Camp Should-A-Been - Season Fourteen
No result shows? No problem! We haven't had any here at CSAB in thirteen seasons, and we're not about to start now.
However, we do have to deal with the complete bedlam that Idol's new once-weekly format caused for Per
Blankens and his thoroughly discombobulated staff, where some contestants sang after they were eliminated, others
didn't get to sing before they were eliminated, a few should have been eliminated whether they sang or not,
and there were more varieties of saves than at an NHL shootout.
Oh well, we'll figure something out, while we're also determining if surprise winner Nick Fradiani can duplicate his remarkable
late-season run to the title. Will once-frontrunners Clark Beckham or Jax dethrone him? Will über-quirky BFFs Quentin
Alexander or Joey Cook make a run of their own? Will we just send everyone home en masse in the middle of the season and go
watch The Voice? Join us as we try to make some sense out of American Idol's wacky fourteenth
season here at Camp Should-A-Been!
Sunday, June 21st, 2015
Top 24 (Guys)
All afternoon they drove through the gates of Camp Should-A-Been, arriving from cities and towns across the country,
in station wagons and minivans packed with spouses and pets and squealing kids. Our loyal summer replay fans? Um, not exactly.
We don't get too many of those these days.
We're talking about thirteen seasons' worth of former American Idol contestants, of course -- all 361 of them!
Many are getting about as long in the tooth as AI itself. Heck, Idol's elder statesman Constantine
Maroulis will turn 40 at the end of the summer, though he's still as spry as ever and sharp as a tack. He even doddered
up to Kelly Clarkson and said charmingly that he remembered watching her sing back in the day on his parents'
black-and-white TV. That didn't end well.
We also welcomed our 24 newest
hapless victims campers from Season Fourteen, many of whom are still unsure if they
were ever officially eliminated this spring. Executive producer Per Blankens is here, cheerfully barking crisp and clear
orders to his underlings in Swedish, none of whom speak the language, which explains an awful lot about the past six months.
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and the always-eager-to-explain-things Harry Connick Jr. were showing their AI14 charges around
the campgrounds. ("I know many of you don't know what 'meatloaf' is, but it's a popular dish prepared with ground beef and
breadcrumbs...") Scott Borchetta and Ryan Seacrest were at the ampitheater doing a sound check, and head honcho Simon Fuller was casually
standing by the ticket office, checking the Man U score on his cell phone and exuding pure evil. Everything is awesome.
Before tonight's first Guys' Semifinal got underway, we had a moment of silence to pay tribute
to Michael Johns and Joanne Borgella, both of whom tragically passed away last fall. Why Mr. Blankens didn't do something
similar on the air this season is a question we'd rather not ask, not that we speak Swedish either. Then, it was showtime!
Easily pacing the field on opening night while introducing the Sawtooth Nose Ring to CSAB was Quentin Alexander -- fans,
we're selling genuine replicas at the souvenir stand, and camp nurse Amanda Overmyer is standing by to perform free piercings
with every purchase! Defending champ Nick Fradiani -- wait, did he really win? -- came in second while posting his highest approval
rating of the season, a 76. You can't make this stuff up. Real-life finalists Clark Beckham, Rayvon Owen, and Qaasim Middleton
also reached four stars to advance to Tuesday's second semifinal.
In a particularly heartwarming moment, Texas singer-songwriter
Savion Wright, who spent the past five years doggedly pursuing his dream of being a contestant here at
Camp Should-A-Been, finally had a chance to sing on our stage. He promptly got stung by a bee. Be careful what you
wish for, kid, you might get it. Wright did earn two more evenings in Cabin Fourteen as a holdover contestant
along with Riley Bria, who edged Adam Ezegelian for the eighth and final spot by about three-tenths of a point.
Joining the New York rocker on the Bus Of Shame were Michael Simeon (who took home the annual CSAB plaque for Worst Song Choice
Of The Year -- usually we wait until the end of the summer to hand it out, but why bother?), Trevor Douglas, and
original ninth-place finisher Daniel Seavey, the youngest of our campers, who came and went before we could even get
any good snark going. Drat.
Monday, June 22nd, 2015
Top 24 (Girls)
Geez, American Idol contestants breed like rabbits. There are tykes running around everywhere,
climbing trees, swimming in the lake, and putting on make-believe shows in the ampitheater, where Simon Cowell's baby son
Eric was telling everyone who sang that they sounded like something straight out of a Portuguese day care center. The apple
doesn't fall far from the tree, it seems. Little Isaiah Underwood won the very first competition by gooing "So Small"
to a 62 approval rating -- not bad for someone four months old. Just wait until he loses the pacifier.
