February 3rd, 2010
10:11 AM ET

'Idol' restores hope

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I was starting to become completely cynical about “American Idol” when Tuesday night in Denver came along and reminded me of what I have always loved about the show.

What first made me fall in love with “Idol” was not the sad stories or the opportunity to laugh at some really bad contestants – it was the hope it offers to truly talented individuals.

Not just people who can sing. There are plenty of people out there like that. What I love is the folks for whom music is such a passion that they’ll do whatever it takes just to be able to perform.

Such is the case with contestant Danielle Hayes, the 24-year-old karaoke host who put her everything into Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One.”

Sure, she’s got the “single mom trying to make a better life for her and her kid” back story. But she’s also has something that has gotten lost in the sea of the contestants willing to do anything to get some TV face time – the drive and the heart to not just become a star, but to become a legitimate artist. Her touching audition was one of the few genuine moments I felt the show has had so far this season.

I also felt tingles of that same fuzzy feeling for 22-year-old Nicci Nix, who traveled 16 hours from Europe to audition, and 16-year-old Haeley Vaughn, who wants to be the first successful female African-American pop country star.

It was enough to make me almost forgive them for the ridiculous "Bikini Boy" bit. Almost.

Darn you, “Idol.” Just when I thought I was out, you pull me back in!!

soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. mgl

    Simon has very good judgement but he should mind his language.

    February 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    She wants to be the first successful FEMALE African-American pop country star... How many times must this be corrected?

    Also, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It", "It Won't Be Like This for Long" and "Alright"—have all reached Number One on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart. The album itself has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

    February 4, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. glen shifley

    I agree, dump Ellen she knows nothing about musici

    February 4, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Smackrunner

    "wants to be the first successful African-American pop country star"? And what about Darius Rucker?!?!??"

    He was famous for his Hootie days. I don't believe he has had a top-ten hit, yet in country.

    February 4, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. thomas guerrero

    It felt like I wrote the article above, I completely agree!

    February 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Timothy Whittington

    I was turned completely of of Idol once I learned that Ellen would be a judge. What does that woman know about music? I'm done.

    February 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bobbie

    What I can't believe is how many of you are watching this crap instead of 'LOST'.

    February 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

    Charley Pride was a C&W star – NOT a country pop star....there is a difference.
    BUT – How about (ex-Hootie front man) Darius Rucker!?!?

    February 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jill

    I thought Victoria Beckham looked like E. T. What do these people eat to stay alive? Does she know that eventually the body will begin to eat itself, I think it starts with the spinal cord. So sad that these women are the standards our young people emulate.

    February 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. manpants

    when ellen arrives, I will reframe from watching the show. Randy and simon stick to the game, not how people dress. don,t care for miss man pants. the show as really gone down hill.

    February 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. goobersnotch

    "I also felt tingles of that same fuzzy feeling for 22-year-old Nicci Nix, who traveled 16 hours from Europe to audition"

    Too bad Nicci is an actress who was put on the show for that bit. She's this season's Tatiana del Toro and won't make it to the top 24.

    February 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Meaghann

    I love American Idol but will stop watching when Simon leaves. He's pretty much the reason I watch.

    February 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Drew

    Hellooo y'all missed the first "female" african american country singer. What a bunch of cynics – what's wrong with having fun by watching the show. Quit taking it all so seriously!

    February 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Donna

    I thought Shania was the best guest judge.

    February 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Donna

    I really dislike Victoria Beckham as a judge. Her criticisms and praises would be more appropriate if she were judging America's Next Top Model. Who cares what the auditioners are wearing? Can they sing? That's all that should matter. If their voice carries them far enough through the competition, they get professional makeovers anyway to enhance their marketability.

    February 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  16. guest

    Nicci shouldn't be allowed in the contest. It's American Idol not European Idol! Next!

    February 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  17. im awesome

    wow, yeah i remenber this one girl who showed up in a bikini and kissed ryan. not sure if that was an act of if she was really like that. i'm glad that she got showed up in her lil bikini. it made me laugh.

    February 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Mike

    I'm tired of tryouts. Get on with it.

    February 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Daniel Boni

    Bikini Boy was beyond disturbing. Damn you joel McHale, this has gone too far!

    February 3, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  20. guest

    I am pretty sure Charley Pride would not call what he did "pop" country.

    It was just good old country.

    February 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  21. AmericanIdiots

    Yes, such a tear jerker...give me a break...this is the problem with this country's youth. Everyone wants to be a superstar and is willing to drive miles to sing, but what about going back to school and getting a degree, and having a career. This is partly the reason we are a nation in decline...

    February 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Tom

    Well, if you put lipstick on a pig.....

    February 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  23. bcalb

    What faith? I regret watching even one episode. The highly sarcastic, bombastic, egotist Simon is a first class jerk. He is extremely fortunate that the American public has made him undeservedly super rich.

