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Archive for the ‘Clay Aiken’ Category

Phabulous Philly

Hola, friends! This week we move on to Philly and with Clay Aiken in attendance — how can we lose? Clay’s never at a loss for words, especially when he’s at is snarky best. It’s also nice to see the show paying attention not only to winners but those who made a big splash in music/entertainment without having the title.

My only burning question of the night is — what’s with Harry trying to rock the white t-shirt a la Simon Cowell? Please don’t give into the dark side, Harry! You will NEVER be Simon and that’s a good thing!

Ok, then – let’s see who impresses the judges on this stop:

Gianna Isabella — 15 — Jackson, NJ — House of the Rising Sun
Mom is Brenda K. Starr (80’s pop star – I Still Believe)
Reminds me a little of her mom – big, strong voice
pretty vocal colors when not screaming (why do they all try that?)
hopefully not too young – would like to see her survive Hollywood

Derek Huffman — 21— Coventry, RI — Angel in the Morning
Obviously NOT a Claymate (or even someone who as actually watched Idol)
1st to bring in a boombox as accompaniment
Not great vocals
Reminds me of too many kids I’ve bumped into in RI

Issac Cole — 15 — Emlenton, PA — ?
The country version of the Bebs
“acappella song with guitar”
I think he’s too young — voice needs to mature
Harry gave him great advice but they shouldn’t have put him through

Sarah Strum – 17 – Centerville VA — Lips are Moving
bright, bubbly and full of personality
she has a solid but young voice
confidence a mile long

Ellis Banks — 25 — Indianapolis, IN — Born This Way
a Nicki Minaj impersonator? Ouch!
Didn’t do GaGa an justice at all

Jenn Blosil — 23 — Brooklyn, NY — Radioactive
Very nasal but a unique sound
Quirky, free spirit
Can’t figure her out — is it an act or not?
Hollywood will sort it out for sure

Harrison Cohen — 17 — New York, NY — No Time original
good guitar player and the song is really good
not a bad singer – a little on the boy band side mixed with Jewish runs

John Arthur Greene — 27 — Raleigh, NC — Somebody Like You
one heck of a backstory but great attitude
Broadway Baby but really didn’t sound that way
nice voice and great stage presence
credit for singing a Keith Urban tune

Carry me back Denver and Little Rock

Something tells me they saved the crazies for the second week of auditions and if the coming attractions are any indication there will be even more next week. Great… (sarcasm) Let’s not worry about that now and take a look at this interesting group:

Amber Lynn — 28 — Provo, UT — ?
a little Ricki Lee Jones like with a lot of soul
just ok for me

James Gray Dawson (the 8th) — 23 — Provo, UT — Sun Comes Up
I don’t like the faces he makes but the voice is good (yet somewhat affected)
good guitar player

Emily Wears — 25 — Solon, IA — Bring on the Rain
professional auctioneer – not bad, either
pretty little voice but slightly under supported at the beginning (nervous?)
got better as she felt more comfortable but I agreed she shouldn’t go on

Chris “CJ” Johnson — 28 — Memphis, TN — Make My Dreams Come True
working musician
yes, he’s a guy with a guitar but he was really engaging going old school with a Hall and Oates song
good voice

Ethan Coots — 15 — Nashville, AR — Stormy Monday
breeds American Fox Hounds
Blues/Southern Rock
VERY young voice but he does feel the music
needs a lot of work, however
a really tough one – even the judges were torn on this (I agreed with Harry that he is too young for AI)

Mary Williams — 23 — Belfast, TN — ’Til I Can Make It On My Own
definitely an old school country singer
nice, warm sound and a good delivery
Even though Keith didn’t like her I’m glad they put her through

Xavier Soller — 26 — Newtown, KS — Friends in Low Places
(one of my favorite songs 😉
great personality but pretty affected (almost sounded like an imitation)

Terrian — 18 — North Memphis, TN — Happy
a real natural singer with a sincere, warm voice

Leann “Blue” McIsaac — 23 — Traveling Nomad — original
she actually had a decent voice but too colorful for this show

Tommy Stringfellow — 17 — Bentonville, AR — Gimme Love
Nice, easy, true tenor voice
just different enough to make it through

Tywan “Tank” Jackson — 29 — Ashtabula, OH — Superstar
if it can work for Ruuuuuubin it can work for this boy
he was a little out of breath so he shouldn’t have busted a move
before he sang
not a bad sound – smooth tone on a big voice

John Wayne Schulz — 27 — Salt Lake City, UT – The Dance
I DID remember him (Season 10) and now with a heartbreaking backstory
still sounded as good as I remembered
great performance

Leah Harbert — 24 — Moriarty, NM — Chain of Fools
She lost me at rewinding and singing to a Brittany Spears cassette – ouch!
Was there even a melody present???

Jordyn Simone — 15 — Los Angeles, CA — Who’s Lovin’ You
Whoa!!! That was really unexpected
A real natural singer and performer – an old soul

Kassy Levels — 17— Dallas, TX — ?
good performer but highly affected from what little I heard

Rhea Raj — 18 — Princeton NJ — How Will I Know
different take on the song but voice was a little weak

Jake Dillon — 22 —- Sandsprings, OK — Danny’s Song
such an easy voice to listen to and thank you, Keith, for sending him through – he may just be a dark horse ***

Ashley Lilinoe — 20 — Kane’ohe, HI — Black Velvet
she sings with clenched teeth and I was not impressed
can you believe I agreed with J-Lo?

