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Elton Idols tops TV ratings
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But critics hammer

Sunday 11
April 2004 @ 0:51

Despite something of a slating by critics (see below) US TV channel Fox earned another easy No. 1 Tuesday with an American Idol-led lineup, averaging a 7.3 adults aged 18-49 rating and 20 percent share.

Second-place NBC averaged less than half that, a 3.4/9. ABC was third at 2.8/8, CBS fourth at 2.4/7.

Fox dominated at 8 p.m., with the one-hour Elton John-themed edition of Idol averaging a 9.7 rating. The show grew 23 percent from its first half-hour to its second. In that same time period, CBS drama Navy NCIS averaged a 3.4 for second.

From April 6, 2004:

Tonight’s theme on American Idol, Elton John songs, sounded so promising… until the contestants started to sing that is. This episode had to be the worst performances yet by many of the top 12 performers. In their defense, I imagine covering Elton’s songs is not exactly an easy task.

Fantasia Barrino started the night off decent enough. She sings good, has a good voice and a good range. There is still just something about her voice that I don’t like. It’s nothing against her, it’s just a personal preference of mine. Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul thought she did good. Simon Cowell, who maybe agrees with my personal preference in this case, said it was her weakest yet and that she screeched the song.

Jon Peter Lewis didn’t do that badly in my opinion. Yes, he was offkey in parts. No, I don’t think he’s got the vocal talent to be in the top 12. He’s got a great personality, but that isn’t going to take him much further. I have to give him credit for trying to change his style, though the judges think he should stick to the old style. Simon says he has a good voice somewhere. Since Simon is usually right, I’ll trust him on that.

Jasmine Trias started out great in my opinion. She gave me goosebumps until those 2 really horrid notes near the end, when she gave me the bad kind of goosebumps. The judges didn’t like her performance at all, but I think she did start out pretty good.

John Stevens apparently tried to make up a little bit for the travesty of the previous week by taking it up a notch. He failed, but you’ve got to give him a little credit for trying. He wasn’t the worst of the night. Randy thought it was his worst yet. Paula managed to find something good by saying he had fun and enjoyed himself. Simon made the cutest comment of the night by turning to Paula after her comments and said something to the effect of ‘you should be the first female president of this country, because anyone who can make good out of that…’

Camile Velasco turned in the worst performance of the night. Her whole performance seemed off-key to me. Even Paula couldn’t find anything good. Simon said that Elton should be throwing his TV out of his hotel window in Las Vegas after hearing that performance.

George Huff just keeps on pissing me off. Despite all of my efforts to hate him for his dopey smile and “ah-shucks-ma’am” demeanor, he keeps turning in performances that make me rate him near the top. Tonight he managed to be my second favorite. All of the judges liked him, and Simon thanked him for saving the night from being a karaoke competition.

Diana DeGarmo didn’t do her best ever tonight, but it was acceptable. From what Paula said, she wasn’t completely healthy. If that’s true, I have to give her credit for managing an okay performance. Simon had nothing to say, which is actually quite good for Simon.

Latoya London didn’t really wow me tonight. She sang good, maybe it was something about her song choice that I didn’t like. Randy and Paula loved it, but Simon seemed to be in the same boat as I am, saying it wasn’t as great as Randy and Paula thought it was, but it was still good, particularly compared to “some of our other horrors tonight.”

Jennifer Hudson performed her complete and utter best tonight. Elton John himself said she was the best, and I have to agree. She gave me goosebumps throughout the performance. For the first time, she completely blew me away with her singing. All of the judges had the same opinion, best ever.

My personal top three for today:
Jennifer Hudson
George Huff
Diana/Latoya (a tie)

My bottom two (can’t pick three as only two were exceptionally horrid):
Camile Velasco
John Stevens

From Charlotte Observer April 8, 2004:

Given that last Wednesday’s (March 31) “American Idol” results show left many faithful viewers vowing never to watch again and that Tuesday’s (April 6) Elton John Night saw a decline of 3 million viewers from the week before, perhaps this wasn’t the right time for “Idol” to perpetrate a bloated results show.

Still, for no apparent reason beyond giving the premiere of “The Swan” an artificial boost, Wednesday night’s (April 7) episode runs an inexcusable full hour, despite containing exactly as much content as last week’s efficient half-hour entry.

