Apr 29

Judy Garland Through The Ages

I saw this on Boing Boing and it actually left me speechless.

This video shows Amy Walker performing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as Judy Garland, beginning with young Judy from “Wizard of Oz” and gradually aging into loungy-druggy-almost-dead Judy.

Now I’m going to have to look for more of Amy’s videos. I suspect I’ll return from the world of YouTube in roughly 4 days.

Wish me luck.

 
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Apr 29

American Idol Season 8: Top Five Perform

I like the idea of getting rid of two contestants a week. It really clears the stage for a decent show.

Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai went home last week. Exactly like I called it.

I love it when I’m right.

 
 

Tonight the top 5 are tackling standards from “The Rat Pack” era. This week should show some great reinterpretations of some of the best songs ever written, and I’m looking forward to Kris and Adam the most. I hope they don’t disappoint.

Then mentor this week for the Rat Pack standards is… Jamie Foxx!?

*sigh*

Tony Bennett, Michael Buble, Jamie Cullum, Harry Connick Jr., Natalie Cole, Queen Latifah… any of these would be a better fucking choice than Jamie Foxx. I mean, sure, he was great in Ray, but he was imitating Ray Charles.

I don’t get it.

A N Y W A Y

Kris Allen takes the stage first with “The Way You Look Tonight.” He’s picked the perfect song to highlight his ability to eye fuck the 13 year olds at home. He’s awfully cute. I don’t think he’s any real danger of going home with this performance, but I really wasn’t a fan of the arrangement. The beginning was the more legato and romantic style, suddenly it picked up the tempo and became a swing number before falling back into the romantic legato. This song would have been really nice had he stuck to one style. Either one would have worked, but combining the two really made the performance a bit awkward. He sang it well and sufficiently moistened the teenagers. So all in all, it wasn’t a bad thing. Randy thought it was his best performance to date. Kara thought he set a standard for technical ability incredibly high. She called him the “dark horse.” Paula called him a “sophisticated gentleman.” Simon wasn’t as enthusiastic, he thought it was safe and nice, but not incredible.

Allison Iraheta, who celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday, is up next with “Someone to Watch Over Me.” This is such a beautiful Gershwin song. My favorite version is performed by Nancy Wilson. You know I’ve been pretty tough on Allison this season, especially when she picks songs that are just too mature for such a young singer. I have to say that this is by far my favorite performance from her. She didn’t fall into that Christina Aguilera imitation where she tries to fit 37 notes into a single measure… She had great control and pitch, and the slight changes to the melody kept it interesting. While I still don’t feel like she totally connected to the song emotionally, this is definitely the first time that I’ve liked her performance enough to think she could be a successful artist. Randy thought it was “the bomb.” Kara doesn’t think she’s in any danger of going home. Paula thought she delivered an innocent sensibility. Simon thought it was a great performance, but he doesn’t think she believes she can win. He thinks Allison may be in danger tonight.

Matt Giraud has picked another fantastic song, “My Funny Valentine.” Matt is definitely in his element tonight. He’s rocked the swinger look and vibe all season, and he didn’t disappoint with his version of this classic. While I would not have interpreted the verse of the song in quite the same way he did, it seemed to fit. He’s been the most authentic to the genre so far tonight. Randy thought it was just a touch pitchy, but it was an incredibly hard song to sing. Kara didn’t feel like Matt was emotionally connected to the song. Paula loved his interpretation and disagreed with Kara, saying she felt the connection. She said it was “excellent.” Simon thought it was “authentic.” He compared his song phrasing to Nat King Cole‘s. (Anyone that knows me, knows that Nat King Cole is one of my heroes. If I were to ever have a male child, his name would be “Nathaniel Cole.”)

Danny Gokey is up to perform the same song he’s performed the past six weeks. He just changes the lyrics. He will be using the lyrics to “Come Rain or Come Shine.” *Yawn* Pitch was fine. His interpretation was predictably ok. His performance was better than the past several weeks… but still, *Yawn.* Randy thought he could have an album of standards and win. Kara said she has been missing the swagger, and tonight he found his swagger. Paula called it “stellar.” Simon thought his swagger and confidence could help him win. He called it “outstanding.”

Adam Lambert closes the show with “Feeling Good.” This is like the PERFECT song for him. It’s got built-in theatrics and a great melody for him to jump all over. He has proven week after week that he can pick the right song, inject it with the right amount of Adam juice and play to his strengths. It’s like he makes the perfect sandwich… he starts with great ingredients, injects just enough cheese for entertainment, but you can’t help but notice that the meat and bread is outstanding. Yes, there’s cheese, but it works. (That’s my attempt at talking like Simon.) His pitch is absolutely impeccable. Randy thought it was a little too theatrical and broadway, but it was a great performance. Kara thought it was shocking and confusing in a good way. Paula says he makes her feel better than good. She compared him to Michael Phelps in our olympics. Simon knows he wants to win and entertain.

