Dusty's Blog

 


Idol's Back

What a difference 8 months makes.  Last we saw American Idol, it had just completed its 9th season and was limping toward its 10th.  The show was looking toward 2011 without its biggest star, Simon Cowell, who reportedly turned down an offer of over $130 million to stay.  After failed  experiments with a famous star of dubious credentials (Ellen DeGeneres), and a no-name with bona fides (Kara DioGuardi) as judges, AI faced the daunting challenge of finding judges with credentials and star power.  Well, at first blush, I think they succeeded. On the surface, pairing an aging rock star with a movie star whose music career seems to be mostly behind her (no pun intended), seems odd.  But if the premiere of year 10 is any indication, American Idol’s future and its reputation are in good hands, for this season at least.  Steven Tyler brings the energy and indisputable credibility of experience that only 40 years of being a rock star can give.  Jennifer Lopez brings knowledge and a certain sweetness and compassion to the show that I think was missing last year.  Both of them have been stars for so long, that they don’t have to prove anything to anyone and they’re obviously comfortable in their own skins.  This should prevent the show from slipping into the adolescent bickering that I think has hurt the show in recent seasons.  (Unless Ryan Seacrest goes insane like he did a few times with Simon.)  Yes, you need conflict for a show to stay interesting, but conflict can come from many different situations besides petty squabbling.  I mean, the very format of the show creates conflict:  every week contestants fight for their artistic lives out on that stage while the world watches.  The other thing that struck me while watching last night is that contestants will be hard pressed to tell a judge that they don’t know what they’re talking about. You know the ones, “You’re wrong, I know I’m a star—you just can’t see it.  People have been telling me all my life that I’m a star.”  Really?  This is Steven Tyler you’re talking to; lead singer of Aerosmith, arguably America’s greatest rock band of all time.  And Jennifer Lopez who’s sold over 50 million albums in her career; a reigning movie star who has spent most of her adult life in the limelight.  Now that’s credibility.  Throw in Randy Jackson, who heretofore has been the most legitimate musician of AI’s original judges, and you’ve got quite a formidable panel.  The addition of legendary record mogul and talent expert, Jimmy Iovine, as in-house mentor completes the talent evaluators for the show and brings back some much needed credibility.  The first stop for auditions for 2011 was in New Jersey just across the Hudson River from New York City.  The Big Apple did not disappoint.  51 contestants were given the Golden Ticket to Hollywood.  Idol’s concerted effort to make the show younger was evident.  A number of teenagers were selected to move on.  Most notable: 
  • Kinsey Palmer—15 year-old Performing Arts School student did a powerful take on a Carrie Underwood song.
  • Robbie Rosen—16 year-old did Backstreet Boys take on the Beatles’ “Yesterday”.
  • Victoria Huggins—apt last name.  16 year-old was the most huggable contestant of the night with her South Carolina twang.  Belted “Midnight Train to Georgia” and won an early plane ride to California.     
My favorite who might even have a shot to win the whole thing: Kinsey Palmer—has the whole package: looks, personality, talent.  Just needs a little more stage presence which will get worked on before the Hollywood phase. Next stop—New Orleans!
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Hot Summer Music

It’s summer and that means there are tons of new releases from some of our favorite artists here at The Buzz.  Here’s what’s new on The Buzz this week: Misery by Maroon 5.  First release from their upcoming c.d. “Hands All Over” which drops on September 21st.  The band is attempting to forge new ground by adding Robert John “Mutt” Lange as producer.  Lange produced Nickelback’s “Dark Horse” to great effect.  Lange, of course, produced some of the greatest albums of all time:  AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” and “Hysteria”, and ex-wife’s Shania Twain’s hits.  Frankly, when I heard Lange was producing I was looking for something a little edgier from Maroon 5, but Misery hews true to their trademark sound.  Adam Levine’s vocals are front and center in another jaunty blue-eyed soul ditty. I Run To You by Lady Antebellum.  This song has already been a huge hit at the Country format, and was actually the first single that Capitol Records released to the Pop format.  When most radio stations did not respond to it, Capitol released Need You Now which has become the biggest hit at Pop stations so far in 2010.  I thought I Run To You was a smash the first time I heard it, so I’m glad we’re able to bring it to you now.  King Of Anything by Sara Bareilles.  Bareilles proves that “Love Song” wasn’t a fluke, and she won’t be added to the long list of One Hit Wonders.  (If “Love Song” doesn’t ring a bell, the full chorus line was “I’m not gonna write you a love song.”  Remember now?)  Bareilles’ voice is pure honey on this Pop gem.  All the way down to the hand claps in the chorus, King Of Anything is one solid hook that will be rattling around in your head after the first time you hear it. To get info on all the songs we play on The Buzz including bios, lyrics, and videos click the Playlist icon at 1053thebuzz.com.
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A Season Of Discontent

No matter your opinion of American Idol, you gotta hand it to 'em, they know how to put on a show.  Tonight’s Season 9 finale was a veritable cavalcade of stars, albeit some really old stars.  From the show’s kickoff with Alice Cooper and “School’s Out”, to its final performance celebrity performance with Joe Cocker and “A Little Help From My Friends” it was basically one classic rock/oldies act after another.  Check these out:  Barry and Robin Gibb, Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, and Chicago.  Janet Jackson made a rare appearance, but even she hasn’t had a hit in a long time.  Christina Aguilera put on a stunning performance, which she always does.  The best performance of the night was from Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood who blistered through her new single “Undo It.” Dud of the night was Dane Cook’s lame segment.  The tribute to the departing Simon Cowell was poignant.  It was very cool seeing most of the past Idol winners and top runners-up come back to honor him.  (David Cook was conspicuously absent.)  Paula Abdul’s monologue was a little awkward, but it added to the pathos of the moment.  I, for one, am sad to see Simon go; it’s going to be hard to replace him. Have to say that I was really disappointed in the outcome of this season.  Crystal was clearly the more talented of the two finalists.  Her performances the night before were leagues above Lee’s.  But, as I’ve said all season, American Idol is a popularity contest, not a talent contest.  My final assessment of Season 9 remains unchanged from what it has been most of the year.  This year was really weak.  I began to lose interest when we got down to the Top 7 or so.  Haven’t decided whether I’ve got the intestinal fortitude to blog about it next seasonm; but, January’s a long way off and by that time I might catch the Idol bug again.
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Crystal Blues Persuasion

I don’t know that there’s ever been such a mismatch in a final on American Idol.  If last night’s competition were a boxing match, Crystal Bowersox scored a final round knock-out of Lee DeWyze.  And we’re not talking a TKO.  This was a lights-out pile driver that sent Lee straight to the canvas. But, it’s not a boxing match; it’s a talent competition and the result will be left up to the judges. Each contestant sang three songs last night: Song #1:           Contestant’s personal choice Song #2:           Producer Simon Fuller’s choice Song #3:           The contestants winning song, which would be released as their fist single.  Crystal deferred when she won the pre-show coin flip, so Lee was the first to perform.  He and Crystal then alternated performances.  Lee still seemed like he was bored by the whole thing.  His rendition of “The Boxer” was lackluster, and “Everybody Hurts” was a debacle.  He really needed a homerun with his “winning” song, but it was a complete whiff.  In Lee’s defense, the song chosen for him is not exactly stellar AND IT’S A REMAKE!  “Beautiful Day” is a decent song, but it wasn’t even that big of a hit for U2.  Its lyrics are somewhat meandering and Lee mumbled his way through most of them.  The judges even said he sounded lost.  From her initial performance—“Me And Bobby McGee”—you knew it was Crystal’s night to shine.  Her performance of “Black Velvet” wasn’t outstanding, but the song suited Crystal’s bluesy style.  Then there was her final performance.  If ever a performer rose to the occasion, this was it.  In the most stirring moment of the entire season, Crystal soared to the pinnacle of her talent on “Up To The Mountain”.    THIS is how you rise to the challenge.  And THIS is how you win American Idol.
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Here comes the Grand Finale. woo-hoo

Casey James is gone.  Duh. The finale is set. It’s Crystal Bowersox and Lee “I’m-so-bored” DeWyze. I’m bored, too.
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Oh, well

This will be my shortest blog ever for American Idol, cuz there just ain’t much to say about last night’s snooze-fest. Kara DioGuardi can rationalize the choice all day, but the fact remains that she and Randy Jackson essentially sabotaged any chance that Casey James had of winning Season 9 of American Idol.  John Mayer’s “Daughters” is a fine song, but an anthem it’s not.  With Casey’s disastrous personal choice of “OK, It’s All Right” by Eric Hutchinson (who?), he needed to finish strong with the judges' choice.  Instead he all but guaranteed himself a 3rd-place finish tonight with his tepid performance of “Daughters”, and I blame Kara and Randy. So, I think that Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze are your A.I. finalists this year.  Ho-hum.
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And Then There Were Three

Saw the ending coming a mile away. Michael Lynche is out and we’re down to the Top 3.  Notice I said “down” to the Top 3, as in the opposite of “up” to the Top 3.  Nothing great is going to come out of this season.  So, Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Casey James will be visiting their home towns this week.  As a matter of fact, Casey is going to be live on Kidd Kraddick In The Morning tomorrow at 7:30 on 105.3 The Buzz.  The American Idol cameras will be in tow.  Decent performances from former AI contestants Chris Daughtry and Fantasia, although Fantasia’s voice is somewhat like Butterfly McQueen’s.  (Butterfly McQueen’s big hit was “I Don’t Know Nuthin’ ‘Bout Birthin’ No Babies!”)  Bon Jovi sang their new single “Superman Tonight”.  Say what you will, Bon Jovi’s best days are behind them and this song is hum-drum.
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Snooze-a-palooza

