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Canadian Idol - Season 4


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Courtesy of: CVT, CANDIAN IDOL

Canadian Idol returns to CTV on May 29th. Ticket information for the live shows is not yet available. Please check back in the coming weeks for more information.

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CTV and producing partners Insight Productions are gearing up for another cross-country search for Canada's next undiscovered singing sensation, an 11-week tour scheduled to begin this February. Canadian Idol is based on FremantleMedia and 19TV's smash-hit international format Idols.

Ben Mulroney, who has hosted the series since it began in 2003, is back on board to host Canadian Idol when it returns to anchor CTV's summer schedule this June.

New show format for Idol season's May 29 launch

Updated Mon. May. 15 2006 3:05 PM ET

Eye on Idol

Changes in Canadian Idol's format and an increase in talented hopefuls has led to tougher competition for fewer spots in the show's live-to-air episodes.

By the time Idol hits the airwaves on May 29 (8 p.m. ET on CTV), more than 200 hopefuls who began this week's elimination rounds will have been knocked down to 22, a change from the 32 featured on the show's vote-in rounds over the past three seasons.

According to CTV's senior director of programming communications, Scott Henderson, the shift was designed to give Idol viewers a better chance to know the competitors and pick their favourites.

"It provides for a better assessment of who the viewers would want in their Top 10," he told Eye on Idol. "Going with a Top 22 allows us to eliminate people from the very beginning."

In previous years the audition tour culminated with a much-smaller Top 100, but the increase of talented singers walking onto the Idol set led to a blizzard of gold tickets being given out.

The show's voting stage begins in June. From then to the final selection, fans across the country will have the ultimate say in who goes and who stays to pursue their dream of being a professional singer.

"Let the fan-demonium begin!" said Susanne Boyce, CTV president of programming. "We're thrilled to bring Canadians another summer of music and celebration of this country's undiscovered gems."

And Canadians are clearly just as excited. Over the show's third season, more than 38 million votes were cast by viewers. That's more than one per Canadian and an increase of 19 per cent from the year before.

With an audience of more than 2 million viewers, the show was the most-watched in the country by the end of last summer, seen by over 17 million people, making it the most successful English-language Canadian series ever produced.

Future star searches are already being planned, as CTV has secured Canadian rights to the Idol format for an addition four seasons.

Here's how this summer's episodes will unfold (be sure to check your local listings to confirm dates and times):

Monday, May 29 / Monday, June 5 / Monday, June 12 (8 to 9 p.m. ET): Highlights from Canadian Idol's 2006 audition tour.

Monday, June 19 / Tuesday, June 20 (8-9 p.m. ET): Watch the drama unfold as Canadian Idol's first-ever "Top 200" Gold Ticket group is whittled down to only 22 semi-finalists by Canadian Idol's celebrity judges.

Week of June 26: It's Canadian Idol's 100th episode and to celebrate the Top 22 semi-finalists will perform live, after which voters will take to the telephones to vote for their favourites. A different group of 11 will perform each night during two 90-minute live broadcasts. On the third night, the voting outcome is revealed in a live 30-minute results episode, and four members of the Top 22 will be sent home.

Week of July 3: divided into two groups of nine, the remaining 18 finalists will perform live over two nights, after which voters will cast their votes. On the third night, the voting outcome is revealed in a live, 30-minute results episode. Four members of the Top 18 will be sent home.

Week of July 10: divided into two groups of seven, the remaining 14 finalists will perform live over two nights. On the third night, Canada meets the Canadian Idol Top 10 when the final four members of the Top 22 are eliminated in a 30-minute show.

Week of July 17: Canadian Idol returns to Toronto's John Bassett Theatre for the first Top 10 show, a special 90-minute, live episode. On the next night, one member of the Top 10 goes home in the first live Top 10 results show. Idol will continue for the next eight weeks with live performance shows on one night and live results shows on the next.

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Successful audition tour gives way to Top 200

Updated Mon. May. 15 2006 2:53 PM ET

Eye on Idol

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Two competitors lineup for auditions in Toronto.

After handing out 212 gold tickets to potential pop stars across Canada over the past three months, Canadian Idol has retrained its focus on narrowing the show's talent pool to 22 coveted spots.

The gold ticket winners -- 122 females and 90 males -- arrived in Toronto on Sunday for the gruelling set of vocal trials that will narrow the pack significantly by the end of the week.

Included in what is now being dubbed the "Top 200" (an increase from the so-called Top 100's of past Idol seasons) are eight competitors from Newfoundland and Labrador, 18 from Nova Scotia, 4 from New Brunswick, 27 from Quebec, 72 from Ontario, 24 from Manitoba, 5 from Saskatchewan, 28 from Alberta, 24 from British Columbia and 2 from the Northwest Territories.

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Competitors equipped with guitars were a dime a dozen in musical St. John's.

"We have way more really good singers this year," said executive producer John Brunton, explaining why the Top 100 grew so dramatically for Season 4.

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Canadian Idol attracted 80 per cent more competitors this year than in 2005.

"We've found some real stars. From the cool older kids who front their own bands to the pure, raw talent of some of the younger singers, Canada is going to freak out over the talent on Canadian Idol this year."

The tour, which began mid-February and crossed 8,100 kms and 11 cities, was more popular than ever. In an increase of more than 80 per cent from 2005, 12,173 hopefuls displayed their talent for the show's producers and judges.

"Everybody should be very pleased and proud and happy," said CTV senior vice-president of comedy, variety and talk, Ed Robinson, speaking to members of the Idol team. "I know I certainly am."

New stops on this year's tour included the country's most northerly city, Yellowknife, and Kitchener-Waterloo, which drew 1,632 hopefuls -- the largest number of any city outside Toronto.

Once the judges have chosen their 22 favourites from the Top 200, the remaining competitors will get a few weeks rest before being subject to the will of the Canadian public, who will select the Top 10 with their votes. The first show of the season kicks off on May 29, at 8 p.m. on CTV.

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The people that make the show.

Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

BACKSTAGE PERSONALLITIES

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John Brunton, Executive Producer

John Brunton thinks TV. All the time. As the Globe and Mail writes, he "has airwaves between his ears."

A natural-born storyteller, Brunton recently celebrated his 26th anniversary at the helm of Insight Production Company Ltd.

As president and CEO, Brunton's entrepreneurial ingenuity, creative vision and passion for television have enabled him to position Insight as an industry leader in the development, financing and production of world class television programs.

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Barbara Bowlby, Executive Producer

Barbara Bowlby is the Executive Vice President of Insight Production Company Ltd. Insight is an independent production company that is an industry leader in the creative development, financing and production of high quality television programs.

In addition to Bowlby's vital role as Executive VP she also serves as Executive Producer on Insight's extensive roster of productions.

SHOW PERSONALITIES

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Ben Mulroney, Host

Charismatic and appealing to all ages, Ben Mulroney's role as host of Canadian Idol couldn't be a better fit.

With his exuberant yet professional manner, Mulroney has brought the Idol phenomenon to life for Canadian viewers every step of the way for the past three seasons, from talent auditions across the country to the nail-biting season finale.

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Elena Juatco - Roving Reporter

Elena Juatco, Canadian Idol Alumnus, has signed on as the new Roving Reporter for Canadian Idol's fourth season. Just in time for the launch of the 2006 Canadian Idol Audition Tour, the Wild Card performer that sang her way to sixth place in Season Two brings her energy, enthusiasm and first-hand Canadian Idol knowledge to the series. Reporting from coast to coast, Juatco will be a beam of support for the competitors as they journey through the competition.

"I am thrilled to work with the 'Bentastic' Ben Mulroney and wonderful production team in the upcoming fourth season of Canadian Idol," says Juatco. "It's the best summer job I can think of!"

Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Elena now resides in Kingston, Ontario where she is in her third year at Queen's University as a Drama major and Women's Studies minor. This past Christmas, Juatco starred alongside Se

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Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL

Yellowknife rapper writes 'Idol' track for show

Updated Sat. May. 27 2006 10:11 AM ET

Eye on Idol

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Aaron 'Godson' Hernandez

Yellowknife rapper Aaron Hernandez left his Canadian Idol audition positive that being excluded from the Top 200 was the best thing that could have happened to him.

That's because Hernandez -- known North of 60 as Godson -- was one of the few Yellowknife competitors advanced to see the celebrity judges in Vancouver, where he impressed the show's judges and producers with his talent and charm so much that he was asked to write an original song for the opening episode.

The track he came up with is called "Are You the One." It's beat-heavy with rhymes that reference the show's audition cities and the attributes it takes to become a national superstar.

"Are you the one true Canadian Idol? Can you claim the Canadian title, can you sing with the best, put your vocals to the test..." goes the chorus of the song, which was made into a music video for the show by director Matt Hawkins.

Hernandez, 25, was clearly pleased with his good fortune.

"Not going through is the best part because I'm up here shooting a video and life couldn't be better," he told Eye on Idol from the Toronto video set outside the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre. Auditions for the show were being held inside that venue, so the extras in the video are almost all Idol hopefuls.