It’s getting to be that time in the season where it gets harder and harder to rank them. Each contestant has a strength that isn’t necessarily matched or bested by another. At this point, any one of these performers can and probably will have a recording career.

There is also a bit of game strategy that comes into play here. Kris is such a wildcard, in that he doesn’t have a voice that is as strong as Danny or Adam, but if by some fluke Danny were to get voted off, the votes that he normally gets will almost definitely start falling for Kris, who’s playing to that same audience of middle America church goers that don’t want to vote for an openly *gasp* homosexual artist. In that case, Kris could totally upset the show and beat Adam in the finale. Conversely, losing Kris may actually put Danny in the position to beat Adam.

Here’s my ranking (coincidentally, this is how I think the season will play out, not necessarily how I think it SHOULD, however):

  1. Adam Lambert
  2. Danny Gokey
  3. Kris Allen
  4. Matt Giraud
  5. Allison Iraheta
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Apr 28

Israeli Soldiers Do It In The Butt

You may remember one of the gayest videos I’ve ever seen/posted quite some time ago.

Well a group of Israeli Soldiers have decided to put out their own version of the infamous song. I just couldn’t help myself and had to post it.

Enjoy!

 
Apr 22

American Idol Season 8: Top 7 Revisited

Last week Matt Giraud was plucked from the brink of elimination when the judges executed their “Save” to keep him around for at least another week. I was incredibly pleased with that decision, as I felt Lil should have been the contestant who needed to go home. I’d like to see Matt get further, and hopefully the critique from the judges will cause Matt to get his act together this week.

It’s disco week and because of the “Judges Save,” TWO contestants will be voted off this week, and the top 7 will become the top 5.

 

Before the show starts, I think it’s time for Lil and Anoop to go home.

Lil Rounds is up first with “I’m Every Woman” from Chaka Khan. She’s concentrating too hard on moving around the secondary stage by the judges to pay attention to the fact that she’s having a lot of trouble staying in key, especially on the low parts. The final run was terribly off key. Pitchy isn’t the word. OUT OF TUNE is the word. Her arrangement was really nothing different from a backing karaoke track. Randy says it didn’t show what she can do as an artist. Kara didn’t think it was worth the wait to hear her do a Chaka song. Paula defended Lil by pointing out that she had no voice the day before, but didn’t think she hit the boiling point. Simon thought she looked sad. He thinks it’s the last week she’ll be around. It was too copycat.

Kris Allen is next with “She Works Hard for the Money” originally performed by Donna Summer. He’s got his guitar and is doing an extremely stripped down acoustic version complete with a bongo player and a cajon. Very sexy and cool. He’s definitely not the strongest or most recognizable voice in the competition, but he’s surprisingly good week after week. He’s quickly become a favorite of mine. Kara said he took a real risk that paid off “big time.” Paula compared it to a classy “Santana feel” and thought it was great that he “shopped in the women’s department” for the song. Simon called it a complete polar opposite to Lil’s performance. It was original, well thought out, and a fantastic performance. Randy thinks he is ready for the big time.

Danny Gokey chose an Earth Wind and Fire song, “September.” Like last week, I have a hard time finding anything to really say about his performance. It’s exactly the same caliber of performance that he puts on every week. Not quite off the hook… definitely not bad… I’m not coming out of my seat or anything. He is far and away a better performer than Lil. His stage presence is better than Kris, though he lacks Kris’s cool musicianship. He could definitely be a successful recording artist/performer, but I’m finding myself quite bored by his choices. Vocally strong, no major pitch issues, but nothing special. Randy thought he turned the song into something that really worked for him. Kara called him an incredible vocalist with great pitch. She mentioned that it might not be memorable. Paula thinks he has one of the sexiest voices ever. Simon couldn’t fault the vocals, but he didn’t get any “star power” from the performance.

Allison Iraheta picked another Donna Summer song, “Hot Stuff.” She’s stripped the song into a bluesy-rock arrangement. While she’s performing the song fairly well, I’m wishing I could hear someone else sing this version. Melissa Etheridge, perhaps? I really liked her arrangement, but really couldn’t care less about her as the artist. I realize this is a rather vapid disco song, but I still really miss the emotional depth that an older performer can bring to the table. Her age is really a big problem for me. Randy thought the arrangement was a bit “over indulgent,” but still thinks she is one of the best singers in the competition. Kara also didn’t care for the arrangement, but agreed with Randy that her singing was a “9.” Paula thought the edginess was authentic and she hit the last note “off the charts.” Simon thought it was a brilliant performance from the supposed underdog for the week.