If you’re an American Idol contestant, your goal is to get into the Top 5.  From that lofty position you should immediately proceed down the fast track to stardom.  Right?  Not this year.  Last night’s AI episode should have been called “Goldilocks and The Three Somnambulists.”  These were the best movie songs available to sing?  What a collection of forgettable performances.  They oughta just call this year a draw and put America out of its misery    Are you beginning to see the light?  Lee DeWyze is a flash in the pan.  Now he just looks like he’s bored with the whole thing.  And “Kiss From A Rose”?  Quick!  Name which movie it’s from—and no googling.  It was an add-on to the “Batman Forever” soundtrack.  Sure it won the 1996 Grammy for Song Of The Year, but talk about sleepy.  Lee was on pitch about one-third of the song and should be in the Bottom 2 tonight.     What would possess Michael Lynche to pick a Michael Jackson song from “Free Willy” of all things?  That choice alone should get him sent home.  Even had his performance been stellar, you knew he was going to get ridiculed by the judges.  “Michael Jackson” and “Free Willy”?  I bet you can think of about 5 bad jokes right now.  That’s what the whole thing was: a bad joke.    Poor ol’ Casey James.  He gets to put a guitar back in his hands this week, and it’s Mini Me.  (Easy joke there, too.)  The judges spent more time laughing about Kara being Casey’s Mrs. Robinson than they did evaluating his performance of the Simon and Garfunkel classic from "The Graduate".  Can’t say that I blame them.  Not much to talk about with Casey’s performance.  Crystal Bowersox culminated the evening with a rousing performance from that all-time cinematic classic “Caddyshack”.  “Somebody step on a duck?”  All I could think about when Crystal was performing “I’m Alright” was a dancing gopher.  The duets were good, but I was so bored by then I didn't care.    Bottom Two The only thing I know is that Crystal won’t be one of them. She was the only one awake by the end of the show.
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Call Me "Crazy" 5/6/10

I’m finally starting to believe my wife.  She’s been calling me an idiot for years, and after last night, her diagnosis is confirmed.  I am an idiot!  I’m certainly not sane by Einstein’s definition:  continuing to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.  I’m idiotically insane because I keep expecting America to vote rationally on American Idol.  Think about it.  Casey James is in the Bottom 3 for two weeks in a row, and he doesn’t even make the Bottom 2 last night; Michael Lynche, Sinatra Week’s best performer, does; along with Aaron Kelly, who had one of the better performances Tuesday night.  Ultimately, little Ed Norton, Jr., got the heave-ho.  Cathy, our wonderful receptionist, encapsulated the entire show this morning.  She said, “They paid Lady Gaga $250,000 for that?!”  Yep, and for a lame remake of “La Isla Bonita” at that.  American Idol is officially off the rails now.  Tuesday night’s audience of 17 million was the lowest since 2002.  I, for one, am not inspired by any of the remaining contestants.  But, as the intrepid blogger that I am, I’ll continue to slog through to the bitter end.  Don’t you know that Simon is just itching to be out of there?  And it looks like just in time, too. How I Rank Them (Idiot That I Am)
  1. Lee DeWyze--Only because he’s the judges' pet.
  2. Crystal Bowersox--By all rights should be the winner.
  3. Casey James--Only because he’s so cute—whatever.
  4. Michael Lynche--Still the most talented of the bunch.
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Casey Strikes Out 5/5/10

I’m starting to feel like a TV weatherman.  Trying to predict the Bottom 3 each week on American Idol is like predicting the weather; you’re going to be wrong half the time.  At least there’s some science to weather prognostication, though.  One thing I’m 100% sure of:  Casey James is out.  He may have blue eyes, but the Chairman of the Board he ain’t.  Here’s how Frank Sinatra night played out: Aaron Kelly gave what I thought was the second-best performance of the night, contrary to what the majority of the judges thought.  (Again, I think the judges are irrelevant at this point anyway.)  “Fly Me To The Moon” was nicely nuanced and sweetly sung.  He’ll probably be in the Bottom 3, but he doesn’t deserve it based on this performance. Casey just had his last at-bat.  I thought Willie Nelson’s version of “Blue Skies” was the worst ever.  Not anymore. I actually think Crystal Bowersox will be in the Bottom 3 tonight.  This is her second week of blasé performances.  She picked a really inferior Sinatra song in “Summer Wind”, and it was much too breezy.  The song would have been better if she’d howled a bit more.  Hands-down best performance of the night?  Michael Lynche and “The Way You Look Tonight”.  I thought that Big Mike would be in his element with Ol’ Blue Eyes, and he didn’t disappoint.  Mike proved again that he’s the most talented of the remainder of the contestants.  I don’t care what the judges say, Lee DeWyze ain’t all that.  I thought he was off-beat throughout most of “That’s Life”.  The song lost all of its swagger in Lee’s bluster.  He’s the judges’ pet, but he’s a scruffy mutt if you ask me. My Bottom 3 Lee DeWyze Crystal Bowersox Casey James What I Think The Bottom 3 Will Actually Be  Aaron Kelly Crystal Bowersox Casey James I really thought that Casey would continue to grow throughout the season, but he didn’t.  There will still be an opportunity for him as a modern-day Bob Seger, but ultimately I think he’s destined to be a side player. Really looking forward to tonight’s show.  Can’t wait to see what Lady Gaga pulls out of her hat. 
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Color me surprised.

Told you it was a crap shoot!  The over-the-top finish that Siobhan Magnus did on “Any Man Of Mine” was over the line for much of America.  So, she’s out and Little Edward Norton is still in.  Heck, Aaron Kelly wasn’t even in the Bottom 3.  The only one I actually got right was Michael Lynche.  This is the second time in as many weeks that Casey James has been in the Bottom #3, so he may be on his last leg.  That means Casey may have one more “at the bat” next week.     Incredible show last night with great performances by Lady Antebellum and a new “Country” act called Sons Of Sylvia.  Sons Of Sylvia is a new band that’s touring with Carrie Underwood and they’re close cousins to Kings Of Leon.  Have no idea why anybody would classify S.O.S. as “Country”, cuz they sound like the second coming of U2.  I guess it’s because the lead singer held a fiddle the whole time he sang.  He didn’t even play it, but if you’ve got a fiddle, dagnabbit, then yer Country.  Yee-haw!  Rascal Flatts performed last night, too, but Gary Vox was not in his best vox.  I don’t know if there was a problem with his in-ear monitors or what, but he was pitchy, Dogg.  Besides that, the guy creeps me out.  He has what a psychologist would call “flat affect.”  The dude’s facial expression never changes.  He never smiles, frowns, winces—nothin’.  Weird. And did you notice how smoothly the show moves without the mind-numbing chatter of the judges? Here’s the Fab Five and how I rank ‘em on talent alone:
  • Crystal Bowersox
  • Michael Lynche
  • Casey James
  • Lee DeWyze
  • Aaron Kelly
Here’s how I rank ‘em on how I think America will vote:
  • Crystal Bowersox
  • Lee DeWyze
  • Aaron Kelly
  • Michael Lynche
  • Casey James
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Let the competition begin!

Now we’ve got a horse race.  Tim Urban’s Teflon coating finally wore off, and he got stuck with the American Idol pink slip.  He caught a break when he didn’t have to sing himself off the show because of how long Idol Gives Back ran over.  It was about 9:20 when the announcement was made, which meant that all the Gleeks missed the last half hour of the ensuing GLEE episode when they DVR’d it.  (FOX got so much invective in the social media that they decided to re-run GLEE on Friday night.)  Ryan Seacrest had said Tuesday night that the show would run long, so I allowed an extra half-hour for my recording and was able to catch all of Idol Gives Back.  The highlight was the performance of “Stairway To Heaven” by an all-star band of Steve Vai and Orianthi on guitars, Travis Barker from Blink 182 on drums, A.I.’s Randy Jackson on bass, and the incomparable Mary J. Blige on the lead vocal.  Mary J. is quite possibly the coolest person on the planet.  She’s one of the few artists who can step between genres and perform each with authenticity and integrity.  If you’ve never heard her version of U2’s “One”, do yourself a favor and Google it right now.  Carrie Underwood once again proved why she is the superstar that she is when she sang “Change”.  That’s how you take ownership of a song.  Carrie wrings every bit of emotion out of every song she sings.  Can’t wait to see her here in October.  (BTW—Tickets for Carrie’s concert at INTRUST Bank Arena go on sale Saturday.)  Joss Stone and Jeff Beck blazed through “I Put A Spell On You”.  Stone is today’s preeminent Blues singer.  Talk about an old soul; she’s only 23 and she sings like she’s lived decades of hard times and pain.  Incredible.   As far as the other performances go--Black Eyed Peas were terrible, Elton John was so-so, and Alicia Keys was solid.  George Lopez’ roasting of the judges was funny and on the money; and Wanda Sykes’ skewering of the whole Idol process was really good, too.  Overall, I thought the show was excellent, but I do have an admission to make:  I fast-forwarded through all the charity vignettes.  Come on—you did it too!  Admit it! I was pretty much dead wrong in my predictions yesterday.  It’s like the only time I didn’t have Tim Urban getting the boot, and the one time I don’t list him, he gets hosed.  “Bout time.  Wasn’t that surprised to see Aaron Kelly in the Bottom 3, but was pretty stunned when Casey James joined the bunch.  Teflon Tim’s finally gone.  Look for him in a Brady Bunch revival coming to your town soon!  How I rank the remainder:
  1.  Crystal Bowersox
  2. Lee Dewyze
  3. Casey James
  4. Siobhan Magnus
  5. Michael Lynche
  6. Aaron Kelly
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Are you inspired?

