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Archive for the ‘Lennon and McCartney songbook’ Category

Ok, gang…here’s the blog you’ve been waiting for – J’s song suggestions for this week’s Andrew Lloyd Webber night. Being the “Broadway baby” that I am, I was very happy that our Idols would FINALLY have to tackle songs that HAVE TO sound like Broadway! Simon will certainly be “Mr. Cranky Pants” for this part of the competition and if you think his comments for Country night and Mariah night were surly, I’m sure he’s thinking up some new ones for this outing. Either way, it takes a great singer to successfully master a ALW tune and it will be interesting to see how this year’s group succeeds…or not…

First of all, let me suggest a few songs from this very complex and difficult songbook that NONE of the contestants should try and take on:

Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (EVITA) – needs a powerful and dramatic vocal that would immediately draw the comment “sounds too Broadway” from the Brit. Besides, comparisons to Patti Lupone or Madonna would most certainly be drawn. Who needs that problem at this stage of the competition?

NOTHING from Phantom of the Opera – None of these kids have anywhere near the chops to pull any of these song off, even if they change them up a la David Cook. Again, it’s just asking for trouble.

NOTHING from Sunset Boulevard – Another show that is just too heavy for the pop treatment. Just because the show is more well known doesn’t mean the singers are vocally competent to handle the music.

Now, let’s get to some songs that could make these singers stand out:

David ArchuletaClose Ev’ry Door (JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHOCOLOR DREAMCOAT)

One would think that Archie has the best chances with ALW songs but he’s a little to young vocally to handle most of them well. Give him a few more years, however, and he’ll be able to master them because they are melodically perfect for him. Having said that, my only suggestion for him is one he can do very well with – another perfect power ballad that, if sung simply and convincingly will send chills down everyone’s spines. Plus, it might just get the kid a gig playing Joseph in the next revival of the show. It worked for Donny Osmond…

Jason Castro No Matter What (WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND) or Only You (STARLIGHT EXPRESS)

Boyzone did an arrangement of the first choice that I can just hear our dreadlocked wonder singing so that one could be a slam dunk. It would also cement the fact that he might be perfect as the front man for a boy band when he’s done with Idol. The second choice would probably sound just as great but the song may not be as familiar with the viewers.

David CookSuperstar (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR) or Love Changes Everything (ASPECTS OF LOVE)

This is a tough night for Mr. Cook because ALW songs are waaay out of his comfort zone. However, I think our chameleon could benefit best by staying in the rocker mode and the first song would be absolutely perfect for that. If he really wants to show a different side and still get some growl in, the second one could serve him well with some modifications.

Syesha MercadoMemory (CATS) or Next Time You Fall in Love (STARLIGHT EXPRESS)

You KNOW our diva-in-training is always looking for the power songs and the first one is right up her alley. If someone has to sing it, it might as well be her. The second one would also suit her and even though most are not as familiar with this roller skating show (seriously, the actors sing and dance on roller skates!) the quasi R&B feel to the piece would work for her.

Carly SmithsonI Don’t Know How to Love Him (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR) or Anything But Lonely (ASPECTS OF LOVE)

I can just hear the Irish lassie taking on the SUPERSTAR classic and giving it the soaring vocal and tender treatment it deserves. She’s got the emotion for it – she just needs to channel it correctly and maybe the Brit will finally give her the due she deserves. The second one is a bit more dramatic and biting and, again, needs that big vocal energy that she has to make it a winner. My personal favorite is the first one and I’d just love to hear her take it on.

Brooke WhiteLearn to Be Lonely (movie version of PHANTOM) or Take That Look Off Your Face (SONG AND DANCE / TELL ME ON A SUNDAY) or You Must Love Me (movie version of EVITA)

Our folk singer extraordinaire was the hardest one to pick for so I ended up with three different story songs for her, all of which sit well within her vocal range. The first one was written for the movie version of PHANTOM and is a simple but haunting song; the second is a little more up-tempo (for ALW, that is) and is a story-song type that she does well; and the last one is right up her alley if she wants to sing it with only a piano for back (preferably with someone else playing so she could get a little more contact with the audience on this one).

