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'Idol': Who'll go home?

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Chris Sligh, Syesha Mercado, ...
Syesha Mercado: Frank Micelotta; Chris Sligh: David Bean

‘Idol’: Who’ll go home?

First off…thanks to my friend JPL for the props on my last recap. I’d like to return the favor — you guys have to hear his new single ”Break the Silence” and see the video for it…it’s great. Also, just to explain: Part of what EW asked me to do is to share behind-the-scenes American Idol experiences. Michael Slezak does a great review every week that goes way more in depth than time restraints allow me to go…so this isn’t so much a review as it is a look into what an Idol contestant gets to go through.

But…this is the first week that I can’t personally give the behind-the-scenes take, since a year and a week ago, I went home at number 10. So, I’ll talk a little about the experience of going home…basically, what Chikezie has gone through the last week.

As you sing your last song for the last time, the credits roll and once you finish, your time as a solo contestant on the show is finished. The judges come on stage and say goodbye, the band says goodbye, and then you are whisked away to meet with a grief counselor. I guess this is just to make sure that you are okay. Some take longer than others to deal with it. After that, the Fox publicity team comes in to give you a heads-up of what your next few days will be like, and then you are whisked away to be a part of the American Idol Extra, where J.D. Roberto and team give the Idol version of This Is Your Life.

After American Idol Extra, you go to finish packing up your stuff, and then it’s off to a special restaurant where you get your send-off dinner/roast. It’s a fun time of everyone having a chance to lampoon you in some way…there’s some crying, there’s a lot of laughing, and then you try to get home in time to pack up your stuff and still get to bed at a decent hour, because the next day it’s an early morning.

Before you know it, it’s 3:30 a.m., and you’re off to a TV studio on the other side of town, where you do remotes for the East Coast, moving across to the West Coast…with each hour comes a different time zone. Every 10 minutes you do a different station, and you get 5-7 minutes on air — these are the interviews you see on your local Fox station. The weird thing about these interviews is that you are looking into a camera with an earpiece in…. You can hear the people interviewing you, but can’t see them.

After over three hours of interviews, you get into an SUV and transfer all your crap over to the hotel you’ll be at over the weekend. Thankfully, there is a brief respite: You get brunch with the Fox publicity crew (who are so wonderful to hang out with, seriously), and then you get a few hours off before a conference call with about 30 media entities.

Then you get taken off to do the Leno show. Then it’s off to sleep.

Friday is another long day of interviews. Saturday is a day off, and Sunday you fly to New York. Monday and Tuesday are fun days, because you get carted around the Big Apple to do several interviews in different parts of Manhattan. And then Tuesday night you fly home.

It’s a whirlwind week, but it’s something you take with you for a long time…it’s all part of the experience!

Now, on to the performances…

NEXT PAGE: Chris Sligh judges Dolly night

I’m not a Dolly Parton fan (musically), but I respect her incredibly for her longevity, down-to-earthiness, and business sense. And the fact she’s a great songwriter helps!

Syesha killed it, in my opinion. Randy and Simon were off in their opinions. She sang well and stayed away from the affectations the song has become known for (by Whitney) and made the song her own…at least I thought.

David Archuleta finished his descent into mediocrity and finally gave another great performance. I actually thought this was his best performance yet. But it also feeds my wondering where he’ll fit into the marketing landscape. I think he is an incredible talent, but I fear he’ll get stuck in between being a serious artist and a Disney artist and will fall between the cracks from a marketing standpoint. Believe me, he’ll be making records, but I’m not sure I’m on the boat that he’ll be a huge artist today.

Carly gave my favorite performance of hers. I’ve been somewhat critical of her so far this season…but she proved me wrong this week — I thought she was great.

Michael gave an incredible performance tonight! Easily his best performance of the season. I think, in my book, he has finally shown the singer I heard on some of the songs he did with his former band Film. Sticking to bluesy rock along the lines of John Mayer (but with a much better voice) would be my advice to Mr. Johns…he has an incredible voice for that.

Kristy Lee and Ramiele gave forgettable performances (though I did agree with Randy that this was Kristy Lee’s best).

I was somewhat disappointed with Brooke, Jason Castro and David Cook. They gave good performances — I didn’t think anyone was bad tonight — but I thought that was it…they were good. They are my three favorites, so perhaps the disappointment is just a personal thing.

Overall, what a great night! Everyone was good! I love this group of singers!

My guess on the bottom three: Kristy Lee, Ramiele, and Syesha. Maybe David Cook is in there as a surprise.

Chris Sligh finished in 10th place in season 6 of American Idol. One of the show’s most memorable contestants, he recently signed a record deal with Atlanta-based independent label Brash Music. His first album, Running Back to You, will be released on May 6, and his first single, ”Empty Me,” has hit radio. He regularly blogs on his own website, From My Mind to Your Eyes.

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