Apr 28

American Idol Season Nine: Songs of Shania Twain

It’s Idol night!

I’m really not excited about it. I’m faking my enthusiasm. I’m half tempted to fast forward to Crystal, Siobhan, and Casey and forget anyone else is on the show, especially since man-candy Tim Urban was voted off last week.

Idol Gives Back raised over $45 million last week. Good for them. The show was pretty blah, though. The only performance I really enjoyed was the pairing of Jeff Beck and Joss Stone.

Tonight’s theme is the “Music of Shania Twain.”

Shania is a super nice lady. I got to hang out with her several times back in my Nashville days. She’s the mentor this week and I expect she’ll have some good advice. Much better than Alicia Keys, for sure!

Lee Dewyze is up first. He picked “Still The One.” Shania suggested that he start with just piano and not be lead by his guitar. Probably good advice, but I wish she had told him to stop screaming in his monotone. This was kind of a mess. Randy thought he found a way to make it his own. Ellen thought it was “better than pretty good.” Kara thinks he always sounds “so relavent.” Simon thought it was the perfect song for him to do.

Michael Lynche chose “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing.” Shania wants him to connect to the song. I have to admit, I totally tuned this out. It was apparently boring and had no real power behind it. I really only caught the last note. Randy thought he did a great job. Ellen compared him to Luther Vandross. Kara thought he was very connected to the song. Simon thought the comparison to Luther was spot on, but he thought the performance was “wet.”

Casey James picked “Don’t.” Shania thought he was lacking a bit of confidence and wanted him to really sing instead of relying on the performance. This is probably my favorite performance of Casey’s. It was honest and emotional. He didn’t fall back on his great guitar skills to cover a generic blues/rock song. It was a fantastic performance. Randy called it the best Casey James performance ever. Ellen agreed wholeheartedly. Kara thought he was vulnerable and raw. Simon thought it was his best performance so far and thought it was a much needed performance.

Crystal Bowersox
is on stage next. She picked “No One Needs to Know.” Shania wants her to be a bit “happier.” It’s a pretty bouncy song. It’s one of my favorites off her second album. This version is a little less perky than the original and the bluegrass instrumentation certainly changed it up a bit. Not my favorite performance of Crystal’s but still quite good. Randy didn’t think it was her best but still loves her. Ellen didn’t think it was her favorite, but it was still great. Kara thought it was good. Simon thought it was limp.

Aaron TwinklyBits Kelly will be picking something really sappy, I suspect… perhaps “From This Moment?” Nope.. “You Got A Way.” Same vein, different song. Shania tried to bolster his confidence. Once again, he’s picked a song that is too big, too old, too sophisticated for him. Randy thinks he is the country artist on the show this year? Ellen thought he showed a lot of maturity and emotion. Kara thought he really felt the words and changing the “when we make love” lyric was smart. Simon thought this was the kind of record Aaron should make. Let me get out my credit card and not buy that.

Siobhan Magnus chose “Any Man of Mind.” Shania told Siobhan to get into character for this performance. While I find the idea of Siobhan doing a country song a bit ridiculous, this was still pretty fun to see her pull this off. I’m still a fan. Randy loved it. Ellen thought it was fantastic. Kara proclaimed that Siobhan is back. Simon thought the song was perfect and fun.

Here’s my ranking:

  1. Casey James
  2. Crystal Bowersox
  3. Siobhan Magnus
  4. Aaron Kelly
  5. Michael Lynche
  6. Lee Dewyze

So… did Shania deliver?

Apr 21

American Idol Season Nine: Seven Songs of Inspiration

You’ll have to forgive the terseness of this recap tonight. I’m exhausted and I’m going to buzz through it as quickly as possible. Besides, I’m pretty sure I say the same things about the same people every week.

It’s Idol Gives Back week. Prepare the box of tissues for the show tomorrow night.

Alicia Keys is the celebrity mentor and the theme is “Songs of Inspiration.”

Casey James has picked “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac. Alicia wants him to give a lot of personality. So this is what it would sound like if Bob Segar covered a Fleetwood Mac song. I”m pretty sure you know what that sounds like. You either like it or don’t. I happen to dig it. Randy thought it was good performance, but not his best. Ellen called him consistently good, but that’s not good enough. Kara compared him to a jam band that didn’t show his difference from others. Simon didn’t think it was a particularly “inspiring” performance, even called it a lazy song choice.

