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Archive for July, 2008

Well, Canada got it right — even if it was a week late. Ladies, I’m sorry but Sebastian deserved to go. He did well enough to get into the Top 24 but after that it was a hit or miss effort with more misses than hits. I’m not sorry to see him go however I think he has a future if he rejoins his brother Oliver and they take their act on the road. Having been on CI will give them a renewed fan base and should open a few doors for them. Not a bad deal for a few weeks of TV exposure.

The bottom three were right on this week as well and I guess my own bias against Mitch is just coloring my predictions. I think that’s why I threw in Mark at the last moment because I felt he might not get enough votes due to his lack of real musical spark. Good voice, yes — showmanship, in spades — but Canadian Idol? Not so much. Both he and Mookie should be due to leave in the next two weeks — I hope.

Next week it’s the British Invasion lead by none other than SIR TOM JONES himself! All I can remember is my Mom playing his albums (that’s what we called them once upon a time) ad nausea with yours truly knowing all the words to both Delilah and It’s Not Unusual by the time I was nine.

But that’s another blog for another time…see ya next week!

J

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I apologize for not getting this review done last night but I when I found myself falling asleep over my laptop after the sixth singer, I knew I had to get some sleep and finish it in the morning. Not that “Unplugged Night” was boring, because it wasn’t, but I hate trying to rush my comments just to be timely in my posting. Sometimes a good thing is worth waiting for… 😉

Anyway, I suppose I’m just old enough NOT to know who Gavin Rossdale is but he seemed like a decent guy and I’ll be looking forward to hearing and seeing what he can do on the results show. The contestants didn’t demonstrate anything better or worse during their unplugged solo – just more of the same that they can do. It is that point in the competition for someone or two to start breaking out but that hasn’t happened — yet.

So, without further ado or falling sleep, here’s what I spied on my laptop from the land up north for this week:

Sebastian PigottLucille (Little Richard)

He obviously likes the real bluesy oldies and I’ll give him props for a mean harmonica solo. His charisma has been carrying him for the last few weeks but this week he seems to have channeled his inner musician and came out with a half way decent performance. I can tell the Zack wants him gone and, frankly, so do I but I don’t see him going anytime soon. Should be on the bubble, particularly since he went first, but I doubt it.

Earl StevensonTwo (Ryan Adams)

Ok, he was better this week but that was because he sat and played guitar the entire time. I just don’t get it, however – the judges gush all over him and I can’t hear or appreciate what they are digging. He just doesn’t do it for me – the voice is gravely but passable, he plays guitar well enough but I just don’t see the “specialness” about him. He’ll continue to be safe because I guess the Canadians like him a lot.

Mark Day Stay (Sugarland)

For all of his tomfoolery he happens to have one of the better voices in this competition and tonight he chose a song that fit his voice and played it absolutely straight. He has the Newfoundland/Labrador vote locked in, along with that dastardly VFTW following, but this week he would have earned my vote if I could vote — and that means he done real good with both the vocals and the interpretation. Might be bubble bound but I wouldn’t pit him there.

Mitch MacDonald Oh, Atlanta (Alison Krauss)

Well his performance this week was so good IMHO that I was able to forget all about his annoying vocals for once and get into the music. But it figures — I liked him and the judges trashed him. He wanted to represent his area and I think he succeeded. Bubble bound if the judges have any real

Amberly ThiessenThe Way I Am (Ingrid Michaelson)

Very animated, solid vocal stylings and no guitar – I really like this “last woman standing” and musically she deserves to remain in this competition to the bitter end. I don’t get why she was a bottom dweller last week but I truly hope she is not there again tomorrow. I totally agree with Flex that she has been picking great songs for her vocal abilities (I did question the Marley stuff from last week, however) and yet she seems to be struggling to find a fan base. Well, they’d better step it up and vote or she’ll be there again – or worse. Shouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom but this is Canada and they don’t seem to like the ladies this season.

Mookie MorrisOphelia (The Band)

He is so retro it’s cool, I suppose. A very unique song choice but he seems to like the obscure oldies. He’s another boy I can’t warm up to but I will admit he’s better than Earl in my estimation. At 18 he’s musically mature for his age and yet he appeals to the teenage crowd. He’s been in the bottom before and could land there again but I don’t think he will this week. The performance was solid enough to buy him one more week.