Now, with my track record, I’ll be lucky to get one of these correct – I only got one right with the Lennon/McCartney songbook (thank you, Cookie!). What I hope happens is that whatever songs our Idols choose will be the right one for them. It should be all about the songs and the singers. But…this IS American Idol…product promotion is part of the fabric. I really want this to be a great night of singing but I am beginning to have my reservations. I guess we shall soon see. Good luck, gang!

Carry on!

J

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Ok, folks, this is going to be a “drive-by” review of tonight’s performances because I am in the throes of preparing for the holiest three days of the Catholic Church year (that’s the day job, y’all!).  Good thing Idol airs before things get cranked up.  So, without further ado, here was the view from my red leather comfy couch for this evening:

 

Amanda OvermyerBack in the USSR

I had considered this for her but wasn’t sure she’d do the melody proud, which she didn’t.  It was a bit of a rhythmic mess, a little screechy around the edges and a bit of the same ol’ stuff we’ve seen her do since Day 1.  I agree with the judges – she needs to show us another side… if there is one…

She’s safe because I few others need to go before her.

 

Kristy Lee CookYou’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

She didn’t even know this song…am I old or what?  Vocally, she was bottoming out on the low notes and, if I can be a purist, I didn’t like her tinkering with the well-known melody.  Performance-wise, she is a bit wooden on stage and has trouble connecting with the emotions of the songs she sings.  She WAS better than last week but ANYTHING would have been.  She’ll be a bottom feeder again this week.

 

David ArchuletaThe Long and Winding Road

I wanted him to do an up-tempo but after last week I just wanted him to nail the song and performance and he did so with room to spare!  Talk about redemption!  Great vocal, nice nuances, emotionally connected to the lyrics – THAT’S what he does best and he showed he is mature enough to come back and do it up right.  If the screaming mosh-pit is any indication, he continues to be safely in the lead.

 

Michael JohnsA Day in the Life

I didn’t choose this one for any of the contestants because I wasn’t sure they could cut it down to a minute thirty successfully – and I was right!  He sang it well and gave a safe, yet respectable performance but the song was so disjointed I did nothing for me.  Just another time the Brit and I see eye to eye, I’m afraid.  He needs to knock one a song of the park and soon or he won’t even make the Top 5.

 

Brooke WhiteHere Comes the Sun

I’ll say right up front that I’ve never liked this George Harrison number  however this is the second week in a row I haven’t liked her performance and this week I believe it was due to the dreaded wrong song choice.  She didn’t do much with an extremely simple melody, it sat too low for her and it was just a boring performance overall.  I guess getting her out from behind instruments isn’t a good idea after all?  I don’t think she’ll bottom feed unless the rest of the lineup sings like there’s no tomorrow…  😉

 

David Cook  Day Tripper

I GOT ONE RIGHT!!!!  HUZZAH!!! And it was MAGNIFICANT!!!   I knew he could blow them away with this one and that he did!  Throwing in the voice box was an interesting twist and while that was the least favorite part of the performance for me, the rest was outstanding.  He is the true dark horse of this season and is no danger of becoming a bottom feeder any time soon.  Rock on, dude!

 

Carly SmithsonBlackbird

A ballad from the Irish Lassie and she nailed it BIG TIME!  It’s an odd little song but she found all the nuances and her vocal command of the highs and lows was spot on.  Absolutely beautiful.  I knew the Brit would hate it because anything with strong, true emotions gets the “over indulgent” criticism from him – definitely not a sensitive guy that Mr. Cowell.  No matter – she continues to fight the Davids for the top position and I predict that they will be the Top 3 when all is said and done. 