Meanwhile, Harry Connick Jr. thoughtfully visited our twelve female semfinalists in the
dispensary this afternoon. Seems their first dinner at the Mess Hall last night didn't sit well. ("I know many of you don't know what
'salmonella' is, but it's a food-borne bacteria sometimes found in meatloaf....") Most were still
pretty queasy when tonight's Top 24 Girls replay got underway, and it showed in the approval
ratings. Eight of the first nine ladies to take the stage couldn't break 50, enduring catcalls from the frustrated audience
and hysterical laughter backstage from a smug Isaiah Underwood. We like that kid.
Eventually though, things picked up: Sarina-Joi Crowe
and Jackie "Jax" Miskanic belted out back-to-back 5-star masterpieces before Tyanna Jones closed the show with a solid 67.
They along with Joey Cook And Her Accordion comprised half of our advancers tonight. We had to head
to the low 40's to find four more:
original wild carder Adanna Duru, new holdover Katherine Winston, plus Loren Lott and Alexis Gomez once again.
That meant Maddie Walker became the second real-life finalist to get bounced after one performance. We sent her home to
Iowa on the Bus Of Shame along with Lovey James, Shannon Berthiaume, and the irrepressable Shi Scott who notched the first
single-digit rating of the summer. Eric Cowell opined that her song choice was indulgent and her singing was dreadful.
We're telling you, he's got a knack for this job.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Top 16 (Guys)
The kids are alright. The producers, not so much. Either because it was an opportunistic
tie-in to Fox's smash hit series Empire, or
because the people who run American Idol are just that stupid, or both, the theme for the second week of the AI14
semifinals was Motown. Again. That meant our sixteen remaining contestants had to perform songs that were two decades
older than Nick Fradiani and three geological eras older than everyone else. We'd also planned to fly the cast to Detroit for
a couple of days to add ambience to their performances, but that wasn't in our ever-shrinking budget, so we drove them to
an abandoned factory in town instead. Close enough.
The musical fatigue was reflected starkly in the WNTS ratings. Even though they were singing some of the greatest songs
ever written, none of the
Top 8 guys
could deliver a performance that reached even the modest 70s. Quentin Alexander led for the second straight time
to earn the first chair into the Finals, and he was joined by the four guys that everyone and his grandmother expected, the
only difference being that granny actually enjoyed hearing all of those songs again. The cunning Mark Andrew
tried his hand at a Motown song that had previously been 2-for-2 at producing 5-star performance ratings. Boy, that streak
ended abruptly. As for our two holdovers, we assigned them a pair of AI-overexposed songs that the rest of the field
happened to overlook
this time around. Neither particularly distinguished themselves, but
Savion Wright's 36 was just good enough to earn one of the two available Wild Card spots. That meant the amiable
Wright's dream tenure at CSAB would be extended another two days, causing him to weep tears of what we hoped were joy at the
announcement. It was the end of the road for Tennessee's Riley Bria, who joined Andrew on the Bus of Shame. Tune in tomorrow when we
fill out the rest of the Finals field, and don't forget to DVR it for Grandma in case she's planning to watch
The Voice instead.
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Top 16 (Girls)
Box office revenue for our fourteenth summer replay was down again, as if that's anything new. Quite honestly, the only person
making money at CSAB this summer was Zion Barrino, Fantasia's now-teenaged daughter, who was raking in a fortune as a babysitter.
With corporate sponsors dropping out too, Simon Fuller responded with a few cost-reduction moves which, he assured us, would keep
us strong and profitable through the end of our final season next summer. He assured us that most of our readers wouldn't
even ntc th ctbcks.
Even switching their Mess Hall choices from meatloaf to macaroni-and-cheese
didn't seem to help our remaining eight girls
(HCJ: "'E. coli' is a microbe often found in milk and dairy products..."), though the Motown theme didn't help their cause much.
For the second straight outing, they were mostly just fair-to-middling. Sarina-Joi Crowe, who'd smartly had a pizza delivered,
notched her second straight 5-star performance. Tyanna Jones tossed in a few bird calls at the end of her number to earn the
ladies' second berth in the finals, plus a date with a cute oriole. Rounding out the field to no one's surprise,
all with 3-star ratings, were JAX, Adanna Duru, and Joey Cook.
That left three singers battling for the second and final Wild Card pick of the summer. Katherine Winston asked us if she could
sing a classic Four Tops song that was new to Idol. We said sure, but we probably should have checked with Mr. Fuller first.
As soon as he realized he'd be on the hook for additional royalty payments, he chased Winston off the stage and into the woods
in a panic. Before she left, she managed to earn a 41 as her first projected rating. That was ten points higher than
Loren Lott, and we don't even want to discuss Alexis Gomez save to say that, if she really felt she needed a mentor from the
staff, she probably could have chosen better. ("Trust me 'Lex, the audience loves it when you take an iconic Sixties
single and apply a country hoedown arrangement." "OK, Kristy, I'm sold!")