 

As I’ve said all along, as soon as Tim Urban is gone, we’ll have some semblance of a competition on American Idol Season 9.  After last night’s performances though, Michael Lynche may get booted before Tim does.  Here’s my take on Inspiration Night: It’s obvious to me after last night that the judges just don’t get Casey James.  They’re always worried about his “connection” to the song like he’s supposed to go all deep and emotional every time he performs.  They’re over-thinking it.  On Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” Casey sang great, he ripped up the guitar, and women swooned.  Screams “Rock Star” to me.     I also don’t get why the judges fall all over themselves for Lee Dewyze.  His performance of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” was decent, but it wasn’t epic like they made it sound.  A lot of the song is “Lie La Lie” so he’s just singing a recurring refrain over and over again.  Just like he did in “Hey Jude” which is all just “Nah Nah Nah Na Na Na Nah”.  Where’s the deepness in that?  Teflon Tim may just slide by again.  His performance of “Better Days” by Goo Goo Dolls was pitchy, but at least the song suited his ability as a singer.  That’s contrary to the song that Michael chose which we’ll get into in a bit. Simon had an off night last night.  He missed the boat on Casey and made a bone-headed observation about Aaron Kelly’s performance.  After Aaron did a bang up job on R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”, Simon said, “If I heard that song on the radio, I’d turn it off.”  That might be good advice in the early rounds of the competition, but at this point it’s not the point.  In fact, Simon could’ve said that for virtually every one of the performances last night.  Would you keep your radio on The Buzz if you heard Crystal’s version of “People Get Ready” completely out of context?  You’d hit scan in a nanosecond.  How did Aaron stack up against the rest of the competition is the real question; and the answer is he did just fine, thank you. The show was running short on time at the end, and it’s largely due to Siobhan Magnus’ inability to speak coherently.  She was trying to explain why she chose to sing Mariah Carey’s “When You Believe” and only succeeded in convincing me that she doesn’t exactly have both oars in the water.  Her performance wasn’t stellar, but she’ll be back next week. Michael Lynche is in trouble tonight.  He picked a song that didn’t suit his ability, and although he’s immeasurably more talented than Teflon Tim, he may get the boot tonight.  Michael sang “Hero” by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, and it just didn’t work. Crystal Bowersox knocked another one out of the park with a sublime rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”.  Now, that’s inspiration!            And speaking of inspiration, can’t wait to see Carrie Underwood, Black Eyed Peas, Sir Elton John, and Alicia Keys perform tonight on Idol Gives Back.

Your Bottom 3

  1. Siobhan Magnus
  2. Tim Urban
  3. Michael Lynche
It pains me to say it, but I think Teflon Tim survives.  There will be no reprieve for Michael tonight.
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Season 8's True American Idol

Adam Lambert once again proved why he’s the true American Idol from Season 8.  Kris Allen’s a nice guy, but he will never electrify a stage like Adam.  Adam is one daring performer.  He makes those really high screeching notes sound effortless, but, trust me, they’re not.  You gotta have confidence that your voice won’t crack, because if it does, you end up sounding like a doofus.  Adam nailed those notes in “Whataya Want From Me”, making it the highlight of the evening. My big question is, “Who told Justin Gaston he could sing?”  (Probably his ex Miley Cyrus.  Like she’s an expert on singing.)  On the other hand, Brooke White sounded better than she ever did when she competed on Season 7.  The producers should’ve just let her do a solo.  As it was their duet on “If I Can Dream” was a nightmare. I can’t brag too much about being correct in my prediction that Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens would be the ones getting a ticket home.  Based on their performances, they were the obvious choices.  But, you never know with AI voters.  It was heartening to hear that Michael Lynche wasn’t even in the Bottom 3 after being saved last week. Here are my rankings as we go into the round of 7:
  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Casey James
  3. Lee Dewyze
  4. Siobhan Magnus
  5. Michael Lynche
  6. Aaron Kelly
  7. Tim Urban
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Elvis Shmelvis

I get Lennon and McCartney night.  Most of their songs are timeless.  But Elvis?  Don’t get me wrong, Elvis will always be the progenitor of rock ‘n’ roll.  He started the rock revolution by bringing to white audiences what had heretofore been exclusively Black music.  Most of us aren’t old enough to remember how scandalous Elvis was to many Americans, especially in the segregated South.  Frankly, I’m glad I missed that shameful part of our history.  All I can say is, “Long live rock ‘n’ roll!”  But, let’s face it, most of Elvis’ music just isn’t relevant anymore, outside of its historical context.  So, for a show that’s all about youth Pop culture to require its contestants to modernize these songs is a tall order.  Last night could be the single worst night in American Idol history.  It was that boring.  The only bright spot was Adam Lambert’s expert coaching.  Of the mentors so far this year, Adam’s criticisms were the most constructive.  Crystal Bowersox had the best performance of the night, largely because she performed an obscure Elvis movie song called “Saved”.  This was really smart because the audience has nothing to compare her version to.  Again Crystal picked a song that’s right in her wheelhouse and she solidified her position as the frontrunner. Andrew Garcia turned “Hound Dog” into “Wienie Dog”.  If this guy isn’t gone tonight I’ll be surprised.  “Putrid” was the first word that came to my mind last night.  Believe it or not, I don’t think that Turban will be in the Bottom 3 tonight.  King Cheesy picked the King’s cheesiest song, so it fit him like a glove.  I know, I know…”Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” is a classic.  But, come on.  These may be the cheesiest lines ever set to music:

 Like a river flows

Surely to the sea

Darling, so it goes

Some things are meant to be.

I’m sure they were cool in 1961, but in 2010? Lee Dewyze had another strong performance thanks to Adam’s tips.  Lee looked like he was having fun singing “A Little Less Conversation”.  He turned what was probably the most dated song of the night into something almost relevant. The judges gave Aaron Kelly a hard time about being less than convincing on “Blue Suede Shoes”, but they missed the point altogether.  Any 16-year old doing that song is not going to be convincing.  There hasn’t been anything like that song in popular culture since The Stray Cats in the ’80’s, which Aaron’s parents are almost too young to remember.  Perfect case in point for why Elvis should be banned from AI forever. Call me crazy, but I loved Siobhan Magnus’ take on “Suspicious Minds”.  I don’t care if it sounded like two different songs.  The judges thought that was a problem, because?  Would they say the same thing about Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”?  I think there are four or five songs in that one.  I almost always agree with Simon, but he got this one wrong. I hoped someone would do my favorite Elvis song.  (Yes, I have one.)  Mac Davis’ “In The Ghetto” remains to this day one of the most poignant songs ever written and Elvis gave it the most heartfelt, mournful vocal of his career.  Michael Lynche did it proud.  I just don’t think that it will resonate with the Idol audience.  The song was especially apt when it was released in 1969, but the word “ghetto” has been out of our vernacular since the ‘70’s.    Katie Stevens sang “Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do?”  Well, Katie you’re cute as a button, but I want you to go home.  The Wizard Of Oz had its Tin Man.  American Idol has its Wood Man.  His name is Casey James.  Could he have been any less excited to sing “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy”?  If he doesn’t show some emotion, Casey is going to be running third behind Crystal and Lee. Here’s how I rank ‘em from last night:
  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Lee Dewyze
  3. Michael Lynche
  4. Siobhan Magnus
  5. Tim Urban
  6. Aaron Kelly
  7. Casey Jame
  8. Katie Stevens
  9. Andrew Garcia
Two people are going to be ousted tonight, since Michael was saved last week.  Here’s who I think should be going home: Andrew Garcia Katie Stevens Notice that I said “should be”.  I’m offering my opinion as if American Idol were a talent show.  Silly me.
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Talent Show? Yeah, right.

If before last night’s episode you were still one of the naïve few who thought that American Idol was a talent contest, you now know that you were delusional.  (Actually, if you still thought AI was a talent contest, then you must have started watching the show after season 6.  That was the Sanjaya season.)  American Idol is a popularity contest, and the general public has no clue as to what true talent is.  Talent is a gift, and so is the ability to recognize it.  That’s why there are people like Simon Cowell who make millions of dollars discovering talent simply because they know it when they see it.  If this were a talent contest Tim Urban would no longer be on the show.  The fact that he wasn’t even in the Bottom 3 last night was preposterous.  The single most talented person on the show was booted last night, but thankfully, the people that do know true talent saved him.  The judges used their one save of the season to rescue Michael Lynche.  Michael was in the Bottom 3 with Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly.  If you caught my blog yesterday I predicted that Andrew and Aaron would be in the Bottom 3; they just should have been there with Tim, not Michael.  To prove my point that true talent is a rare commodity, I offer up Jason Derulo.  Derulo is a testament to what outstanding production can do for an artist.  His voice is weak and his dancing is a cheap imitation of Michael Jackson.  Moonwalk—check.  Flourish with a gloved fist—check.  Finish words with “Cha!”—check.  The only thing he didn’t do was go “Heee!” and grab his crotch.  Don’t quite know what Rihanna was doing.  She’s a rock star?  I don’t think so.  David Archuleta from Season 7 returned to the Idol stage to cap off Lennon & McCartney week with “Imagine”.  David still doesn’t have much stage presence, but there’s no denying he has one of the purest, sweetest voices around.  My new prediction?  Tim Urban wins American Idol and goes on to star in the Broadway production of Glee.  Fox would love that, wouldn’t they?
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Milk it baby!