Adam Lambert is on deck, looking very much like Elvis again. He’s picked “If I Can’t Have You” originally by Yvonne Elleman from the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. He’s chosen the ballad route with the arrangement. He’s completely changed the feeling and emotion of the song and turned it on its head. While I get annoyed by his constant need to hit that same high note every week. I have to say this was a beautiful performance. Paula is already crying. Randy thinks he is ready to record right now. Kara called him brilliant and the most memorable performance, inspiring even. Paula felt his pain and vulnerability. She said his brilliant and fascinating and he will be in the finals. Simon called it unexpected, original, memorable and said the vocals were “immaculate.”

Matt Giraud has to come out swinging following his near-ejection last week. The song he’s picked? “Staying Alive” from the Bee Gees. He’s performing the song the way I would expect Justin Timberlake or Michael Buble’ would. There were a couple of pitchy moments for me… I would chalk them up to a combination of nervous energy, and his being a bit out of breath from the dancing and running around the stage. He’s got a very cool vibe about him in this performance, but I’m afraid vocally he didn’t quite match the energy level. That being said, I hope he stays around a bit longer. Randy didn’t love the song choice or the arrangement, but thinks he can really sing. Kara thought he brought back the disco groove. She said it was a solid performance. Paula called it a “strike” versus past gutterballs. She thinks he’s sticking around again. Simon didn’t like the performance. He thought it was bit desperate and unoriginal.

Anoop Desai is going to close the show with a stripped down version of “Dim All The Lights” by Donna Summer. There is really no question that he has a nice voice, but he has taken a REALLY fucking boring disco song and turned into a borderline dirge. It was way too slow, there was no energy, the big notes weren’t that impressive. The performance was bit like soggy toast… smells good at first, but disappointing once it’s on the plate in front of you. I spent the entire song trying to speed the band up. Oddly enough, my clapping out a tempo in front of my Tivo does nothing to get Ricky Minor’s attention. I think my opening statement was right. Anoop has to go home now. Randy didn’t love the arrangement, it was a bit corny. He thought the vocals were nice. Kara thought it was a great song choice and thought it could be a radio hit. Paula thought he looked great tonight and his vocals were good. Simon called it “mediocre at best.” He thought it was a horrible version of the song, and thought it was his worst performance by a mile.

Here’s my ranking:

  1. Kris Allen
  2. Adam Lambert
  3. Danny Gokey
  4. Matt Giraud
  5. Allison Iraheta
  6. Anoop Desai
  7. Lil Rounds

Two people go home this week. Who do you think it will be? Did Matt do enough to prove that the judges should have saved him last week?

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Apr 20

Retro Rock It Videos from This Weekend

You may know that I play in a couple of bands. One of them, Retro Rock It, played a gig this weekend and band friend Sarah took some videos of us that I’m sharing with you here.

Enjoy!

 

Wild Nights by Van Morrison:

Jenny (867-5309) by Tommy Tutone:

Rosanna by Toto:

Hard to Handle by Black Crows/Otis Redding:

You should totally come see us sometime.

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Apr 19

Facelift

If you’ve stopped by the old blogstead recently you may have noticed that I was trying on some new themes to see if I liked anything. Seems I found one that needed almost no changes.

Look, I can build one from scratch and have done it several times, but if someone else designs something that I like, why fuck with success?

I know some of you will hate it. “It’s too bright!” “Blech!”

I like it, so you can figure out how much I care.

I also took the opportunity to put my mascot in some new clothes. I totally took the jester that Dave from Blogography drew for me last year and used him as the inspiration.

I had the worst time drawing that silly jester hat in the past. Dave had a much better approach than mine. My attempts to draw that hat in the past always ended up looking too much like a crown, which really wasn’t the goal.

So thanks, Dave for the inspiration!

While doing this facelift I’ve also switched out a lot of the plugins and widgets I was using. If you notice anything that doesn’t look quite right, let me know…

AND while doing that, I have been looking at a lot of old posts, which has made me realize that I miss writing here on a regular basis. I have to learn how to really walk that fine line between writing here and not blowing my wad in 140 characters on Twitter.

Wish me luck.

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Apr 15

American Idol Season 8: Top 7 Perform

So last week we said goodbye to Scott.

It was time. He couldn’t keep delivering that Lite FM sound week after week and expect to stick around. Just like Lil better stop trying to bring us to Jesus every week with some gospel-fied version of a song I love. (Little did I know that line would become prophetic….)

I think you will all note that my ranking was pretty spot on last week. Not to blow my own horn or anything…

 

Tonight’s theme is “music from the movies” under the guidance of Quentin Tarantino.