"I don't get to play a lot out of the North," said Hernandez. "This is really one of the first times I've been out of the North doing something big... Every night before I go to bed in the hotel I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking about the shoot. I feel like a guy from a little city doing big city things."

That modesty, however, only goes so far. Hernandez admits he's well known in his hometown.

"I'm kind of a household name up north," said Godson, who has been rapping for 11 years and put out seven independent albums in that time. His most recent release is called Arctic Reign.

"I'm at that point where seeing somebody mouthing my lyrics is really cool to me. When I first saw people actually singing along with my tunes I was in shock that they would actually memorize it."

Segment producer Mike Bickerton told Eye on Idol the hype had already been built up before the 25-year-old (often referred to simply as 'the Arctic Rapper') stepped into the Yellowknife audition room.

"Several people, both competitors and our local crew, kept telling us to look forward to seeing Godson as the day went on," Bickerton said. "They saw him registering and waiting for his audition and people just kept saying that he was really going to impress us."

Hernandez said it has helped his popularity that few other entertainers are willing to venture to remote towns up north as often as he does.

"I try to go out as much as possible. I go to the communities where they don't get to see a lot of entertainment, especially hip hop," said Hernandez, who is strongly influenced by conscious rap, particularly that of Canadian legend k-os.

Bickerton says such influences are obvious in Godson's music.

"He really has a positive message to put out there, and he wants to make a positive difference in the North," Bickerton said. "He is a very nice, genuine guy."

But while Hernandez admits he's loved the fame he's seen in his part of the country, he can't wait for the rest of Canada to be exposed to his music.

"I've always wanted to do a video and now here's my video," he said, glowing with pride as he surveyed the scene of the shoot. "Now I have to go for the next step. I don't work 11 years on this for nothing. I'm steady trying to get noticed. This is the best way. It's the best show in Canada.

"Hopefully this will land me a record deal, that's really my ultimate goal."

Click here to listen to the song now.

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Dreams and disappointment fill Idol's first episode

Eye on Idol

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Some wore pink boots, some danced their hearts out and many seemed doubtful of the judges' less-than-glowing appraisals, but all those who tried out for Canadian Idol had one thing in common: music in their souls.

Unfortunately, not everyone had it in their voices.

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The show kicked off Season 4 with an action-packed musical tour through Vancouver, Yellowknife, Kitchener-Waterloo and Edmonton. (Click here for idolgallery)

With judges Sass Jordan, Farley Flex, Jake Gold and Zack Werner once again at the helm of the star-making ship, a host of talented Canadians made it one step closer to becoming professional musicians. But crossing the bridge from auditions to the Top 200 wasn't easy and each judge was looking for something a little bit different.

"I'm looking for people who can visualize themselves being stars," said Flex, who appreciates competitors whose personalities shine through their performances.

As far Jordan is concerned, it's about much more than just singing talent, it's about giving a knockout performance.

"I'm looking for someone's ability to hold my attention," she said.

Gold's tastes are a bit less defined.

"I'll take anybody that moves me," he said. "I know what I like by how I feel."

The feisty Werner said he's looking for singers who are there to play hardball and isn't sentimental about the benefits of being part of the show

"The only reason to do it is to win," he said. "We play the game to win. I say compete or go home."

The unique personalities of Idol's judging panel weren't just on display in person, but were immortalized in the song the launched the episode, "The One" by Yellowknife rapper Aaron "Godson" Hernandez.

Shot off Yonge Street outside the Toronto auditions, the video made its premiere at the start of the show and featured breakdancers, lots of references to the show's cast and cameos by Season 3 Idol Melissa O'Neil and runner-up Rex Goudie.

And then the search began...

Vancouver

Idol's west coast visits have provided lots of finalist fodder in the past, but as host Ben Mulroney pointed out, no winners. This year's stop saw its share of possible stars (and 24 gold tickets), but also its share of disappointment.

One confident male singer attempted dancing to his version of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" while firmly planting one toe in basketball-pivot style. He looked down from his inspired skyward gaze to shocked looks of disapproval from the less-than-impressed judges.

Another competitor who thought he was sure to win was a song and dance man named Josh. Even his girlfriend Stephanie thought the judges would be fools not to send him to Toronto.

"I think he's a star. Every time I hear him, he shines. He just lights up the room," she insisted when brought in front of the panel. But that was before they heard Josh sing.

He did not take well to the judges' criticism, storming back into the room after he received word he would not be advancing.

"I look way better than you," he launched at Flex. "I smell way better than you, I dance way better than you, and I can sing."

But things looked up when the judges saw Abbotsford wakeboarder Greg Neufeld. He knew he'd struck oil when the usually-picky judges gave away their least contested gold ticket of the day, rhyming off four yeses within seconds of the song's completion.

Yellowknife

Everyone in town seemed keen for Canadian Idol's arrival in Yellowknife, starting with the fanfare assembled at the airport for Mulroney's arrival in town. In this isolated community, a rare chance to be exposed to the country does not go unnoticed.

"I am so wonderful that I'm here," one competitor said as she stepped in front of the judges, somewhat awkwardly capturing the mood of everyone in the waiting room.

"There isn't much of a music scene in Yellowknife," punk singer Noel Taylor told the judges in explaining why someone with his tastes would try out for the show. "(Music) is what I want to do with my life and this is the best shot I could possibly hope for."

And get his shot he did, earning one of the day's two gold tickets with Green Day's "Time of Your Life."

Kitchener-Waterloo

"It looks like it's about time we got here," said Ben Mulroney during the show's first-ever stop in Kitchener-Waterloo, surrounded by a mall packed full of eager Idol competitors.

Residents of that city were so keen to audition they outnumbered all audition stops except Toronto at 1,632. But their enthusiasm did not stop the judges from lambasting those who didn't have the skills.

Werner was even more biting than usual as he faced K-W's competitors. In between attempting to sweep one warbling competitor offstage with a broom and rolling right off the set in his chair in reaction to a performance, he also found time to make some comments.

When one competitor tried to convince the judges of her talent by asserting she was not trying to sound like the original artist, he responded with:

"Well, sounding like you sucks."

Another was told her gentle ballad was sung more conservatively than if it had been performed by Werner's grandmother.

"You're not cool enough to be a lounge singer on the Love Boat," he said. "The Lawrence Welk show would throw you out because you're not cool enough."

But, the city clearly had some talent, as 29 people were given the chance to be part of the Top 200.

Edmonton

In the land of oil rigs and cowboys, the Idol dream was a beacon of a different life to many competitors.

Jesse "Lips" Lipscombe, a champion high jumper and basketball player, said, given the chance, he would happily change his direction to something a bit more musical, noting he uses the same techniques for success in both.

"It's all about visualization," he advised. "You have to see yourself clearing the bar or the hopes of actually doing that are slim to none."

His method seemed to work, earning him one of 28 gold tickets given out at the Edmonton stop. To celebrate, he surprised the judges with a series of backflips.

Those less fortunate included one hopeful who performed a cheerleader-style "Hey, Farley, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind" to an uninspired Flex, a pair of friends whose warbling "Amazing Grace" duet earned them the title of "Rifferama" and a juggler who, try as he might, couldn't quite land his apples in his mouth.

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SPOILER ALERT...HIGH TO SEE...will be normal color after show on June 5

Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL

Tempers Flare. Egos Erupt. It's Zack vs. Jake vs. Farley

Updated Thu. Jun. 1 2006 5:04 PM ET

Eye on Idol

Swearing. Kicking. Screaming. Testosterone out of control. No, it's not the Stanley Cup finals, but the next episode of Canadian Idol, as tension between the four-member judging panel erupts into two full-out screaming matches in Episode Two, airing Monday, June 5 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV (check local listings). The episode features highlights from auditions in Montreal, Toronto, Regina and St. John's.

In one of the series' most dramatic episodes yet, tension between Canadian Idol's four-member judging panel boils over on two separate occasions from the series grueling 11-city, 11-week audition tour.

In Montreal, Zack Werner challenges Jake Gold to admit he will not award a "Gold Ticket" to a competitor because of his looks.

"Don't even for a second say that I'm afraid!" screams Gold after rising out of his chair and pounding his fist on the judge's desk. "The reality is I don't like the way he sings. How can you say what I think? Don't say what I think!!!"

Later, when the judges endure one bad performance after another in Toronto, they start to lose it on set. After one particularly bad audition, Zack Werner loses control and walks off set.

Outside of the audition room, the shocked competitor remarks, "Zack just chucked a garbage can at my head!"

The tension ultimately explodes when Farley Flex remarks to a competitor that Jake blindly gave him a Gold Ticket without hearing the competitor sing with melody.

"That's so not f---ing true," says Gold, who went on to kick the desk, throw his coffee mug and overturn his chair, before walking off set." I'm so p----- off!"

Flex responds by rising from his chair and threatening Gold: "What are you going to do about being pissed off? What are you going to do? If you have a problem with me you're walking in the wrong direction."