Andrew Nazarbekian — 20 — Moscow, Russia — To Make You Feel My Love
Too much vocal calisthenics but he has a really pleasant voice when he sings it straight

Elvie Shane — 27 — Caneyville, KY — House of the Rising Sun
They bookended this show with this number – oy!
But this guy was really smokin’ – a barroom singer but highly engaging
***

So, my watch list for Hollyweird continues to grow – here’s who I added on after this week’s tryouts:

Harrison Cohen
Terrian
John Wayne Schulz
Jordyn Simone
Jake Dillon
Elvie Shane

Let me know who you liked and passed on this week and whether or nor you’re agreeing with our judging panel by adding your comments to the comment box. Next week will be the last 1st round auditions before the Hollywood phase so we’ll be going back and forth again between the five cities. Personally, I’d rather we concentrate on one city at a time but what do I know… 😉

See you all next week!

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We’re almost there – can you believe that the finale is next week? Boy, this season has certainly flown by! It’s been an interesting, entertaining yet strangely familiar ride from the auditions to now, sort of reminding us of another vocally powerful “Search for a Superstar” – the season of Clay/Ruben/Kimberley (Season 2). The caliber of vocal talent this year has been nothing short of spectacular with a nice variety of shades and stylings — with, of course, a few characters thrown in for effect. Actually, I haven’t been bored much or wanting to slap the voters too often this season and that in itself is a GOOD thing! With a strong Top 3 there will be a deserving winner no matter who gets the most votes and we ALL win when that happens. Kudos to the judges for getting it RIGHT this season and giving us a strong field from which to choose from.

Speaking of choices, this was “Pick” night, when everyone gets to pick a song: Judges, contestants and even the dreaded PTB. It’s a night when the judges have to be really careful NOT to harp too much on song choice because in 2 out of 3 cases the contestants had no real say in the matter. In fact, I got really annoyed when they briefly started to go down that road but I guess old habits die hard. Now, we had a little twist this time around where the two male judges ceased an opportunity to jab each other’s choices for their Idol but that proved more comical than detrimental. Paula actually chose well for her Idol and was refreshingly coherent tonight – good for her!

So, with the DH and puppy by my side, here’s what it looked like from my comfy red leather couch for this week of interesting picks and very few pans:

David Archuleta

And So It Goes – Billy Joel (Paula’s pick)

That. Was Beautiful. Sigh. Absolutely gorgeous! Most mature vocal and performance of the season from this young man. What more can I say – but, as if we didn’t know, Simon tried to let some steam out of the kid’s engine. Nasty Brit.

With You – Chris Brown (Arch’s pick)

Thank God he finally did something upbeat however he was bottoming out on many of the lower notes and I couldn’t tell if it was a register problem or if he was out of breath. Give him his props for trying to be current and interesting.

Longer – Dan Fogleburg (TPTB’s pick)

This boy wants to win it bad. That was another very mature and vocally sound performance. This was the first night I saw him trying to connect with the lyrics and he did a stellar job, IMHO.

Syesha Mercado

If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys (Randy’s pick)

Nice controlled vocals but a little too close to the original for me. I hate it when the Brit and I happen to agree. She does have a solid instrument.

Fever – Peggy Lee and others (Syesha’s pick)

Best. Song. From. Her. Ever! Definitely made the song her own (and a difficult feat with this overdone number) and performed it with style and sizzle. Send this child to Broadway now and get her away from Simon…FAR away! Personally, I don’t want her to win Idol because she has a better career waiting for her than being lead around by the nose by 19 Entertainment. Let the Davids fight it out. Seriously, she has grown on me over the course of the season and I could kick myself for ruling her out at the beginning of the Top 12. She’s got talent and chops to spare and I hope she goes as far as she can, with or without Idol.

Hit Me Up – Gia Farrell (TPTB’s pick)

At the risk of showing my age, I was not familiar with this song at all. In any case she sang really well tonight, this one included. Was it enough to get to next week? Vocally I would say “hell, yeah!” but I’m not sure she has enough of a fan base to pull it off. That is, unless she gets the sympathy vote tonight for being run over by the judges (could that have been some reverse psychology on their part?). BTW, Simon’s remarks after this song were the most intelligent ones I’ve heard him utter this season. About. Damn. Time!

David Cook

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack (The Brit’s pick – what WAS he thinking?)

He HAD to do something with that song and, dang it, he did!!!! Nice upper register work and a solid, money note ending. Go figure.

Dare You to Move – Switchfool

Ok, I have heard this song – now I don’t feel so old. It was classic Cookie and, like Paula, I wanted to hear more of it as well. That’s the problem with songs that can’t do a beginning, middle and end in a minute thirty. No surprises but no fouls either.

I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith

Two words: SLAM DUNK! And, no surprise, we all know who the Brit wants to win…I know, it’s only a TV show…

I won’t pick a bottom two or a “das boot” this week because no matter which way it plays out, all three deserve kudos for what they’ve done to get this far and with any combination it is setting up to be a great finale this year. Just remember, we could end up seeing another “Melinda elimination” this year so don’t rule anything out. Either way, I’ll be buying my tickets tomorrow for the tour this year because this is a very interesting and entertaining group of contestants and I would like to see them live.

Carry on!

J

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I hate Top 4 week. Period.

For most of the previous seasons, this has been the week where the obvious weak link pushes out a front runner and spoils the whole mix.

Tamyra Gray. LaToya London. Anthony Federov. Chris Daughtry. These are the folks that SHOULD have moved on to the Top 3 but didn’t. Folks with strong vocals and performances that could have made their fan bases relax at time when every vote was crucial.

The spoilers? Nikki McKibbin. Jasmine Trias. Vonzell Solomon. Katherine McFee (even though Elliott Yamin eventually came in third she was weak link that week). Folks who may have had a stellar performance once in a while but had fans who mobilized at the last minute because they knew it was now or never.

Have we learned nothing from Idol history? Guess not, because we are once again poised to see a worthy competitor bounced due to the dialing and texting frenzy of a misguided fan base trying to get their Idol to go-all-the-way – even though they don’t deserve to. Hummph.