Drew WrightSunday Morning (Maroon 5)

I’ve liked this boy from the beginning and if there is a dark horse it would be him. The vocals may not always be on par with others but he has managed to stay true to his pop self and brought it to the stage each week, this time being no different. I sometimes wonder of the judges are looking to make their money by having to come up with things to say each week in order to take the contestants down a peg or two. Safe does NOT equal boring most of the time and I didn’t find this singer boring at all. He worked the stage, he sang comfortably and mostly in tune and put his own spin on the song. Depending on how much the viewers at home agree with the male judges, he may not be as safe as I’d like him to be.

Theo TamsWeak in the Knees (Serena Ryder)

IMHO the only true MUSICIAN in the bunch and that brand of training/gift carries through in every performance. Nice falsetto notes at the end without over-killing it (like some many others would be tempted to do), emotion charged interpretation without going over the top and good balance of singing and playing without either suffering for doing both. He would be my number one choice to GO-ALL-THE-WAY in this competition so if he’s not safe, no one else is.

So, curiously enough, after this set of performances I’m going with the same three bottom feeders this week that I chose last week: re:

Mitch, (no sure his song choice will play as well in Canada as it did with this American)

Sebastian (not sure he did enough this week to erase the last few attempts)

and Mookie, (I think his song choice was too “hip” for most)

with “das boot” probably going to Mitch MacDonald since the ladies are not about to give up on Sebastian yet – but I’d LOVE to be wrong on this one. There is an outside chance that Mark Day might have run his time out but that’s just a hunch I have as of this writing. Guess we’ll see soon enough…

Carry on!

J

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…and I STILL don’t get this regional voting thing!  Sorry, ladies, but Sebastian has worn out his welcome and from the looks of it, may not even be trying that hard.  One week off one’s game is excusable, but two or more weeks leads me to believe that he is not cut out to go the distance in this competition.  But what do I know?  I’m just an observing American who has watched IDOL for years.

With Katherine now gone, Amberly is the lone woman left.  Please don’t tell me that there is not enough male viewers out there voting to keep her in the competition because that should not matter!  She has one of the best voices going and deserves to make at least the Top 5 if not the Top 3.  I guess its inherent but I hate the popularity contest aspect of this show.  Either the contestants have talent or they don’t and some definitely have more than others.  It’s that simple and I wish viewers could keep it that way.

Enough ranting…here’s looking forward to this week’s sing-off, even if I’m not familiar with the featured Canadian artist…

J

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Since some of my fans were having a tough time finding the videos for this season, I decided to post them here and pray really hard that the “video Gestapo” would leave them be. These clips are being posted on other Idol sites and nothing has happened so far so I figured why not. Let’s hope my doing this is not the kiss of death.

Now, I love the title of this week’s theme: classic songs by artists who are dead! Gotta love it! Again, this northern franchise has shown that they are more unique than their southern counterpart and I hope that Canada is appreciating their efforts. I know I am.

So, without further ado, here’s what I saw on my laptop on this hot and steamy summer evening:

Theo TamsNo Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley)

What a waste of a great voice on a Bob Marley song! Ouch. This kid definitely outshone the original without sounding like a white dude trying to sing like a Jamaican. I guess he’s just showing his musical diversity. I like him. I want to see more. Should be safe again this week even if he did go first.

Mitch MacDonald Angel Eyes (Jeff Healy)

Not familiar with the original artist but I did recognize the song. Was it me or was he off pitch in the beginning? Nerves? Monitor problems? Either way it threw things off for me and at least the judges made note of it. This boy just has such a different sound that while it doesn’t annoy me, I’m having a hard time warming up to him as a vocalist. Again, maybe safe — maybe not.

Earl StevensonLight My Fire (Jim Morrison)

Ya know, when he was sitting down center stage and singing, he actually sounded really good. But then he stood up and started to move…and then he got the goofy dancing going…and then I lost all respect for him as a performer again. I just don’t get what this boy is selling and sometimes wonder if he is really three french fries short of a happy meal or if it’s all an act. Problem is, everyone’s gotta gimmick and his is working overtime. Safe again this week (and I want some of what he’s on…).

Sebastian PigottLove Me (Elvis)

This kid ended up in the bottom three last week and I thought that might have been a fluke but after this performance I’m beginning to think that he might just have peaked early in the contest and doesn’t have much more to give – or it’s just another case of the bad song choice blues. I felt the song went nowhere, the vocal was weak at best and even his sexy delivery couldn’t pick this performance up off the floor. Might be making another trip to the bottom three this week unless his fans vote like crazy.

