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.


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
Mar 31

American Idol Season Nine: Top Ten Perform Soul and R&B Hits

The top ten compete tonight. Last week we said goodbye to Paige Miles after her atrocious slaying of “Against All Odds.”

This week, the theme is Soul and R&B hits with celebrity mentor Usher.

I’m not a real big Usher fan, but I do at least understand how he might have something interesting to say to the idols, unlike Miley Fucking Cyrus last week.

Siobhan Magnus is opening the show tonight. She’s star struck meeting Usher. She’s chosen “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan. I absolutely love this song and I think Siobhan can actually pull it off. Usher seems impressed. There’s a couple of strange notes in the prechorus that made me cock my head a bit, but when she got to the power notes she absolutely nailed them. I really do think Siobhan has the ability to win. Randy thought it was a touch pitchy. Ellen thought she was lost from the trail for a moment, but it wasn’t her best performance. Kara thought she was a bit nervous and the lower parts were a little rough but she’s a great singer. Simon thought she was out of breath and it wasn’t a good performance.

Hopefully America remembers just how good she is and doesn’t base their votes on tonight solely.

Casey James picked “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave. He blew the lyrics in his session with Usher who said, “He’s already a rock star.” This song couldn’t be more Casey’s style. If you like blues and roots rock, you will buy Casey’s album and enjoy it. Whether or not he’s got mass appeal remains to be seen. He’s definitely pretty. He’s got a great voice for this genre, and he’s probably the best guitarist that has been on Idol. Randy thought it was a hot night for Casey. Ellen called him consistently good, but thought it was a little generic and safe. Kara thinks he has more range than he has shown us, but he’s great. Simon called it Casey’s strongest week so far and thought it was authentic.

Michael Lynche is here to bore us with another lite jazz version of something or other. Oh, it’s “Ready for Love” by India.Arie. This song is seriously gorgeous and made me fall in love with India.Arie about 10 years ago when it came out. This might be the first performance of Michael’s that didn’t annoy the ever loving shit out of me. He didn’t flip into that tired falsetto. It was mostly a note-for-note cover with a few interesting changes in the last verse. His breath breaks in some phrases were distracting to me, as the verses were meant to be legato and fluid, but overall he managed to keep the “churchies” out of his voice and came across as honest and endearing. A great night for him. Randy thought he was in the zone tonight. Ellen thought it was beautiful. Kara had never heard the song before (!?) and thought he did a lovely performance. Simon thinks he can finally take Michael seriously as an artist.

Didi Benami is singing “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.” She had a bit of an emotional breakdown during her time with Usher who wants her to show that emotion during the song. So he’s basically asking her to cry through the performance? Interesting tactic. The arrangement is too slow which makes it seem really strange and stilted. I’m really not getting this song choice at all. If I were Didi, I’d have picked something like Corinne Bailey Rae or I’d really like to see what she could do with Macy Gray’s “I Try.” This was just all wrong and I’m disappointed about it. Randy thought the performance was sort of flat and there was no big moment. Ellen thought it was overly dramatic. Kara thinks Didi has lost her way as an artist. Simon thought it was like “swimming in jelly.” It was over the top and old-fashioned and never reached the climax.

Tim Urban is going to perform an Anita Baker song. Is now a good time to mention that I despise Anita Baker. I hate her hybrid man/cow voice and she’s one of the few artists that I will actually make an effort to turn off if she comes on my radio. “Sweet Love” is the song he’s going to inflict upon us. Usher insisted that he pretend that he was the person Tim is in love with.

Usher is totally gay, by the way.

Anyway – this sounds a bit like a college a cappella group leader taking a solo with a band. It’s pretty emotionless, though technically good. I do like Tim’s tone and think he’s pretty cute, but I haven’t seen him completely click with a song yet. This was a bit too sleepy for me. Randy compared him to a singing waiter who was mostly in tune. Ellen wants to know why he chose that song because it was a weird choice. Kara called it Broadway Vegas with no soul. Simon doesn’t think it makes any difference what the judges say. He thought it was an inappropriate song, but nobody cares, the audience will vote, so “well done.”

