Idoloonies: Early Predictions for the Final Three! (Plus, a Chat With Kendra Chantelle!)

We’re just 11 weeks away from American Idol‘s season 10 finale — how scary is that? — and so on today’s installment of Idoloonies, I take a totally premature swing at predicting who will be the final three contestants standing. If that’s not enough to get you to click “play,” my reader cohosts and I also bid adieu to Ashthon Jones, dish Paul McDonald’s sudden side-shuffle from glory, debate Casey Abrams’ record-selling potential, talk about what Pia Toscano needs to do right this second, and choose the very worst performances by a man and a woman during Top 13 week. Plus, we offer a wacky theory on why Lauren Alaina’s “Any Man of Mine” never got off the ground, a reason Haley Reinhart may need medical help, and a freewheeling chat with awesome semifinalist Kendra Chantelle. (I’m not proud of myself, but there may be a question about whether she’s, um, collaborating with Paul McDonald.)

So ch-ch-check out the Most Important Show on the Internet Right Now* and then post your own thoughts in the comments. And for all my Idol ridiculata, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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  1. Pop Vulture says:

    Finally! I’ve been waiting for this to post. Thanks, Michael. Lookin’ svelte, btw!

  2. Pop Vulture says:

    Hailey R (sp?) must stop crinkling her nose immediately. IMMEDIATELY.

  3. Amber says:

    Love the Dr. who clips!

    • Stephanie says:

      Idoloonies + Doctor Who = automatic win!

      Interesting prediction on the final 3. Although I don’t thinkscotty will make it (and hopefully not Lauren), I’m going to go ahead and say Paul will make it. As long as he, er mellows out and not go full-on Megan Joy. But strap a guitar on him and you may see what we’ve see in the past few seasons: David Cook, Kris Allen, and What’s-His-Face. I loved Cook and Allen but that one guy was just…ugh.

      I would like seeing Stefano make it, I’m still getting flashbacks of that awful screech during the Bruno Mars number, but he has potential. And I’m surprised at how much I like Pia, but, and I know this is superficial, I wish she’d maybe lighten up on the makeup(and to masacara heavy) and put her hair up. Go for a somewhat softer look, or mix-up it up somehow. She looks to pageant-y. But vocally she’s there.

      • betsy says:

        I’ll bet you anything Paul doesn’t make it past another couple of rounds.

        • Pop Vulture says:

          I really hope you’re wrong, betsy. I think he’s great! I love that he’s quirky and imperfect, and yet so talented and able to connect through music.

          • Robin says:

            I am with you. He wasn’t great last week, but he wasn’t doing what he does best. When he does, it is fantastic. I think he’ll do well in the music business, even if he doesn’t go much further on Idol. Michael was right – there is an audience for his style of music and people will buy it. I know I will. I would love for him to stay as long as possible to get as much exposure as possible.

  4. Sharon says:

    Pia’s pageant arm really gets on my nerves. I wish they’d cuff her hands behind her back and let her sing that way.

  5. Been waiting for Idoloonies. I feel better and can now move on with my day. :)

  6. Ooh, Lawrence Welk reference! Cool!

    My feeling is that lots of old songs can be made fresh and lots of newer ones can’t be. I confess to disliking most contemporary power ballads and anything by Celine Dion, so it’s hard for me to relate to these no matter how well they’re sung. But hey, “Stuff Like That There” to “My Funny Valentine” to, yeah, “Summertime” (though I think there should be a moratorium on it now) can be fabulous because the songs themselves ARE fabulous. And they can be contemporary with heart and real singing.

    Your point about performers not always hitting the notes when they sing live is well taken, but it also annoys the crap out of me. Having said that, I like Naima a lot because she CAN sing (she wasn’t off-key so much as out of breath) and I love Casey. They can blow!

    • Jonathan says:

      I have seen numerous Lawrence Welk performances that were more exciting than Karen’s, Thia’s, and, frankly, Pia’s. And honestly I just don’t see anything in Stefano yet. All four of them are too easy listening/Disney for my tastes.

  7. lisak says:

    I’m not sold on Pia. She has such a STRAIN in her voice … see how she has to lift her head up to squeeze notes out of her throat – it just doesn’t sound that musical. I think she has talent that could be developed but for one thing there’s no way she can sing like that and last for a concert tour because her singing takes such a lot of WORK v. being something that flows out.

    • agrimesy says:

      That’s it! I’ve been trying to put into words the reason why Pia makes me squint when she sings. Her high notes are strong and in key, but the strain is like waiting for a balloon to pop! I want to duck, like “Look out, she’s gonna BLOW!” She makes my listening experience anxious not enjoyable.

