Camp Should-A-Been - Season Two
Ruben or Clay? Kim C. or Kim L.? Carmen or earplugs? Camp Should-A-Been
revisits the many difficult choices of American Idol stormy second season.
The record 36 semifinalists have been causing a ruckus in overcrowded Cabin Two,
and our camp counselors have been busy daily trying to keep the peace. It's time
to turn them loose onstage and see how all would've played out had America voted
solely on performance, as the Season Two replay gets underway....
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Semifinals Group One
Julia Demato had no 3-star performances during her original Idol run, but she did have
one 4-star number, and it came at the right time. At 71, her anchor-spot rendition of
"Son Of A Preacher Man" was the highest-rated performance of
and it earned her the first
chair into the finals. The battle for second was a close one between one Lashundra Cobbins
(who was going by her middle name, Trenyce) and Kim Caldwell (who curiously decided to go by
her middle name as well, which is Ann, which is pretty darn dull, but it beats some of the names her
bunkmates were calling her.) In the end, Trenyce advanced by the slimmest possible margin,
relegating Caldwell to the Wild Card Show along with Charles Grigsby, the original
second advancer out of this group.
Four campers failed to break 40, and all found themselves choosing a seat
on the Bus Of Shame
after the show: J.D. Adams, Meosha Denton, Patrick Fortson, and bringing up the rear,
Bettis Richardson, who probably should've gone by an assumed name.
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Semifinals Group Two
was arguably the most famous semifinals episode in Idol history, the camp
counselors decided that this was a good time to do a little
bit of opportunistic marketing. We put out a
press release announcing that Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Kimberley Locke would be taking
the stage together for the first time in five years, and we invited all major media outlets to
cover the historic event. Sadly, the only camera crew to show up was from the local bird-watching
association, and then only because they'd heard a nest of bobolinks had been spotted in the area.
We knew those three hadn't exactly set the Billboard charts on fire with their latest
albums, but this was ridiculous.
Just as they did five years earlier, Studdard and Locke handily won the night and were sent through
to the finals. Aiken, who at this point was still sporting a look so geeky that his fellow
campers were giving him wedgies on an hourly basis, could only accept another invitation to the
Wild Card round. Joining him was another contestant who'd gone the mononym route, Hadas
(real name: Lashundra Cobbins Jr.). Three campers returned home on the Bus Of Shame: Candice
Coleman, Rebecca Bond, and Jacob John "Jingleheimer" Smalley, dragging an 8 with him.
As for Jennifer Fuentes, she got
three notes into "I Wanna Dance When Somebody", the most notorious contestant-killing song in
Idol history, when a trap door opened under her feet and sent
her toppling into the Bottomless Molten Pit Of Hot Flaming Shame. When someone makes a
terrible song choice here at Camp Should-A-Been, we don't fool around.
Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Semifinals Group Three
After the drama and gravitas of the previous evening, the
semifinal show was a bit of a comedown. Earning the annual earmarked slot for
a pink-haired woman was Vanessa Olivarez, who led the way on the
strength of a spirited 76. Joining her was the only other contestant to score
above the average of 50: Kimberly Kelsey.
Afterwards, the remaining six contestants milled around backstage to see who would earn an invitation
to the Wild Card Show. To their dismay, the Bus Of Shame arrived for all of them,
including Rickey Smith, the first original finalist to be eliminated in
the replay. Also dismissed were Equoia Coleman, who cornered the market in vowels but not
in rating points, Jordan Segundo, Samantha Cohen (real name: Lashundra Cobbins-Smythe),
George Trice, and Louis Gazzara. Gazzara's 26 was quite respectable for a last-place
finisher, but then again, if it's respect you're after, you've enrolled at the wrong summer camp.
Friday, June 27th, 2008
Semifinals Group Four
The rumor spread like wildfire through the bunks and cabins of Camp Should-A-Been
A camper said she'd spotted Frenchie Davis and her entourage entering
the Head Counselors' office through the back door. Had we decided to un-disqualify
the putative front-runner and allow her to sing in her rightful spot in the
semifinals? The audience was buzzing with
excitement as they took their seats for the evening's replay.
