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‘Idol’ bits: another talk with Phillip Phillips; my Power 6; Justin Guarini’s play performance

Phil Phillips on April 18. CREDIT: Michael Becker/FOX

Phil Phillips on April 18. CREDIT: Michael Becker/FOX

A few years ago, “Idol’ had to fend off the media coverage from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, E!, Access Hollywood, et. al. I suspect this year, the buzz isn’t quite as heavy.

So for the first time, the “Idol” publicists are offering me interviews, unsolicited, to our Georgia man Phillip Phillips. This week, they said I could talk to him for a third time. He is not a very gabby guy, not a deep thinker. But that simplicity is part of his charm. He lets his music do the talking, so to speak. It helps that he’s aw-shucks likable, too.

“So it’s been two months since the live shows started,” I began.

“It feels like years!” he said.

Phillips said his kidney stones (and stent) are causing regular discomfort, with some days better than others. He acknowledged he tries to get as much rest as possible and bowed out of the Ford commercial last week. (”This boy here likes to sleep,” he said.) How was yesterday, when I spoke to him? “Today is alright.”

His take on singing Queen: “I do like Queen. Singing wise, it’s kind of strange. It’s a kind of strange week. Hopefully, I picked the right songs.” The free choice song, he promises, “is going to be different.”

On never being in the bottom three: “I’m doing something right. But you never know what’s going to happen. It’s like Colton,” who wasn’t in the bottom three until last week. He hopes he appeals to a broad range of people, which may be why he’s survived.

His parents, girlfriend and a friend are flying in this week. But he said on stage, he doesn’t think about that and it doesn’t make him more nervous. “I’m kind of zoned out in my own little place when I sing,” he said.

Were there any performances he has not been happy with? The Genesis performance was one. “My brother in law killed it [as his backup guitarist.] I wanted the world to see what he could do. He’s an amazing musician. But that was one of the toughest weeks. This week is tough, too.”

He said he tries to incorporate what the judges tell him (not that they are terribly constructive.) He thinks Jimmy Iovine is tougher on camera than he is in real life. “He puts on a little bit on camera,” Phillips said. “He is actually a nice guy. He wants to help us.” He was naturally annoyed that Iovine pitted him against Colton.

“He has his style and I have my own. He’s a great guy and I will always support him.”

He repeated his thoughts about the group sings: “I despise group sings. It’s not my thing.” Indeed, he avoids choreography whenever possible. “I can do fist pumps,” he said.

He repeated the awkwardness he felt about doing that Gotye song with Elise last week. “It’s a cool song but very different,” he said.

My Power 6 for the week. Last week, I placed Colton Dixon at the top. Ulp!

1. Phillip Phillips. I just think Colton Dixon’s departure can only help Phillip. His Usher performance helped him big time last week. He showed he can up his game when need be though given what happened to Colton last week, it’s true that a bad week can hurt anybody. Even a mediocre night could take someone down, even Phillip, I’d fathom.

2. Jessica Sanchez. Sure, she was nearly cut two weeks ago, saved only by a judges’ save. I still think she doesn’t always connect well with the songs she sings, a reflection of her youth. And I’m not a big fan of her tone at times. But she just needs enough fans to get her this far and I think she does have potential to make it to the finals given her vocal power, her look and her confidence.

3. Skylar Laine - Speaking of confident, Skylar is comfortable on stage and fearless in her approach. While I wasn’t wowed by her performances last week, they were both solid and she has seldom had a truly bad week.

4. Joshua Ledet – He has a fan base who loves his gospel-tinged style. He sings with emotion, if not always subtlety. You either believe in him or you don’t. I’m not sure whether he has enough fans to take him much further than top 4, though.

5. Hollie Cavanagh - Her inexperience is both her advantage and disadvantage. I think some viewers find her innocence endearing. She lacks the confidence and smarts of either Skylar or Jessica and her vocal skills are still undeveloped. But the potential is there and some folks do vote for that.

6. Elise Testone - I watched her on TMZ live and she is clearly the mouthiest of the six. She is likeliest to mess with TMZ cameramen. Perhaps it’s her Jersey background. That attitude seeps into her responses to the judges. She’s the oldest and most mature of the crew, too, which is probably why she is willing to critique the critiques. I get a sense she thinks she’s better than she really is.  I only like her in a very specific song circumstance, usually involving a Stevie Nicks song. I am shocked she’s still around.