  8. Erica says:

    FINALLY!!! I have been WAITING for Idoloonies!

  9. Teena says:

    I still find the followers of each Idol on Twitter interesting. I assume people who use Twitter are people more likely to power vote. Paul, Scotty and Casey have the biggest numbers.
    Pia looks like Selena Gomez. I love her voice, but I think she looks weird when she sings. She, Stephano and Naima show us a lot of their molars and that can be a bit icky.

    • Teena says:

      Michael, do you know if they are going to have the live performances available on iTunes? Either in audio or video, there are many times when I have preferred the live version over the studio version and have downloaded accordingly. I will be really disappointed if they only have the (over)produced studio versions.

    • julie says:

      That’s the camera-man’s fault.

  10. brian says:

    I’m sorry but the TV show (what is it? Dr. Who?) cutaways just don’t work like they did on EW. They are just annoying, plus focus on AI clips and commentary, skip the pointless LOST wannabe clips please.

    • billie says:

      Are you kidding?… As great as Michael is, I live for Jason’s entertaining edits. And yes: those were very in-context doctor who clips.

    • Pop Vulture says:

      Disagree! The interspersed clips aren’t working differently just because this is a different website. Love them, MS!

    • Lunakit says:

      Whaaachutalkinbout Willis, um, Brian? I look forward to the awesome edit of Idoloonies. It is always a tight weave… tighter than the hair extensions on the next Bachelorette. (Oops, I’m sending mixed message boards again)

  11. katie says:

    I’m loving the Doctor Who parts!!! I love Doctor Who, I love American Idol. Awesome vids.

  12. ErixN says:

    Thanks for posting! I watched all but the last one.

  13. Marta says:

    Former contestants’ post-Idol interviews usually fall into two distinct categorizes for me- I’m left with wanting more or they confirm for me that it was their time to go. After that wonderfully poised and compelling interview– I want more Kendra! For shame that she couldn’t quite crack the Top 13. Now more than ever, I wish she was there instead of Karen, Thia, and Haley.

    • Ben says:

      Absolutely agree! Really enjoyed the interview with Kendra and I’m definitely interested to hear what she comes up with.

  14. Trisha says:

    Not buying Pia yet. I liked her in Vegas but I think that was because her two co-singers were so bad. So far she’s just proved she can sing loudly (and has missed many, many notes that no one seems to have called her on) and has a wonky arm!

    Michael – you said America only wants a winner who has a voice and can sing in tune. How do you explain last year’s winner? Not one performance without a missed note or five…

  15. Margaret says:

    I just spent a very pleasant break from work watching the videos – delightful – thanks. Like the others, can I hint we’d like them say, maybe on Tuesday? Also, both do rankings and since your opinion is the one that counts – any chance of you doing one?

  16. tuppy says:

    Kendra is incredibly charming. Biggest judging mistake so far was putting Ashthon through instead of her. How could they deny her dominance on wildcard night? And we cannot underestimate the potency of someone with a killer voice and a real sense who they are artistically. If she had a chance, like Stefano, to show America one more time what she could do, we’d be talking about her in our final three predictions. Such a pity.

    • nancy says:

      You got that right. Damn shame they did everything to edit out her poise and personality that they could. Their loss

  17. Skitty says:

    Great Idoloonies this week Michael. Best line “always shame on Ryan” Hahaha!

  18. Tahoe Mike says:

    Please get these out sooner, by the day of the next show I’ve forgotten last week.

    Watching your talk with Kendra, I am really PO’d that Ashton, and Karen got through.

    • betsy says:

      also, if it comes out sooner, maybe just maybe the contestants will watch it and take your excellent advice! Too late now :(

  19. H says:

    I don’t get the Stefano love.

    • Erin says:

      I don’t get it either. And to say he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there? Not true. He sounds like a poor ripoff version of Bruno Mars. He won’t even make it to the top 5…

    • Andrew says:

      Me neither. He’s completely boring to me.
      Casey, James or Paul instead.

  20. t.t says:

    oh kendra! still unhappy about your elimination what the hell is wrong with these judges and America!

  21. Erica says:

    LOVE Idoloonies! Michael, been enjoying the interviews you’ve done with contestants that are gone too soon, such as Kendra. Will you also be doing exit interviews with the top 13, such as Ashthon?


  22. Eliza says:

    Pia is my fave this season for sure. Loved this thanks!

    But… u didn’t mention Adam Lambert’s amaaazing Aftermath performance… :(

  23. Lemon says:

    Kendra Chantelle owes you car! Or at least dinner….. She wouldn’t have gotten half the attention she did without your advocacy….seriously. I sure she’s grateful.