That left us with a Finals roster that looked a lot like the one we saw last March:
- Quentin Alexander
- Clark Beckham
- Joey Cook
- Sarina-Joi Crowe
- Adanna Duru
- Nick Fradiani
- Tyanna Jones
- Rayvon Owen
- Qaasim Middleton
- Katherine Winston
- Savion Wright
Newcomers in italics. Failing to qualify: Maddie Walker and Daniel Seavey. Our twelve finalists happily congratulated
one another afterwards in a backstage celebration, and they were particularly touched when we told them we had some special,
ah, seating arrangements prepared for them starting tomorrow night. Heh.
Thursday, June 25th, 2015
Final 12 (Audition Songs)
At precisely 11am this morning, Danny Gokey drove a rented tractor-trailer onto the grounds of Camp Should-A-Been and
parked it by the ampitheater. Our three loyal and legendary disciplinary counselors, Rocco, Viktor and Serge,
unloaded twelve enormous wooden crates bearing return addresses and shipping labels ("Old Sparky")
from some of the finest maximum-security penitentiaries in
America. They unpacked the contents onto the stage and arranged them into two theater-style rows of six each,
which camp handyman
Ace Young promptly wired directly to the overhead high-voltage lines by the lake. You want chairs, Mr. Blankens, you got 'em!
Curiously, all 12 of our contestants chose to stand throughout tonight's
replay. So did most of the audience, in fact, many of them nervously peering under their seats for any suspicious wiring.
Heck, Sanjaya Malakar wouldn't even sit down at dinner. Following Per Blankens's dictum that 'torture, for lack of a better word,
is good; torture works', we also eschewed the dress rehearsal,
took away everyone's ear monitors, and didn't reveal to them when they'd be singing until the band actually struck up the music
for the next performance.
We had several other great innovations planned, were it not for those busybodies at the local Federal Appeals Court and that
pesky Eighth Amendment. Oh well, maybe tomorrow night....
Despite our best efforts, or perhaps because of them, the AI14 Finalists turned in quite a decent show this evening. It helped
that Daniel Seavey was back home in Oregon, sparing us from having to sit through "Straight Up" again. Clark Beckham earned
his first 5-star rating of the summer covering James Brown, and he was followed by a quintet of 4-star performances. Joey Cook
even introduced the material of indie Swedish singer-songwriter The Tallest Man On Earth to CSAB. In gratitude,
we had Savion Wright cover a fine old love ballad by the great Al Stewart, but alas, we couldn't find a song called "King Of Andorra"
to complete the Iberian Royal Trifecta, so Katherine Winston had to settle for the catchy Go West single.
Sarina-Joi Crowe was the shock elimination from this show in real life. Even here at camp, One Republic
almost got her booted again. Fortunately for her, dreadlocked Qaasim Middleton went berserk on stage as if he had accidentally sat down
in his chair. His entertaining moves couldn't hide a way-out-of-breath vocal, making him the first finalist to be eliminated
in 2015...but not the first to be sent home. According to Mr. Blankens, he had to stay to perform on tomorrow night's show
for reasons we still can't comprehend. So, we sent a puzzled Crowe home to Tennessee on the Bus Of Shame, while ensuring her
that she was still, in fact, in the competition. Then we told everyone else to just go to bed and we'll sort all this out
tomorrow. Sanjaya slept standing up.
Friday, June 26th, 2015
12 11? (Get The Party Started)
Sheesh, as if this place wasn't surreal enough in normal years. This afternoon, a bunch of Idol preschoolers snuck into the
petting zoo while Carrie Underwood was off having lunch and organized a game of polo, using sheep for ponies. They rode
gleefully through the campground with their plastic croquet mallets, whacking at anything and everything that moved. Their
parents weren't much help in disciplining them;
they took videos instead and posted them to YouTube and Facebook with the hashtags #SHEEPPOLO #ADORABLE.
Later, we cornered Per Blankens and tried to get an explanation for why the hell Qaasim Middleton was still in camp
but Sarina-Joi Crowe wasn't, but all we got in response was what sounded like a
recipe for chicken soup.
Tonight's Final 11 replay was only minimally less weird. It was the episode where AI fans
learned that, if they were going to throw a party, they probably didn't want this season's finalists to select
the playlist. Middleton's "Jet" went over even
worse than "Sir Duke", whereupon Mr. Blankens said that we could send him home, but we had to bring Daniel Seavey back
for tomorrow's show -- um, beg pardon, Mr. B?? Simon Fuller then pulled us aside and assured us that it was all part of
19E's master plan for revitalizing American Idol by making it more spontaneous
and unpredictable. Gosh, we'll be back to 30 million viewers in no time, all of whom will have migraine headaches.
At least Joey Cook brought her A-game; her jazz rearrangement of "Fancy" was the highest-rated performance of 2015, missing
out on 90 by less than a tenth of a point. Tyanna Jones and Adanna Duru also chipped in with what we thought were
a pair of 5-star-worthy performances, though Idolsphere reviewers disagreed to varying extents. Oh well, both were easily
safe as was Clark "Posh" Beckham. Everyone else was under 50, including Crowe, who was still on her way home from last night
and had to deliver her save-song reprise from a phone booth outside a Waffle House in Knoxville.
