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American Idol

It was the hometown visits for American Idol this week, which on the results show warrants a Simon and Garfunkel montage (loves!) as Joshua Ledet, Phil Phillips, and Jessica Sanchez head back to where their hearts are for a giant, stadium sized homecoming party.  Ryan Seacrest reminds America about the deets of the next week’s final faceoff with his hands casually resting on the backs of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.  Steven is doing his best Gollum/gargoyle statue impression while JLo looks awkward…probably because she’s not sure she’s going to continue with this gig.  Randy Jackson is confident in his judging abilites, sporting a leather blazer.

After Ryan announces the performers for the evening will be the King’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley and everyone’s favorite Idol alum and eyeliner abusing Adam Lambert, the final three perform a Beatles song.  Yawn.  Bring on the sofa!  As always, an idol fueled Ford commercial is highlighted, with a noticeably absent P PhillyJessica explains she’s happy to make it this far, and regardless of her fate, she’s excited to find out the results.  Phillip and Joshua echo her sentiments…and why shouldn’t they?  History tells us that the runners-up usually do better than the winner anyway.  Reuben Studdard knows what I’m talking about.  J Hud, anyone?

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There are four very talented artists left on American Idol.  Viewers are reminded that the final three get the homecoming of a lifetime.  The event is marked with stellar judge and past winner performances.  It’s almost time to crown the nation’s newest star.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Equally exciting?  Ryan Seacrest seems to be feeling much better.  The audience even gets treated to tickets for the upcoming tour.

The final four perform a Mamas and Papas tribute.  It’s great, and reminds me again how badly I wish I could sing a note.  Product placement abounds, and a Ford video is shown.  The final contestants are excited to be in a commercial…it’s electric!  Everyone touts saving the environment with Ford’s new electric car.  It’s a cute video, but let’s get to the results please!  Phillip Phillips is the first to face the music (literally).  He sang “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and gains mad praise from the judges.  Randy Jackson calls his performance pitchy to start, but he certainly comes into his own.  Jimmy loved it.  His next time on stage, singing “Volcano” Randy touts that he’s listen to it all day long on his headphones.  Jimmy is beyond impressed.   Ryan sends him back to sofa to wait it out a little longer.  Of course he does…

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There are a mere six left on American Idol, with Wednesday night being Queen night.  What’s not to love about that?

The show opens with a Queen cover band performing everyone’s favorite “Somebody to Love.”  After a fabulous rendition, AI sends the remaining crew to TMZ for some “media training.”  Good luck with that!  The first two up are Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez.  Jessica doesn’t get the best critique from Jimmy (the judges liked her) for her “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but she blew everyone away with her “Dance With My Father” by Luther VanDross.  Randy Jackson couldn’t find a thing wrong with her performance.  Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez loved Elise’s Queen cover, but Randy and Steven think she made a poor song choice with her Jimi Hendrix pick.  She finds herself the first contestant banished to the bottom three.

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We’re getting down there in numbers as far as this season’s American Idol is concerned.  Ryan Seacrest reveals that Wednesday’s show garnered 53 million votes, which is a record for the season.  The remaining seven perform a group number, and I have to say that these are not my favorite…although I do love Fox’s excessive use of balloons in the opening number.

After the necessary product placement for Ford, Ryan engages in witty banter with the final seven.  He asks Hollie about how last week’s save of Jessica has affected the relationships with the remaining singers.  She gives a politically correct answer before she and Joshua are called to the stage.  After Joshua’s two songs on Wednesday, JLo calls him “beautiful” while Randy Jackson touts him as one of the most gifted singers ever to grace the AI stage.  Steven Tyler believes Joshua climbed inside him…in a good way.

Hollie channeled Adele.  While the judges loved it, and I am no critic, I stand firm that it’s always a bad idea to try to recreate a song which is still popular…and sung by someone so revered in such a small amount of (American pop culture) time.   I loved her “Son of a Preacher Man” rendition, but I don’t think she can hold a candle to Adele, so she shouldn’t have even forced the comparison.  Jimmy is pulling for Joshua, while he thinks Hollie has improved.  Joshua is safe while Hollie finds herself the first in the bottom three.