I HATE Top 4 week.

Having said all that, let’s proceed on to that view from my comfy red leather couch for this dreadlock dreadful week:

David Cook

Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran

Solid vocal performance but I didn’t feel any UMMMPH behind it. It was like he was just strolling through it. Notice how Simon used the phrase “copy cat” rather than using the “K” word so he wouldn’t be so harsh on him. I have a feeling that the Brit would be more comfortable promoting him than any of the others so he won’t be jinxing his chances of winning at this point if he can help it.

Baba O’Reilly – The Who

Oh man! I wanted to hear the WHOLE song – that was just a taste of what I know he can do with that number. I guess I’ll finally get out my shopping cart at iTunes and pick me up a download of the full song. The arrangement was not-so-hot but he did his best around it for sure. Better than the first song and more of who he is as a performer. He needs to get past this week to make it to the finals. Here’s hoping we don’t experience another Daughtry moment but I’d be afraid…VERY afraid…

Syesha Mercado

Proud Mary – Ike & Tina Turner / Credence Clearwater Revival

This is a tough song to try and make your own but I think she did a better job just trying to avoid sounding and looking like Tina Turner, even though she did do the hair flip. She gave it her own vocal spin but stayed true to the song and the girl can certainly shake her booty! She continues to ride the wave she created back on ALW night.

A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

Very controlled, very vulnerable performance with a killer vocal ending and not as many vocal gymnastic tricks as there COULD have been. Kudos to Simon for not slamming her after Randy did, which I thought was uncalled for. She certainly has been the most improved contestant this season and has literally matured before our collective eyes. If Brooke’s fan base wanders over to her side she just might have a chance of getting to the Top 3, which she truly deserves to do.

Jason Castro

I Shot the Sheriff – Eric Clapton / Bob Marley

Unfortunately, he chose the reggae version over the more familiar Clapton rendition and completely lost me along with probably most of the viewing public. The judges slammed him big time and they were right to do so because at this stage of the competition that performance was unacceptable. I wonder if he is trying to see how far he can go without really trying hard – or is he simply bored with the whole process and ready to go home?

Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds / Bob Dylan

If this boy doesn’t go home tonight it will be a crying shame. Now he’s forgetting the words on top of singing just so-so? Can you say Sanjaya? Both performances tonight were sub par at best and his attitude was truly unprofessional. I don’t think he’s taking the whole experience seriously or could be believing his own press. It’s time to call it a day, Spicolli, and go “party on” somewhere else. Please don’t be this year’s Nikki McKibbin!

David Archuleta

Stand By Me – Ben E. King

Vocally the best of the first round by a long mile. The pipes on this child are amazing and he showed that all that bedroom-in-front-of-a-mirror practicing can pay off. The Brit thought he struggled at the end while I thought he was a tad nervous and started off a little weak – no matter – he connected emotionally and vocally and that’s what all of them should be doing at this point.

Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley

Kudos to the kid! Sensitive, warm vocals with an endearing performance that left my hubby wanting to hear more (and that’s saying something!). Not since Clay Aiken has there been a contestant this consistently good but would winning be the best thing for him? Clay certainly has benefited greatly by NOT winning so I’m not sure what I would wish for this talented young man. In an event, unless his fans haven’t benefited from history and become complacent, he should glide into the finals.

I hate this. The only one I feel deserves “das boot” this week is Jason Castro but I can’t shake the fact that a shocker could be in the works. I won’t even venture a guess as to who that could be from the other three but I’m really hoping that America and the PRODUCERS get it right for once in seven years and send the least deserving home at the right time. Please?

Carry on!

J

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Neil Diamond night, eh? Ok, he’s not one of my favorite performers but I have liked a lot of his songs through the years and our Idols did a decent job overall with the ones they chose. Tonight’s format was a little different and I did like the fact that the judges had to wait until after the second performance before they could comment. I did keep down on the insane commentary but it left poor Paula a tad confused.

It doesn’t take much, does it?

BTW, I hear she wants to be a contestant on the next season of Dancing with the Stars. That would be interesting. Maybe Clay Aiken could be one as well and then THAT would make for interesting TV – a former Idol and a judge battling it out for a mirror ball trophy. Interesting…

Anyway, let’s get right to that view from my comfy red leather couch for this week, OK?

Jason Castro

Forever in Blue Jeans

Is it me or does this boy have no stage presence whatsoever? It’s not that he’s just phoning in the performances but that there is just no “ummph” to them. Don’t get me wrong – he has a pleasant enough voice and the little tweeny girls love him to pieces but that alone does not an Idol make. On the positive side I will say that his lower register is in fine form and he should use it more often instead of just staying in his breathy head voice. It would give him more vocal colors to choose from rather than singing one dimensionally like he has been the past month or so.

September Morn

Does he even know the tune to this song? Or was he overly pitchy in spots? I just couldn’t tell. He is just waaay too laid back for me but it’s also beginning to look like he really doesn’t care to be there. Or maybe he knows he doesn’t have to try so hard because his fan base will keep him there no matter what. Personally, I believe his 15 minutes are up big time but I may not get my wish due to tweens with cell phones who are texting their fingers off. If there IS a God…

David Cook

I’m Alive

Gutsy choice! I haven’t heard this one in a long while and he did great! He really tried to take the path less traveled when it comes to choosing music and it pays off for him each and every week. It sounded like even Neil was impressed with both his choices and his interpretations – it’s good to get the mentor on your side early!

All I Really Need is You

He seems to have captured the spirit of Neil’s songs even though he puts his own spin on them – THAT’S the mark of a great musician! He is really making me a believer! Should be safe yet again and firmly on his way to the finale.