Gold later explained that Canadian Idol's audition tour takes its toll on all of the judges and their patience.

"By the time we hit Toronto I was completely burned out," said Gold. "With attendance up significantly this year and no breaks in the audition tour, things came to a head. Besides, I thought Farley was going to hit me. I wasn't going to stick around for a potential beating!!"

...............................

Do you want me to keep doing the spoilers? Please let me know how you feel about them.

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I just finished watching that episode. I actually felt embaressed for how they all made a fool of themselves. Zach throwing the garbage can, Jake breaking his glass and knocking his chair over...it was more than just over the top. I thought we Canadians were the nice ones...wtf?!?!

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Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL,

Judges lose their cool on Idol's second episode

Eye on Idol

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Canadian Idol's second episode saw temper tantrums, contested decisions and tough competition -- but this time, it wasn't just from the hopeful pop stars.

When the second leg of the show's audition tour hit TV screens across the country Monday night, the audience got their best look yet at the tension that can crop up between people working a gruelling schedule in close quarters -- especially watching a seemingly endless array of singers who aren't always so talented.

Known for his caustic wit and biting honesty, Zack Werner brought it on in his disagreements with the other judges -- even when everyone on the panel seemed to be millimetres away from the end of their ropes.

The episode followed the audition tour through Montreal, Toronto, Regina and St. John's, and included two worse-than-usual outbursts from the irrepressible Werner.

After touring across the country together for four years in a row, the four panelists act more like family than coworkers. This week, the feud prevailed.

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Jake Gold: 'How can you say what I think? Don't say what I think!!!'

Montreal

Episode 2's battle royale began when Werner suggested Jake Gold would not award a gold ticket to 22-year-old George Bekiaris because of his plain appearance.

"If he sang like he did but he looked like Kalan Porter... you'd vote no? That's crap," said Werner. "Everybody's so afraid to say this."

Gold wasn't having it.

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Jake and Farley have a difference of opinion.

"Don't even for a second say that I'm afraid!" Gold screamed after standing up and pounding his fist on the judges' desk. "The reality is I don't like the way he sings. How can you say what I think? Don't say what I think!"

Among those vying to be among the Top 200 in La Belle Province were a higher than usual number of Queen fans, judging by the popular choice of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Andrew Chevrier, who brought his own microphone despite having nowhere to plug it in, rocked out to his screamy version of the anthem while shuffling from side to side.

He found his cue to the judges' opinion of his singing when Sass Jordan and Gold joined in for the line "just got to get out, just got to get right out of here."

Kazakhstan-born Anna Meer, 19, didn't remember the name of the song, only telling the judges it was by Queen and "about mother." After forgetting most of the lyrics past the word "mama," Werner offered her his seat and got her a coffee while she studied her cheat sheet.

But even the extra time didn't help. When Meer exited the audition room after failing to obtain a gold ticket, she didn't get to chat with host Ben Mulroney because he had fallen asleep from the wait.

It was the third "bohemian rhapsodizer" who had the charm. Blue-haired heavy metal singer Alissa White-Gluz, 20, had the judges nodding along to her version of the song. Gold and Jordan loved her, but to get her to Toronto, they needed the support of one more panelist.

Fortunately, Gold had given his vote to one of Werner's favourites earlier in the day with a promise of reciprocation.

"I came through for you guys. I'm calling it now," yelled Gold, quite pleased he had made such a deal. "I'm calling it in right now. It's a call-in. I'm calling it in for today!"

White-Gluz was handed a Gold ticket and sent on her way.

Regina

The Saskatchewan stop on the tour saw only five gold tickets handed out from celebrity auditions held at the province's Legislature. The hopefuls even received a visit from Premier Lorne Calvert, a sworn Canadian Idol fan.

"I just want you to know how proud this province is of you who have the courage and the talent combined," he told them under the building's picturesque rotunda. "Good luck and sing your heart out."

The ever-savvy Mulroney offered a translation for those who hadn't gotten the message: "That's political talk for 'rock on.'"

If one person took that message to heart, it was the long-haired, even longer-bearded Cecil Armistead, also known as Johnny Rock Star. After appearing on the show last year, he had such a good time he thought he'd try his scream show again.

"Johnny Rock Star lives in Regina," said Gold to an unfettered Armistead.

"I will not die, you know? I'm just gonna keep rocking until the day I can't rock no more," he replied. "Wow, man. That's like, deep."

Once again, Mulroney summed it up best:

"You are an inspiration and a visionary, Johnny Rock Star. Be well, friend. Live free, and above all, never, ever change."

But while they took Armistead's performance with a grain of salt, the judges quickly tired of the unending procession of weak singers.

"I had the weirdest deja-vu that for 40 years I've been hearing people sing very badly," said Werner.

Things turned around when Tyler Lewis stepped on-set. Despite that the judges had nothing good to say about his pants, boots and shell necklace, they loved his "Heartbreak Hotel."

"By the way, among his crowd, that stuff's in," Gold noted in defence of Lewis' apparel. "And by the way, Tyler, you're going to Toronto."

St. John's

While most were at the Newfoundland-Labrador auditions to become the next Rex Goudie, one was hoping to take after Melissa O'Neil.

Jennifer Purchase wore a Melissa O'Neil t-shirt and sang O'Neil's single "Alive," but didn't quite have the same charm as the current Idol.

"Thanks for coming Jennifer. It wasn't very good, though," said Gold.

Fortunately, there was plenty of goodness to come.

Wearing a trucker hat and oversize hoodie, Brandon Jones stepped in front of the judges ready -- and able -- to please.

"It's going awesome. I am so glad to be here," said the 16-year-old New Brunswicker, before telling the judges he was playing a nerd in his high school musical "Wonderfultown."

His version of Fuel's "Hemorrhage" made him the first from St. John's to earn a trip to the Top 200.

Taking a break from the intensity of the audition process, Idol's roving reporter Elena Juatco set off to find out what the competitors really think of the show's host. Mulroney is a "national treasure," as far as Juatco is concerned, and popular among Idol fans for his slick hairstyle and good looks.

"He throws on that flamboyant charm," said one admiring male hopeful. "He's cooler when he's just cool."

Toronto

For a group of already frustrated judges, a series of sub-par performances in Toronto wasn't what the doctor ordered, but that's what they got.

After seeing a gospel/techno artist vocalize her own DJ scratches, a rave pimp with a thin moustache and less than smooth singing voice and a super-slow-motion version of jazz standard "Summertime," Werner was not in a pleasant mood when Dave Espeut took his turn.

The 18-year-old Bowmanville resident was somewhere in the middle of the pack of the day's singers but happened to be in the wrong audition at the wrong time. Before he could finish his song he had to dodge a garbage can hurled by Werner before the frustrated judge stormed off the set.

"That was, like, my worst nightmare. I thought I was great. They absolutely hated me," he lamented. "Zack just chucked a garbage can at my head."

The tension ultimately exploded with Flex telling competitor Jordan Robitaille that Gold blindly gave him a gold ticket without knowing if he could even sing to a melody.

"That's so not f---ing true," says Gold, who went on to kick the desk, throw his coffee mug and flip over his chair before walking off set." I'm so p----- off!"

"What are you going to do about being pissed off?" Flex responded. "What are you going to do? If you have a problem with me you're walking in the wrong direction."

After a long day of auditions and their share of arguments, the judges were back on track, finishing the show by serenading the crew with a touching version of "That's What Friends Are For."

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Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL

Backstage and on the road with Melissa & Rex

Updated Thu. Jun. 1 2006 5:04 PM ET

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Rex Goudie hugs Melissa O'Neil after she won Canadian Idol.

Eye on Idol

CTV takes fans further into the world of Canadian Idol's Melissa O'Neil and Rex Goudie in the intimate, one-hour concert special Melissa & Rex: Let It Go!, premiering Tuesday, June 13 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV (check local listings).

The all-access special features concert performances, candid interviews about their relationship and behind-the-scenes footage from the Sony BMG recording artists' first-ever cross-country tour.

"For people who missed one of their sold-out shows, Melissa & Rex: Let It Go! is a chance to catch up with two of Canada's newest recording artists," said Susanne Boyce, CTV President of Programming and Chair of the Media Group.

In Melissa & Rex: Let It Go! viewers hear first-hand from the pair on life since their Canadian Idol journey ended last September, including details of their relationship and what it's like for two talented teenagers to hit the road on their first-ever national concert tour.

Since her winning performance on the finale of Canadian Idol last season, O'Neil's debut self-titled album from Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc. has gone Gold while her single "Alive" went four times Platinum and reached the Top 10 on Canadian radio charts. Her latest single "Speechless" was recently released to radio stations.

Idol runner-up Goudie received two JUNO Award nominations for his Certified Platinum CD Under The Lights, also from Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc., while his hit single "Run" reached Number One on the Hot AC charts. His current single, "Lie Awake", is already climbing the Top 40 charts.

The young duo recently finished their 35-city tour that took them from St. John's, NL to Vancouver, BC. The concert portion of the special was taped in mid-April at the Sanderson Centre in Brantford, ON.

