COMIC-CON 2010

July 30, 2010

With the demise of “Lost” and the lack of a “Lost” panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, my interest in attending hit a new low. For me, the question is how much is it worth to get a few free sketches and autographs? Wouldn’t I be better off putting that money towards a Vegas vacation? It’s not like Comic-Con is my one chance a year to run elbows with the stars. But when a friend offered me a free credential and my usual hotel mates extended a bargain basement offer to sleep on their floor for $ 50 a night, I decided what could a few days of nerdy fun hurt?

After the traditional stop at Irvine’s Chik-Fil-A for lunch, I hit San Diego Thursday afternoon around 1:30 and dropped my stuff off in the room before heading over to the Convention Center. This year, it actually seemed more crowded outside the building than inside, thanks to an outdoor display of the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty automobile and plenty of scantily-clad models hawking TV shows, movies and comics, which made for a traffic jam in front of the Hard Rock Hotel.

The highlight of the first day was adding the signature of Marvel Comics writer and fellow Chik-Fil-A fan Brian Michael Bendis to my Marvel book. Over the years, I’ve been given many books as gifts and have turned them into autograph books, starting with “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told,” which I’ve gotten signed by anyone who’s worked on the Batman comics, movies and cartoons. I also have a book for DC Comics, Marvel Comics and still another one devoted to TV stars and producers. The DC book has the most autographs, with 122. It’s so crowded with signatures, it looks like a high school yearbook owned by the most popular kid in school.

Brian, writer of one of my favorite comics, “Powers,” as well as such current hits as “The Avengers” and “Ultimate Spider-Man,” had his signing scheduled for 6:00, with the convention closing at 7:00 for the evening. Unfortunately by 7:00, I still hadn’t reached Brian, and while he announced that he was prepared to stay until we all had our autographs, the security on hand didn’t exactly agree to that. But I did make it to Brian around 7:14, got my book signed and told him that a few years ago I had inquired about the option on one of his books, “Fire.” He said he was keeping it for himself and sure enough, this year the book was optioned by Universal as a vehicle for Zac Efron, so I congratulated him for his success in selling the property.

The next day I spied a line at the Warner Brothers booth for a signing by the producers and voice talent of “Batman: The Brave And The Bold,” where I had Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman on the show, sign my Batman book (and if you had told me the guy that played Os on “The Drew Carey Show” would have made a great Batman, I would have laughed in you r face, but he certainly does!). I was also pleased to have my book signed by Andrea Romano, the executive in charge of voice casting on all of Warner’s superhero series in recent years.

I later returned in the afternoon to the WB booth to get in line for the signing for “V” featuring stars Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin. Morena’s face was embossed on my hotel key card, which I showed the ladies when it was my turn to approach them. Elizabeth said, “You should have her sign that!” A good idea, but I stuck to having them both sign my TV book and most importantly for Elizabeth to sign my “Lost” DVD box. Of course, it was a surprise to see Morena rocking a new hair color, a whitish blond look. Already one of the world’s most beautiful women, did she suddenly wake up one day and say, “You know, not enough people notice me? I better change my hair so I’m even more stunning!” Well, it worked!

Besides Elizabeth Mitchell, there was one other actress I dearly wanted to meet, and that was Pauley Perrette, who plays forensic expert Abby on “NCIS,” a show I’m currently spending many hours catching up on, so it’s fortunate as I told Pauley that it’s on all the time in reruns. Pauley was part of the autograph line for the participants in the “Tech On TV” panel. Also signing was Anthony Zuiker, creator of “CSI.” Anthony has turned to writing what he calls digi-novels under the title “Level 26.” I had read the first one and he informed me he has another coming out soon, which will include a companion DVD. I guess I won’t be borrowing that one from the library then…

Fortunately, I didn’t have to stand in line every time I wanted to see a star at Comic-Con. It seemed like a number of them were staying in our hotel, as I rode the elevator at various times with the new Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds, and the new Steve McGarrett of “Hawaii 5-0,” Alex O’Loughlin. The cast of “True Blood” must have been staying there too, as my roommates reported seeing such cast members as Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood around.