Host Ryan Seacrest begins the show by hinting that the Bottom Three is going to be revealed in a new manner. That moment of revelation is more than 30 minutes away, an elusive Holy Grail obtainable only after a lengthy quest — fearsome obstacles must be overcome and last night’s show must be relived. The people who were good, remain good in the playback. The people who were Jon Peter Lewis, John Stevens and Camile Velasco remain awful in playback. And Ryan Seacrest gets to, for at least the tenth time, pretend to be funny by asking what Randy means when he says “aight.”

Ryan then leads an awkward discussion with the nine remaining contestants. Camile wishes her dad a happy birthday. Fantasia Barrino sticks out her tongue at Simon for his negative comments. Jasmine Trias and Diana DeGarmo do their finest Ferris Bueller impressions, listing a litany of the diseases that plague them. John says he was satisfied with his Tuesday performance and LaToya London explains how much she likes weddings. It’s illuminating.

Two weeks ago, John transformed “My Girl” into a flotilla of flat flubs, but apparently the song hasn’t suffered enough. Jon-Boy does his own off-key interpretation for the upcoming “American Idol” soul album. We discover this chestnut during a lengthy commercial for said album that really only raises the question of why Gladys Knight doesn’t have anything better to do with her time.

Julia DeMato is in the crowd. Last season’s most conspicuous stage fright victim has a single coming out called “Let it Rain.” Nobody asks her to sing it.

Between last night’s covers and tonight’s Down With People medley, Elton John really ought to be entitled to defend himself. In all honesty, the delegation of responsibility on tonight’s medley is greatly improved. The girls are asked to sing the upbeat songs and execute the choreography, while the guys are left in front of microphones doing little more than raising their arms and trying to hit the right notes.

After the discovery that the “Idol” Finalists went to the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards (never mentioning the Viacom network’s name and blurring the Nickelodeon logos wherever they appear) in a spacious, luxury Ford SUV limo, Tamyra Gray appears to plug her “Tru Calling” appearance and sing her latest single “Raindrops Will Fall” (no relation to Julia DeMato’s similarly drizzly track).

Tamyra is great, but her answers to the questions from the Finalists all sound pre-programmed and the contestants’ eyes glaze. If they were lucky, they also napped through the annual pimp-themed Ford commercial set to “Love Machine.” Compared to last year’s spot with Clay Aiken as a latter day Mr. Whitefolks, the costumes and production values seem cheap.

Finally, having drawn things out as much as possible, Ryan separates the Finalists into a trio of groups of three. One group features the Top Three votegetters, the second features the Middle Three and the last group features the Bottom Three. Instead of producing tension, this new strategy leads only to confusion. Jasmine, Diana and Camile are Group A, whatever that means. Fantasia, Jon and John make up Group B, whatever that means. LaToya, Jennifer Hudson and George Huff find themselves in Group C, whatever that means.

After wasting more time, Ryan announces that Group C is safe. If that group featured the most popular contestants, it suggests that LaToya and Jennifer’s fans were good and scared after seeing both singers slip into the Bottom Three last week. Group B is also safe, which means that as many people chose to champion the tone-deaf guys as sassy Fantasia, which just seems wrong.

Looking at the Bottom Three, Randy and Paula agree that the American people still seem to be voting on personality rather than performance. This isn’t entirely true if you consider how giving one of Tuesday’s best performances helped Jennifer rise from the bottom to the top. Simon just grunts something about how one member of the Bottom Three knows that she belongs there.

Apparently the people of Hawaii were too busy celebrating the second Seder night to vote for their two native daughters. However, fewer of Diana’s fans were asking the Four Questions, because she’s sent back to the couch, safe. Dragging things out, Ryan asks Camile and Jasmine if they’re up to singing again (why does nobody ask our opinion?), but then sends the show to commercial before their encores. That sound you hear is 10 million viewers switching the channel for five minutes of “Smallville.”

Camile sounds like two cats battling in a bag, while Jasmine’s illness manifests itself in every strained note.

In the end, Camile is sent home, defeated by her DeMato-esque stage fright and a series of poor song choices. Randy and Paula wish her well. Simon isn’t given a chance to say anything, as Camile’s video tribute cuts in.

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