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Camp Should-A-Been - Season Fifteen

Camp Should-A-Been

Over? Finished? American Idol?? Bah! The opera ain't over until the fat lady sings...at CSAB, that is. We don't have any opera divas this year, but we certainly do have a few very fine singers, including one plus-sized young mom who pitched the first full-season "perfect game" in WNTS history. Surely LaPorsha Renae has to be considered the favorite just for that feat, but real-life champ Trent Harmon didn't exactly get knocked around the ballpark himself, falling below 50 just once and tying for the highest approval rating by any male contestant. And the rest of the field isn't chopped liver either, as it features...um...so did we mention LaPorsha and Trent will be singing this summer? We did? Well, uh, chopped liver is still better than our meatloaf, so it could be worse. Let's not say goodbye but au revoir (French for "until the reboot") as we crown our fifteenth and "final" champ here at Camp Should-A-Been!

Results

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Semifinals Group One (Solo)

Performance Web Rating Result
Proud Mary0000Proud Mary
71
 
1Pending
Safe & Sound0000Safe & Sound
67
 
1Pending
Love Yourself0000Love Yourself
63
 
1Pending
Say Something0000Say Something
62
 
1Pending
Angel0000Angel
59
 
1Pending
Mamma Knows Best0000Mamma Knows Best
46
 
1Pending
I Put A Spell On You0000I Put A Spell On You
29
 
1Pending
Love Lockdown0000Love Lockdown
29
 
1Pending
Creep0000Creep
28
 
1Pending
My Church0000My Church
22
 
1Pending
All By Myself0000All By Myself
11
 
1Pending
I Am Invincible0000I Am Invincible
5
 
1Pending

Holy baloney, this place is mobbed! It's been a long time since Camp Should-A-Been has enjoyed a crowd of this size for an opening show, but tonight we're packed to the rafters. There are 24 new Season Fifteen contestants, 383 former contestants, three judges, one irrepressible host, one insufferable mentor, one evil CEO (let's have a big hand for Simon Fuller, folks!), 16 band members, three backup singers, 46 newly hired executive producers, 23 petting zoo animals, 22 paying customers, three head counselors, three disciplinary counselors, two health department inspectors (they won't last long; we invited them to stay for dinner), twelve 19E bankruptcy lawyers, four real estate agents, several dozen prospective buyers of the campgrounds, Adam Levine (he got lost again), and of course Idol's longtime and long-suffering stage manager Debbie Williams whose job is to get everyone where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be. She's armed, so don't cross her.

Before tonight's first semifinal, we had a moment of silence in memory of Marque Lynche and Rickey Smith, both of whom the Idol family lost tragically since we met last summer. Ryan Seacrest took the stage and introduced our returning judges' panel: the delightfully cheery Keith Urban, the delightfully cheesy Jennifer Lopez, and, uh, Harry Connick Jr., who's not terribly delightful but who at least knows music reasonably well. The AI talent machine had unearthed 12 eager and gifted young vocalists who were ready to delight America with their singing, except they decided to audition for The Voice instead. The 12 last-minute fill-ins...meh, they weren't all so hot. La'Porshae Renae trotted out the umpteenth version of "Proud Mary" on American Idol and still managed to crack 70, which we suppose is impressive. She was followed by three real-life finalists, Sonika Vaid, Avalon Young (who wins this year's Needle In Haystack Award for managing to pick the one good Justin Bieber song in existence), and MacKenzie Bourg, all of whom reached 3-stars. In a bit of a surprise, Colorado's Jeneve Rose Mitchell managed to stay mostly on-pitch for an entire song -- a feat she didn't achieve in any of the Hollywood rounds, at least none that we saw. Coupled with her uniquely interesting vocal style, she earned a well-deserved 59. Stephanie Negrete scored 46. We're going to bed now.

Oh, okay...duty calls. The other six singers, in a word, were really pretty awful, which is three words, but hell: when half of the field averages 21, one word just won't do. Gianna Isabella had the audience pining for Quentin Alexander, Thomas Stringfellow had them pining for Jena Irene, and Jordan Sasser had them pining for the exits. Jenna Renae finished 49 points behind her stage-surnamesake, while James VIII could only manage a XXIX (which feels about XII or XIII points overrated to us, honestly.) As for Emily Brooke, who'd shown some promise in the early rounds, she turned out to be quite vincible after all. Alas, try as we might, we can't get rid of any of them just yet: we're going to reveal the long-promised Celebrity Duet ratings tomorrow, which will count for 33% of each contestant's first-round rating. Afterwards, we'll eliminate five singers from each group, put the highest-scoring quartet through to the finals, have the remaining ten return as wild cards, and bring mentor Scott Borschetta onstage so the audience can pelt him with eggs. That last bit wasn't part of the original AI15 schedule, but it should've been.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Semifinals Group One (Duets)

Performance Web Rating Result
Summertime0000Summertime
85
 
2Safe
Flying Without Wings0000Flying Without Wings
71
 
5Wild Card
Superstar0000Superstar
67
 
5Wild Card
Skyfall0000Skyfall
65
 
2Safe
I Hope You Dance0000I Hope You Dance
57
 
5Wild Card
Gone0000Gone
54
 
5Wild Card
Gimme Shelter0000Gimme Shelter
36
 
5Wild Card
Beautiful Life0000Beautiful Life
31
 
7Eliminated
See You Tonight0000See You Tonight
30
 
7Eliminated
I Believe0000I Believe
29
 
7Eliminated
Man In The Mirror0000Man In The Mirror
24
 
7Eliminated
Flat On The Floor0000Flat On The Floor
15
 
7Eliminated

The campgrounds were still teeming with people as far as the eye could see. We commented innocently during dinner that it looked like someone was shooting a remake of Soylent Green, which caused several nearby campers to eye their meatloaf suspiciously. Meh, that's nothing new. Oh well, at least we get to reduce the population of Camp Should-A-Been by five tonight after our Group One Duets replay. Chief mechanic Chris Daughtry has the Bus Of Shame oiled and lubed and ready for a long cross-country journey. We just have to figure out who's making the trip.

