Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Who is bound for the “Idol” finale?

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rounds1Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai sang their swan songs Wednesday night on “American Idol,” meaning the singing competition lost its two most uniquely named contestants in one fell swoop.

Nostalgia for “Little” and “Anoop Dogg” aside, their joint offing was hardly unexpected. Lil, a 23-year-old mother of three from Memphis, struggled to gain the judges’ respect through most of her time in the show’s Top 13. Desai, a 21-year-old from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, meanwhile, was among the show’s Bottom Three vote-getters for four straight weeks.

Now, the show is down to five singers, and the big question is which two will make it to the season finale. Adam Lambert has emerged as the frontrunner, but who could challenge him?

Allison Iraheta‘s chances appear slim, after having thrice landed in the Bottom Three, including this week. She is also by far the show’s youngest contestant, at just 16. But could Allison benefit from being the only woman left standing?

Adam Lambert keeps “Idol” judges entranced

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lambertBefore he went on stage, the camera swooped down on “American Idol” contestant Adam Lambert as he stood beaming in the crowd. But as usual, Lambert was more than just a face in the crowd on Tuesday night, as he again wowed the judges and solidified his frontrunner status.

It was Disco Week on “Idol,” and true to the theme Lambert sang the Bee Gees hit “If I Can’t Have You,” effortlessly hitting the high notes and inspiring judge Paula Abdul to gush that his performance made her feel his “pain.” Abdul was not alone. All the judges said they loved the performance, with alpha judge Simon Cowell commending Lambert for surprising him by picking a Bee Gees song.

Paula Abdul views her “Idol” role as irreplaceable

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“American Idol” judge Paula Abdul is on the bubble at the show. Her contract ends after this season, and it remains unclear if she will come back next year.paula-abdul

Abdul, who is widely considered “Idol’s” least harsh judge, was asked by ABC News show “Nightline” whether Kara DioGuardi, who joined the show this season as the new fourth judge, could replace her on the show.

Heart, Jeff Lynne to be honored by music biz in Hollywood

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(Corrects name of Heart album to Jupiters Darling, in paragraph 9)

Ann and Nancy Wilson, the frontwomen of veteran Seattle rock group Heart, and British musician/producer Jeff Lynne will share the secrets of their success during panel sessions at a music industry convention in Hollywood this week. 
    
heartThey are the top-billed attractions at the fourth annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, which runs April 23-25 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Other panels will feature such heavy-hitters as Chaka Khan, Natasha Bedingfield, Wyclef Jean and songwriter Billy Steinberg.
    
The Wilson sisters will also receive the Founders Awards during ASCAP’s 26th annual Pop Awards dinner at the venue on Wednesday. The black-tie dinner honors the writers and publishers of the year’s most-played compositions represented by ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).
    
“Being honored as songwriters is really important to us,” Nancy Wilson told Reuters. “We usually get passed over on a lot of lists … I’m not sure why.”
    
“When you consider all the incredible songs that have been written, you never feel worthy enough as a writer. Being a fan of great writing, you’re always, “Oh my god, but I’m not Bob Dylan!” If we do some little version of spirit-lifting for people with our songs then we’ve done a good job.”
    
Heart — with Nancy on guitar and Ann on vocals — broke through in the 1970s with such eventual classic-rock staples as “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man.” They enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s with ballads from outside writers, such as “These Dreams” and “What About Love?”
    
These days Heart are reaching a younger demographic thanks to Guitar Hero and “American Idol” 
    
“We still get compensated for the work,” Wilson said. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving if songs keep on rolling. The catalog of course has done pretty well overall, which is kinda surprising in the climate of today’s nonmusic business.”
    
In between lucrative casino gigs and co-headlining tours with Journey, Heart are slowly recording a new album, the follow-up to 2004′s “Jupiters Darling,” and hope to release it in the summer of 2010.
    
