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Archive for June, 2008

I received this in my email today and thought I’d pass it along:

Auditions for the eighth season of American Idol begin Thursday, July 17, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA, and will continue in seven other cities. Once again, auditioners will have an extraordinary opportunity to perform before millions of TV viewers and become household names, with one winning the coveted American Idol title and a major recording contract.

Auditions will be held as follows:

Thursday, July 17  — San Francisco, CA –The Cow Palace

Monday, July 21 — Louisville, KY — Freedom Hall

Friday, July 25 — Phoenix, AZ  — Jobing.com Arena

Tuesday, July 29  — Salt Lake City, UT  — EnergySolutions Arena

Saturday, August 2  — San Juan, Puerto Rico  — Coliseo de Puerto Rico

Friday, August 8  — Kansas City, MO  — Sprint Center

Wednesday, August 13  — Jacksonville, FL  — Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena

Tuesday, August 19  — East Rutherford, NJ  — IZOD Center at the Meadowlands

San Juan, eh?  Looking for the Latin sound now. Or they want to be as diverse as CI.  That could be a good thing.  I’ll keep my eyes and ears open as they move through these cities and report back anything of interest.  Stay tuned!

J

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Have I said that I like having a mixed Top 24 instead of separate gender competition? Works for me and it ensures that the best SINGERS will move forward no matter what sex they happen to be. This group learned a little from last night’s crew but once again song choice is the big sticking point when trying to show off what your musical capabilities are. Or aren’t.

Now, while you peruse these comment, I’ll go off and watch the results. Wonder how many will get “das boot?” Hummmm…

PS – I’m learning a LOT about Canadian culture and geography.  Who says TV is a vast wasteland?  😉

On to the reviews:

Jesse Cottam – Age: 26

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

The Nervous Pop Rocker

Rebel Yell — Billy Idol

A tad on the karaoke side but he definitely has a better voice than Mr. Idol. I didn’t dig the song selection and felt he could do better. Thankfully, Jake and Zach agreed with me and I love it when that happens. If he sticks around he need to showcase his vocals better, unless Canada likes that kind of stuff.

Could be on the bubble but ya never know…

Mark Day – Age: 20

Hometown: Portugal Cove-St. Philips, Newfoundland

Never met a song he couldn’t tackle.

Alone – Heart

Hummm…a guy singing a gal song…that doesn’t usually go over well…unless you’re Clay Aiken (and that’s NOT a slam!)…and like Clay he is an unlikely pop singer…who actually did well with the song choice but the arrangement was a little weak. He’s got some nice tone quality but he may not be able to stand up against some of the stronger guys in this competition, but he should last another week at least.

Bubble? Safe? Can’t tell for sure.

Jessica Sheppard – Age: 22

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Wants to shock us all.

Get Here — Oleta Adams

Dear, please don’t sway so much or at least do it on the beat. Got a little seasick watching this one but her solid, warm vocals made up for it. There’s also a sincerity in her singing that really touched me and that gets my attention that there is more to her than just this performance. I want to hear more and I have a feeling others will as well. BTW, she kinda reminds me of Kelly Clarkson (complete with cheering Mom).

Should be safe.

Shaun Francisco – Age: 25

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia

Second time around.

Yellow – Coldplay

He admits that song selection is a big concern for him and then chooses one that I don’t feel showcased him at all. Vocally, he was weak on top and unsupported on the bottom but he does have a decent tone. However, he has that David Cook vibe going for him and that could just give him a pass to next week where I hope he will select something that really blows the roof off the place.

Cute enough to be safe.

Lindsay Robins Age: 21

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

A rocker chick who loves to sing high…uh oh…

River Deep, Mountain High – Tina Turner, et al

Pet peeve time — I HATE rocker gals who feel the need to scream every note at the top of their register just because they can. I appreciate it more when they take the song down a hair and then drive those power notes with breath support. Screaming is just not acceptable. Ever. Having said that, I still felt her performance was a bit of a train wreck and all I kept comparing it to was the Celine Dion version, which is more controlled and not over sung. I don’t have a lot of hope for her survival.