Meh, it didn't sound any worse.
JAX and Rayvon Owen made surprise
visits to the Bottom 3 thanks to some questionable song choices, but both were safe thanks to Savion Wright being too
deep into his projected ratings. He choked back tears, thanked us profusely for allowing him to live his dream, and asked
if he could have just one more helping of meatloaf please before we sent him home. Home? Son, you're not going anywhere.
There's a new sheriff in town, and he's even more deranged than you. We sent Lazaro Arbos home instead, just because.
Sunday, June 28th, 2015
Final 10 ± 2 (Songs From The Cinema)
It was very brief and it was way down the list, but for about five minutes yesterday afternoon, #SHEEPPOLO was trending on
Twitter. Simon Fuller and Per Blankens thought that they had died and gone to heaven. "This is exactly what we were
aiming for!" gloated our beloved evil overlord at this morning's weekly staff meeting. "The 18-49 demo loves social media,
and now American Idol is making waves all across the world!"
"Um, sir," we pointed out. "It was a video of River Clarkson riding a lamb and giggling.
Cute baby, cute animal, celebrity mom.
It's the sort of thing that goes viral these days almost automatically. It really has nothing to do with Idol."
"Silence!" he commanded, as fire flew from his fingertips and a band of demons joined in. Mr. Blankens sure
is good at special effects. Anyway, it was decided that we would milk this for all it was worth. They promoted tonight's
show heavily on the Internet, and the stage was festooned with that stupid hashtag everywhere. At the start of the show,
little Oliver Allen rode out on a sheep and handed an envelope containing last night's results to Ryan Seacrest. In a
moment of high drama ("Kieran, dim the lights"), Ryan announced that the contestant who would be eliminated from
the competition was.......Savion Wright. Which everyone already knew. We TOLD them that this wasn't going to work, but did
The show didn't improve much from there. At 43.8, Movie Night was one of the lowest-rated
Finals episodes ever. Clark Beckham managed to post his second 5-star rating of the summer
with a solid Maroon 5 cover, and Joey Cook
just missed one herself with Adam Lambert's signature tune. Quentin Alexander and JAX
also turned in fine performances, and Sarina-Joi Crowe's first projected rating was a solid 54 despite the fact that
she was at home in the shower when it was her turn to sing. After that came a huge drop-off, aided in part by the fact that
Simon Fuller permitted our holdover contestants to sing only songs for which 19E had bought bulk licenses.
Tyanna Jones took
a massive tumble after four straight 4-star performances, but she was safe largely because Rayvon Owen had a
really, really bad night. First,
he absentmindedly sat down in his chair. That had to sting. When he came to, he learned that his hat for tonight, a fedora,
had been singed beyond repair. He managed only a 22 for "Staying Alive", but he still had a chance -- Per Blankens
announced, over our strenuous objections, that there would be a Twitter Save vote between Owen and Daniel Seavey, whom Mr.
Blankens brought back to camp because, gosh darn, you just can't have too many 5-rated performances.
For ten awkward minutes, the two young men stood in the chilly evening air while the audience twiddled their thumbs and
we tallied the results. The winner, by a
vote of 78% to 15% to 7% was........River Clarkson. #GOODCHOICE.
Monday, June 29th, 2015
Final π2 (1980's)
"Hello Mr. Fuller! Glad we caught you before you boarded your plane for London, sir. We have a favor to ask of you: For
the love of mercy, will you please throw a net over Per Blankens and take him with you? This is getting ridiculous!
Last night we sent home Rayvon Owen, Daniel Seavey, and a sheep. Today we got back Qaasim Middleton, Maddie Walker, and
Shi Scott. We have more contestants now than when the Finals started!
"Yes, sir, we know Mr. Blankens is
a world-class TV producer and that he has a plan to revitalize American Idol. But, it hasn't
worked for two years on the air, and it's sure as hell
not working here at Camp Should-A-Been. Nobody knows who's still alive,
who's been eliminated, or who's singing what song when. Plus, we've been wasting half our shows on whatever silly
YouTube 'celebrity' he invited that night. This time it was that nutcase from 'Will It Blend?' with the souped-up
industrial blender. Oh, by the way, sir: our meatloaf? It won't. Agreed, sir: no surprise there.
"Tonight's Final 9 show was a disaster, and it didn't have to be. Nobody reached 80 on
80's Night, but we had four solid 4-star performances plus three 3-star ones. Tyanna
Jones recovered well from her poor outing the night before, and Adanna Duru's first projected rating was OK.