If you're late to the party, the semifinal duets shows caused us all sorts of headaches last February. The problem wasn't whether or not they qualified as true competition nights (surely they did, even if only half of the performers were supposedly being judged.) Rather, it was the fact that the Idolsphere by and large treated them the same way ZZ Top treated their barbers: by pretending they didn't exist. We managed to scrape together precisely sixteen web reviews for tonight's show. Using those plus a handful of WNTS Review Crew ballots, we produced approval ratings that are slightly more accurate than had we used a dartboard, and way less fun, particularly if Simon Fuller happened to be standing nearby. But, they are what they are, and you can see the results to the right.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the pairing of La'Porsha Renae and Fantasia Barrino led the way by a wide margin, though the performance perhaps didn't finish as high as some thought it might. Season Two's fabled Velvet Teddy Bear helped both of his singing partners to right around 70. In fact, the top six from last night were the top six tonight. The seventh and final ticket forward would go to whichever remaining contestant could rise to the occasion and deliver a strong, memorable performance with his or her professional partner. Which, as it happened, was nobody. However, James VIII at least managed to get within shouting distance of III-stars. Along with his 29 carryover, it was good enough for him to make it to Sunday's wildcard show, where he'll be eliminated roughly eleven milliseconds after the curtain rises. We'd prefer to build some suspense about his fate, but who would we be kidding?

Joining the Mississippi Queen in earning a bye to the Top 10 was Sonika Vaid, who edged out Avalon Young by 0.14 points when the final numbers were tallied. (The overall rankings comprised both semifinal groups; Vaid was fourth overall and Young was fifth.) We said farewell to Gianna Isabella, Jenna Renae, Jordan Sasser, Gianna Isabella (Hmm? We said her already? Well, heck, she kept singing the same song over and over, so we're even), Thomas Stringfellow, and Emily Brooke. We think one or two of them might have been real-life finalists, but the undercard this season was so forgettable that we're not entirely certain.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Semifinals Group Two (Solo)

Performance Web Rating Result
Confident0000Confident
73
 
1Pending
What Are You Listening To0000What Are You Listening To
70
 
1Pending
Rebel Yell0000Rebel Yell
62
 
1Pending
Work Hard, Play Harder0000Work Hard, Play Harder
44
 
1Pending
Black And Gold0000Black And Gold
41
 
1Pending
Sorry0000Sorry
39
 
1Pending
Good Girl0000Good Girl
36
 
1Pending
Runaway0000Runaway
35
 
1Pending
I'll Be0000I'll Be
35
 
1Pending
Wake Me Up0000Wake Me Up
32
 
1Pending
Let It Go0000Let It Go
26
 
1Pending
Adventure Of A Lifetime0000Adventure Of A Lifetime
24
 
1Pending

By order of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Los Angeles County, all material assets of Core Media Group Inc., parent company of 19 Entertainment and American Idol, must henceforth and herewith be liquidated in a timely and organized manner. This includes the real estate trust known forthhence and postpartum as Camp Should-A-Been, LLC. At first, we thought they were only referring to our meatloaf, which can be a little runny on some days. But no, they meant everything: the grounds, the buildings, the ampitheater, the sound equipment, the zoo animals, the whole nine yards. Geez! Have you ever tried to liquidate a sheep?

Anyway, today's prospective buyer was some big Arizona syndicate who thought they could turn the place into a ritzy tennis and racquetball retreat for executive vacationers. We told them that was a swell idea -- heck, if they ever run out of tennis balls, they can just use the local mosquitos. Our real estate agent was not amused. She promptly had Rocco, Viktor and Serge lock us in the Head Cabin. Oh well, it was worth it.

They let us out just in time for tonight's second semifinal show. Truth be told, we'd just as soon have stayed in jail. Whereas Group One at least had five solid performances before their approval ratings off a cliff, this bunch hit the skids after only three. Olivia Rox and defending champ Trent Harmon both reached the seventies, and third-place finisher Dalton Rapattoni delivered a highly polarizing, 28-s.d. deconstruction of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell". (For the record, we really liked it, though we're still a little shaky on how a contestant who produced precisely three (3) performances above 50 all season somehow made it to the Finale, however briefly.) Barring any duet catastrophes, and maybe not even then, that trio would seem to be locks to make it to the weekend.

Not so for the other nine singers, we're afraid. Just 20 points separated fourth from twelfth place. Shelby Z and Adam Lasher will take a small lead into tomorrow's Duets Night over a septet of two-star performers, whose comically ironic song titles even our hallowed Snark Department couldn't have made up on their best day. "Sorry", "Wake Me Up", "Run Away", "Let It Go"...(*sigh*) if only someone had thought to sing Jimmy Buffett's "Changing Channels." The audience showed their appreciation for the 43-rated episode by lobbing mosquitos at the three veteran judges who so brilliantly casted this year's Top 24. Anyway, the final seven spots in the wild card lineup will be decided tomorrow night -- see you then.

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Semifinals Group Two (Duets)

Performance Web Rating Result
Light On0000Light On
79
 
2Safe
To Love Somebody0000To Love Somebody
77
 
2Safe
Suds In The Bucket0000Suds In The Bucket
67
 
5Wild Card
Higher Ground0000Higher Ground
57
 
5Wild Card
Bennie And The Jets0000Bennie And The Jets
55
 
7Eliminated
Bohemian Rhapsody0000Bohemian Rhapsody
54
 
5Wild Card
My Funny Valentine0000My Funny Valentine
47
 
5Wild Card
Can't Help Falling In Love0000Can't Help Falling In Love
39
 
5Wild Card
No Air0000No Air
37
 
7Eliminated
Home0000Home
31
 
7Eliminated
The World I Know0000The World I Know
23
 
7Eliminated
Best Days Of Your Life0000Best Days Of Your Life
17
 
7Eliminated

Despite all the hubbub surrounding the final season of Camp Should-A-Been, we've been able to squeeze in most of our traditional summer activities. This afternoon we won our annual grudge touch football match with Camp Hoofin'-It, the replay camp for Dancing With The Stars. It wasn't particularly close. Jordin Sparks returned the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, accompanied by roughly 500 blockers, and it was all downhill from there. The only downside was that David Cook injured himself while winning the pre-game coin flip, though that's actually a little longer than he typically lasts each year before being carried off the field on a stretcher. It's all good.