Lee Dewyze is here to perform “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel. I suspect he’s going to have some trouble with this, simply because it actually has a melody. His trick of hanging out on one note will make this song suck. Oh good, a new problem, he’s marble-mouth singing. You know, mumbling the words as though he has a mouth full of marbles. I probably didn’t have to explain that, huh? I was going to say he was actually singing the melody right up to the last “li li li’s” where he did his monotone trick. This is what it sounds like when Adam Duritz from Counting Crows covers a Simon and Garfunkel song. Randy thinks he is a great artist ready to make great music. Ellen loved the song choice and thinks he’s getting better and better. Kara thinks he had his “moment” tonight. Simon called it best of the night even though we’re only two in. He thought it was emotional and inspirational.

Tim Urban picked “Better Days” by The Goo Goo Dolls. It’s a pretty cool song, but maybe not the best choice for an Idol performance. He had some pitchy moments in the first verse that were a little rough. It ended better than it began. Randy thought it was just “ok karaoke.” Ellen called him the “soup of the day” some days she likes it, some days she doesn’t. Today she didn’t. Kara thought the execution wasn’t great, but it was commercial. Simon thinks the performance might have been a step too high for him.

Aaron Kelly chose “I Believe I Can Fly.” Talk about a predictable song choice. Syrupy, sappy. Oh poor TwinklyBits… this song is much bigger than you are. Just… *pbbt*. Randy thought it was a strange song for him, but he did a good job. Ellen thought he handled a tough song real well. Kara thought it was a rough beginning but ended great. Simon thought he gave it his all, but if he heard it on the radio he’d have turned it off in 10 seconds.

Siobhan Magnus is doing “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Alicia told her to take a “pause.” Um, ok. *Insert standard “I like her quirky style” and big voice statement here*. I hate Mariah Carey with a passion. You know that right? I really like Siobhan though. So there’s that. Randy called it “Just Ok.” Ellen loved it. Kara thought it was really well song, but she’s trying to sound too theatery. Simon didn’t think it was the right song and the arrangement was old-fashioned.

Michael Lynche has been planning to sing “Hero” by Chad Kroger and Josie what’s his bucket for years. I think the thing I like about this song is the intensity of the original. Mike seems to be sucking all of that out of the arrangement. It’s rather boring. He’s also not hitting all the notes in tune. Not my favorite. Randy thought he held his own. Ellen thought he did a great job. Kara didn’t think he cut through and made it unrecognizable. Simon thought he sang it pretty well, but thought his doing a song about Spiderman was a mistake.

Crystal Bowersox is going to hit the stage without an instrument tonight. She’s performing “People Get Ready” by The Impressions. Total a cappella intro was cool. She has never sounded better. Seriously. And then… she burst into tears at the end. Holy shit that was awesome. I’m teary eyed. Randy gave her a standing ovation. Ellen said she has never looked more beautiful. Kara thanked her for taking a risk and said she just schooled everyone. Simon said, “THAT was inspirational.” He said she sang it fantastically and it was in a different class.

Here’s my ranking:

  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Casey James
  3. Siobhan Magnus
  4. Lee Dewyze
  5. Tim Urban
  6. Michael Lynche
  7. Aaron Kelly

So… were any of you inspired? And can we discuss for a moment how utterly useless Alicia Keys was this episode?

Apr 19

The Tale of Andrew & Justin

I’m over at Our Big Gayborhood again today. Please go check out my latest post examining a case study of why gay marriage is still vitally important.

http://www.ourbiggayborhood.com/2010/04/people-not-fine-print-justin-and-andrew/

Apr 14

American Idol Season 9: Top 9 do Elvis Songs

So the judges used their one save on Michael Lynche last week. While I can understand why they did it, I’m going to be sorely disappointed if Siobhan or Crystal somehow end up getting booted in some fluke during the double elimination this week. Ok… not disappointed, furious. Apoplectic, even.

At any rate, I’ve got to be up early in the morning and I’m just now getting to this at 11:45PM because I had to do my taxes. I hate doing my taxes so I’m in a bit of a sour mood. A mood made worse by my not having the time to watch the new Glee until tomorrow night. This should be pleasant.

And they’re going to do ELVIS?! *sigh* I’m not a fan. I just never got the whole phenomenon.

And when I think Elvis, I naturally think of this week’s mentor, Adam Lambert.

Wait, no I don’t. Not at all.

