American Idol

James Durbin: A life in perpetual transformation


Maybe we can feel a little better about James Durbin being ousted from "American Idol."

No, he shouldn't be gone. He's the first to admit that.

But now let's admire how much he has changed -- and how much he still has ahead. Here's the story I sent to papers: 

By MIKE HUGHES

The ongoing James Durbin
transformation has seen some huge steps lately.

OK, I was WAY wrong


This time, my "American Idol" prediction was way off.

I really did think James Durbin would win; unstead, he finished fourth. That's the Chris Daughtry spot, the spot for Michael Lynche, Allison Iraheta, LaToya London and Tamyra Gray; some strong talents have ended up there.

But why Durbin? Why would a guy who had it all -- extreme talent, fairly good looks and hard-luck story -- fall short?

Jacob on "Idol": a great talent and a complex life


Jacob Lusk is full of contrasts.

He's a sunny guy, someone who was a concierge at a spa and has spoken fondly of baking and pedicures; he also, when prodded, talks of bleak moments in his past. He's a church guy; he also spent three days in jail, charged with boarding the Los Angele Metro train without a ticket. He's a soulful guy with immense gospel talent; he's also tried to rein that in at times, with mixed results.

Lusk talked to reporters today, after being ousted from "American Idol" on Thursday. Here's the story I sent to papers:

"Idol": Jacob is gone, but the music soars


So there I was, bummed by Jacob Lusk being ousted tonight from "American Idol." We knew it would happen sometime; the poor guy had spent lots of weeks in the bottom three. Still, you hate to see the ouster of one of the most magnificent voices in the 10 years of "Idol."

And then, by happy coincidence, I plugged in an advance screener of Monday's "American Experience." It provided a reminder that Lusk's music style will go on and on; it already has.

Casey Abrams: No romance, but fun future


OK, this has been a busy time. Here's a quick-turnaround interview with Casey Abrams, which I just sent to papers. Right behind that, you'll find another "American Idol" name (a brief Kris Allen story), then my royal ramblings and then a couple "Idol" commentaries. Life gets oddly crowded sometimes; here's Casey:

 By MIKE HUGHES

Casey Abrams' life seems to be fine now
– but not in the way “American Idol” fans think.

"Idol" voters: Go figure


OK, tonight's "American Idol" results are tough to figure.

Scotty McCreery, a potential country superstar, was in the bottom three. So was Jacob Lusk, the show's best pure singer. And Casey Abrams (the best musician) was voted out -- again. This time, the judges couldn't save him.

What do we make of it? A few conclusions:

1) It's helpful, in the early rounds, to have an odd niche. When there are 13 contestants, 10 percent of the votes can mean survival. As the field shrinks, however, it's best to be near the pop mainstream.

"Idol": Scotty gets much better; Lauren doesn't


So it turns out that Scotty McCreery takes direction very well.

Last week, his song was easy and bland. Viewers gave him a pass anyway -- he is, after all, young and cute -- but judges told him they need more.

This time, they got it. McCreery's "You've Got a Friend" had all the passion that the previous week lacked. This guy could be a country star right now.

A few other comments and a prediction:

Stefano: This time, "Idol" didn't shock him


OK, all of us -- including Stefano Langone -- thought that Stefano Langone would be leaving "American Idol" soon. He took everything, including a huge hug from James Durbin, in stride.

The real surprise may be just how deeply music is embedded into Langone's life. He talks about things viewers never saw -- original music, piano, more; he talks with contagious enthusiasm. Here's the story I sent to papers, after a group interview this afternoon:

By MIKE HUGHES

"Idol": A great year to be a teen


On Wednesday, "American Idol" producer Ken Warwick told reporters that the voting procedures may be tweaked next season. "It's something that w're going to have a long discussion about," he said.

And tonight, we again saw that a change is needed.

The shock wasn't that Stefano Langone was sent home. He's been in the bottom two or three most weeks; two weeks ago (when Pia Toscano was ousted) he seemed stunned that it wasn't him.

Idol: Scotty's way too casual


It's really possible to be too casual and, I must admit, too country. On tonight's "American Idol," Scotty McCreery pushed that to the limit.

The typical country song shows off the story, not the singer. That means it doesn't work well in a singing competition.

Kellie Pickler learned that a few years ago, when she chose a pleasantly bland song. "You had an entire year to pick from and you chose 'Soap Suds in the Bucket'?" Simon Cowell groaned.