Better be on the bubble after that one.

Omar Lunan – Age: 29

Hometown: Scarborough, Ontario

Working Dad wants to make good.

Every Breath You Take – The Police

Not sure this was a good song choice but I like some of his vocal tone colors and respect his performing sincerity. Didn’t show what he’s made of and if he gets another chance he needs to find a song that fits his vocal AND performing style. I didn’t get Sass’ spiritual bent to the whole thing or Jake’s delight in the arrangement. Sorry.

On the bubble but may pull it out.

Marie-Pierre Bellerose Age: 25

Hometown: Quebec City, Quebec

Model turned singer.

You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse

Because she is such a strange bird, no one can sing Amy Winehouse but Ms. Whinehouse herself. Another case of not the best song choice of the night. This gal has a better voice than this song allows and I just didn’t dig the entire presentation. If she makes it another week, she needs to step up her song choice to allow herself to shine. That was just not good enough. Looks like the judges did not agree with me. Oh well.

Another bubble dweller…maybe…

Sebastian Pigott – Age: 27

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Brotherly Love, Part Deux

Dark Horse – George Harrison

I like both his voice and his stage style better than his brother. He has a smoother sound and a more personable presentation that draws you in to what he’s singing. Not crazy about the song choice but I don’t think it hurt him overall.

Too cute NOT to be safe.

Theo Tams – Age: 22

Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta

He’s NOT an opera singer but he’s had to play one in school.

Apologize – One Republic

He definitely has a trained voice, that’s for sure, and he knows how to use it — but it was a bit too much for this song. If he’d have concentrated on the lyrics more he might have tried to shade his vocals to highlight them rather than sing straight out . The performance also bordered on being a tad too dramatic. He has one of the better voices but need to learn how to use it in the pop realm. Still, it was a solid performance overall.

Should be very safe and is definitely one to watch.

Amberly Thiessen – Age: 19

Hometown: Seven Persons, Alberta

A Mennonite? Who knew?

What Am I To You – Norah Jones

She is as cute as a button and has a very light and high soprano that with a uniquely soft tone quality. Fit the song perfectly but I hope she can continue to pick pop songs that will highlight those vocal assets. I like her and want to hear more.

Must be safe or Canada is tone deaf.

Adam Castelli – Age: 26

Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario

“You talk too much…”

The Mess Around – The Animals

Well…that was a bit of mess, now wasn’t it? I also thought he was going to stamp his foot until it fell off. I hare musicians who do that. For me, he was just “awwwaiiight” even though the judges liked him a lot. Retro or not, it wasn’t my cup of tea but others may like it.

Will probably be safe.

Katelyn Dawn – Age: 19

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba

“Don’t forget the words this time…”

Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen, et al

I was trying not to let the bad arrangement of this song distract me from her voice, which I think it pretty when she not trying to push it into a scream. Maybe being the last one of the night took the wind out of her sails or it was a bad song choice/arrangement but I wanted to like her and just couldn’t. If she makes it to next week she’ll need a killer tune to stay in step with some of the others.

Might be bubble material.

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Ok, this is my first attempt at reviewing Canadian Idol and I must say I am enjoying this contest very, VERY much.  A great group of contestants, good and constructive judging and the host is GREAT eye candy!  Who could ask for anything more!  If I wasn’t so tired I would have reviewed both episodes but come back tomorrow and I should have the other one up after a few hours of sleep.  Gotta love the IDOL format!

Lindsey Barr– Age: 26

Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dropping the guitar so her inner entertainer can break free…watch out!

Burning Love — Elvis Presley

My audition notes have her as a saloon singer with a bluesy edge and a good stage vibe. She seemed to give more of the same in T.O. and it got her a shot at the 24. I’m not sure if choosing an Elvis song was the way to go and being the first one out of the box is stressful in and of itself. I found her a wee bit karaoke even though I know her voice is that dark and her stage motion was a bit of a train wreak but she didn’t really sing badly. I feel she may have been trying a tad to hard to make a good impression and it could cost her. Seems the judges and I agree on this one: song choice is EVERYTHING! Contestants should make that their mantra for the entire season!