Melissa & Rex: Let It Go! ventures behind-the-scenes with tour bus footage and backstage access, providing a rare glimpse into the often-dreamed-of lives of musicians on the road. Concert elements will feature performances of the pair's most-loved hits including "Alive," "Let it Go" and "Run."

In addition to the Brantford performance, Melissa & Rex: Let It Go! features footage from concerts at St. John's Mile One Stadium in Goudie's home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in O'Neil's hometown of Calgary and other venues across Canada.

On the Web:

www.melissaoneil.com

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Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL

Idol's judges defend their Episode 2 outbursts

Updated Fri. Jun. 9 2006 4:40 PM ET

Eye on Idol

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Judges Jake Gold, Sass Jordan and Farley Flex during one of the better moments at the Toronto auditions.

After taking heat for losing their cool more than once on Monday's episode, Canadian Idol's judges are defending their behavior.

On the show's second episode -- which featured auditions in Montreal, St. John's, Toronto and Regina -- the audience had a chance to see what can happen when you put four very different people in front of TV cameras for work days that can last up to 15 hours or even longer.

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Judge Zack Werner shows his frustration at the Toronto auditions.

Jake Gold and Zack Werner had it out over a competitor in Montreal, and Gold and Farley Flex blew up over one in Toronto. The judges had seen fewer talented singers than they expected that day, and the monotony clearly got to them.

It culminated when Zack threw a garbage can at Idol hopeful Dave Espeut, whose singing was neither a gift from God nor terribly offensive.

"What people don't see is how long these auditions actually take," said Werner following the episode's broadcast.

"Things are not happening in real time. We're real people stuck in an unusual situation and we're passionate about what we do. We're trying to do the best we can for the viewers, for ourselves and for the quality of the show."

All three male judges (Sass Jordan stayed out of the disputes, as usual) agree that even when tensions rise, it's nothing personal against the others -- they're just trying to defend their opinions. It's when someone suggests they have some other motive that they go on the offensive.

When asked about his spat with Werner in Montreal (in which Werner accused Gold of denying a gold ticket to a competitor due to his appearance), Gold told Eye on Idol he blew up not because of the issue itself, but because Werner was questioning his integrity.

"Sometimes Zack can come off as his opinion is the only one that counts," said Gold. "It's another thing to tell me (he knows) what (my) opinion is too. Don't put words in my mouth. I don't like when someone tries to tell me what I'm thinking."

Gold said the second televised altercation, when he went head-to-head with Flex before storming off the set in Toronto, happened for a much different reason that it appeared when edited for television.

"I felt he was trying to use physical intimidation by standing up and telling me 'what are you going to do? What are you going to do?'" explained Gold. "He was getting really, really loud and standing up and taking off his mic like he was trying to intimidate me.

"It had nothing to do with the contestant or the conversation we were having... I don't need to have someone get in my face like that. I was pissed off he would even go that route."

But from Flex's perspective, he wasn't even riled up, let alone willing to use physical force against his colleague.

"I have a philosophy for life that doesn't involve getting irritated," said Flex. "It's a waste of time and energy. I think it shortens your lifespan, honestly."

Flex said he was merely using the moment to stand up for his opinion and "reacting to Jake's reaction."

"It's mildly irritating when he gets frustrated," Flex said. "You could say I have a little bit of fun with him, but clearly not to any point of real discontent. We're boys, you know, that's the way we hang.

"I was just asking 'what are you doing to do?' That's not a threat, it's a question. A threat would be 'I'm going to kick your butt' or something of that nature. I was so calm in that circumstance it wasn't even funny."

But, despite how calm or how agitated any of her colleagues purport to be, Jordan says she's happy to stay out of the fray as much as she can.

"I find (their behavior) appalling a lot of the time," she said. "Being unkind for no reason, it's not me. I don't see any point in it and I don't enjoy it and it makes me feel bad. If I don't have something constructive and encouraging to say, I try not to say anything.

"Their battery never runs out. They're long winded and they never shut up."

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This show's hilarious - I saw part of season 2 with that cutie Kalan Porter, but missed seasons 1 and 3. It's so funny how they've set up the exact same show as American Idol but with Zack, Sass, and Farley instead of Simon, Paula and Randy - not too sure what role the 4th judge Jake is supposed to play, but I like him more than Zack. The argument between him and Farley last week was so strange, but Zack throwing a garbage can at a contestant's head was just so over the top - boo!

Can't really hear when somebody's really good or not, but this was my favorite contestant yesterday - maybe it's just because she's Quebequois, but I thought she sounded a bit like Celine Dion! But she only got two yesses, so maybe not (?)

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Anyway, also liked the native american girl from Winnipeg and the lobster fisherman from out East.

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Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL, REACAPS

Roller skates and sass from Sass on Monday's show

Eye on Idol

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The third Canadian Idol episode showcasing the cross-county audition tour saw a smaller-than-usual parade of bad singers than the first two shows but still found plenty of ways to entertain.

Viewers got a rare taste of Sass Jordan's surly side, the judges got a rare strip show from a feisty competitor on roller skates and fans of Winnipeg pop group McMaster and James were treated to an audition from one of the one-hit wonder's members looking to get back into the game.

Ottawa:

The chatty and energetic Chris LaBelle started off the show, bursting onto the Ottawa audition stage like a ball of bald energy. Not that he wanted anyone to notice -- the 24-year-old LaBelle only revealed his hairstyle, which consisted of a super-blond ring around the sides and back and nothing at all on top, when prompted by the panel.

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Chris had a bit of a mishap at a hair salon before his audition.

"It's not going to change your decision is it?" asked the Ottawa resident before sheepishly removing his black toque. "I wanted to bleach it for Canadian Idol. The beauty salon bleached it for an hour and a half and ruined my hair. I look like I'm 80."

Fortunately for the hip-shaking soul singer, his I.D. proved he was young enough to be eligibile for the Top 200 and he was sent on his way to Toronto.

The next disaster, at least in Farley Flex's opinion, came out of the mouth of 25-year-old Katie Beetham. After emitting a throaty rumble in the middle of her version of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Beetham had to face off against Flex and his repeated imitations of her low register.

"Come on, what are you doing?" Flex demanded of a surprised Beetham. "You've got so much talent... or 80 per cent of you does. And then you've got 20 per cent of the most unappealing sound I've heard in my life. What was that? Do that again! Do it again!"

Unappealing grumble or not, though, Beetham's 80 per cent was good enough to make her one of the 29 Ottawa competitors in the Top 200, even after showing it off a second time for Flex's amusement.

Winnipeg:

Plenty of talented singers showed up to the show's Winnipeg auditions, but one of them stood out as much for his previous success as for his talent. Rob James, a former member of pop duo McMasters and James, had a hit on the pop charts in 2000 with "Love Wins Every Time."

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Rob James, a former member of pop duo McMasters and James.

With the group, James opened for stars such as Christina Aguilera, Prozzak and N'Sync. Six years later, he found his career floundering and figured that trying his shot at becoming the Canadian Idol was a great way to get back in the business.

"We had some moderate success but didn't quite get there," said James, who plays guitar and piano. "I left that experience feeling like I'd fallen short of the goal I'd set for myself."

His laid-back but confident version of the Goo Goo Dolls' "I'll Be" gave the judges reason to agree with him -- but not before warning him they were expecting perfection by the time he arrived in Toronto.

Before heading into her audition, Jessica Parsons thought she had the perfection thing down pat. Dressed in a tiara, a pink party dress, striped stockings and roller skates, she confidently assured Idol's cameras she was Winnipeg's finest.

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Jessica skates and changes costumes during her rendition of Barbie Girl.

"If I give it my all and show my range then I'm going to make it to Toronto and be the next Canadian Idol," she said from behind oversized dark sunglasses.

Her version of "Barbie Girl" verged on tone-deaf, but she managed to hold the judges focus elsewhere, performing actions to the lyrics of the song that included a half-hearted version of the Robot. When it came to singing the line "undress me everywhere," she whipped off her dress to reveal a bright blue string bikini.

Somehow, it wasn't what the judges had in mind. Life in plastic may be fantastic, but not enough to put Parsons on par with the 24 who did succeed in front of Idol's panel.

Halifax:

It seemed like a rough day for the judges in Halifax. Their fodder in the East Coast hub included a dancer who Ben Mulroney compared to a fly stuck in a car and a singer who attempted Chubby Checker's "the Twist" with only one note.

After a string of such competitors, Jordan hit a rare breaking point, ordering Dartmouth resident Chad Hatcher off the stage after he choked while performing his song.

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Sass said, 'You cacked, you gotta go.'

"You cacked, you've got to go," she said, as her colleagues looked at her in surprise. "Cack: you're out. It's like a gong show."

Fisherman Drew Spears, 28, told the cameras he spends his days singing "to the sky, to the trees, to the birds, to the water, to the boats, to the people... everybody." But his performance of "Stand By Me" leads one to wonder if he ever looked to see if his audience ever stuck around.

