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.
– 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).
- 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. Tweet
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk