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Top ten Idol stories of 2009

Here are what I think were the top 10 biggest stories related to “American Idol” this year, in no particular order.

Kara DioGuardi arrives. The producers decided a fourth judge would shake things up and brought in a pro, someone who has music experience as a songwriter and producer, as well as a solo artist. At first, I thought she’d bring something fresh to the table with talk of artistry and brand potential. But she got boring fast. Sadly, the one thing I’ll remember from her first year is her attempt to out-bikini the Bikini Girl. (Okay, she did, not that the competition was all that fierce.)

-  Dark horse wins! Kris Allen, who nobody (including me) expected to make it past the top 8, managed to win the eighth season of Idol, beating out two more obvious favorites. He was low key, capable of strumming a good tune and an all-around nice guy. He improved over the course of the show and his take on Kanye West’s “Heartless” probably sealed the deal with fans.

-  Viewer fatigue. The show lost about 8 percent of its viewers this year. Considering the show is now eight years old, that isn’t bad. But certain things annoyed the loyal fans, especially the way the show couldn’t seem to end on time no matter how hard Ryan tried. We blamed the four judges and the absence of producer Nigel Lythgoe. Yet… here we are with four judges again. And no Nigel, who is enjoying life solely in “So You Think You Can Dance” zone.

- It’s all about Adam! From day one, he came across as that flamboyant in-your-face theater guy who is both mesmerizing and annoying. That scream! That makeup! That come hither look! The women melted. Sure, he was gay. And everyone knew it. And sure, he waited until after the show to “officially” out himself. But the reason he almost won was his pure ability to perform, be it a Led Zeppelin cover or an Indian-tinged take on Johnny Cash. The man has cahones! And he seems like a nice guy to boot.

- Paula Abdul leaves! We thought she’d forever be our girl. Straight up, we all honestly expected her to sign a new contract but the two sides could never close the gap. She felt “Idol” treated her like a coldhearted snake financially compared to the rich contracts Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell got. So rush, rush, she walked away, unlikely to see paydays like that ever again. We miss you already!

- Ellen DeGeneres takes over for Paula. While the more obvious picks would have been another 80s/90s era female singer (Pat Benatar? Taylor Dayne?), the producers approached “Idol” fangirl Ellen DeGeneres, who quickly hammered out a five-year deal. So clearly, “Idol” thinks this is a good thing. Reaction? Definitely mixed, given Ellen’s lack of musical authority and rather lazy guest performance on “So You Think You Can Dance.” She can only quip her way so far. Let’s hope she can add something more than a pun-ny critique.

- Danny Gokey oversold? “Idol” cast the top 10 really well. We had goofy quirky (Megan Joy), sensitive blind boy (Scott McIntyre), teen rocker (Allison Iraheta), a Justin-Timberlake-meets-the-Fray blend (Matt Giraud) and this man, Gokey, the emotive religious man with the cool glasses and dead wife. Gokey’s back story and his great vocals combined to make him an early favorite. But being an early favorite ultimately hurt him because honestly, his performances never got better. He never had his “Heartless.” (And when he tried to out-Adam Adam with “Dream On,” well, we know what happened then…)

- Carrie Underwood plays on. A third album and no signs of slowing down for “Idol’s” most successful country artist. She had the singles (”I Told You So,” “Cowboy Casanova”), the TV special, the awards, the acclaim and heck, even a hockey-playing boyfriend Mike Fisher, who wouldn’t generate People magazine gossip items. (IRONIC UPDATE: Extra today reports the pair are engaged.)

- Jennifer Hudson moves on. After a devastating 2008 when several family members were murdered, Hudson found her way back into the public spotlight. First, she sang an incredible version of National Anthem at the Super Bowl, followed by an Oprah appearance, a touching moment at the Grammys, a singing spot on Michael Jackson’s funeral and a baby. More recently, she enjoyed her very own ABC special. And she even nabbed a role to play Nelson Mandela’s wife Winnie in an upcoming biopic.

