‘American Idol’ notes: Aretha impact, Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Caleb Johnson

Originally posted by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Aretha Franklin, who passed on Thursday at age 76, was a major force on “American Idol” over the years. Her songs were covered at least 30 times over 16 seasons.

Season one winner Kelly Clarkson broke through during Motown week with a stunning rendition of “Natural Woman.”

She gave Franklin a shout out on Twitter, explaining why she was such an important influence on her: “Aretha Franklin is the reason why I sing from that part deep inside of me that few could ever reach. She was my favorite and will always be. What a gift she has left all of us with her musical footprints. There will never be another like her. She was truly special. #QueenOfSoul”

Season three winner Fantasia rocked “Chain of Fools.”

During season 14, “Idol” flew contestants to Detroit to meet with the Queen of Soul herself. She gave them career advice, mentioning how to stay in shape and learn the business side of music. She also said you need to improvise quickly if you forget a line. 


Current “Idol” winner Maddie Poppe and runner-up and Dallas, GA resident Caleb Lee Hutchinson are still a couple. They recently performed at the top of the Empire State Building. He still sounds like he’s totally in love. She said he kept her strong during the competition. The “Idols Live” tour is in metro New York. 

She also returned to “GMA.”

Caleb joined her for “You’ve Got a Friend.”


Ryan Seacrest, Chris Hardwick and Aziz Ansari were all accused of sexual misconduct but all have managed to keep their careers alive compared to the likes of Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and Harvey Weinstein.

What appears to be the common factor in the first three is after the initial accusations, nobody else came forward. Seacrest fought hard against the accusations and E! cleared him. He’s still hosting “American Idol” and “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Hardwick managed to keep his AMC job hosting “Talking Dead.” And Netflix is open to giving Ansari another season of “Master of None.”

A Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse dug a bit deeper into how some men have survived the #MeToo movement


Simon Cowell is getting a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on August 22

Simon Cowell has brought a new meaning to talent shows and has made it a mega platform for people to show their talent and tell their tales,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies. “His honest, critical evaluation of talent has won him first place to fans’ hearts, and a star on our Hollywood Walk of Fame.”


"American Idol" season 13 winner Caleb Johnson's homecoming on May 10, 2014 in Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo by Alicia Funderburk/Getty Images)
Photo: Alicia Funderburk

Season 13’s Caleb Johnson has re-recorded Meatloaf’s classic “Bat Out of Hell” as he prepared a tour with the singer where Meatloaf tells stories and Caleb sings. (Meatloaf’s voice is sadly shot.)


Carrie Underwood over the past 12 years has consistently landed at or near the top of the country charts for almost all her singles. But her latest “Cry Pretty” just peaked at No. 7 on the Mediabase 24/7 airplay chart, a relatively low peak position, especially for a first single off a new album. 

Daughtry’s new single “Deep End” is at No. 26 on the Hot AC chart. 
Mandisa has “Good News” at No. 16 on the Christian AC chart in her 11th week. 


Clay Aiken Tweet of the week

He decided to go after fellow “Celebrity Apprentice” star Omarosa:

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.