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Archive for the ‘Idol Gives Back’ Category

Let me start off this blog with an apology – I fully intended to give my song picks for Andrew Lloyd Webber night by last weekend but I didn’t think I’d have to do as much research as I am doing for it.  Whether you realize it or not, he has a very extensive musical catalog so I’m really sifting through it carefully.  With any luck I should have it nailed down before Idol Gives Back  – keep your fingers crossed!

 

Now for an upfront observation about last night’s show:

It would seem that Mr. Cranky Pants was back in unusually fine form, knocking down every contestant in sight.  The Brit just doesn’t like country night, period, and that was VERY obvious – even Ryan pointed it out!  If that is the case, then why do the producers keep putting it in?  Or, perhaps we could get a replacement judge for one night and give Simon the time off?  It IS something to think about.

 

In any case, I was somewhat surprised at how versatile Dolly’s songs are, seeming to adapt to any musical genre  and still sound relevant.  She deserves more credit for being a prolific songwriter.  I was familiar with at least half of what was sung and pleasantly surprised by the rest.  Her catalog was a good choice for the competition so hats off to the producers.  It made me actually enjoy country night for once.

 

So, not suffering any fools on this April first, here was the view from my comfy red leather couch for this week:

 

Brooke WhiteJolene

She hasn’t had the opening spot yet and this song was the perfect choice for her.  Nice, basic arrangement, good vocal but I always find that her production suffers when she sings hunched over a guitar.  She may not have had a lot over emotion in her body but it was there in her voice.  Depending on how the others did, she might just be forgettable and could find herself in bottom feeder land this week.

 

David Cook  Little Sparrow

After basically addressing the “controversies” that have been dogging him the past few weeks, he strikes out with his own arrangement of this song and really shows just what a talented musician he is.  He has proven particularly in the last two weeks that he has a good strong vocal behind the rock growl.  I didn’t think he’d grow on me but he has and that’s because he’s proven his musicianship.  He’s safe yet again.

 

Ramiele MalubayDo I Ever Cross Your Mind?

Well, it’s nice to see our little firecracker back in fine form.  Good vocal, good energy, connected with the song and audience – I liked it a lot!  It would seem that two of the three judges have totally dismissed this singer and that’s too bad because I think she’s mounting a comeback after illness and could prove to be a spoiler.  She has a strong Asian fan base and they have demonstrated before (remember Jasmine Trias in Season 3?) that they are a powerful voting block.  At least this time around the singer is worth the votes IMHO.  Could be bottom feeding this week.

 

Jason CastroTravelin’ Thru

Dolly thinks he’s funky looking…interesting.  Anyway, it was a cute little song for an equally cute guy but I noticed a little bit of vocal reaching as he went up in his register.  The song definitely suited his style and personality but all I can think when I see him is — SPICOLI!!!  BTW, is Simon living in the same universe as the rest of us tonight?  I didn’t think so.  His massive fan base will keep him safe. 

 

Carly SmithsonHear You Come Again

Ah…the slow version that a certain Mr. Clay Aiken first sang on his cover CD A Thousand Different Ways…but he didn’t get the credit, now did he?  I didn’t think so.  No matter.  She killed it and definitely in a good way!!!  She has a beautifully powerful voice and a riveting stage presence but I will admit with the Brit that whoever is dressing her does NOT have her best interests at heart – however I would have found a more tactful way of stating that in front of America.  She should be safe but she’s seen the bottom before.

 

David ArchuletaSmokey Mountain Memories

This is the type of song that he excels in – emotionally charged, lyrically smooth and guaranteed to make you shake your head and state “is this kid really only 17?”  He’s an old soul with a killer vocal talent and I will state for the record that he IS the next CLAY AIKEN!  Mark my words – he’s fan base will give the Claymates a run for their money.  He’s very safe this week, next week, etc…

 

Kristy Lee CookCoat of Many Colors

Just call her this year’s Kellie Pickler but at least she got a few more cells in the gray matter to carry on a conversation.  She also knows how to bring it home in order to get votes and she did it again this week.  It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad and coming later in the hour helps her stay in folks minds.  I’d like to see her in bottom feeder land but I’m not so sure.