After keeping his eyes squeezed shut for his entire performance in front of the judges, he opened them to find that Jordan, Jake Gold and Zack Werner had all snuck offstage during his song. Regardless of their reaction, he walked expectantly toward the stack of gold tickets sitting in front of Flex, the only remaining judge.

His advances were quickly rebuked.

"You get away from this table right now and never darken my doorstep again," Flex warned.

But, the good name of fisherman everywhere was saved thanks to lobster-catcher Jesse Cox, who wowed the judges with his great voice and modesty while singing CCR's "As Long as I Can See the Light."

"You needn't be self-conscious or shy, because you're great," said Jordan.

After promising Zack he wouldn't complain if he had to stand in front of audience singing Beach Boys medleys on the show, he earned one of 22 gold tickets handed out in Halifax.

With the auditions complete, the gold ticket winners had a bit of time to practice up for the action-packed Top 200, which was taped over a gruelling week in Toronto. Watch CTV on June 19 and 20 to see who makes the cut to the Top 22!

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...

Courtesy of: CANADIAN IDOL, IDOL SCOOPS

More than 200 competitors came to Toronto on a Sunday, but by Friday, only 22 were left.

Top 22 to be announced on Tuesday's Idol episode

Updated Fri. Jun. 16 2006 10:13 AM ET

Eye on Idol

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After some nervous months of keeping quiet about their Canadian Idol audition status, 22 talented Canadians will soon be able to share their success with the world.

On next Tuesday's episode, the second of two showcasing the gruelling Top 200 week, the 22 best singers from Idol's cross-country audition search will be revealed.

Those selected have known since late May, when they attended four days of rigorous competition to narrow the pack from the 212 selected in audition cities across Canada. But, in order to maintain the drama that makes the show tick, they have been unable to reveal their status to anyone.

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More than 200 competitors came to Toronto on a Sunday, but by Friday, only 22 were left.

The episodes hit the airwaves Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m.

On Monday's episode, the singers arrive in Toronto for the beginning of Canadian Idol boot camp: four days of exhaustive auditions in which dozens of people are eliminated each day.

On the first day, competitors are brought on stage in chorus line fashion to perform for the judges one at a time. Decisions are made instantly after their performances, with almost 90 being dismissed from the competition after hardly a day in Toronto.

Later in the episode, the remaining 122 singers must organize themselves into groups and rehearse a brand new song with less than 12 hours notice. It's intense pressure and emotions run high -- especially at the end of the episode, when another 46 competitors are sent home.

On Tuesday's show, the remaining 76 must find a partner and rehearse a duet to be performed on Day Three of the auditions, facing further cuts. On Day Four, 44 competitors get their last chance for a spot in the coveted Top 22 when they once again perform solo in front of the Canadian Idol judges.

After intense deliberations, the judges identify the Top 22 in the episode's dramatic conclusion. But just before that, host Ben Mulroney announces a surprise change that will alter the future of two of the competitors, and another gets a second shot at fame.

According to CTV communications, the Top 22 includes 11 males and 11 females representing Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montr

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Monday's episode moves to Tuesday, June 20 at 8 p.m.

Updated Sun. Jun. 18 2006 11:09 AM ET

Eye on Idol

After some nervous months of keeping quiet about their Canadian Idol audition status, 22 talented Canadians will soon be able to share their success with the world.

On next Tuesday's back-to-back episodes showcasing the gruelling Top 200 week, the 22 best singers from Idol's cross-country audition search will be revealed.

Those selected have known since late May, when they attended four days of rigorous competition to narrow the pack from the 212 selected in audition cities across Canada. But, in order to maintain the drama that makes the show tick, they have been unable to reveal their status to anyone.

The back-to-back episodes hit the airwaves on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

The show begins when the singers arrive in Toronto for the beginning of Canadian Idol boot camp: four days of exhaustive auditions in which dozens of people are eliminated each day.

On the first day, competitors are brought on stage in chorus line fashion to perform for the judges one at a time. Decisions are made instantly after their performances, with almost 90 being dismissed from the competition after hardly a day in Toronto.

Later in the episode, the remaining 122 singers must organize themselves into groups and rehearse a brand new song with less than 12 hours notice. It's intense pressure and emotions run high -- especially at the end of the episode, when another 46 competitors are sent home.

In the second half, the remaining 76 must find a partner and rehearse a duet to be performed on Day Three of the auditions, facing further cuts. On Day Four, 44 competitors get their last chance for a spot in the coveted Top 22 when they once again perform solo in front of the Canadian Idol judges.

After intense deliberations, the judges identify the Top 22 in the episode's dramatic conclusion. But just before that, host Ben Mulroney announces a surprise change that will alter the future of two of the competitors, and another gets a second shot at fame.

According to CTV communications, the Top 22 includes 11 males and 11 females representing Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montr

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Monday's episode moves to Tuesday, June 20 at 8 p.m.

Thanks for that update Dade, they didn't make changes to any of the tv guides like at Yahoo and Msn. I think all the television people put repeats on and took off to watch the big hockey game :)

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Hey, my fave made it to the top 22 - yay! She wasn't one of the select 5 or 6 that get all the in-depth interviews and camera time, but hey at least now the public has a chance to hear more of her next week - meh, not as good as Celine (and apparently not even french-Canadian - oops) but she's got something . . .

So was it that really short guy who had to bow out of the top 22 and did he get replaced by the guy who bleached all the hair off the top of his head? And is that guy from Winnipeg just a total Constantine Maroulis knock-off or what? And what's with that lead-singer who's already 'hit it big' with a chart-topper . . . he's still eligible?!?

Can't wait until tomorrow . . . same time as BB (will have to tape it)

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Drama & self destruction as Top 200 begins

Eye on Idol

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With their local auditions long behind them, 212 undiscovered singers from across Canada packed their bags to head to Toronto for one of the most difficult weeks many would face in their musical careers.

Vying for a spot in the Top 22 and the chance to sing on Canadian Idol's live shows, competitors lived through a four days of intense competition, sleepless nights and nerve-wracking performances -- all with the underlying knowledge that a slight slip could mean hitting a dead end on the rocky road to Idol fame.

Great expectations?

After weeks of nervousness leading up to the Top 200 week, country girl Kati Durst (from Goderich, Ontario) played the realist as she packed her pretty pink suitcase for her trip to the Big Smoke.

"Last night I broke over the breaking point where I was more excited than nervous," said the chipper songstress. "You don't know what's going to happen. You pack and you plan for six days, but you could be going home after the first day, so I try to keep myself in check that way."

Yellowknife's Noel Taylor, 19, also had no idea what to expect, both from the competition and from himself when under pressure.

"I'm not really sure what will be going through my mind," said the laid-back punk rocker in his signature deadpan. "Probably not much. A lot of 'calm the hell down' type feelings."

Whatever was ahead, Abbotsford, B.C.'s Greg Neufeld was sure he had the capability to excel. As the west coast wakeboarder packed his bag, he told Idol's cameras of his high hopes.

"I think it would be a let down if I don't succeed into the final 10, or even farther in this competition," he said.

Arrival in Toronto

Idol's roving reporter Elena Juatco was ready at the airport when the competitors began to arrive. After getting residents of each province to rally around their flag for the camera (including a rally of one from Noel, the only representative of NWT to appear on the show), she packed the bus and took the group to the hotel.

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Noel Taylor is the sole NWT competitor in the Top 200.

Meanwhile, competitors from Ontario and Quebec were streaming into Toronto's historic Union Station after train rides from their home cities. After heaving their massive bags up the station's stairs (no escalators there!), they too were on their way to the hotel.

Once they had checked in, the competitors were off to meet the people they would share close quarters with for the week. Upon entering his room, lobster fisherman Jesse Cox came face to face with his new housemate, Harry Butt.

"But what's your real name?" asked Jesse in disbelief.

"Harry Butt," asserted the spectacled man in the white shirt, producing his I.D. for posterior posterity.

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Jessica finds out about trouble at home Monday night and decides to drop out.

Day 1 -- Solos

The first day of competition began with a run-down from the judges on what makes a good performer.

"If you make a mistake... do it with confidence, and at least in some way acknowledge that you know you made a mistake," said Farley Flex, from the stage of the Top 200 venue, Mississauga's Living Arts Centre.

"We're talking emotional connection," said Jake Gold. "When I talk about how I don't feel you, it's because you didn't make a connection with me."

Sass Jordan's advice was that of an experienced performer.

"Try and touch the people at the very back of the room with your emotion, with your voice, with your soul," she said.

For Zack Werner, it's all about originality.

"It's important to stand out," he said. "It's that 'wow' factor. Any one of you who makes the four of us say 'wow,' well, you're staying for another day."

And with that, the elimination process began. Groups of singers were brought on stage to stand in a row. Each person had one chance to impress the judges with a verse and a chorus, as well as a moment to share why they would make a great Canadian Idol. After each person had finished, the judges would make their cuts.

It was a rough process for everyone, but especially Edmonton gold-ticket winner Deirdre Murphy. After boring the judges with a slow-moving ballad, she was instantly cut from the competition before the others in her group had even taken their turns.