Definitely on the bubble unless she’s got a lot of friends or appeals to barflies.

Martin Kerr – Age: 25

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta

“A wandering minstrel, I…”…until he got married.

Lost Together – Blue Rodeo

I had no notes from the auditions for this singer but I have to admit I instantly liked him. I also have never heard of this song or group before so I wouldn’t know how close he was or not to the original. I did like his performing style — very comfortable and confident — but it might be too “coffeehouse” for some. Vocally, he was solid in both pitch and tone. I certainly would like to hear more from him and see whether or not he can change things up style-wise. Glad the judges were willing to give him a chance to grow.

Should be safe for now.

Gary Morissette – Age: 21

Hometown: Fruitvale, British Columbia

The very first (goofy) online contestant!

Good Golly Miss Molly — Little Richard

Uh…very…ENERGETIC…He IS a little goofy, isn’t he? But intriguing. He took a VERY different spin on this old rock n’ roll chestnut and swung it into the 21st century. Comfortable on stage, plays his ax well and has that gravel grit rocker tone to his voice. I could stand to hear and see more. Seems like rockers are here to stay on the Idols, eh?

On the bubble but may have the fans to pull it out this week.

Tetiana Ostapuwych– Age: 25

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

If at first you don’t succeed at American Idol…try the Canadian version!

Feelings – Albert Morris

I was familiar with this contestant through her run on AI but she didn’t make it past the Hollywood Round. Up north, she has made it into the Top 24 but I still wasn’t impressed with what I saw and heard. Here, she takes a classic slow ballad and turns it into a trippy jazz vocal. I’m not sure I liked it but it just may be that I don’t like her whole demeanor. I agree with Zack — BIZARRE song choice.

She should survive to next week due to the favorable judges reviews.

Mitch MacDonald – Age: 22

Hometown: Port Hood, Nova Scotia

“Traditional” singer turned indie musician.

Follow Through – Gavin DeGraw

Boy, his vocal tone is extremely BRIGHT and high but he has a distinctive sound. Good stage presence, plays well and does distract from his singing. I’m just not sure how far he can go with his type of sound. Judges gave the thumbs up for him as well. He definitely is likeable.

Should be safe but you never know.

Paul Clifford – Age: 26

Hometown: Port Moody, British Columbia

Is the third time finally the charm?

Broken – Seether

Another rocker boy with piercings and a hard edged voice. If I understand correctly this is his third shot at CI and he’s finally cracked the Top 24. I’ll give him props for hanging in there and believing in himself and his dream. He was good, nothing spectacular, and even though I’m not familiar with the song, he did well enough IMHO to go through to next week.

Should be safe because I might already have a following after three years trying.

Earl Stevenson – Age: 22

Hometown: Lloydminster, Alberta

The Canadian Taylor Hicks with a Jason Castro aura

All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

Well, that’s one of the most ambitious song choices of all the Idol selections I’ve heard – the Dave Matthews rendition of a Jimi Hendrix cover of a Bob Dylan song. Yikes! These Canadians are real risk takers and as a musician myself I LOVE IT! Not the best singer of the bunch but he’s unique and believable as a performer. I liked him enough to want to see him again.

Should be safe because the judges loved him so much.

Lisa Bell – Age: 27

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba

One half of the Top 200 sing-off

Long Train Runnin’ – Doobie Brothers

She kind of reminds me of a more mature Jordin Sparks but with not as big a voice. However, she does know how to use it and she sings big and broad. Nice turn with this Doobie Brothers classic — good energy while working the audience well. She needs to stick around because she seems like an innovator and I want to see what else she can do.

Another safe singer.

Mookie Morris – Age: 18

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Named after a home run hitting baseball player.

Twist and Shout – The Beatles

Love the name, love the stage presence, good vocals, and he’s a cute boy toy. Perfect combination for a pop star and this young kid might just be on his way to that. He’s still a little rough around the edges but if he can learn and grow in this competition he should be a serious contender for the top.

