Camp Should-A-Been - Season One
So did Tamyra Gray deserve that stunning elimination in the Final Four?
If she'd advanced instead, would she have become first breakout superstar of American Idol
while Kelly Clarkson did the guest slots on Boston Public? Nikki McKibbin
survived a billion straight weeks in the Bottom Three, but where would she have
finished had America voted on merit? It's time to find out, as the inaugural
competition at Camp Should-A-Been gets underway....
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Semifinals Group One
What a great turnout! Not only do we have our first 10 Idols ready to sing, but
the other 184 campers are all seated anxiously in the audience. Perhaps this is because
they want to get a feel for how the Camp Should-A-Been competition would work. Or perhaps
it's because the only alternative entertainment tonight is From Justin To Kelly
playing in the mess hall.
To no one's surprise, Tamyra Gray won the
replay handily. She and Ryan Starr took the
first two chairs in the Final 10, just as they did six years prior. Jim Verraros tried
to sneak into the third seat, but he was intercepted by the camp's Disciplinary Counselors,
Viktor, Rocco, and Serge, and was escorted to the waiting bus outside. Instead,
long-forgotten Adriel Herrera earned the Finals slot that had been denied to him.
As before, Kelly Glover and Christopher Aaron received invitations to the Wild Card Episode
in three days, as did Natalie Burge. (Burge, in fact, wound up in a three-way tie for the
final two Wild Card slots; we chose to advance all three because we had no fair way to break
the tie, and because it allowed us to bill her parents for a few more nights' room and board.
You didn't think we were running this camp for purely altruistic reasons, did you?) Joining
Verraros on the Bus Of Shame were one-star performers Justinn "Two-Ns" Waddell, Brad Estrin,
and Rodesia Eaves.
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Semifinals Group Two
Day Two at Camp Should-A-Been saw our first crisis of the summer – a certain
twosome refused to take the stage until we assured them there wouldn't be a
From Justin To Kelly II if they happened to make it to the Finale.
A visit from the camp attorneys, on loan from 19E, quickly convinced Miss Clarkson and
Mr. Guarini that a holdout
would not be in their best interests.
You'd have thought those two would've learned to read the fine print of any contract they signed,
but no-o-o. At any rate, the reluctant movie stars once again
took the first two chairs from the
replay into the Final 10, but for the second straight night,
the third seat went to a new face: Angela Peel.
Alexis Lopez and Gil Sinuet earned callbacks to the Wild Card Show, so
they'll have to endure the heat and mosquitoes for at least two more days. Boarding the Bus
Of Shame: Jazmin Lowery, Tenia Taylor, Alexander Bachelier, Jamar (tragically,
a camp search party failed to locate his missing last name), and bringing up the rear, none
other than original 8th-place finisher A.J. Gil.
Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Semifinals Group Three
The big story out of Camp Should-A-Been on Day Three was the sudden removal of all tomatoes
from the camp kitchen. A result of the recent nationwide salmonella outbreak? No, the
audience merely wanted to be prepared and well-armed for the
replay, the second-lowest-rated episode in our database.
Just three contestants beat par on the night, all earning a spot in the
Final 10: erstwhile finalists Christina Christian and Nikki McKibbin, plus newcomer Melanie
Sanders. RJ Helton, meanwhile, earned a repeat spot in the Wild Card episode, from which
he was the sole advancer six years earlier.
Six tomato-stained contestants went home on the Bus Of Shame, including original 9th-place
finisher EJay Day who missed a Wild Card slot by just one point. It wasn't
a good camp for the "Jays", as A.J. Gil is already out and RJ Helton has a six-way,
one-survivor contest for the 10th slot coming up tomorrow. Joining Day this night are Chris Bodano,
Kristin Holt, Tanesha Ross, Khaleef Chiles, and Mark Scott. After the show, we noticed that
the contestants from AI3's infamous Semi Group Two were looking a little nervous,
no doubt wondering what they'd be having hurled at them in a few weeks. They'd probably
be well served to clean up any loose bricks lying around the camp.