"Ok, Deirdre, that was really bad," interjected Jake. "Sorry, you're cut."

Petawawa jokester Al McKinnon also faced the judges' wrath. After telling them he wanted to be the Idol so he can market his own fragrance, he performed the same song that he sang in his Ottawa audition, "Black Betty."

He made the cut, but got a stern warning from Zack as he was leaving the stage.

"By the way Al, what you did is a joke and you barely squeezed through, only 'cause you're showing some star power and charisma, dude," he said. "Stop screwing around. You're not that funny, man, and this ain't the comedy network."

As the day continued, the judges saw plenty of good and bad, including a high energy performance of "Walking in Memphis" from Chris Labelle, a quirky introduction from Winnipeg indie rocker Keith Macpherson and an knockout voice from out-of-nowhere Edmontonian Nathan Brown.

By the end of Day 1, only 117 were left.

Getting into groups

For those left, the day was far from over. The next task was to form into groups and rehearse a song for the next day. All evening, the hotel halls, bathrooms and every other nook and cranny were filled with the sounds of music, and occasionally, the sounds of drama.

Newfoundlander Craig Sharpe left and then rejoined RJ Perry and Adam Foster's group after they were accused of practicing too little, and according to one competitor, drinking too much.

After hitting the sack feeling good about their chances, Brenna MacQuarrie and Jinting Zhao found out the third member of their group, Jessica Bettcher, had suddenly dropped out of the competition. It was the middle of the night as they reconvened to practice their song as a duo.

Day 2 -- Group Performances

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Rochelle shows up late for her group performance, aloof and unapologetic.

As everyone else was getting ready to go to the venue, Group 1's Rochelle Naytowhow was nowhere to be found. She groggily staggered into the Living Arts Centre's lobby minutes before her group was to hit the stage, unprepared and unapologetic.

"Even if they're upset with me this morning, it doesn't really matter 'cause it's work and we've got to get it done," she said flippantly.

But she wasn't so confident when her group hit the stage. After forgetting her lines, Zack asked if she knew any part of the song. She admitted she only knew the two lines in the chorus. Her group was less than pleased.

"Learning a song in less than 24 hours is already stressful enough, but not feeling like you can count on the structure of the group makes it crazy extra stressful," Irene Torres told the camera after the girls left the stage.

Tides turned as Rob James, Sheldon Elter, Tony Caruso and Bernard Quilala took their turn. Rob, an experienced pop singer from his days in McMaster and James, led the group to an astoundingly harmonized version of "Baby, I Love Your Way."

The day's performances included a version of "More Than Words" by the self-titled Extremely Good (Ryan Hawes, Andrew Austin and Keith Macpherson) and plenty of trainwrecks of the Kinks' deceivingly difficult "All Day and All of the Night."

Another popular song was "Shining Star," which saw a less than perfect but gyration-heavy performance by the orphaned duo of Brenna and Jinting; a high-energy headbanging effort from Alex Machidon, Jesse Cox and Mario DeAngelis; smooth crooning from Alisha Nauth, Davida Syne, Preeya Khanna and Ayla June; and coordinated dance moves by Tiffany Williams, Leanne Kean, Elsa Mutya and Chanel Weir.

After the judges had finished conferring, the competitors entered a room where their fates -- "safe" or "eliminated" -- were stamped on the back of notecards featuring their photos on the front.

It was the end of competition for Al, Jinting, Brenna, the guys in Craig's group and many others.

And then there were 76.

Canadian Idol judges select diverse Top 22

Eye on Idol

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After a gruelling Top 200 week where the weak were sent packing, Canadian Idol's judges selected a talented and diverse Top 22 to move to the next phase of competition for the Idol crown.

Only 76 singers -- the cream of the Canadian crop -- were left at the halfway point, facing off for a spot on Idol's live shows.

Many were exhausted after sleeping only a few hours each night in exchange for time spent working on their songs, but everyone left was sure they were the next Canadian Idol -- and the judges were expecting near perfection from the high caliber singers left standing.

Day 3 -- Duets

The angel-faced, high-pitched Craig Sharpe joined fellow Newfoundlander Leanne Kean to kick off Day 3 with "Take My Breath Away." After pulling off a practically flawless performance, the duo beamed as they reaped in praises from the judging panel.

"Craig, I haven't had the chance to really see you sing, but I just wanted to say that was fantastic," gushed Farley Flex. "Well done, buddy."

"It's remarkable how well both of you sing, given your ages," added Sass Jordan.

After a string of groups performing "Leaving on a Jet Plane," came two performers who were both fighting tooth and nail to keep their planes from flying away from Toronto.

Quebecer James Taylor and Saskatchewan's Rochelle Naytowhow -- now infamous for showing up late and then forgetting the words during her group performance a day earlier -- hit the stage with "Forever Young."

Despite insisting that she was "pumped" before heading on stage, Rochelle blanked out the instant it became her turn to sing and then spent much of the performance looking off into space, even after being given a second turn by the unusually generous judges.

The second time, the duo didn't even finish their first chorus before they were thanked and sent off the stage.

"She's out of here," one of the judges mumbled under their breath.

"I could have done better and I didn't do my best out there," said a monotone Rochelle. "My nerves got the best of me, which is kind of a shame."

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Nathan Brown comforts a shocked Ashley Coulter after the Top 22 are announced.

After a roof-raising performance of "Up Where We Belong" by Nathan Brown and Alisha Nauth, it wasn't obvious how the rest of the day's acts could compare. Then came Chad Doucette and Isabelle Ouellet.

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There's something about Chad and Isabelle and their performance of 'Close to You.'

The duo had partnered during a previous Idol competition and their chemistry was unmistakable. They'd practiced until 2:30 a.m. the night before and were slightly delirious, but had something going for them in addition to their voices.

Along with their song -- "Close to You" from the There's Something About Mary Soundtrack -- they had a schtick. In keeping with theme from the mid-1990s slapstick comedy, Isabelle gelled a piece of her hair straight upwards, while Chad began the song with his underwear sticking out of his fly.

Their delivery was impeccable, even as Chad struggled to get his unmentionables back into his pants while holding the microphone in one hand -- something he hadn't thought to practice in advance.

The judges were amazed by how the pair had progressed since last year's competition.

"The level of maturity from last year to this year as performers from both of you is so much different," said Zack Werner.

The day was topped off by a killer "Take My Breath Away" from the older-than-their-years Ashley Coles and Brandon Jones, and then it was voting time.

After an intense period of waiting in the lobby, the competitors were called onto the stage. Each group stepped forward one at a time to learn the fate its members, which was not always the same for both.

Rochelle and James were both sent home. Farm-boy Dusty Hunter was cut while his partner Ashley Coulter remained. Chad and Isabelle were kept for another day, as were Ashley and Brandon. When it was all over, 44 remained standing.

Day 4 -- Final Solos

In their last chance to impress the judges before the axe dropped that evening, the competitors struggled to project their best notes forward in the solo competition.

But it wasn't just about impressing the judges, it was about surpassing expectations set by themselves, and sometimes by loved ones.

Albertan Will Randall had gone through a tidal wave of emotion throughout the course of the week, and could often be seen talking on the payphones or praying for strength. He had one thing to say before heading on stage to sing Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call it The Blues."

"This is for everybody who told me I couldn't," Randall said. "I'm going out there and I'm gonna knock 'em dead."

DJ Eyamie had continued to impress the judges since his audition in Ottawa with his classic good looks, easygoing demeanor and strong presence. He hoped his version of "Right Here Waiting" would be the final proof of his superstar quality to them as well as to himself.

"I'm here this week because it's something that I absolutely needed to do for so many reasons in my past and in my life," he said, moments before singing. "It's something that would rectify so many things in my head and make me feel really good about myself. I'm way ready to go further."

After being accustomed to performing with a rock band, Nevada Von Bieker wasn't nervous about singing "Paint It Black," other than remembering the words.

The purple-and-platinum-locked songstress was clearly confident as she performed the song on the stage. She managed to remember all the lyrics but her crooning delivery of the rock classic got a less-than-thrilled critique from the judges.

"It's interesting," said Jake. "She did that song loungy, she sort of floated around it instead of attacking it."

"She didn't know what to do," added Zack.

The moment of truth

Once the performances were finished, the competitors were herded back to the hotel for the final decision. Separated into four rooms, they each received a visit from the judges bearing the good or bad news.

Occupants of two of the rooms hung their heads in shock; those in two others began screaming and hugging like giddy singing monkeys. The judges selected 11 guys and 11 girls to battle it out for the Top 10. Now the rest is in the hands of the viewers.

Canadian Idol Top 22:

Eva Avila

Nathan Brown

Ashley Coles

Ashley Coulter

Steffi D

Chad Doucette

Kati Durst

Sheldon Elter

Rob James

Brandon Jones

Alyssa Klazek

Jeremy Koz

Val

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Idol's Top 11 guys hit the ground running

Eye on Idol

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It was the first live show of Canadian Idol, Season 4 -- and the first ever live televised performance for most of those who took the stage -- but you wouldn't have known it watching them sing.