- Last Friday, I attended “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” at the Alliance Theatre, which featured Justin Guarini, who played one of the sons, who happened to be an embittered musician. The dark musical, created by Stephen King and John Mellencamp, focuses on a cabin and a father who, as a child, saw his two older brothers die over a girl in 1967. Forty years later, the father (played brilliantly by Tony winner Shuler Hensley) brings his family, including his two sons, to the cabin to reveal secrets about what happened. Justin plays one of those sons, jealous of his more successful brother who also happened to steal his girlfriend. It’s an echo of what happened 40 years earlier. The play runs through May 13 and is well worth going to in my mind. The music is mesmerizing, the stage production brilliant. The weakest point is the plotting but it’s not fatal.

Justin Guarini plays a failed musician in the Stephen King/John Mellencamp play "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Justin Guarini plays a failed musician in the Stephen King/John Mellencamp play "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Justin playing

justin closer up

Scotty McCreery is still pitching for his local high school team. And it sounds like he’s pretty good, too.

- Bo Bice had his fourth child, his first daughter Merrin Elizabeth Joy. The healthy baby girl joins three big brothers: Adain (7), Caleb (3) and Ean (2).

from Bo's Facebook page

from Bo's Facebook page

- Thinking of going to Branson, Missouri this summer? You’ll be able to catch lots of “Idol” contestants. From May 14 to June 16, the show in the Andy Williams Theatre will feature Lee DeWyze, Kimberly Caldwell, Blake Lewis, Elliott Yamin and Thia Megia. From June 18 to July 21, you’ll be able to catch Siobhan Magnus, Diana DeGarmo, Scott Savol, Ace Young and Alexis Grace.

- Carrie Underwood leads the CMT Award nominations with five.

- Clay Aiken just narrowly escaped getting fired on “Celebrity Apprentice” this past Sunday. He was the project manager who lost a challenge in which his team had to create a Macy’s display for a Trump fragrance called Success. Normally, that would mean curtains for him. But Donald Trump narrowly decided to dump Penn Jillette instead because the executives judging the competition hated Jillette’s slogan, “You’ve earned it.” Aiken’s track record, to date, has been very very good. Fans know whether he gets into the finals. Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

84 comments Add your comment

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
11:02 am

Lots of news, thanks Rodney. Good info from Phillip, nice to hear about Justin and Bo.

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
11:38 am

If you had to choose between Branson Show A: with Lee DeWyze and team or Branson Show B: with Diana DeGarmo and team, which would you choose?

I would pick Show B with Diana, Siobhan, and Alexis being the high points. I would be alright with Ace, and I’d LOL at Scott Savol (although he did a mean Hall and Oates).

The only regret with Show A would be missing Elliott Yamin. He’s a good guy.

Albert

April 25th, 2012
11:55 am

How about a third choice:
(c) None of the above.

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
12:08 pm

To be honest Albert, that would be my pick, but then I’d never be in Branson in the first place.

G

April 25th, 2012
12:13 pm

I’m not surprised that PP “despises” the group performances. The group performances favors real vocalist, so you can’t hide behind an instrument all the time. PP is not a real vocalist. You also have to have a bit of rythym for the choreography, even though most of it is high school musical stuff. PP can’t move past that jerky hop he does on stage. In short, the group performances exposes ALL of his weaknesses. I’ve pointed this out countless times about him, but apparently his weaknesses are no big deal. It’s a different set of rules for ole PP.

Mercedes S.

April 25th, 2012
12:21 pm

Sounds Elliot Yamin picked the wrong group! N

Charlene

April 25th, 2012
12:24 pm

Just a pet peeve but why would a parent name their kid the same as the last name: Phillip Phillips, Thomas Thomas, Robert Roberts(on), William Williams(on). I guess they forgot to purchase a baby name book.

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
12:46 pm

Thanks for all the info, Rodney. I can’t help but feel bad for Philx2. He’s in a position where he should be having the time of his life and he’s dealing with stones and stents. Just doesn’t seem fair.

Congrats to Bo!

Happy to hear you liked the new musical and that Justin is doing well in it.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
2:05 pm

Awww, thanks Sam, D, and JT for the sweet comments earlier this morning! I just caught up. Y’all are very nice “blog friends” to have! :-)

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
2:21 pm

And on topic – I’d definitely pick Branson Show B, but would not be interested in seeing Savol. At least that would be a built-in bathroom break time.

And I think with Colton’s departure, Phil has won. I say this because I observed a very telling “microcosm” (to steal Seth’s wording) yesterday… I was with some girlfriends, several of whom have middle-school kids, and I almost got banned from dinner when I said I didn’t like Phil! ;-) They were very upset that Colton was gone (and I do mean VERY upset)… but were squee-ing and blushing over Phil. (Yes, the MOMS! Not the kids! 8-O !!!) Interesting, huh?