Very safe and on his way to the Top 10 for sure.

Drew Wright – Age: 28

Hometown: Collingwood, Ontario

The quiet fire…hummmm…

Under Pressure – Queen w/David Bowie

I really like his voice and he has great control over it – from the highs to the lows and everything in between. Tough song choice but he worked it out and chose the best parts of it to show off his tone colors. He has oodles of talent and he left me wanting to hear more – and that’s a GOOD thing!

Should be safe because he was so different than the others.

Oliver Pigott – Age: 27

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Brotherly Love, Part 1

I Hear You Knockin’ – Dave Edmunds

Can we say overkill? I didn’t like anything about his performance. Zilch. Nothing. Nada. Thank you, Zach, for putting my feelings into words.

Too weird to be safe but I don’t know if Canada will go for it. We’ll see.

Katherine St-Laurent – Age: 17

Hometown: Otterburn Park, Quebec

Youngest with a lot to prove.

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

I got a little distracted by her accent and her falling into that “I must scream the high notes” mode but this child CAN SING and at her age that was a darn good job. She has a sweetness to her voice as long as she doesn’t push it and chose a great song to show it off. Looking forward to much more from her.

Should be safe for a very long time if the judges and I have anything to say about it.

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I was going to try and do an initial review of the Canadian Idol Top 24 before the start of tonight’s Top 24 face-offs but I want to share a few more insights with you first before I launch into my critiques. I will admit it took me longer to get to watch the audition and Top 200 videos but I think I now have a couple of reliable sources that should get me through this contest in the coming months so I’ll add my first impressions of the singers as I review their first “official” performances this week. Once I get on a viewing schedule I probably still won’t be as timely as others who will watch it live but I’ll try not to be more than a day or two behind. It’ll be the best I can do give the circumstances.

So, for this installment, I want to comment on a few more show modifications that I happen to like and would love to see AI try for Season 8. First of all, can I say that I think having online auditions is a stroke of GENIUS? I understand that Canada is more geographically spread out and harder to navigate than the states but having folks submit video would sure be another way of finding that “best talent” out there that maybe can’t get to an audition sight for one reason or another. I’m sure some folks sent professionally done up clips that were probably thrown out after five seconds but most of the homemade jobs were decent enough to give a true rendering of the singer. This is a great idea that should be adopted here in the States for next season. Come on, Nigel — maybe there’s another reality show in it for ya…

Moving on, I LOVE the fact that TPTB did not feel the need to have a gender balanced Top 24 — if there were more guys deserving of a shot than gals then so be it. Life is not always fair and so what if that makes for a lopsided tour. I think viewers and concertgoers are a little more smarter than some promoters give them credit for. They will come out and support who they like rather than simply back a male over a female and vice versa. There have been quite a few AI contestants in both genders who have fallen victim to the PC way of Top 24 selection and some have not tried again…and that’s sad. I also don’t believe, as one article suggested, that some folks believe that since the viewing audience is mostly female that this unevenness will play in favor of the males. Again, talent is talent and most Idol watchers will gravitate towards the standouts in either gender eventually.

To repeat myself briefly, I said last time that I thought the judges were cool about making sure they nurtured along those who may not have been quite ready for this year in the hopes of seeing them again. Not only is it good for the artist’s ego and emotional well-being but it a great marketing tool as well, showing the folks at home that the show CARES rather than just wanting to use and abuse the contestants. AI gets that rap now and then and it could very well be deserved but after seven years they rarely display this type of sincerity with the singers. Maybe it gets lost on the cutting room floor or doesn’t make for “good TV” but we’ll never really know and lots of assumptions get made that way.

I read over the weekend that this part of the competition will be different than AI because it will not be boys against boys and girls against girls. Rather it will be a mixed gender 12 on both nights with an undetermined number going home. Hummm…there’s a cliffhanger of sorts. Not predictable, now is it? Love how the Canadians are willing to keep us guessing!