 

Syesha MercadoI Will Always Love You

May I go on record to say that she actually tried to make the song her own and I think she just about almost succeeded.  She truly has the pipes and you could see her trying NOT to be Whitney by finding different places to emphasize.  Problem is:  that song is SO identified with Ms. Houston that you find yourself making the comparison even when you don’t want to.  I liked what I heard but will others?  Could be making a return to the bottom again this week.

 

Michael JohnsIt’s All Wrong, but It’s All Right

HE FINALLY PICKED THE RIGHT SONG!!!!  And was it a doosy!  I can’t believe Dolly wrote that song!  He was totally in his element tonight and he made it work.  Of all the contestants I secretly worried about his chances on Country Night but he did just fine.  Strong, throat-grabbing performance that will keep him out of the bottom for this week and even Simon liked it!  HUZZAH!

 

It’s very difficult this week but I think the bottom feeders are:

Kristy Lee Cook

Syesha Mercado

Brooke White

with “das boot” going to either Syesha Mercado or Kristy Lee Cook  – I can’t really choose!

 

Next week is Idol Gives Back and if anyone has a lead on the theme, let me know.  I’m looking forward to seeing which of the five dismissed Idols will be vying for the 11th spot on the tour and I applaud the producers for bringing back a Wildcard competition – they are always exciting and unpredictable.  Now, with all that I’d be surprised if the theme would be the music of Lloyd Webber but anything is possible so I’d better get that list finished by THIS weekend.  Wish me luck!

 

I’m also thinking of live blogging next Tuesday’s show – any opinions on that?  Let me know.

 

Carry on!

J

 

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…but the WRONG two gals left tonight and that’s a shame.  Jason & Robbie deserved “das boot” but Alexandrea either picked the wrong song or over thought her initial performance (tonight’s was WAAAYYY better) while Alaina probably suffered from the “too many long haired blonds syndrome” and got lost in the shuffle.  I give also give the 16 year old major props for pushing through and singing her final song (and it was great to see the gals stand behind her literally, singing every note with her).    What a shame – Amanda or Kady  would have been a better choice given their poor performances but they might have bigger fan bases than I thought – that and the fact that the idiots at VFTW have backed Amanda in their campaign to keep deserving talent from actually doing well on this show.  Some folks have too much time on their hands…

So, I’m 5 for 8 and we’re on our way to the last week of the semi-finals.  Let’s hope they all bring their “A” games next week and give us a great show!

Carry on!

PS – and it’s ABOUT time the Beatles catalog get’s the IDOL treatment.  Just don’t screw it up…

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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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    Found this in my Google alerts today – nice to know they are FINALLY admitting it!  Read on, McDuffs!

     

    At TV’s summer press tour, Nigel Lythgoe admits that last season suffered by focusing more on famous mentors than on contestants — and says the show can learn from ”So You Think You Can Dance”

     

    By Tanner Stransky


    At Sunday’s TCA press tour panel for Fox’s summer hit So You Think You Can Dance, a lively discussion about what makes certain finalists on the dancing show stand out from the rest turned into a much more interesting back-and-forth about what Dance can teach its bigger — and much more powerful, in terms of ratings — older brother, American Idol. Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of both shows who also serves as a sharp-tongued judge on Dance, said there’s plenty — and that we should all expect some changes on Idol next season. ”We realized we made mistakes on Idol last season,” he said. ”We were so engrossed with the mentors and didn’t really focus on the Melinda Doolittles of the show. We didn’t know them as much as the Kellie Picklers of last season.”

     

    Lythgoe is referring to the marked difference in the ways the two programs showcase their contestants: In recent seasons, Idol has tended to shun details about its singers to instead focus on the big-name stars who come to the show to perform and work with the contestants, especially in later episodes. Dance, however, spends quite a bit of its airtime featuring the back-stories of its dancers and their struggles to get on the show.

