Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Different Type of Top Ten

Thanks to everyone who's said nice things about my last post, the Top Ten American Idols. To follow it up, I've compiled another Top Ten American Idol list, but this one isn't an achievement to be on; this is the worst ten Idols of all time. Unlike the first list, post-show experience has nothing to do with this ranking. Only Idol performances qualify a contestant for this list. Note that this is incredibly subjective; one look at (which is a site I highly recommend for any Idol fan) shows who the Bottom Ten would be on performance merit alone, and the two lists don't exactly match up. Still, sometimes inability to sing is relative, and with that warning, I present my Bottom Ten Idols Ever.

10) Bucky Covington
Don't remember Bucky? Consider yourself lucky. The country crooner was part of the legendarily talented Season Five group, but his performances were anything but good. His incredibly mediocre (oxymoron? discuss) performances wouldn't have won him any singing contest, and while he slid by, power singer Mandisa (she lost her last name somewhere, have you seen it?) was eliminated. The guy couldn't even perform well in his own genre (see Best I Ever Had), so his elimination during Queen week couldn't have been more welcome.

9) Scott MacIntyre
Let me preface this one by saying I think letting a blind singer compete on American Idol is a bang-up idea. Blind musicians like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles have given us some of the best songs of the past century. Still, giving them a pass simply because they're handicapped is just condescending and, ultimately, pointless. Scott still finished ninth after a string of bad performances, and the endless debate from the judges about whether or not he should play the piano was boring and distracting. Scott always conducted himself with grace and poise, despite insensitive and demeaning treatment from the show. Still, he was no world-class singer, and when he exited as poised as ever, it was the right time.

8) John Stevens
John Stevens is responsible for three of the greatest disasters ever on Idol: My Girl, Crocodile Rock, and Music of My Heart. All three were almost universally derided, yet his personality got him to sixth place. John represented something truly tragic about Season Three- despite having three of the most vocally talented performers ever to be seen on Idol, it also hosted some of the worst singers in any year. By far the most schizophrenic season of all time, John was the figurehead of the worst of it, and made it further than now-Academy Award-winning Jennifer Hudson (#7 on my Top Ten). That's a disaster in and of itself.

7) Meghan Joy Corkrey
Er, no, it's Megan Joy Corkrey. No, it's Megan Joy. Ah, who cares, she's eliminated. The songbird of a thousand names (and one "Caw! Caw!") turned in one bad performance after the other, and her attitude only got more and more poisonous. She was ousted by America after she asked them to Turn the Lights Down Low, and the judges didn't even pretend to contemplate saving her. She is truly one of the more annoying contestants, and by far the worst of Season Eight.

6) Haley Scarnato
Her name may have sounded like an exclamation (just try it: "Haley Scarnato!"), but there was nothing too exciting about the leggy Season Six finalist. Sanjaya Malakar may have dominated that season with his sensationally bad singing, but Haley was just as bad, if not worse. Still, she knew when her time was up, and finally went down in flames. Points from being a San Antonio homegirl, though.

5) Taylor Hicks
Yes, I'm serious. I know Taylor won, but come on! He may have had a good performance or two, but none of them were memorable. Without looking, name one of his song choices. He had no A Song for You (Elliott Yamin), no Hemmorhage (Chris Daughtry), no Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Katherine McPhee), no These Foolish Things (Paris Bennett), no I Don't Hurt Anymore (Mandisa). In one of the most stellar seasons, he never stood out for anything more than spastic dancing, gray hair, and his idiotic screams of "Soul Patrol!" He might be the one contestant I personally hate the most, but there were others who were worse. Much worse.

4) Kevin Covais
Chicken Little couldn't sing for beans, but he had spunk. Unlike Ed Asner from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, America loves spunk. He was eliminated at his time, before the Top 10 of Season Five (gee, for such a great season, a lot of Fivers show up on this list, no?), which is more than can be said for the next three train wrecks, so he wins some points for that, but he was still an absolute mess.