Brooke White

I’m a Believer

Ok, Mr. Cranky Brit – it was NOT a nightmare. Far from it. BUT, because she chose to hide behind her guitar, it wasn’t as good as it could have been. The song’s limited vocal range did nothing for her vocally and for the first time she may have been trying too hard to be perky. I think she is tiring of all the phoniness on the show and it’s starting to show in both her performances and in her response to whatever negatives Simon throws her way.

I Am…I Said

She did much better on this song and, it should be noted, she didn’t drop a lyric in either on this week. I thought the song’s tempo was a little faster than I like it but that could have been the producers’ doing and not hers. She should be in the bottom two this week and might be listening to Ruben’s song by the end of Wednesday’s show if Jason’s fans have anything to say about it.

David Archuleta

Sweet Caroline

He had to stay away from the ballads this week and attempt the up-tempos and he chose two of the biggest ones in the songbook in which to do just that. He sounded really good on this one and probably won every Red Sox fan’s vote in the process (the song is played during the eight inning of every home game – “whoa, whoa, whoa!”). This was the strongest vocal he’s had in the last few weeks so it looks like he’s gearing up for the finals.

America

Shades of Kristy Lee Cook! I was hoping this would have been the group number because I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear one of the contestants take it on. He did well but it kinda boarded on cheesy for me. It wouldn’t have matter who sang the song it would have had the same effect on me. He’s so safe he might have to end up in the bottom two just to shake up the fans.

Syesha Mercado

Hello Again

This gal has turned things around and for the last few weeks has really come on strong – she is in it to win it, even though I think her best finish will be third. Hey – it worked for Kim Locke! She showed her sweet, controlled vocals on this song and without too much gymnastics, conveyed the empty hopefulness of this song quite well. I really liked it.

Thank the Lord for the Night Time

It was a great way to end the night and go out on a high note. She took on an early hit and made the audience stand up and take notice. But please, don’t keep harping on the “Broadway” bandwagon with her because that could hurt rather than help her. She should be safe but then it really could go either way with her, depending on her fan base, or lack thereof.

With all that said and done, my choices to occupy those uncomfortable chairs for this week are:

Jason Castro

Brooke White

with “das boot” going to Brooke White even though it SHOULD go to you-know-who. With my gal Carly gone my allegiance has switched to Cookie but I’d watch out for Syesha who is the real dark horse of this season.

Carry on!

J

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This will be another quick review week because I definitely felt that this was going to be a boring night of singing and I wasn’t wrong in my assumptions. To say that the Mariah Carey songbook is limited in scope and difficult for anyone to sing except for the Diva herself is an understatement and unfortunately our Idols had some tough times with the music. Interestingly enough, the guys had it better than the gals but they had to dig deep inside there musicianship to do so. The gals got the predictable “you must not sound like the original” and to that I say – DON’T HAVE THESE TYPES OF NIGHTS IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO COMPARE THEM TO THE ORIGINAL SINGER! Maybe it’s a seven-year-itch or something but I’m getting more than weary with the predictability of the judges AND the producers of this show. There needs to be a real shake up somewhere but since I obviously know nothing about such things, my suggestions wouldn’t amount to much. Humph…

Anyway, here’s my take on the night straight from my comfy red leather couch:

David ArchuletaWhen You Believe

Well, the kid disappointed me for the first time this year and I am NOT happy about it. Not at all. This is one of my favorite Stephen Schwartz songs from the animated film THE PRINCE OF EGYPT and instead of showing off the beautiful lyrics and soaring melody, we were treated to a boat load of vocal gymnastics, most likely aimed at getting a “that was hot, dawg” from Randy. If emulation is a sincere form of flattery then Mariah should be pleased but I was not. I was looking forward to the kid using his power vocals to bring this song up to new heights but instead he opted for pleasing the PTB. He is young but that’s a hard habit to break after awhile, according to my friends in the “biz.” He’s safe no matter what he does so I wouldn’t worry about him.

Carly SmithsonWithout You

She needed to come back big this week and SHE DID!!! Thank God Mariah covered this one (along with Clay Aiken – whose version I really like – and, of course, the great original rendition from Harry Nilsson) because I really couldn’t hear her singing ANYTHING else from this catalog. Of course, the judges decided to try to put the breaks on her comeback by attacking her lack of confidence – which I thought was in the best shape last night than it has been in the past few weeks — but I thought she held her head up high and let them rant. Don’t let them get into your head, girl! You keep coming out and singing like you do and you’ll be just fine. However, I did through some votes her way in case others have gotten lazy because she needs to make the Top 5 and I want to see her there.

Syesha MercadoVanishing

Well, another trip into vocal gymnastics land and I was totally bored by the performance. I didn’t know the song, it didn’t thrill me much but I will say that she has a very powerful instrument and she is a decent performer. Might be a bottom feeder again this week.

Brooke WhiteHero

I loved that she did a stripped version of the song – solo piano and voice only. Made her stand out from the others and once again showed a musical vulnerability that is very appealing for her. Yes, she is being labeled as predictable but I’d like to say that she is a reliable musician – you know what you’re going to get from her and she does it very well. However, this show is about big and loud and I’m afraid that her time may be coming to an end. Look for her in the chairs instead of the couches this week.

Kristy Lee CookForever

Another country-fied version that obviously suits her vocal style but is wearing on me more than Brooke’s perpetual innocence. I’ll give her credit for taking the bull by the horns and staging a well calculated comeback after starting so badly but her time has come to mosey on down the trail. Should be in the bottom tonight and hopefully going home.

David Cook Always Be My Baby

Another week and other interesting song twist from Mr. Cook. A haunting, dark turn on this sugary pop number actually held my attention from start to finish. Gotta say that I liked it! Ok, so some are not digging the stalker quality but Sting and Clay have shown that it can work musically and this boy can as well. I think we may have found our Idol for this year, gang. Sure, it will be the battle of the Davids but this is the one that deserves to win it all. He will be safe.