As it happens, they were bitterly disappointed. Up onstage, Juanita Barber reprised her
nearly-no-star rendition of "What About The Children" in Davis's spot,
complete with the legendary poor diction and the
infamous post-performance argument with the judges, ending when she threw a pine cone at
Randy Jackson. Josh Gracin and Corey Clark advanced to the Final 12 as before, each delivering
by far his best performance of the competition. Chip Days earned his second invitation to the
Wild Card Show, but unlike before, Nasheka Siddall (real name: Trenyce) didn't get the
call this time around.
Boarding the Bus Of Shame tonight along with Siddall were Patrick Lake and the 1-star trio
of Sylvia Chibiliti, Ashley Hartman, and of course, Barber, who spent the entire trip home
arguing with the bus driver over the best route to take.
("Do you know who I am? I invented GPS navigational systems!") As for Davis, the rumors were
true: she did stop by the camp this morning, but only to apply for a job opening in the
camp kitchen. We declined, not because of any racy nude photos, but because the
sample meatloaf she prepared was way too edible for any self-respecting summer camp.
Sunday, June 29th, 2008
Wild Card Show
It remains one of AI's enduring mysteries as to how four young, pretty,
female contestants appeared from out of the blue to compete on the
Wild Card Show.
At Camp Should-A-Been, however, we just follow the script that the producers
laid out. The foursome of
Aliceyn Cooney, Janine Falsone, Carmen Rasmusen, and Olivia Mojica were conjured up to
perform with the five Wild Card invitees from the previous episodes, with the final
four spots in the Top 12 up for grabs.
Given a second chance, Clay Aiken had no problems advancing on the strength
of his showstopping rendition of "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." He earned the "Reviewers'
Choice" pick, but things got a bit hairy when we moved to the judges' choices. Per camp rules,
Randy, Paula, and Simon were compelled to choose the second-
through fourth-best performers of the night, an obligation that violated their genetic
instincts to make the stupidest Wild Card choices possible.
Simon actually attempted to select Rasmusen five times before we finally
sedated him and carried him back to his cabin. Randy
chose Cooney, the best of the newcomers by far, while Paula tried to choose Leah LaBelle.
We carried Ms. Abdul back to her cabin too, but we didn't sedate her first; she enjoys it too much.
Chip Days's second solid performance earned him slot #11,
at which point another headache ensued. Charles Grigsby and
Hadas wound up in a dead tie for the twelfth and final spot, based on their projected
ratings! So how would you break the
deadlock? On the one hand, Grigsby's subsequent finals performances were known to be
rather weak; weaker than Hadas's projected ratings would be were she to advance.
But against that, Grigsby did earn the original spot in the finals based
on the viewers' vote. In the end, we went into
the WNTS.com database and drew out their opening round ratings to a first decimal point. And,
by a margin of 0.5 points, Grigsby took the final chair. The biggest shock of the semifinal
phase: two Kimberlys advanced to the finals as before, but neither were named Caldwell.
That makes the Final 12 of Camp Should-A-Been's AI2 replay:
- Clay Aiken
- Corey Clark
- Aliceyn Cooney
- Chip Days
- Julia DeMato
- Josh Gracin
- Charles Grigsby
- Kimberly Kelsey
- Kimberley Locke
- Vanessa Olivarez
- Ruben Studdard
Newcomers in italics. Failing to qualify: Kimberly Caldwell, Carmen Rasmusen, Rickey Smith
Monday, June 30th, 2008
Final 12 (Motown)
Clay Aiken topped the ratings for a second consecutive week as the Finals kicked off with
Trenyce, who threatened the camp staff with immense bodily harm if we made any more dumb jokes
about her name, was a close second, and Ruben Studdard was third. The middle of the show
was a bit monotonous, as five consecutive contestants all happened to choose the same song,
ultimately resulting in a near-crazed audience chasing Kimberly Kelsey off the stage and into
the lake. Nonetheless, she and the other three newcomers all advanced safely to the next round.
Charles Grigsby advanced to the Finals by the skin of his teeth, but his reprieve lasted only
one week. His mediocre cover of "How Sweet It Is" earned him a one-way ticket on the Bus Of Shame.
