What a difference 8 months makes.Â Last we saw American Idol, it had just completed its 9th season and was limping toward its 10th.Â The show was looking toward 2011 without its biggest star, Simon Cowell, who reportedly turned down an offer of over $130 million to stay.Â After failed Â 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.Â 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.Â But if the premiere of year 10 is any indication, American Idolâs future and its reputation are in good hands, for this season at least.Â Steven Tyler brings the energy and indisputable credibility of experience that only 40 years of being a rock star can give.Â Jennifer Lopez brings knowledge and a certain sweetness and compassion to the show that I think was missing last year.Â Both of them have been stars for so long, that they donât have to prove anything to anyone and theyâre obviously comfortable in their own skins.Â This should prevent the show from slipping into the adolescent bickering that I think has hurt the show in recent seasons.Â (Unless Ryan Seacrest goes insane like he did a few times with Simon.)Â Yes, you need conflict for a show to stay interesting, but conflict can come from many different situations besides petty squabbling.Â I mean, the very format of the show creates conflict:Â every week contestants fight for their artistic lives out on that stage while the world watches.Â
The other thing that struck me while watching last night is that contestants will be hard pressed to tell a judge that they donât know what theyâre talking about. You know the ones, âYouâre wrong, I know Iâm a starâyou just canât see it. Â People have been telling me all my life that Iâm a star.âÂ Really?Â This is Steven Tyler youâre talking to; lead singer of Aerosmith, arguably Americaâs greatest rock band of all time.Â And Jennifer Lopez whoâs sold over 50 million albums in her career;Â a reigning movie star who has spent most of her adult life in the limelight.Â Now thatâs credibility.Â Throw in Randy Jackson, who heretofore has been the most legitimate musician of AIâs original judges, and youâve got quite a formidable panel.Â 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.Â
The first stop for auditions for 2011 was in New Jersey just across the Hudson River from New York City.Â The Big Apple did not disappoint.Â 51 contestants were given the Golden Ticket to Hollywood.Â Idolâs concerted effort to make the show younger was evident.Â A number of teenagers were selected to move on.Â Most notable:Â
Kinsey Palmerâ15 year-old Performing Arts School student did a powerful take on a Carrie Underwood song.
Robbie Rosenâ16 year-old did Backstreet Boys take on the Beatlesâ âYesterdayâ.
Victoria Hugginsâapt last name.Â 16 year-old was the most huggable contestant of the night with her South Carolina twang.Â Belted âMidnight Train to Georgiaâ and won an early plane rideÂ to California.Â Â Â Â
My favorite who might even have a shot to win the whole thing:
Kinsey Palmerâhas the whole package: looks, personality, talent.Â Just needs a little more stage presence which will get worked on before the Hollywood phase.
Next stopâNew Orleans!
Itâs summer and that means there are tons of new releases from some of our favorite artists here at The Buzz.Â Hereâs whatâs new on The Buzz this week:
Misery by Maroon 5.Â First release from their upcoming c.d. âHands All Overâ which drops on September 21st.Â The band is attempting to forge new ground by adding Robert John âMuttâ Lange as producer.Â Lange produced Nickelbackâs âDark Horseâ to great effect.Â Lange, of course, produced some of the greatest albums of all time:Â AC/DCâs âBack In Blackâ, Def Leppardâs âPyromaniaâ and âHysteriaâ, and ex-wifeâs Shania Twainâs hits.Â 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.Â Adam Levineâs vocals are front and center in another jaunty blue-eyed soul ditty.
I Run To You by Lady Antebellum.Â 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.Â 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.Â I thought I Run To You was a smash the first time I heard it, so Iâm glad weâre able to bring it to you now.Â
King Of Anything by Sara Bareilles.Â Bareilles proves that âLove Songâ wasnât a fluke, and she wonât be added to the long list of One Hit Wonders.Â (If âLove Songâ doesnât ring a bell, the full chorus line was âIâm not gonna write you a love song.âÂ Remember now?)Â Bareillesâ voice is pure honey on this Pop gem.Â 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.