Jason CastroI Don’t Wanna Cry

From the sublime to the ridiculous – IMHO he had no business singing this song. Didn’t work for him at all. This millennium’s Alfred E. Newman is just not doing it for me but the tweenies are so over the moon about him and Archie that they are dialing their fingers off for them. He may make the bottom three but he won’t go anywhere until he makes the Top 5 – at least I hope he goes at that point.

So, if my hearing aid was working well last night, I’d go with:

Kristy Lee Cook

Syesha Mercado

Brooke White as our bottom feeders this week with “das boot” going to — finally, I hope — Kristy Lee Cook.

After last week, however, anything CAN happen…and usually does…

Carry on!

J

PS – Yamin, Elliott’s going to be on the results show?  Groovy!!!  Looking forward to hearing his smooth vocals once again.

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Ok, so Idol Gives Back wasn’t any better than last year, IMHO. Following a couple of inspirational songs with Ben Stiller’s potty mouth was definitely WAY out of line and pretty much sealed for me the feeling that this “charity” event is all about ratings, nothing more. Two and one half hours is not enough time to even glance through the Jerry Lewis playbook on how to put one of these shows together so while I can give one prop for trying to do something to better the world, maybe it would be better if this effort was aired AFTER the Idol season as a one night special, putting all the emphasis on the cause and not just letting it be an asterisk during the competition, Besides, having it as part of the regular season just screams “ratings gimmick” to me and then to delay the results for one more night is simply cruel for the contestants…unless they do like last year.

As far as for Inspirational Song night, I think it’s just too broad a category to be successful unless these types of songs have been in your repertoire for years and then it depends on what one believes is an “inspirational” song. Titles alone don’t always connect with the lyrics, that’s why some of the choices for this week fell a little flat. You’ll see what I mean in my reviews.

So let’s get to that unique view from my comfy red leather couch for this week:

Michael JohnsDream On

How can I not like a guy who takes on Aerosmith and has to go first for the night? He even got away with a passable high falsetto screech! Why Randy decided to take him to task for picking the song is beyond me. Ok, maybe there were better songs for him to choose but I thought he tried to make it his own and for once I understood all the words to the song. On second listen, I didn’t hear any pitch problems but I did hear that he was trying to change the familiar stylized patterns to fit his own vocal range and color, which IMHO he didn’t do badly. As for appropriateness of choice, I’d say it was just “aiight.” He might end up in the bottom but I really think not since he’s still riding last week’s high.

Syesha MercadoI Believe

Taking on another Idol‘s winning song, eh? The comparisons would be endless on this one and they sure were, even though she took it and made it her own in a lot of places. But the judges kept knocking her lack of connection with the song – not choosing to remember that the uncut version has a lot more time to build than the stripped down one minute thirty hiccup. I only heard one place toward the end where she lost the pitch but then followed that with a spot-on trip into her whistle voice (that was the high note only dogs could hear). As for appropriateness of choice, I’d say it was on the money as pop songs go.” She will hit bottom this week but may be saved if Ramiele’s peeps throw their votes her way.

Jason CastroOver the Rainbow

Talk about your gimmicks – why did I know he would bring out the uke for this one? And was Randy on some kind of mind bending drugs tonight or what? And the other judges thought it was great as well? Was I the only one who didn’t care for it? Why am I phrasing everything in the form of a question? Getting back on track, this kid has more facial ticks than Clay EVER had on Season 2 and not one judge has ever called him on it. It’s annoying to say the least. As for appropriateness of choice, I’d say he could have dug a little deeper than the Wizard of Oz for his inspiration, especially with the lyrics he kept repeating. To echo the judges – “I just didn’t get it” – but that doesn’t matter because every little tween from here to Peoria is gonna vote for him and he’ll be safe for another week. Rats.

Kristy Lee CookAnyway

This song was way too big (and low) for her and it wasn’t until the end that she actually kicked it into some kind of high gear. To quote another country artist “that don’t impress me much” and it didn’t. I think I heard the pitch warbles that Randy called pitchy but my guess is that she was going more for the country twang than off the pitch. As for appropriateness of choice, I might want to borrow a phrase from the Brit and say that it was a bit “self-indulgent” rather than inspirational but then again, music is subjective. She seems to be gaining a little strength each week and that just might keep her safe this time out but since she has her own bottom three chair we will probably see her there nonetheless.

David Cook Innocent

Give the man props for marching to his own drum. I have been more and more impressed with him as the weeks go on and while I might not have dug the song selection, he was true to himself and his craft. I even appreciated the “hand signals” at the end. As for appropriateness of choice, I don’t know the song well enough to rate it’s relevance so I’ll pass on this one. Since he’s on a high he should be safe, even without doing too much this week.

Carly SmithsonThe Show Must Go On

Helluva a song to take on but our gal did have the chops to make it memorable – unfortunately in the wrong direction. I have to agree with the judges on this one and I don’t want to. She started out strong and then just fell apart in the middle – and NEVER tell us why, even if the Brit stared you down! As for appropriateness of choice, this song needsa touch of righteous anger to get it’s message out and that had to be where Simon’s comment about her being angry came from so I would have looked for something a little less controversial. My bigger fear here is that she is beginning to come across as a very insecure performer and she shouldn’t because she has OODLES of talent! IMHO our Irish lass needs to get her lack of ego under control, strap on an acceptable diva attitude and get out there and dazzle the heck out of them if she plans on sticking around much longer. I even took my dialing finger out of moth balls ( I hadn’t voted yet this season – baaaad girl) and voted like hell for her because after that performance, she really needed it. If getting through without encountering a busy signal is any indication, she could be getting the dreaded “das boot” this week – and that would be a shame.