- Kelly Clarkson comes back strong. After “My December”  did (relatively) poorly amid creative differences with her label in 2007, Kelly found her footing with her current release, which generated three top 10 hits. The closest to a conflict was how similar “Already Gone” is to “Halo,” thanks to the producer sending the two artists the same backing tracks. She still comes across as down to earth and remains far outside the TMZ circles by living in Texas when she’s not touring and recording. Smart gal.

51 comments Add your comment

Deirdre

December 21st, 2009
8:50 am

Morning!

I like your top 10 Rodney! Did Clay “come out” this year? That was a pretty big non-story for awhile.

On a personal note….I have been suffering from nasty gallstone attacks for a few months now. The surgery is scheduled for early January(yes Rodney, I WILL be available for the week of the 17th…more about that later)I am actually looking forward to getting the little bugger out and would have done it sooner if not for the holidays. I wouldn’t wish these attacks on my worst enemy!

Deirdre

December 21st, 2009
8:57 am

There might be one more BIG story for this year. rumors are rampant that Carrie Underwood and her hockey player are engaged.

kelly&carriefan

December 21st, 2009
8:58 am

Hey y’all…

Love this list and the fact that you saved the best for last… It certainly was an interesting, change-filled year in Idol-land. Though, we really won’t see the actual show changes until next year. When does Ellen come in? Or more accurately, when does Hollywood week begin?

I’m glad Jennifer’s had a great year considering how horrible 2008 was for her. She’s immensely talented and it’s awesome to see her doing so well. And I kind of smile at Idol getting it wrong…oh, wait the *America* got it wrong.

For the record, if the “rumors” are correct, the biggest Idol-related story of the year is about to break: Carrie Underwood just might be engaged. The rumor started on Twitter, so take it with a huge grain of salt, but there you have it. We might be saying hello to “Carrie Fisher” the next time she hits Atlanta.

kelly&carriefan

December 21st, 2009
9:01 am

D, beat me by a minute. Sorry to hear about your gall stones… My mom had arthroscopic surgery to get her gallbladder removed a few years ago. She was up and at ‘em after a couple of days. So here’s hoping all goes well and we get your insights when Idol comes back. :)

Nana

December 21st, 2009
9:02 am

Oh Deirdre, so sorry to hear that! :( From what I’ve heard, gallstones are no fun. Feel better soon.

Rodney, very astute anaylsis on the idols. Very well done, indeed!!!!

Woodpappy

December 21st, 2009
9:19 am

Deirdre, must be something in the water ! My wife is recovering now from surgery to have her’s removed 2 weeks ago. She said it was really a piece of cake after the first 4 days. Good luck to you!

Deirdre

December 21st, 2009
9:25 am

Doc says that as long as I can do the laproscopic version I should be back on the blog the next day….I won’t be all that happy about it but I will be ABLE to blog! So y’all aren’t getting rid of me that easily!!!! ;-)

Carrie Fisher????? I never thought of that. Somehow, I doubt that she’ll use that name professionally. We’d all have to start calling her Princess Leia.

Rodney Ho

December 21st, 2009
9:32 am

I’m on vacation this week so whatever I post will be fairly limited, relatively speaking. But I don’t expect traffic to be very heavy either. And yes, MJ posted the Carrie rumors via Twitter but nothing has been confirmed…

Deirdre

December 21st, 2009
9:38 am

Don’t worry about us, Rodney. Enjoy the time off! We’ll talk or we won’t during the week. We’re resting up for Idol’s start!

kelly&carriefan

December 21st, 2009
9:41 am

Ha, D, we wouldn’t want to get rid of you….