     

    ”We’re all attached to them a little more,” Lythgoe said about Dance‘s focus on its contestants’ lives. ”I think that’s affected us all a little bit more. There are little emotional hooks that come out.” As for an Idol tune-up plan for season 7, Lythgoe revealed the production team is always looking to ”tinker with the program,” adding that ultimately he’d like to see the Idol contestants be as strong as his prized top 10 on So You Think You Can Dance.

     

    And what of Sanjaya? Of course, the faux-hawked menace snuck his way into the discussion. Speaking about the top 10 dancers seated behind him on stage, Lythgoe said: ”There isn’t a Sanjaya here, although I do think Sanjaya helped the last season of Idol. I think there’s enough talent with enough great stories to warrant the fact that we are basing it on their talent. No one needs to alter their hair on this program.”

     

    Pasted from <http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20047678,00.html>

     

     

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I about lost my hot chocolate over this GREAT video by Grey Blackwell found on the Raleigh News and Observer website. I just HAD to share this with y’all so ENJOY!

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I couldn’t resist using a Bon Jovi song in the title since, along with the fact that tonight the singers are paying homage to the career of Jon Bon Jovi, there is a rare DOUBLE ELMINIATION this week.  I’m not so sure the producers should have played the “charity” card with the contestants but we’re kinda stuck with this mess.  Speaking of a mess, I thought last Wednesday night’s drama known as Idol Gives Back was, in a word, lame.  Not that raising money for worthy causes is lame, but sort of “pre-empting” a reality show competition to play Jerry Lewis was a little in that vein.  I felt that it slowed the momentum and rhythm of the competition, especially since there was no more Sanjaya to talk about, to the point where some of the less committed viewers might start to fade away.  Let’s hope that theory doesn’t get reflected in this week’s voting because who ever had a bad week last week may not be able to rebound this week, even with another 4 hour voting window.  Idol needs to stick to what it does best and so far this season it has gone so far afield that it could be “jumping the shark” as I type.   I’d hate to see that happen.

 

So, now that I’ve made you wait longer than I’d like for my opinions on this week’s “rock-a-thon,” let’s get to how I heard the music from my red leather couch:

 

Phil Stacey / Blaze of Glory

For the third week in a row his boy has roared out of the gate and given a solid vocal performance while managing to NOT creep the viewers out too much!  He’s been making me think twice about his chances because of his solid singing but given the fact that he may have taken a little too long to warm up, he may be going out in a Blaze of Glory this week.

I’d like him to be safe but he might be on the bubble.

 

Jordin Sparks / Livin’ on a Prayer

I have loved this child for taking chances and up until this week she was able to beat the odds but, even by her own admission, this was NOT her night.  I don’t think she did as bad as the judging troika made it out to be but between bottoming out on the low notes and trying just a tad too hard to be a rocker chick, she had her first truly bad night of the competition.  Normally that would not be a cause for concern but because of last week’s elimination that wasn’t, she could end up in jeopardy or worse and THAT would not be fair.  Good thing there is a four hour window to vote tonight…now, where’s my phone?

Will make her safe if I have to vote all night!

 

Lakisha Jones / This Ain’t a Love Song

The hubby and I totally agreed on this one — she ended with a bang but it shouldn’t have taken her the ENTIRE song to get there!  KiKi has been struggling for the last three weeks and while this song was a good vocal and performance song for her, she made us wait too long for the payoff.  Now, either folks will forgive her for that and vote to keep her in or they will have had enough and she’ll be gone.  I can’t say for myself which way I’d like to see it go and I feel badly for that because she has a great talent.

This one is TOO close to call!

 

Blake Lewis /You Give Love a Bad Name

That was GREAT!!!  Even my hubby loved it!  I was waiting for the judges to slam him but they, too, were stunned by how masterfully he took this song and gave it a whole new slant while still remaining true to the essence of the song.  This boy IS a musician and even though I don’t fancy his brand of music, his is no less talented and special.  Top 3 material for sure — if not Top 2.

If last week didn’t hurt him too much, he should be safe. 

