Mar 30

American Idol Season Ten: Top Eleven Redux – Elton John Songs

Last week was a doozy, eh?

I’m surprised that the judges used their save so early in the season, but it really would have been a travesty for the most talented of the contestants to go home this soon. No, Casey might not have the best voice, per se, but the music world is full of shitty singers who don’t have half the guts and creativity that Casey has exhibited.

The theme tonight is Elton John. He’s one of my favorite artists of all time. I got to meet him back in 1997 and was starstruck – probably the only time in my life that’s happened — and I’ve met a lot of celebrities.

We’re gonna start the singing with Baby LockDemDoors Scotty McCreery who picked “Country Comfort.” Scotty encompasses just about everything I don’t like about country music. The smirky delivery of an almost yodeled style. Don’t get me wrong – I like country music. I was raised on it and had a record deal in Nashville for crying out loud… but this style just makes me cringe. Unfortunately, he’s not going to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Naima Adedapo is up next with “I’m Still Standing” with a reggae feel. I think this *could* have been cool… but I’m so distracted by the accent that she has adopted to really tell if it worked or not. I really don’t think reggae fans are watching American Idol. She could be in trouble.

Paul McDonald chose “Rocket Man.” What is his obsession with that Slim Pickens jacket? I’m so over him. This is what would happen if one of the muppets came to life and was handed a guitar. I can’t stand another second of this whisper speak singing. Terrible.

Pia Toscano is performing “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.” Pia has the dress. Pia has the hair. And Pia has the pipes to win this thing. I don’t think she brought anything particularly new or special to the song, but she sang it beautifully. Ultimately, isn’t that is the most important thing?

Stefano Langone continues to rebuff my advances and offers to carry him around in my pocket. I suppose I’ll have to settle for watching him perform “Tiny Dancer,” one of my favorite EJ songs! I’m not a big fan of his staccato delivery of the verses, but his pitch on those great intervals was perfect. He’s definitely good enough to stick around another week. And the offer still stands; I could use a new pocket buddy.

Lauren Alaina picked “Candle in the Wind.” The verse was surprisingly pretty with the lilt she added to the phrases. She totally lost me in the chorus by over doing the lilt. She nearly moved into full on yodel mode and there is no room in an Elton John tune for yodeling. I suspect the voters will really eat this up, though.

James Durbin chose “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” This went exactly how you would expect it to go with the added bonus of setting the piano on fire. He’s a good rock performer. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. This was a typically good showing from the resident hair band front man.

Thia Megia will now bore us to near suicide with her version of “Daniel.” Yes, she’s pretty. Yes, she’s young. Yes, she has a pleasant voice. Yes, I’d rather watch flies fuck on a freshly painted and not-quite-dry wall. Bo-ring.

Casey Abrams has chosen arguably the best of Elton John’s many great songs, “Your Song.” He really needs to turn in a great vocal performance tonight. And did he ever. I seriously teared up. It was sensitive and beautiful. Brilliant.

Jacob Lusk will now flip his head open and warble a version of “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” Jimmy Iovine didn’t want him to over dramatize this song – yet the stage is covered in fog and dramatic lighting. Coupled with the giant drama queen with a microphone up there, this could beat any Meryl Streep flick. I’m sure this appeals to someone. It’s not me.

Hayley chose “Bennie and the Jets.” Who? Why hasn’t security shown up to take this chick away yet? She’s trying to channel Michelle Pfeiffer in Fabulous Baker Boys with her piano theatrics. She was too busy clearing her throat to sing. Wait? What’s that you say? She was trying to growl notes? I see. It’s kinda sad that this stalker chick has wandered in and performed better than some of the other contestants. I almost liked her.

So what did you think of the Elton John show?

Mar 23

American Idol Season 10: Top 11 Sing Motown

It’s Motown Night and we need to just get right to it, no?

Casey Abrams performs “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye. Casey needs to learn that it is absolutely unnecessary to growl every single note. He’s a great showman and once he gets his vocals totally sorted out, he’s going to be great.