The 11 guys in the first of two Top 22 performance shows made few errors and managed to wow the audience or the judges, and often both.

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The guys gather for a group shot on the stage couches.

With their female counterparts watching from the sidelines and a packed and cheering audience waving signs of support from the floor, the 11 gentlemen from across Canada showed the judges who chose them that they clearly made wise selections.

After his taped introduction promised viewers his sincere desire to be the Idol will show through in his performances, Koz belted out a powerhouse version of Bryan Adams' "It's Only Love."

Despite being the first competitor to perform live, he showed no signs of nervousness and easily won over the judges.

"You're the kind of person who could get up on a stage in a stadium and really bring the crowd to their feet and I love that about you," said a smiling Sass Jordan, a seasoned stadium performer herself.

"I think that was a really good performance, but it's going to be really great when you show some of your subtler sides," said Jake Gold. "Good job."

When Craig Sharpe hit the stage, his mere 16 years of life experience were nowhere to be found in the control and clarity in his rendition of Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most."

Jake even wagered that Craig might continue the trend of Newfoundlanders making it to the Top 10 and Sass was blown away by the professionalism of the group's youngest performer.

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Canadian Idol host Ben Mulroney

"You know not to go too far. You know how to hold back and that is unbelievable for someone of your age," said Sass.

"In the four years of doing this show you have a completely unique set of pipes from anyone we have ever had on this show," noted Zack Werner.

Next up was Alberta's Nathan Brown, who took a moment before his song to remind the crowd of his first performance in the Top 200 week, when none of the judges could remember putting him through at the Edmonton auditions.

He kept up the joke after his smoothly crooned take on Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come" by producing his gold ticket and walking it over to the judges' desk.

"I see you found the Kinko's," joked Farley Flex, later commenting that he appreciated Brown's control and his soulful style.

"You bit off a lot... but what I thought was interesting was that you did it in your own vibe," added Zack. "You're too good looking to not be here."

The ever-confident Brandon Jones arrived for Idol's first live show with a slightly new look than during the auditions and Top 200 -- no more braces. Singing Kenny Rogers' "Lady," he turned on the boyish charm but came out with mixed reviews from the judges.

"I thought it was a demonstration of what you couldn't do more than what you could do," Zack told him. "And probably what the little girls will vote for."

Jake seemed to agree, saying Jones is usually a great performer but it didn't come out in the song. Sass and Farley, however, were much more pleased. Both gave the charismatic teenager thumbs up for star power and his ability to touch the crowd.

Before his turn, the former half of McMaster and James -- Winnipegger Rob James -- admitted that despite having opened for acts including Christina Aguilera, he still gets nervous. Choosing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," James proved his experience in his delivery.

"I know there's a lot of talk about how you had your shot with McMaster and James, but as far as I'm concerned you deserve to be here because you're as good as anybody we've ever had on the show," said Jake.

Sass agreed, telling Rob "there's no such thing as (one) shot. You've got as many shots as you want. You're an amazing pro."

After telling the show's millions of viewers about being jilted by a date who made out with another guy before even being driven home, Keith Macpherson proceeded to sing the song playing on the radio during that fateful car ride, Howie Day's "Collide."

It was far from a collision as far as the judges were concerned, with each of them lauding the professional musician's charm as well as his vocals.

"You may be a joker, but when you sing, you are in a league of your own," said Sass to the beaming Macpherson.

"I hate to be a downer," added Farley, gesturing at the two sofas where the rest of the male competitors were waiting in anticipation. "But that was terrible for everybody on the couch."

Nervous about the possibility of "getting the boot" for the second time in six weeks, Chris Labelle used his second chance at a Top 10 spot to sing "Walking in Memphis," a song he already sang for the judges during the Top 200 week.

This time, it was a roaring success, and all four loved his ability to keep all eyes on his act.

"If you make people smile in the business then you're doing Ok," said Farley.

"I don't care about sharp, flat, whatever, anymore... I'm into charisma," asserted Zack. "Dude has charisma. He's entertaining. Keep him around. Make me laugh. Make Canada smile."

Tyler Lewis used his raw, small-town rocker charm to put his personal spin on 3 Doors Down's "Here Without You." His distinct and rough-around-the edges delivery left Jake, Farley and Sass impressed. Zack was less thrilled.

"That wasn't what I think you can do," said the judge, dubbed "Mr. Sunshine" by host Ben Mulroney. "But based on your tone... we'll probably still be seeing you."

Even Mulroney noted Lewis' unique-beyond-his-years sound.

"You're (turning) 20 but you've got the voice of a man!" he exclaimed after the judges had finished their appraisals.

Despite getting the crowd clapping along and earning overwhelming applause at its completion, Sheldon Elter's version of a little-known Paul Pena song did not go over well with the entire panel.

While Jake thought "Gonna Move" was a good song choice and Sass said Sheldon could sing anything because he's such a good entertainer, Zack and Farley were less kind.

"I wish I had a whole ton of good stuff to say to you because I like you as an individual," said Farley, "but that song just didn't do it for me, bro."

"I'm a big no on that, dude," said Zack. "It was like some guy singing a blues song in a bar that I didn't know and didn't particularly care about."

In a revelation that sent the crowd moaning, Chad Doucette admitted he was missing his high school prom to be on that night's show. After singing Keith Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry," he was probably pleased with his decision.

"You've got one of those voices that completely stands out in a crowd. I could pick you out of 20 singers and I would know it's Chad," said Sass. "That was wicked sweet."

"You've got a really distinct aura about you," added Farley. "Good on you. That was really cool."

Greg Neufeld came last but certainly not least. Singing Jason Mraz's "You and I Both," his smooth yet powerful vocal chords earned praises from all four of the judges, and even Ben.

"You're a great singer," said Ben. "This is the best male lineup any Idol has ever seen."

How will the Top 22's females compare? Find out on the next Canadian Idol.

.........................

Top 11 ladies reap praise from 'Mr. Sunshine'

Eye on Idol

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It was a night of love ballads, soul baring and an uncommon amount of praise from judge Zack Werner as the best 11 female singers from Canadian Idol's cross country search hit the live stage for the first time.

In an attempt to show off the voices that earned their spots in the first place, the women of the Top 22 tried to croon their way into the hearts of the Canadian public. But, as far as the judges were concerned, not all of them hit the sweet spot.

After watching showstopper after showstopper during the guys' performance show the night before, the girls could see that whoever makes it to the Top 10 will have some serious competition.

While each of them gave it their all, the judges who selected them were quick to pounce on those who they knew could have done better.

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Before the girls could even begin, Jake Gold made it clear that he was just as ready to give the same glowing praise to the girls that he offered to most of the male performers the night earlier -- provided they could live up to the challenge.

"I come in a certain mood all the time," he told host Ben Mulroney. "It's the singing that puts me in a good mood or a bad mood. Last night I left in a great mood."

The show kicked off with a high-energy lip-quivering version of Heart's "Alone," care of 16-year-old Ashley Coles.

The young singer won over the judges in previous phases of the competition with her unique sound and confidence on stage, but didn't have quite the same impact with Sass Jordan or Jake this time.

Both thought she should have picked a different song, noting it would have been better with the band that plays with the Top 10, that it had been overdone on the show's other seasons, and, according to Sass, that it was outside Coles' capabilities. Zack disagreed.

"You have certain skills that no one else possesses... and you should be here long enough to sing with a band," said Zack, who noted in the previous episode that he is now looking more for personality than perfection.

When country girl Kati Durst hit the stage with Dobie Gray's 1970s classic "Drift Away," she was hoping to give the judges and viewers a genuine look at her laid-back style. Instead, she found herself critiqued for losing just that.

"There was some nice shining moments in there, but I think it kind of lacked the spark I know you are capable of," said Sass.

"I think it's really easy in our land o'fromage in which you have found yourself placed to lose that genuine relaxed hippie chick vibe that you bring to the table," noted Zack. "If you survive, you've just got to be Kati."

With the boyfriend she met during the Top 200 week in the audience, wild child Alyssa Klazek delivered a soft and serious version of India Arie's "Ready for Love."

Despite saying they could tell she meant what she was singing, the judges were less than impressed with her ability to inspire her audience.

"Ultimately this is a competition and you have to compete with people who are the full package and vocally you came up way, way, way short," said Zack, later adding, "I think she sings with the faith of her convictions, but if you jump off the mountain without a parachute, you're going to hit rock bottom."

"Alyssa, I just felt you took the soul out of that song," noted Jake. "That's a soulful song and I just didn't feel it."

In her second chance to wow audiences on Idol's live shows, former Top 32 competitor Val

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I voted like crazy for the '20's style girl - so glad she pulled through! I like her voice and her bubbly personality but guess she's maybe a little too quirky to get the popular vote (?)

The only one of the 22 who really moved me to vote was that redhead guy who sang 'Jimmy Got High' - wonder if he'll be able remain the standout or whether he'll start to coast and lose some passion.

