American Idol 2008

'American Idol': Nadia Turner Plays Judge

In her first EW.com column, the season 4 vet gives her take on performances by this year's top 8 boys

Nadia Turner, American Idol, ... | NADIA TURNER (inset) ''Was that Sanjaya or was that Danny Noriega? I think WHAM! is missing a member''
NADIA TURNER (inset) ''Was that Sanjaya or was that Danny Noriega? I think WHAM! is missing a member''

''THIS IS AMERICAN IDOL.'' I know that slogan oh so well.

I actually haven't watched AI much since I left the show. Looking back on my AI experience, I still can't believe it. It's a wonder to me that they call AI reality TV. The moment you reach top 24, the cameras are no longer behind the scenes to see the nerves, conversations, stress, tears, and relationships. This was beyond intense and very surreal to watch it on TV and know I had been there. WOW! Right there! It’s still crazy! In the middle of that stage...amazing!

Being that this was ''Boys Night,'' my responsibility on the show would have been to relax and just support the boys. Let’s be realistic: How do you relax knowing tomorrow is your night to shine? I actually spent most of this time taking in the boys’ critiques and trying to remember certain performances, 'cause I knew the boys were going to ask how it looked from my seat. During the commercial breaks, I would write down my lyrics over and over on a blank sheet of paper. I was known to forget lyrics in rehearsal and liable to create a whole new verse — improv was my specialty.

Since I last saw the stage, it looks like they bumped up the scenery in the ''Coca Cola room'' with the curved stairwell and the second level overlooking the stage.

I saw Ryan exposing a lil' chest last night — all right, Ry, you betta pipe down exposing yourself like that! :)

Thank God for the background singers for Luke Menard. They kept this song above water, 'cause Luke's vocals were not up to par. It sounded like he was running out of breath. I loved his I'm-not-trying-hard-to-look-good-but-still-looking-fine attire. I'm with Simon cutting Paula off: ''Did you like it or not?!'' Let’s get to the point, Paula!

Watching them stand there with phone numbers going across their waist-line brought a slew of memories back. This number decides your AI fate. The comments from the judges usually decide how your demeanor will be when you're in front of 888-IDOLS-XX. Do you say something over Ryan’s chatter to let the world know to vote? Do you smile? Do you hold up your fingers reminding them of your number, which is already boldly on the screen? No no NO! Don’t do that! That’s corny!

There is no denying that David Archuleta has a beautiful voice, but Simon was right — he should have stayed at the piano. We would have seen the legs of this song stretch if he continued to tickle the ivory. ''Another Day in Paradise'' aged him. The khaki jacket was a little too serious for my taste. Wardrobe is beyond important in a performance. If he wore a brighter and better-fitted jacket, it would have taken some of the somberness off of that song. When he's standing at the mic, you can't help but notice the baby with his dad’s suit on.

Was that Sanjaya or was that Danny Noriega? I think WHAM! is missing a member. This kid has lots of chutzpah and I dig it, but his vocals were beyond mediocre. What's up with the Randy Jackson pep talk?! He don't need no pep talk, Randy! That boy has enough confidence! Danny's ''whatever'' rooster-hand to Simon was unforgettable! I LOVED IT!!! I would definitely put him in the final 12 for the wardrobe and personality alone.

NEXT PAGE: Nadia on David Hernandez and his booger

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