Crystal Bowersox is starting the show off tonight. She’s picked “Saved.” Roots gospel rock filtered through the Bonnie Etheridge Joplin voice box is a recipe for yet another great performance from the next American Idol. Randy called it a “dope second coming of Bonnie Raitt.” Ellen called it great. Kara thought it was another great performance. Simon loved that she chose an unobvious song and didn’t sound like a karaoke performance.

Andrew Garcia barely escaped the chopping block last week. He chose “Hound Dog.” Adam thought it was really boring and had him change the arrangement hopefully for the better. So umm… I like the backing arrangement. I wish someone else were singing. He managed to make it boring and borderline ingratiating. Not. A. Fan. Randy thought it was “not good karaoke.” Ellen thought it needed more swagger, but that he pulled it off. Kara didn’t think he owned the stage and wanted more from him. Simon thought it was “lazy and unpredictable.”

Tim Urban picked “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Adam got him to end the song in his falsetto. There were a couple pitch problems early on… but I really liked his changes to the melody, moving into his upper register in interesting places. He didn’t end the song in his falsetto as Adam suggested. That’s too bad, because I think that could have been really nice. He’s not nearly as bad as most people say. Randy “actually liked it.” Ellen compared him to tequila, and “really enjoyed it.” Kara deemed it her favorite Tim performance. Simon said he has gone from zero to hero in two weeks.

Lee Dewyze made an incredibly predictable choice of “Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.” Adam suggested he show some facial expression. Go figure. An overdone song, performed by a bar band front man. Very M’eh. Very monotonous, which is apparently Lee’s gimmick. Who knew limited vocal range could be a gimmick? Randy called him “in the zone.” Ellen thought it sounded like a brand new song. Kara thought he really “went for it vocally” tonight. Simon thought he nailed the song on the money.

Aaron TwinklyBits Kelly
is gonna tweeniefy “Blue Suede Shoes.” Adam thought he needed to get aggressive with it. That’s like asking your chihuahua to guard Fort Knox. This is what a a real life gay boy auditioning for a show choir looks like. Popped collar? Check. Humorous attempts at growling? Check. Googly eyes with a judge? Check. The only thing missing is the little touch of glitter over the cheekbones for some “sparkle.” Oh wait. Randy thought it started weird, but thought the half time section was solid. Ellen thought it was a big song to take on but he did a good job. Kara likes him out of his comfort zone. She thought his nerves helped him. Simon thought it was an old fashioned song and arrangement, but very high school performance.

Siobhan Magnus and Adam Lambert ought to be an interesting pairing. She picked “Suspicious Minds.” Adam thought it was a bit sleepy and he suggested she raised the tempo. Probably a good call. The first part of the song was pretty note for note to the original, but seriously switched up at the end into something unique and interesting. I still really love her. Randy said, “That girl can sing.” Ellen liked the second half of the song better than the first. Kara is confused by the nice voice versus the screaming voice. Simon thought the first part of the song was terrible and it was kind of screechy.

Don’t worry Siobhan… Andrew and Aaron will go home before you.

Michael Lynche took Siobhan’s suggestion to sing “In the Ghetto.” Adam asked him to act the song out a bit more, become a bit more theatrical. Pet peeve about this song: so many people sing it pronouncing “ghetto” as if it is two separate words, “get toe.” Michael is doing that. He’s still got a pretty voice, but it was super slow. Randy called it sleepy, but the vocals where hot. Ellen is “glad we saved you.” Kara said he sang it well. Simon called it one of his favorite Michael performances.

Katie Stevens chose “Baby What Do You Want Me To Do?” Adam suggested she show her anger. Katie could decide which piece of jewelry to wear, so she put them all on. She always reminds me of a pageant star, acting beyond her age and just not being completely comfortable in her own skin. The vocals were actually decent and more exciting than anything else she’s done. But still… blah in comparison to Crystal. Randy loved it. Ellen said “man you can sing.” Kara thinks she just “showed us.” Simon thought it was loud and annoying.

Casey James is closing the show. I wonder if he’ll play the guitar? He’s picked “Lawdie Miss Clawdie.” Adam thought it needed some dynamic arc. This is definitely the year of the bluesy rock singer. That’s good news for me ya know? Great song choice that is authentic to Casey. Randy didn’t see anything “different” but called it “solid.” Ellen didn’t think it was as exciting as she wanted, but it was good. Kara thought the song fell short. Simon thought the song was forgettable but the vocal was good.