Andrew Garcia picked “Forever” by Chris Brown. Usher wants him to look directly into his eyes. Googly eyes with Usher? Nice. I have to admit I’m not familiar with this song. I’m fairly certain the original doesn’t sound so Jason Mraz-y. I’m actually digging the song, but I’m no more impressed with Andrew than I have been. His voice is rather weak. I suspect the judges will eat this up, though. Randy thought it was his best performance in a long time. Ellen thought it was amazing and strong. Kara called it a “giant leap in the right direction.” Simon called it miles better than his past few performances, but he comes across as kind of boring.

Katie Stevens will now bore us to tears and make us say she’s too old with “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. Usher thought she had good energy and a good voice but she lacks a connection to the song. This might be the best she’s ever sounded. There’s actually some life in this 17 year old. That being said, she still sounds much older than she is and it was a rather dated cover of a song that is a quarter of a century older than Katie. How much cooler would it have been if she had picked a Joss Stone tune? Something younger and hipper? It’s like broken record week here at Chez Jester because the same performers are having the same problems every week. Randy thought it was one of the best performances of the night. Ellen thought her voice was great but wished the song was current and younger. Kara thought it was one of her best performances, though not really young or commercial. Simon thought it was pretty good but a bit robotic.

Lee Dewyze is performing next, even though he’s just getting over walking pneumonia. Out of all the great soul and R&B songs in the world, he’s decided to go with “Treat Her Like a Lady” by the Isley Brothers. Usher thinks he has an amazing voice and thinks he needs some confidence. One of my main problems with Lee is that he has a tendency to take a great melody and turn it into a monotonous gravelly mess. It’s as if he finds a note he likes in the melody and decides to hammer it to death. The performance was actually good, and when he’s actually singing instead of growling he sounds great. Unfortunately he hasn’t learned how to use that growl sparingly. The judges will love it. Randy called it “unbelievable.” Ellen called it the best performance of the night. Kara thought it was “amazing.” Simon called tonight the night his life has changed forever.

Crystal Bowersox is performing “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips and is playing the piano instead of the guitar tonight. Usher thinks Crystal “has a real shot, kid.” The real truth is that Crystal has already won this competition. It happened many weeks ago, and ever since, she’s just been performing to simply show everyone else how it should be done. She picks songs that she can connect with and everything she sings comes across as authentic and real and honest. Her voice is interesting and tonight she hit some notes that we’ve not heard from her before and they were just as on point as the others. She knows exactly who she is, who she wants to be, and she’s going to take us there week after week. She is absolutely in a different league than anyone else. Randy thought she did Gladys Knight proud. Ellen thinks she is in it to win it. Kara can’t wait to see what she does next. Simon thought she picked the best song and only had issue with the backing vocals making it seem old-fashioned.

TwinklyBits (has this caught on yet?), I mean, Aaron Kelly, is gonna tackle “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. One of my hands-down all time favorites… Kris Allen totally KILLED this song last year. Usher actually gave him some musical advice about the chorus that seemed constructive. Can I just start with an obvious statement that Aaron singing this song about a chick is highly improbable? So there were parts of the song that were actually pretty good. There were other parts that were wavering and unsupported. I didn’t like his interpretation of the “I know I know” chorus. He tried to incorporate what Usher suggested, but didn’t really carry it through to be something remarkable. It was very middle of the road for me. Randy thought it started rough but ended up all right. Ellen thought it was a good song choice. Kara thought it could have been more energetic. Simon called it a “cupcake” performance but he should be safe for next week.

Here’s my ranking for the week:

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

I’m afraid it’s Didi’s week to go home, which really bums me out. I’d rather see TwinklyBits or Katie go first. I’m also scared that Siobhan’s off night is going to put her in serious jeopardy. Though, I think the judges would use their “save” to keep her from going home. What do you guys think? Who did you vote for? Are you ready to just crown Crystal the winner now?