Glad to see the Constantine Maroulis guy get the boot, but was bummed the two french canadian girls were also eliminated - boo! Hope Rob James goes next . . . it's so unfair for him to be in this competition if he's already had a professional recording contract!

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANDIAN IDOL

Eliminated competitors say Idol gave inspiration

Updated Fri. Jun. 30 2006 3:53 PM ET

Eye on Idol

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Val

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Idols face challenge: mix it up or play to strengths

Eye on Idol

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The men of Canadian Idol's Top 18 went into their second live performances with two veins of advice to choose from: performing to their strengths or proving they can step out of the box.

The result from the nine remaining men was an evening of ballads and lounge songs, sometimes syncing perfectly with the performer's natural style, others leading the judges to regret ever suggesting the competitors try something different.

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It began with Greg Neufeld, who belted out "Rocket Man" by Elton John to an audience including a gaggle of ladies waving signs of support.

While his previous performances earned minimal criticism from the judges, Greg hit his first real rocky patch. Jake Gold thought the song was more of a showcase for the easy-going west coaster's weaknesses and Farley Flex didn't think he was pushing himself far enough.

"I wanted to see you go to the edge," said Farley. "You've got the capacity to do it, but you've got to do it."

Next up, birthday boy Tyler Lewis marked his first day as a 20-year-old with Ozzy Osborne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home." Both Jake and Zack Werner saw the effort as a failed attempt at a rock song, advising the small town Saskatchewan boy to play to his strengths and rock harder.

"I'm really confused by you at this point," said Zack. "If that's a rock and roll performance that you just did, then you ain't no rocker at all... It seems like you're just trying to compete."

Both Sass Jordan and Farley were more receptive to Tyler's spin on the song, complimenting him on his high register and his ability to "really give 'er."

Ever the crowd-pleaser, Chris Labelle stepped onstage next wearing a white cowboy hat, but quickly whipped it off to reveal his newly-coloured Canada-Day-red mohawk.

After a performance of the Garth Brooks gospel tune "We Shall Be Free" that included a shower of monopoly money on the front row of the audience, the judges once again reacted well to Labelle's showmanship.

In their distinct ways, Farley, Jake and Zack said Labelle's ability to entertain made him a real contender despite being among singers with more vocal talent.

"The red hair, the Monopoly money, walking like an Egyptian... You're the smoke and mirrors guy," said Farley. "You're the man who understands how to entertain and use what you have to make people laugh."

Craig Sharpe also seemed to be capitalizing on his strengths, playing to his age group and pop sensibilities in choosing N'Sync's "This I Promise You." While all the judges thought it would be enough to inspire the young Newfoundlander's fans to vote, Sass and Jake were particularly impressed.

"I think that song was the right song for you," Jake told him. "You did the right song last week, you did the right songs this week and you're from Newfoundland so you're going on. People in Newfoundland know how to support their own like the rest of the country should."

"Your voice, it's astonishing," added a blown-away Sass, clearly still under Craig's spell. "You have an astonishing voice."

After seeing himself land in the bottom four after his performance last week, Sheldon Elter tried to seduce the Idol audience with Van Morrison's "Moondance" as if performed by Michael Bubl

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Idol fans oust panel favourites in Top 18 cuts

Eye on Idol

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In a vote that proved Canadian Idol viewers are more likely to listen to their intuition than the show's judges, fans eliminated three panel favourites on Wednesday's night's episode.

Of the four members of the Top 18 to say goodbye, only one was forseen by the show's judges. Hippie chick Alyssa Klazek was the only singer in last week's bottom eight to end her Idol run this round, joined by heartthrob Greg Neufeld, R & B princess Alisha Nauth and class clown Chris Labelle.

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The judges -- who, among them, mistakenly predicted the ouster of small town rocker Tyler Lewis, country girl Kati Durst, one-hit wonder Rob James, blues belter Ashley Coulter and charismatic playwright Sheldon Elter -- were shocked.

Zack Werner, usually one of the panel's most vocal, was speechless when asked by host Ben Mulroney what he thought of Canada's selections. While declining to make predictions after last night's performance show, he did say he thought Sheldon, Tyler, Alyssa and Ashley Coles deserved to be cut.

Ashley Coles, Ashley Coulter, Sheldon and Rob were indeed called onstage when Ben announced the bottom eight, but returned to their seats unscathed -- to shocked looks from all four members of the panel.

But while his departure wasn't predicted, Greg's exit wasn't completely out of thin air. After rocking the house Jason Mraz-style in his first performance, he failed to live up to the first week's glowing praise with his song on Monday, a version of Elton's John's "Rocket Man" that showed his limitations more than his abilities, according to the judges.

Alisha had earned nothing but accolades in her two live performances, Bon Jovi's "Always" and Phil Collins' "Against All Odds." The worst they had to say was that she'd slightly rushed her second song.

"You deserve to be here for a long time," Zack told her Tuesday night.

Labelle had earned similarly positive reviews, but more for his showmanship than his vocals. After a display this week where he threw Monopoly money on the crowd and cozied up to pianist Mark Lalama, judge Jake Gold said he was the only competitor who acted like he really wanted the Idol title.

But even after learning of his dismal fate, Labelle kept entertaining. When asked what he planned to do next, he used his last televised moment to gun for a new gig.

"If anybody's watching out there I want to be a weatherman," he said, adding "watch out, because I'm going to be dropping an album in January. January!"

It was the lightest moment in a night that left many, including judge Farley Flex, questioning how such talented entertainers were leaving so early in the voting process.

"There's a lot to be said for the wild card," he told Ben near the show's closing. "I think we've got to bring it back."

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Courtesy of: CTV, CANADIAN IDOL

Top 14 ladies sing like it's their last chance

Updated Tue. Jul. 11 2006 2:18 AM ET

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In their last chance to earn enough votes to make the Canadian Idol Top 10, the show's ladies hit the stage in full knowledge that the evening's episode could very well be their last.

In taped interviews played before each competitor's performance, all seemed to share the same game plan, likely instilled by last week's surprise eliminations: sing every song like it's your last, because you never know who Canada will send home.

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The ladies of Idol's Top 14 join host Ben Mulroney onstage at the end of the show.

In a brief chat with host Ben Mulroney at the beginning of the show, Judge Jake Gold noted many of the competitors -- especially those seemingly destined for the Top 10 -- are looking forward to playing to a bigger crowd with a full band. He advised everyone to maintain their focus in the moment, saying it's still anyone's game.

"To me, it's the finals all the time," he told Mulroney. "You've got to leave your best performance on that stage all the time. That's what this is about. It's the finals right now, today."

First up in Monday's night's "final" was syrupy sweetheart Steffi D, who, for the second week in a row, used her jazzy style on a current song and blew it out of the water.

Her heartfelt take on Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me" included some intense stares into the eyes of Brandon Jones and left the judges highly complimentary of her selection.

"You're charming, sweet, sparkling, innocent, corny -- which I love," said Sass Jordan. "That was an amazing song choice for you."

"You're so animated and so comfortable," said Farley Flex, after comparing Brandon's embarrassed look to Steffi's bright red blouse. "I get the sense you really understand your tone well and you're choosing songs that allow you to show that off. That was great."

It was a tough act to follow for Ashley Coles, who belted out Aretha Franklin's "Think." The judges agreed unanimously on her talent and that she looked great in her lace-up black dress. They also agreed her song choice was out of her range.

"While you do look great, that's the kind of song you want to sing in a tracksuit because you've got so much to do," advised Farley. "You've confined yourself physically to sing a song like that. It's a really tall order."

"Although the dress is fantastic and I'll give you that one, you kind of made me think one of the contestants on Nashville Star thought they were on Soul Train and just dialed the wrong number," said Zack. "I could see you in a band doing something cool but that was way the wrong choice."

Ashley Coulter hit the stage next with a song she cited as a childhood favourite, Patsy Cline's "Crazy." While applauding her for choosing something that wasn't a typical bar-singer blues tune, they said the song's very specific notation made it obvious when she missed certain notes.

"I think you're a valid contender and you should be in the Top 10 regardless of what you did there," said Zack in something of a backwards compliment.

"I was really quite impressed with that performance," countered Sass, to Jake's approval. "As far as I'm concerned that's some of the best singing you've done so far, by far, and I really enjoyed it."

After fielding a question from Ben on what it takes to be "100 per cent Nancy to the core" (apparently arm-flailing is a key ingredient), Nancy Silverman impressed the judges once again with Sarah McLachlan's "Stupid." While clearly a Nancy fan himself, Zack said viewers will either love her or hate her.

"When you perform a song, it sounds like I've never heard the song before and you do this brand new version of a tune," added Jake. "It's mesmerizing."

"I really love the control you have in the lower part of your register," said Sass. "You get into these tones that sort of sound like a horn, like a trumpet. I love that, it's classic."

Another competitor to have earned steady praise so far in the competition was the next to grace Idol's centre stage. Qu

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