When I wasn’t stalking the stars, I was hanging around the Marvel and DC Comics booths adding autographs to my books and standing in line for free sketches. When I get a sketch, I usually tell the artist to draw whatever they want, which in the case of Pop Mhan got me a drawing of a character he said he draws at every convention sooner or later: Ghost Rider. “Green Lantern Corps” artist Patrick Gleason drew me a fan favorite character that’s also a favorite of his, BZZD, an insect-like Green Lantern. I also talked to Cully Hamner, who was the artist on the mini-series “Red,” which has been made into a movie starring Bruce Willis. Cully drew a sketch of main character Paul Moses for me and said he’s writing and drawing a prequel to the “Red” comic.

I left the Con Saturday night after dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with friends in the Gaslamp District. As I packed, suddenly a fireworks display began over the Convention Center, the perfect capper to a perfect convention!

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IDOLPALOOZA 2010

June 4, 2010

Last week was pretty much all “American Idol” all the time, starting with an interview with Bo Bice on Monday. Bo was appearing on Game Show Network’s “GSN Live,” so Fred Bronson and I headed out to the GSN Studios in nearby Glendale to meet with Bo in his dressing room. Half of the interview was devoted to Bo’s new album and can be seen on Fred’s Idols Now app for the Iphone, while the non-video portion centered on Bo’s run on “American Idol,” one of many interviews we’ve been doing for a secret project that’s due out next year. As always, Bo was the consummate Southern gentleman, and certainly one of the most charismatic Idols I’ve ever met. The big revelation of the interview was that in Bo’s justifiably praised acapella version of “In A Dream” on “Idol,” he hit a bum note that has bothered him ever since. I checked out the performance on You Tube, and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d think it was something Bo tried to do!

The next day, Fred and I headed downtown for the final performance night of Season 9. We got a late start and arrived not too long before the show started. Fortunately, Fred had a parking pass that got us in a garage right across from the theater. Our seats were in Row NN, which was pretty far back although we still had a great view of the stage. I thought Crystal won the night, although given the screams for Lee, I wasn’t at all surprised when he was crowned the winner the following night.

Wednesday, we got downtown quite a bit earlier, enabling us to have lunch at The Farm restaurant, followed by a few hours on the red carpet before the show. I took a spot near the TV Guide Network booth where Justin Guarini and Brooke White were greeting the Idols. I got a chance to say hello to Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, using their weekly break from “Hair” on Broadway to attend the finale, as well as play the game of “Spot The Idol,” seeing such past contestants as Kristy Lee Cook, Melinda Doolittle and Michael Johns on the Red Carpet. I also got a sneak preview of the evening’s special guests with Daryl Hall & John Oates as well as Alice Cooper being interviewed. But the biggest surprise was when a limo pulled up and out stepped Raquel Welch! Here I had traveled to Pasadena to attend one of her book signings recently and there she was right in front of me.

Of course, the show itself was another triumph for the producers. For me, the highlight was seeing Bret Michaels take the stage so soon after his recent health problems. I’ve always had a fondness for Bret, as he’s from Pennsylvania and played the same bars I went to as a college student.

After the show, Fred and I stopped off at the KISS FM Viewing Party at the nearby Regal Cinemas, then got in my car and headed for the Mondrian Hotel on the Sunset Strip for the 19 Entertainment party. After getting to the party late one year and missing out on all the food, Fred and I have not made the same mistake again. In addition to chowing down, there was plenty of hobnobbing with my favorite Idols. I said hello to Kris Allen. I complimented Casey James on his amazing duet with Bret Michaels and learned that their team-up had been in the works long before Bret’s recent health problems. I congratulated David Archuleta on what a great job he does keeping in touch with his fans, thanks to his constant video blogging. In typical Archuleta fashion, he laughed off his efforts.

