Sunday, May 2, 2004

Backstage Diary of last week's "American Idol" from EW

From Entertainment Weekly:

The Music Factory A backstage diary of the fateful ''American Idol'' week when Barry Manilow wrote the songs -- and Jennifer Hudson got the boot
SOLID GOLD (From left) ''Idol'' hopefuls George, Jasmine, Fantasia, Diana, La Toya, and the recently axed John
SOLID GOLD (From left) ''Idol'' hopefuls George, Jasmine, Fantasia, Diana, La Toya, and the recently axed John

Friday, April 16, 10 a.m.: CBS Television City
Barry Manilow writes the songs...that no ''American Idol'' contestant has ever heard. In the studio, La Toya London tries to sing the guest judge's praises in an interview that will air Tuesday night. ''Yeah, I knew a couple of songs,'' she says, to which the director replies, ''Okay, La Toya. Here's what you say: 'I definitely knew some Barry Manilow songs.'''

Better start coaching George Huff: ''They asked me what singing Barry Manilow's song meant to me,'' he says. ''I didn't know what to say.'' To be helpful, I bust out a little ''Her name was Lola/She was a showgirl'' -- and George looks at me with genuine concern. ''I think I may have heard that once or twice.''

Last week, producers gave the finalists three CDs filled with Manilow songs. Yesterday they chose what to sing, and by tomorrow they will make a recording for practice. La Toya and Fantasia Barrino are decisive song choosers, but the others sometimes sing as many as five songs before making a decision. ''I would never nix a song and say, 'That's not for you,''' vocal coach Debra Byrd says. ''I might say, 'Okay, you don't sound so good right here. Let's rearrange it or change the key or leave out that part.''' This week, a high note at the end of ''Mandy'' was plaguing John Stevens, she adds, so ''I said let's get rid of that gorilla sitting at the end of the song waiting to kick your butt. You know you're gonna screw it up.''

11:15 a.m.: Rehearsals
''You must clap if you're in the room,'' Fantasia commands before bouncing and stomping her way through ''It's a Miracle.'' But Byrd wants -- and I didn't know this was humanly possible -- even more. ''You want me to really church it?'' Fantasia asks. (Definition for the soulless: Work your inner gospel singer.) After take 2, Byrd and associate music director Michael Orland are on their feet. ''I just lost three pounds,'' Michael says.

1 comment:

ohsspca said...

OK, so Barry isn't as hip as, well, let's see....Quinton Tarentino. But his songs were no harder/easier to sing, or sounded any worse than Gloria Estafan's or Elton John's.  Can't blame Idol troubles on poor Barry. How about that Fantasia, Jennifer, and LaToya were all starting to sound the same, as were the other two girls whose names haven't even registered on my brain.  And poor John got the boot, but sorry, George Huff hasn't been sounding any too good lately, either!