Later that evening, Sparky and Cookie and four other legendary American Idol alumni lent their talents on our ampitheater stage. And, what do you know: the second Duets show turned out to be the highest-rated episode of the semifinals. Not that 48.5 is exactly the stratosphere, mind you, but compared to the two Solo snoozefests it was a refreshing night indeed. This time we dredged up 25 web reviews, which, along with a few Review Crew ballots, is almost enough for us to feel reasonably confident about the ordinals, if not the actual ratings.

For the second straight night, Olivia Rox and Trent Harmon finished one-two, helped out by our two gridiron heroes. Both easily earned a free pass into the Top 10. Amelia Eisenhauer posted the biggest one-day jump of any semifinalist, teaming with Kellie Pickler for a 67 on "Suds In The Bucket" to snag a wild card berth. That's 35 points higher than Eisenhauer scored on her solo effort...and, ahem, 47 points more than Pickler managed when she sang that song back in Season Five. You cannot make this stuff up. Dalton Rapattoni had no trouble hanging on to his spot in Sunday's show, and the wild card field was rounded out by Jenn Blosil, Adam Lasher, and Shelbie Zed. (WNTS historical buffs: Note how close Cook came to pulling a McPhee.)

There was a spot of unpleasantness backstage after the Top 14 were announced. It turned out that Kory Wheeler actually finished fourteenth overall with a combined 35.7 on his two performances (2/3 * 26 plus 1/3 * 55) -- hardly sterling, but still four-and-a-half points more than James VIII produced. Lee Jean, who claimed to be an actual finalist this February (mind you, Jean has claimed to be Ed Sheeran, David Willis, and Richard The Lion-Hearted at various times too) also nipped His Highness, as did CJ Johnson. We patiently explained to them that we were following the longstanding rules of CSAB by mimicking the actual elimination pattern that AI used during the season. Five singers were eliminated from each group individually, not ten collectively. But, hey, if they wanted to stay an extra couple of nights here at camp, no problem -- there's plenty of room in Cabin Fifteen even with all of Trent Harmon's hats and La'Porsha Renae's hair care products. And, coincidentally, "No Air" also happens to describe the bunkhouses' climate control amenities. Strangely enough, the trio quickly reconsidered and found seats on the Bus Of Shame alongside Manny Torres and Tristan McIntosh, who might also have been a real finalist this year. We think.

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Wild Card (Favorite Performances)

Performance Web Rating Result
Roses0000Roses
79
 
2Safe
Yo (Excuse Me Miss)0000Yo (Excuse Me Miss)
71
 
2Safe
In A Dream0000In A Dream
55
 
2Safe
True Colors0000True Colors
51
 
2Safe
All By Myself0000All By Myself
48
 
2Safe
Lovesong0000Lovesong
43
 
2Safe
House Of The Rising Sun0000House Of The Rising Sun
40
 
7Eliminated
Mad World0000Mad World
36
 
7Eliminated
I'm Henry The Eighth I Am0000I'm Henry The Eighth I Am
28
 
7Eliminated
Ring Of Fire0000Ring Of Fire
26
 
7Eliminated

"...And we were able to auction off the canoes and rafts for $315.00, and the mess hall furniture went for $820.00. Yes, sir, that means everyone's going to have to eat standing up this week, but we'll cope. The local elementary school will take the pottery wheel, so that'll be a tax write-off. Oh, and we got $4,800.00 for the cleaning supplies. Um, no sir, that's not such a surprising amount really. Think about it -- they were hardly ever used.

"Hmm? Oh, sorry Mr. Fuller. We were just reminiscing about all of our years here at Camp Should-A-Been. Selling off this stuff is tougher than it might seem, because it has a lot of sentimental value to us. Oh, yes sir, we fully understand: the judge said everything of value has to be liquidated, pronto. Yes, we checked Phillip Phillip's bunk thoroughly for loose change. We found seventeen cents. You'll have to talk to his attorney about the other $5,999,999.83.

"No, Mr. Fuller, still no sign of a buyer for the campgrounds, but come on sir: you're not going to find anyone deranged enough to pay good money for this dump. It's basically a Superfund site overrun by squirrels. Besides, you know as well as we do that American Idol is only going to be off the air long enough for 19E and Core Media to put this whole bankruptcy scam, er, process behind you. Then you'll reboot the series, and you'll have to buy CSAB back again. Why not just keep it?

"Okay, sir, okay! We'll run the camp and you'll run the business -- got it. What about the Wild Card replay? (*sigh*) Well, we suppose it was better than the original, but that's not saying much. MacKenzie Bourg, Avalon Young, and Dalton Rapattoni made it through to the Finals easily, of course. After that...meh. Instead of one trio of overmatched young singers who perhaps the judges shouldn't have cast as semifinalists in the first place, we have a different trio rounding out the Top 10. All of the holdover contestants misunderstood the theme, as usual, and we have no idea what the hell James 00001000 was thinking. At least Jenn Blosil broke 50 with her Cyndi Lauper cover, which is not an easy song to sing. She'll be joined by Stephanie Negrete and Shelbie Q. Um, yes sir, when someone chooses a particularly dopey stage name, we like to have fun with them. JAX still isn't speaking to us.

"Anyway, Mr. Fuller, your Camp Should-A-Been Season Fifteen Replay Top Ten is:

  • Jenn Blosil
  • MacKenzie Bourg
  • Stephanie Negrete
  • Trent Harmon
  • Dalton Rapattoni
  • La'Porsha Renae
  • Olivia Rox
  • Sonika Vaid
  • Shelbie Z
  • Avalon Young

"Gianna Isabella, Lee Jean, Tristan McIntosh, and Gianna Isabella failed to qualify. We'll eliminate two contestants tomorrow and two on Tuesday. Yes, sir, we know you're flying in for the Grand Finale next Monday! We'll keep you posted on the replay and the liquidation. So, uh, any chance you want to buy a sheep for your kids? Mr. Fuller? Hello?..."