Wait. What? When did Quentin Tarantino ever sing a note in his life? I get that music plays a big part of his movies, but really? Couldn’t spring for Kenny Loggins or something? I don’t care that he judged back in Season 3… I didn’t think it was a good idea then, either.

Allison Iraheta picked “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith from the Armageddon soundtrack. The verse is far too low for her and it comes off as far too breathy and weak. The judges of course will think it’s sweet and emotional. They are so desperate to keep a girl in the competition that they are going to talk her up as much as possible. The melody is all over the place, she’s out of breath, and it was really a mess. I’m a huge fan of the original song, and this was just a boring crappy karaoke version. Paula called her “remarkable and talented.” Simon called her the “girl’s only hope” in the competition and thought she sang the song well.

The new format is that only two judges are allowed to speak to avoid running over time.

Anoop Desai is going to inflict upon us “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams from the “Robin Hood Price of Thieves” soundtrack. I hate this song so much I expect blood to cascade from my ears at any moment. It’s just so over done, schlocky, syrupy and contrived. Just like Anoop singing it tonight. From the gestures and the googlyeyes to the boring delivery it did nothing for me whatsoever. Sure, he’s got a pleasant enough voice, but I could walk onto any college campus and find 100 guys hotter than Anoop who could sing the song just as well. I just keep saying, “So What?” Randy rambled on and on about something, but ended with “I thought you did a really good job.” Kara thought it was one of his best vocals. She felt connected to him.

Adam Lambert picked “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf from “Easy Rider.” Well… it’s Steppenwolf as filtered through a gay dance club. Look, I’m generally a fan of Adam and I truly enjoy that he takes familiar songs and twists them into something else… much like Blake Lewis did a couple of seasons ago. Most of the time that formula works. Tonight, I can’t say that it really did. The song came across as “frantic” and frankly, hard to listen to. Of course he was on pitch, and he’s got that rock star voice down cold, but this particular arrangement was not my favorite at all. I don’t think he’s going home; he is still unquestionably the most artistic performer left in the competition. Paula couldn’t even speak for a bit for all the screaming in the audience. She said, “you dare to dance in the path of greatness.” Uh. WHAT? Then, “Fortune rewards the brave and you are one of the bravest contestants I have ever witnessed.” Simon said, “I think you need to find a way to express yourself more.” He thought the vocals were brilliant, but it reminded him a bit of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Matt Giraud is now going to impale my senses with “Have You Really Ever Loved A Woman” by Bryan Adams from “Don Juan DeMarco.” You would think by my saying that twice that I’m not a fan of Bryan Adams… you would be wrong. I actually really like him. I just happen to despise the two big Bryan Adams songs performed tonight. I can name a dozen songs by him that I really love. And two that make me wish I could go back in time and force him to lose his voice during the recording sessions so some artist I don’t like could perform the song instead. Perhaps the songs would have worked as Bruce Springsteen records. I wouldn’t care then. Annnnnnnnnyway, let’s get back to the show, shall we? He’s back at the piano which is usually a big plus for him. The beginning of the song was great. I thought for a minute he was really switching the song up and I might actually care. Then the band came in with that monotonous lilting 3/4 rhythm that makes this song insufferable. AND! He’s having a lot of trouble staying in the key. For a full line of the song I don’t think he was anywhere close. I’m worried about Matt, who I’ve mentioned is the guy that I’m secretly (not so secretly?) hoping will pull ahead and win this thing. I think he’s in a lot of trouble tonight. Randy thought it started out really cool, but the bridge went weird. He didn’t think it was one of his best. Kara didn’t like the melody changes and thought he tried to do too much with it.

Danny Gokey is next with “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie from the movie of the same name. The song is beautiful, the arrangement was lovely. Danny’s vocals were consistently good. He didn’t do too much to change the song’s melody, but added a different intensity level that doesn’t exist in the original. I struggle to find things to say every week because he’s so consistently good. This *could* be a bad thing, though… the radio is full of middle of the road performers that have a brief moment in the spotlight before being dropped by their label and disappearing. I watch this show in part to find the artist that I think has the best chance at becoming a superstar. American Idol has already had a couple, the biggest being Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. I can’t see Danny reaching that same level of success if he’s just “consistently good” every week. I would really like to see him take a chance and step a bit outside his comfort level and nail something unexpected. Paula thought it was a beautiful rendition. Simon said, “I can’t fault the way you sing the song.” He said he was “disappointed that the song was done so safely.” He then congratulated him for performing a song that so obviously holds a deep emotional meaning for him.