No matterÂ your opinion of American Idol, you gotta hand it to 'em, they know how to put on a show.Â Tonightâs Season 9 finale was a veritable cavalcade of stars, albeit some really old stars.Â From the showâs kickoff with Alice Cooper and âSchoolâs Outâ, to its final performance celebrity performance with Joe Cocker and âA Little Help From My Friendsâ it was basically one classic rock/oldies act after another.Â Check these out:Â Barry and Robin Gibb, Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, and Chicago.Â Janet Jackson made a rare appearance, but even she hasnât had a hit in a long time.Â Christina Aguilera put on a stunning performance, which she always does.Â The best performance of the night was from Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood who blistered throughÂ her new single âUndo It.â
Dud of the night was Dane Cookâs lame segment.Â
The tribute to the departing Simon Cowell was poignant.Â It was very cool seeing most of the past Idol winners and top runners-up come back to honor him.Â (David Cook was conspicuously absent.)Â Paula Abdulâs monologue was a little awkward, but it added to the pathos of the moment.Â I, for one, am sad to see Simon go; itâs going to be hard to replace him.
Have to say that I was really disappointed in the outcome of this season.Â Crystal was clearly the more talented of the two finalists.Â Her performances the night before were leagues above Leeâs.Â But, as Iâve said all season, American Idol is a popularity contest, not a talent contest.Â
My final assessment of Season 9 remains unchanged from what it has been most of the year.Â This year was really weak.Â I began to lose interest when we got down to the Top 7 or so.Â Havenât decided whether Iâve got the intestinal fortitude to blog about it next seasonm;Â but, Januaryâs a long way off and by that time I might catch the Idol bug again.
I donât know that thereâs ever been such a mismatch in a final on American Idol.Â If last nightâs competition were a boxing match, Crystal Bowersox scored a final round knock-out of Lee DeWyze.Â And weâre not talking a TKO.Â This was a lights-out pile driver that sent Lee straight to the canvas.
But, itâs not a boxing match; itâs a talent competition and the result will be left up to the judges.
Each contestant sang three songs last night:
Song #1:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Contestantâs personal choice
Song #2:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Producer Simon Fullerâs choice
Song #3: Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The contestants winning song, which would be released as their fist single.Â
Crystal deferred when she won the pre-show coin flip, so Lee was the first to perform.Â He and Crystal then alternated performances.Â
Lee still seemed like he was bored by the whole thing.Â His rendition of âThe Boxerâ was lackluster, and âEverybody Hurtsâ was a debacle.Â He really needed a homerun with his âwinningâ song, but it was a complete whiff.Â In Leeâs defense, the song chosen for him is not exactly stellar AND ITâS A REMAKE!Â âBeautiful Dayâ is a decent song, but it wasnât even that big of a hit for U2.Â Its lyrics are somewhat meandering and Lee mumbled his way through most of them.Â The judges even said he sounded lost.Â
From her initial performanceââMe And Bobby McGeeââyou knew it was Crystalâs night to shine.Â Her performance of âBlack Velvetâ wasnât outstanding, but the song suited Crystalâs bluesy style.Â Then there was her final performance.Â If ever a performer rose to the occasion, this was it.Â In the most stirring moment of the entire season, Crystal soared to the pinnacle of her talent on âUp To The Mountainâ.Â Â Â THIS is how you rise to the challenge.Â And THIS is how you win American Idol.
This will be my shortest blog ever for American Idol, cuz there just ainât much to say about last nightâs 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.Â John Mayerâs âDaughtersâ is a fine song, but an anthem itâs not.Â With Caseyâs disastrous personal choice of âOK, Itâs All Rightâ by Eric Hutchinson (who?), he needed to finish strong with the judges' choice.Â Instead he all but guaranteed himself a 3rd-place finish tonight with his tepid performance of âDaughtersâ, and I blame Kara and Randy.
So, I think that Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze are your A.I. finalists this year.Â Ho-hum.
Saw the ending coming a mile away.