 

Jason CastroMichelle

I understand getting in as much in as one can in one minute thirty but the tempo of the song was a bit too fast and that altered the true meaning of the song.  Then to top it off, he grinned way too much as he was singing and that tells me he didn’t get what the song was all about – a shy boy trying to get out his feelings for this girl.  If he would have used his shyness to help sell the song, we would have heard hearts melting all over the land.  I will say the best thing about the performance was his vocals – his tone color was perfect and he sang it with ease – but that was lost in translation.  He’ll be safe but maybe he shouldn’t be.

 

Syesha MercadoYesterday

What a vulnerable and heartfelt performance!  Vocals were almost spot on (I’ll be she was a bit nervous after her trip to the bottom last week) and the melodic liberties were subtle and effective.  A better song choice for her than Brooke

 

ChikezieI’ve Just Seen a Face

OK, we went back to the same well again this week and it didn’t “shock and awe” this week as it did last week because the song itself just didn’t lend itself to it.  JMHO but he should have stayed in the slow lane time around – I did NOT like the bluegrass bend tonight.  And what was with the harmonica?  He’s no Taylor Hicks, that’s for sure.  He needs to establish himself vocally and then take risks.  Right now, he could end up bottom feeding if others feel the same way I do about it. 

 

Ramiele MalubayI Should Have Known Better

Nice job!  I wouldn’t have picked this for her but she was connect vocally and emotionally with the piece and he looked like she had fun with the it.  I was having a problem with the arrangement because it didn’t help her with the delivery AT ALL but despite that, I think it saved her for another week. 

 

So, this week’s bottom feeders are:

Chikezie

Kristy Lee Cook

Michael Johns

with “das boot” (hopefully and finally) going to Kristy Lee Cook. 

 

One last thing — the contestants are now allowed to wear ear monitors????  I wonder how contestants from other seasons would have faired with such a technological helper…

 

Carry on!

J

 

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And so it begins again…Season Seven’s Top 12 showdown commenced tonight with a new intro and a new soundstage.  Mildly impressive on both accounts if I do say so.  Very futuristic looking but after about five seasons of looking the same, anything is a welcomed improvement.

 

However, what I wanted to be impressed with was the way the contestants would handle the very impressive Lennon and McCartney songbook.  With more number ones than any other songwriters, bar none, these songs are very well known and have been covered time and time again by countless singers, as well as slaughtered endlessly by many a karaoke barfly.  As I thought, there would be some passable performances, a few large clunkers and a BIG surprise performance or two.

 

I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

 

So, without further ado, here was the view from my red leather comfy couch for this evening:

 

Syesha MercadoGot to Get You Into My Life

Not what I had picked for her and while her vocals on the verses got lost in the orchestration (and lost their pitch along the way), she funked it up enough to make a decent impression.   Randy and Paula were lukewarm but Simon loved it – who knew?  IMHO, Chikezie  might have done it better but we’ll never know.  The big question – did she make a good enough “going first” impression  to keep her in the competition another week?  We shall see…

 

ChikezieShe’s a Woman

Now here’s a real obscure one and the twist from bluegrass to punk was brilliant!  He handled both ends of the vocal spectrum like a seasoned performer – I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!!   Even Simon agreed!  That was a slam dunk vocally, visually and totally made up for him not singing my pick.  I think I may have underestimated this boy and I’m looking for much more from him in the weeks to come.

 

Ramiele MalubayIn My Life

I wasn’t sure someone would dare trot out this weeper but I’ll admit that she sang it with true heart and conviction.  It was downright sweet with no vocal problems I could hear.  I thought she was smart to give it a straight delivery but as I could have predicted, the judges hated it thoroughly.  These three don’t like anything that smells of B-O-R-I-N-G and I hope she gets the sympathy vote because it wasn’t that bad!!!!