And well, I wasn’t meaning professionally, since I can’t see it either, I meant married. The thought of Carrie Fisher does make me laugh. So, if she’s Princess Leia does that make him Han Solo? And is that better than Ken and Barbie? ;)

Cowo

December 21st, 2009
9:55 am

D: I think your son’s injured soldier friend is back on AJC front page today (isn’t his name Dan?) They’re doing a series on 10 “Heroes”, and today’s hero is a lady who gathered up tons of frequent flyer miles from neighbors, etc, so the parents could travel back and forth to DC to be with their son. Sounds very similar.

Good luck with the Gallstones.

I was happy to see that also in AJC the top event in ATL in 2009 voted on by readers was Paul McCartney’s Green Concert in Piedmont Park – apparently it won by a huge margin over the other nominated events. You go, my beloved Paul!

JTesla

December 21st, 2009
10:27 am

Nice list Rodney. Can’t think of anything that was list worthy that was left off. Of course we could always discuss the Top 10 predictions for 2009 that didn’t happen. Number 1: David Archuleta becoming bigger than the Beatles. OK, that’s it no more poking at him, he just isn’t a big enough fish.

Good luck with the surgery Deirdre, and Rodney enjoy the vacation.

Carrie + Hockey Player, well duh:

Thats when she told me a story
About free milk and a cow
She said, “No huggee, no kissee
Until I get a wedding vow.”

kelly&carriefan

December 21st, 2009
10:30 am

Right on, JT. Engaged or not, Mike Fisher’s one lucky guy…

Deirdre

December 21st, 2009
10:31 am

Cowo…yep, that’s the one! Dan has his new legs and is doing pretty good with them.

Deirdre

December 21st, 2009
11:49 am

I want to say how sad I am at the passing of Brittany Murphy. This talented young lady was in one of my all time favorite movies…Clueless. She was excellent in the role as was everyone else in the film. If drugs are involved or if her heart was weakened by yoyo dieting, I hope that other young actresses learn from her mistakes. She was a talented lady.

Moi

December 21st, 2009
12:20 pm

Enter your comments here
Nice list, but you need to learn to spell “cojones.”

Mercedes S.

December 21st, 2009
12:32 pm

Liked the list, Rodney, especially the fact that you listed stuff in no particular order, so we don’t have to disagree about anything,
Deirdre, good luck with the gall stones. And I’m with you on Brittany Murphy’s death. This was a young actress who so many times was on the verge of “making it” in the movies but never quite did. Even in a mediocre film there was a freshness and spirit about her that I liked.

Mercedes S.

December 21st, 2009
12:34 pm

And to Nana, yes our C. made it to harbour, but it took her two days.

kelly&carriefan

December 21st, 2009
12:37 pm

D, agreed. Brittany Murphy had some great moments: Clueless is such a quintessential 90s movie. Sad to see someone die so young. The rumor mill is, of course, in full force. But I guess we will wait to see what happened.

As for the Idol related “big story” of the day, Carrie IS engaged! Read it and weep, boys: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20332166,00.html

Highlander

December 21st, 2009
12:44 pm

How does someone who can’t post without “Enter your comments here” correct someone else??

Just askin’. :-)

Harriett

December 21st, 2009
2:03 pm

Hi, everyone. Still covered up with work, and it is keeping me from enjoying my two day work week. We leave after work on Tues and don’t come back until Jan 4. Of course, I will keep up with everyone. D, good luck with the operation. I know how painful that condition can be. Rodney, the list is good!

Rodney Ho

December 21st, 2009
2:16 pm

Extra just sent me a note conifrming that Carrie Underwood’s camp has confirmed her engagement to Mike Fisher, the Ottawa Senators hockey player…

Harriett

December 21st, 2009
2:23 pm

Here is a photo I found of Mike Fisher. He’s cuter than I heard he was:
http://www.ontariohockey.com/news/1009_HS-fisher.jpg

Heather MacDonald

December 21st, 2009
2:34 pm

Hey JT? Sometimes they buy the cow. Really. I’m living proof. LOL

JTesla

December 21st, 2009
3:21 pm

There’s nothing wrong with buying a cow… not that you are a cow. I bought a cow myself. I might be tempted to go for a larger herd, but my cow has a gun.