Kris Allen takes the stage with “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová from the movie “Once.” He’s got a really nice lower register that I don’t remember hearing before. This came very close to bringing a tear to my eye. It was soft and tender and showed Kris’s range off nicely. The harmony vocalist blended with Kris perfectly. The final phrase gave me a slight chill, which is a great thing! The only danger here in my mind is that the song isn’t really that well known. But, I’m guessing it will be better known after tonight. My pick for top performance tonight thus far. Randy didn’t get it. He thought it was pitchy from note one. Kara said it was one of Kris’s best moments. Ever.

Lil Rounds picked Bette Midler’s “The Rose” from the movie “The Rose.” This song has always been up there on my list of favorite songs. It’s one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano as a kid. In high school, our show choir performed an arrangement of it that had these alto harmony parts that would raise the hair on the back of my neck every time was sang it. I can already tell I’m going to hate this. She described it as having a “gospel middle.” *sigh* hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate
hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate
hatehatehatehatehatehatehate it. First, the pitch was so bad in places that I thought for a minute she forgot the song. Then she would land on a note and start to do her gymnastics with vibrato and runs and would get so far sharp that she was almost singing a half-step off. The gospel-izing of the song was a ridiculous attempt at garnering the vote of those audience members who think that screeching in your face vocal style is the be-all end-all of music. Lil has turned into one of the biggest disappointments of any contestant over the past 8 seasons. She started out as one of my early favorites and now I can’t wait for her to go away. Far. Far. Far. Away. Perhaps someplace where the murder of a perfectly good song is not illegal. Paula loved the lyrics (?). Simon thought she got it completely wrong. He said he’s frustrated by her inability to really come into her own as an artist.

This week was pretty much dead in the water. Overall, it was crap. Totally useless crap.

Here’s my rankings:

  1. Kris Allen
  2. Danny Gokey
  3. Adam Lambert
  4. Anoop Desai
  5. Matt Giraud
  6. Allison Iraheta
  7. Lil Rounds

So am I totally off base, or did this week suck the joy out of life?

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Apr 08

American Idol Season 8: Top 8 Perform

She’s gone! She’s Gone! SHE’S GONE!!!

In a move that came several weeks later than expected, the voters finally kicked Megan Joy Corkery out of the competition. Thanks be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that.

Now I’m less likely to feel the need to run screaming from the room halfway through the show.

 :

We’ve reached the week in the competition that never fails to make me feel like I’m old, out of touch, and have absolutely nothing in common with the contestants. The “Song from the Year of Your Birth” theme has arrived.

This is where it becomes quite apparent that these young hooligans have NO idea what half the music they cover in a season is. These kids were born in the mid 80’s (or early 90’s!?!). They really know nothing of James Taylor, pre-toupee/transplant Elton John, Billy Joel before he hooked up with a super model, The Bee Gees, Wings, Toto… OK, now I’m depressed.

And they need to get off my fucking lawn.

Danny Gokey is the oldest, born April 24, 1980 – He picked “Stand By Me” from Mickey Gilley. When’s the last time you heard the name Mickey Gilley!? It’s pretty obvious why he picked this version, it’s right up his alley with the combination of the dramatic riffed opening and soulful ad-libbed chorus. While he performed it well, and his voice sounds great as usual, the arrangement was lacking. It was basically a repeat of the chorus over and again, leaving out the opportunity to really do some cool things with the verse melody. It was a fairly predictable and safe choice. I’m really ready to see him do something unexpected, even slightly outside of his comfort range. He looks great tonight. Randy didn’t love the arrangement, but loved the performance. Kara also wasn’t a fan of the arrangement but liked how he made it his own. Paula thought he set the bar high; she liked the arrangement. Simon thought the beginning was good, middle was lazy, and the end was terrific. There’s really no doubt that he will be around again next week.

Kris Allen, born June 21, 1985, shares a birthday with my aunt, Celeste. Though they are separated by 25 years. He picked “All She Wants to do is Dance” by Don Henley. I’m a huge fan of Don Henley. Kris’s arrangement of this song is fucking fantastic. It’s a lot funkier, with some cool brass parts, and he’s changed up the timing and melody a bit. I’m a big fan of this. His voice has a cool timbre. This reminds me of something that John Mayer or maybe even Harry Connick Jr. might have done. Kara loved that he picked an up-tempo song, but thought it was too jazz-funk. Paula called him one of the most likable contestants on the show. Simon called it indulgent, boring, and forgettable. Randy thought it was a stupid song choice. I totally disagree with the judges across the board.