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Final 10 (Songs From The Idol Era)

Performance Web Rating Result
Piece By Piece0000Piece By Piece
218
 
2Safe
Bring Me To Life0000Bring Me To Life
88
 
2Safe
Diamonds0000Diamonds
87
 
2Safe
Unconditionally0000Unconditionally
63
 
2Safe
Like I Can0000Like I Can
62
 
2Safe
I See Fire0000I See Fire
62
 
2Safe
Hey There Delilah0000Hey There Delilah
54
 
2Safe
Breakaway0000Breakaway
43
 
2Safe
Stitches0000Stitches
42
 
4Bottom Group
My Life Would Suck Without You0000My Life Would Suck Without You
41
 
7Eliminated
Behind These Hazel Eyes0000Behind These Hazel Eyes
39
 
7Eliminated

We're used to having celebrities visit Camp Should-A-Been, usually because they signed appearance contracts with 19E that they would come to regret. Today, however, was entirely different: Tiger Woods, still recovering from his recent back surgery, stopped by to tour the grounds as a possible site for a golf course. "Pitchy Acres" was the working name, and the concept was that innovations like meatloaf hazards and judges alongside each green ("That putt was a complete and utter mess!") would revolutionize the game. We're pretty sure that he'll come to his senses once his pain medication wears off.

Woods didn't stick around for the Final 10 show, which was a pity because it was one of the better replays we've ever enjoyed. The simple expedient of getting rid of weak semifinalists -- and there was no shortage of those this season, believe us -- caused the episode average to jump from 51.8 to 58.1. That was without the show-closing magnum opus of one Kelly B. Clarkson, whose rating we calculated conservatively from a handful of web reviews. Sonika Vaid normally sounds like she's auditioning for a Disney soundtrack, but we convinced her that "Evanescence" was actually the sixth emotion from Inside Out. Suitably motivated, she stepped way out of character to deliver a personal high of 88 on "Bring Me To Life." La'Porsha Renae, decked out in $12.85 in rhinestones (our diamonds having been sold at Reality Camp Auction earlier in the day), was just a point back, and a trio of pedigreed finalists were in the 60s.

Avalon Young had a bit of a scare; normally a 42 is plenty good enough to survive Opening Night of the finals, but tonight's double elimination meant that she finished just one point out of danger. We said goodbye to holdover semifinalists Jenn Blosil and Shelbie Zeta, or at least we tried to. Turns out the Bus Of Shame had been bought by Camp Amazin' Racers, which was kind of stupid, since most of their contestants get eliminated in places like Vanuatu. We were hoping it would go to Camp Kardashians, just because.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Final 8 (The Grammys)

Performance Web Rating Result
Earned It0000Earned It
77
 
2Safe
Halo0000Halo
76
 
2Safe
When A Man Loves A Woman0000When A Man Loves A Woman
75
 
2Safe
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)0000I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
50
 
2Safe
Trouble0000Trouble
49
 
2Safe
Since U Been Gone0000Since U Been Gone
48
 
4Bottom Group
Hotel California0000Hotel California
39
 
7Eliminated
Radioactive0000Radioactive
24
 
7Eliminated

There's strength in numbers. Partly that describes how the camp is beginning to smell after a week with more than 500 occupants and only two working showers, and partly it describes our success on the sports fields this summer against our rival Lake Trainwreck replay camps. This afternoon, for example, we walloped Camp Chairs-A-Spinnin' 22-0 in our annual softball game, behind an all-star team of former youth diamond stars like Nikko Smith, Shannon Magrane, Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery and Vonzell Solomon. That was the good news. The bad news is that the CCAS squad took home all of our bats, balls and equipment, having purchased them at auction earlier in the day. They even bought the trophy, the lousy rats.

Well, at least that means something of ours is selling. Finding a buyer for the campgrounds is still moving about as slowly as our ticket sales. Today our real estate agent brought in some bigwigs from Marriott, who took one look at the place and laughed all the way back down the mountain. Simon Fuller still swears that we'll find a buyer by next Monday, though. Sheesh -- if the DEA would allow us to sell whatever it is he's smoking, we could wind up this bankruptcy in no time.

Through it all, we're holding a fresh replay episode every night, because that's what we do. Grammys Night wasn't so bad without Gianna Isabella and Lee Jean gumming up the works. We still had to sit through Dalton Rapattoni's unfortunate Imagine Dragons cover, which earned him a one-way trip home to Texas. (For your edification, Greyhound frowns on people duct-taping an "Of Shame" sign underneath the word "Bus" in their logo. People are so sensitive nowadays.) Also shipping out tonight was Stephanie Negrete, who surely deserved to last longer on Idol than she did this past February, though seventh place seems to be pushing it a bit. She's only from San Diego, so we called her a taxi. We know nothing of how it left camp sporting a homemade "CABOFSHM" license plate. Nothing whatsoever.

Lastly, Avalon Young "earned it" all right: she becomes our second holdover finalist this season, joining Olivia Rox. We'll use her "save" performance from the Final Six show first, then go to projected ratings from her contestant average including her Celebrity Duets performance. This policy may or may not alter the final standings, but come on: if you haven't figured out already who's going to be in the Camp Should-A-Been Replay Finale this summer, you haven't been paying close enough attention.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Final 6 (The American Idol Songbook)

Performance Web Rating Result
Come Together0000Come Together
85
 
2Safe
Stand By Me0000Stand By Me
72
 
2Safe
See You Again0000See You AgainDuet performance
71
 
9Group performance
Rise Up0000Rise UpDuet performance
61
 
9Group performance
I Don't Want To Miss A Thing0000I Don't Want To Miss A Thing
58
 
2Safe
I Have Nothing0000I Have Nothing
58
 
2Safe
You Are So Beautiful0000You Are So Beautiful
56
 
7Eliminated
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)0000Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)Duet performance
55
 
9Group performance
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)0000P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
52
 
4Bottom Group
I Want It That Way0000I Want It That WayDuet performance
17
 
9Group performance

We knew up front that Season Fifteen would be short, but we never really grasped how short until we looked at the calendar today. Good grief, we've only got five more days to sell off all this junk, to crown a champion, and most importantly, to whittle down our enormous backlog of industrial-grade, triple-filtered snark! We blame the American Idol crew for that last problem. Except for doing an uncharacteristically godawful job of casting, and for one particular judge twerking half-naked at the camera during the Finale, none of the front table trio did anything particularly snark-worthy this season. Per Blankens is mercifully gone -- we hear he's interning at Camp Kitchen-O'-Hell where his penchant for weird elimination patterns and random social media tie-ins has Gordon Ramsey regularly chasing him around the campgrounds with a meat cleaver. Ryan Seacrest has done nothing of interest since 2008, which might be why he's such a good host. And, our new zillion-person production staff spends their entire day in meetings where it takes a two-thirds vote for any motion to pass ("All in favor of asking Keith Urban to remove a few superfluous tattoos, say Aye"), so nothing ever gets done.