David ArchuletaAngels

He may not win but I just love this kid’s voice and stage presence. Now I took some flack last week for daring to compare him to the venerable Mr. Aiken, but while I totally understand that their voices are in two different places (DA is younger and still finding his sound while CA is in his prime and exploring how best to use his) it was more the similarities of their IDOL journeys that I was trying to highlight – neither have been in the bottom, their fandoms are fiercely loyal and power vote like crazy and they are both very charismatic singers that draw the listener into the music, again with varying degrees of proficiency. Please take my words as a complement to the talents of BOTH singers, OK? Getting back to topic, as for appropriateness of choice, I’m not sure it was a good choice, even though I like the song very much. However, it won’t matter because he sang and played well – earning him yet another week of many more in the competition.

Brooke WhiteYou’ve Got a Friend

She will singlehandedly bring back folk singing in this millennium, for sure! In one respect it is really nice to hear someone just stand center stage and SING! No gimmicks, no vocal gymnastics – just pure melody and a sweet, unpretentious vocal. As for appropriateness of choice, it was a good one for her vocal style and personality so while it may have come across to some as “aiiight” I’m not sure she could have done any better with something else. She could be in trouble because she really hasn’t “shined” in a few weeks so I think I’d look for her in bottom feeder land this week.

Then, if I were a betting gal, I’d go with:

Kristy Lee Cook

Carly Smithson

Brooke White as our bottom feeders this week with “das boot” going to, and ONLY if you base it on this week’s performance…Carly Smithson (I can’t believe I just typed that…).

Let’s see what happens…oy…

Carry on!

J

PS – whatever happened to picking a 11th Idol to go on the tour? April Fools? Hummmm…

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I must be nuts but I’m going to give the live blogging thing another try TOMORROW NIGHT – 26 February @ 8pm EST during the Boys Night Out – Take 2.  If you want to join in, please stop by here at STUCK IN IDOL – the LIVE BLOG.

If I can get enough interest, I would prefer to live blog when I am not working but if not, I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing – either way, my opinions will continue to be shared whether you want to hear them or NOT!  😉

See ya tomorrow night!    J

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Come one, come all! The Live Blogging experiment continues tomorrow night at 8pm EST/7pm CST/5pm PST. Just click here and join the fun! I make lots of irreverent comments, take polls, show videos, and everyone can add their own POV to the proceedings. What better way to watch IDOL than with others!

See you there — carry on!

J

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“Yo, Adrianne…!” Idol is back and if the first two shows are any indication, it’s a leaner and less meaner edition of what we’ve come to know and love over the last six seasons.  A balanced package of good and bad auditions, more heart wrenching background stories from the get-go and Simon grows a sympathetic hearts?  YIKES!  It’s Christmas all over again! 

 

So far I’m digging what has come out of the first four hours and first two audition stops – ok, we had to have the obligatory bad impressions of Kelly Clarkson hits as well as shots of crowds in hot stadium seats singing for the cameras  but for the most part, the editing was tighter and moved through the worst folks faster than Taylor Hicks was dropped from this label (big mistake, Arista, but that’s another blog).  We haven’t seen anyone with instruments yet, but hopefully that is forthcoming.  I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing some good musicianship but I am struggling a little with the number of semi-pros supposedly auditioning and making it to Hollywood (Carly Hennessey and Kristy Lee Cook come to mind).  I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to wanting to find the best UNTAPPED talent in AMERICA but some of the back-stories  are  compelling enough on these folks to want to give them a shot.  I guess I’ll wait and see if Hollywood takes some of them out and see who makes the top 50(?) this season.  Now, I still wish they would bring back the wildcard round…

 

Let’s get on to my 10 second takes on the featured contestants from the first two stops.  First up…

 

“Philadelphia Freedom, shine on me…”

 

Joey Catalano – “the biggest loser…NOT!”

I was pleasantly surprised by the nice, smooth voice  because after the build-up I wasn’t sure what would come out of his mouth.  For a change I wasn’t disappointed by the great personal package/bad voice syndrome — and he’s a gentleman to boot!  Looking for more good things to come from this young man in Hollywood.

 

Yuka – “walk like an Egyptian”

Wasthis guy for real???  Likes Mr. Bee Gees, eh?  Ouch.  At least Simon didn’t totally blast him for being a bad singer.

 

Melanie Nyema – “Taylor’s Backup singer”

Up beat personality… nice voice… but Mindy Doo she ain’t.  Bit of a let down.

 

James Lewis – “the tour guide”

Anyone who says he’s unique makes me nervous – Moses couldn’t go down any further that where that dude sent him.  The canary yellow suit didn’t help, either.  Reminded me of LOUD MOUTH FROG

 

1st set of forgettables:

Nick Stano – “Clay Aiken, he ain’t”

Sybill White – “too many musical personalities to deal with”

Zhengzhong Yu – “too sing song for me…”

 

1st set of brief but great voices:

Junot Joyner – “now THAT’S what I call the blues…”

Jose Candelaria – Even in Spanish, it was good!

Jonathan Baines – I liked this kid a lot!

 

Temptress Browne – “Mama’s little Linebacker”

In waaay over her head but what a sweet girl.  Simon really was nice to her and I like that he’s showing  his humanity a bit more, particularly with those who aren’t trying to use the show for their 15 minutes of fame (nah…folks don’t really DO that DO THEY?)

 

Mark Hayes – “he thinks he’s funny… HA!”

Never sing a Christmas song to audition…doesn’t work unless you’re Bing Crosby.

 

“Udi” Sampat – “Hammer-time?”

Sings like an accountant and I should know (my hubby is one and he can’t sing either!)  Nice, delusional fellow who should stick to counting beans.