I told Carly Smithson how I couldn’t get “With Or Without You” out of my head after seeing her band’s acoustic version on Billboard.com. But the most enjoyable moment of the night came in two parts. Early on, we came upon Siobhan Magnus in the lobby. Someone had told her that the members of her absolute favorite music group of all time, Hanson, were at the party. Siobhan couldn’t have been more excited, but when I checked with the keepers of the guest list, they said that Issac, Taylor and Zac weren’t on the list, so I figured that Siobhan was not about to meet her heroes. But later when we were leaving the hotel, we saw her again and she told us that the Hanson brothers had been at the party and she got to talk to them for a long time. There’s photos of them together on the internet if you need the proof.

Other Idols that attended were the rest of the Season 9 crew, including Lee and Crystal, plus  Bo Bice, Scott MacIntyre and Brooke White and Justin Guarini, fresh from their TV Guide duties. I spent a little time with Brooke’s husband, Dave, who was patiently waiting to go home as he had to get up at six in the morning for work. I’d be more sympathetic, except he had tickets to the Laker game the following evening, where he was planning on rooting for Phoenix. I also spotted Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell, producer ken Warwick, former Idol producer and “So You Think You Can Dance” mastermind Nigel Lythgoe and Idol creator Simon Fuller, who didn’t step into the VIP area once.

A truly exciting night, but there was more Idol on the way on Friday, with interviews with LaToya London and Nick Mitchell, the real life alias of wacky Norman Gentle. I actually drove Nick down to the airport Friday night, bringing Idolpalooza 2010 officially to a close!

LIVE BLOGGING THE ACMA’S

April 18, 2010

Here’s something I’ve never tried… a live blog! Let’s try it… and there’s no better day to do it than here behind the scenes at the Academy of Country Music Awards!

11:00 – Right now the Production Office is pretty calm and quiet. They’re in the midst of the final dress rehearsal for the show. It’s an interesting mix of the real acts (Laura Bell Bundy drew a crowd to the TV’s here in the office to watch her high energy dance number) and stand-ins standing beside the mikes and pretending to play invisible instruments.

The real action is outside the building, where fans have already taken their place behind a small fence at the Orange Carpet (orange thanks to sponsor Home Depot) and talent escorts are getting their final instructions. There’s also an interesting sight at the stage entrance, where wheeled platforms with the drum kits and instruments for each band on the show sit waiting.

11:30 – Taylor Swift just rehearsed what should be a pretty cool moment on the show. I’m proud to say I added something to her performance in a small way by gathering the photos that will be seen on the screens behind her. Lady Antebellum are onstage now, running through “American Honey.”

12:00 – Miranda Lambert onstage with more photos I gathered on the screens behind her.

12:01 – I highly recommend Whitney’s hilarious blogs about the ACMA rehearsals from the past few days at ew.com.

12:30 – Brad Paisley is rehearsing his new ode to summertime, “Water.” Originally Brad wanted to be in a tank of H2O onstage, but the heaviness of water made the producers rule out the idea. Of course, Brad’s guitar solo is all the magic you need.

12:40 – Off to a Jennifer Hudson rehearsal for the Brooks & Dunn show.

2:00 – Back from the Jennifer Hudson rehearsal. When the background singers applaud, you know you have something special. Of course, then Jennifer and her entourage walked outside the rehearsal room and hundreds of country fans walked right by them without a look.

3:00 – Back from lunch. Not much happening on the red carpet just yet. Time to change for the Awards!

3:20 – Just scored a ticket to the All Star Jam, the incredible party that follows the ACMA’s. Star after star comes over to the Marquee Ballroom across from the Arena to jam with an all star band. Last year, I made the foolish mistake of going to dinner after the show and missed Kenny Chesney, but did see John Rich, Randy Houser and best of all, Carrie Underwood after she won Entertainer of the Year.