Thia Megia picked “Heatwave” by Martha and the Vandellas. Even on an uptempo number she sounds like she’s performing for the Miss Teen USA crown. All she needs now is a flaming baton and a swimsuit. She seemed to be a bit lost in the middle, but that could have been me because I tuned out.

Jacob Lusk the flip top head chose “You’re All I Need” by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terelle. Someone needs to help Jacob remove that potato from the back of his throat. At least I think it’s a potato… it could be a cock. Seriously, can we discuss the pink elephant here? Gay. Gay. Gay. This was actually a decent performance, though I still maintain that I am not a fan. He needs to learn how to sing a single note without a run or warble.

What’s going on? The audience is filing on the stage to hug him. Oy.

Lauren Alainachose “You Keep Me Hanging On” by Diana Ross and the Supremes. Lauren looks like she might actually be trying to win this thing. This is the first time in weeks that I have really liked her. She sold the song very well.

Stefano Langone is performing Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello.” Stefano is channelling Desi Arnaz tonight. A bit of accent has crept in. I love his vocals on this song. His nerves were a little apparent. He’s quickly becoming my favorite.

Hayley ReinhartSeriously, who is this chick? Did she wander in off the street and no one has bothered to tell her that she can’t go on? I can’t remember anything about her and forget about her the second she steps off stage. “You Really Got a Hold on Me” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles was apparently on the karaoke list and she said, “Hey – I think I can do a completely mundane and screechy version of that song!” And so she did.

Scotty McCreery managed to come in from the farm to sing some of that “colored music.” He picked “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder. This was about as cliched and affected of a country cover I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t help that I can’t look at him without the resemblance to George W. Bush making me want to punch him in the throat. Hated. It.

Pia Toscano is singing “All in Love is Fair,” one of Stevie Wonder’s great ballads. Wow. That actually brought chills. Outstandingly beautiful.

Paul McDonald is performing “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. He’s got his acoustic guitar. He’s way better this week than he has been for a while. He’s David Grey mixed with Don McClean and some alien being.

Naima Adedapo chose “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas. I’m reminded a bit of Shirley Bassey during this performance for some reason… the big voice and huge stage presence. She broke into some African dancing at the end. The whole thing was pretty damn cool.

James Durbin decided to do Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City.” Fucking outstanding. Super cool hard rock version of a great Stevie song. The band was hot, and his vocals were off the hook. Brilliant.

Wow – this episode totally didn’t suck! What did you all think?

Mar 17

American Idol Season Ten: Top 12

Tonight’s theme is “Songs from the Year the Contestants Were Born.” They are getting to this theme pretty early. Usually it’s only the top 6 or so that make me feel like a crotchety old man.

Naima Adedapo was born in 1984. She’s performing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner. As much as I like her, I could barely listen to this. Her pitch was wavering all over the place. I don’t think it was bad enough to send her home, but I’m not rushing out to buy a copy.

Paul McDonald was also born in 1984. He’s picked Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” I’m so over this gangly muppet. I started out intrigued, but now… quirky has just become ingratiating and painful. Whether he’s got a cold or not, it was just weak and all kinds of a mess.

Thia Megia was born in 19fucking95. She’s singing “Colors of the Wind” by Vanessa Williams. Suddenly American Idol has become a pre-qualifying round in the Little Miss Toad Suck County Arkansas pageant. She was flat for most of the song. She’s trying so hard to be a vocalist in the vein of Celine Dion or Barbara Streisand, but she simply can’t sing like them. It was boring and bland.

James Durbin, born in 1989, picked “I’ll Be There For You” from Bon Jovi. He sucked every bit of emotion out of this song. He changed the rhythm of the verses to a really straight on the beat thing that I didn’t care for. That being said, his voice is probably the strongest of the entire season.

Hayley Reinhart, born in 1990, picked “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston. Choosing a Whitney song is very risky. So… that’s what a Whitney song sounds like when it’s pushed through a singer’s nose before being strained through a cat’s asshole. Terrible. Horrible.

Am I on my period or is everyone just awful tonight?

Stefano Langone came into being in 1989. He picked “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red (originally Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes). I love this song. Finally a performance that doesn’t make me want to punch myself in the testicles. There was some intensity and more importantly, some good vocals. Head and shoulders above everyone else so far tonight.