Mar 24

American Idol Season Nine: Top 11 Perform

Last week we said goodbye to the screechy Lacey Brown, who shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Lilly should have been in the Top 12. And TwinklyBits should have left a space for Alex. But you all know that already, yes?

We’ve finally reached the point where the Pop Star Mentors come to impart their advice to the Idol hopefuls.

The very first mentor… is…. Miley Fucking Cyrus?

Are you kidding me?

She can’t sing. She’s ugly. She’s probably a product of incest. She’s definitely a Disney whore who’s every move was carefully calculated and planned by some Public Relations guru.

Why does anyone think she’s a good mentor?

This night is just going to suck isn’t it? Wait… don’t tell me… I’m about to find out.

The theme tonight is #1 Hits on the Billboard Top 100.

Lee Dewyze has chosen “The Letter” by The Box Tops. This choice is actually a pretty timely pick since Alex Chilton (the lead singer who went on to head up Big Star) just died suddenly last week before a South By South West performance. Miley Fucking Cyrus had nothing to offer him. Seriously. Nothing. Lee does not seem to be comfortable on stage at all. Watch how he shrugs his shoulders and squats down trying to make himself smaller. As for the song, he’s trying to throw some of the Joe Cocker vibe into it, but he kept running out of steam at the end of ever phrase in the verses. He also missed the opportunity to hit some nice high notes and instead chose to keep singing the sam emontone pitch over and over again. The band was pretty hot, he was not. Randy thought he knocked it out of the box. Ellen called him her “favorite pen.” Kara said he had never sounded better or looked more comfortable. Simon thought it was cory and had no relevance to being a current artist.

Paige Miles picked “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins. Miley Fucking Cyrus offered up a lame “Watch your pitch.” Brilliant! What insight into the life of a performer! Three notes into the song Paige’s pith is off. This is painfully bad. This must have been what it was like to watch the Hindenburg disaster… you can’t do a damn thing about it but keep repeating “Oh, the humanity!” I can’t imagine anyone being worse than this tonight. It can’t get any worse, can it? It was a jumbled mess of sour notes, breathy whispers, ambitious runs that fell flat on their face and a sleepy arrangement. Awful. Randy couldn’t form a sentence and finally called it “honestly terrible.” Ellen congratulated her on not falling down in those heels. Kara thinks Paige stopped competing and called it the worst vocal of the season. Simon called it “all over the place” and thought she knew it on stage too.

Tim Urban chose “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen. Miley Fucking Cyrus offered him a hug and called him “great” before suggesting that he do something “cool and different.” *sigh* So I have to say I don’t think Tim has ever sounded better. His pitch was dead on. He had a Michael Buble-inspired arrangement and carried it off pretty confidently. Sure it was a little bit hokey to go out into the audience of reaching and clawing girls, but you have to admit he pulled off that slide across the floor without a hitch. I think it would be very wise of the other guys not to underestimate Tim. Randy thought the vocals were boring. Ellen compared it to a High School Musical audition that was corny (there’s another kind!?). Kara thought it was Zac Efron in Hairspray and reminded him that he hasn’t sold millions of records. Simon thought his stage antics smartly distracted from the song. He thought it was a pointless and silly choice.

Ryan just said that we’ll be hearing Aerosmith and Janis Joplin from Aaron and Crystal after the break. Is it wrong that I hope Crystal is doing the Aerosmith number?

Aaron Kelly aka TwinklyBits has laryngitis and tonsillitis. He’s singing “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith. Miley Fucking Cyrus thought he was “really really good.” Honestly, I would never have known he had throat problems, since he sounded just as pitchy and boring as he normally does. UMB however thinks this is the first time he’s actually liked anything TwinklyBits has sung. I’m certain the judges are going to give this a glowing review, but I was really underwhelmed. Randy was excited that he came out and sang since the last two sucked. Ellen thought it was a perfect song choice and said he’s normally pitch perfect and tonight he was so good. Kara called it the best song choice of the night. Simon called it a “brave choice.” He said that Aaron is making himself seem old-fashioned and there’s zero chance that he’s going home tomorrow.