Sarina-Joi Crowe, sir? Well, she's still technically in the competition, but Mr. Blankens' Rush Summer format
is playing havoc with her daily schedule. Today she was in the supermarket when it was her turn to perform. Yes, sir,
she sang A-Ha from the produce aisle. The stock boys gave her a standing ovation, we hear.
But all these contestants that Mr. B. keeps bringing back are killing the episode ratings. There's a reason we got rid of
them when we did, or tried to anyway. We were certain it would be Katherine Winston's
turn to leave, but we forgot all about Joey Cook's trainwreck on "Girls Just
Want To Have Fun." Cyndi Lauper is so hard to cover.
We're supposed to send Cook back to Virginia on the Bus Of Shame, but there wasn't enough room considering all of
the other people we had to ship out again. She says it's no big deal -- she'll just sleep on a bench in the bus depot and
do some busking. But, enough is enough, sir. Tomorrow is the Final 8, and we're going to have just 8 singers come hell or
high water. No, sir, that doesn't mean we threw Mr. Blankens in the lake. Yet. Have a nice flight."
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Final 8 (Kelly Clarkson)
Shh-h-h! Come on in and close the door, quick. Did Per Blankens see you? We're holding the
replay here in the craft shack tonight to try to bring a little bit of order back to this brain-scrambling summer.
Scott Borchetta and Kelly Clarkson are working with our seven remaining in-person contestants by the pottery wheel, if you'd like
to watch. The judges are making pine cone wreaths in the corner. (Guess who: "I know many of you don't know what 'conifers'
are, but they're a type of tree typically having needle-shaped leaves....")
Sarina-Joi Crowe was supposed to be here too but her flight out of Memphis got cancelled, so we have her on Skype.
We know things have been really confusing so far to our visitors, so let's recap where we really stand. Five real-life
singers are still in the competition: Quentin Alexander, Clark Beckham, Nick Fradiani, JAX, and Tyanna Jones. We also have
three holdovers: Adanna Daru, Katherine Winston, and Crowe. This was the episode where the Twitter Save was introduced to
American Idol, but we're un-introducing it tonight, no matter how many times Mr. Blankens tweets #CSAB #COUNSELORS
#PHILISTINES. We gave a lot of consideration to incorporating it into our replay, by identifying the two lowest-rated
performers of the night and then sending home the one with the lowest overall rating to that point. But, at the end of the day,
we decided against it. The Twitter Save seemed more one of Mr. B.'s silly tension-generation gimmicks than a sincere attempt
to improve the dismissal order, and CSAB is located in an EPA-approved Gimmick-Free Zone. We have to fill out a lot of
paperwork every year to keep that designation plus send groundwater samples to Washington, so we're not doing anything to
Anyway, we're happy to report that Kelly Clarkson Night, minus Qaasim Middleton and Daniel Seavey's twin single-digit
disasters, was actually quite a good episode. This was a shock inasmuch as, prior to tonight, Kelly Clarkson songs went over
about as well on AI as Pussycat Dolls duets. Clark Beckham was still in his perfect-game groove back on April Fools'
Day, and his 86 rating tonight was his second-highest of the season. Other than Nick Fradiani, who posted his
lowest career score (and even that was hardly bad), the rest of our real-life contestants did well, too. Leaving us
tonight in eighth place was Katherine Winston. Not bad for someone whose sole Idol performance was a 41, and
in a relatively strong field no less. (Incidentally, if you're wondering: yes, the decay rate this year is the smallest of
our 14 replays.)
Wait, who's at the door? Mr. Blankens! Um, no sir, we're not doing anything suspicious in here. We're, um, just
finger-painting, honestly! Per, no! We beg you -- not the dry ice machine!! AIIEEEEEEEE....!!!!!
Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
Final 7 (Billboard Hits)
After an all-night negotiation session mediated by Corey Clark -- look, when it comes to disputes with American Idol,
who else are you gonna call? -- executive producer Per Blankens and the head counselors of Camp Should-A-Been reached
a tentative agreement on how the remainder of our AI14 replay would unfold. Mr. Blankens agreed to stop bringing back
long-eliminated contestants, to cease using special effect devices as instruments of torture, and to learn how the hell
to count backwards from 12 by next February. In return, we agreed not to hold any more clandestine episode replays, to
allow him to handle the singing order any way he sees fit, and to stop short-sheeting his bed every night. Win some, lose some.
With peace more or less restored, we were able to hold a relatively sane Final 7
show at the ampitheater tonight. Mind you, from this point forward, our episode names will be one off from what appears
in our database until the Finale, but we're sure you'll cope. The theme was "Billboard Hits", which is essentially
meaningless considering the number of charts Billboard publishes. Tyanna Jones was the star this evening: her 86-rated
cover of Rhianna's smash "Stay" was her first and only 5-star performance of the summer. (Not to be too cranky, but we'd
have swapped the ratings for "Stay" and "Tightrope" if you left it up to us.) Clark Beckham reached the 80's as well with
"Make It Rain", the fifth Ed Sheeran song to be sung on Idol, all in the past two seasons. He's got one more year
to catch Stevie Wonder. Everyone else did OK, nothing particularly great nor particularly bad. Sarina-Joi Crowe was still
trying to arrange a flight back from Memphis, but she told us not to worry: she'd found a carrier that guaranteed to get
her here by 10am tomorrow morning. It was Adanna Duru's turn to leave on the Bus Of Shame
after finishing three places higher here at CSAB than
she did in L.A. She only sang about eight notes of Janelle Monae's "Yoga", but that's okay -- that's all they let her sing at the Finale
this year, anyway.