Pia Toscano was born in 1988. She’s also picked a Whitney Houston song “Where do Broken Hearts Go.” Pia’s vocals are quite good. She’s easily the best girl. The arrangement is utter shit, though. If there was such a thing as generic elevator dance music, this would be the epitome.

Scotty McCreery, born 1993, and we’re being treated to “Can I Trust You With My Heart” by Travis Tritt. I suspect that he will perform this country song well. He will completely fall on his ass if he has to step into a pop song. Scotty being on this show is the equivalent of comparing apples to motorcycle parts. How do you do that? He’s fine for country. Despite what Randy says, he simply *can’t* sing anything. He’s got a very specific sound for a specific genre. So um, yeah. It was fine.

Karen Rodriguez was born in 1989. She chose a great song, “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne. This might be the first Taylor Dayne song that’s been performed on Idol… I’ll have to look that up. This was a just plain nice performance. Nothing special.

Casey Abrams, born in 1991, chose Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I love that he has fun with every performance. He doesn’t take himself so seriously. His talent is unmatched this season. Even the weird screaming vocal was cooler than anything else on stage tonight.

Lauren Alaina was born in 1994. She chose “I’m the Only One” from Melissa Etheridge. So she has the flu. That’s too bad for her. It’s also too bad for me because one of my favorite songs was butchered tonight. I didn’t like the arrangement. I didn’t like the fact that she changed the lyrics. I didn’t like the twang she added. She doesn’t sing everything with a twang, so she specifically chose to twang it up. Sigh.

Jacob Lusk was born in 1987. He’s picked “Alone” by Heart. If he’s only 24 why does he look like he’s in his 40’s? I just… I just can’t do it. If the Wilson sisters went to the Assembly of God church in Stool Bend Mississippi they’d be raising babies and pushing paper in some dead end insurance job right now instead of being rock stars. I can’t stand flip-top head and his crazy quivering jaw. He spent most of the song so sharp he could cut glass.

Fuck me this was a hard show to get through tonight.

I can only vote for two performances in good conscience: Stefano and Casey.

So, was it just me? Tell me it was just me…

Mar 09

American Idol Season 10: Top 13

American Idol has changed. It seems only fitting that I also change the way I recap these shows. For starters, I’m gonna wrap all the judges comments for the rest of season in one fell swoop:

Randy Jackson: “Yo Dawg! You know you my dawg and I either did or did not feel that for me for you. This is my tenth season and you were the best ever!”

Jennifer Lopez: “You sure look beautiful and I love you.”

Steven Tyler: “Rainbows. Pussycats. Fuck! WOAAAAHHHOOOAAHHHOOO!”

Don’t get me wrong… I really enjoy the energy that Jennifer and Steven have brought to the show this season, but I’ve already figured out exactly who they like and what they are going to say every week.

Let’s get to the show, shall we?

The theme this week is “Idols.” The contestants are singing songs from their idols.

Lauren Alaina is the young chick that the judges have been ramming down our throats as a front runner. She picked Shania Twain’s Any Man of Mine. If you liked this performance, there are 37 karaoke bars in the city where this exact version is being performed right now. Hurry! Those gin and tonics aren’t going to drink themselves ya know.

Casey Abrams is crazy, ridiculous, and absolutely the most talented contestant that I think has ever been on the Idol stage. He picked “With a Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker and blew that shit out of the park.

Ashthon Jones is this season’s diva in training. She’s chosen “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” by Diana Ross and by the time I wrote this sentence I forgot what it even sounded like. I liked her early on, but I don’t think she’s a Jennifer Hudson diamond in the rough. She’s going to have to do something really stellar next week if she sticks around.

Whisper-y singer-songwriter Paul McDonald has picked Ryan Adams as his idol. The song is “I Wish You Would.” I’m torn on Paul. I think I’d probably like his recordings, but I’m not super impressed with his live performances, especially tonight. His voice reminds me a little bit of an asthmatic David Grey.

Up until last week, when she shined I don’t remember a thing about Pia Toscano who has picked Celine Dion’s version of “All By Myself” as her song. This was another stellar performance from Pia. Her pitch was fantastic and she chose some pretty challenging intervals to jump around to. She’s definitely a front runner for the girls.