Note carefully who would have been sent home tonight had Hadas rather than Grigsby earned the last
spot in the Top 12 (and recall that it was a mere one-half-point margin that separated them.)
Will this have any bearing on how the rest of the Camp Should-A-Been competition
plays out? We shall see, but we shall see....
Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
Final 11 (Movie Hits)
Success! After weeks of nonstop marketing, your Camp Should-A-Been
head counselors finally signed a one-night television deal
with a major American network. OK, it was just The Weather Channel, but one has
to start somewhere. Alas, our three newcomer finalists plus holdover Vanessa Olivarez
didn't get the memo that they'd be on national TV this evening. They each chose a famous
that required so many obscene words to be bleeped out,
the performance sounded as if it were in Morse Code. Worse, when
Corey Clark and Bus Of Shame rider Julia Demato took the stage, the sound engineers shuddered and
bleeped out their entire performances.
Despite the Bottom Two's rough sledding, this was still quite a strong night. Ruben Studdard's
showstopping magic carpet ride led the way, part of the first trio of consecutive 5-star performances
in Idol history. (The feat wasn't duplicated until Lennon-McCartney Night of AI7.) In
fact, the original Final 5 all delivered 4-star or better ratings. But the most shocking, most
juicy, most unforgettable moment in all of American Idol history came at the very end
of the show, when in a fit of rage, Corey
Clark leaped off the stage, went straight up to Paula Abdul,
and— (And now, your local forecast on the 8s from
The Weather Channel...)
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
Final 10 (Country Rock)
What's a summer camp without a Country music
night? Most campers got into the spirit of things,
showing up at the ampitheater in cowboy boots and hats. We asked the suits from 19E
to book The Clark Brothers to serve as the backup band, but some sort of clerical mixup occurred and
we wound up with Randy, Paula, and Simon on washboard, jug, and spoons, respectively.
Paula was particularly ticked off when she discovered that the jug was empty.
Kimberley Locke led the way with a 5-star cover of "I Can't Make You Love Me," but she was one
of just three contestants to break 50 on the evening. All three newcomers plus Vanessa
Olivarez are still alive, though their approval ratings have decayed to the point where they
surely won't last much longer.
Trenyce stumbled dangerously, winding up in the Bottom Three for the first time.
But bidding adieu this evening: camp prankster Corey Clark, who drifted away on the Bus Of Shame
just hours before the camp counselors were set to expel him for short-sheeting Nigel Lythgoe's bed.
Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
Final 9 (Disco)
Last night's elimination of Corey Clark saddled the staff of Camp Should-A-Been with some
serious procedural and existential dilemmas as we prepared for the Final 9 episode. Chief
among them: there was no Final 9 episode in AI2! There were two Final 8 shows, with
no one eliminated from the first (though a Bottom Three was announced.) Would it be
fair to send any original finalist home tonight on a performance that, back in the day, was essentially
done just for practice?
Fortunately, when everyone re-listened to the single-digit mess that Lance Corporal
Joshua Gracin made of "Celebration", the answer was unanimous: to the Bus with him! (If you're
wondering, the decision had no effect on the ultimate winner, or even who made the Final 5.)
As for the rest of the night...um, yeah. Why Idol insists on having a
theme most seasons is another of life's little mysteries, unless it's to remind viewers how
grotesquely inane some disco song titles could be.
Friday, July 4th, 2008
Final 8 (Billboard #1 Hits)
Fourth Of July festivities at Camp Should-A-Been featured the fabled patriotic foursome of
baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Ford. (They're the big sponsor, so deal with it.)
Sadly, the camp softball game ended with a benches-clearing brawl in the fourth inning after
Kevin Covais hit David Archuleta with a pitch, though to be quite honest, the sight of
Idols brawling is not particularly frightening. They mostly just milled around and insulted
each other's body piercings. The hot dogs were tasteless as usual, and the apple pie sent three
dozen campers to the dispensary with food poisoning. Would the evening's show make up for it all?