 

Jason CastroIf I Fell

I had considered this one for him but I wasn’t sure what kind of shape his falsetto was in to pull it off successfully.  He might have done a little better job with it had he been standing and not sitting to play his guitar (which I do give him props for using on the first finals show).  As for the song itself, I have to agree with Randy about not changing up such a familiar melody and with Simon that it was good enough to keep him another week but nothing more.  He’s young…he’ll learn…

 

Carly SmithsonCome Together

Interesting…and absolutely SMASHING!!!  It was vocally amazing because she didn’t scream it but rather sang it with conviction and diva strength power.  That was the RIGHT song for her, it really was and with the Brit-stamp-of -approval, she should be around until the bitter end.  I’m liking her a lot, even if she IS a ringer  😉

 

David Cook  Eleanor Rigby

Well, I held my breath on this one – afraid that I would experience the grunge version of this classic and instead I got the Daughtry version of it.  The orchestration overwhelmed his vocals on the verses and I had to strain to hear the words but he did rock the refrain AND he did it sans the axe.  I give him some props for that.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it brilliant but he didn’t kill it so he’ll be around for awhile.

 

Brooke WhiteLet it Be

Was she struggling to breathe sitting at the piano and playing or was that song sitting too low for her – or both?  I just did NOT dig her performance tonight at all even if it was heartfelt and sincere.  I really like her but I may be the only one who didn’t what she did with this song tonight.  Remember, music IS subjective…

 

David HernandezI Saw Her Standing There

I accidentally left him off my list last night but I had chosen either Yesterday or Help for him and since I haven’t done well at all tonight in matching the songs with the singers I didn’t expect to score big here.  Little did I know the child would take one of my favorite Beatle songs and run it literally into the ground.  Vocally it was weak, the runs were overdone, and it wasn’t a convincing performance overall – thank you, Randy, Paula and Simon (I’ll buy the desperate angle on this one) for agreeing with me!  He could be bubble material tonight for sure. 

 

Amanda OvermyerYou Can’t Do That

Another obscure selection that got the sassy rock treatment from Ms. Gravel Voice.  It sure stirred up the crowd but I would have preferred Get Back from her.  It was just “aw-ight” for me and maybe because I knew the original well, coupled with the fact that she blew the roof off last week I just didn’t warm up to it as others did.  Well, at least Simon agreed with me…what does THAT say?

 

Michael JohnsAcross the Universe

To quote the Brit, “are you serious?”  Not one of my favorites from the collection, that’s for sure, but I will admit it was sincere, compelling and for the first time, a strong vocally melodic performance.  I disagree with the boys and firmly agree with Paula (yikes!) – it takes a lot to step to center

stage and sing with quiet conviction and in spite of the vapid song, he did rather well.  He’s a keeper for the time being.

 

Kristy Lee CookEight Days a Week

Hummm…a country version complete with fiddles and choo-choo train rhythms…I don’t think it worked because her vocals were not up to the task at all – the arrangement overshadowed anything that she could have done.  It was more of a train-wreck than anything else and since she’s been on the bubble a bit the last few weeks she might just have cancelled herself out with this one.  She was the vocal “weak link” of the evening for sure.

 

David ArchuletaWe Can Work it Out

The heir apparent gets the pimp spot this week and when I heard he was singing the Stevie Wonder soul version of this tune, I just wasn’t sure the young one could pull it off.  Unfortunately, for the first time, he let them see him sweat.  Ouch!  He dropped the words in both the first and second verses and was a little all over the boards vocally.  He obviously was NOT comfortable with the song or the genre and he did let it show in his performance.  This is where we finally saw the 17-year-old insecure teen that I knew was in there somewhere.  Will this performance get him “das boot” this week?  Hardly.  But he has to watch his back now because no less than four other contestants are moving up the ladder rapidly and could pass him if he has another bad week or two.  PS – he should have done Can’t Buy Me Love…but what do I know…

 

So, my first bottom feeder three of the Season Seven finals are:

David Hernandez

Kristy Lee Cook

Syesha Mercado

with “das boot” going to the train wrecked Kristy Lee Cook. 