Alrighty – two people going home this week… here is my ranking:

      Crystal Bowersox
      Casey James
      Siobhan Magnus
      Tim Urban
      Michael Lynche
      Lee Dewyze
      Katie Stevens
      Aaron Kelly
      Andrew Garcia

Who’s going home? Could these songs have sucked anymore?

Apr 07

American Idol Season Nine: Top Nine Perform Lennon and McCartney Songs

The top nine finalists perform this week. We said a sad goodbye to Didi Benami on Wednesday. I wasn’t quite ready for her to go, as I think Katie and TwinklyBits are still on the chopping block and Didi at least had something interesting about her.

The theme tonight is Lennon/McCartney, the most successful and arguably the most important songwriting duo who has ever put pen to paper.

I’m such a huge Beatles fan that I’m going to just say these are my favorite songs ever.

Aaron TwinklyBits Kelly is opening the show tonight. He picked “The Long and Winding Road.” He seems to be having some pitch issues tonight. It’s almost as if he is having issues breathing as his phrases are totally unsupported. He stuck almost exactly to the melody with nearly an identical arrangement to the original. He does seem to be improving every week, though. Randy thinks he has a nice tone but thought it was kind of sleepy. Ellen called it the “Long and Winding Song.” Kara thinks it was a good performance, but needed to be great and he needs to pick an uptempo song for next week. Simon thought it was old-fashioned and boring and he needs to become young and relevant.

Katie Stevens chose “Let It Be.” She actually looks like a teenager tonight with her big earrings, pink dress and ponytail. This is the first performance of Katie’s that I actually like. It started tender and soft and her tone was quite pretty. Whatever she did differently this week worked. The arrangement and her minor melodic changes were stylish and surprisingly pleasant. She may have finally picked the exact right song for herself. Randy called her it her best performance ever. Ellen called it a perfect example of changing a song just enough to make it her own. Kara said she was blossoming on stage. Simon said she got it right tonight and wasn’t robotic like her past performances have been.

Andrew Garcia picked “Can’t Buy Me Love.” He put a bit of a modern rock-a-billy intro and break into the song, but stuck mainly to the melody. This was a definite middle-of-the-road performance. UMB noticed that the arrangement didn’t go to the minor chord in the chorus which made the melody sound a bit off. Andrew sang it just fine, but since I’m not a big fan of his voice it didn’t do a thing for me. Randy thought it was an ok performance that bordered on corny. Ellen thought it was perfect song choice. Kara wanted to love it but didn’t feel like it was anything new. Simon thought the arrangement was corny and irrelevant.

Michael Lynche landed on “Eleanor Rigby.” Wait, that sounded painful… that’s probably what killed her! First line in and I already hate this. Dude, you’re not Maxwell stop trying to sing like him. Ok… so here’s the deal. I actually really liked the arrangement that Michael did. I just kept wishing it were someone else singing it. Someone who wasn’t trying to throw such a gospel-cum-syrupy R&B spin on it. His voice is alright… it’s his style I don’t dig. Randy isn’t sure it all worked, but thought parts of it were brilliant. Ellen thought it was incredible. Kara called it “fire” and that his vocals were amazing and commercial for today. Simon thought it was a little too Broadway musical styled.

Crystal Bowersox takes the stage next with her version of “Come Together.” Her arrangement includes a dijeridoo which is pretty f’n awesome. I’m running out of adjectives to describe how on point and talented Crystal is. I’d buy her album right now. UMB called this an incredible “Bonnie Raitt moment.” Crystal knows exactly who she is as an artist, she makes the right song choice every week. She makes arrangements fit her style as though they were always meant to be performed that way. She’s already won this competition. I’m getting really tired of making this statement every single week, but there it is. Randy didn’t know that it was her best, but it was totally solid performance. Ellen is distressed because she’s running out of ways to describe how good Crystal is. I feel ya, babe. Kara called it one of her favorite Crystal performance. She compared it to a Bonnie Raitt performance. Simon thought it was something he’d listen to on the radio right now and absolutely terrific.

Tim Urban is up next with “All My Lovin’.” His arrangement started with just him and his electric guitar. He’s made very few interesting melody changes. He’s hammering on one my all-time pet peeves, though…. putting an “and” in front of every line where they don’t belong. “AND all my loving.” “AND close your eyes and I’ll kiss you AND tomorrow I’ll miss you.” It distracts me. Otherwise, he sounded good tonight. No pitch problems, no real issues of corniness. For the most part he stuck to the original version of the song, which means he might get some flack from the judges for not standing out enough. Randy thought it was a much better performance than the last couple of weeks. Ellen thought it was his 2nd best performance. Kara thought it was good and loves that he has such a good attitude. Simon thought he did really well tonight, and there was no gimmick and he didn’t try to oversing it.