Our four remaining original contestants each turned in a 4-star performance, so it was time
to say our first goodbye to a newcomer. Of these, the ladies each chose a
Billboard #1 Hit
by the same certain artist, which left all three of our judges in tears. Paula was overwhelmed to
hear her old songs again; Randy and Simon happened to have had the apple pie for dessert.
Heading home on the Bus Of Shame was Chip Days, whose approval rating was fractionally
lower than Kimberly Kelsey's. Incidentally, while an Idol baseball brawl isn't scary, watching
American Idols doing the Macarena is enough to make you wish for another slice of pie.
Sunday, July 6th, 2008
Final 7 (Billy Joel)
It took us several weeks, but the brain trust at Camp Should-A-Been finally figured out
why our TV ratings were nonexistent thus far. We hadn't brought in any celebrity mentors! Thus,
our camp disciplinary staff – Viktor, Rocco, and Serge – were dispatched to New York
City to invite
himself to help judge his theme night's replay. Joel politely declined at first, but the boys
ultimately persuaded him that it would be, ah, in his best interests to attend. We didn't
actually untie him for the show, but we did take his gag off so that the
contestants could hear his critiques.
Once again, the four holdovers turned in solid performances, so another newcomer had her
Bus ticket punched. The 90-second time limit hampered both Vanessa Olivarez and Aliceyn
Cooney, who unwisely chose songs that didn't compress well, to say the least. But it was
Kimberly Kelsey who brought up the rear by singing Joel's most off-color, R-rated tune, leaving
producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick twitching in horror and pulling out their hair. In
other words, it was one of our best nights yet!
Monday, July 7th, 2008
Final 6 (Diane Warren Songs)
Scandal hit Camp Should-A-Been during the
Diane Warren Songs
For the umpteenth straight night, the Big Four of Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Kimberley Locke,
and The Artist Formerly Known As Lashundra Cobbins turned in the night's top performances. That
left Vanessa Olivarez and Aliceyn Cooney to battle for the fifth and final spot in the multiple-song
phase of the competition. And, to add to the drama, both finished with an identical approval
rating of 32.
But wait! It was discovered midway through her performance
that Cooney wasn't actually singing her cover of
Milli Vanilli's "Blame It On The Rain" – as did the infamous original
artists, she was in fact lip-synching.
Who was the mystery vocalist? Just like in the climactic scene of Singin' In The Rain,
we raised the curtains behind her as she sang, and it was revealed to be...Paula Abdul?
We couldn't put Cooney on the bus fast enough.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2008
Final 5 (1960s / Neil Sedaka)
No contestant in American Idol history ever enjoyed a night like Clay Aiken's in the
AI2 Final Five.
A fresh haircut and some stylish new outfits turned the dorky North Carolinian into a dapper
stage pro, and he responded by dropping a pair of 90+ showstoppers – the first
and so far only time the feat has been accomplished. His bunkmates were so impressed that they
shook his hand and complimented him profusely before giving him his regularly scheduled
wedgie and tying him to a tree. Guest mentor Neil Sedaka once again wept after "Solitaire" and said
that he'd lost his song to Aiken forever, that the forest squirrels were trying to kill him, and that
he could feel polka-dotted snipes nibbling at his toes. Our fault – we shouldn't have seated
him where he might accidentally drink out of Paula's Coke cup.
It was considered an outrage at the time that Ruben Studdard wound up in the Bottom Two, but
here at Camp Should-A-Been, Studdard earned that dishonor sans the outrage. As
for Vanessa Olivarez, her cover of Sedaka's 1960 hit
"Stairway To Heaven" (no, not that one) wasn't well received, probably because Olivarez threw
a righteous guitar solo in the middle of a doo-wop song. Still, Olivarez went from 12th originally
to fifth in the replay. Her final song choice suggested that she'd hoped her brilliant run
warranted nicer accommodations for her trip home, but alas, she got the Bus Of Shame like
Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
Final 4 (Bee Gees)
The Final Four replay at Camp Should-A-Been brought one of the stranger results of the
competition thus far. Clay Aiken delivered a near-showstopping rendition of "To Love Somebody",
which was comfortably the highest-rated performance of
Bee Gees Night
... and he still wound up in the Bottom
Two! Part of the problem was that when he donned his red leather jacket for
"Grease", his bunkmates lined up halfway across the campground to give him wedgies.