As we walked back to the Head Cabin, we heard angry screams and Swedish cursing coming from Mr. Blankens' RV. Look, we
promised we wouldn't short-sheet his bed any more, but we never said anything about anyone else. Good job, Corey.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
Final 6 (American Classics)
Per Blankens's latest brainstorm (from the Dutch brein, the part of your body that thinks, and the German sturm,
a destructive natural disaster) was to issue beepers to our six remaining contestants at breakfast this
morning, as if they were waiting for tables at the Olive Garden. Whenever one's beeper went off
during the day, the poor sap was to
stop what he or she was doing immediately and sing one of their American Classics songs. Thus,
we were treated to Tyanna Jones belting "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" from the restroom, Clark Beckham crooning "Moon River" while
climbing a tree, and Nick Fradiani singing "American Girl" in the batter's box at our annual softball grudge match with
Camp Chairs-A-Spinnin'. To add insult to injury, annoyed opposing pitcher Sawyer Fredericks interrupted him
halfway through, finished the song brilliantly to earn a standing ovation from the spectators, then struck out Fradiani
on three pitches en route to a complete game shutout. We're pretty sure that's allegorical or something.
We convened at the ampitheater after dinner for each contestant's second song. The results were a little better, thankfully.
With Rayvon Owen gone, Fradiani won the evening with his highly polarizing deconstruction of Billy Joel's classic "Only The
Good Die Young" - our guess is that the reviews were split by age, with most people under the age of 45 liking it and most
over 45 not. Tempers flared when Quentin Alexander declared the day's proceedings to be "wack" (he was brushing his
teeth when his beeper went off), prompting Harry Connick Jr. to fire back angrily ("You may not know what 'contractual
means...") and leading to a tense standoff in which each sneered at the other's taste in clothes. We'd call that a draw.
A little later, Beckham and mentor Scott Borchetta continued the heated argument they'd begun on the pitcher's mound
this afternoon during the softball game ("If throwing Blake Shelton a curveball here isn't the right pitch, then I don't
want to win!".) For a moment, it looked like the contestants and the celebs might face off against one another in
a knife brawl not unlike the one from Michael Jackson's landmark "Beat It" video. Cooler heads ultimately prevailed -- well,
actually, when JAX started singing "Beat It" for real, everyone covered their ears and dispersed in a hurry. Sigh... Anyway,
after spending the better part of a week trying to get back to Camp Should-A-Been any way possible, Sarina-Joi Crowe
arrived this morning parcel post, only to get sent home for good on the Bus Of Shame. We're pretty sure that's ironic or
Thus, our Final Five this summer are Quentin Alexander, Clark Beckham, Nick Fradiani, JAX, and Tyanna Jones. And, thanks to
the, um, novel elimination strategy devised by Mr. Blankens last winter, all five of them still have 'real' ratings
remaining to be used, even though one of them actually finished sixth. We're pretty sure that's impossible or something.
Friday, July 3rd, 2015
Final 5 (Arena Anthems)
The always-tense relationship between the celebrities and the contestants is deteriorating in a hurry.
Harry Connick Jr. and Quentin
Alexander quarreled throughout breakfast over whether the latter's song last night was properly titled
"The Sound of Silence" or "The
Sounds of Silence." ("I know that some of you might not know what a 'collective noun' is...") Later at the
archery range, Clark Beckham accused
Scott Borchetta of firing a Nerf arrow at him deliberately. Borchetta missed by a mile, which sort of
sums up how his mentoring went this season, too, but Beckham was PO'ed regardless. Then there was the unfortunate teeter-totter
incident between Tyanna Jones and Sunday Kidman-Urban – in fairness, it was Jones's turn – and...well,
you get the picture. Things are getting ugly out here.
Enter Per Blankens, who never lets a good conflict go to waste. Before this evening's
Arena Anthems replay, he announced to the audience his latest Truly Shocking Twist That No One Saw
Coming™: tonight, the judges would sing and the singers would judge! At least, that's what we think he said.
It might actually have been another chicken recipe, but we ran with it anyway.
We had Rocco, Viktor and Serge round up the celebrity cast, including several at Nerf-gun point, and we instructed
them that each had to choose two songs that (a) he or she didn't perform originally,
and that (b) nobody in their right mind who'd ever attended a rock concert would even remotely consider an
"arena anthem". Hey, we wanted to keep some continuity with the original episode.