Casey James decided on “Jealous Guy,” a solo John Lennon song. He’s playing acoustic guitar with a cello accompaniment which makes this seem like an incredibly intimate vibe. He’s got a definite Bob Segar vibe to his voice tonight. He’s another contestant who really knows who he is. He’s definitely got the modern blues market cornered. This is one of his best performances, not necessarily the best vocal he’s ever done, but the overall package was perfect. He seemed vulnerable and he made the song lyrics up front and center which added to the mood. I think he had a great moment tonight. I can’t say I like the way he ended the song unresolved, but whatever. Randy loved the sensitive side and thought it was a great performance. Ellen called it his best performance to date and he really poured himself into the song. Kara commented on his vulnerability and thought he was showing a lot of depth. Simon called it the best performance of the night and thinks he has made the biggest improvement of any contestant over the last several weeks.

Siobhan Magnus is gonna perform “Across the Universe.” I seriously have chills right now. This was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Totally reserved, soft and intimate. She added some minor variations to the melody that showcased her ability to hit those really high notes at low volume which is not easy to do. I’m on the verge of tears, actually. Brilliant. Randy thought it was a little sleepy but loved the tender side. Ellen loves that she always honors who she is and called it beautiful. Kara thought it was restrained and polite which is a big change for her but left her a bit confused. Simon called it much stronger than last week and likes that she is unique.

It’s weird how they can hear the same performance that I do and come away with a totally different impression. Siobhan is clearly influenced by artists like Tori Amos, Nellie McKay, and Kate Bush. I’m guessing the judges aren’t real fans of that style.

Lee Dewyze picked “Hey Jude.” He’s playing acoustic guitar and it seems a bit like an annoying drunk guy sitting around a campfire. And then a guy emerges from backstage playing the bagpipes in full kilt regalia. Because that makes total sense. This was an utterly pointless performance. Firstly, he’s playing the song in a key that is obviously too high for him to sing as he keeps bowing out of the top notes. Secondly, by the end of the song he was basically just shouting a rather non-melodic “na na na nananananananaaaaa” at us. Whenever they pull some strange theatrical trick, in this case the celtic piper, it always seems to be during a performance the producers feel we need to be distracted from. This one would certainly qualify. Randy thought it was a hot performance. Ellen thought it was confident and comfortable. Kara noticed a few off moments, but thinks she could hear him on the radio. Simon wouldn’t have included the bagpipes as he was doing fine before he came out.

Maybe it was just the quality of songs they had to pick from tonight, or they are actually all stepping up their game… whatever it is, tonight didn’t make me want to shoot myself in the head or willingly implode my eardrums.

I’m concerned that I’m the only one who was moved by Siobhan, since the judges didn’t totally dig it. She’d better stick around. I think if she were to end up on the chopping block they would actually use their save for her.

My ranking (not necessarily the rest of America’s apparently…)

  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Siobhan Magnus
  3. Casey James
  4. Katie Stevens
  5. Tim Urban
  6. Michael Lynche
  7. Andrew Garcia
  8. Lee Dewyze
  9. Aaron Kelly

It just suddenly struck me that there are only 3 girls left. How did that happen? We haven’t said goodbye to a guy in a few weeks now. For that reason, I’m suddenly feeling a bit better about Siobhan’s chances at staying around. TwinklyBits was the weakest this week and I think it’s time to say goodbye. Let all the tweeners who are voting for him keep Tim Urban around another week or two while we pick off Andrew and Lee. Though Katie going home soon wouldn’t bug me in the least… that is unless she keeps performing as well as she did tonight.

What do you all think? Was it the songs that made tonight so much better than previous weeks, or have the rest of the contestants figured out that they have to really do something spectacular to try and gain some ground on Crystal?

Apr 04

A Funny Conversation About Worms

Him: I wonder if I have roundworms, haha. what’re the symptoms??
Me: have you had any fleas lately?
Him: nope
Me: weight loss, dehydration, lack of luster in your hair and eyes….
Him: (I’m slightly hypoch.; big reason not to go into med school)
Me: nausea…. hypoch?
Him: isn’t hypochondriac the one who always thinks they are coming down with something?
Me: yes.
Him: what kind of worm can I blame for weight gain?
Me: tequila