Friday, June 13th, 2008
Wild Card Group
During his original two month stay on American Idol,
RJ Helton delivered just one performance to earn a rating above
50. But, then as now, it came at the right time: his four-star rendition of "Lately"
replay was good
enough to slip past Kelly Glover and into the Final 10 here at Camp Should-A-Been.
The luckless Glover is thus eliminated from the competition despite having delivered no below-average
performances. As a consolation prize, the camp directors rented the Limo Of Shame to take
her home in style. She deserves it.
Our other four performers weren't so fortunate; they'll be boarding the usual Bus. Per camp rules,
Alexis Lopez and Christopher Aaron duplicated their original song choices, but Natalie Burge
and Gil Sinuet, who weren't invited to the original Wild Card episode, had to come up with
new ones. Burge was tipped off by several of her fellow campers that a certain song from
The Wizard Of Oz has been enormously successful on Idol over the years. Sadly,
nobody told her precisely which song it was, leaving her to make a most unfortunate guess.
Meanwhile, Sinuet decided that "Against All Odds" would make for a good number, but he
underestimated how much the judges and audience were totally sick of hearing that song on AI.
He was pelted with leftover tomatoes, and when that supply was exhausted,
Simon and Randy chased him out the camp gates and down the road in a produce delivery truck.
So the Final 10 of Camp Should-A-Been's AI1 replay is set, and they are:
- Christina Christian
- Kelly Clarkson
- Tamyra Gray
- Justin Guarini
- RJ Helton
- Adriel Herrera
- Nikki McKibbin
- Angela Peel
- Melanie Sanders
- Ryan Starr
Newcomers in italics. Failing to qualify: Jim Verraros, EJay Day, and A.J. Gil
Sunday, June 15th, 2008
Final 10 (Motown)
The campers took a well-deserved break from the competition on Saturday. They spent the rainy day
inside the mess hall making crafts out of paper maché and dried macaroni, which
they then presented to the judges for their critiques.
("Dawg, you could make pretty flowers out of the phone book",
"Your elbow noodles look beautiful today",
"An absolutely appalling piece that I'd expect to find hanging on the wall of a Portuguese cabaret", etc.)
OK, so inviting the judges probably wasn't one of our better ideas.
Nonetheless, our ten remaining Season One contestants were back on the camp stage Sunday night
for the opening round of the first Camp Should-A-Been finals.
The Big Three of Tamyra Gray, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Guarini turned in the top three
performances of the
replay, but there was a sizable dropoff after that. All three of our
"newcomers" advanced to the next round: Adriel Herrera and Melanie Sanders chose the classic
duo of "My Girl" and "My Guy", while Angela Peel, we felt, went a little bit off-theme, though she
argued to the producers that the Black-Eyed Peas once played a concert in Detroit. Still, the
oft-described "worst rap song ever" was still good enough to get Peel past original fifth-place
finisher RJ Helton and into the next round. (Note: Peel's rating was that of her original Wild Card
performance, while Herrera's and Sanders's were projected.)
As in the original episode, two contestants were sent home tonight.
Joining Helton on the Bus Of Shame: none other than Nikki McKibbin!
The red-haired rocker's rendition of, essentially, "My Rat" was the only performance
that failed to reach the 3-star level.
Note that McKibbon survived five trips to the Bottom Three in 2002, but here at
Camp Should-A-Been, one was enough. (Incidentally, tonight's show averaged a 53.1
in our replay, an enormous improvement over the original episode's miserable 44.2.
See what could happen to the quality of American Idol
if only we voted for performance over popularity?)
Monday, June 16th, 2008
Final 8 (1960s)
replay brought the first two showstoppers of Camp Should-A-Been.
There was Kelly Clarkson's "A Natural Woman", the first performance to reach the rarified 90s.
And then there was Ryan Starr's infamous railway vehicle crash, "You Really Got Me," which
stopped the show in a wholly unexpected way. Starr's
Bus Of Shame effort was interrupted several times by loud, uncontrollable howling, which our
cameras eventually traced to a well-coiffed camper from the Season Six cabin. The Laughing Boy
was eventually escorted out of
the ampitheater by the camp's Disciplinary Counselors, Viktor, Rocco, and Serge,
but not before yelling over his shoulder,
"And you thought my cover of that song was bad??!"