Taylor Hicks crawls out of that bar I once saw him at in Birmingham to announce he’s got a Vegas tour in the works.  Sure you do…and I am a big fan of THicks.  He also introduces recent Idol winner Kris Allen who debuts a new mediocre song.  The next two up for results are Skylar and Elise.  Skylar rocked a country version of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and I think Gaga herself would be proud.  Her rendition of “Heard It Through the Grapevine” was just as impressive.  Elise is from my home state, so I am glad that she garnered love from JLo and Steven Tyler...but I am not her biggest fan.  Loved Skylar, liked Elise in a “I hate people get voted off this show” sort of way.  Ryan informs Elise that she must join Hollie in the bottom three.

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Last night’s American Idol elimination had the remaining eight contestants worried about their fate after a night filled with eighties tributes.

Ryan Seacrest approaches Joshua Ledet who had been feeling faint.  He seems very thrilled to have his health issues highlighted on the live show.  Ryan announces that JLo is introducing a new, sexy video.  He questions whether Jennifer had some sort of connection with any of the back-up dancers.  A blushing JLo pleads the fifth.  Oh, Idol…you’re so coy!   A sneak peek of the video reveals that it is very desperate sexy.

Not letting go of the fact that Joshua is sick as a dog, they show a video of a pre-school class in Vietnam wishing him luck.  Huh?  Last night’s results are based on duet teams.  Joshua is strong enough to make it to center stage with Jessica Sanchez.  Joshua sang “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” to rave reviews from the judges.  Jessica channeled Whitney Houston with “How Will I Know.”  Steven Tyler calls her (and her voice) absolutely “beautiful.”  Jessica fumbles, telling the crowd she doesn’t have a voice for eighties music.  Both are safe.

The Wanted, a British pop group, is introduced and makes quite a debut.  I like this song…I didn’t know they sang it!  However, enough is enough, let’s get back to the results!  Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon are the next pair in the hot seat.  Skylar belted out a country version of “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Randy Jackson called it her best performance to date.  She received a standing ovation.  Colton sang my favorite Cyndi Lauper ballad “Time After Time” and I loved it.  Jimmy didn’t agree.

Ryan wants to keep the anticipation high, so he calls Hollie Cavanagh and DeAndre Brackensick to the stage with Skylar and Colton.  Hollie flashed back with everyone’s favorite Flashdance theme, singing “What a Feelin’” and I wish I had on a cut-off sweatshirt.  The judges didn’t love it.  Perhaps, I loved the song more than her rendition, but you have to admit, it’s a fab, open your sun-roof and sing your head off song.  On the other hand, Jennifer loved DeAndre’s version of the El Debarge hit.  I concur with Jimmy on this one…the judges loved him, but I found it mediocre at best.  But his mediocre is better than I’ll ever be!  Unfortunately, he finds himself in the bottom three, and Hollie joins him.  Both Skylar and Colton are safe.

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And then there were eight. We’re jumping in to covering American Idol, which is awesome for me because 1) I love it; and 2) but for recapping the elimination show, I’d likely be reminded of my Pauly D and Vinny Thursday night withdrawals. The show begins as it should…Randy Jackson is smooth, dawg, Steven Tyler is swathed in an excessive amount of man scarves, and JLo is sporting an outfit I would have killed for back when I was in middle school – and mind you, that was in the late 80′s.

The show opens with the always suave and debonairly coiffed Ryan Seacrest promoting Aerosmith’s upcoming tour. The remaining nine singers are shown the celebrity tweets, which tout their favorite idols of the season. Carrie Underwood, Lifehouse, and Mariah Carey all show some love for those who chose their songs. Poor DeAndre Brackensick didn’t receive any such tweets after his performance of Eric Benet’s “Sometimes I Cry” (sidebar…I’m so excited to be recapping the AI because all season I’ve wanted to hear from y’all how much he reminds you of former contestant Jason Castro). Instead, DeAndre gets a personal visit from Eric Benet. He’s moved to tears, Ryan is excited to have Eric grace the stage, and somewhere Halle Berry is flaunting her engagement ring at her television screen while Olivier Martinez chides his future bride about being married to such a d-bag. Did I digress too much?