Meanwhile, Trenyce's first projected rating was a solid 59, and she still had her original
5-star Wild Card performance of "Let's Stay Together" in her back pocket. (Ms. Cobbins advanced
directly from her semifinal group to the Final 12, you'll recall.) Studdard turned in two
solid numbers, leaving original third-place finisher Kimberley Locke as the evening's passenger on
the Bus Of Shame.
Aiken wasn't terribly happy about his first sojourn to the Bottom Two, but he
mentioned to Studdard on the way back to their cabin that with K-Lo out of the picture and Trenyce
into her projected ratings, a Ruben-vs.-Clay rematch in the Finale now seemed, ahem, a Locke.
Just at that moment, however, a camper looking into the heavens casually observed that the clouds
were starting to part, and that tomorrow ought to be truly a starry, starry night. Aiken
promptly went into convulsions and was kept overnight at the camp dispensary for observation.
Thursday, July 10th, 2008
Final 3 (Random / Judges / Idol)
The denizens of Camp Should-A-Been awoke on the morning of the
replay to find that the campgrounds had been vandalized overnight. On every cabin, every
signpost, and every tree, someone had spray-painted the words "Now I understand." Suspicion
immediately fell upon one Clayton Aiken, who denied responsibility vehemently despite his
paint-covered hands and clothes. But he was overheard telling his buddy Ruben Studdard during
lunch that there was no stinking way he was going to famously forget that line from
"Vincent" a second time....
The good news for you Claymates: he didn't. The bad news: he forgot the first line instead,
"Starry, starry night." It wound up as another ride on Train Wreck 15,
but with Kimberley Locke gone, Aiken's
other two performances became the top two scorers on the night. Studdard and Trenyce each had
three performances right around average. It was the closest photo-finish imaginable, and
then some. When we added up the scores, they came out thusly: Studdard, 154 points. Aiken,
152 points. And Trenyce...ouch. 148 points, and a Bus token home. Perhaps they didn't get
the order of elimination quite right, but the voters seem to have chosen the most deserving
Final Two. Tune in tomorrow night for Ruben-vs.-Clay
Part Deux, as Camp Should-A-Been's AI2 replay concludes....
Friday, July 11th, 2008
A choir. We'd need a choir. But where could we hire one on short notice? We called a few
rental centers, but they just hung up on us. We asked at the local church, the local high
school, and even at a karaoke bar in town. No luck. So we told Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard
that if they wanted backup singers for the
replay, they'd have to talk some of their fellow campers into donning purple robes for the night.
Aiken immediately lined up Carrie Underwood, Melinda Doolittle, and LaToya London. Studdard
recruited Sanjaya Malakar, William Hung, and Juanita Barber (who spent most of the night
arguing with Rickey Minor about what key to use.) Amazed by Studdard's utter inability to
evaluate vocal talent, Nigel Lythgoe immediately offered him a spot on the AI judges' panel for
No matter. With or without a choir, Aiken's rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was
always going to be the highlight of the night. And this time, there would be no controversy
about the oversaturated phone lines. By a solid point margin, and despite a couple of close
calls along the way, a beaming Clay Aiken earned the Season Two championship at
Camp Should-A-Been. Runner-up Studdard cheerfully gave his buddy the traditional Winner's
Wedgie onstage after the results were announced (hey, traditions have to start somewhere.) And
as the Bus Of
Shame Victory pulled away, Aiken dreamed of the renewed riches, fame, and fortune
that awaited him now that he was a bona fide American Idol champion.
Little did he know that in three years' time, his only regular gig would be
as the headliner at the lounge of the Greensboro Holiday Inn, where he'd be performing under the
stage name of C. Lashundra Cobbins.
— The End —
Camp Should-A-Been – Season Two Results
- Clay Aiken
- Ruben Studdard
- Kimberley Locke
- Vanessa Olivarez
- Aliceyn Cooney
- Kimberly Kelsey
- Chip Days
- Joshua Gracin
- Corey Clark
- Julia Demato
- Charles Grigsby
-- The staff of WNTS.com