Fox is trying to milk every bit of viewership they can out of Idol.  That was not a two-hour show last night.  There was way too much of nothin’ going on including blathering judges and a cameo on-stage appearance by a heckler—now that’s entertainment!  And I’ve come to the realization that Ryan Seacrest is basically a second-rate host.  If AI weren’t the juggernaut that it is, he would not be helping the show at all.  His bantering with Simon is petty and he’s got zero charisma.  Contrast what he does with Jeff Probst of “Survivor” or Tom Bergeron on “Dancing With The Stars”.  No comparison.  Now, back to our show.  Surely this is the week that Tim Urban gets the boot.  But, who knows.  And stop calling me Shirley. I said yesterday on the air that Adam Lambert was going to be the mentor for this week, but I got my wires crossed.  He won’t be on until next week.  They actually didn’t even have a mentor this week.  Last night was Lennon and McCartney night, and Katie Stevens and Casey James had breakout performances.  Here’s my take on each performance in its order of appearance: Aaron Kelly’s act is wearing thin.  I even predict that he’ll be in the Bottom 3 tonight.  To put it short and sweet, “The Long And Winding Road” was straight-out boring. Finally Katie Stevens displayed why she made it to the Top 24 in the first place.  She seemed much more confident in her ability and belted out a strong version of “Let It Be”.  I certainly liked her version better that Kris Allen’s whiny version a few weeks ago.  She might not even be in the Bottom 3 this week which would be a big break for her. Andrew Garcia’s corny version of “Can’t Buy Me Love” bought him a ticket back to the Bottom 3 again this week.  Whether he wins American Idol or not—and I don’t think he will--Michael Lynche is undoubtedly the most multi-faceted talent in this competition.  Big Mike can handle every thing form R&B, to Pop, to Broadway with aplomb.  Loved his Broadway-esque take on “Eleanor Rigby”.  The song lends itself to melodrama, so I think it was entirely appropriate, contrary to what Simon said about it. Didn’t love her version of “Come Together” by Crystal Bowersox, but at this point she’s got first or second locked up so it doesn’t really matter what she does. Then there’s Tim Urban.  And again I say, “Gimme a break.”  I didn’t think it was possible to make a 60’s song sound even older, but I could see Potsie singing Tim’s version of “All My Lovin’” on Happy Days.  Talk about cheese!  It had more than a chili dog at Arnold’s! Casey James is the man!  The man to beat in this competition, anyway.  “Studly” delivered his breakout performance of the competition, channeling Bob Seger on John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”.  I love Siobhan Magnus.  She’s quirky and bold.  Who else would try to sing “Across The Universe” as a soaring diva ballad?  The phrasing alone on the song is almost impossible to pull off, and Siobhan did it admirably.  Problem is, she’s just too weird to win. Lee Dewyze rivals Casey in talent, but ultimately I don’t think he has the charisma to win.  “Hey Jude” was a bad song choice.  The song quickly devolves into “Naaah Naaah Naaah Na-na-na-naah” and when the bagpipe player came down the stairs it was just too much.  I give this one a big raspberry. Here’s how I rank ‘em this week:
  1. Casey James
  2. Michael Lynche
  3. Crystal Bowersox
  4. Siobhan Magus
  5. Katie Stevens
  6. Lee Dewyze
  7. Andrew Garcia
  8. Aaron Kelly
  9. Tim Urban
Next week the show cuts back to an hour-and-a-half which is still too long for 8 contestants.  Expect much filler.
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Ta Ta Di Di!

Finally!  I actually got it right.  Nailed the bottom 3, and as I feared, Di Di Benami is out.  She’s one of the sweetest, cutest contestants ever, but sweet and cute can only take you so far.  That’s why Tim Urban is next, soon to be followed by Katie Stevens.  Did you see Ruben Studdard?  He lost like a whole person.  Still hear that he’s a huge prima donna, though.  Where that comes from I don’t know.  He’s never even had a hit!  He needs to take a few lessons from Usher—talent to burn, and one of the true class acts in show biz. You gotta figure Tim or Katie is out next week, though if Andrew Garcia regresses back to Bad Andrew, he could be in trouble, too.  What do you think?
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Just wait couple of weeks

I think this season of American Idol is salvageable.  The talent of the Top 24 has been the worst in the show’s history.  But as soon as the four remaining pretenders are gone, we might have a real competition between some real talents.  You know who the 4 pretenders are:  Didi Benami, Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia, and Tim Urban, and not necessarily in that order. Last night’s breakout performance was by Lee DewyzeSiobhan Magnus made her first misstep, and Di Di crashed and burned.  Here’s a rundown of the performances in the order they occurred: Siobhan Magnus has been one of the most consistent contestants throughout the Top 24 competition.  She sang Chaka Khan’s “Through The Fire” which for some reason has become a modern classic, and I can’t quite figure out why.  It’s one of those sappy Roland-keyboard-heavy numbers that were so prevalent in the mid-80’s, and there were many others during that time that were much better.  It peaked at #60 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at #15 on the R&B charts, which means it wasn’t even a hit.  So Siobhan tackled a mediocre song originally sung by an incredible singer and the confluence of those two events conspired to spell her doom.  She made things worse by reacting poorly to the lambasting she took from the judges--she tried to argue with Simon and then pouted as the show went to commercial.  She continued to mope after the break when the cameras went behind the scenes into the green room.  Somebody call a waaaambulance! Casey James had a breakout performance with his rendering of Sam & Dave’s classic “Hold On, I’m Comin’.”  He wasn’t as wooden as he has been in previous shows, and showed tremendous control and grit with his vocals.  Simon was right when he said that Casey has a ways to go in his on-stage development, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he ends up in the final two of the competition.  The guy’s simply got the goods, and he’ll only get better with experience. Michael Lynche went back to his strength and shed the kitschy image he had portrayed in his last two performances.  I had never heard India Arie’s “Ready For Love” prior to Michael’s performance last night, but checked it out on You Tube this morning.  Michael’s rendition is a spot-on duplication of the original, but there’s no denying that he can deliver a heartfelt, poignant song.  Still don’t think he’ll win, but this performance didn’t hurt him. Poor Di Di Benami.  Her lack of range is now painfully obvious.  If it isn’t something she can turn into a Sixpence None The Richer sound-alike, then she’s completely lost.  “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” was a disaster.  I can answer the song’s question for DiDi—they get booted off the show.  Maybe even this week.  Tim Urban.  Gimme a break.  The guy is a complete joke.  He’s in the Bottom 3 for sure, and with any luck, he’ll be gone tonight. Andrew Garcia completely surprised me.  After picking him in the Bottom 3 for just about every show, I don’t think he’ll be there tonight.  He was finally able to recapture the magic that he brought to his seminal performance of “Straight Up” during Hollywood Week.  He reworked Chris Brown’s “Forever” into a classic R&B song and he’ll live to fight another day.  It’s the Bottom 3 for Katie Stevens again this week.  Her vocals on Aretha’s “Chain Of Fools” were OK, but she just looked silly trying to be all sexy and sultry.  She’s just too sweet to pull that off.  She’s adorable, but she’s also not going to make it. Even though he still has that deer-in-the-headlights look, Lee Dewyze made his finest showing to date.  He was finally able to let down his guard enough to render a scorching version of the classic Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose tune, “Treat Her Like A Lady”.  Now if he could just connect his voice with the rest of his body into a cohesive performing unit, he’d have it made.  Still looks like he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing up there. I applaud Crystal Bowersox for stepping out of her comfort zone.  She shed the guitar and sat down at the piano for the start of Glady Knight and The Pips’ “Midnight Train To Georgia”.  And even though she looked a little out of her element when she stood up to finish the song, she still managed to pull it off.  I agree with Simon though—she doesn’t really need to prove that she has other facets to her performing repertoire.  She can make a living off of doing what she’s already proved she can do in the competition.  Why mess with a good thing? It’s to the point now that if I ever hear “Ain’t No Sunshine” on American Idol again, I’m going to change the channel.  Somebody should have told Aaron Kelly to stay away from that song.  It’s been done to death, and much better, e.g. Kris Allen’s performance from Season 8.  Still, he definitely didn’t hurt himself and he’ll be back next week. MY BOTTOM 3 Katie Stevens DiDi Benami Tim Urban If there’s any justice in the world it’ll be the dreadful Tim Urban, but the girls think he’s cute, so who knows.  And you thought this was a talent competition! 
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I'm A Rock Star! No, I Really Am!

You can take the girl off the Disney Channel, but you can’t take the Disney Channel off the girl.  Mylie Cyrus'/Hannah Montana's performance last night on American Idol was certainly animated—like a straight-to-DVD cartoon movie.  Despite her protestations to the contrary, Mylie Cyrus is a product, and one of the most smartly marketed products ever.  How do you promote your new movie that just happens to be opening in theaters on March 31st?  Well, you get a slot as a mentor on the #1 TV show in America.  Never mind that your qualifications as a singing coach are somewhat dubious.  Now, teaching young girls how to dress and act inappropriately for their age?  At that you excel.  But I digress.  So, Mylie starts off at the piano singing “When I Look At You” from her new movie “The Last Song” in that unusually husky voice of hers.  OK, I’m starting to buy in—a little.  Then Hannah takes over.  When the guitarist “rips into the guitar solo” Hannah starts "banging her head".  “Look America, I’m not Hannah.  I’m Mylie and I can rock.  No, really, I can rock!  Look, I got hair extensions and everything!”  Hannah, honey, it’s a BALLAD—from a teeny-bopper movie.  And Mylie certainly does not rock.  Now, “Party In The U.S.A”, I believe.  At least that’s pure, honest commercialism.  Trying to sell yourself as a true rockin’ artist is pure baloney. Oh, by the way Paige Miles got the axe last night.  Shocker.  The only thing shocking was that Andrew Garcia wasn’t in the bottom three.  His place was taken by Katie StevensTim Urban was in there, too, as predicted.  So here’s how I rank the Top Ten going into next week’s round:
  1. Crystal Bowersox.
  2. Casey James
  3. Siobhan Magnus
  4. Aaron Kelly
  5. Michael Lynche
  6. Lee Dewyze
  7. Didi Benami
  8. Katie Stevens
  9. Andrew Garcia
  10. Tim Urban
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Eleven #1's