4:20 – The crowds leading into the arena are huge! Fortunately I had a pass that helped me push through the crowds! Off to my seat! Have fun watching the Awards! I know I will…

9:15 – Turned out I had a terrible seat, but was able to move and sit next to my friend, Dick Clark Productions’ ace archivist Jeff James. The show was full of highlights. I especially liked Brooks & Dunn, Keith Urban and Laura Bell Bundy. Now I’m off to the All Star Jam! Goodnight internet!

REHEARSAL DAY FOR “THE LAST RODEO”

April 18, 2010

So for the past two days, I’ve been hanging out in the MGM Grand Garden’s Studio 2, watching the cream of country music rehearse for “ACM Presents Brooks & Dunn: The Last Rodeo.” There’s nothing like being in a small room and hearing great singers like Faith Hill and Rascal Flatt’s Gary LeVox wailing away just a few steps away from where you’re seated. And while I can’t reveal who’s performing what Brooks & Dunn song on the show, I will say that I was walking around singing some of B&D’s lesser known hits after hearing them done in powerhouse rehearsal performances.

Of course, I got some face time with the stars. Kenny Chesney was first on the schedule, and while Kenny joked he was suffering from a wild night, he still sounded great and was nice enough to sign a CD cover from his live album for me. I got a laugh from him when I said that while I hoped he would finally get that vacation he keeps announcing he’s going to take, I was glad he was making a new album first. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill came in together and you can tell they’re still romantic with each other, kissing a few times during their rehearsal. I got a chance to tell Faith how much I love her song “Paris” off her “Fireflies” album, even though I’ve never quite understood what it’s about. She thanked me and said she didn’t understand it either!

While most of the acts are backed up by Brooks & Dunn’s touring band, a few of the performers were playing in a more stripped down way. Sugarland for instance have a very dramatic performance planned. Their take on a Brooks & Dunn classic reminded me a bit of Bruce Springsteen, with some beautiful piano and harmonica playing. They’re doing one of my favorite B&D songs, and I also got to hear the original version by Kix and Ronnie, as they rehearsed a few of their classics on the main stage. For the ACMA’s, the fans are voting on which song Brooks & Dunn will do in their final ACMA performance together, so they have to be ready with a few of them. And yes, while they know all their own songs, they still have to rehearse so the director and cameramen know how to shoot each performance.

As always, the sheer niceness of the country artists was on display. Brad Paisley clapped me on the back as he walked by, and when Taylor Swift came in for the last rehearsal of the day, she started off by giving a hug to everyone in the band and just about everyone else standing around the room. And of course, it’s always fun watching great singers work on a song. Every artist took just two tries to get things exactly the way they wanted it. And you’ll see what that is when “The Last Rodeo” hits the air in May.

Tomorrow, it’s the ACMA’s!

EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ACMA’S

April 15, 2010

This post is being written in Studio 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, home to the Production Office for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards as well as “ACM Presents Brooks & Dunn: The Last Rodeo.” I just rocked along to Jason Aldean rehearsing my favorite Brooks & Dunn song inside the arena. I won’t say what it is, because one of the ideas behind “The Last Rodeo” is that Brooks & Dunn themselves won’t know going in which song each act is performing. So I can’t say who’s doing what song just in case Kix and Ronnie are reading this (delusions of grandeur anyone?)…

But what I really wanted to talk about is the array of food available when you’re working on the ACMA’s. First of all, each of the staff gets passes to eat meals at the MGM Grand employee cafeteria, which is buffet style with lots of choices. Then as the show gets closer, Chipolte opens up an on-site restaurant. But the real danger to your diet is in one of the production offices, where the craft service table lies in wait. In the morning, there’s Krispy Kreme donuts and various boxes of cereal to choose from (I’ve been starting the day with a bowl of Apple Jacks…). Then throughout the day, you have your choice of candy, packages of cookies, fruit, Cheetos,  Fritos, ramen soup and water and soda. Then at 5:00, they’ve started a tradition of bringing in some kind of snack. One day we had mini-milk shakes, another Chicken McNuggets. But the worst thing was when I had just polished off a package of Soft Batch cookies when one of the staff walked around the office with a plate of cookies her mother baked. Well, you can’t say no to that, can you?