The results were mixed. The three professional singers on the staff certainly held their own, and J-Lo demonstrated with
her song choices that even nice judges can be snarky sometimes. Ryan Seacrest found one song that the fans connected
with, though his second was weighed in the balance and found rather wanting. Leaving us tonight on the Bus Of
Shame was Scott Borchetta, who
went with a pair of his most famous pupil's ballads, unsuccessfully. Meanwhile at the judges' table, our five remaining
contestants gleefully pointed out every pitch issue and lyrics flub, among other things they deeply wanted to get off their
chests. (Alexander: "I know that
some of you might not know what 'condescending' means...".) Anyway, young Miss Jones, who knew her time
here at camp was up, eagerly offered to drop off her ex-mentor in Nashville on her way back to Jacksonville. Off they went
on the Bus, with Borchetta's terrified screams echoing for miles across the forest.
Uh, does anybody know what the driving age is in Florida?
(If you're interested in seeing the 'real' results from tonight's replay,
Sunday, July 5th, 2015
Final 4 (Judges Hometowns / What I Am)
We got wind this morning that Per Blankens had a truly diabolical twist planned for tonight's episode, but we
didn't know what it would be. Nevertheless, we felt it was our duty to forewarn our
so that they could take precautions. We found holdover Quentin Alexander in
the camp library, arguing as usual with Harry Connick
Jr. -- they were no longer on speaking terms, so they just pushed a dictionary back and forth across the table.
("supercilious (adj.), 1. haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, arrogant. [Latin superciliōsus, c.1520]")
Nick Fradiani was swimming in the chilly lake, where the water temperature hovered in the high 50's all summer
and never budged much higher or lower, kind of like his approval ratings. Following a trail of X's she'd carved
across the campground, we located JAX at the day-care center playing tic-tac-toe with the toddlers and losing badly.
But, search as we might, we couldn't find real-life runner-up Clark Beckham anywhere.
That, as it turned out, was the twist. Having consulted state law to find out that throwing Beckham under the
bus again would be a felony (provided that the bus was moving), the producers decided to do the next best thing:
they stuffed him in a sack after lunch and threw him on the Bus Of Shame. He was halfway across Arizona when the
replay got underway. Oh well, it was actually a decent show without him. Fradiani had perhaps his best night of the
season covering Matchbox Twenty and Rascal Flatts, though as usual the fifth star on his ratings bar was never in any
danger. JAX, we felt, might have taken the "What I Am" theme a little too literally, but otherwise she had a solid
night too, notwithstanding the fact that we had to send out a search party to rescue her from all the dry ice fog
that Per Blankens pumped onto the stage yet again. As for Alexander, his first two projected ratings came in above 50. No one
could quibble with his classic New Orleans song choice, but as for the "What I Am" pick...um, let's just say that HCJ was
furiously flipping pages in the dictionary looking for the word 'delusional'. For once, we don't blame him.
Monday, July 6th, 2015
Final 3 (Mentor's / Judges' / Hometown's Choice)
The numbers were in, and they weren't pretty. After over a decade of dominance in the Replay Camp marketplace,
and despite Per Blankens's myriad schemes
to improve our social media standing, Camp Should-A-Been's online ratings had hit rock bottom. Our hipness quotient
had fallen to 0 / 0,
an indeterminate expression. Google refused to index any website that linked to us, and Twitter introduced a new
abbreviation just to deal with all of Mr. Blankens's spam: DT, or "De-Tweet". We felt that Facebook's new "hate" button
was gratuitous and unnecessary, but meh, Zuckerberg's always behind the curve anyway.
"This is dreadful," groaned Simon Fuller, our favorite evil-sorcerer-in-chief, upon reviewing the news.
"How did we fall so far out of the zeitgeist so quickly?"
"Actually, sir, it wasn't fast at all," we pointed out. "American Idol has been losing ground for years among the younger
generation. You never allowed hip-hop or electronica artists on the show,
the average song age is older than the average contestant, and Nigel Lythgoe probably still thinks that
'social media' means a friendly floppy disk. It's a measure of how well Idol connected to middle-aged America that the
franchise will have lasted for fifteen years." We would've said more except he got angry and turned us into newts, as is his wont.
Oh, that Mr. Fuller.
At any rate, our heroes decided to redouble their efforts. For tonight's
show, they booked every internet celebrity available, from Angry Grandpa to Obama Girl to that old standby, Grumpy Cat.