Lil Rounds, born October 20, 1984, chose “What’s Love Got to do With it?” by Tina Turner. Right off the bat I have to say this looks and sounds a lot like an impersonation of Tina. She’s even got the skirt and shoes… that little “strut dance” that Tina does. This was downright terrible. Lil’s pitch was all over the map, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen that from her before. She wavered between being sharp in the verses at the beginning to being terribly flat and unsupported at the end of the song. I really don’t understand what has happened to her, as she was one of my early favorites, but between embracing this cliched “gospel singer unleashed” thing she’s been doing the past several weeks, and tonight’s trainwreck of a bad Tina impersonation, I’m ready for her to go far far away. Paula thought she looked hot, but didn’t think she made enough of a mark on the song. Simon thought it was a 2nd or 3rd rate Tina, even copying the way she walks and he said “we have lost you.” Randy doesn’t think Lil is listening to the judge’s advice. Kara doesn’t think she’s able to make the leap from singer to artist, and is worried that she struggles with her lower register.

Anoop Desai, born December 20, 1986, sharing a birthday with last year’s winner, David Cook. He picked Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” First, I’d like to slap whoever is in charge of the sound feed. The sibilance (fuzzy sound on “s” and popping on “p” and “b”) coming from the microphone is annoyingly distracting. And that might be the nicest thing I have to say about this boring, cooing, robotic mushy mess that Anoop has piled on the stage before us. To use Simon’s phrase, this is “self-indulgent.” It’s meant to be manipulative of his audience… a sappy mushy song sang in a half-whisper designed to make his 12-year-old-girl fans reach their first heaving orgasms. Blech. Randy thought it was a hot performance with a nice controlled vocal. Kara said he really controlled the song. Paula thought the song choice was flawless and the performance was “magical.” Simon called him a singing yo-yo. He thought he did a good job tonight making the song his own and gave him credit for taking a “girl song” (Can I just say how much I HATE people using that phrase as if a song can only work for one gender or another?) and taking it on. Apparently *I* am the only one who remembers that Phil Collins also had a hit with “True Colors.” It’s not like Anoop is the first guy in history to ever sing it. As a matter of fact, “True Colors” was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, pretty masculine sounding names to me.

Scott MacIntye, born June 22, 1985, picked “The Search is Over” by Survivor. I absolutely love this sappy song. Scott has picked up a guitar tonight and isn’t seated behind his piano. Sigh. Scott has pussy-fied this song into something barely recognizable. The point in the song where it crescendos into this wave of hope and soaring vocals barely registered a “3” setting on his amp. What makes this song work is the intensity with which a singer attacks the lyrics and tough melody… one major thing that Scott lacks is intensity. He would be perfectly suited for a gig playing piano in a superficially swank bar serving overpriced martinis to churchies on a Thursday night. Alternatively, he will have a mediocre career as a contemporary Christian music artist, playing the “Jesus Saves” tour of 2011, alongside such also rans as Michael W. Smith, Gary Chapman, Steven Curtis Chapman, Clay Crosse, and special guest, Twila Paris. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t want to forget to mention his pitch was awful tonight. And, not to be totally mean, but he looked like the world’s biggest doofus who just wandered out on the stage looking bewildered and uncomfortable. Kara commended him for playing his guitar, thought it was a wrong song choice. Paula gave him credit for stepping outside his comfort zone, but thought he was screechy on the high notes. Simon suggested he go back to the piano and thought the song was horrible. Randy thought it was just “all ok.” He didn’t show any star quality.

Allison Iraheta, born April 27, 1992 (the year I graduated high school!), has chosen “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, one of my absolute favorite songs of all time. The song choice is already all wrong for me. Here’s the thing about doing a song like this… it requires a level of understanding and life experience to pull it off. While Allison is technically singing this song well, her pitch is good, her raspy voice is a good approximation of Bonnie Raitt’s, and she’s altered the melody slightly in places, she is just too young to have any real emotional connection to the song or the audience. When in Allison’s 16 years has she felt the ache of lying next to someone in bed that she knows doesn’t feel the same way? When in Allison’s short life has she been so desperate and despondent over an eminent breakup that she has felt the need to find excuses to make it not hurt so bad? She hasn’t. You can’t sing it if you haven’t lived it. The way I approach singing and performing is very similar to the way an actor approaches a role… There’s a script… there’s a story… every song is born out of some emotional place, whether it’s sorrow, heartache, joyous love, or even silly goofiness that a singer must tap into and interpret in their own way. Allison could not do that with this song. No matter how well she might sing the notes, she can’t make me love her. Paula thinks Allison has an unmistakable sound, and thought she had a great tenderness. Simon thought it was very good and said she has problems with likability. Randy thought Allison reminded him of Kelly Clarkson and called her one of the best of the night. Kara thought she made the song young and believable.

