BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #54: ‘American Idol’ Behind The Scenes! Also, Katie Perry and Amy’s Baking Company

You guys — this was a fun one!

This week on Banter with Ben and Lisa, Ben Mandelker ( talks about his experience going to the live finale taping of American Idol. Observations about Mariah Carey and Colton Dixon ensue. Then Lisa Timmons ( spills the tea about her brush with a big time, real deal celebrity. Finally, the two break down the whole Amy’s Baking Company / “Kitchen Nightmares” fiasco. This is definitely one to listen to. For real, yo!

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #49: Famous Siblings We Love; Also, American Idol, Tiger Woods, and A Shout-Out To SoundCloud!

New Banter with Ben and Lisa is up, and this episode is really funny, if I do say so myself. Here’s the official description:

This week on “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” Ben Mandelker ( and Lisa Timmons ( embrace Siblings Day by discussing the famous siblings they like most. From Kim Richards to Bambi Swayze, we definitely cover a lot of ground. Then it’s on to this week’s “American Idol” which featured Mariah Carey’s most long-winded critiques yet. Finally, we tackle some of the dubious celebrity couples out there — Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn, Rihanna and Chris Brown, e.g.. Along the way, there’s talk of hamsters and a big shout-out to all our followers on SoundCloud. Come take a listen!

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VIDEO: Past ‘American Idol’ Contestants Give Us ‘Beauty and the Beat’

People often wonder whatever happened to beloved American Idol songbird Vonzell Solomon, and I’m happy to report that she has resurfaced in a pretty amusing viral video called “Beauty and the Beat!” I won’t ruin the surprise of the video, but it’s not half bad. Plus, Vonzell’s not the only Idol alum on board. Forgotten also-rans Katie Stevens and Todrick Hall are here too along with YouTube stars GloZell, Antoine Dodson, and Miles Jai (he of “Like Mah Status“). Yes, I realize that all these names may not exactly have you clamoring to watch the video, but trust me that this parody is actually pretty funny and well produced (by Hall), even if it does go about a minute too long. Good for Vonzell, Todrick, and Katie for doing something entertaining with their post-Idol careers.

See ‘American Idol’ Cast-Off Antonella Barba Now


Back in season six of American Idol, Antonella Barba made a splash for both her shaky voice and also her off-camera racy pics. She lasted for three weeks in the semifinals before being cut, never making it to the Big Stage. Jordin Sparks went on to win the season.

That was back in 2007. Now four years have passed. What has the sexpot songbird been up to? I’m not sure, but at the very least, I can tell you what she was doing yesterday. Pic after the jump!

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‘American Idol’ Serves Up Most Boring Final Three Episode Of All Time


Last year, when American Idol served us up Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox, and Casey James, I complained about the boring state of affairs on the show, but little did I realize how much worse it could get. At least Lee, Crystal, and Casey all had strong talent to make up for their general lack of stage presence (Casey, however, did have his moments of raw power).

Fast forward one year, and we have three kids who miss notes, fall over on stage, and generally seem to be playing the part of a singer rather than actually being an performer. What’s even worse is that the judges LOVE them. I guess the panel has to praise them every week in an effort to convince us that they’ve done their job well. Truth be told though, the judges have failed enormously, and as a result, we were stuck with a two hour show that proved to be the most lackluster performance episode of all time. Yo yo, America, the judges are not IN IT TO WIN IT!!

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‘American Idol’ Final Four Sing Inspirational Songs, Fail To Inspire


We’re down to four wannabe superstars on American Idol, and for what felt like the second time all season, the judges actually gave some harsh criticism to one of the singers. It was a move in the right direction, but unfortunately, they also praised several boring, off-key, and generally lackluster tunes as well. Who’ll go home tonight? Who cares? But for the fun of it, let’s look back at the latest performances.

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AMERICAN IDOL: Something Old, Something New, Something Atonal, Something Awful


I think it’s time to officially stick a fork in American Idol. I never say that about TV shows. If anything, I stick by their side way longer than I ever should (read: Gossip Girl). But Idol is the pits. And contrary to what most people are saying, it’s not the singers’ faults. Sure, we could have a better group, but to be honest, the five (now four) remaining singers are ten times better than the majority of last season’s boring bunch.

No, the real problem comes from the judges, who barely seem able to offer up any worthwhile criticism. Most people think the fun of Idol is see how the singers fare from week to week, but that is only part of the equation. It’s the rush of watching someone soar and receive glorious praise. And it’s the schadenfreude of witnessing an all-out failure, followed by soul-crushing critiques. Sure, the singing is important, but it’s the judges’ responses that keep us on the edge of our seats.

This season, however, has been a total failure for judging. Steven Tyler refers to everything as a “beautiful thing,” J-Lo encourages everyone to “push harder,” and Randy Jackson merely announces that everyone is “IN IT TO WIN IT.” Why even bother watching this show if it’s the same thing every week?

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AMERICAN IDOL RECAP: Carole King Week Leaves Us Demanding a Better Voice


The last time I wrote about American Idol, I was on a plane to NY, about to embark on a 12 day family vacation. I was going to weigh in with my thoughts on the previous night’s performance episode, but after having endured yet another week of softball critiques from the judges, I decided to place my attention on Steven, Jennifer, and Randy. I posted “10 Things the ‘American Idol’ Judges Might As Well Be Judging Instead,” and much to my surprise, the post went pretty viral. I think that’s because most viewers are getting fed up with the same useless praise week after week. Is there anything Steven Tyler doesn’t find “Beautiful. Just beautiful.” Is there any performer that Jennifer Lopez doesn’t think should loosen up on stage and keep “pushing harder?” And is there any contestant who Randy doesn’t think is “IN IT TO WIN IT!!!!”?

There was a part of me in my heart of hearts that hoped my little post would have gone viral enough to reach the producers of American Idol and perhaps inspire them to tell their judges to change it up a bit. Sadly though, when I watched last night’s episode (I missed last week entirely), I realized that things were still the same. But to make matters worse: now we had to listen to ninety minutes of Carole King songs. I might as well lock myself in a Starbuck for ninety minutes instead.

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10 Things The ‘American Idol’ Judges Might As Well Be Judging Instead


Watching last night’s episode of American Idol, I was shocked by how many average to subpar performances the judges (Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson) adored. Even more notable was how rote all their criticisms seemed to be. I really enjoy the judges’ personalities, but week in and week out, the three have lavished the same praises over and over again to the point where the words coming out of their mouths have become meaningless. They might as well be judging flowers or pottery. And that got me thinking: what if the Idol judges did actually judge random objects?

After the jump, ten random things that the judges might as well be judging… Continue reading

Shocking ‘American Idol’ Results Finally Push Show Over Cliff and Into a Void of Pointlessness


It happens every season. Well, maybe not LAST season when NOTHING happened. But every other season, there’s been someone who’s gone home way too early — perhaps most famously Jennifer Hudson, who didn’t even break the top five (or Chris Daughtry who missed the top three). Now this tenth season has been marred by a shocking, shocking elimination, and from it we’ve all learned a most valuable lesson. No, it’s not that we should always vote. It’s that the dumbass judges shouldn’t waste their save on annoying singers like Casey Abrams.

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