Crystal Bowersox is performing “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. Miley Fucking Cyrus suggested she make it more “gospelly.” This was a brilliant performance. Of course we knew she’d do a Joplin song at some point. Kudos for not picking the most obvious choice. I might have actually gasped if she had picked something like “Mercedes Benz” but outside of the obviousness of a Janice song, she made it interesting. She came out soft in the verses and then kicked major ass on the nonsensical scatting that happens at the end. The arrangement was great and her voice was in fine form. I’m ready to declare Crystal the winner of this thing and get this god-forsaken season over with already. She’s the most talented of the bunch. Randy called her a star. Ellen loved the song choice but wants a little more connection with the audience. Kara felt more from her this performance and wants to see her not hide behind the guitar. Simon said, “Don’t change anything.” He thought Crystal’s version was as good as Pink’s.

Michael Lynche picked “When A Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge. Miley Fucking Cyrus fell in love with him and had nothing to say or critique him on. That’s so helpful! My problem with Michael is that he tries to sing too many damn notes. It is perfectly fine to hold a half or god forbid a whole note with out throwing a gospel run in it. I also wish he had a little bit of grit in his voice. He’s such a big guy he needs to have a little dirty ball soup going on. I want a growl! His performance was a perfectly pleasant smooth-jazz cover version of a great Motown hit. He’s got a nice voice but no stage presence. And no balls. Randy didn’t think it was the best song choice, but thought he sang it quite well. Ellen thought it was a safe choice but likes his tone. Kara thought it was really good technically, but it was boring and a bit lounge at time with too many riffs. Simon wishes it had just been Michael and a piano with out the rest of the band but the song choice was again not very relevant.

Andrew Garcia will be singing “Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye. He blew the lyrics and Miley Fucking Cyrus suggested he put the guitar down to connect with the audience better. Andrew has apparently gone to the School for the Incredibly Enunciated and graduated with high honors. This performance is stiff and staccato and uncomfortable. I. Heard. It. Through. The Grape. Vine. There was no soul, no oomph. He was frantically stumbling all over the stage and not looking at the audience. The arrangement was hokey. This was a terrible song choice and a terrible performance. It was still way better than the earlier Hindenburg, though. Randy said “It wasn’t good, dog.” Ellen did not think it was enough to get any fans on board and a terrible song choice. Kara thinks chasing the Straight Up moment is messing with his head and she pointed out how uncomfortable he was on stage. Simon thinks that the arrangement was horrific and he sucked the soul out of that song and ruined one of the great pop songs of all time.

Hey look… it’s a show about teenagers who can really sing… Glee, I mean.

Katie Stevens is going to murder “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. Miley Fucking Cyrus told her to “remember why you love music.” This song is really not a younger choice. This song makes Fergie sound 50 what on earth will it do to Katie? Ohmygodthisissoboringandoffpitch. The best part of the performance was watching Katie’s hair get stuck in her lipstick and her moment of panic to try to get it out without touching it. So yeah, yuck. Boring high school talent show performance by the third chair alto. That pretty much sums it up. Randy thought it was sharp and pitchy all over the place but likes that she tried to go younger. Ellen thought it was her best performance so far. Kara thought this was a perfect song choice and found her vibe but she’s still got “mad pitch issues.” Simon thought meeting Miley Fucking Cyrus was the best thing that could happen for Katie. It was a good performance, but she still doesn’t know who she should be as an artist.

Casey James picked “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. Miley Fucking Cyrus told him to make eye contact with the audience. Seriously, that’s awesome advice from a worldly performer. ::eye roll:: This is my favorite performance from Casey of the season so far. It was fun, exciting, and perfectly suited for his voice. He made some cool melody changes. My criticism is that the arrangement was a bit clunky. It really should have gone to the bridge (the “they say that all in love is fair” part) instead of that second chorus getting stuck in there. I totally dig the John Mayer / Kenny Wayne Shepard / Jonny Lang vibe that he has nailed down perfectly. I think Casey will be the last guy standing with Crystal Bowersox. Randy didn’t like the song choice but thought he did it well. Ellen didn’t like the song choice either but called it the best vocal of the night. Kara thinks he’s ready to make an album and he’s in the zone. Simon thought it was old fashioned when it came out 20 years ago. He thought it was like listening to an 80’s cover band with no originality.