I swear to FSM that either I need a swig of whatever is in the judge’s Coke cups or they need to stop talking during performances and actually listen to what is happening on stage.

Matt Giraud, born May 11, 1985, picked “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder. He’s picked the hat back up and is really rocking a hipster vibe. The band added a bit of bouncy jazz feel to the song, which again is reminding me a bit of something Harry Connick or Michael Buble might do. There were a couple of pitchy moments where Matt seemed to be a bit out of breath, but the interpretation and overall performance was cool and interesting. This has never been one of my top Stevie Wonder songs, but this re-imagining has made me like it a bit more. It’s not Matt’s best performance by any means, but it is certainly better than last week’s The Fray impersonation. Randy thought it was vocally one of the best tonight. Kara called it incredible on every level. Paula gave it a standing ovation. Simon called it a million times better than last week.

Adam Lambert, born…. well… I missed when his birthday is, but it must be sometime in 1982 when “Mad World” by Tears for Fears was a hit. As you probably already know, the show ran long and many many many people who record the show (myself included) totally missed the entire performance. I was able to find the Adam Lambert Mad World video and watch the performance, which was obviously based on the Gary Jules’ interpretation from the Donnie Darko soundtrack. Adam’s changes to the melody and his haunting vocals were simply outstanding. He was controlled, emotional, note perfect, and you can tell there isn’t a sound coming from the audience as they were justifiably focused on Adam. Since the show had run over, only Simon was allowed to say anything, and he simply stood up and joined the other judges in a standing ovation. I can’t recall the last time that happened, but I suspect the last time was in Season 3 following Fantasia Barrino’s “Summertime.”

I’m curious how the overtime and missed performance by so many people will affect voting and the results. Will the anomaly be so bad that this week’s results have to be thrown out? We’ve seen in the past where an error on the part of the producers (don’t recall which season, but the wrong phone number was flashed on screen for a contestant) resulted in the entire vote being thrown out and recast the following week.

Here’s my ranking:

  1. Adam Lambert
  2. Matt Giraud
  3. Kris Allen
  4. Danny Gokey
  5. Allison Iraheta
  6. Anoop Desai
  7. Lil Rounds
  8. Megan Joy Corkery (sorry, force of habit) Scott MacIntyre

Lots of judge’s opinions that I disagreed with this week… am I right or are MY ears broken?

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Apr 01

Americal Idol Season 8: Top Nine Perform

So last week we got rid of Michael Sarver whose time was definitely up. I was really disappointed to find that Matt Giraud was in the bottom two last week. And that Megan is still around. But here we are again, ready to kick someone else out of here.

We’re down to 9 contestants and they are working with “Most Popular Downloads” which gives the opportunity basically ANY song they want. Tonight we’re going to hear a lot of comments like, “That was a terrible song choice.” I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of R&B/Hip Hop bullshit tonight, which means I’m going to fucking hate everything about it. I have a hard time judging performances when the song is shit.

 

Anoop Desai is up first with “This Girl” by Usher. FINALLY he’s wearing something that looks like an outfit that a guy on national television should be wearing. This song was incredibly boring to me. He’s got a nice voice, but it was a terrible song choice. (See how I did that?). Randy didn’t really dig it. Kara wasn’t a fan. Paula likes his playful side, but didn’t think he took enough of a risk. Simon said he came across as a “wannabe.”

Megan Joy Corkery is here to assault my senses. She’s picked a Bob Marley song, “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” She’s totally got Natalie Merchant syndrome tonight, where every note is just slightly flat. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I can’t tell you how much I hate it. Kara said, “I think you’re in trouble.” Paula rambled on about some weird need for a spotlight and ballad… whatever. Simon thought it was boring and a terrible song choice. Randy likes the song, hated her picking this song. I hate everything she picks. I hate her. HATE.

Danny Gokey picked “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts. Long time readers know I love Rascal Flatts, even though they totally have my career. This is probably my favorite performance of his, even though the verses seemed slightly rushed. He’s got that whole “dead-wife” emotional undercurrent showing through, and the song completely suited his voice. His stage presence was strong, even though he wasn’t dancing all over the stage as he has the past couple of weeks. A strong showing from one of the leads in the competition. Paula was left “wanting more.” Simon thought it was his best performance on the show. He said he was far and away better than the other two. Randy says “tonight’s show starts right here.” He thought it was a great song choice. Kara said he “moved everyone in the room emotionally.” She got goosebumps.