Maybe my next show should be “The Biggest Loser”… as a contestant!

ON THE ROAD TO “THE LAST RODEO”

April 12, 2010

So I’ve spent the past three weeks working once again at Dick Clark Productions as a researcher on “ACM Presents Brooks & Dunn: The Last Rodeo.” This is a show in the mold of last year’s “Artist Of The Decade” tribute concert to George Strait, where the biggest stars in country music perform the songs of the honoree. This time out, producer RAC Clark has rounded up another great slate of artists to salute the career of Brooks & Dunn, including Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Faith Hill, George Strait, Jason Aldean, Jennifer Hudson, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire. Many of the performers will also appear on the Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air live on CBS on April 18th. The Brooks & Dunn special will tape the following night and will be aired May 23rd. Because the George Strait show did so well in the ratings last year, CBS is placing “The Last Rodeo” in sweeps against tougher competition, the finale of “Lost.”

My main job on the show has been convincing the performers’ publicists to set up short phone interviews so I could talk to the artists about their memories of Brooks & Dunn and how they feel about the contribution the much awarded duo has made to country music. The show’s writer, Fred Bronson, would then take what I found out and use it to craft what each singer would say about Brooks & Dunn before performing. Naturally, while I talked to a few of the artists in the week leading up to when the script was due, I think due to the previous week being Easter week, quite a few of the performers came through with interviews on deadline day, making it a challenge for Fred to finish the script in time. He did though, and we got some great stories about the real Brooks & Dunn behind the scenes, who in addition to being great singers and songwriters are fun-loving guys who love to play practical jokes and are always helpful to new artists on their way up.

This year, I also agreed to help find the photos that will go in the background screens during various performances on the Academy of Country Music Awards. I’ve been tracking down photos of some illustrious country music couples as well as some country music legends, and while I won’t say exactly which performances they’re for, I will say that they should help create some strong emotional moments for the audience.

One thing you might not know about television is that every image used has to be “cleared.” That is, if you don’t own a photo or footage you want to use, you have to get permission from the owner and sometimes even pay a fee for usage. This can be a huge headache for the clearance department when there’s a lot to get cleared in a short time. I think this year it was easier for me to set up interviews with big stars like Tim McGraw than it was finding a useable photo of Johnny and June Carter Cash. Fortunately many of the photos I needed were of artists from Sony Music. Rather than approach the artists’ managers one by one, I took a chance that I could get all the photos I needed from the art department at Sony. They really came through for me, delivering everything I needed from them. I finished the photo side of the job on Friday when within five minutes of each other, both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Hank Williams Museum sent me photos of Hank Williams. You probably could hear my sigh of relief wherever you were!

Tomorrow I depart for Las Vegas, where I will be based in the production office at the MGM Grand for the coming week. Hopefully all the work I completed prior to going will enable me to kick back and enjoy the rehearsals, meet the stars and get a few CD covers signed. I should also have some time to blog about what’s going on behind the scenes during the run-up to the Awards and “The Last Rodeo,” so check back during the week.

AN OPEN LETTER TO JOSS WHEDON

March 4, 2010

Note: If you have not yet read the latest issue of the “Buffy” comic and/or do not want the identity of Twilight revealed, stop reading now!

Dear Joss,

Tonight I read “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” # 33 and was stunned. Oh, not by the revelation of Twilight’s identity. Unfortunately, that was a foregone conclusion after the website Comic Book Resources let the cat out of the bag a few months ago. But without the big surprise of the unmasking, I’ve been able to concentrate on just what happened in the issue. I’m forced to conclude that in the case of the character of Angel, you really don’t know what you’re talking about!