Anyway, on the liquidation front, we sold our walk-in freezer to Camp Think-'N'-Dance. They plan to use it to store Nigel Lythgoe between episodes. A group of East Asian businesspeople toured the campgrounds today to evaluate the possibility of converting it to a karaoke theme park. We had to shoo them off the ampitheater stage after dinner so that we could hold our American Idol Songbook replay. We might as well have called it "Nigel Lythgoe's Revenge for the Freezer Wisecrack" Night, as Idol's most outspoken fan of ancient music apparently convinced the new producers that this nightmare would be a good idea. ("All in favor of holding a theme night consisting of songs that most Idol fans would rather remove their own spleens with a butter knife than to listen to again, say Aye.") Ten minutes into the show, we pined for hearing "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" sung drunkenly in Japanese. Even granting the fact that the six remaining kids all did a pretty good job, a Repeat Factor of 5.2 for the solo performances was excruciating to sit through.

On top of that, duets were back on the schedule for this episode. ("All in favor of going after their large intestines too...."). Before the show, we had taken solace that at least we wouldn't have to hear The Asteroid Song again since Tristan McIntosh and Lee Jean were long gone, but alas, we didn't figure on 17-year-old Olivia Rox. She took care of that loose end with her solo number, and then showed on her duet that she's about as adept at choosing material and singing partners as she is stage names. Oh well, none of it really mattered as tonight's elimination was sealed by the one performance that fell below 50. Way, way, way below 50. MacKenzie Bourg's disastrous duet with Dalton Rapattoni (that 17 seems rather generous) sent the Louisiana troubadour packing. It also meant that Trent Harmon became the Last Guy Standing this year; he'll face off against a quartet of young ladies -- two "real" and two "holdover" -- for a spot in the Finale. Which he'll earn with ease. Snark, we got plenty of this summer, but suspense, not so much.

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Final 5 (America's Requests)

Performance Web Rating Result
No More Drama0000No More Drama
88
 
2Safe
Simple Man0000Simple Man
83
 
2Safe
Ready For Love0000Ready For Love
78
 
2Safe
Avalon0000Avalon
56
 
2Safe
Let It Go0000Let It Go
55
 
7Eliminated
Young Americans0000Young Americans
50
 
2Safe
Olivia0000Olivia
50
 
4Bottom Group
Roxanne0000Roxanne
45
 
4Bottom Group
Clarity0000Clarity
31
 
7Eliminated
Counting Stars0000Counting Stars
26
 
2Safe

Our real estate agents turned in their resignations en masse at 3pm this afternoon. They gave it their all, but let's face it: Camp Should-A-Been was unsellable, and no amount of marketing gloss and glitz could alter that fundamental fact. Too many years of bad meatloaf and worse singing had made the site the mother of all white elephants. Heck, even if we did find a sucker, er, buyer, there's no way they'd ever get a certificate of occupancy for this place. The snark levels in the soil are way too high.

We head counselors decided not to call Simon Fuller with the bad news right away. We still had four days; maybe something good would happen to get us off the hook, like a meteor strike. Instead, we just went on with tonight's America's Requests replay. As on the original episode back in March, we had Trent Harmon go first in the hopes of covering up how badly the defending champ butchered "Counting Stars". In fact, we made him sing at 8am this morning, underwater in the lake. Unfortunately, a 26 is a 26 on land, sea or air, so Harmon would have to sweat out his second performance to see if he'd survive the night.

La'Porsha Renae had no such worries. Her opening India.Arie cover just missed five stars, and her brilliant Mary J. Blige masterpiece (for our money, the performance of the season) put her average at 83, easily advancing her to the Top Four. As it happened, the '73 Southern rock staple "Simple Man" was just what Trynt Hyrmyn needed to bounce back -- he actually finished second on the night. New holdover Avalon Young was third, finishing above 50 on her first two projected ratings by way of Roxy Music and David Bowie. We're not exactly sure why America chose two older prog-rock hits for her, but we're sure they had a reason.

That left tonight's elimination between Olivia Rox and Sonika Vaid. Rox drew one old song, by the Police, and one new one, via One Direction, but her ratings had decayed into the 40s, leaving the door wide open for Vaid. To no one's surprise, one of the songs America assigned her was a Disney staple -- judging by her cellular bill, we're pretty sure Vaid stuffed the ballot box. Still, despite it being pretty much the last song in the Mouse catalog that anyone over the age of six wants to hear these days, she put together a solid 55-rated performance, meaning she'd need just a 40 on her other song to outlast Rox. That would seem to be a slam-dunk, considering her low-water mark to date was an impressive 48. But wait, what's this? America's second choice for Vaid was...a Zedd song?? She and EDM would seem to go together about as well as Olaf and summer. One very predictable 31 later, a surprised and annoyed Vaid had finished in fifth place. Judging by Rox's own cellular bill, we suspect she did a little bit of ballot box-stuffing, too.