With all this said, let me head out now and see if any videos are up and running for my view pleasure. Given the diversity in talent this is setting up to be great musical summer for our northern friends…and those of us who can never get enough Idol. Let the games begin!

J

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First of all, let me congratulate the brave souls who are getting bootleg copies of the show on to the Internet so EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO can view them – not just Canadians! I think it’s not fair that CTV locks out Americans from watching the show, even on their site where they replay the episodes. However, I get a funny feeling that this might be Fremantle’s doing for not wanted ANY competition with AI and that’s just WRONG! What’s the matter? Afraid we might LIKE the Canadian version better?

Well then, be afraid…be VERY afraid…because after watching all the audition episodes and the Top 200 to Top 24 drama — I DO like both the presentation of the show AND the judges better than the American version.

Problem is, it’s hard to find these videos and watch them before someone makes the folks supplying them remove them from view. It took me three tries to find folks who had them up and running and I was just able to finish watching them yesterday afternoon.

Not good if one if trying to be timely with reviews.

So, now that I have some idea of how to find and watch the show, I think I can try and get reviews and comments out at least in the same week of the episode I’m talking about so folks won’t think I’m a total idiot rehashing old news.

Hey, I DO have a real life and job and family and…and…you get the picture…

Anyway, this entry will deal with my impressions of the auditions and what has eventually become the Top 24 for this season. I guess they used to pick only 22 but they rounded up to 24 this year due to a greater talent pool. First, let’s take a look at the auditions — the good, the bad and the truly strange…

AUDITIONS

Ok, first of all, I think Canada has a far more diverse pool of musical talent than America. Since each province is uniquely different due to the ethnic makeup of its population and it geographic location in the federation the singers are much more varied in their styles and, uh, stage presentations. There were definitely more unpolished contestants trying out and even the number of truly strange auditioners were kept to a respectable minimum. I do have a few questions for those who have been watching this show since the beginning:

  1. Has Ben Mulroney always looked that fine? Ouch! I don’t usually go in for the tall, dark and handsome type but for this dude I’d make an exception. Easier on the eyes and ears than Seacrest.
  2. Does everyone in Canada know how to play the guitar? I never saw so many guitarists and potential string strummers in all my days. Most were pretty good. Others, well…
  3. I didn’t realize that Calgary was so cowboy – or for that matter — that there is more of a cultural melting pot in the federation than in the states. For a while there, I was having a little problem with all the accents — and there wasn’t an “eh” in the bunch. Again, another lesson in diversity.
  4. Are the judges always that helpful and accommodating to the contestants? Yes, they were firm when they needed to be but they were always respectful and seemed to want the singers to do their best. I was also surprised at the number of returning wannabees and that two of them actually made the Top 24 after a few tries – and the judges were thrilled with that. Somehow I can’t imagine our Idol Troika being that “kinder and gentler” during our auditions. Or our auditions being more about finding talent than showcasing musical train wreaks. What a difference a country makes.

Let me stop here and when I return I’ll give my opinions on the Top 24 and their chances for making it to the Top 12 – Or is it Top 10? Someone fill me in on that. I don’t want to assume it’s the same as the States. In either case, this should be an exciting musical summer up north and for those of us IDOL fans who will even watch Pinoy Idol videos during the off-season… but that’s another rant for another time.

Carry on!

J

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OK, I’ve taken some time to breathe since AMERICAN IDOL 7 finished last month but I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to wait until Season 8 to keep this operation running. After taking a look at what is being offered this summer on TV I have decided to cast my viewing net a little wider and to the north —

Even though CTV is not making it easy for me to tune in, I WILL be watching and reviewing CANADIAN IDOL 6 this summer, along with the third season of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT! I’m going to ask my “video supplier” if I can share the footage I’ve been viewing with all of you “south of the boarder” but if it will get this brave individual in trouble then you’ll just have to be content with my riveting reviews to get you through the summer.

Stay tuned…this could be interesting!

ETA — Well, I can’t share the videos on this site but I’m sure if you ask me privately I could tell you where they are. Let me see how I want to proceed now…I’ll be back…soon…

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