Ah, I know this is heresy to the many fans who worship every word you put to paper. And while I’m not a Whedon superfan, I do think you’re a great writer and director and have enjoyed much of your work. But the Angel I know isn’t much of a planner. He’s a man of action who would laugh at the idea of putting on a mask and pretending to be a villain, no matter the end game. Oh, sure, he might go along with the idea in the short run maybe, but not as his main strategy.

But more than that, Angel is a hero. His words about keeping the body count low just don’t wash. The Angel I know would have laid down his life for every one of those 213 Slayers. Yes, as Angel says, he didn’t kill them. But the real Angel would have certainly tried to save them…

Now maybe in upcoming issues, we’ll find out about a prophecy that Angel is working towards to wipe out demons and vampires. There are obviously secrets yet to be revealed. But I do know that Angel is all about sacrifice, even sacrificing true love for the greater good. I hope you know that too.

All the best,

Brian

AMERICAN IDOL SEASON 9: TOP 24 ANALYSIS (LADIES FIRST!)

February 24, 2010

After all the advance word that a woman would win “Idol” this year, ladies’ night was a bit underwhelming. One contestant, Crystal Bowersox, does stand head and shoulders above the rest, although I’m not sure such a rough edged performer can win the whole thing. Let’s see what we got…

PAIGE MILES – “All Right Now”

Came on like a blues mama, but it was strange that she didn’t change the gender of the song. Maybe she was fishing for the Ellen vote?

ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ – “Happy”

Good energy and a Mariah style voice, but she seems to be popping her P’s in the microphone.

JANELL WHEELER – “What About Love”

I had high hopes for Janell based on her audition, but those hopes are fading fast. I still like the mixture of gravel and sweet in her voice, but her voice wasn’t powerful enough for the song.

LILY SCOTT – “Fixing A Hole”

One of the most left field song choices ever. I did like the way she controlled her vocal dynamics from soft to loud. She’ll have to pick songs that will connect with the audience if she hopes to stick around.

KATELYN EPPPERLY – “Oh Darling”

A strong voice and she’s sexy without overplaying the role. Certainly in the top three best of the night, even though the song has never been a favorite of mine.

HAELEY VAUGHAN – “I Want To Hold Your Hand”

While I’ve never been one to worry about what the contestants are wearing, I thought Haeley’s little girl outfit didn’t do her any favors. And while the song was unusually arranged, it was a bit screechy at times.

LACEY BROWN – “Landslide”

A weird vocal that didn’t do anything for the song.

MICHELLE DELAMOR – “Fallen”

A very grown-up professional performance, if a little bit Broadway in her movements.  Still Syesha Mercado did well a few seasons ago, so Michelle may stick around a bit.

DIDI BENAMI – “The Way I Am”

A very ornate vocal that didn’t match the smooth delivery of the original recording.

SIOBHAN MAGNUS – “Wicked Game”

An interesting choice of song and a great vocal tone. Could she bring even bigger emotions to the stage a la my beloved Maria McKee. We’ll see.

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX – “Hand In My Pocket”

A great voice that lifts her way above all those subway singers Simon referred to. Is talent enough for her to triumph in the competition? It worked for Fantasia and Taylor Hicks, didn’t it?

KATIE STEVENS – “Feeling Good”

I bet the producers were surprised when the judges thought she hadn’t hit it out of the park, having gifted her with the last spot and intricate camerawork. I myself find it hard to judge her based on a jazz song, so I’ll just say she has a good voice with room for growth.

MY BIG “LOST” DISCOVERY!