 

Alexis Cohen – “one scary vet”

Sings on pitch and could make it as a cover band singer but definitely NOT as an AI contestant. However, how much do the producers wind these people up?  It’s just not necessary and it’s NOT good TV, trust me.

 

Angela Martin – “a good mother”

Good, strong voice but I agree with Simon that she needs to lose the “wedding singer” posture and develop her own style.  Her back story will have everyone rooting for her and her daughter.

 

Loud — LoudER – LOUDEST!

Alyse Wojciechowski

Teresa Anello

Brandi Park

 

And in the totally WEIRD category…

Milo Turk – “the worst singer-songwriter EVAH!”

 

Kristy Lee Cook – “Outback cage-fighter”

Very country, mellow alto, more like Carrie than Kellie.  I didn’t notice the 60’s vibe but on second listen, I could hear it. She could also be our first “ringer” of the season – someone who has already tried to make it and failed.  We’ll see.

 

Ben Haar – “A Max Klinger wanna-be”

Any guy who dresses like Princess Lea and looks like Jabba the Hut is bucking for a Section 8!

 

Pedro Rivera – in a word, NO!

 

Shekhinah Bathyehudah – “Channeling Patti LaBelle…”

…and badly, I might add.

 

Paul Marturano – “Paula’s latest stalker”

He actually has a decent voice but the song was way too creepy – ingenious but creepy nonetheless.

 

Beth Stalker – “Little Liz”

Lovely alto voice that’s more suited for cabaret work but Randy & Paula put her through anyway.  Shouldn’t make it past the Hollywood Round.

 

Chris Watson – “A legend in his own mind…”

…but he CAN sing and he IS good.  Hubby thinks he’s a pretty boy and I agree.  Hopefully the judges will chew him up and spit him out in Hollywood.

 

Christina Tolisano – “Princess Lea, duh…”

A strangely, wooden performance.  She can sing but had no affect whatsoever.  The costume did in any legit chance of getting the judges’ attention.

 

Brooke White – “the Nanny”

Sweet voice and heartfelt deliver.  She’s GOT to be a Mormon.  Reports are that she’s another ringer.  Hummm…

 

After Philly, the groups heads south:

“It’s a kinder, gentler audition process deep in the heart of Texas…”

 

Jessica Brown – “Rehab Momma”

Compelling back story, seemed to catch the attention of the judges from the get-go,

nice, country sounding voice – sounds like a recipe for a golden ticket.  Wonder if she’ll get through the Hollywood Round unscathed? 

 

Paul Stafford – “big time baseball man”

Elliot Yamin he is NOT but seems like a lot of fun to hang with. 

 

Beth Maddocks – “Kelly wanna-be”

A “disaster” of an audition, fur sure.  High, shrill and lifeless. No ma’am.

 

Esteban Deanda

Victoria Metz                3 “bad” (and not in a good way) Amigos

Drucilla Wideman

 

Alaina Whitaker – “Carrie looks like her”

Big, strong country vocal with a big, strong country ego to match.  Will probably go out clubbing in Hollywood instead of practicing because she obviously doesn’t need it…*ugh*

 

Gregory & Mia Tobias – “Opera twins”

It sounded like a butchered version of something from “A Light in the Piazza” but it was so bad I really can’t be sure.  Opera it wasn’t.  Confusing it was!

 

Bruce Dickson – “The 19 year old Virgin”

Ok, this back story is the oddest one I’ve seen in the seven years of Idol.  I thought he shouted too much but I thought he had a good voice.

 

Pia Easley – “a model background singer”

Looks a bit butch for me but she has a great sound.  Ought to be interesting when she gets to Hollywood.

 

Brandon Green – “a most unusual collector”

I can’t resist but… at least it wasn’t like nails on a chalkboard!  I thought he shouted a tad and he didn’t need to because he could hit those notes but he sounded good.

 

Kayla Hatfield – “a true survivor”

Wow! Another Joplin clone but this one had more of the voice to handle the song and got the sympathy vote from Simon, no less.  Won’t last past Hollywood.

 

Another group of “thanks, but no thanks…”

Erick Maudlin

Charles Markham

Tristan Clements

 

Kady Malloy – “a very impressionable gal”

She has a great voice and can mimic some of the recent “greats.”  The advice they gave her should be taken as gospel before she gets to Hollywood.

 

Douglas Davidson – “I don’t want what he’s on”

Too weird for words and a monotone to boot.  Just what was in that water bottle? By the way, didn’t he look a little like Bill Gates to you?  

 

Angela Reilly – “the newlywed”

Another wedding singer but with worse moves.  At least she could carry a tune but not very far.  No need to but the new hubby on the spot – how rude!

 

Kyle Ensley – “the politico-in-training”

Broadway nerd meets QUEEN – yikes! BUT…he did have a decent voice and sang with conviction ( I disagree with the academic comment).  Won’t last past Hollywood but he will be interesting to watch. 

 

Tammy Tuzinski – “her heart will go on…but her voice…”

Is there a personality in this person?  Or a voice?  Talk about your “deer in headlights.”  Unfortunately, that was painful.

 

Colton Swon –

Whoa!  Strong voice, different hair but you can tell he’s in a bar band.  I’m glad he went through on his talent but Hollywood will be another story.

 

Ok, what was with all the cross-gender craziness?  Stoopid.

 

Drew Poppelreiter – “I guess his tractor’s sexy…”

All-American boy with a decent voice  who will get chewed up and spit out in Hollywood. 

 

Kyle Reinneck – “guy-liner from hell”

Rocker dude with a bottle tan?  I’m confused.  And the singing (or lack thereof) confused me even more.  Daughtry has nothing to worry about.

 

I was waiting for the Kelly Clarkson tribute and I wasn’t disappointed – drat!