Those are some fighting words, Simon.

Didi Benami takes the stage next with “You’re No Good” by Linda Rondstadt. Miley Fucking Cyrus still gets nervous and thinks Didi shouldn’t “let it take over.” Really? You think it’s a bad idea to let the nerves take over, Miley!? I keep forgetting Didi is on the show, which really sucks because I really like her. She’s in that weird middle ground where she’s not god-awful so you remember her, and she’s not fantastic so you remember her. She really needs a “moment” on stage. Last week was *almost* a moment. This was not that moment. This totally had a Nouvelle Vague vibe to it, jazzy, lounge-y, and quirky. She’s riding a very fine line between über-cool and hokey. I honestly am not sure which side of the line this was tonight. Randy loved the idea of the performance but thought she was pitchy all over the place. Ellen didn’t get the song choice. Kara thought she was playing a character that left her confused. Simon thought it was ironic that she kept saying “You’re No Good.”

Siobhan Magnus is closing the show with “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. Miley Fucking Cyrus wants her to “bring the swagger of your voice to the stage.” Is that even English? So look… Siobhan is this season’s Adam Lambert. You know, the contestant that seemingly beamed down from outer space and is here to entertain us with their alien whoops and hollers? Yeah… That’s Siobhan. This was fun, youthful, exciting, and her voice is great. I don’t even mind it when her head flip-tops open and her liver screams. She had a great arrangement, made smart melodic choices, hit the notes with power and looked like a star. This was not nearly as cool as last week, but it is as consistently good. Randy called her “fearless” and thought it was great. Ellen wants to see more performances. Kara thinks she expresses herself really well on stage. Simon thought some will like it and a lot will not. He said everyone including Siobhan needs to push themselves more.

Ok… so here’s the ranking:

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

And we will hopefully say goodbye to Paige tomorrow night. Though you could cut any of the bottom 4 and it would mean nothing to me whatsoever. Don’t care. What do you think? Am I far off the mark? Is TwinklyBits better than I give him credit for?

Mar 19

Public Outing

It’s my turn once again over at Our Big Gayborhood.

This month, I ask the question, “Is it ok to publicly out a closeted celebrity or other public figure?”

I’d be appreciative if you’d all go check it out!

You’re Outta Here!

Mar 17

Congratulations Internet!

You have once again come together in strength and solidarity and are providing a great service to the world.

In this era of unimaginable disasters in Haiti and Chile, when children are fighting over clean water, homes to live in and food to eat, you have answered the call!

In the middle of the worst financial crisis our country has seen in nearly 100 years, you have opened your hearts and your wallets.

When $10 can buy a mosquito net to prevent malaria, or condoms and other AIDS prevention can be made available to those in need, you have chosen to give, give, give!

In the face of 1 in 9 houses entering foreclosure, a 10% unemployment rate, and thousands of people dying every year in the US for lack of health care, you have done the impossible!

You have raised over $1400 in just a matter of days.

Since you’re in a giving mood, there’s this little piece of property I’d like buy in the Caribbean. I only need another 19 Million dollars to do it.

Or, you could try clicking on one of the links above and donating to an actually worthy cause. Donate on behalf of “Jared’s Motorcycle Fund.”

Mar 17

American Idol Season 9: Top 12 Perform

Normally, THIS is the part of the season that I start blogging. Luckily, I started earlier this year, because I’m fairly certain the best of this season has already happened.

Last week’s elimination was totally utterly and catastrophically wrong.

Lilly, Alex, and Katelyn should not have gone ANYWHERE. Not with the likes of TwinklyBits and Katie still on the show.

Tonight’s theme is music of the Rolling Stones. I predict Casey, Crystal, Lee, and Siobhan will do something interesting. Let’s see, shall we?

