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Archive for the 'American Idol' Category

21 May

American Idol - Did David win? Yes.

American Idol’s 2 hour extravaganza finale was actually fairly entertaining this year. They had some good guest stars mixing it up with some of the Top12 singers, a few funny bits, and, of course, the announcement of the winner.

Memorable moments for me were:

David Cook playing with ZZTop. Now that was cookin’. I love ZZTop.

Michael Johns and Carly Smithson singing “The Letter”. Perhaps these two should put out a duet album. Judging from this performance and their appearance on “Ellen”, they work and sound good together. It was very nice to see Michael again. :)

Brooke White and Grahmn Nash singing “Teach Your Children.” I grew up with that song, it has some memories, plus it’s an awesome song. And it’s perfect for Brooke.

Renaldo Lapuz!! He came out singing his “I am your brother” song, complete with marching band and at the end, Paula & Randy up on stage dancing alongside him etc. Wonderful cheesy fun. Makes me want to listen to that remixed YouTube version again.

The Gladys Night and the “Pips” segment, where Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Ben Stiller were the “Pips.” That was hysterical. At least to me.

Jordin Sparks singing some tepid pop song in a horrible, unflattering dress.

Both David’s did their own version of a Guitar Hero commercial where they ran around in undies and button shirt ala Risky Business…I suppose it was supposed to be funny, but honestly, that’s not exactly the American Idol image I’d like to remember.

Then finally…the results were in. 94million or so supposedly cast their votes, and Ryan Seacrest said the winner had won by 12 million of those votes. And the winner was …. David Cook! He was slightly tearful and motioned for the audience to ‘give it up’ for David Archuleta, before singing the winner song.

Now, since I thought both David’s had a chance of winning, I wasn’t tooo surprised, but I admit I was a little. I guess this year the voters were finally tired of the more predictable ballad-singing pop voice and wanted something grungier and perhaps a bit more creative. So kudos to Mr. Cook.

I still wish David Archuleta had won…not because he was better or because I liked him better - I was pretty neutral about all of it - but because in my opinion, he would likely have been more comfortable/at home with the contractual mumbo-jumbo that winning AI is going to throw at him for the next year. I’m sure David Cook can “handle” that stuff, but he might’ve been a little better off getting a separate recording contract and making a record that’s more indelibly his own, if that makes sense. But I’m not a music industry guru, so what do I know.

Anyway, it was a watchable American Idol finale, and a David won. Until next year, so long, American Idol, and good luck to David Cook. Me, I’ll still be waiting for a Michael Johns CD.

20 May

American Idol - David vs. David in a fight to the finish

I wasn’t sure I was going to write anything about the American Idol show tonight. It’s been a long day, with a sick kitty. But after watching the show, I felt a slight stir of excitement stir within my breast for the competitiveness of it all. As usual, this isn’t a blow by blow style recap … it’s more of an opinion piece.

1st song round:
David Cook sang “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” He moved, he emoted, he danced off the main stage and behind the judges. It was a very good performance. But I still felt like there was something missing and I still wasn’t moved. But since his performance was great, I’d give him 8/10 on this one.

David Archuleta sang “Don’t Let the Sun go Down on Me.” My husband and I were wracking our brains trying to remember who made this a hit single, but failed to recall. D.A started just a tiny, tiny bit weak in the very beginning, but the rest of it was superb. I think he was singing in a slightly lower pitch than his “normal” one, because for this song his voice lost some of that nasal quality and sounded more mature. I prefer him singing in this range and wish he had done so a little more often. It made me wonder what he’s going to be like 5 years from now. I agree with Simon that D.A. won the first round. 10/10.

2nd song round:
David Cook sang “Dream Big”. - Ok, I know I’m not “with it” musically anymore, but as D.C. began, I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He was mumbling. It was an alt-rock kind of mumbling, but the point is, I couldn’t tell what he was mumbling. The arrangement was, to me and my middle-aged frame of reference, very late 80’s alt rock with a dash of late 80’s heavy metal. D.C. sounded like he was straining his vocal cords just a bit in places, which I think Andrew Lloyd Webber referred to when he said that D.C had to watch his voice, or protect his voice, or something like that. It’s late, I don’t remember word for word. Anyway, D.C. did fine, but it wasn’t a big winner for me. 7/10.