 

Chris Richardson  / Dead or Alive

If I had too choose, I’d say that was a DEAD performance.  Didn’t care for it at all.  There will be too much comparison to last year’s superb rendering by Chris Daughtry, meaning that might just have been the nail in the coffin for the faux Timblelake.  I won’t be sorry to see him go.

Should be on the bubble and Daughtry should be singing him HOME this week.

 

Melinda Doolittle / Have a Nice Day

I was a little nervous about this gal singing this genre but she just continues to “shock and awe” me!  By channeling herself a little Tina Turner ‘tude, she once again showed us all that SHE CAN SING ANYTHING!!!!  I’m beginning to think she actually SHOULD win because she has been in the competition since the beginning and has pretty much out sung all comers.  She kinda deserves the title, don’t you think?

Miss Doo-a-LOT is once again SAFE!

 

So, my bottom three for this week?  I would have to say  Lakisha, Chris and Jordin with the double “das boot” going to Lakisha & Chris.  I’d say we have an interesting Top 4 this year with Phil as our dark horse, Jordin having to play “catch up” after this week, Blake riding a strong musical wave and Melinda still out distancing the pack. 

 

That is, unless, TPTB have another plan…  😉   We shall see…

 

Carry on!

J

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My comments will be short this week because I got home late from work and had to watch this show at midnight, not something I would recommend when trying to write a coherent review.  So, without further ado, here’s how I heard tonight’s contestants from my red leather chair (if I had sat on my couch I would have surely fallen asleep):

 

Chris Richardson  / Change the World – Eric Clapton

Well, “nasal boy” was a lot LESS nasal this week and I actually enjoyed his performance.  It was a smooth vocal with a heartfelt delivery.  I agree with the 3 that is was a great song choice as well.  I’m sure his fan base is pleased that he’s not on VFTW’s hit list and is now showing himself as a real force to be reckoned with.

He’s even safe in my eyes this week.

 

Melinda Doolittle / There Will Come a Day – Faith Hill

One of my all time favorite songs and she knocked it out of the ballpark with a sparkling vocal and with true conviction.  I LOVED IT!!!!  I’d be happy if she won but I don’t trust TPTB – either way she is destined for musically greatness.

S-A-F-E all night long!

 

Blake Lewis /Imagine – John Lennon

This was the more laid back version of this great song and very unlike the way Jennifer Hudson sang in Season 3 but I liked it because it showed off his very solid and smooth vocals.  Great song choice but may I remind the judges that this IS a very understated number and, yes, he gave it a very sincere treatment so that scored BIG in my book.

I think he’s safe but were others just bored enough to not call his numbers?

 

Lakisha Jones / I Believe – Fantasia

This is the second week that she’s chosen a former Idol’s song and this one definitely fit her better that last week’s country offering.  However, I think the judges are gunning for her with their critiques…humm…  I will say that she IS having some difficulty vocally but it sounds more like she’s out of breath rather than shouting.  I really fear for her remaining in this competition because she’s been slipping for the last month.

Gotta be on the bubble and could be down for the count.

 

Phil Stacey / The Change – Garth Brooks

He stayed in the country groove again this week and it proved to be a good choice. The vocal was strong and convincing, showing off the fact that he DOES have a good set of pipes.  He is in this to win and it’s beginning to show.  I can’t believe that Simon was giving him some “winning” advice – YIKES!  VFTW might just be backing the RIGHT horse for a change!

I’d say he’s a safe bet to stay safe this week.

 

Jordin Sparks / You’ll Never Walk Alone – from the musical CAROUSEL

I think Jerry Lewis will be having this gal on his telethon come Labor Day.  That WAS the showstopper of the night but I worry that our youngsters may not appreciate this type of song.  Hopefully their parents will get out the vote tonight and put this gal over the top.  And she’s only 17.  I just LOVE this kid!!!

Safe all the way to the bank!

 

I believe we change to a bottom TWO this week so my choices for tonight’s bottom feeders  are: Lakisha and Blake with “das boot” going, unfortunately to Lakisha.  I didn’t think I’d be calling her out this soon but the others are kicking it up a notch and she just hasn’t been.

 

Carry on!

J

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