Clarkson and Tamyra Gray were the only two contestants who rated above 50 tonight.
Nonetheless, the Final 8 replay came in at a 50.8 average, an improvement of more than three
points over the original. In an attempt to demonstrate that songs by The Kinks can indeed
be sung on Idol without a disaster ensuing, and to avoid having Ray Davies sue us
for mental anguish,
our three "newcomers" all chose a song by the legendary British band. Adriel Herrera's rocker
fared better than Angela Peel's Christmas-In-June choice, and both beat Melanie Sanders'
gender-bending attempt at the all-time gender-bending classic.
But, despite their ever sliding approval ratings, all three advanced safely to the next round.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
Final 7 (1970s)
The first shocking elimination of the Season One Replay is upon us. Even his fans
concede that Justin Guarini's
cover of "Someday We'll All Be Free" was never anything to write home about. But
unfortunately for the former Final Two crooner, he won't have to send a letter home
to Pennsylvania; he can
deliver the news in person when the Bus Of Shame drops him off at his doorstep.
Surely the happiest campers tonight are Tamyra Gray, who has now seen the elimination of
two of the three competitors who knocked her out from the original Final Four, and Kelly
Clarkson, who figures there's no way the producers would ever try From Tamyra To Kelly.
She's in for a rude surprise.
Meanwhile, all three of our "newcomers" are, shockingly enough, still in the competition.
Tonight, however, they probably wished they'd have taken the Bus home earlier when they saw
the list of pre-cleared songs from the notoriously awful 1970s available to choose from.
In fact, owing to the producers' stinginess and the camp counselors' sick sense of humor,
only four songs were on the list. Nobody chose "Disco Duck."
(Just to make them feel even worse, we cruelly told them we were going to clear
"Don't Fear The Reaper" until we learned that the camp's only cowbell was broken.)
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
Final 6 (Big Band)
Given that AI1's Big Band Night is the American Idol episode
with the highest approval rating ever, the staff at Camp Should-A-Been decided that we'd
better bring in a full orchestra for tonight's replay as well.
Unfortunately, our rare act of generosity merely led to problems. First, the only orchestra whose
rates we could afford was that of the local fifth grade's. (The sixth-graders wanted two
scoops of ice cream apiece, if you can imagine.) Second, what with all the kids and their
beaming, camcorder-wielding parents filling every seat in the camp's dining hall, there was
no room for the audience. So, the rest of the campers had to stand outside in the rain and
listen through the open windows. That's show biz.
Of course, even if we'd hired two kazoo players from a nursery school, Kelly Clarkson's
"Stuff Like That There" was always going to be the performance of the season. She and Tamyra
Gray advanced easily, while Christina Christian became the first "real" finalist
to survive beyond her original expiration date. Boarding the Bus Of Shame tonight is
Melanie Sanders, who was done in by a very ill-advised song choice.
Her 90-second time limit expired before she even finished singing the song title.
Thursday, June 19th, 2008
Final 5 (Burt Bacharach Love Songs)
Not that we're complaining, but the utter dominance of Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray is starting to
get a big monotonous. For the umpteenth consecutive episode, they took down the top two spots on
replay. Christina Christian chose what was surely the
most aptly titled Bacharach song for her name. And, her first projected rating was
still fractionally above 50 – not that we want to editorialize, but Christian
was surely one of the most underrated contestants in the series' history.
We bid adieu to the second of our three "newcomer" contestants this evening. Adriel Herrera's
"Raindrops" wasn't well received at all, though that was mostly because his fellow campers,
who were still a bit damp and perturbed from the events of the previous evening,
believed that he was mocking them. But Angela
Peel's choice, that of an obscure Bacharach movie theme (yes, it's a real song by him; look it up)
became doubly unwise when she dedicated it to the 2002-vintage Randy Jackson.