I was going to talk about milk and cheese, but I’ll spare everyone that discussion. ;)

kelly&carriefan

December 21st, 2009
4:19 pm

JT! “…my cow has a gun.” LOL!

BTW, did y’all catch that they’re changing Idol’s time slot to 9pm?

JTesla

December 21st, 2009
5:15 pm

9PM. What the what? So now when they run over on a 2 hour show they will eat into the news. The news isn’t that important anyway you know. Sheesh. Well that guarantees that I’ll DVR the show.

Mercedes S.

December 21st, 2009
5:28 pm

Entertainment Weekly’s Top 15 Entertainers of the year, in falling order: Sandra Bullock, The Cast of “True Blood”, Lady Gaga, Alec Baldwin, Taylor Swift, Meryl Streep, Ryan Reynolds, ADAM LAMBERT, The Cast of “Modern Family”, James Cameron (director of “Avatar”), The Black Eyed Peas, Jane Lynch (”Glee”’s Sue Sylvester), Mo’Nique, Woody Harrelson and the Cast of “Dexter”.

linny@home

December 21st, 2009
6:34 pm

like how they cheat, Mercedes, and put “cast of xyz” as “an entertainer” LOL.

Elvis

December 21st, 2009
10:10 pm

Why would anyone care about this lame show?

Nana

December 22nd, 2009
6:04 am

Good Morning Everybody.

Today’s Quote: “Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with good cheer….. And many warn wishes
for the coming New Year.”

Please tell me that the time isn’t really going to change to 9:00!!!!! :( The 8:00 hour has been a very good time slot for the last 8 years. I believe in the old saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Well cut off my leg and call me shorty, but I always thought an “entertainer” was ONE person, not a whole cast. I guess Hollywood didn’t have enough stars to name individually, so they had to resort to whole cast members. Doesn’t say much about HW, imo.

Carrie’s engagement is offical since it was on Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonightlast night. Her intended is very nice looking. Congrats to the happy couple. I hope they are always as happy as they are now.

Highlander

December 22nd, 2009
7:33 am

Morning, all!

Rodney, it just occurred to me, …you forgot Justin’s wedding in your list of top Idol-related stories?
And I’m sure the release of Archie’s Christmas album was just an oversight, too!
And Michael Sarver getting a record contract!

C’mon, man. You gotta get more on top of these things!! ;-)

Deirdre

December 22nd, 2009
8:23 am

Morning!

I actually agree with the idea of naming a cast as an entertainer. How would you pick just one person from Lost or True Blood as the main entertainer…yet both those series give me MUCH enjoyment throughout their seasons.

Saw Avatar yesterday. What a fascinating, visually beautiful and interesting film. The story is basically the same as Dances With Wolves but the execution of the story is amazing. It runs well over 2 hours and I was never bored for even one minute. There’s so much to see, so much to learn and yet it never seems overwhelming or overdone. I was very impressed and very entertained.

kelly&carriefan

December 22nd, 2009
8:33 am

Hey y’all…

I’ve come to the conclusion that to better understand the appeal of Mike Fisher, you have to see him ’cause I don’t think he photographs well. Not that I’ve seen at least. There’s a clip of him on youtube showing a girl from MTV Canada around his home. A clean shaven, short haired Mike Fisher? Very nice! He’s got really pretty eyes…

PS. Highlander, Rodney also forgot to single out Jim Verraros’ wedding. ;)

Deirdre

December 22nd, 2009
8:38 am

mj has posted the following:

Simon Cowell’s brother Tony is reporting, on his weekly podcast Fame Game, that Season 9 of Idol WILL be Simon’s last.

There are 2 things interesting about this. 1. Simon may NOT be returning to Idol after this season and 2. Who knew Simon’s brother had a “podcast”?