Allison Iraheta chose to play her guitar and perform “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. She said she “grew up listening to this song.” Uh. I was 22 when this song came out. *sigh* I absolutely despise the “peacock landed on my head” hairdo she’s rocking tonight. So, this is what a No Doubt song sounds like when Pink covers it. Huh. It was a decent cover, but nothing really spectacular happened here. She didn’t vary the melody much if at all, and I’m sure I could pick ten girls out of a crowd at a karaoke bar in San Francisco that could have done exactly what she did tonight. Randy thought she was rushing the band a bit, and wanted to know “What are you wearing?” Kara thought the outfit was distracting and the performance was just “good.” Paula thought her intonation and ability is great. Simon “can’t ignore the outfit.” He thought she shouted the song.

Scott MacIntyre is apparently going to *gasp* perform a Billy Joel song. He’s picked the sappiest one possible. “Just the Way You Are.” He could have picked a rocking Billy Joel song like “Only the Good Die Young,” “Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Pressure,” or “My Life” but instead he picks this slow sappy cliched song that sounds like everything else he has performed on this show. And finally someone realized that just because the guy can’t see his hair, the rest of us are forced to look at him… they cut it or slicked it back or something. It was decent cover, solo with the piano and no backing band. The song suited his voice and it was a passable performance. Definitely better than last week. Kara thought this song was a smart decision. (?!?) She thought it was honest and suited him well. Paula said she is proud of him. Simon called it his best performance by a “country mile.” Randy called it one of the best of the night.

photo-1Matt Giraud picked a song that he really likes, “You Found Me” by The Fray. They’ve got him out in the middle of the audience with a keyboard. This is strange. I don’t know what’s up tonight… I’m not really loving this. UMB thinks my ears are broken, because it’s giving him chills. I like The Fray, so I don’t think it’s a song choice issue. He didn’t quite get on the low notes in the verses, and there’s an odd timbre happening when he says the word “Me” that makes it sound like he’s saying the word, “May” and it has a sort of goat bleating frequency happening that makes me make a weird scrunchy face. I’m sad, because I really love him. Paula said it was too much of a “sound-alike” to the original. Simon didn’t get it at all. He thought it felt put on and uptight. Randy thought it was the wrong song for him. Kara thinks he has to commit to either the R&B side of pop instead of the rock side of pop.

Lil Rounds is singing “I Surrender” by Celine Dion. She’s channeling the look of Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard tonight. Unfortunately she’s not channeling her voice. I’ve totally gone from loving her in the early rounds to being bored and unimpressed now. There were some notes that just didn’t quite land where they were supposed to… Randy didn’t like the song choice, though he thought she sang it well. Kara also hated the choice. Paula thought it was too adult contemporary and not young enough. Simon thought it was a safe song, and thought it was “wedding performance.” He thought it was old fashioned.

Adam Lambert seems to have made the disastrous choice of “Play that Funky Music” by Wild Cherry. This is one of my most hated songs on the planet. My band, Total Eclipse, actually has it in the contract that we do NOT play this song (along with Brick House). I HATE IT. He’s rocking the Elvis hair again this week. I will say that he’s changed the arrangement a lot and has brought a bit of a different feel to the verses, which is a nice departure from the original. He’s unquestionably got an incredible voice with a giant range and his pitch, even when he’s hitting those high screeching notes is dead on. UMB can’t believe that Adam has so quickly become one of his favorites (you may remember that he despised Adam just a few short weeks ago). Not my favorite of the night, but leaps and bounds better than almost every other performance tonight. Paula called him a “true genius.” She compared him to Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. Simon called it original. Randy was afraid it would be corny, but said he worked it out. Kara can’t wait to see what he does next. She also made mention of “Studio 57” and I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about…. Did she mean Studio 54? Studio 54 plus 3? What the fuck? Did a stage hand give her Paula’s Coca-Cola cup by mistake?

Kris Allen is going to close the show with his version of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. This is hands-down one of my favorite songs EVER. EVER. He’s got a little string quartet accompanying him on the keyboard. This is fucking fantastic! It was original, and absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It wasn’t the Sting version, it wasn’t the Bill Withers version, it wasn’t The Lighthouse Family’s version. It was a version I have never heard and it was so stunningly brilliant that I may have to break down and purchase this from iTunes. If I didn’t look completely silly, I’d give him a standing ovation right here in my living room. Randy called it one of the best of the night. Kara said, “That is Artistry.” Paula said he took a 30 year old song and made it sound like the first time she’s ever heard it. Simon loved his confidence, he loved the arrangement. His best performance so far.

Here’s my ranking:

  1. Kris Allen
  2. Danny Gokey
  3. Adam Lambert
  4. Allison Iraheta
  5. Matt Giraud
  6. Scott MacIntyre
  7. Lil Rounds
  8. Anoop Desai
  9. Megan Joy Corkery

So what do you all think? Who’s going home? I fear the worst for Matt… hopefully people love him enough to forgive tonight’s mistake.

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