Michael Lynche is starting the show with his version of “Miss You.” I’ve been a fan of Michael in the past, but I have to say I absolutely HATE this arrangement of one the Stones creepiest sounding songs. Turning it into some weird Michael Buble/Stevie Wonder hybrid was just a bad choice. We get it, Michael, you’ve got a nice falsetto. There’s no need to subject us to it every 6.2 seconds. The ending could not have been cheesier if it had come out on a crust with sauce. Randy didn’t like the arrangement, but thought he performed it well. Ellen called it “amazing.” Kara thought he had plenty of swagger and attitude. Simon thought it was confident, but the performance was a bit corny and desperate.

Catfight between Ryan and Simon already? It ended up with Simon offering to work it out in his trailer after the show. I’d like some video of that, please?

Didi Benami is up next with “Play with Fire.” Wow! Didi is out to prove that she’s got more depth than just the perky bubbly personality she usually projects. There was some great intensity on her face and her voice sounded fantastic. I thought the arrangement was cool and understated. It might have been better had they raised the volume and maybe brought in some drums near the end, but it still worked really well. I’m quite impressed. Randy thought she was “on fire tonight.” Ellen thought she did “great.” Kara commented on her intensity and thought it was very well done. Simon thought it was a very cool choice of song, thought it was “solid, not quite brilliant.”

Casey James takes the stage next to sing “All Over Now.” He’s turned up the country twang in this arrangement. He’s almost always got some pitch issues, maybe as a stylistic choice, but it kind of annoys me when I notice it. While I think Casey could hit the studio and make a decent record and have some moderate success as one of those artists that rides the line between country and rock like John Mayer or Jonny Lang, I also know that I have friends who perform as well or better than he performed this song tonight. You could see this performance in one of probably 30 bars in Nashville tomorrow night. Not saying he isn’t good… just nothing extraordinary. Randy compared him to Jonny Lang. Ellen made a gay joke before declaring it “fantastic.” Kara said he was a rock star tonight, full of soul. Simon thought it was like an audition performance. He didn’t use the stage or show any great presence.

Lacey Brown is here to murder a Stones song. Which one? “Ruby Tuesday,” that’s which one. They brought out the strings for this? Come on, Lacey… there are notes there that you didn’t even come close to reaching. There were a couple of notes that were so flat they were almost in key again. That’s flat. Ok. I’m ready for this bleeting quirky warbler to get the hell off my television. It was boring and painful. That was the musical equivalent of a six hour root canal. Randy was “pleasantly surprised” and it was “interesting.” Ellen thought her stage presence was weird and it was “sleepy.” Kara pointed out some bad notes and thought it didn’t have enough drama. Simon says she performs like an actress who is over thinking everything, but there was “nothing wrong with the vocals.” Obviously he wasn’t really listening. It was awful.

Andrew Garcia is gonna show us his version of “Gimme Shelter.” This is such a kick ass song. Well, it was. Before Andrew turned into the “Let in Bleed” musical. This guy was a gang member? Where the hell are his cojones? This song is raucous and angry and all about violence and protests and disquiet during the Vietnam war. Andrew has managed to make it sound like Vietnam was nothing more a traffic stop in a school zone. And his stage presence? Non-existant. There’s a word for this: craptastic! Randy thought it was pitchy everywhere and was not great. Ellen thought it was his best performance yet, but did say, “What do I know?” Kara mentioned the Vietnam war and said he didn’t connect to the song. Simon thought he gave it 100% but thought it didn’t quite connect.

Katie Stevens will be limping her way through “Wild Horses.” She’s from Middlebury, Connecticut… that explains why she’s the whitest girl on the planet. This is a total snoozefest. There have been some great covers of this song that she could have listened to and tried to emulate. She didn’t do that. Instead, she did a karaoke style note for note rendition that was pitchy and nothing special. Randy thought she sang it pretty well despite some pitch problems. Ellen thought it started pitchy but was a great choice. Kara said it was better than last week. Simon thought this was the only week she picked the right song, but she lost the connection with the song in the second half.