During Kidd Kraddick’s interview this morning with Adam Lambert, Kellie Rasberry asked the question that’s been foremost in my mind during this season of American Idol.  “Why are the contestants having such trouble picking songs that most suit their talent and give them the best chance to win?”  (Or something like that.)  Adam said that part of the problem is that contestants can only choose from songs that have been properly licensed and cleared for performance.  Then there’s the added pressure from producers who want songs that will resonate with viewers.  Whatever the reason, the songs from the last few weeks have been so mediocre that Season 9 may go down as the worst ever on American Idol.  5 of the last 11 contestants have no chance of winning, and there is not a break-out star in the bunch.  Last night’s theme was Billboard Hot 100 #1’s.  Here are the performances in chronological order with my take on ‘em: I found it ironic that Lee Dewyze performed The Box Tops’ classic “The Letter” just one week after their lead singer died.  Alex Chilton was only 16 when he sang “The Letter”, and he passed away March 17th at the age of 59.  Chilton is regarded my many artists as one of America’s most influential rock musicians.  Dewyze is no Chilton, but at least he didn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look as bad as he had in previous weeks. Paige Miles is one of those suffering from bad song choices.  I still think she’s having problems with her voice, but that still doesn’t excuse her horrendous performance of “Against All Odds”.  “Pitchy” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Would somebody please tell me why Tim Urban is still on this show?  His performance of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was like watching one of those horribly contrived Brady Bunch musical numbers.  Come to think of it, with that hairdo, Urban is a dead ringer for Bobby Brady!  With each week Aaron Kelly keeps getting better and better.  Even with a touch of laryngitis, his version of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” was one of the best performances of the evening. Crystal Bowersox is the one contestant that has consistently picked songs that are perfect for her.  Kris Kristofferson’s masterpiece “Me And Bobby McGee” never sounded better.  Janis Joplin would’ve been proud.  The only thing she lacks is charisma.  Where Janis was raw emotion, Crystal is yeoman workmanship.  I don’t completely agree with the judges on their assessment of Michael Lynche’s rendition of Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman.”  It may have been a tad loungey, but I liked how he pulled back and didn’t belt it out like it’s usually done.  Remember Michael Bolton wailing all the way through his version?  I’d take Lynche’s more delicate approach any day. Andrew Garcia is gone sooner or later.  He sang “Heard It Through The Grapevine” in military cadence. “Don’t—You—Know—I—Heard—It—Through—The—Grape—Vine—Hup—Two—Three—Four”.  Abominable. The innate talent that I thought Katie Stevens had doesn’t appear as if it’s going to materialize.  She shows none of the power she exhibited in her audition, and she seems like a fish out of water.  She sounded like she was singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” at a school assembly.  She’ll be gone soon.  With just a little more animation Casey James could have a chance to win this thing.  He’s got the whole package—good voice, great looks, killer guitar licks—but he looks like he’s having about as much fun as he would at the dentist’s office.  His performance of Huey Lewis’ “The Power Of Love” rocked harder than the original, I only wish Casey acted like he really believed what he was doing.  He just doesn’t seem engaged.  Didi Benami is the most charming contestant on the show; she’s just not a great performer.  Though her performance of “You’re No Good” was cute, it was contrived.  Unless she does something spectacular, and soon, she’ll be gone in the next couple of weeks.  "Superstition” wasn’t her best performance, but Siobhan Magnus is still a strong title contender.  She certainly has a voice that could crack a mirror, but she needs to rely less freely on that screech that she does in every song.  I’d like to see her do a straight ahead rock song like Heart’s “Barracuda”.  That would be right in her wheelhouse. Here’s how I rank the performances last night, though it’s anybody’s guess as to who gets the boot.  There are 5 solid candidates for that honor.
  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Casey James
  3. Siobhan Magnus
  4. Aaron Kelly
  5. Lee Dewyze
  6. Michael Lynche
  7. Didi Benami
  8. Katie Stevens
  9. Tim Urban
  10. Andrew Garcia
  11. Paige Miles
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Losing Lacey

So, what is up with Ryan Seacrest?  Looks like his ego is getting the better of him.  Surely the producers aren’t telling him to get into these confrontations with Simon, are they?  I guess it ramps up the conflict and gets people talking, but it just makes me squirm.  And then Ryan ticked off everybody on the West Coast when he tweeted right after the East Coast show and revealed who got voted off.  The result was that American Idol had it’s lowest watched regularly scheduled in-season show—EVER!  I don’t care who you are, you can’t do that and not catch some serious flak from the muckety-mucks.  That kind of stunt could cost FOX millions in advertising revenue!  We might hear more about this as the days go by.  I think it just shows that Mr. Seacrest may be short a few synapses in the cerebral cortex, if you know what I mean.  Two of my picks yesterday for the bottom three were correct—Lacey Brown and Tim Urban.  I can understand Paige Miles’ inclusion in this bunch, but I still think she has a lot more upside than Andrew Garcia.  Let’s face it--Andrew’s still living off the one performance of “Straight Up”.  He hasn’t topped it and I don’t think he will.  Final result?  Lacey gets the boot. If you haven't heard my interview with Kris Allen, click here.
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Moss Gathering

This week the finalists are cut to 11 as we enter the long home stretch of American Idol Season 9.  It was Rolling Stones week.  Don’t know if it’s because of performance rights negotiations or what, but the producers’ choices of really old bands like the Stones are ironic because they’re the favorite bands of some of these contestant’s grandparents.  Here are my evalutions in performance order: Simon’s critique of Michael Lynche’s “Miss You” was dead-on, as usual.  (Simon consistently has the most constructive criticism of all the judges.)  Michael’s dancing was indeed “corny”.  My wife liked it, but one of her favorite artists of all time is Barry White—nuff said.  Oh, and the singing was---whatever.  A far cry from last week’s slam dunk. Didi Benami was at the bottom a couple of times early in the competition, but she’s safe this week after her performance of “Play With Fire” which is a really obscure Stones song I’d never even heard before.  She struggled with the awkward lyrics, some of which are arcane references to London landmarks.  Way too British for an all-American girl.  Loved Casey James’ take on “It’s All Over Now”, but I think Simon nailed it.  He’s just a guy with a guitar standing on a stage.  Sure, he can play; but there are thousands of great guitar players in this country who will never be stars.  Casey’s eventually got to have that “moment” or he won’t win.  Unless, of course, only women are allowed to vote. Ellen had one of the best lines of the night when she told Lacey Brown that because of her fondness for sitting on the edge of things she should not visit the Grand Canyon.  Once again, Lacey sat down on the edge of the steps and did a ho-hum version of a song.  This time it was “Ruby Tuesday”.  Good song choice, but lackluster performance. Andrew Garcia tried to break out of singular-caper equine territory with a soulful take on “Gimme Shelterbut he was like a Shetland out of his pasture.  You’d think that with her obvious talent Katie Stevens is bound to have a breakout week at some point.  She’d better do it fast; her version of “Wild Horses” was way too tame. Tim Urban.  Who? Like I said on Friday, I look forward to every one of Siobhan Magnus’ performances, and last night she didn’t disappoint.  Simon has been talking all season about having “a moment” where your star quality shines through, and Siobhan had a blazing moment with “Paint It Black”.  She started off in dulcet tones, crescendoed into a raking screech, and then pulled it back to a silky sultriness all in a minute-and-a-half.  By far the best performance of the night.  She’s an odd duck, but with her supple voice and interpretive gift she can make any song her own.  I caught a glimpse of the great voice the judges have been ascribing to Lee Dewyze during this competition.  “Beast Of Burden” has never been one of my favorite Stones’ tunes, but Lee’s decision to take it acoustic really worked for him.  He showed more vocal range and emotion than in previous appearances.  Still, I keep thinking, “Been there, done that”. I knew Paige Miles was sick!  I had commented to a couple of people around the office that she sounded hoarse when she was singing “Smile” last week.  It was revealed last night that she has been battling laryngitis which explains why she struggled last week with what is basically a simple song to sing.  She battled back this week with a strong performance of “Honky Tonk Women”.  Aaron Kelly (aka Little Edward Norton) was a little less creepy last night.  “Angie” was the perfect song for him.  It’s one of Mick Jagger’s best vocals, and Aaron did a nice interpretation. Crystal Bowersox did the exact same song she did last week, or at least that’s what it sounded like.  She’s going to have to change it up some or she’ll be moving into one-trick pony territory. So, here’s how I rank ‘em, strictly on last night's peformance. 
  1. Siobhan Magnus
  2. Lee Dewyze
  3. Crystal Bowersox
  4. Casey James
  5. Aaron Kelly
  6. Michael Lynche
  7. Didi Benami
  8. Paige Miles
  9. Katie Stevens
  10. Lacey Brown
  11. Andrew Garcia
  12. Tim Urban
The last two are a toss-up, and I won’t be sad to see either one of ‘em go.
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The Clean Dozen

Predicting who the American public will vote for on American Idol is a fool’s game.  After Tuesday night’s performance there is no logical reason why Paige Miles is still in it.  Her rendition of “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin was one of the most abysmal performances EVER in the round of 16.  On the men’s side, Andrew Garcia has no star potential whatsoever.  Like Kara said this week, he peaked in the Hollywood auditions when he did “Straight Up”.  His attempt to turn another female Pop song, “Genie In A Bottle”, into a cool acoustic interpretation seemed like an act of desperation.   “Hey, you really liked “Straight Up”, so here’s another Pop song just like it.  Don’t you like this one, too?  Don’t ya? Please?”  Pathetic.  Turns out that I wasn’t that far off in my predictions, as I had named Katelyn Epperly and Lilly Scott as possible boot-ees.  They both were shown the door last night.  Katelyn’s wooden performance of “I Feel The Earth Move” obviously didn’t move anybody.  I feared that Lilly’s song choice might do her in.  “I Fall To Pieces” is just too old and her take on it was too kooky.  Still, one of them should still be in the competition because it’s a joke that Paige is still in.  And I picked her to win the whole thing! Song choice probably did Alex Lambert in, as well.  That “Trouble” song sounds like something from Hee-Haw.  “Gloom despair and agony on me….”  And my gut was right on Todrick Hall (see yesterday’s blog).  There’s just something inauthentic about him.  And in the Hollywood team competitions he came off as petty and catty which can’t have helped him.  So, here’s your Top 12 and how I rank ‘em, like that means anything.  What’s your ranking?  Would love to see your comments below.
  1. Michael Lynche—He and Crystal Bowersox are in a dead heat at this point.
  2. Crystal Bowersox—See above.
  3. Siobhan Magnus—Can’t wait to see what she does next.  Best singer in the competition.
  4. Lee Dewyze—I don’t get this guy at all, but the judges love him.
  5. Casey James—His movie star good looks and guitar playing are what keep him in the chase.  Certainly isn’t his singing.
  6. Aaron Kelly—Creepy Edward Norton rides again.
  7. Katie Stevens—I think she’s going to have a break-out performance next week; I know it’s in her.  If she doesn’t, she may be out.
  8. Paige Miles—If she can get back to her up-tempo, belting ways she could be in the Top 10, at least.
  9. Tim Urban—Who’da thunk it?  From afterthought to the Top 12.  Even he’s surprised.
  10. Didi Benami—Got back in the competition with her excellent version of “Rhiannon”.  Don’t know if she can pull off two in a row.
  11. Lacey Brown—She’s adorable and talented, but her performances have been erratic. 
  12. Andrew Garcia—Please.  Gimme a break.
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All Hail Michael Lynche! 3/11/10