Katherine St-LaurentMove Over (Janis Joplin)

Ok, someone had to cover Joplin but at least she didn’t choose Piece of My Heart – thank God for that! This chick can get her rocker edge going and really kick butt. While I think her vocals are way better than the material, she avoided screaming and gave it her rocker all. I liked it and I like her. Should be safe for this week at the very least.

Drew WrightNo Rain (Shannon Hoon)

Out from behind the drums tonight and working every corner of the stage, he sounded really solid and confident on this song. This kid’s got some real potential and I think he might just be starting to get some steam behind him. No bottom feeding for this fedora-man this week!

Mookie MorrisI Feel Good (James Brown)

Are you kidding me? This youngster taking on the Godfather of Soul? Not in a million years. I didn’t care for the modern spin on the song because I felt it lost its killer vibe as a result. I guess I don’t know Jack because everyone else seemed to love him. Oh well. Might not be in the bottom three again this week but let’s see how it played in Labrador.

Amberly ThiessenRedemption Song (Bob Marley)

This little lady really makes some interesting and highly risky song choices yet somehow she pulls it off with her uniquely solid vocals. She’s got a little of the Brooke White vibe going for her as well. I really like her and can see her lasting through the Top 5 at least. Gotta be safe. Just gotta be.

Mark Day Dance with My Father (Luther Vandross)

He’s got a dancing theme going on, doesn’t he? Ok, in all seriousness this goofy guy was on his vocal best tonight — sincere, straightforward and, according to Zach, lovable. He’s got a great instrument and Jake is correct that when he just sings he is at his best. Shouldn’t drop to the bottom but may not have been as strong as some others and could land there anyway.

And this week’s bottom feeders according to moi are:

Mitch, Sebastian and Mookie, with “das boot” probably going to Mitch MacDonald. Since I was so far off the mark last week and am still not familiar with how folks vote along province lines, I’m not holding out too much hope of getting it right. We shall see.

J

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Hey Canada — are you happy with your Top 10? I was, with two exceptions: I didn’t feel that either Mark Day or Adam Castelli had done enough to make the finals. Mark is a tad too goofy to be taken seriously and I don’t feel that Adam’s vocal skills are up there with some of the others who did make the cut. If I were voting, I would have wanted to back Martin Kerr and Kaitlyn Dawn so that they could reach the Top 10 but, hey, I’m an American…what do I know? I can’t get my own picks here in the US of A to the finals sometimes! 😉

Anyway, I thought that Jake gave some really sound advice to the finalists going into this week’s David Bowie night:

  1. Pick great songs
  2. Be memorable
  3. Be lovable
  4. Make an impact

From what I saw last night, some of them took than advice and ran with it and others, well, marched to the beat of their own drummer (and that is NOT a slam on Drew…you’ll see…) In any Idol competition, song selection makes or breaks a contestant with the latter happening more times than not. We singers love some songs that we should NEVER sing and in this type of a situation, one needs to be a little more objective when choosing what will win over the fans. The Music of David Bowie is a really tough songbook to work with because while it is not very challenging music-wise, it’s eclectic styles and sometimes downright weirdness can make a good singer sound bad and a so-so singer sound worst unless they play it up in the performance. I was afraid for the kids and after watching and listening, I was surprised at how most of them stayed away from the more familiar songs in favor of lesser known tunes.

Here’s what I experienced from my laptop for this round:

Drew WrightFive Years

Tough to go first on the first night of finals and equally difficult to play the drums while doing it but this boy held his own very well and I actually liked it! The vocals may have suffered a little but, hey, it’s Bowie — don’t have to possess a great voice to pull it off. He looked comfortable, sang well and kept a steady beat — worked for me. I can understand what Jake and Farley were saying but I think his originality will win the day and buy him another week if not more.

Adam Castelli Rebel, Rebel

Most unique entrance of any Idol ever and it will NEVER happen in America! Sass is correct that the song has little melody but it was perfect for this boy whose vocal qualities are limited at best. I wish I could warm up to him but it’s just not happening for me. However, others seem to dig the vibe so that and his originality should buy him another week at least.