David Archuleta sang “In This Moment”. - Back to the boring ballad. Although, not quite as boring as some of his previous ballad choices. Well sung, however - better than his usual I think - and considering the sappy song, fairly well presented. 7/10

3rd round song:
David Cook sang “World I Know.” - He mumbled again at the start. Maybe my ears have wax in them. After that, however, it was the typical D.C. alt-rock performance and vocals, except with a somewhat more mellow arrangement. Again, not bad, and it’s nice that he chose to do a completely new song instead of re-hash a previous performance, but I’m not wild about it. Also, at this point, his wild “I just got out of bed” fluffed up hair that’s spiked higher on one side than the other was distracting me to no end. Someone give this man a comb. Please. 8/10

David Archuleta sang “Imagine.” - I’m probably one of the few who didn’t think his original performance of this song was uber-fantastic. It was all right, and cleanly sung, but nothing special. And tonight, D.A. did it pretty much the same - it was all right, and cleanly sung. If you thought it was great back when, you’d probably think it was great this time around too. But…in a singing competition, it’s never quite as awesome to your ears the second time around. It’s not original to the competitor anymore. Still, I don’t think D.A. lost many points for choosing the safe road. 9/10

So who will win this mighty battle of the singing Davids? Simon pretty much thought David A. won the night. Randy and Paula thought it was more of a toss-up. Myself…I think either stands a good chance of winning, but I personally think David A. is going to come up with the most votes to win. And I say this from a perspective of not finding either David “fantastic” - whether this means my opinion is unbiased by “fandom” and thus my prediction might be more accurate than those who think David C. will win … I highly doubt it. *wink*

It’s still anyone’s ball game…that’s the nature of American Idol. But the “rocker” typically doesn’t win on AI. My theory is that perhaps this is because it (rock) is not quite as universally appealing (from teens, young adults, middle-age, grandmas, rebels, conformists, religious, atheist, all walks of life, all walks of musical tastes) - it’s more of a niche. A large niche to be sure, but still a niche, if that makes sense. And when it comes down to the final two, with no one else to vote for, the ‘niche’ fans tend to get out-voted. Thus, with David A.’s strong and no-mistakes performances this evening, I think that will happen again and American Idol’s pattern of the rocker placing 2nd isn’t going to change.

But if David Cook does win, he certainly would deserve to do so as much as David Archuleta. I mean, c’mon, they’re both very good for what they are. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, really. Too bad they can’t both win.

17 May

Simon Cowell’s reaction to Fantasia on American Idol

While I haven’t been recapping American Idol the past couple weeks, I have still been watching. Last Wed. night’s elimination round episode featured a performance by Fantasia. It was a pretty strange/freaky number with an awful song title (”Bore Me”). Fantasia bopped and gyrated all over the stage, and her three back-up singers gyrated behind her in a line, with their butts hanging out of their mini-mini-mini-dress outfits. I didn’t personally like it, but it was amusing…the best thing, tho, as every AI watcher knows already, is Simon’s visual reaction near the end. It was utterly priceless and absolutely hysterical.

I don’t know what he was thinking - that he hated the performance, or just that he was wondering how the sponsors were going to react to those almost-naked butts on the dancers, but oh, it was a classic Simon/American Idol moment. I can watch it over and over and still giggle each time.

simon cowell shifty eyes

If you’re a browser of YouTube, you can find videos of the full performance or some much briefer ones that consist mostly of just Simon’s reaction. But if you happen across this post months from now and those are all gone or have been yanked, I also made my own “Simon reacts” video clip.

Simon Cowell is about 60% of the reason I even watch American Idol. He rules.

29 Apr

American Idol does a speedy Neil Diamond x2

OK, I’m officially bored of Season 7 of American Idol. But more on that later. This week the group had to sing two songs, both by mentor Neil Diamond. Instead of making the show half an hour longer or something, they chose to cram 10 songs into an hour, which gave the show a very rushed and hurried pace. Ryan Seacrest constantly hinted to “rush rush rush”, the judges didn’t have time to make anything but brief sound-byte commentary, and I don’t think it helped the contestants performances any.