I take back what I said earlier this AI season.  Two things, actually.  I had said that the winner this year would be a woman because the men were so lame.  I also said that Michael Lynche didn’t have a chance to win; not because of his talent, but because he is so burly and imposing.  After last night’s performance of “This Woman’s Work”, not only did Michael throw down the gauntlet for the men, but he also staked his clam to be the rightful heir to Luther Vandross.  High praise, yes, but it was absolutely one of the best performances on American Idol—ever.    THE GOOD
  • Todrick Hall—His performance of Queen’s “Somebody To Love was, as Simon said, made for Broadway; but, that’s not a bad thing.  Just don’t know if he’s stand-out enough to make it.
  • Tim Urban—I’ve thought all along that this guy was a joke, but gotta give him props on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.  The song’s been done to death, though.
THE SO-SO
  •  Andrew Garcia—His “I-Can-Turn-Teeny-Bopper-Dance-Songs-Into-Acoustic-Ditties” act has worn thin. 
  • Lee Dewyze—Really?  Do we need another gravelly voiced male singer on the radio?
  • Casey James--If I were a psychologist judging his performances, I'd say that Casey exhibits a flat affect.  Absolutely no emotion.  Sings like he's made of wood.
BUH-BYE Andrew Garcia for sure.  Lee Dewyze or Casey James would be my other pick, but it just might be Todrick Hall.
 (6) Comments


 

WALKIN' IN HOLLYWOOD 3/10/10

I have a theory as to why Idol is so lame this year.  There’s a reason why there are only a handful of true music superstars.  As simplistic as it may sound, it’s because that’s all there is.  There is only one Celine Dion.  There's only one Billy Joel.  There’s only one U2.  There’s a couple of Kelly Clarksons and maybe a couple of Carrie Underwoods, but that’s it.  Sure, there are talented people in the world.  It’s intriguing to believe that there is an endless supply of Susan Boyles out there just waiting to be discovered.  But the truth is superstar talent is rare.  So, after 8 consecutive seasons I believe that the sea of superstar talent in the US has been fished dry--for now anyway.     Last night the women brought us another pedestrian show as a couple of contestants walked through their performances.  FRONTRUNNERS
  1. Crystal Bowersox—Continues to be the class act of this show.
  2. Siobhan Magnus—Weird duck though she may be, she’s the best singer in the competition.
PEDESTRIANS
  1. Katie Stevens—Previously one of my favorites, but she has faltered in the last few weeks.  I thought Kelly Clarkson’s “Runaway” would be right in her wheelhouse, but au contraire.  Yawn.
  2. Katelyn Epperley—Talkin’ about a walk-through.  If she was feeling anything on “I Feel The Earth Move” you certainly couldn’t tell.
REBOUNDERS
  1. Lacey Brown—This was Lacey’s first truly good performance since she got to the Top 24.  Her problem is that the only style she seems able to do competently is “Sixpence None The Richer.”  I don’t think that’s going to get her much farther.
  2. Didi Benami—See Lacey Brown.
DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK

            Lilly Cox—Her performance of “I Fall To Pieces” was spotty, and I really didn’t like it. Don’t know what the public at large will think, but at least she’s taking risks.

BUH-BYE
  1. Paige Miles—In our in-office pool that started when the Top 24 were announced, I picked Paige to win the whole thing.  Her earliest performances displayed powerful vocals and a comfortable stage presence.  But the last two weeks did her in.  Last night’s version of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” was BRUTAL.
  2. Katie, Katelyn, or Lilly—I guess picking three is a little bit of a cop-out, but they each have their strong points.  Katie and Katelyn could survive because they’re both adorable.  Lilly comes off as a little kooky, so that may not help her even though her performance was better than the other two.
 (1) Comments


 

American Idol--Down to 16

Three out of four ain’t bad.  My predictions were 75% accurate.  Haeley Vaughn is gone—FINALLY!  John Park has been, well, parked.  Jermaine Sellers is not a happy feller.  They’re all out.  But I really didn’t see Michelle Delamor’s ouster coming.  That was kind of a shocker.  I bet she gets a second chance though, as the judges will be giving a couple of dispatched contestants another try.  One of my favorites from last year performed last night.  Danny Gokey, as predicted, is putting out a Country album, but I was nonplussed by his first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead Of Me”.  Here’s who’s left and how I rank them:
  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Michael Lynche
  3. Katelyn Epperley
  4. Katie Stevens
  5. Casey James
  6. Siobhan Magnus
  7. Paige Miles
  8. Aaron Kelly
  9. Lilly Scott
  10. Todrick Hall
  11. Alex Lambert
  12. Andrew Garcia
  13. Didi Benami
  14. Lee Dewyze
  15. Lacey Brown
  16. Tim Urban
I am really looking forward to next week.  Not for the performances, but because the show's are only going to be one hour!  Those two hour shows filled with complete mediocrity were just too much.
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I'm Not Impressed

Well, it wasn’t worse, is all I can say.  That’s not saying much.  The girls were decidedly less than scintillating last night.  This crop of Idol hopefuls is turning out to be lackluster.  There were a couple of outstanding performances: Crystal Bowersox—Of all the contestants, Crystal is displaying the most raw, natural talent.  Her belting of CCR’s “Long As I Can See The Light” was effortless.  She isn’t awed in the slightest by the big stage, and looks like she belongs there.  Don’t know how much of a market there is for bluesy female singers these days, but there’s always one in every AI competition.  Could Crystal be the one to finally break through?  I’d lay even odds on it. Siobhan Magnus—Simon nailed it when he called her a strange little person.  I’m not sure if she’s strange or if her elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top.  When she was taking her criticism from the judges, she spoke up to respond to something Kara said.  At that point the camera flashed to Siobhan’s mother and she had this look of apprehension on her face that said, “Oh, pleeeez don’t say anything stupid.”  All that aside, this girl can WAIL!  She was dressed like a high school kid from the ‘50’s, and she launched into a scorching version of Aretha Franklin’s “Think”.  Don’t know what the public is going to make of her in the long run, but simply based on talent, Siobhan’s a contender. One To Watch Katelyn Epperly—This girl from West Des Moines has serious talent.  If she can realize how good she is before the competition ends, she could walk away with the crown.  She’s got the look, the smile, the self-composure.  She just needs to exude confidence on stage. Who’s Out Haeley Vaughn—This has got to be the week.  Talk about bad karaoke!  Her version of “The Climb” was execrable.  She needs to go home and have a slumber party with her Miley Cyrus wannabe friends. Didi Benami—She almost didn’t make it last week, and her performance of “Lean On Me” wasn’t strong enough to save her this week.  It’s a shame, cuz I think she really can sing.  She just keeps picking the wrong songs. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Lilly Scott didn’t help herself last night.  The judges loved her version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”, but I thought it was boring and annoying.  The song is just not going to resonate with the average AI viewer. Who do you think’s gonna get the heave-ho tonight?
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Snooze-fest Part Deux

It may be a little early in the competition for predictions, but I’m gonna be bold and make one.  A girl is going to win, because the guys are totally LAME!  Watching last night’s performances was painful!  Watching a quilting bee would be more exciting.  The only really interesting performance was the first one of the night.  Michael Lynche did a surprisingly strong rendition of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.” Front-runner Casey James turned into a zombie on Gavin Degraw’s “I Don’t Want To Be”. Alex Lambert came out of his shell and actually did a respectable version of John Legend’s “Everybody Knows”.  If he keeps growing with every performance, he might be in the Top 10. WHO’S OUT Jermaine Sellers—He managed to take a classic and turn it into pabulum.  Don’t see how he can survive two awful performances in a row. Toss Up: John Park—I’m not a fan of John Mayer anyway, but Park's version of "Gravity" had absolutely none. Tim Urban—It’s only a matter of time before Tim gets the boot.  He’s a karaoke guy at best, but his looks and smile will get him some female votes.        The girl’s will undoubtedly be better tonight.  The bar is so low that they couldn’t do worse if they tried.
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A plea for help

I've been a Program Director in music radio for quite a few years.  I’m pretty good at spotting a hit song and/or talented artist that will resonate with just about everybody.  I mean, there’s a reason why we call them “hits”—they hit with everyone around the country, and often, around the world.  When I watch American Idol, I must be clueless, cuz I completely missed on the first eliminations out of the Top 24.  What I wanna know is, “Who the heck are the people who vote in this thing?!”  Ashley Rodriguez gets the boot over Haeley Vaughn?  Are you kidding me?  Just watching Vaughn talk is annoying enough, but listening to her sing?  A bleating sheep would be better. And Simon was spot on when he said that they made the right decision on Tim Urban in the first place.  Joe Munoz wasn’t going to go all they way, but he was way better than Urban.  Those who don’t sing do not realize how hard it is to sing a Jason Mraz song, which Munoz did admirably.  But he gets voted off instead of a hack like Urban?  What a joke. Tyler Grady was the other guy to get the boot, and I can’t say that I disagree.  Alex Lambert who was in the bottom two with Grady will be the next to go. Janell Wheeler was the second gal to go.  Her shaky rendition of Heart’s “What About Love” did her in. After the first eliminations, my frontrunners are Paige Miles and Casey James.  Paige has the best voice in the competition and Casey has the most star potential. Please, oh, please, can we get Haeley Vaughn off the show?  Please?  Anyone?  Can you help a brotha out?
 (1) Comments