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Final 4 (Rock / Sia)

Performance Web Rating Result
Chandelier0000Chandelier
92
 
2Safe
Sharp Dressed Man0000Sharp Dressed Man
85
 
2Safe
Elastic Heart0000Elastic Heart
74
 
2Safe
Wanted Dead Or Alive0000Wanted Dead Or Alive
63
 
2Safe
I Believe In A Thing Called Love0000I Believe In A Thing Called Love
46
 
4Bottom Group
Wild Ones0000Wild Ones
41
 
4Bottom Group
Titanium0000Titanium
41
 
7Eliminated
Bad Reputation0000Bad Reputation
37
 
7Eliminated

While our focus this year has been on liquidating Camp Should-A-Been's meager material assets before closing up shop, we're happy to report that most of our human resources have landed on their feet. Harry Connick Jr. has accepted a guest lecturer position at the prestigious Julliard Conservatory. ("I know most of you don't know what harmonics are, but they're...oh, you do know? Um, well...) J-Lo has her Vegas gig plus her new cop drama Shades Of Blue, plus her music career, plus her fashion design business, plus her United Nations work, plus she's perfecting a commercially viable nuclear fusion reactor...um, yeah. The only thing she can't do to save her life is judge a singing competition; go figure. Keith Urban is on tour as usual, and Ryan Seacrest continues to channel the spirit of the late eternal teenager, Dick Clark ("One word: plastics. Second word: surgery.") Our legendary trio of disciplinary counselors, Rocco, Viktor and Serge, will be serving as an obstacle on American Ninja Warriors this season. In fact, the only staff member who hasn't found work yet is mentor Scott Borschetta, but don't worry: he's been assured by Randy Jackson that the job market is wide open for an aging record producer who lucked into discovering one superstar artist, and who otherwise is known only for spouting meaningless catchphrases incessantly on a cheesy reality TV series. Well, hey, Randy ought to know.

We also were thrilled to welcome the friggin' brilliant Sia Furler to CSAB this afternoons. We gave her a tour of the campgrounds and asked her, ah, by any chance would she be in the market for a prime real estate investment? Hmph...turns out she can see perfectly well through all that hair after all.

Of course, Rock/Sia Night belonged to Trent Harmon once again. The farmhand, waiter, and aspiring haberdasherer from Amory, MS became just the eighth person in fifteen Idol seasons to notch two 5-star performances in one night, and his 88.5 average on a multi-song night was third-highest overall behind only Clay Aiken (92.5) and Candice Glover (89.0). His cover of "Chandelier" became the first "showstopper" 90+ rating around these parts in two years. (Joey Cook, from the 34th row of the ampitheater: "I wuz robbed!") Well behind Harmon, but still comfortably in second place and keeping her "perfect game" alive was La'Porsha Renae. Which of our holdover contestants would join them in the Final Three? Judging by the rock song Avalon Young was assigned, we suspect Olivia Rox was up to her old tricks on Twitter again, but no matter: Rox's fifth and sixth projected ratings (plus the half-step for the Final Six duet) were too low to take out the quirky San Diego guitarist. It'll be Harmon, Renae and Young onstage Sunday for our penultimate Replay Episode here at Camp Should-A-Been.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Final 3 (Hometown / Judges' / Scott's Choice)

Performance Web Rating Result
Waiting Game0000Waiting Game
89
 
2Safe
Glory0000Glory
80
 
2Safe
Tennessee Whiskey0000Tennessee Whiskey
71
 
2Safe
Hello0000Hello
67
 
2Safe
Stay With Me0000Stay With Me
61
 
2Safe
Drink You Away0000Drink You Away
54
 
2Safe
Surfin' USA0000Surfin' USA
37
 
7Eliminated
X's and O's0000X's and O's
34
 
7Eliminated
She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy0000She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy
30
 
7Eliminated

"Uh, hello, Mr. Fuller. Are we catching you at an awkward time? We know you have a long flight to get here for tomorrow's very last Camp Should-A-Been replay. But, um, before you arrive, sir, there's some bad news we ought to share with you....

"Oh, don't worry, sir -- no one is injured or fell ill. We're all fine. Yes, the liquidation auctions are pretty much complete. There's not a whole lot left here except the campers and their musical instruments, but that's all we need for tomorrow. We even found a good home for the petting zoo animals: Carrie Underwood is bringing them to her parents' farm in Checotah. She's taken care of them for years here, so they're like family. Plus, she thinks the sheep will come in handy if she ever plays Maria Von Trapp again. They might distract the audience from her acting.

"No, sir, everything went smoothly at tonight's Final 3 show, too. We mean, there wasn't a whole lot of drama or anything. Trent Harmon lost his 90 on "Waiting Game" during the post-season normalization, as you know, but it was still a brilliant performance. And, wow: La'Porsha Renae's 80 for "Glory" seems way too low. She and the band staged that beautifully. We could've done without hearing "Hello" for the two trillionth time in 2016, but that's just quibbling. It'll be Mr. Hat vs. Ms. Hair for the championship tomorrow night. Avalon Young finished third, just as everyone knew she would. She was too offbeat to win American Idol, but she had a great run. Her hometown of San Diego chose a Beach Boys song for her. The judges' choice was okay if a little pat, and Scott Borschetta's was just plain wrong. Consistency is their hallmark.

"Anyway, Mr. Fuller, what we wanted to tell you was that...hmm? Okay, sir, you give us your news first, and then we'll give you ours. ....You WHAT???! You have got to be shi--...er, we mean, that's great sir! You found a buyer for the campgrounds! We...uh, we're speechless sir. One more miracle and you're eligible for canonization. Er, that is, we were confident all along that you'd be able to find someone in your network of business associates who could see the potential in the property. Well done indeed!

"What's our bad news?...Uh-h-h-h...well, sir, we...er...we served the last of the meatloaf at dinner tonight. No, sir, we're not bloody drunk out of our minds. We, uh, thought you liked it. Um, 'roadkill', roger that, sir. We'll see if we can find any for you tomor--...we mean, have a great flight, Mr. Fuller! See you tomorrow for our final installment.

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Finale

Performance Web Rating Result
Chandelier0000ChandelierReprise performance
90
 
7Eliminated
Diamonds0000DiamondsReprise performance
85
 
2Safe
A House Is Not A Home0000A House Is Not A Home
75
 
2Safe
Falling0000Falling
63
 
7Eliminated
If You Don't Know Me By Now0000If You Don't Know Me By Now
60
 
7Eliminated
Battles0000Battles
55
 
2Safe

It's been nine summers and fifteen replays since we launched Camp Should-A-Been. It has been a privilege to welcome our visitors through thick and thin, in good seasons and bad seasons and even oh-my-God-what-the-hell-were-those-imbeciles-thinking seasons. Tonight, however, CSAB closes its doors, maybe for the final time. Our 400-plus former contestants filed somberly into the ampitheater wearing tuxedos and evening dresses. The band struck up some mournful music as Heejun Han took the stage and started into "Nearer My God To Thee"...and then stopped abruptly.

