By RODNEY HOemail@example.com, originally filed Wednesday, December 9, 2015
I was in Los Angeles earlier this week and was able to attend part of the taping of the season 15 top 51 showcase concert at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. This episode will air in late January.
Unfortunately, I couldn't take photos so above is a shot from last year's session at the House of Blues.
The taping was done in two parts. I saw the first 24 singers live. Each had 90 seconds to perform in front of a live audience. There were the swaybots in the front rows as usual. Four of us journalists sat a few rows back. (One was Fred Bronson, a veteran Billboard magazine writer and old friend of mine who is also a big "Idol" fan. He presided over Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo's wedding!)
"Idol" filled about 15 rows of the theater for purposes of the taping so there were maybe 600 people there, many parents and siblings of the contestants.
The warm-up guy Chuck handed out freebies and gave the crowd instructions on how and when to clap and scream and yell. Fox filmed us getting excited for purposes of inserting into the show when necessary.
Ryan Seacrest came out for about three minutes to do intros, noting this was the final season. "I'm looking for new work," he joked. Then he was gone. Chuck did the introductions for each individual singer.
I wanted to talk to Seacrest about the final season and wax nostalgic about the show's run in person, but he was too busy. He was probably closing his 78th business deal or some sort with another Kardashian. I'm still hoping for a phoner at some point before January 6.
Ricky Minor and his band returned, including Allison Iraheta (season 8) as a back-up singer again.
Almost all the singers opted for upbeat tunes, which is probably a smart strategy unless you think you're the second coming of Mariah Carey. Even the one Adele song I heard was not a ballad but "Rumour Has It."
Many contestants ran around the stage, trying to pump up the crowd. Some seemed a bit too eager to please. Nobody was truly horrible or required re-takes.
The only true ballad I heard was Faith Hill's "Breathe." And only one person chose a song by an "Idol" alum: in this woman's case, Carrie Underwood's "Little Toy Guns."
While I won't name names (and if you really want the, MJ has most of them), there were some notable singers. A soul singer received a standing ovation from Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez after giving his all for "Try a Little Tenderness." A sweet young country singer did a cool version of "Ring of Fire" that got Keith on his feet. A woman with big big hair gave love to New Orleans and received a standing ovation from Keith and JLo after a rousing "House of the Rising Sun." (Harry, as we know, doesn't do standing ovations.)
Among other songs I heard: Chris Stapleton's "Parachute," Lenny Kravtiz's cover of "American Woman," Heart's "Barracuda" and Bruno Mars' "Locked Up in Heaven."
A hip-hop white girl stood out doing a Chris Brown song. A quirky dude wearing what looked like a Jedi outfit opted for Avicii.
Did I see the next "American Idol"? Impossible to say. (I guess by pure chance it was slightly under 50% chance since I saw 24 out of 51.). I liked a few. Nobody bombed. There was a fine line between confidence and desperation.
Unless an Atlanta person ends up in the final three or four, this is probably my last live "Idol" related event but it was a bonus. The timing just worked out right.
The final season will be shorter this year. Bronson told me it may not even run into May but instead end in April. That means a likely shorter run of audition episodes and Hollywood rounds. Plus, there may be double eliminations to get to the final two quicker.
Kris Allen returns to Decatur's Eddie's Attic April 1, 2016 for at least his third visit. Tickets are not yet on sale.
During the CBS Sinatra 100th anniversary concert that aired Sunday night, Katharine McPhee, Carrie Underwood and Harry Connick Jr. took part. MJ posted video which I cannot seem to embed properly. Watch McPhee and Connick here and Underwood here.
McPhee sang "You Make Me Feel So Young" while Underwood tackled both "Somebody to Watch Over Me" and a spirited "Come Fly With Me." Connick did "Luck Be a Lady Tonight."
Jennifer Hudson's Broadway appearance on "The Color Purple" will get some prime-time love courtesy of Oprah Winfrey on December 19.
Season 3 semifinalist Marque "Tate" Lynche died at age 34. Details here. He was part of the "New Mickey Mouse Club" in the early 1990s with Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Britney Spears.