 

Another letdown

Bummer!  I was really looking forward to the Top 12 guys performing last night on AI, especially since the gals were so uninspiring the night before.  Alas, it was not to be.  Not one single performance was a barn burner.  A couple were downright pathetic.  Best of the Blah
  • Casey James—Kara’s gushing aside, the guy’s the real deal.  I closed my eyes during a replay of the video, and swore I could hear Bob Seger singing “Heaven” by Bryan Adams.  He’ll definitely be in the Top 10 and on the tour this summer.
  • Joe Munoz—He’s not going to win by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a good singer who did a commendable job with Jason Mraz’s “You And I Both”.  Anybody that would even try to cover that song has my respect.
 On The Bubble
  • Alex Lambert—Painful to watch.  He was so uncomfortable he looked like a guy who’s singing in a karaoke bar one night then goes home, passes out,  and wakes up on a national stage the next day.  Should go back to the bars.
  • Lee Dewyze—This guys’s gonna be my whipping boy until he proves he deserves to be there.  He was so off key all the way through Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”, I thought I was watching Taylor Swift perform.  (Oops, did I say that out loud?)
Buh-Bye
  • Tim Urban—Finally got the scoop on why he was such an afterthought on the Top 24 announcement show.  He was an afterthought!  Seems that Chris Golightly actually had a spot in the Top 24, but it was discovered he was under contract with a record company, even though he denied it.  So Golightly got the boot, and Tim Urban slid in.  After his pathetic performance of “Apologize” he should apologize to America and slink home.
  • John Park—Uh, that was pitiful.  I think John is a little off in the head because no guy in his right mind would attempt Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child”. 
Kris Allen is scheduled to perform tonight.  Hear Kris talk about his visit to Haiti and what it’s like to be an American Idol in my exclusive interview with Kris that you’ll find in my February 19th blog below.
 (1) Comments


 

Snooze-Fest

Ho-hum.  That’s the best way I can describe last night’s performances by the Top 12 girls on American Idol.  As usual, I agreed with just about every one of Simon’s assessments.  These included “boring,” “bland,” and “dreary.”  I took copious notes last night, and I needn’t have bothered.  There was not one memorable performance, though I think a couple of contestants crashed and burned. Crispy Critters
  • Haeley Vaughn—Don’t know how this annoying screecher made it in the first place.  Her ghastly performance of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” should put us out of our misery. 
  • Lacey Brown—I’m really bummed about this one.  I really thought Lacey was a sleeper to win this whole thing, but that desecration of “Landslide” was unbearable.
Best of the Rest (and that ain’t sayin’ much)
  • Paige Miles—She was the first performer, and who knew she’d be the night’s one bright spot.  I think she’s now the frontrunner.
  • Michelle Delamor—At least she stayed on key (pardon the pun) through Alicia Key’s “Fallin’”.  Solid, but not stellar.
  • Siobhan Magnus­—Not the brightest bulb on the billboard.  Simon called her a “dark horse” in the competition, and she asked “What’s a “dark horse”?  (Maybe she’s just sheltered, cuz she is kinda weird.)  I liked her version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”.  Her voice is pure gold.
Coulda, Shoulda Woulda
  • Janell Wheeler—Heart’s “What About Love” was absolutely the wrong song for her.  Anybody who does that song is gonna sound lame compared to Ann Wilson.
  • Katie Stevens—She’s still one of my favorites, but that mom-ish version of Michael Buble’s “Feelin’ Good” was painful.  Ellen was exactly right—she’s got to “young it up” or she’ll be out.
 Let’s hope the guys put on a better show tonight.
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AND THEN THERE WERE 24

I had the pleasure of talking to Kris Allen on the phone on Tuesday.  Kris called from Los Angeles where he’s spending a lot of time these days.  (Can’t imagine why.)  Kris gave me the scoop on his upcoming visit to Haiti which will be broadcast next week on American Idol.  He will also be performing on the show that night. Kris Allen interview Not too many surprises when the remainder of the Top 24 were picked on Wednesday night.  A few that I thought would get in didn’t make it:  Tasha Layton, Angela Martin, and Thaddeus Johnson.  The moment that Kara spent breaking the news to Angela was especially poignant.  I think that Thaddeus’ appearance had a lot to do with him not making it.  American Idol is first and foremost a television show and personal presentation is key.  With a little polish and another year’s maturation, Thaddeus could come back and make it next year.  Don’t have a clue what happened to Tasha since they never mentioned her. Did anybody see them make any mention of Tim Urban anywhere in the process?  They showed his picture briefly in one segment, but I never heard his name until the very end.  He’s been an inconsequential participant this entire season, so I didn’t even know who he was from his picture.  I had to wait til the very end of the show when they announced his name.  Kinda strange. So here’s the final 24:
  • Michael Lynche—Too overbearing physically to win it all. 
  • Didi Benami—One of my favorites from day one.  Radiates sweetness.
  • Katelyn Epperley—Sleeper.
  • Casey James—If he doesn’t make in on AI, he could be a movie star.  The epitome of “ruggedly handsome”.
  • Aaron Kelly—Creepy.
  • Lee Dwyze—Could be one of the first to get the boot. 
  • Todrick Hall—He’ll go deep into the competition, but the drama queen thing will wear thin.
  • Tyler Grady—Love his whole ‘70’s vibe.  The ladies will love him.
  • Janell Wheeler—She’s just likable and that counts in this competition.
  • Lacey Brown—Hasn’t gotten a lot of screen time up until this point, but she’s a contender.
  • Ashley Rodriguez—Knew she’d get in from her first audition.  She has charm, poise, beauty, and talent—the whole package.
  • Alex Lambert—Buh-bye.
  • Joe Munoz—Haven’t seen much of him, so I don’t know what to think.
  • Crystal Bowersox—Style and talent to burn.  Think she’s just a little to rough to be a serious threat.
  • Katie Stevens—Keep your eye on this 17 year-old.  Has the talent and charm to win it all.
  • Lilly Scott—Reminds me of Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland.  Has a swagger and cuteness that’ll take her to the final rounds.
  • Paige Miles—Again, not much screen time, so who knows.  Simon really likes her, so that will help.
  • Siobhan Magnus—Huge voice.  Arguably the best singer in the competition, but will that be enough?
  • Michelle Delamor—She looks like a star, but I haven’t heard enough of her to make a guess as to how far she’ll get.
  • Jermaine Sellers—He’s annoying, so he’ll be gone pretty quick.
  • John Park—This year’s Anoop Desai?
  • Tim Urban--Who?
  • Haeley Vaughn--Boy, I really don't get this one.  I know she's sweet and all, but she's going to get annoying really quick.
  • Andrew Garcia--He made it with his reworking of "Straight Up" early in Hollywood Week.  Solid contender.
Who are your picks?
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17 MORE TO GO!

Can they possibly drag this out any more?!  This is one of my pet peeves with Idol:  they take a one-hour show and stretch it into two.  I mean, does it really take two hours to announce 7 of the 24 finalists?  The whole scenario with the contestants in three separate rooms is getting old.  The judges come in and do their obligatory stall to ratchet up the tension, then everybody either jumps up and down and screams, or they collapse into sobs.  Ho-hum. 

 

Here’s who’s in so far, and some of my picks are in the group:

 

  • Michael Lynche—Muscle-bound softy who will survive a few rounds.  Don’t think he’s mass appeal enough to go the distance, though.
  • Didi Benami—One of my favorites from day one.  She has that indefinable winsomeness that shines through.  Could be the next American Idol.
  • Katelyn Epperley—Decent singer with great back story and cute face. 
  • Casey James—Just call him “Kara’s Pet”.  She swoons every time he shows up.  He’s got the musical chops to be a star, too.
  • Aaron Kelly—Don’t know how this 16 year-old got through.  He forgot the lyrics in his Hollywood audition and he reminds me of Edward Norton--the creepy Edward Norton in “Primal Fear”.
  • Lee Dwyze—Don’t get this one either.  The guy’s Hollywood audition was terrible and he doesn’t stand a chance to win.
  • Todrick Hall—He’s the goods.  Tons of charisma and talent.  Bit of a drama queen which might actually help him.

 Tonight the final 17 are announced.  Here are my picks to get in:

 

  • Tasha Layton—She’s got a style all her own and she has good presence.
  • Siobhan Magnus—Ellen told her that she had to lighten up, and she did in her final audition.  Incredible pipes.
  • Crystal Bowersox—No-brainer.  This year's blues chick.
  • Thaddeus Johnson—16 year-old from Oklahoma City is wise beyond his years and knows how to connect with an audience.
  • Angela Martin—Third time’s the charm for Angela.  Her personal story is so tragic that I’m rooting for her.  Her father was murdered during the first competition which left Angela too grief-stricken to compete.  This time around her mother is missing.  Police found her abandoned car outside of Chicago on New Year’s Eve and they haven’t found her.  Terrible.
  • Ashley Rodriguez—Obvious star qualities.
  • Janell Wheeler—She picked the wrong audition song in “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, but she’s displayed enough talent that I think she gets through.  (Rumored to be dating Tim Tebow.)
  • Andrew Garcia--Remains to be seen if he's got the range to win the whole thing, but he's definitely in the Top 24.

Don’t have a clue about the other 9, so I’m looking forward to tonight.

 (0) Comments


 

GROUP COMPETITION--WHAT'S THE POINT?

I don’t get it.  Group Day on American Idol.  I guess it’s just the producers’ way of seeing which contestants might fit in to those cheesy group numbers they do when the show gets down to the Final 24.  But all the bickering, posturing, and crying makes my teeth grind.  The show could’ve been 10 minutes long and it would have been more interesting.  They don’t call it Hell Week for nothing; stretching it out into an hour is torment for the viewer.