 

Nina Shaw – “Kelly’s Homegirl”

What’s with the “old fashioned” critique?  I’m with Randy on this one – I liked her voice.  I think they made her a tad nervous with all the bantering before she sang (rewind it and see what I mean) and that may have taken some wind out of her sails but I figured she’d at least make it to Hollyweird.  From there, it’s anyone guess…

 

Renaldo Lapuz – “Liberace Meets William Hung!”

Well, at least he sang with conviction and reckless abandon…AND…he got a hug from Simon (priceless!).  Now, let’s all link arms and sing…”I AM YOUR BROTHER…”

 

Next stop – SAN DIEGO and the return of the Statute of Liberty…See you then!

 

 

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    Happy New Year!

    I know I have been away far too long from my AI friends and fans so I guess this is as good a time as any to start cranking up the creative wheels again and get this blog back on a regular schedule. Speaking of schedules, I’m sure most of you saw that FOX has released the broadcast schedule for season 7 of Idol and I was VERY glad to see the Hollywood rounds getting two episodes again instead of last season’s disappointing one. Now in case you’re one of the three people who haven’t seen the press release, I’ll post it here so you can reference it throughout the season:

     

     

    2008 American Idol Season 7 Schedule

    Tuesday, January 15

    Auditions (Philly)

    Wednesday, January 16

    Auditions (Dallas)

    Tuesday, January 22

    Auditions (San Diego)

    Wednesday, January 23

    Auditions (Charleston)

    Tuesday, January 29

    Auditions (Omaha)

    Wednesday, January 30

    Auditions  (Miami)

    Tuesday, February 5

    Auditions  (Atlanta)

    Wednesday, February 6

    Auditions (Could be “Best of the Worst” – I hate those!)

    Tuesday, February 12

    Hollywood Part 1

    Wednesday, February 13

    Hollywood Part 2 – Top 24 Revealed

    Tuesday, February 19

    Top 12 Males

    Wednesday, February 20

    Top 12 Females

    Thursday, February 21

    Top 24 Elimination

    Tuesday, February 26

    Top 10 Males

    Wednesday, February 27

    Top 10 Females

    Thursday, February 28

    Top 20 Elimination

    Tuesday, March 4

    Top 8 Males

    Wednesday, March 5

    Top 8 Females

    Thursday, March 6

    Top 16 Elimination – Top 12 established

    Tuesday, March 11

    Top 12 Perform

    Wednesday, March 12

    Top 12 Elimination

    Tuesday, March 18

    Top 11 Perform

    Wednesday, March 19

    Top 11 Elimination

    Tuesday, March 25

    Top 10 Perform

    Wednesday, March 26

    Top 10 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 1

    Top 9 Perform

    Wednesday, April 2

    Top 9 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 8

    Top 8 Perform

    Wednesday, April 9

    Idol Gives Back 2

    Thursday, April 10

    Top 8 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 15

    Top 7 Perform

    Wednesday, April 16

    Top 7 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 22

    Top 6 Perform

    Wednesday, April 23

    Top 6 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 29

    Top 5 Perform

    Wednesday, April 30

    Top 5 Elimination

    Tuesday, May 6

    Top 4 Perform

    Wednesday, May 7

    Top 4 Elimination

    Tuesday, May 13

    Top 3 Perform

    Wednesday, May 14

    Top 3 Elimination

    Tuesday, May 20

    Final 2 Perform

    Wednesday, May 21

    Season Finale & Winner

     

    Other than another installment of Idol Gives Back, which I have mixed feelings about, it should be another interesting year of bad auditions, questionable judging and America getting it wrong at least ten times, if not more. Has Idol become predictable? In a way, yes — but it still manages to provide enough angst and raw emotions from both contestants and viewers to keep it the main topic of water cooler conversation from January to May. Couple that with the lack of any viable competition due to the writers’ strike and it should top the Nielsen’s easily again this year. There will, however, be some changes and additions and I am looking forward to them. From what we already know:

     

    ****Less focus on guest mentors and more on the contestants themselves in an effort to get to know them better. I would hate to see the producers do away with mentors altogether (especially the music god himself, Barry Manilow, who is due for another visit this year) because some of them, like Barry, really do care about the kids and want to see them do their best. However, last year’s over-emphasis, I believe, did take away from getting to see the contestants as regular folks just like us and allowed one very charismatic individual to get more attention for his non-singing antics than he deserved. Let’s hope the producers have learned a lesson from this.

     

    ****Allowing the contestants to show other sides of their musical abilities is certainly a welcome addition. Most of the other big Idol franchises already allow this and I believe it does help show how musically well rounded an individual is or isn’t. As a musician myself, I think it takes a lot more than a pretty voice to make it BIG in music or to achieve longevity in this field. Building on skills and gifts, as well as the occasional reinvention of the artists, helps to keep their creativity alive and, hopefully, keeps them out of becoming boring or trite to the listening and buying public. Since most Idol contestants haven’t traditionally had much experience or “dues paying” prior to being on the show (there are exceptions, obviously), they seem to lack the staying power of others who have taken awhile to “make it.” However, the public seems to think that if a musician isn’t ALWAYS in the news or on TV or on the radio that they have somehow “failed” at making a career of music – which is not necessarily true. Being able to judge a contestant’s full musical potential may begin to tip the scales away from those with just great voices and towards the “total musical package” types – something that may not be a bad thing. I guess we’ll have to see what the producers put forward this year for us to judge (and it had better be better than last year…).

     

     

    If you’re like me, with the holidays now a fond memory and the writers’ strike making TV more of a vast wasteland, you’re just as anxious for Idol to get going. It’s only a little longer, folks… get those TiVOs and DVRs primed and ready… we’re almost there and I’M READY! Are you?

     

    Carry on!

    J

     

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