So I think it is now painfully clear that Phil will win this season by a landslide. G, you hit the nail on the head at 12:13: It’s a different set of rules for him. All he needs to do is stand on stage and smile…. he could fart his song and still be the top vote-getter. ;-)

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
2:47 pm

“he could fart his song and still be the top vote-getter”

ROTFLMAO! I know I’d vote for him if he did that. Randy would probably make a few comments about pitch problems, but the clowns would give him a pass.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
3:02 pm

Hahaha JT! Actually it would be so funny that I’d probably vote for him too.

And yes, they’d surely give him a pass. They’d commend him for “making it his own”. ;-)

Lara

April 25th, 2012
3:11 pm

Yeah for Bo!!

Sam-A

April 25th, 2012
3:12 pm

Jen and JT: If that’s the kind of action you’re looking for, you might want to switch to The Voice – apparently (or so I heard), CeeLo was quite ripe Monday night, and I even saw CA say that’s why she has a fan.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
3:22 pm

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
3:24 pm

Lara! Long time no see! We were just talking about Bo yesterday. Any other year and he would have won. Very underestimated, imo!

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
3:29 pm

Lara!

Sam-A, so what you are saying is that they are working to improve The Voice?

Sam-A

April 25th, 2012
3:39 pm

I’ve not been able to find any spoilers on tonights songs! Usually a leak by this time today.

Harriett

April 25th, 2012
3:40 pm

Hey, everyone! Still buried, but will see y’all tonight. Idol night!! Yaaay!

Sam-A

April 25th, 2012
3:40 pm

JT: Not seeing how a “3D Odorama” would improve The Voice or any other show!!!!!

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
3:43 pm

I don’t know… I am beginning to think I might like the Voice! (in spite of the gas issues.)

I read that Hollie might have done better on the Voice because the judges don’t tear the singers down, and that Phillip probably wouldn’t have made the top group to be voted on.

I kind of like the idea of the judges not letting the voters control EVERYthing.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
3:45 pm

Sam: Just as long as they don’t invent Smell-O-Vision, I think we’ll be OK.

Poor Ryan would be the one to suffer the ill effects, I guess.

Jubie

April 25th, 2012
3:52 pm

To dear Charlene, I love the double names such as Phillip Phillips. Who would name a child Charlene?

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
3:53 pm

Oh, I looked back and it was our own DanJ’s comment that I read on the Voice blog! He thought that talent counts more and that Hollie, Jessica and Joshua might be 3 of the top 4 if on the Voice. (Dan, did I paraphrase that correctly?)

I don’t think they can all make the top 4 on Idol, because of Phil and Twangler.

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
3:55 pm

Here are the song spoilers:

Queen songs:

The Show Must Go On
Fat Bottomed Girls
Bohemian Rhapsody
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Save
I Want it All

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
3:58 pm

Free Choice:

Dance With My Father Vandross
The Climb Miley Cyrus
Ready For Love India Arie
Bold as Love Hendrix
Tattoos on this Town Aldean
And a song by The Band that’s name is not for this blog

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
3:59 pm

OK, since it’s slow, who watched Private Practice last night? It’s been getting really good lately. Though why on earth did they need to give Amelia’s baby such a macabre defect (and is something like that even POSSIBLE?)

And what about Grey’s… I read that the season finale will be “extremely sad” and that one cast member will not be back… it is driving me nuts that I can’t find any spoilers!!

Yummiecake2001

April 25th, 2012
3:59 pm

Thanks Rodney. I was shocked Colton was eliminated, so I am not counting on Philip being a sure thing. I love him/his style and I do think he has a strong fan base. I agree that there is a good chance he will attract some of Colton’s fans now.
Although she is a good singer, I don’t connect with Jessica. The same with Joshua which is unusual because I love singers with gospel roots.
Elise and Holly are just not consistently good and they have to be this late in the game. I agree that Skylar is a good performer, however she will only attract the C&W fans.
It will be interesting to see what they all do with Queen songs. It is a little scary. Elise may be the only one that can handle it.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:02 pm

I figured if I posted about something else, we’d get the spoilers. It worked. ;-)

What Band song can’t be posted? I can’t think of any that have dirty titles…

Or is it “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” since we almost had Civil War 2 yesterday?