Mercedes S.

December 22nd, 2009
10:37 am

I say good for Simon. And it’s not unexpected – remember his disgusted look when Kris Allen was declared the winner?

kelly&carriefan

December 22nd, 2009
10:50 am

True…it will be interesting to see if really does happen.

I wonder if anyone Simon has REALLY wanted to win has ever won…Carrie, maybe? I know he totally discounted Kelly until they got closer to the Top 10, but I think he was cheering for Christina Christian and Tamyra more than Kelly. (It’s been so long…feel free to correct me!) If anyone remembers Simon’s favorites, I’d love hear them.

You have to wonder if the talent’s being diluted or what exactly they look for these days. I think Kris’s looks played a lot into him getting through. And, I like Kris Allen (he seems like a really nice guy), but he’s almost a male Colbie Caillat. Who, btw, did not even make it past the producers when she auditioned…

Deirdre

December 22nd, 2009
11:45 am

kelly&carriefan

December 22nd, 2009
12:05 pm

Reminds me of a line from a movie: “Look at that thing! You would’ve sank right to the bottom!” ;)

JTesla

December 22nd, 2009
12:06 pm

I have diamonds that size just floating around between the cushions of my couch. ;)

kelly&carriefan

December 22nd, 2009
12:18 pm

JT, no sense in sharing where you keep the family jewels. I recall something about a gun from yesterday…

JTesla

December 22nd, 2009
1:09 pm

Ouch. Yes it’s true I don’t keep the family jewels on me, they are usually kept in a purse which I get to hold from time to time when we are at the mall.

kelly&carriefan

December 22nd, 2009
1:36 pm

Ohhhh! So THAT’s why men hold purses at the mall! I always wondered… ;)

Highlander

December 22nd, 2009
3:39 pm

Would that be a man-bag to hold your man bags?

Deirdre

December 22nd, 2009
4:30 pm

It’s official! Idol has gone back to 24 semi-finalists instead of last year’s debacle:

The “Hollywood Round” episodes will air Tuesday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT); Wednesday, Feb. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT); and Tuesday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). On Wednesday, Feb. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), dreams come true for 24 contestants, as Simon, Randy, Kara and Ellen announce the Top 12 male and Top 12 female semifinalists.

It will then be up to America to decide who moves forward in the competition. The first performance show featuring the Top 12 female semifinalists will air Tuesday, Feb. 23 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). The following night, Wednesday, Feb. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), the Top 12 male semifinalists will perform. The results show revealing America’s first vote of the season will air Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), when the two male and two female contestants with the fewest votes will be sent home.

Mercedes S.

December 22nd, 2009
4:33 pm

Re Carrie Fisher II – don’t you think the girl will keep her maiden name? Checked out the ring. It looks cumbersome. Anything above 10 carat is.

JTesla

December 22nd, 2009
7:18 pm

Carrie Fisher works as long as she has plenty of pictures taken of her in that dancing-slave girl outfit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Deirdre, good news!

linny@home

December 22nd, 2009
7:35 pm

Deirdre, i didn’t mean to sound like i was dissing the idea of a cast … but i just think “entertainer” singular of the year … should be people — have a separate list for “cast” of the year…that could include tv and movies.

HUU CARES

December 23rd, 2009
4:22 pm

Like my name says….who gives a flying fu…………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KJ

December 23rd, 2009
8:35 pm

““Idol” cast the top 10 really well.”

Good God, no. Megan Joy (aka Eye Candy) didn’t deserve to be anywhere near the top 10. McNamara and Braddy could sing circles around her. I’d be willing to bet that, coupled with the four-judge debacle is going to be looked back on as the point where Idol officially jumped the shark.

Allenism

December 24th, 2009
5:46 pm

Simon Cowll (spelling?) MAY leave AL!!!!! It is like music in my ears. Simon is toooooo old for America taste now a days.