"This is way too slow for me," he told Rickey Minor with a sly smile. "I wanna DANCE!!"

Throughout the audience, the suit jackets came off, the high heels were kicked away, and we got this party started!

First came our Season Fifteen Finale twosome, and they were as magnificent tonight as they'd been all summer. Trent Harmon took the early lead with a brilliant reprise of "Chandelier" -- it's probably just as well that this season was so short, because those hand gestures would've gotten old in a hurry -- but La'Porsha Renae delivered a superb "Diamonds" to stay within five points. In Round Two, Simon Fuller again chose the songs, but not before he instructed us to sneak into Renae's dressing room and cut off her hair, as it was the only thing of value left at the campsite. Tough break, Mr. Fuller: we auctioned off all the gardening equipment last Thursday. Anyway, Renae jumped into a narrow lead with a terrific rendition of "A House Is Not A Home", outpointing Harmon's effort by 15. The title would come down to the Original Winners Songs™, neither of which were particularly good, as if that's anything new. Our dynamic duo gave it their all, however, and Harmon wound up winning two of the three rounds while Renae again sealed her "perfect game". Who won? We'd announce that at the end of the show, as if you hadn't already added up the scores two months ago.

Next came the reunion performances. Each bunkhouse put on a medley that they'd rehearsed for days. We asked them to create a microcosm of their respective season at Camp Should-A-Been. That didn't fare well ("Uh, no, Kellie, you don't need antibiotics for a microcosm") so eventually we gave up and told them just to wing it.

And, they did -- fifteen medleys celebrating fifteen CSAB replays, the good, the bad, and the ugly. God, there was a lot of ugly. For every masterpiece by a highly-respected Idol legend, there were at least three hairballs coughed up by faceless semifinalists. Plus, even among the elite, there were brain cramps in song selection and presentation that most AI fans have mercifully repressed from their memories. Danny Gokey screamed. Jon Peter Lewis danced. Clay Aiken blanked on the words to "Vincent". Sanjaya Malakar caterwauled while a girl in the audience bawled. (We couldn't afford to rent a crying teenager for the night, so we gave Tristan McIntosh an onion and told her to do the best she could.) Jennifer Hudson dug out some of the outfits she wore in her first few live performances. At least Taylor Hicks and Bucky Covington had the good sense to tackle Ace Young and drag him offstage before he showed the audience his chest scar again.

We were treated to hearing some of the finest American Idol performances one more time. Fantasia Barrino dreamily sang "Summertime". Haley Reinhart did "House Of The Rising Sun". Bo Bice told the band to hit the restrooms while he delivered "In A Dream". Kelly Clarkson summoned them back for "Stuff Like That There." We bathed the stage in blue so Adam Lambert could reprise "Mad World", then had Kierin Healy switch the lighting to red for Candice Glover's "Lovesong". LaToya London had planned to sing "All By Myself", but she kindly acquiesced when we asked her to do her other showstopper, the seemingly-forgotten "Don't Rain On My Parade", instead. How does anyone forget a performance that good?

And, oh yeah, we made Melinda Doolittle sing "My Funny Valentine". Twice.

But, our retrospective went much deeper than that, because this is Camp Should-A-Been, where excellent midcarders and undeservedly eliminated semifinalists always got their due. The Cabin Three medley alone, we think, showed what we were all about. There was Suzy Vulaca, delivering her pair of 70-level performances and causing Paula Abdul to look desperately for a rock to crawl under. Lisa Leuschner took the stage and the judges told her she wouldn't be permitted to sing tonight. She promptly flipped them the bird and sang anyway, clutching her CSAB sixth-place trophy proudly. Amy Adams rocked her way through "Sin Wagon", a 90 before the Great Normalization, leaving the younger contestants in the crowd to wonder how the voters possibly sent her home the very next week. And, oh by the way, our Final Three that summer were named London, Barrino and Hudson. Sheesh, was this Reality TV business really so difficult?

Controversy? We outlawed it from the camprounds years ago. Tamyra Gray was a deserved runner-up in our inaugural replay, but only because Nikki McKibbon went out tenth. Had McKibbon made it to the Final Four show, she would have once again knocked out Gray easily, and anyone in the Idolsphere who complained about it would've been given detailed instructions on the proper technique for pounding sand. It was close, and either would have been a fine Season Two winner, but with no overloaded phone lines to screw things up, Clay Aiken beat Ruben Studdard (our senior counselors' choice) fair and square. Maybe the CMAs, Grammys, and People's Choice Awards have it scored 21-zip for Carrie Underwood, but, ahem, our records still show Bo Bice beat her 155-131 when it really mattered in the AI4 Replay Finale. (Your viewpoint on what matters and what doesn't may differ.) Chris Daughtry outlasted Kat McPhee here in the high woods, but it was Elliott Yamin who outlasted everybody in Season Five. The great Mindy Doo sang 19 times (three of which had to be scored projectedly), matched up against 107 contending performances from her Cabin Six bunkmates. Her win-loss record that summer: merely 102-5. We'll pause until the next paragraph to give you time to scrape your jaw off the floor.

David Cook wiped out the field in the AI7 replay, but his last opponent standing was Syesha Mercado, still wearing knee braces after what the producers did to her that spring in the Final Three show...and, as we whimsically demonstrated, she'd still have made it to the Finale on merit even if David Archuleta was one of her F3 opponents. Even we couldn't pick a winner in Season Eight, but choosing a Top Three was no problem whatsoever, and oh by the way, four semifinalists finished in our Top Ten. Three semifinalists finished in the Top Eight in Season Nine, when Idol fans everywhere (yes, including us) who pushed for the elimination of Wild Card picks got a brutal life lesson about being careful what you wish for. As for AI10, the truth can now be told: Lauren Alaina won our replay, but had late-blooming Haley Reinhart not been eliminated in the semifinals after a mediocre opening performance, she would indeed have been CSAB champion that summer...just not the way you might have believed. Had the Finale been Alaina vs. Reinhart, young Miss Suddeth would've beaten her 179 to 172. (Haley, remember, would have had to have used the first step down her decay curve to get through the Wild Card show.) But, Alaina would've gone out in the Final Three behind James Durbin, and a Reinhart-Durbin finale would have finished 172-165. Now you know.