Lynne, the bearded Svengali famed for leading the art-rock band Electric Light Orchestra, is also working on a solo album, which he hopes to release later this year. It would be the follow-up to his first solo outing, 1990′s “Armchair Theatre.”
    
ASCAP will present him with a lifetime achievement award before he discusses his career during Friday’s session.
    
He jokingly told Reuters that his pearls of wisdom might include such nuggets as “just do what I do” and “get a good lawyer.”
    
“You’ve just gotta love it,” he said in a more serious vein. “You can’t really do it unless you love it to bits, and you’d rather be doing it than anything else. I’m still getting thrilled with music even after 40 years of doing it professionally.”
    
As with Heart, Electric Light Orchestra is experiencing a bit of a resurgence among younger fans, Lynne said. He has just finished producing five tracks at his home studio with singer/songwriter Regina Spektor, and plans to work on some songs with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

Jennifer Hudson sings of love in “Idol” return

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jennifer-hudsonA lot has happened to Jennifer Hudson since she last took the stage on “American Idol.” In her highly anticipated return to the show on Wednesday night’s broadcast, Hudson sang “If This Isn’t Love” from her Grammy-winning 2008 debut album.

If the performance was not as poignant as her power ballad “You Pulled Me Through” during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8, it was a moment to be savored for a singer who has experienced life’s highs and lows since she finished a disappointing seventh in 2004. Ironically, when producers this season introduced a rule allowing them to save one contestant from elimination, Simon Cowell mentioned Hudson’s early exit as a justification for giving him and his fellow judges veto power over America’s votes. And on the same night that viewers saw Hudson’s performance, they saw the judges use their save power to rescue Matt Giraud.

Time crunch muzzles “Idol” judges

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USA/“American Idol” fans were robbed of one of the show’s biggest draws on Tuesday night, after the producers decreed that only two judges would evaluate each performance.

Calling the change “unfortunate,” judge Simon Cowell said just two judges would speak at a time because the show ran several minutes long last week. Many viewers with digital video recorders had complained because they missed the show’s final performance by Adam Lambert.

“Idol” reject Scott MacIntyre thrilled by near save

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For eliminated “American Idol” contestant Scott MacIntyre, just coming close to being saved was a victory on Wednesday night.scott-macintyre

“I was actually thrilled that it was a split decision between the four judges, and that was something very nice to walk away knowing,” MacIntyre said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

Can “Idol’s” Adam Lambert be stopped?

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USA/Seven singers are still vying for this year’s “American Idol” crown following Wednesday’s offing of Scott MacIntyre, but already there is no longer a pack of frontrunners. Rather, there is one.

Adam Lambert has outshone many of his rivals on this season of “Idol,” winning over fans with his unique showmanship and mindblowing vocal range. Since he entered the show’s Top 12, only one performance has received so-so reviews from the judges, and that was during the notoriously difficult Country Week. Remember Lambert’s “Ring of Fire”?

Simon Cowell becomes a stand-up guy

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It’s an unusual night on “American Idol” when the normally sharp-tongued judge Simon Cowell offers a contestant a standing ovation, which is exactly what he did at the end of Tuesday’s show in reaction to Adam Lambert’s performance. Granted that Cowell had to offer succinct praise because the show was out of time, but he was definitely acting out of character when he stood up and gushed over Lambert’s singing.USA/

Lambert chose the 1982 hit “Mad World” by Tears for Fears, a selection much less well known than the songs other contestants performed. This week, the Idols had to pick a song from the year they were born. The judges were tough on a couple of them over their song choice, with Lil Rounds getting the worst of it.

Carrie Underwood’s big night

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carrie_underwood1Its only been four years since Carrie Underwood won American Idol, but it felt like a long-overdue coronation when she was named entertainer of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

The 26-year-old superstar beati out Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and George Strait, four of country music’s top-selling male artists, all of them at least a decade older, to cement her place as the biggest star of country music’s next generation. 

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