3) Kristy Lee Cook
If any contestant could rival Taylor Hicks for my most hated, it would be Miss Kristy Lee Cook, also known in my house as She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-Because-She-Murdered-The-Beatles-Which-Is-An-Unforgivable-Offense. (We don't mention her much at my house, partly because she sucks, and partly because we don't have the lung capacity for that name.) Her Eight Days a Week is my most-hated performance in the show's history, and she survived far too long for my tastes. Plus, her blatant showboating for Middle America's votes by picking God Bless the USA disgusted me. She is, in my opinion, the worst female Idol in the show's eight seasons. And she has a record deal, while Syesha Mercado languishes without one. Which probably makes me hate her even more.

2) Scott Savol
The master of overstaying his welcome, Scott Savol, or "Scotty the Body" as Ryan Seacrest so annoyingly called him, outlasted much better contestants in Season Four and was the first major victory. He was untalented, a jerk, and deserved to go home long, long before his fifth place finish. I don't harbor the same disdain for him because I wasn't a huge fan of Season Four, and he didn't take down my favorite (Vonzell Solomon, FTW), but he really was an unqualified catastrophe every week.

1) Sanjaya Malakar
You know that guy who takes a joke long after it's stopped being funny and still keeps beating the dead horse until you forget why it was even funny in the first place? Sanjaya was that guy, that joke, and that horse all wrapped up in one screechy, pitchy, arrogant package. Still, he did give us the Crying Girl incident, and since I spent many a night laughing at her, I'll give him a few points. They don't really help anything, though, when your score is already in the low, low negatives. Sanjaya truly was the worst contestant in Idol history, and if there is a God, he'll remain it. We don't need any more like him.

What do you guys think? Did I miss a particularly bad contestant? Was I wrong to pick on Scott or Taylor like I did? Post your thoughts in the comments section!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This... is American Idol's Top Ten

American Idol just finished its eighth season, and thanks to a few popular contestants, as well as possibly the biggest upset victory in eight years, it's finally the buzz-filled, watercooler show that used to dominate the ratings. Despite slipping in viewership again, the actual announcement of the winner drew more viewers than any other in the show's history. Since AI is finally buzzy again, sites like are becoming popular once more, blogs are getting more traffic than ever, and it's fun to discuss Idol again. Now that we've come to a cool point in Idol history, here's the Top Ten best Idols of all time. And not just the winners; all former finalists are applicable. They're chosen based off of performance in the show and post-Idol experience.

10) Chris Daughtry
The rocker who placed fourth in Season Five has had one of the best careers, with his first album going multiplatinum and selling out arenas on his first tour. He's had major Nickelback-style success, but his attitude and familiar sound create more than a few detractors. He's still one of the best male finalists in history, and he's definitely the champ of Biggest Idol Ego.
Download: It's Not Over, Hemorrage (In My Hands)

9) Jordin Sparks
The Season Six winner didn't deserve to win her season, but she has had a strong career, complete with the most downloaded single from any Idol (No Air). Her new single, Battlefield, was just released, and is enjoying critical success. She is definitely one of the better winners, despite an overall weak performance in her season.
Download: Battlefield, I (Have Nothing)

8) Adam Lambert
He shook up TV's biggest talent show with big performances and bigger glam, but he still couldn't deliver as he was defeated by Kris Allen in the show's biggest upset in eight seasons. Despite this, he was still responsible for some of the best performances last season, and is sure to have a massive international career.
Download: Mad World, Tracks of My Tears

7) Jennifer Hudson
The seventh-place finisher from Season Three is the only Oscar-winner in the show's history, for her historic performance in Dreamgirls. She's both an actress and a Grammy-winning artist. Though she suffered through several major tragedies last year with the deaths of several of her family members, including her beloved mother, her career is on a major upward slope and she'll be here for years to come.
Download: If This Isn't Love, And I Am Telling You

6) Allison Iraheta
Save the rocker! Allison "Cherry Bomb" Iraheta, the fuschia-haired power balladeer from Season Eight rocked out more than a few great performances, yet a tiny fan base led her to be eliminated before the instantly-forgettable Danny Gokey. Still, Daughtry showed us how finishing fourth can boost a post-Idol career. Until her undoubtedly awesome debut album comes around, enjoy two of her finest performances of the season.
Download: Give In to Me, I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing

5) Kris Allen
Don't believe everything you hear. Though Lambert was heavily favored for most of the finals this past season, this Arkansas good ol' boy came on strong with unbelievably strong, innovative performances including the stirring Falling Slowly, the super original She Works Hard for the Money and Heartless, and (in my opinion) his best performance of the season, the genius Ain't No Sunshine. Lambert may have had the bombast, but Allen has the chops.
Download: Heartless, Ain't No Sunshine