James Durbin idolizes Paul McCartney. He’s picked “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The comparisons to Adam Lambert are inevitable, though I think James has a better tone than Adam, though he’s no where near being as polished. I’m a fan of this version. It wasn’t as screamy as I was afraid he’d make it. He actually showed more restraint than he has so far.

On a side note, if James doesn’t let out a Tourettes fueled “shitpissmotherfucker COCK SUCKER!” at some point during this season I’m going to be very disappointed.

Haley Reinhart wants to be Leann Rimes and has picked “Blue.” So… Hayley is pretending to be Leann who was pretending to be Patsy Cline. I’m a little dizzy and three levels removed from Patsy Cline equals boring. My friend Chasity used to perform this song at the Northtown Opry and would totally steamroll right over this sad note-for-note copy.

Sidebar – we’ll get into this again soon enough when Baby LockDemDoors performs, but THIS IS NOT “COUNTRY IDOL.” Yes, Carrie Underwood is the most successful Idol alum, but that’s because of her pop sensibility and crossover appeal. Plus, she’s smoking hot. I love country music and it certainly has it’s place, but all these contestants who are trying to jumpstart their Nashville recording careers should GO TO NASHVILLE.

One trick pony Jacob Lusk has inexplicably picked R. Kelly as his idol. “I Believe I Can Fly” is the only song that he could possibly perform. Yep. That’s it. I’m guessing he will do lots of flip-top-head jaw quivering manuevers and not one single note he sings will have just one pitch. Oh! And for those of you doing the drinking game at home, he did the Ambulance Siren which means you should drink shots until you can’t hear anything and I will envy you for it. I’m not a fan. I know someone out there loves this style of music… I don’t understand it, but I know it.

Little Miss Pinoy Jackson Thia Megia takes the stage next paying homage to her idol, Michael Jackson and his version of “Smile.” She’s perfectly pleasant even is she’s somewhat pitchy. If I saw her performing on a cruise ship she’d definitely beat most of the talent I’ve seen on other ships, but she’s totally outclassed on Idol. She’s just too young and inexperienced.

Can we talk? Lowering the age limit is not the way to go, folks. RAISE the age limit. One Justin Bieber is more than enough for the world. The likelihood of finding another is slim. However, the chances of finding an experienced performer who just never got the right break at the right time is MUCH better. *cough cough*

Stefano Langone has a great idol, Stevie Wonder. He’s chosen “Lately” which is beautiful. He was one of my early favorites and was quite happy he stuck around as the wild card last week. He’s definitely got a bit of a Bruno Mars vibe about him. I’m surprised I like this updated disco-y version of this song, but I can totally hear it being a hit. His vocal was very good.

Karen Rodriguez‘s idol is Selena and she’s picked “I Could Fall.” This sleepy song seems to be a bit too low for her and doesn’t have the breath support for verses. Her voice simply is not strong enough or unique enough to carry her through the end. This seemed to fall apart from note one.

And now we get to Baby LockDemDoors – I mean Scotty McCreery who idolizes Garth Brooks and the song “The River.” If you haven’t left the house to catch Lauren at the karaoke bar yet you may still have time to catch this performance. It wasn’t a very good cover and certainly did nothing to make him stand out as his own artist. Oh yeah, THIS ISN’T COUNTRY IDOL! He will kill it on country radio because he sounds like every other generic country singer out there, but he will have his ass handed to him on this show. Sorry, I don’t buy into it. Where’s the originality? I’m sure to people who don’t listen to country regularly Scotty sounds like some weird deep-voiced wondrous frog. However 20 minutes of listening to 98 WSIX will expose you to at least three current performers who sound EXACTLY like him.

She’s been my favorite girl so far, and she was almost eliminated last week. Naima Adedapo is performing “Umbrella” by Rhianna. What a surprise! I didn’t expect this style from her. I enjoyed the performance despite some moments where she was sharp. I look forward to seeing her evolve and show us more hidden talents.

So, I’m opening it up to you guys now… what do you think of the season so far? Any early predictions?