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American Idol returns January 22!

The popular show released a preview of what’s to come during Game 4 of the World Series letting us know, without question, all of last year’s judges: Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, and Jennifer Lopez will be returning. Along with debonair host with the most, Ryan Seacrest!

Unlike the cantankerous behavior of former judging panels these judges are the best of friends on camera. “They’re like my brothers and they drive me crazy like brothers, too,” Jennifer described of Steven and Randy. “But we love each other, which is why we’ve become like a family.” Well, as family I wish somebody would talk to Jennifer about her on-set wardrobe! It was a standout last season – and not in a good way.

And since it’s another season without Simon Cowell to be the blunt voice of reason, Jennifer is assuring us this year the judges are “a little tougher on everybody.” Oooohh… good! No more constant praise – we want to see some snark!

Jennifer tells PEOPLE that being too nice wasn’t necessarily the way to go. “Because of last season and the standard that we set, it’s easy to go, ‘Is he as good as even our top 24 from last year?’ ” I guess Jenny has to earn that reported $20M she is getting paid to sit on the judges panel this season.

However, she is positive the talent pool is better than ever with many amazing voices to wow both the judges and the fans alike! “It’s not like you find people just like that, but the ones that we found, we know are very special,” she declared.

The preview clip is below!

[Photo credit: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com]

ARE YOU EXCITED FOR SEASON 11 OF AMERICAN IDOL? DO YOU THINK THE JUDGES SHOULD BE A LITTLE HARDER ON THE PERFORMERS OR DO YOU PREFER A GENTLER APPROACH?

Jennifer Lopez has a lot going on in her personal life, but she’s not quitting her day job because of it. Jenny from the block has confirmed that she will return as a judge for Season 11 of American Idol! Yay! A whole ‘nother season of her sartorial disasters interesting fashion choices!

American Idol producer, Nigel Lythgoe confirmed Jennifer’s return during Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, stating: “I am delighted to say that all three judges, along with the brilliant host of American Idol [Seacrest] is back for the next season,” adding that all three judges are about to travel cross-country scouting potential contestants. I guess Jennifer is taking a leave of absence from her pending divorce from Marc Anthony.

Mrs. Anthony Ms. Lopez was previously undecided if she would return to the judges panel, given her busy schedule, but apparently experienced a change of heart. When asked what prompted her return (besides the money and exposure) she remarked: “You get to know [the contestants]. You get to know their hopes and their dreams on camera, off-camera. You’re helping them off camera, you’re helping them on camera and it’s this crazy ride you go on together.” She further added, “You definitely get involved, I definitely get involved, I am very emotional as you can see from the show. That’s just how I am.”

TMZ is however reporting Jlo got a nice pay increase, and will earn $20 million this season in comparison to the $12 million she earned last season. Not too shabby.

In other Jennifer news, she talks to People about that divorce you may have heard about. Jennifer, who was included in People’s Most Beautiful People 2011 List, describes the dissolution of her marriage: “Sometimes it doesn’t work – and that’s sad. But I remain an eternal optimist about love. I believe in love.”

Jennifer describes the choice to leave as a necessary one to save herself: “Sometimes we don’t realize that we are compromising ourselves. To understand that a person is not good for you, or that that person is not treating you in the right way, or that he is not doing the right thing for himself – if I stay, then I am not doing the right thing for me.”

Although her relationship with Marc, her husband of seven years and the father of her 3-year-old twins Max and Emme didn’t work out, Jennifer predictably has nothing but good things to say, giving the standard publicist approved quote for divorcing celebs: “I will always respect Marc as a singer and performer. He will always be in our lives. He will always hold a special place in my heart as the father of my children.”

Photo Credit: Adriana M. Barraza / WENN.com

Are you excited Jennifer is returning as a judge on AI? Thoughts on the divorce?

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