Friday, June 20th, 2008
Final 4 (1980s & 1990s)
She begged us to allow her to change songs. She'd sing rap, country, the Meow Mix
jingle, anything but "New Attitude," she pleaded. But as
our Disciplinary Counselors escorted her to the door, leaving two unsightly heel marks
on our office floorboards, we coolly informed Tamyra Gray that the rules of
Camp Should-A-Been were plain: a surviving constestant must replicate their
original performance, to the original approval rating. And that brings us to the most dramatic
evening in the camp's brief history. Could Gray, despite delivering a one-star disaster, beat
out any of the other three remaining contestants in the
replay? Let's go to the ampitheater to find out.
Neither Adriel Herrera nor Christina Christian did themselves any favors with their song
choices, so "It's Raining Men" actually wound up third-ranked on the night, leaving Kelly Clarkson
rolling on the ground backstage in fits of laughter. Which pretty much tells
you how poorly this night played out. When the Bottom Two were announced, a dejected Gray was
in it along with Herrera. Add the ratings, divide by two...well, what do you know. Justin
Guarini would've beaten her. Nikki McKibbin would've beaten her. Christina Christian, despite
having been eliminated two weeks earlier, did beat her. But Adriel Herrera's projected
rating had slid too far. By a margin of 39.0 to 29.5, Gray earned her long hoped-for
second chance. She was ecstatic and relieved, at least until we handed her the microphone and
informed her that the audience had requested, as an encore, that Meow Mix jingle she promised....
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
Final 3 (Idol's Choice / Judges' Choice)
Okay, so some episodes at Camp Should-A-Been are less dramatic than others. Kelly
Clarkson delivered the top two performances of the
replay to advance easily to the Final Two,
and there was little doubt around the campfire that Tamyra Gray would join her. She chose an
apropos song for herself proclaiming the fact that she'd made it beyond the Final Four
this time, and the judges chipped in with a song indicating their delight that they'd finally
get to see that much-anticipated Kelly-Tamyra Finale.
As for Christina Christian, it was a trying day, what with that stupid Bus following her everywhere
she went. Still, she went out gamely. She chose for herself a song, from Simple Minds, that illustrated her
defiant spirit and her unwillingness to be cast aside lightly. But the trio at the judges' table,
had the final say and their song choice for Christian, via Patti Smyth and Scandal, indeed spoke volumes.
The buzz around camp afterwards was all about the Finale. Gray had made it, but her approval rating had
already taken two big hits along the projection curve. Still, we use different formulas in
the Finale to account for reprise performances and those ever-loved American Idol Original Winners
Songs™, so the outcome isn't a done deal. Tune in tomorrow for the Season
Monday, June 23rd, 2008
From near and far, limousines and private planes carrying the world's most celebrated
converged on Camp Should-A-Been for the
Season One Finale
replay. Squealing fans lined the red carpet to the mess hall to catch a glimpse of stars like
Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson, Johnny Depp, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Brady. Unfortunately,
all they actually saw was Brian Dunkelman, who, if we're being honest, was the only celebrity to accept
our invitation, and then only because we told him we might give him his old job back. Okay, so we lied.
But, we did send the Bus Of Shame to pick up the eight eliminated finalists and bring them back
to camp for the evening. They told us they were honored and thrilled to attend, though we
expect the thrill to be tempered somewhat when we present them the bill for the bus fare.
Tamyra Gray came out swinging, redoing "A House Is Not A Home" to a 73 rating (projected
based on the average drop of all reprise performances on Idol.) That gave her an early 4-point
lead on Kelly Clarkson...but then came the Original Winners Songs™.
Clarkson is one of the very few Idols who could sing any of those abominations and live to
tell the tale. Her pair of four-star ratings easily outpaced Gray, who did well to score
around average. An ecstatic, relieved Clarkson was presented the crown in a triumphant shower of
pine needles (look, have you ever priced confetti?), and Gray was a gracious runner-up. Both
waved happily from the windows of the Bus Of
Shame Victory as it drove them down the dirt
road and into the night...and directly to the soundstage where From Tamyra To Kelly was to begin
shooting the next morning. We told them to read the fine print of the contract!
— The End —
Camp Should-A-Been – Season One Results
- Kelly Clarkson
- Tamyra Gray
- Christina Christian
- Adriel Herrera
- Angela Peel
- Melanie Sanders
- Justin Guarini
- Ryan Starr
- RJ Helton
- Nikki McKibbin