Of course, I’m not a huge Neil Diamond fan, so I’m not sure anything would’ve helped the performances as far as I was concerned. There’s a few of Neil’s early hits that I like quite a bit - iconic pop songs - but I’m not overly familiar with his career or songbook.

In the weekly “make fun of Paula Abdul” bit, she outdid herself tonight. Again, I’ll get to that later.

Jason Castro was up first. The two songs he picked were “Forever in Blue Jeans” and “September Morn.” The first was one of the few Neil songs I kinda like, and Jason performed it poorly. No vim and vigor to it. The second song was a better performance, but bored me.

David Cook picked “I’m Alive” and “All I Really Need is You”. The first performance was mediocre and boring. The second was much better, and while not my personal thing, was a very good performance from The Cookster.

Brooke White chose “I’m a Believer” and “I Am, I Said.” - Now, I absolutely loved the Monkees as a kid, and I loved “I’m a Believer.” Brooke did the song no justice - she doesn’t have the power to keep it a ‘rock’ song, and she didn’t really do anything interesting with the arrangement. I thought it might’ve been better if she’d slowed the pace of the song down a lot, perhaps. My husband said she shouldn’t have played the guitar because it seemed to throw her off. Simon thought it was “a disaster.” For her second song, however, Brooke bounced back, sitting behind the piano once again and crooning out a pleasant and pleasing performance.

David Archuleta picked “Sweet Caroline” and “America.” If the latter choice surprises you, it shouldn’t. In fact, both songs made me think “Yeah, I knew he’d pick those….” His performance of the first song was the usual David (as of late anyway) - fine but bland and dull. I thought it was a little pitchy, but maybe that’s because I find his nasal quality a bit wearing by now. David’s version of “America” was better, with more vigorous inspiration, but still … kinda flat for me.

Syesha Mercado picked “Hello Again” and “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime.” I can sum up both her performances as being the best of the evening. She was polished and still displaying her stage-presence persona, which made her seem much more interesting compared to the other four. At least on this night.

I’ve been wrong on the “who’s going home” the last couple weeks, so I don’t even want to make a prediction this week. It’s anyone’s game, really. But I do think Jason, Brooke, and Syesha will be in the bottom 3.

So, on to a few other commentary points about American Idol tonight:

On Paula Abdul: When Ryan told the judges they could briefly sum up their thoughts on all 5 contestants, after they had all performed their first song choices, Paula started to comment on Jason’s second performance….after several seconds, Ryan and Simon reminded Paula that they were supposed to comment only on the first performance and no one had actually sung their 2nd song yet. Paula backpedaled and said “I thought you performed twice!” - in other words, the judges viewed the pre-show rehearsals, and then Paula spaced out during the actual show…I believe Paula’s brain resides in a place called PaulaLand, filled with moonbeams and fluffy clouds.

On my being bored with Season 7: The mentor-weeks aren’t my favorite part of American idol. And honestly - none of the 5 that are left make me feel anything. I think a few of them are very accomplished and certainly have a lot of talent, but they don’t strike any emotional chord with me at this point. In other words, I don’t have anyone I’m “rooting” for anymore. Carly’s gone, Michael’s gone…and the horse-girl is gone. At least she was fun to make fun of. At the moment, the show is simply boring the pants off of me … not because I hate anyone, or hate the show … I just don’t find any of the contestants exciting. I don’t know if I’ll be writing many more of these entries this season - except perhaps for the last winner-result episode. I will be curious if David A. will actually win, or if it’ll be David C. - who will have the bigger, more fanatic fan-base? Battle of the David’s, indeed.

22 Apr

American Idol tackles Andrew Lloyd Webber

Tonight American Idol had the daunting task of taking on the songs of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is Broadway music, folks, not pop-songs, and I wasn’t sure the Idols were going to pull this one off.

Paula Abdul seemed unsure as well, as she was rather subdued and for her, not too wordy in her comments. Or maybe she switched to some downers this evening. Yes, I like poking fun at Paula, god love her.