Tim Urban has the opportunity to do something good with “Under My Thumb.” Tim has really played up the reggae feel of this song. The original version merely suggests a hint of it. Tim is just missing the dreads and a fatty. I can’t say it was the most exciting performance, but it was pleasant. His vocals were quite good. I think he actually has a nice tone. It was good to see him kind of relaxed and not quite as twitchy as he’s been in past weeks. Randy didn’t get it. He hated the reggae version. Ellen felt like she was drinking a pina colada at a resort. She thought it wasn’t exciting enough. Kara applauded the changes to the arrangement. Simon didn’t think it worked at all.

Siobhan Magnus
picked “Paint It Black.” This might be my favorite Stones song. And this is definitely my favorite performance of the night. The arrangement was very cool, and man she’s got some pipes. Siobhan reminds me a lot of Tori Amos with her intensity and style… she even looks like a cross between Tori and Anna Paquin. Randy called it “hot!” Ellen loves everything about it. Kara called it the best interpretation of the night and it reminds her of Adam Lambert. Simon called it the “standout performance of the night.”

Lee Dewyze is up with “Beast of Burden.” I don’t like this slowed down arrangement much. You know what I don’t like about Lee? He sounds like Adam Duritz, but not as good…like if Adam Duritz was having a really bad night, was constipated, and didn’t really care about the cover he was doing… that’s what Lee sounds like. I want it to be better, but it’s not. It’s not the worst thing on the show by far, but man, it could be so much better. Randy compared him to Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews. He called it “dope.” Ellen thought it sounded great, but she was expecting more. Kara commended his tremendous growth. Simon likes his story but thinks his personality doesn’t shine enough.

Paige Miles chose “Honkey Tonk Woman.” This is a really bizarre choice. Totally bizarre. I hate this. I hate her changing the lyrics. I hate the arrangement. I hate her melody choices. I hate her voice. I hate her outfit. Oh my god my head hurts from how much I hate this. Randy thought she did “all right.” Ellen thinks she has star quality. Kara said she hit some big notes for someone who is struggling with vocal problems this week. Simon thought she did great for having laryngitis. She still hasn’t connected to the audience.

Aaron Kelly is set to destroy “Angie.” Let’s give the youngest performer the most mature song in the Stones playbook. It’s this sweeping love song… not really meant to be sung by TwinklyBits, but let’s let him do it anyway. So yeah… he couldn’t connect to the emotion or meaning of the song, but he actually didn’t make me want to rip the ears off my head this week. There are some nice tones to his voice, but he’s just completely outclassed by other performers… which this season seems really strange to say. Randy liked the “tender moments.” Ellen thought it was a great song choice and it stands out with Siobhan for performance of the night. Kara thought it was powerful and great. Simon said he chose the right song and it was believable.

Crystal Bowersox is hopefully going to show them all how it’s done. She chose “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I love her. Big pink puffy hearts for Crystal. This was a cool and clever choice for her. She’s exactly the kind of artist that I like to listen to when I’m not critiquing American Idol. She’s up there with the Amanda Marshall, Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morrissette types that are heartfelt with great voices and awesome talents. It’s hard for me to decide whether this performance beats Siobhan or not. I’m gonna say no, just because it wasn’t as surprising as Siobhan’s. That’s the only reason. Randy didn’t think it was her best performance, but he loved it. Ellen called it effortless. Kara called it comfortable and easy to watch. Simon thought it wasn’t exactly the right song. And he said she was beaten by Siobhan.

That’s the same conclusion I came to…

Here’s my ranking:

  1. Siobhan Magnus
  2. Crystal Bowersox
  3. Didi Benami
  4. Casey James
  5. Tim Urban
  6. Lee Dewyze
  7. Michael Lynche
  8. Aaron Kelly
  9. Katie Stevens
  10. Andrew Garcia
  11. Lacey Brown
  12. Paige Miles

Anyone else ready to just keep the top 4 and get this over with? It’s painful!