    February 3, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  24. joni

    Idol is losing alot of their viewers and fans this year! It's boring, too predictable. Too many "sob stories" also !!!

    February 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  25. PoshHead

    Did anyone else notice that on day 2, Victoria Beckham looked like one of those shrunken head voodoo dolls?

    February 3, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  26. AdamH

    I love when females make godfather references, even more impressed by the use of Godfather Part 3

    February 3, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Leeko

    I'm surprised Simon did not csay Danieele Hayes sounded like a drunken karaoke wannave. Her voice was identical to Melissa Etheridge.

    As for the girl with the wig last night...how embarrassing that Simon pointed that out.

    February 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  28. anonymous

    i made a mistake and some how missed where it said "female" i did read the article...just perhaps a little too quickly. i regret the error and admit to not having the facts before posting...my apologies to those who get so worked up and sarcastic about people not reading. i admit the mistake...moving on...

    February 3, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  29. terri

    Bikini Boy was so stupid, you KNOW that was all a set-up by FOX and the AI producers ! Why waste our time with crap like that???

    There were some good singers (finally) last night from Denver.

    Idol is dumb this year. WHY 4 judges? Ellen knows nothing about music and singing and carrying a tune, etc. Can't understand why she will even be on there. Get rid of Kara!!!

    February 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  30. headdivaincharge

    I think that no matter if you are an "Idol" lover or hater, you have to admit it finds some real talent. Even though the most talented doesn't always win (Jennifer Hudson). Of course, with out Idol we would also have been spared, Sangia (sp?) and Niki McKibin (sp?) (but her stint on Celbrity Rehab was good t.v.). I will continue to watch American Idol and continue to vote, laugh, block my ears, and cry! Proudly!

    February 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  31. robjh1

    I gave up on Idol. It became to predictable and campy.

    February 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  32. robjh

    I tuned out of idol. It has become too predictable.

    February 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Debra R

    The only thing I am hoping for is Idol going away....

    February 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  34. eli

    Linda Martell, born Thelma Bynem (June 4, 1941), is an American rhythm and blues and country music singer. In August 1969, she became the first African-American woman to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.[1]

    courtesy of wikipedia....come on people it's the internet...it's so easy to do research

    February 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  35. dennisk

    Having abandoned my allegiance to AI, I was lured by your hopeful headline.
    But after gathering some important info from the posters here (Bikini Boy? Kara and one of the Spice Girls trying to get some guy to strip?) I am reaffirmed in my decision to not waste my time with this show any longer. What you see as hope, I see as a faint flicker of what the show once was.

    February 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Joe

    To correct the 'historian' in a previous comment, she wants to be the first successful FEMALE African-American pop country star.

    February 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  37. David

    I just wish they would give up on the sob stories. Yep some have some really hard pasts to overcome, but life will not be easy if you do break into the business or worse, win the contest. And get the girls under control! It is so bad I'm happy to hear Simon give his comments.

    February 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  38. simone

    Bikini boy didn't sing – it was a joke. I thought it was funny...

    February 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Bill

    Hey, how can you assert that the Colorado try-outs in any way was redeeming of this show....Cara and Whatever Spice were practically requiring that one guy to strip for a ticket to Hollywood. The fact that somebody here can say there's already a top 24 list out, coupled wtih the last few seasons when obvious winners suddenly didn't, just adds to the fact that this show needs to go. I'm watching, but I no longer bother to vote–I'm convinced its rigged.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  40. David Matheny

    Randy, the article did say first FEMALE black country singer. Charlie Pride and Darius Rucker are the best examples of male black country singers.There were a few good singers last night, but I think the best talent came in Boston and Atlanta like Katie Stevens or that police officer( and also the cool cat Skiboski!)

    February 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  41. bart barth

    oh well another night of boring tv

    February 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  42. 2sday

    Hailey said she wanted to be the first FEMALE African American country pop star. Yes, we all know about Charlie Pride and even Darius Rucker but they're not females. She was good – I hope "guest" with his/her negative spoiler attempts is wrong. Idol really does need to get back to the roots with good singers – not gimmicks.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Spoyald

    Too many sob stories. I quit watching after Fantasia won...voice was like nails on a chalk board to me (sorry,my opinion)...

    I started watching again this season. Hopefully the next idol won't win because of their past instead of their singing.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Linda

    I say make Victoria Beckham a judge and drop Ellen. Tell again what it is exactly that Ellen knows about music?

    February 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Just Me

    Rissi Palmer may actually be the first female African-American pop country star. She has a hit out now called "No Air" which is a great song. Check her out at rissipalmer.com. I'm pretty sure she is the first–but I'm absolutely certain that Haeley will not be.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Brian

    IF you read the article it states "the first African American Pop Country Star" not male.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Bobbie

    Bikini Boy was so darn joyless and glum I figured he was ordered to do it as part of fraternity hazing, or he lost a bet or something. If you're going to do something like that at least show a little glee.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  48. anonymous

    Oh, totally missed the "female" part...my bad...