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
4:03 pm

The final song on the list is written like this:

The______ – ____ ____ Band

People are speculating that it’s The Stone By the Dave Matthews Band

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:05 pm

Though I could see Phil doing “Up On Cripple Creek”.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:06 pm

Oh. OK. Dave Matthews2 will do Dave Matthews. That makes more sense. (Would any of them even know “The Band”?)

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:10 pm

Ugh. I knew it. I **love and adore** Queen… everything they’ve ever done… all except one song. I knew that guaranteed it would be picked. :-(
I’d bet anything Phil will do “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” The guy just does NOT want me to like him.

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
4:10 pm

The Queen song is Save Me, not Save.

Joizze

April 25th, 2012
4:11 pm

Thanks for the photos of Justin and your review Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. I hope Phillip will be able to stay well enough to compete. I agree with most of your power picks, though I would switch Hollie and Elise. Love the updates on all the Idols. So happy for Bo and Caroline and their new baby girl.

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
4:12 pm

Songs…

Fat Bottomed Girls
Bohemian Rhapsody
Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Dance With My Father Vandross
The Climb Miley Cyrus

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

/rage quit

G

April 25th, 2012
4:14 pm

My prediction is that Phil will fart, scratch, and growl a couple of songs out, and the world of AI will be happy. <:-0 Actually, I think the judges are bored with him, and are starting to "really" give him blanket feedback. The sad truth may be that WGWG and country has become the Idol standard for winning. If so, other contestants should stop wasting their time competing.

Sam-A

April 25th, 2012
4:15 pm

Gee, I wonder which creepy old-looking guy will sing the Luther V song??????
Two country songs – Miley C and Aldean – which oh which will the winemaker sing and stomp out
I HATE “Fat Bottom Girls” – such a stupid song.

Don’t really know any of the other non-Queen songs, at least not by name.

Still don’t get what you’re trying to indicate re the Band song. Can you do sound-likes?

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
4:15 pm

Didn’t someone already do “Dance with my father” this season? FFS.

I’m serious, tonight I’m going to rage quit Idol right when Joshua starts singing that slop. All I can hope is that he also sings “Fat Bottomed Girls” just to make the suckage complete.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:16 pm

Actually, JT, I can’t stand Miley Cyrus… girl couldn’t sing her way out of a paper bag… but “The Climb” done by someone with an actual singing voice might be OK.

It’s not the song that’s bad, it’s Miley.

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:18 pm

G
April 25th, 2012
4:14 pm

My prediction is that Phil will fart, scratch, and growl a couple of songs out, and the world of AI will be happy … The sad truth may be that WGWG and country has become the Idol standard for winning. If so, other contestants should stop wasting their time competing.

AMEN.

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
4:18 pm

Sam-A: note this date as we agree on “Fat Bottom Girls”. Even though I don’t want anyone to do a Miley song or that “Dance with my father” thing, “Fat Bottom Girls” takes the cake as the number one song to be banned for, like, EVER.

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
4:19 pm

Didn’t Joshua already sang Dance With My Father? I don’t think he’d be stupid enough to do it again

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:20 pm

And is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Joshua will do the sappy Luther song, and Twangler will do Jason Aldean?

I have the earplugs all ready. Going to put the cat in the other room so she won’t get upset.

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
4:21 pm

I hear you Jenny, and I’ll give the Miley song a chance, and I shouldn’t have had “Crazy little thing…” on my list. It’s not my favorite, but it’s alright. I was just too enraged by YET ANOTHER Rhapsody, yet another Jennifer Lopez shout out song, and that Luther song… call me a bad person for saying this, I can’t stand it.

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
4:22 pm

Wait, it was Jermaine Jones who sang Dance With My Father

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:24 pm

OK, you guys, I like “Fat Bottomed Girls”. :-)
Seriously. How do the lyrics not crack y’all up?
“Left alone with Big Fat Fanny, she was such a naughty nanny…”
:lol: :lol:

Jenny

April 25th, 2012
4:27 pm

JT, I can’t remember if you liked Lauren Alaina last year? But she sang The Climb, and it was alright. It’s actually kind of catchy when you subtract Miley’s sick-goat-bleating “singing.”

And you can be enraged if you want. I am enraged by “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Ugh, ugh, UGH.

JTesla

April 25th, 2012
4:27 pm

Deirdre, I could make a joke there, but it’s best if I don’t.

Deirdre

April 25th, 2012
4:28 pm

I can see Elise doing the Jimi Hendrix song. And I’ll bet that Hollie is doing the Miley Cyrus song.