, the sound mixing seemed particularly below par. Sometimes the band overpowered the singers, and other times the backup singers were too loud. During your season, I believe they moved to a new large stage. The chatter at the time was that AI struggled to get the sound right on that stage too. It seemed the monitors were inadequate to allow finalists singing softer songs to hear themselves well enough. I know you aren't a sound engineer, but what technical things do you think go into allowing singers to really shine?

May 23 2007 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ederlita Simpson

singing competition is singing competition per se. How a person can gauge the real, best singer? Melinda is the best singer of the remaining three. She has the edge-she knows the music well. Proof is, she is a versatile singer--she can rock. I thought that this will be a breakthrough for "American Idol"--being Melinda as the bestowed American Idol runaway winner. Melinda is an elite singer. She is not just singing and performing, but she knows exactly what music is? Her best rendition for this competition is---My Funny Valentine--wow! it's really really great. She can give more justice to an old song.

May 22 2007 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Blake is bad. Jordin does not have any ummph. It was the first time I wanted the Judges to overule......

May 22 2007 at 2:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Blake goes on, regardless of the fact that he can't sing, mainly because he is white. Jordon goes on because she is young, ruthless and gullible. She screwed up many songs. I bet her insane temperment will reveal itself when she comes to realizessomeone expects her to, at least, like music.

May 22 2007 at 2:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


"Simon seemed to be trying much harder this year to be likable."

I have to disagree. I thought he was unnecessarily brutal on many occasions.

"Paula added less than ever. Randy contributed less than Paula. They are just picking up a paycheck now. Time to ruffle some feathers, me thinks."

This I agree with. Randy needs to add some words to his vocabulary ASAP; he's cool, but he's incredibly repetitive. As for Paula, she's losing brain cells at the speed of light. I like that she adds an element of compassion to the show, coz it generates conflict between her and Simon and it softens his blows to the contestants. But she can be so inarticulate sometimes it's painful to watch.

It definitely seems like they're just going through the motions. The lot of them are so overpaid it's obscene.

May 18 2007 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Elias

Very true about Peter Lemongello, Allen...Who knows what other atrocities Simon would have committed during the disco era.

This season's been a little off to me. There's little "magic" and certainly not much excitement other than seeing the best singer exit the competition at 3rd.

May 18 2007 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Woah, Cindy. Back up the truck. I love Elvis. But, the truth is, he had great style and a cool voice, but as a singer, a trained vocalist he was not. And that's what I was talking about.

Regarding Simon. I think what is most intriguing to me is how he thinks, because he helped create this show and he is a judge that he is an arbiter of good taste. Il Divo? What is it, 1976? In the disco era Simon would have managed Peter Lemengello.
But that aside. The success of AI has afforded him the belief that he is a tastemaker. ANd he is not. He barely qualifies as a svengali. Well, maybe not barely.
Simon has lucked into great success with AI but, I believe we have seen the season that has the show jumping the shark.
This was the first season (by the producers own account) where the contestants finally realized that you don't have to win to be huge. It took this long for people to get that, but it's a truism. Top three is good enough to have a hit record. With that cynicism, the contestants aren't really competing. They just want to make it to the top ten to get a piece of the tour-pie. Then the top 3 ish to get a big record deal and even bigger exposure for that record.
That cynicism can tank a show like this, that relies of bestowing a crown on an "everyperson".
So,unless they ditch the awful singers part of the show next year and concentrate on finding just really good, quality voices, they are doomed.
Interesting judicial note: Simon seemed to be trying much harder this year to be likable.
Paula added less than ever.
Randy contributed less than Paula.
They are just picking up a paycheck now.
Time to ruffle some feathers, me thinks.

May 18 2007 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cindy Gibson

HOLD THE PHONE!!!!!!!! To hell with AI, Allen,
He sang without all the mechanical help they have today and in every style was as pure as the next.
Sorry, I'm on my soapbox.
Melinda will now take the same test as all the others before her. Will she be like Clay(Not) or Daughtry(hopefully). Time will tell the true heart and talent whe possesses.

May 18 2007 at 8:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"she should never have had the opportunity to compete in the first place as she was already a PROFESSIONAL."

So are Blake and Melinda.

May 18 2007 at 1:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 17 2007 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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