February 10, 2010

Season 6 of “Lost” has just begun, and fans everywhere are trying to get a handle on this year’s new story-telling device, referred to the producers as the “Flash Sideways.” How will the Flash Sideways world intersect with the timeline we’ve come to know? Well, I think I’ve made a discovery that holds the key to this season…

Like a lot of fans, I enjoy reading the recaps posted by such “Lost” experts as Jeff “Doc” Jensen at Ew.com, Jo Garfein at Jopionated and fishbiscuit of fishbiscuitland and docartz.com. In his latest column,  Doc Jensen mentioned a supporting character from Season One, a psychic named Richard Malkin, who lived in Australia. That reminded me that many fans have always thought that Australia was the key to “Lost.” And it well may be, because look what I found when I looked up the definition of “Dreamtime,” an important component of Australian Aboriginal mythology, on Wikipedia:

“Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the ‘dreamtime’, more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime.”‘

If that doesn’t describe the relationship of the two worlds, I don’t know what does…

MY FAVORITE TUNES FROM IDOL GRADS

January 16, 2010

In celebration of the return of “American Idol” for Season 9, Entertainment Weekly published a gallery of their “28 Top Tunes From Idol Grads.” Here’s my list, lopped down to 20… and keep in mind that I haven’t heard every post-Idol Idol album, so if your favorite isn’t here, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

20.  “I Got You” – Blake Lewis

From Blake’s first post-Idol album, “Audio Day Dream,” a great pop song that shows Lewis can always start a second career as a producer of boy bands…

19.  “The Trouble With Love Is” – Kelly Clarkson

My favorite song from Kelly’s debut, “Thankful”…

18.  “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” – Kellie Pickler

A ballad so good, it’s on both of Kellie’s albums…

17.  “The Difference In Me” – Diana DeGarmo

My favorite pop-rock song from Diana’s “Blue Skies” album…

16.  “Tattoo” – Jordin Sparks

While “Battlefield” turned up on a lot of Top Ten lists this year, this is still my favorite single from Jordin…

15.  “Change” – Brooke White

Brooke put out a quality CD before “American Idol.” This is my favorite cut from “Songs From The Attic”…

14.  “Eighth World Wonder” – Kimberley Locke

Kimberley showed every Idol contestant how to launch a career without being signed by 19 after the show with this great single…

13.  “When You Say You Love Me” – Clay Aiken

There are a number of great songs on Clay’s debut like “Invisible” and “Measure Of A Man,” but this breezy love song co-written by Darren Hayes is my favorite…

12.  “Soul Thing” – Taylor Hicks

The Soul Patrol anthem, it should have been a single…

11.  “Nothin’ To Lose” – Josh Gracin

Josh does his best country speed rap, and hit number one on the country charts in the process…

10.  “I Could” – Kimberley Locke

One of the many winners from Kim’s first album, “One Love”…

9.  “Do I Make You Proud” – Taylor Hicks

Probably the least liked Idol finale song, at least until “No Boundaries” came along, but it really grew on me as time went on…

8.  “Wasted” – Carrie Underwood

Because I have trouble relating to songs about duplicitous men (see “Before He Cheats” and “Cowboy Casanova”), this blazing vocal from Carrie is my favorite from her…

7.  “Best Days Of Your Life” – Kellie Pickler

Uh, unless it’s Kellie telling off a duplicitous ex…

6.  “Vehicle” – Bo Bice

Yes, I have plenty of Bo’s songs on my Ipod like “You’re Everything” and “The Real Thing,” but this Ides Of March remake just plain rocks…

5.  “Home” – Daughtry

If you live away from the place you grew up, this is your theme song…

4.  “Forward” – Ayla Brown

A beautiful ballad from someone I wish had made it a little farther into the competition…

3.  “The Time Of My Life” – David Cook

While his album rocked out, David’s finale song crosses all boundaries…

2.  “Love Story” – Katherine McPhee

Pop candy at it’s best…

1.  “Since U Been Gone” – Kelly Clarkson

Not just the best Idol single yet, but one of the best songs of the last decade. I’ll never understand how this failed to make it to number one…