Mark Day Dancin’ In the Streets

I forgot that Bowie and Jagger covered this song. It’s also one of the most overused Idol songs — right up there with Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Ok, this kid’s got a good voice but he’s a bit too much of a goof ball for me to take him seriously. He did choose a good song for his voice from the Bowie song pile and, yes, he did camp it up a bit but that’s his gimmick. How long it will sustain him in this competition is anyone’s guess. But he CAN sing. Might get him through this week if no one else feels like me.

Mookie MorrisThe Man Who Sold the World

My hubby is much more familiar with the Bowie Collection than I am but he was hard pressed to remember this tune. I haven’t figured this young dude out yet but he has a unmistakable presence that helps him transcend his very different vocal tone. The young girls should carry him far into the finals for sure.

Amberly ThiessenSpace Odyssey

Interesting song choice for this young gal and not one I would have chosen for her, especially with all the changes in style. And she did the Natalie Merchant version? Didn’t know there was one. This is a case of bad song choice, even though I agree with Zack that she sang it well and did it in her own way. Could end up being a case of the “bad song choice blues” should she end up on the bubble this week. I’d hate to see her go because she is a good singer.

Sebastian PigottLet’s Spend the Night Together

Now, can you say great song choice? However, he DID mess up the delivery in a few places…ok, MORE than a few…OK, he goofed up big time. I don’t think it will hurt him much because this young man has charisma to spare and he’s already captured the hearts and votes of many a young Canadian maiden. I will say that he’d better clean up his act for next week or else – fans CAN be fickle. Should be safe in spite of it all.

Earl StevensonRock and Roll Suicide

Well, this obscure little number was perfect for his vocals and his personality. Talk about the Jason Castro/Taylor Hicks of the North! I need more time to figure this one out and from the looks of it, he will be around for quite some time.

Katherine St-LaurentCat People (Putting Out Fire)

She has a tendency for screaming and tonight was no exception. I didn’t like the song on her however it looks like the judges did. She has a HUGE voice but I’d like to see her select something that shows it off rather than songs she feels she needs to ram down our throats. She’ll be safe, no doubt, but I want more SINGING from her. Please!

Theo TamsSilly Boy Blue

I can tell you from experience that classical training is the best vocal conditioning for ANY type of singer. This alone puts this boy a cut above the rest vocally and it shows. Another edge he has is that he IS a musician and that comes through in every performance. Zack did feel the need to burst his bubble a tad but I don’t think that will slow him down one bit. Safe for a long time.

Mitch MacDonald Moonage Daydream

I still can’t get past this boy’s thin über-tenor sound. It’s not cartoonish but it drives me a bit crazy. He is very comfortable on stage and has the right performance intensity but it’s the tone color that throws me off. Decent song choice, rocked the tune, good stage presence. Maybe safe. Maybe not.

Ok, I’m not sure if there is a bottom two or three north of the border so I’ll choose my usual three for “das boot” this week and then adjust as I need to. This week’s bubble dwellers, IMHO, should be Mitch, Mark and Amberly, though I really don’t want to see her there, with “das boot” going to Mark Day. Will I be correct for my first CI Top 10? Stay tuned…

J

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It’s Top 16, take two! So let’s just cut to the chase and get to the review, shall we?

Mitch MacDonald

Blue – J Hawks

Has a very distinct vocal sound…it hasn’t grown on me yet…not familiar with the song but he seemed to perform it well…it was just OK for me…

Might be on the bubble b/c apparently the song was not a well known one.

Gary Morissette

House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

Nothing like an alternative version of this old chestnut to make me stand up and take notice…didn’t like it at all…though he does play the guitar pretty well…hated the sudden ending…didn’t like his raspy voice either…big downer for me…

Another bubble dweller if I have anything to say about it.

Katelyn Dawn

Zombie – The Cranberries

Commanded the stage from the first note…thin vocal color but it fit the song…little bit of a rocker chick…decent song choice for her…could have bought her at least another week…I think Jake gave her the best advice for the future…

Might be safer than not.

Oliver Pigott

Lean on Me – Bill Withers

Hate it when they alter the melody right out of the gate…the boy is overly breathy and if doesn’t sound flattering on him…I don’t get a feeling of sincerity from this on so it’s hard to get into his performance…

Unless the voters agree with me and not the judges,

Sebastian Pigott

Bring it on Home to Me – Sam Cooke

Now this brother has charisma and stage presence to spare…better voice as well…and he brought out the harmonica…that was a very smooth and clever performance…I guess we’ll see him next week…

Definitely safe. Definitely.