 

Carry on!

J

 

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…alright, I don’t have  a real secret but I do have some opinions to share on this week’s Top 12 as they attempt to sing from the Lennon-McCartney songbook. 

 

I’ve been a Beatles fan since my Mom bought me their first record album when I was 5 years old ( you youngins will have to look those up on the Internet so see what I’m talking about) and while I was really excited about this in the beginning, the more I thought about the songs and the singers the more I got concerned.  Part of the charm of the Beatles is understanding how they were such innovators in the 60’s – that what they did and how they did it was so far ahead of its time.  How that will translate in the new millennium on a popular reality TV show where half the audience, not to mention the contestants, are unfamiliar with most of the collection is anyone’s guess.  Maybe that’s why it’s taken seven years for the producers to convince the remaining Beatles to allow the use of the songs.

 

As I researched the collection in anticipation of this week’s competition, I was surprised at how many songs the kids should NOT choose, lest they want to hear from Simon that they are cheesy, cabaret or karaoke.   Now, I have no insider info as to what the contestants have chosen to sing but as a singer myself and a vocal coach on occasion, I went through the catalog and tried to match what I feel would be the best song for each of the Top 12 singers.  For some I came up with two possibilities and – who knows – maybe I’ve guessed a few for real but we won’t really know that until tomorrow.   Let’s see what I’ve come up with and whether or not I’ll be on the money…

 

Amanda Overmyer – Come Together or Get Back

Ms. Gravel Voice will do no wrong if she picks either of these tunes.  They also give her a chance to stomp around the stage and give off more rock diva vibes. 

 

Brooke White – Ticket to Ride

The Carpenters’ remake of this song is perfect for her.  It’s slower and very pensive and would continue to show  Brooke off as this year’s balladeer. 

 

Carly Smithson – I Saw Her Him Standing There or Eleanor Rigby

We all know she can sing but Carly needs to have more vocal fun as well as do some stage strutting and the first one should do the trick.  The second choice might be a bit safe for her but depending on the arrangement, could be a killer performance as well.

 

Chikezie – Got to Get You Into My Life

Perfect soul number for our soulful guy.  Just pick an arrangement that doesn’t make him look or sound cabaret and he should take this number our for a great vocal spin.

 

David Archuleta  Can’t Buy Me Love or All My Lovin’

He’s already sung Imagine so he needs to change it up, get out of the slow lane and have some fun.  The first one is my real choice but either would get the little girls all fired up to vote like crazy for him. 

 

David Cook  Revolution or Day Tripper

Either of these hard driving rock numbers could continue to cement David as THE rocker of the competition. 

 

Jason Castro – A Little Help From My Friends or Hard Day’s Night

Either one of these choices will be a stretch for our dreadlocked cherub but he likes to take risks.  Give him a killer arrangement and he should do well again this week.

 

Kristy Lee Cook – We Can Work it Out

Her smoky, country style should work with this piece.  She was the hardest one for me to try to match up.

 

Michael Johns – Back in the USSR or Something

He could continue down the hard rocking path with the first or switch up and go tender with the second – either one should showcase his distinct vocal style.  Besides, I think the second would be a surprise if he chose it.

 

Ramiele Malubay – The Long and Winding Road or The Fool on the Hill

Both are unexpected for this gal but that would make it a risk worth taking for her at this stage.  She needs a show stopper to get some momentum going for her and again with the right arrangement either one could work.

 

Syesha Mercado – Hey Jude or I Feel Fine

She also needs something to make her stand out and not sound like the last two weeks’ choices.  I think she’d be killer on the first one while the second one would be very unexpected. 

 

These are just MY suggestions and I’d be surprised if I got any of them right so we’ll just have to wait and see.  In the meantime let me know if you think I’m on the money or all wet and be sure to check back tomorrow night or early Wednesday morning for my review.

 

Carry on!   J

 

 

 

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