The replay was simulcast on YouTube and a variety of torrents. Danny Noriega co-hosted with Ryan Seacrest, and they
spoke exclusively in hashtags. ("#RyanWho'sUpNext?", "#ItsJaxCoveringParamoreAgain", "#UghThatKindaSucked"). Well,
at least the contestants did their parts: even with Quentin Alexander under 50 with all three of his projected ratings, it
was our highest-rated episode of the summer thus far. JAX was a bit disappointed not to get a second trip home to New Jersey,
as her noms-de-scoreboard petulantly suggested, but with one five-star performance plus another that just barely
fell short, she earned the first ticket into tomorrow night's Finale with 196 points. Right behind her was surprise
real-life champ Nick Fradiani at 193, proving that his run to the title this May was no fluke. It probably proves
a few other things about this year's cast, too, but let's not go there.
Leaving us tonight in third place was the irrepressable
Alexander, as most people expected though still to our disappointment. Owing to a bit of a mixup during their latest argument,
both he and Harry Connick Jr. were on the Bus Of Shame when it left camp for Louisiana. #BattleOfNewOrleans, indeed.
Tune in tomorrow when we crown our fourteenth CSAB Replay Champion!
Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
We've got singers! We've got celebrities! We've got hashtags! We've got babies! We've got puppies!...Well, okay,
we're fresh out of those, but we do have the sheep from our petting zoo, which are sort of cute, plus sheep are
funnier than dogs anyway. In short, we're pulling out all the stops for
tonight's AI14 Finale
in our all-in, full-out, last-ditch attempt to get something about American Idol to trend on social media
this year! And, oh yeah, along the way we're going to see whether Connecticut rocker Nick Fradiani or Jersey girl
Jackie "Jax" Miskanic will be our 2015 Replay Champion. That's kind of secondary to be honest, but hey, #DutyCalls.
Per Blankens is stageside giving last minute instructions
to the dancers for their opening number. The contestants are rehearsing with the band. Ryan Seacrest is backstage playing
peek-a-boo with River Clarkson and losing badly. The judges are in their dressing rooms counting their salaries. Simon Fuller
looks exhausted; he's been running around to and fro making sure everything is in order and... Sir, wait! Don't sit down
Oh well. At least the chairs finally came in useful.
And it's showtime! JAX won the coin toss and elected
to sing on The Voice instead to go first, and her
reprise of "White Flag" earned a 72 approval rating – as his been the case for the past few seasons, the
deduction for reprises hit another new low. "Bright Lights" was a curious choice for Fradiani, but he had no 5-star
performances to choose from, and his 63 tonight was only three points lower than the original performance, so it
worked out okay. For his new performance, the defending champ slipped under 50 covering Jason Mraz, whose songs
really don't work out well on AI -- in 14 years, only Chris Richardson and Alex Preston have broken par with Mr. A-Z.
JAX's Johnny Cash choice was kind of obvious considering the snark we gave her all summer for being the only person alive
who thinks choosing an airport code as a stage name is a good idea. But, that aside,
her first projected rating was a solid 53.
In between performances there were guests singing, judges singing, guests judging, YouTube celebrities mud wrestling, hashtags
out the wazoo, and Per Blankens latest brilliant idea: an online campaign to "Save Twitter!" Sigh...he means well.
Anyway, JAX had a 14-point lead going into the climax of the evening, that great Camp
Should-A-Been tradition that we'll miss most of all after next season: bathroom breaks. Followed by Original
Winner's Songs™, which we won't miss one bit. Neither will anyone else.
Fradiani went first, taking his coronation song "Beautiful Life" to a 73 -- only Fantasia Barrino and Phillip
Phillips had ever done better. JAX would need a 60 to win. The crowd went silent as they waited to hear the single
that she'd rehearsed for a full week last May before being told just before the actual Finale that she'd been eliminated, and that
all of her preprations had been for naught, and that she really wasn't welcome in the Dolby Theater at all, and could she
just gather her things and leave quietly by the back door. Turns out, the song was identical to Clark Beckham's "Champion"
save for slightly different lyrics. C'est la vie. By a score of 184 to 173, 29-year-old Nick Fradiani
was our Season Fourteen replay champion...and, astoundingly, the unassuming Fradiani even managed to join the ultra-elite
Murderer's Row of Kelly Clarkson, David Cook, Kris Allen, and Candice Glover as contestants who won both AI and CSAB in the
same year. Slow and steady doesn't always win the race, but it won this one. Twice.
A few hours later, we gathered in Simon Fuller's hospital room to await anxiously the latest social media reports.
Maybe it wasn't too late to save American Idol from cancellation after all.
And...wait for it...yes, there it is! High on the list, for both Twitter and Facebook, trending worldwide, was the
Oh well. Wait 'til next year.
— The End —
Closed For The Winter
Thanks For Visiting!
Reopening One Last Time
Camp Should-A-Been – Season Fourteen Results
- Nick Fradiani
- Quentin Alexander
- Clark Beckham
- Tyanna Jones
- Sarina-Joi Crowe
- Adanna Duru
- Katherine Winston
- Joey Cook
- Rayvon Owen
- Savion Wright
- Qaasim Middleton
-- The staff of WNTS.com