“Idol” inspires


Tonight is the second annual Idol Gives Back special on American Idol, and it promises to be a celebrity-studded event. Due to the success of last year’s event, it is going to be longer, it has brought in even bigger performers and more corporate sponsors. Idol producers have set a goal of $100 million in donations and pledges — $25 million more than last year’s total.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because there were performances last night, to the tune of “inspirational songs.” And I have to admit that for the first time all season, I don’t have any major complaints!

Photo credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Syesha Mercado got things started for the ladies by singing former Idol winner Fantasia Barrino‘s first single, “I Believe.” Randy may have thought she got in over her head on the performance, but I begrudgingly agree with Paula Abdul‘s grammatically correct yet awkward statement, “I just think hands down this is one of your most shining nights.”

Next was Kristy Lee Cook singing “Anyway” by Martina McBride, and although I thought it was definitely one of her best performances, I didn’t like it nearly as much as the judges did. Yes, Kristy Lee has a good voice, but I can honestly say I know half a dozen girls who could have given an identical performance. Please allow me to reiterate how in over her head this girl is. But, alas, for the second week in a row she pulled out a performance that didn’t make my ears bleed. Kudos, Kristy Lee. (Do I sound bitter?)

The award for oddest, gutsiest song choice of the night has to go to Carly Smithson for “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. During a week that is supposed to inspire, I would have thought she could have found something a little more, well, inspiring. Regardless, I enjoyed it much more than the judges seemed to.

I must ask though, did anyone else think of Moulin Rouge?

When it comes to Brooke White‘s rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King, I think I can let Simon’s judgment of the performance speak for me: “Was it original? No. Was it pleasant? Yes. Thank you.”

I am getting a little bit tired of the crying, though. It was endearing after she sang “Let it Be,” and understandable when she was in the bottom three last week, but at this point it’s just getting annoying to me. Has my heart gone cold?

Photo credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Overall, my favorite performance last night came from Jason Castro, singing the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” (You can go see the video here.) However, it really won’t make too much of a difference how anyone did last night, because I assume no one will be leaving the show tonight. Booting someone in the middle of a record-breaking charitable concert would just be evil.

Seriously though, remember to tune into the show tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s show, and even more favorites are involved this year: Keira Knightley, P!nk, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox, Gloria Estefan and Heart only compile a brief and incomplete sampling of the female celebrities scheduled to appear. For a more complete list of performers, beneficiaries and sponsors, go to the official website.

Unlike most other Idol broadcasts, tonight’s show was taped ahead of time, and to tide you over, here are some images that have been released early:

Annie Lennox and Carrie Underwood

Heart with Fergie

It all starts earlier than normal, at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

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