    I still think Scotty will win. Not my fave–that was Lauren Turner, but the stuff he does sells big. Pia has a voice that is big and has range, but her tone is strident and sort of unpleasant. Lauren A. needs to come out and do a ballad about being humbled by heartbreak if she wants her top status back. It is a popularity contest after all.

    • Yo says:

      “Strident” expresses perfectly what bothers me about Pia’s voice. She has the notes, but they are not always as pleasnant as they could be.

  24. amy.. says:

    Loved it!
    So great to hear Kendra talk about things going on behind the scenes. I would probably buy her CD, but I do love duets and would love even more a CD of her & Paul. I agree with you about Casey with his Bass…he can sell albums if he is given the power to do so. If a music producer shoves a bunch of stuff to him to sing, it wouldn’t work. Maybe he’d be better off at top 2 or 3, so he has more say in what he puts on his CD.

  25. Amy says:

    Thank you, thank you for having Kendra on Idoloonies! It was great to actually hear her speak. It is a shame we didn’t get to hear more of her when she was on American Idol. She has such a great knowledge of musicality. While she may not necessarily be “radio ready” or make big bucks for the music industry, it is a shame she didn’t make it farther in the competition. Especially with some of the females that are left which is just frustrating.

  26. Lizbeth says:

    Thanks for the idoloonies–always fun to watch. Thanks for the Kendra interview. She’s seem very cool. If it had been up to me–Kendra and Lauren Turner would have been switched with Asthon/Karen/Thia or really any of the ladies except Naima. That would have made it a much better season. She did sound nice with Paul–although I didn’t like the song that much because it seemed like only two or three chords. It might not be a bad idea for her to join Paul’s group when the idol stuff is over.

    I have no idea who will make top three because of the record producer input this season. I like Stefano and all–but he seems like he will go out 6th or 7th to me. He really needs stand up when they hand him a lousy arrangement–but as you said–that is probably almost impossible.

    I’m glad you brought up the “current” thing on idol. Since I have been watching–the current weeks never turn out that well. I think one year it was songs from this century–and it pretty much sucked. The problem is (as you also pointed out) most current stuff has very little melody and is manufactured in the studio. These songs really can’t stand up well being sung straight. That’s why the pop stars have so much crap going on during the performance (dancers, crazy outfits, light shows, tv heads etc). It detracts from the fact that the song is bad or the singer is bad or both.

    Casey is my fave hands down cause he so talented. I don’t see any similarity between Casey and Hicks–except that they both work the stage well. Casey is a jazz guy. I have no idea what kind of album he would put out–but I am sure it would be better than a lot of current stuff (if he had some input)

    I read what his song will be tonight. I won’t spoil it here–but it should be interesting to say the least. I don’t know how it will go over unless he changes part of it up quite a bit

  27. betsy says:

    Pia is the first girl in a LONG LONG TIME who Randy can’t say “that song was too big for you”…..but I agree, it’s too much work instead of a natural flowing gift.

    Are they NEVER going to let the contestants use instruments this year? I thought that was just for the early rounds.

    That was an EXCELLENT point about current music having the benefit of backup singers and tracks to support them. I thought Naima did a fabulous job, all things considered.

  28. Amy says:

    Thank you, thank you for having Kendra on Idoloonies! I was very impressed by her and her knowledge of musicality. Though she may not necessarily be “radio ready” or make the big bucks for the music industry, it is a shame she didn’t make it farther in the competition. Especially after seeing several of the girls who are left.

  29. Grace says:

    Wow, great interview with Kendra, thank you so much!!

    Also, quick random thought RE: Pia and her relatability – I don’t know why, but for whatever reason Pia got major points with me for doing that interview with her glasses on performance night. There’s something about pretty girls not being afraid to come out on camera with their hair back and glasses on that I love, it’s like, I’m not afraid to show you that I’m not a glamourous beauty queen 24/7.

    Anyone else feel that?

    • amy.. says:

      I didn’t even think about this until you mentioned it. So true…and the hard work think that Michael talked about, I see that as a good thing. Much different then Lauren everything is given to me on a silver platter.

  30. zaza says:

    While I can’t deny that Pia has an amazing voice and is very polished, I just can’t connect with her. I don’t know…there’s something kind of vampire-queen about her. And her song choices, the way she just stands there with her pageant arm…it’s just kind of boring for me. I agree about Stefano’s Bruno Mars-like appeal to the young girl voters, but again….something about him sort of bores me. The two most dynamic performers (and therefore most interesting to me personally) are James and Naima. If James can tone down his personality and Naima shape up her vocals, I think either could win and have a very successful career.