4) Carrie Underwood
One of the top champions, Underwood's country stylings allowed her to verge in a different direction from past Idols and forge her own path. Though she didn't catch on right away (Jesus, Take the Wheel was a bigger flop than most remember), a little song called Before He Cheats dug its keys into the side of our pretty little souped-up four-wheel drives and carved its name into the leather seats. The rest, as they say, is history.
Download: Before He Cheats, I Told You So (f/ Randy Travis)

3) Elliott Yamin
Who says nice guys finish last? Turning in consistently good performances throughout Season Five only led Yamin to a third place finish when faced with Taylor Hicks' inexplicable popularity and the unstoppable force that was Katharine McPhee's Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Still, his first album went gold despite being on an independent label, and his single, Wait for You, fared better than anything Hicks or McPhee could dream up. Now with his second album out, the crooner's doing just fine.
Download: Fight for Love, Wait for You

2) Melinda Doolittle
When you think of the shocking eliminations of Idol lore, the names that arise (Gray, Hudson, Maroulis, Daughtry, Johns, Smithson) never include the brilliant Melinda Doolittle, an impressive former backup singer who turned in the most impressive run of performances in Idol history. Yet when faced with two young rivals (Sparks and Blake Lewis), Doolittle fell. Still, she is a brilliant vocalist, and her debut album is better than Lewis and Sparks' efforts combined.
Download: My Funny Valentine, Have a Nice Day

1) Kelly Clarkson
There's no one who tops the original. Clarkson's Stuff Like That There is the best performance in Idol History, she has sold more albums than any other Idol or finalist in eight years, and she has won two Grammys. She famously fought with her label over her artistic direction, which led to the unspeakable mess My December, but she's back with a new album, a new single, and a new attitude. She is truly the American Idol.
Download: Since U Been Gone, Because of You

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm a Senior, Get Me Out of Here

Give or take a few final exams, I, along with the rest of the class of 2010, am a senior. I can’t begin to fathom what that means. All of a sudden, my world seems like a rush of numbers and deadlines that are all so finite, so within reach. Everything I’ve been working for over the past three years is finally coming to a head. Hours of extracurriculars, studying for exams, arguing over course registration, and balancing social life, home life, work life, and school life, all finally mean something. The résumé I’ve spent years discussing so hypothetically becomes all the more real when it starts getting sent out to colleges. Those SAT and ACT scores I’ve been meaning to raise have to get much better during the summer. And those college visits that everyone harps on about need to get taken.

But this is my senior year. I don’t want to focus so much on getting to where I need to go that I lose sight of what’s around me. I have plenty of high school left to experience. This summer, I’ll be working at Target once again, and will be getting a car (finally!). I’m also writing a screenplay with a couple friends of mine, and hopefully shooting it, too. I wanna go on road trips, party with friends, and live my life without worrying every second about what comes next.

When the year starts, I’ll have a fantastic schedule that will actually allow me to relax every once in a while, do Varsity Drama, which I’ve wanted to do for years, take Creative Writing, and still take a few interesting AP classes. I’ll have six more issues of the newspaper to put out in my tenure, this time with Mrs. Kirby at the helm of Desktop Publishing. I’ve got an all-new staff to work with:

- Joe Aragon - David Cruz
- Stephen Muela - Austin Sandford
- Isabel Swartz - Nicollette Violante
- Cody Ruggio - Alice Schneider
- Arianna Zeb - Elizabeth Hoover
- Eric Sherrill - Zach Ojeda
- Stephen McDonald - Irene Minderhoud
- Emma Nicolas - Sierra Mountain
- Patrick Roland - Alex Zeb
- Kira Parsons

I’ve got a great group of friends to make the next year a blast with, too. From my best friends to my long-time friends to friends I want to get to know better to friends I haven’t even made yet, there truly isn’t a better group of people to spend the days with.

Junior year wasn’t one I’m going to remember too fondly. Sure, there were some incredibly fun moments, and the summer before is one I’ll never forget, but it was too high-drama, not enough carefree fun. A lot of it was my fault, too. I don’t want my senior year to be like that. I want senior year to be fun.

And if I don’t screw it up too bad, it should be.