    February 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  49. John

    I agree. WAY TO MANY COMMERCIALS. They do like 4 or 5 decent singers, the rest is just junk, for show crap. Cara is still hot.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Mame

    Read it again. It said "female" African American.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Johann

    Read the article.... "... first successful ***female*** African-American pop country star".

    February 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Melissa

    You have got to be kidding.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Andrea

    That spice girl should not be a judge. I watched it last night and all she ever spoke about was how pretty a person was or if they have the package or not to be a singer. Give that girl a meal.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Julia

    American Idle. Sheesh!

    February 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Randy

    The article says "the first successful female African-American pop country star." Charley Pride and Darius Rucker are not female. As far as I know.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Alicia

    All of those so-called "Spoiler Lists" in the past have been incorrect.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  57. John

    I wouldn't call Charley Pride a pop country star, he was a country star.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Me

    Frankly, I'm sick of the sob stories. That's ALL they've focused on this season. We've barely seen anyone who can, ya know, actually sing. I miss the days of David Cook. He had one hell of a sob story but wouldn't let them talk about it. He wanted to win on his own merit, imagine that!!!

    The spoilers have been accurate every year, fyi.

    Imagine the repercussions if they asked a woman to take her shirt off? Double standards.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  59. Tom

    I would like to see more of the actual auditions and less of the hokey, drama queen back stories (and a LOT LESS commercials). I think we're averaging about 6 auditions per American Idol hour this season. LAME !

    February 3, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  60. M Lange

    "wants to be the first successful African-American pop country star"? And what about Darius Rucker?!?!??

    February 3, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  61. citizenUSA

    OK, enough with the sarcastic remarks on this very sensative and compelling issue. Some of these people have been dreaming all their lives to be on "Idol". It means the world to them. It would be a dream come true... , who am I kidding, it's all crap!

    February 3, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  62. Ryan

    No hope restored here.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  63. akl

    I agree w/ the left margin. It hurt my eyes to read this..haha. And not just b/c of the Bikini Boy mention.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  64. James

    I felt the single mother karaoke employee contestant was looking for the sympathy vote and it looks like she got it. Her sob story was pretty boring and insincere.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  65. anonymous

    @ Not Idol Again–THANK YOU! I was going to say that others have already done that....the most recent being Darius Rucker (formerly of Hootie and the Blowfish fame)...I mean it's great to have dreams Haley, but get your facts straight...

    February 3, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  66. Jane/Seattle

    I confess that I have not yet watched idol this year. Because I'm a singer of sorts, I like the show. I tend to avoid the qualifying stuff and begin to watch when the main folks are picked. The painful stuff makes me feel bad for those who really don't sing well. On the other hand, many of these probably have skills and abilities that many of us do not have developed.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  67. Not Idol Again

    "wants to be the first successful African-American pop country star"? Didn't Charley Pride, among others, already take care of that one? No one checks history anymore before they make statements like that.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  68. Guest

    A left margin? Random! let's make it relevant shall we? and American idol is going to go downhill but they are going to keep it on for everyone's hopes and dreams.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  69. Elvis

    I completely agree last night was fantastic as American Idol offers hope in recognizing a performing artist. Simon is the best-

    February 3, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  70. Bob Zanis

    A left margin indentation would be nice for this page.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  71. darby

    Thank you, guest, for trying to ruin things for everyone else. Keep your spoilers to yourself.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  72. Gues too

    Becuase if it's on the internet, it must be true!

    And as far as "Haeley Vaughn, who wants to be the first successful African-American pop country star": http://www.charleypride.com

    February 3, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  73. guest1

    OMG...thanks for ruining the surprise for everyone else guest!!, I really hope you're wrong but we shall see

    February 3, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  74. Toonah

    Meh... I lost interest on this show during the Sanjaya season, and they have not managed to lure me back in again. Have fun!

    February 3, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  75. guest

    All you have to do is look around on the internet to learn what's going on...there are websites that learn the details way ahead of time.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  76. Kay

    A list has leaked purporting to be the top 24.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  77. Nicole

    How would you know that?

    February 3, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  78. guest

    Haeley makes it past the Hollywood round...good luck to her, she'll need it.
    Danielle and Nicci don't make it past Hollywood.

    February 3, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  79. guest1

    okay guest is that a fact or just speculation?

    February 3, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  80. nessa

    wow, very nice of you to let us all know that

    February 3, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  81. guest

    Well, it's too bad you like those two contestants, because they don't make it past the Hollywood round.

    February 3, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |

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