Michael Lynche is out and weâre down to the Top 3.Â Notice I said âdownâ to the Top 3, as in the opposite of âupâ to the Top 3.Â Nothing great is going to come out of this season.Â
So, Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Casey James will be visiting their home towns this week.Â 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.Â The American Idol cameras will be in tow.Â
Decent performances from former AI contestants Chris Daughtry and Fantasia, although Fantasiaâs voice is somewhat like Butterfly McQueenâs.Â (Butterfly McQueenâs big hit was âI Donât Know Nuthinâ âBout Birthinâ No Babies!â)Â Bon Jovi sang their new single âSuperman Tonightâ.Â Say what you will, Bon Joviâs best days are behind them and this song is hum-drum.
If youâre an American Idol contestant, your goal is to get into the Top 5.Â From that lofty position you should immediately proceed down the fast track to stardom.Â Right?Â Not this year.Â Last nightâs AI episode should have been called âGoldilocks and The Three Somnambulists.âÂ These were the best movie songs available to sing?Â What a collection of forgettable performances.Â They oughta just call this year a draw and put America out of its miseryÂ Â
Are you beginning to see the light?Â Lee DeWyze is a flash in the pan.Â Now he just looks like heâs bored with the whole thing.Â And âKiss From A Roseâ?Â Quick!Â Name which movie itâs fromâand no googling.Â It was an add-on to the âBatman Foreverâ soundtrack.Â Sure it won the 1996 Grammy for Song Of The Year, but talk about sleepy.Â Lee was on pitch about one-third of the song and should be in the Bottom 2 tonight.Â Â Â
What would possess Michael Lynche to pick a Michael Jackson song from âFree Willyâ of all things?Â That choice alone should get him sent home.Â Even had his performance been stellar, you knew he was going to get ridiculed by the judges.Â âMichael Jacksonâ and âFree Willyâ?Â I bet you can think of about 5 bad jokes right now.Â Thatâs what the whole thing was: a bad joke. Â Â
Poor olâ Casey James.Â He gets to put a guitar back in his hands this week, and itâs Mini Me.Â (Easy joke there, too.)Â The judges spent more time laughing about Kara being Caseyâs Mrs. Robinson than they did evaluating his performance of the Simon and Garfunkel classic from
"The Graduate".Â Canât say that I blame them.Â Not much to talk about with Caseyâs performance.Â
Crystal Bowersox culminated the evening with a rousing performance from that all-time cinematic classic âCaddyshackâ.Â âSomebody step on a duck?âÂ All I could think about when Crystal was performing âIâm Alrightâ was a dancing gopher.Â
The duets were good, but I was so bored by then I didn't care.Â Â Â
The only thing I know is that Crystal wonât be one of them. She was the only one awake by the end of the show.
Iâm finally starting to believe my wife.Â Sheâs been calling me an idiot for years, and after last night, her diagnosis is confirmed.Â I am an idiot!Â Iâm certainly not sane by Einsteinâs definition:Â continuing to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.Â Iâm idiotically insane because I keep expecting America to vote rationally on American Idol.Â Think about it.Â Casey James is in the Bottom 3 for two weeks in a row, and he doesnât even make the Bottom 2 last night; Michael Lynche, Sinatra Weekâs best performer, does; along with Aaron Kelly, who had one of the better performances Tuesday night.Â Ultimately, little Ed Norton, Jr., got the heave-ho.Â
Cathy, our wonderful receptionist, encapsulated the entire show this morning.Â She said, âThey paid Lady Gaga $250,000 for that?!âÂ Yep, and for a lame remake of âLa Isla Bonitaâ at that.Â
American Idol is officially off the rails now.Â Tuesday nightâs audience of 17 million was the lowest since 2002.Â I, for one, am not inspired by any of the remaining contestants.Â But, as the intrepid blogger that I am, Iâll continue to slog through to the bitter end.Â Donât you know that Simon is just itching to be out of there?Â And it looks like just in time, too.
How I Rank Them (Idiot That I Am)
Lee DeWyze--Only because heâs the judges' pet.
Crystal Bowersox--By all rights should be the winner.
Casey James--Only because heâs so cuteâwhatever.
Michael Lynche--Still the most talented of the bunch.