Syesha Mercado - “One Rock and Roll Too Many”: Syesha gets the top points for the night for her showmanship. She moved around on stage like she was a Broadway actor/singer, even doing a little sultry dance step or two with the orchestra leader. She was obviously comfortable and in her element as far as performance is concerned. Her vocals were good, but I found it a bit old-fashioned. Not so much in a “bad” way…but more in a “boring” way. Like just about every song in the film The Fabulous Baker Boys. If Syesha hadn’t had to go first, I think her showmanship would have made her memorable enough to make her safe, but since she did go first, it might be too little too late. So Not Safe.

Jason Castro - “Memory”: Jason is a likable guy, no doubt. He’s also a fair singer/performer, with oodles of quiet soulfullness that many groove on. Tonight however, he seemed nervous and out of his element. It wasn’t a bad performance - towards the middle he started to sound more confident and vocally with it - but he definitely doesn’t have a power-style voice. It was too soft and a little breathy/squeaky, which imo doesn’t fit the song at all. Paula tried to soothe Jason by saying it was kind of like how Joe Cocker had a soft/rock/pop style to “You Are So Beautiful.” When she did, there was a huge guffaw from my left as my husband expressed his amused disbelief at that comment. Sorry, Jason, I have to agree with my hubby - you’re no Joe Cocker. Not safe.

Brooke White - “You Must Love Me”: Brooke messed up the lyrics or something at the very start, stopping the band and starting over. This is the 2nd time she’s done that this season, and I think it’s going to cost her. I think she knew it, too, because after that she seemed so nervous and uptight that it affected her vocally. She didn’t sound bad, but it was a bit shaky and strained. During the judges comment section Brooke looked like she wanted to cry again, but not in joy this time. Poor gal. Not safe.

David Archuleta - “Think of Me”: Mr. Webber advised David A. to keep his eyes open. David managed to do that most of the time, and his vocal, once again, was pleasant and professional. But also again, it was as boring as dried out dog-poop. Is it just me, or is David A. becoming more and more dull as time goes on? He needs to break out and do something besides these dull predictable melody ballads. This performance barely had any power notes or vocal runs, either, so it was especially snooze-inducing. Here is where I think the AI voting system shows it’s broken-ness, since I think he’ll be safe, but shouldn’t be.

Carly Smithson - “Jesus Christ Superstar”: All right, someone is going to sing from my favorite Webber show of all time. And Carly’s the one to do it. I just knew with her particular voice she’d do well with this one, and I wasn’t disappointed. Strong vocal, good stage performance, great smiling/”I’m having a blast” attitude - Carly cooked. I’m not sure if the voters will think this one great performance is enough to erase some of her lesser ones, but I can hope so, so I’ll say she’s safe.

David Cook - “The Music of the Night”: This is the night where David Cook finally made me like him at least a little bit. I don’t care if Simon prefers David C.’s “gritty” aspect, I like the emoting-stage-persona much better. He didn’t project alternative-cocky attitude and I actually felt the song, so to speak. Vocally, one has to admit that David Cook doesn’t have the best “stage” type voice - the lower notes, for instance, didn’t have the kind of projection needed - but it was very good. He’s safe…and David A. looks more and more like he’s gonna lose to David C.

So…bottom three - Jason, Brooke, and Syesha, with Brooke going home. I don’t think the voters are going to forgive her 2nd false start and her strained performance. I like Brooke and would probably buy at least her first record to check it out, but she is not America’s Idol. ‘Til next time.

16 Apr

Michael Johns on EW.com

EW.com has a video-interview with Michael Johns on their website. It’s split up into three parts and isn’t a bad interview. It’s nice to see Michael talk in a casual, relaxed fashion about his experience on American Idol and his possible future. I’ve seen a few other interviews this week, but I like this one the best so far. He’s such a cute goof-ball. In part 2 and part 3 of their interview, EW.com gets him to sing two lines (one line each time) of a song Michael would’ve performed had he not been voted off. It’s not him singing, mind you - it’s more as if he was in your living room and he broke out into song for about 3 seconds.

I recorded one of the very short audio snippets of him singing one of those lines, so if you don’t want to download/watch the videos just to hear that one 20-30 second bit, you can hear it (mp3) by clicking here to my file. But if you’re a Michael Johns fan, you’ll probably want to see the videos in their entirety. You can see them on EW.com’s Idolatry page. If they’re not on the top of the list anymore, just page down.





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