 

None of the individual performers stood out in the group competition, so there’s not much to comment on.

Suffice it to say that 25 more contestants were winnowed out, and 71 remain.  Next week the Final 24 are chosen. 

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I LIKE HER! I REALLY LIKE HER!

OK.  I admit it.  Ellen DeGeneres was a great choice to replace Paula Abdul on the judges’ panel.  The show needs some comic relief and Ellen can actually be funny on purpose.  Paula was just…you know…funny, as in “Yoo-hoo!  Anybody home?  Earth to Paula!”  Like all great comics Ellen demonstrates the ability to cut right to the heart of the matter.  For example, her likening of the on-stage demeanor of the annoying “Skiboskii” to that of a leopard stalking back and forth in a cage was perfect.  Ellen seemed totally at ease and in her element.  And I think that her criticisms will be much more creative and genuine than “That was a little pitchy, dogg!”  Or, “Oh, honey, I’m sorry, you’re just not gonna make it.”  Or, “That was terrible!”  You know what I mean?

 

The first night of Hollywood week demonstrated that while everybody thinks they’ve got talent, only a handful really do.  That’s why true talent is rewarded as highly as it is—it’s extremely rare.  Numerous people crashed and burned miserably last night.  But there were a few contenders.

 

Hands down, the most electrifying performance was Andrew Garcia’s reworking of “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul.  I was ready to cringe, but Andrew’s acoustic arrangement was one of the most daring performances I’ve ever seen on Idol. 

 

Other notables:

 

  • Crystal Bowersox—Janis Joplin reincarnated.  She even has that rugged, hard-partying look like Janis.  Idol fans love these bluesy females to a point, but they just never make it at the end.  She’ll have a good run, though.
  • Lilly Scott—Did a cool version of an Ella Fitzgerald song.  Risky, since Ella was one of our true American artists.  Lilly put her own spin on it and it really worked.
  • Michael Lynche—Just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  The guy’s built like a defensive lineman, and he comes out with an acoustic guitar and does a sweet version of “Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer.  Don’t think he’s got the goods to make it to the final 24, though.
  • Casey James—This year’s ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed blues guy.  Women will swoon over him.  Plays a pretty mean guitar, but it remains to be seen what his vocal chops are.
  • Didi Benami—My personal favorite so far this year.  Didi’s a natural beauty with a sweet personality that just exudes grace and charm.  She has a real shot to be in the final 24.

Tonight we start the group competition which is always interesting.

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NEXT STOP--HOLLYWOOD!

After all is sung and done in the auditions for the 9th season of American Idol, 181 contestants will by vying for the Top 24 in Hollywood.  Last night’s episode was a blatant attempt to squeeze a second show into the week.  They billed it as “saving the best for last”, but if these were the best, then this season is going to be lackluster indeed.  Granted, you can only do so much in an a cappella audition.  Adding music and audio processing can transform a mediocre singer into a pretty decent one.  (In the case of Taylor Swift in can turn mediocrity into big bucks!) 

Last night the show shined the spotlight on a crop of talented 16 year-olds.  One or two of them could even turn up in the Top 24:

 

·         Genesis Moore did a nice version of Carrie Underwood’s “I Told You So.”  Genesis is the second African-American female to audition with a Country song in this competition.  That’s a niche that A.I. has yet to fill, so it may give her an edge.

·         Thaddeus Johnson of Oklahoma City was one of the best males to audition this season.  The comparisons with Ruben Studdard are obvious and since Ruben has been one of the least successful winners, Thaddeus doesn’t have much of a chance in the long run.

·         Aaron Kelly picked a pretty daring song in Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”, and pulled it off with panache.  Has a nice presence and the girls will love him.

My two favorites from last night were a couple of understated singers who just exuded star power.  Their beauty and grace combined with their heartfelt vocals put them in my Top 5 for the entire audition process.

 

·         Di Di Benami—The first thing that impressed me about Di Di was that she chose “Hey Jude” as her audition number.  That’s gotta be a first for A.I.  Di Di is dedicating her singing career to her best friend who died a couple of years ago and the emotion that comes with that is palpable in Di Di’s singing and carriage.  She reminds me a lot of Brooke White from Season 7. 

·         Hope Johnson—Hope had the distinction of being the final audition for this year.  She’s from Arlington, Texas, which is a good thing since all of the past American Idols, except one, are from the South.  (Jordin Sparks is from Arizona.)  And though she’s not one of those powerful belters that Idol fans love, her interpretation of “I Hope You Dance” had a very personal quality to it that I found moving and endearing.  (Besides that she’s a real cutie-patootie.)   

 

Outside of the aforementioned two, there weren’t really any impressive guys last night. 

 

Now comes the fun part.  The Hollywood competition starts next week and Ellen joins the judges’ panel.  I’ll have my barf bag handy since I find it hard to stomach Ellen, but I suspect it probably won’t be all that bad.  She’s pretty good at dancing with herself; let’s just see if she shows any expertise in judging talent.

 (2) Comments


 

DENVER AUDITIONS

A total of 26 contestants made it through to Hollywood from the Denver auditions on American Idol last night.  Most of them were kinda lame, though, so I don’t think any of them stand a chance of winning.  A.I. is doing something unusual tonight.  They’re taking the best of the best contestants from all the auditions and showing them in one show.  And they’re apparently performances we haven’t seen yet.  Makes me wonder if these aren’t some plants they recruited because most of the people that have made it through so far just aren’t that good.   

 

The Good

 

  • Mark Labriola—I think he mainly got through because of his strange childhood experience.  Seems he was abducted by his mother in a custody battle and lived all over the country from Alaska to Hawaii.  When he was in his teens, his father found him in Hawaii and got him back.  Now he’s married and got a child of his own.  His performance of “Tempted” by Squeeze was decent but not stellar. 
  • Tori Kelly—Precocious 16 year-old did a solid version of “Gravity” by John Mayer.  I’m not a Mayer fan; his songs don’t require much vocal prowess.  Still, Tori made it her own which is important in this competition.
  • Nicci Nix—I dub thee “Helium Girl”.  Her voice would make her completely annoying if it weren’t for the fact she’s so darn cyute!  Plus, she flew 14 hours from Italy just to audition.  I didn’t even recognize the song she sang, but it was perky and not awful. 

The Bad

 

  • Austin Paul—Two strikes against him already for doing a John Mayer song.  Third strike was that Austin’s a dumb jock who’s way too cocky, and sang “Bigger Than My Body” which is a really dumb song. 
  • Mario Galvan—His performance of Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock” should have landed him in jail.

The Ugly

 

  • Kenny Everett—Another one of these deluded individuals who has proclaimed himself a “singer” with no evidence to back it up.  Tried to pull of a Mary J. Blige tune, but it came out Mary J. Blecch. 

 

What do you think?

 (1) Comments


 

17 MORE TO GO!

Can they possibly drag this out any more?!  This is one of my pet peeves with Idol:  they take a one-hour show and stretch it into two.  I mean, does it really take two hours to announce 7 of the 24 finalists?  The whole scenario with the contestants in three separate rooms is getting old.  The judges come in and do their obligatory stall to ratchet up the tension, then everybody either jumps up and down and screams, or they collapse into sobs.  Ho-hum.  Here’s who’s in so far, and some of my picks are in the group:
  •  Michael Lynche—Muscle-bound softy who will survive a few rounds.  Don’t think he’s mass appeal enough to go the distance, though.
  • Didi Benami—One of my favorites from day one.  She has that indefinable winsomeness that shines through.  Could be the next American Idol.
  • Katelyn Epperley—Decent singer with great back story and cute face. 
  • Casey James—Just call him “Kara’s Pet”.  She swoons every time he shows up.  He’s got the musical chops to be a star, too.
  • Aaron Kelly—Don’t know how this 16 year-old got through.  He forgot the lyrics in his Hollywood audition and he reminds me of Edward Norton--the creepy Edward Norton in “Primal Fear”.
  • Lee Dwyze—Don’t get this one either.  The guy’s Hollywood audition was terrible and he doesn’t stand a chance to win.
  • Todrick Hall—He’s the goods.  Tons of charisma and talent.  Bit of a drama queen which might actually help him.
 Tonight the final 17 are announced.  Here are my picks to get in:
  • Tasha Layton—She’s got a style all her own and she has good presence.
  • Siobhan Magnus—Ellen told her that she had to lighten up, and she did in her final audition.  Incredible pipes.
  • Crystal Bowersox—No-brainer.  This year's blues chick.
  • Thaddeus Johnson—16 year-old from Oklahoma City is wise beyond his years and knows how to connect with an audience.
  • Angela Martin—Third time’s the charm for Angela.  Her personal story is so tragic that I’m rooting for her.  Her father was murdered during the first competition which left Angela too grief-stricken to compete.  This time around her mother is missing.  Police found her abandoned car outside of Chicago on New Year’s Eve and they haven’t found her.  Terrible.
  • Ashley Rodriguez—Obvious star qualities.
  • Janell Wheeler—She picked the wrong audition song in “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, but she’s displayed enough talent that I think she gets through.  (Rumored to be dating Tim Tebow.)
  • Andrew Garcia--Remains to be seen if he's got the range to win the whole thing, but he's definitely in the Top 24.
Don’t have a clue about the other 9, so I’m looking forward to tonight.
 (0) Comments


 

GROUP COMPETITION--WHAT'S THE POINT?

I don’t get it.  Group Day on American Idol.  I guess it’s just the producers’ way of seeing which contestants might fit in to those cheesy group numbers they do when the show gets down to the Final 24.  But all the bickering, posturing, and crying makes my teeth grind.  The show could’ve been 10 minutes long and it would have been more interesting.  They don’t call it Hell Week for nothing; stretching it out into an hour is torment for the viewer. None of the individual performers stood out in the group competition, so there’s not much to comment on. Suffice it to say that 25 more contestants were winnowed out, and 71 remain.  Next week the Final 24 are chosen.
 (0) Comments


 


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