    As much as I enjoy Paul’s voice, I don’t think American Idol is the place for him. Luckily, the exposure will probably be a boon for his band and they may find success going the traditional route. Hope so!

    And Slezak…please, please, PLEASE let us know when Kendra has a cd out!

  31. Lana says:

    Just follow Kendra Chantelle on Twitter–You’ll be able to see what she’s up to.

    And for Lauren Turner fans–it’s Lauren E Turner on Twitter. She’s good at updating her performances..etc..

  32. Amelia says:

    HELP PLEASE – having trouble watching the videos again this week because they are all saying “SERVER NOT FOUND”! Hope to watch them soon :)

    • Amelia says:

      Okay – the videos are all working now.

      • Amelia says:

        And now they’re not again (when I posted a comment & refreshed the page the video stopped playing & I got the message “SERVER NOT FOUND” again… how temperamental!) The videos seem to work for other people. Is it because I live in New Zealand?

  33. Will says:

    A girl will never win this show again. I would be shocked. It would take a miracle.

  34. rosiefolks says:

    Thanks Michael – love you as always. I still haven’t found anyone to love this season. Pia is beautiful and good but her high notes sounds strained to me, I don’t think those big high diva notes are her money notes. James was really good but I think expecting someone with aspbergers to be able to woo America will be hard – nothing against people with aspbergers at all – just that picking up on social cues is challenging for them and people might misinterpret him. Casey needs to do more – I hope he does. Paul is adorable when he is seated, but his vocal this week seemed week. I hated every single female performance this week and only really liked Stephano and James. The arrangements were atrosh – I don’t know what they are going to do about that but they had better fix it stat. Those kids are going to be screwed if they have to be bossed around by the execs. So far I think this is a really weak crowd and I’m so bummed about that. Kendra is obviously a lot more talented and they obviously really didn’t want her. Can’t figure out why. I hope something unexpected happens tonight and I hope the pageant gown store was closed. xoxox

    • Bethann says:

      James isn’t autistic. He has Tourette’s. Completely different condition that has nothing to do with his ability to read and understand social cues.

      • Amber says:

        He stated early on that he has Tourette’s and Asperger’s.

      • idolfan44 says:

        actually, james said he has asbergers as well as tourette’s, so roseifolks is right. even the things that michael slezak said about how james might’ve been awkward and full-of-himself, really are probably attributable to his asbergers.

        i wasn’t a james fan – AT ALL – until that paul mccartney tune, man he really sang the heck out of that.

  35. Yo says:

    Kendra seems to know who she is. I do hope she puts out a cd and/or performs with Paul: that’s a duo that works. She needs to perservere, she should have a career, with or without Idol.

    Idoloonies is better than the show! I suppose now I must continue to watch, even though I can not get invested in any of the remaining contestants. What a great job!

  36. Joe says:

    I don’t know, I kind of got the impression that Kendra didn’t know who she was musically after the interview. The artists she was using as touchstones to compare herself to were in very separate zip codes. She’s very low key and unassuming and I think that hurt her with the producers of the show. Her voice is phenomenal though.

    I think her love for Aguilera is what did her in and what will continue to do her in if she keeps using her as a point of comparison.

    And performing with Paul post Idol will only make her look like a backup singer in his band. I think she knew that when she sang Blackbird with him in Vegas and it’s why she put her stamp on it.

    I think her lane is singer songwriter with a soul/rock edge. Think Aimee Mann not Aguilera.

  37. P4Principle says:

    Beg to differ re Casey AND Taylor Hicks. Both are very talented. Taylor COULD HAVE sold a lot IF he was promoted. If Idol doesn’t like you they don’t promote. Take Kris Allen. He’s a multi talented artist. AI does not do one iota worth of promotion like they do with some others whom I won’t name.

    Therefore the public thinks these people are not successful.

    • amy says:

      And the songs Taylor got for his CD are not great. Kris was the underdog and still is. I did buy 2 of his songs…Heartless and Ain’t no Sunshine.

    • Kate says:

      I agree. They have not promoted Kris Allen at all and his album was actually really good. I enjoyed it. They really pick and choose who they want to promote.

  38. Emmy says:

    Re Scotty. Don’t get what people see. He’s a 17 yr. old who not only sounds like he’s 50, but his country voice is like every country singer from 1973.

  39. dctoronto says:

    Finally, a new episode! Michael, you look great and I enjoy looking at your apartment. Love those flowers; are they grape hyacinths?