Earl Stevenson

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

And I couldn’t understand the words in this version either…not the greatest vocal challenge of the night…and he couldn’t stand still through the whole thing…which was very distracting…still reminds me of Mr. Hicks…

Since I totally missed what the judges were so hyped up about, I guess he’ll be safe.

Katherine St. Laurent

Love is a Battlefield – Pat Benatar

I think her singing voice is much better than song called for…and I never appreciate any screaming where singing will do…I’m not sure the song choice was a good one…it was OK but I must be missing something…I do agree that she has a good voice for her age…

Probably safe but what do I know?

Drew Wright

The Reason – Hoobastank

Never heard of this group or the song…I take that back, I HAVE heard this song before…he came out with vocals blaring and gave it everything he had…decent performance and I do like his voice…but he was a tad under pitch a few times…I like this kid…

Hopefully will be safe.

My infamous “das boot” for this group? I’d say Mitch (another casualty of going first and being forgettable), Gary (I just didn’t like the performance – period!) and Oliver (his brother has it all over him). Guess we’ll find out tomorrow night what Canada likes for its Top 10…see ya then!

BTW…Have I said how much I enjoy Ben Mulroney? I really do. Better than Seacrest and MUCH easier on the eyes. I think I’m in love. 😉

Carry on!

J

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I’m baaaack…and raring to go! I was able to at least watch last week’s contest when I returned from my travels so I have to agree with how Canada has been voting. Up to now, the only one that has been dismissed that I really liked was Jessica, even though Paul was the most unique of the bunch. Other than her, the rest were expendable. No matter – we’re on to the Top 16 and after this week six contestants will be sent home and the Top 10 will be revealed…that is, if they don’t go for a Top 12 like their companions to the south.

Here’s how I saw tonight’s songfest:

Martin Kerr

Fix You – Coldplay

Solid opening performance from the resident Brit…very comfortable on stage…strong, spot-on vocals…just reminds me too much of a coffee house singer…agree with Jake on the lack of star vibe…

Might be on the bubble b/c Zach really put the smackdown on him but in America that usually creates the opposite response.

Theo Tams

Colbie Caillat – Bubbly

Very comfortable on stage and very believable…versatile musician…in touch with lyrics and song styles…full commitment to whatever he’s singing…

Two words: Very safe.

Amberly Thiessen

You and I Both – Jason Mraz

Started out shaky…and continued that way in spots…I like this gal but this was not a great song choice for her potential…Has a much better voice than this song gave her credit for…

May have enough cred so far to make fans forgive her for this week. I sure wish I could vote.

Adam Castelli

If I Were a Carpenter – Tim Hardin, Johnny Cash, et al

They do choose some way out songs on this show…but I love it…however, not this rendition…this performer has not grown on me at all…he’s decent enough but not Top 10 worthy…too one dimensional…and off key at times…

On the bubble and the judges agree.

Marie-Pierre Bellerose

Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin

Someone always has to tackle Joplin, don’t they…may not have been gritty enough but she sang the crap out of it and for that I give her BIG props…not sure what to think of her overall but she deserves to stick around a little longer…she’s a bit of a ham…

May be safe…maybe not…

Omar Lunan

If Tomorrow Never Comes – Garth Brooks

Ok, the R & B version of a country tune…that’s different…not sure if he knew the original tune so I can’t tell if he was off key at times or not…I didn’t care for the song choice for him but I’m not sure he knows what to pick…and may I say I love Zack’s take on the whole thing…

Probably safe because he’s trying every genre.

Mark Day

Against All Odds – Phil Collins

The unlikely Idol contestant…he never would have made it past Simon…vocally he’s been very good…but tonight he went for over emoting and that may have done him in…Broadway could be in his future and that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing…

It’s bubble time for this boy.

Mookie Morris

Valerie – Zutons, Mark Ronson, et al

Good thing he didn’t try out for So You Think You Can Dance, Canada…not very familiar with the song but I thought it was just OK…however, the judges love this kid so the pimping was big…

Should be safe if the voters listen to the judges.

“Das boot” for this group? I’d say Martin (because he went first and was forgettable), Adam (the performance was a bit of a disaster) and Mark (too much “chewing the scenery” – it’s a Broadway term). The other eight should take a cue from the first group and not try to over sing or be overly anything if they want to have a chance at the Top 10. At this point in the competition, if could hurt them more than help them. We shall soon see how this all plays out.

Carry on!

J

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