If we are being honest, CSAB, like American Idol, lost some relevance in the post-Simon Cowell years. For Idol, it was because its TV ratings sagged; for us, it was because the frequency of nonsensical real-world voting results and godawful Wild Card selections sagged. Still, we persevered. Joshua Ledet won the AI11 replay, though we suspect we could re-run that season eight times under eight different sets of rules and get eight different winners. Yes, that includes Erika Van Pelt, who shoulda made it an Elite Eight rather than a Super Seven. In Season Twelve, the right person won, the right others finished second and third (and probably fourth), and two quarter-finalists, Juliana Chahayed and David Willis, whom America never even got to vote on because the judges were nincompoops, finished sixth and seventh. There's not much to say about Season Thirteen: it featured the easiest Final Four to predict in television history, and much like AI11, any of that quartet could have won under different sets of rules. Our penultimate medley, courtesy of Cabin Fourteen, was a bit of a slog despite Per Blankens comically hapless attempts to get it to trend on social media, owing to zero 90-rated performances (Joey Cook, from backstage: "ROBBED, I tell you!"). But it concluded with a remarkable non-twist ending: Nick Fradiani deserved his crown after all.

After the AI15 cast finished their number, Ryan Seacrest took the mic to give shout-outs to some of WhatNotToSing's all-time statistical leaders among finalists. Highest average rating, and the only contestant with a 5-star average: Pia Toscano. Most 5-star performances: a tie between Bo Bice and Melinda Doolittle, 10 apiece. Most at 4-stars: Caleb Johnson and Angie Miller, with Johnson earning a second trophy for the most outings rated 60 or higher, a whopping 17. Lowest average song age: Majesty Rose whose six performances tipped the calendar at just 3.2 years. Eight finalists from Season Three on had Freshness Factors of 100%, with Kristy Lee Cook and the late Michael Johns introducing eight and seven songs respectively to Idol (with a most honorable mention to David Cook, whose only two non-debut songs out of 20 were assignments rather than choices.)

Former college baseball player D. Cook also won the all-time WNTS Head-To-Head batting title, with a minimum of ten "at-bats" to qualify. Over time, 16 of his songs were also covered by other contestants, with Cook outpointing them 15 times to bat .938. (Only Josh Gracin ever beat him, 68 to 61 on The Asteroid Song.) We gave autographed bats to the other three qualifying finalists who hit .900 or better: Latoya London, Clay Aiken, and Kelly Clarkson. Candice Glover had the longest consecutive overall hitting streak of 50+ rated performances, 17, and she was joined by Elliott Yamin and La'Porsha Renae for the longest solo streak, 14. Three finalists pitched "perfect games", never delivering a performance below 50 before their elimination. The audience gave it up once more for Pia Toscano, Erika Van Pelt, and La'Porsha Renae.

Camp Should-A-Been Finale Results

  AI1: Kelly Clarkson 215,   Tamyra Gray 174
  AI2: Clay Aiken 180,   Ruben Studdard 144
  AI3: LaToya London 174,   Fantasia Barrino 173
  AI4: Bo Bice 155,   Carrie Underwood 131
  AI5: Elliott Yamin 184,   Chris Daughtry 182
  AI6: Melinda Doolittle 208,   LaKisha Jones 142
  AI7: David Cook 168,   Syesha Mercado 149
  AI8: Kris Allen & Allison Iraheta 164 (tie)
  AI9: Crystal Bowersox 216,   Lee DeWyze 125
AI10: Lauren Alaina 179,   James Durbin 160
AI11: Joshua Ledet 171,   Hollie Cavanagh 148
AI12: Candice Glover 194,   Angela Miller 163
AI13: Jena Irene 194,   Alex Preston 185
AI14: Nick Fradiani 184,   JAX 173
AI15: La'Porsha Renae 215,   Trent Harmon 213

Finally, it came time to announce our Season Fifteen winner. We brought out Brian Dunkelman to do the honors, though no one paid the slightest bit of attention to him because everybody has calculators on their cell phones these days. Our campers were already congratulating La'Porsha Renae, who nipped Trent Harmon 215 to 213. It was the highest-scoring episode in WNTS history and by far the highest pair of scores in a CSAB Finale, with Renae falling just one point shy of Crystal Bowersox's all-time record. Well done, Mississippi! The updated table of Finale results is at right for posterity's perusal.

After all that, it was time to party! The band played throughout the night as our campers took turns at the microphone. We wanted to put on a memorable Fourth Of July fireworks display, but all we had remaining were a box of sparklers, two road flares, and a match. No matter: James Durbin somehow cobbled that together to produce a majestic show that lit up the sky and reduced three rival Lake Trainwreck camps to rubble. We love that guy.

Much, much later, as the sun peeked over the trees in the East, the celebration wound down. Judges and contestants and producers alike hugged and wiped away tears as they prepared to leave. We were all sure we'd be back again someday, but you never know. Simon Fuller came up to us and gratefully offered thanks for all the hard work, the numbers, and even the snark. He promised us that if and when American Idol rebooted, so would Camp Should-A-Been to put an exclamation point at the end of every season. "Thank you, Mr. Fuller," we said sincerely. It was truly an honor. We know nothing of how he left camp sporting a "Kick Me" sign on his back. Nothing whatsoever.

Finally, we three head counselors closed the campground gates for the very last time. We took the weathered CSAB sign as a souvenir and drove down the mountain towards the airport. Along the way, we were passed by a construction team sent by the new owner, who clearly wasn't one to waste any time. As we pulled around the final turn, we looked back and saw the new sign being erected over the entrance, in huge and garish 40-foot neon red letters that would be visible for miles:

C...A...M...P...

T...R...U...M.......................

—   The End   —

Camp Should-A-Been
Closed.   For Now.

Thanks For Visiting!

Camp Should-A-Been – Season Fifteen Results

  1. La'Porsha Renae
  2. Trent Harmon
  3. Avalon Young
  4. Olivia Rox
  5. Sonica Vaid
  6. MacKenzie Bourg
  7. Stephanie Negrete
  8. Dalton Rapattoni
  9. Jenn Blosil
  10. Shelbie Z

Up Next: Series* Finale!

-- The staff of WNTS.com

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