    I am trying to understand what your definition of “radio ready” means. To me, it means for the most part a handful of “singers” who have been created by committee. They’ll sell well for a few years and then disappear.

    One of the things that I like about Idol is that (ironically),it has given who would not be considered top 40 material (like Kendra) get a chance to record and find their niche. I don’t believe they need to sell a million copies to be considered successes.

  40. Paisley Quinn says:

    LOVE this! Michael! Beautiful analysis, love the regular folks as idoloonies skyping in, and of course KENDRA!!!!!! Oh, man, what I wouldn’t give to have her in the Top 12 right now. What a lovely person, super voice, would be a close match between her and Pia. I agree that Paul has moved way down on the leaderboard after last week. I really hope he has a clutch performance tonight. HAPPY ST PATTY’S DAY tomorrow!!!

  41. BTGS says:

    Love Paul… interesting, fun, hipster with a fabulous voice and an absolutely wonderful personality with nice looks. Would love it if he won Idol but even if he doesn’t the exposure will do wonders. (Re: Chris Daughtry)

    Do not understand the love for Pia. I have not been impressed with her at all. Same with Lauren…

    but I’m guessing that some people are thinking/saying the same thing about Paul.

    • Kate says:

      I agree! My sister says she cannot stand his voice and the way he moves around the stage. It annoys her. I think it’s really fun, quirky and interesting. To me, it is way more interesting than the ones who just stand still and do absolutely nothing. At least he has a personality and an awesome one at that. I love his voice, but he needs to start picking better song choices that will really showcase his husky and mellow voice. I’m excited to see what he will do next week :)

  42. Tahoe Mike says:

    You were right Michael; musical chemistry is everything. So is onscreen chemistry. I don’t care what international treaties must be made, mountains moved, or bridges unburnt; GET KRISTEN BALDWIN, AND KRISTEN WITH GLASSES BACK INTO THE ACT.

  43. Deb says:

    Love the Doctor-reminds me of working at local PBS station in grad school.
    Sorry, can’t see this as a girl’s year as they are either to pageant oriented, too boring, too annoying, or not very good at live vocals. I called the bottom three, although Jacob could easily have been there as well. I really wanted Karen to go because she seems intent on being one of her idols instead of finding out who she is. Overall, James was the most surprising and compelling performances last week and he was not someone I was really excited about.
    I am far more interested in seeing how the contestants see themselves as artists and how that evolves on the show. What concerns me is that these producer packaged presentations were, in too many cases, just wrong. They may get lucky and create that Kara D “package artist” but they’ll be one hit wonders with 15 minutes of fame.

  44. marygrace says:

    love the reg folks commenting. love Kendra.

  45. crey014 says:

    “Idoloonies” is my lecture on TV University, “American Idol” is my prescribed reading before the lecture.

  46. Georgia says:

    For me, this is feeling like it can be a great season or a total train wreck. Casey needs to come out with a surprising performance, a la Kris Allen’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”…and, then, keep the surprises coming. I’m still with Casey and Pia for now. Such a shame that Kendra is gone, but I’ll look for updates from her.

  47. CarolLeslie says:

    Caterwauling is the word I’ve been using all week to describe Jacob Lusk, so it was validating to hear Slezak use the same term. Not sure I’m 100% on board with your top 3 picks, even tho I think you’ll be right on at least one and probably 2 of them. Also pleased to see you changing your tune (at least for this week) on James Durbin.
    Now if Idoloonies can stop having “technical problems” and get posted earlier in the week in the future. Seems out of sync to rush home from work and watch it before the next round of Idol performances. Love the show, but it would be even better if it were more timely.

  48. Nat says:

    Slezak, I love you, but it’s really NOT OK to call out James Durbin for his reactions – he has Asperger’s Syndrome. I have several friends with this condition; a part of it is being unable to judge how to react appropriately in certain situations. It’s one thing to have an arrogant reaction, it’s totally another when your social judgment is impaired.
    Your comments about him in this week’s Idoloonies are hugely distasteful, and I ask you in the future to bear this in mind and offer it as a disclaimer if you’re planning on making any comments – explain what it is rather than just making snarky comments.

  49. blueinredstate says:

    Michael – sigh.. love/miss Kendra. We have decided that Paul is a male version of Macy Gray.

  50. Ellen says:

    Michael do not change a thing! I lament Idolatry but I love everything you do. I’m so happy you are still at it. I too am a HUGE Kendra fan and those judges should be ashamed for not putting her through. Other than a few losers the group could be neck in neck. They really need to step it up and “break it out the box”. I agree with the possibilty of Pia, Stefano, Scotty ending. Many of them are sounding the same. Sad commentary.