Posts Tagged ‘Steven Tyler’

Some Belated Thoughts on the Season 11 American Idol Finale

May 29, 2012

Some of you readers may have wondered why I didn’t post anything after last week’s American Idol finale…. Well, the reason is, which may come to you as no surprise, that I was just upset and annoyed. I needed some time away from Idol for a bit. I was incredibly frustrated, though not surprised, that the wrong person won again! This was the fourth year in a row when a lesser contestant (Phillip over Jessica, Scotty over Lauren, Lee over Crystal, Kris over Adam) won the show and the fifth year in a row that a white guy with a guitar won the show (David Cook completes the quintet). So, when Phillip Phillips was named the winner, I was honestly pissed off… Ok, I get that he has a big fan base and he’s incredibly attractive and charming. But he’s not a very good singer people! And in a singing competition, shouldn’t the best singer win? If that were the case, Jessica Sanchez would’ve easily took home the crown… Alas, we all know this is a big popularity contest along with a singing competition and you can’t deny the power of the tween girl texters who have powered all these boys to a win…. Now, despite my anger over the outcome, I wish Phillip well. His songs are selling decently on iTunes for the time being (comparable to Lee’s and Scotty’s but below Cook’s). I do wonder how he will do once his album arrives. I think it could sell well, but I highly doubt he will ever have any hit pop songs. His Dave Matthews-type music has a certain audience but it isn’t the type to get radio airplay these days… That task we will leave up to Jessica who will certainly get a record deal and if Jimmy Iovine and the people at Interscope treat her right could have a huge pop star on their hands. She’s that good. She just needs the right guidance and songs. (As we all know, and even I will admit, song choice was not her strong suit in the competition… nor was it the producers or judges…)
So, as we say goodbye to a really good season that brought us some phenomenal talent, I will say I foresee record deals for Phillip and Jessica of course, along with Joshua Ledet (who could do well in the gospel and R&B arena), Colton Dixon (who has a great contemporary Christian career ahead of him) and especially Skylar Laine who has a wonderful shot at a fantastic country career. I am also curious to see what happens to perennial underdog Hollie Cavanagh. She has an incredible voice, but needs some more guidance and experience…. We’ll see how they grow as performers and artists this summer on the American Idol tour.

Now, there are some things Idol needs to do next year to get its edge and influence back. Here are my suggestions~

1. Ban guitars and instruments… Go back to singers singing if you want to see a different type of winner…
2. Get new relevant and current themes. The producers need to wake up and do contemporary themes because those are the ones that connect with the young audience they so crave… (And hello, trotting out those old artists on the finale like Neil Diamond, John Fogerty and Chaka Kahn, who are certainly wonderful in their own right, was a big mistake. The young audience doesn’t know who they are for the most part and doesn’t relate to them. You need to keep your guests more like Rihanna if you want bigger ratings…)
3. Switch up the judging panel~ Dump Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler. Randy is useless and Steven, while entertaining, is a hot mess and only gives a real critique one out of every 15 tries. He also clearly has no idea what “Over the Top” really means cuz he used it wrong constantly…. They can keep J. Lo for star power and her sometimes useful critiques. But she needs to study up on the history of the show because she is constantly proclaiming things that are totally wrong. For example~ she stated she’d never seen anything like Phillip’s performance of “Home”. Hello, check out Lee Dewyze’s finale performance from two years earlier)… Then, they need to add Jimmy Iovine to the judging panel for some real, honest critique…. Finally they have to add a younger artist the singers might relate to better for the third choice~ perhaps a former contestant? I’m open to ideas for that third spot.
4. Get some new producers… As I said before, the producers are using the same old tricks with the themes and guests… They need to mix it up big time.
5. Put a limit on text and phone votes like Dancing with the Stars... 5 calls per house or phone or something will make it a lot fairer.

Ok, so those are my brief thoughts for the time being. I really enjoyed this season for the most part which gave us some incredible performances, fun personalities and villains (argh Heejun Hahn!), lol … Before I go, please enjoy the two best performances from the finale featuring the girl who should’ve won it all, Jessica Sanchez.

Jessica Sanchez “I Will Always Love You” (Idol finale)

And the undisputed performance of the night from Jessica and Tony and Grammy winner Jennifer Holiday on “And I Am Telling You”

Advertisements

American Idol Quick Wrap~ 5/16/12 “The Top Three!”

May 17, 2012

Well, for one of the best final threes in the show’s history, American Idol‘s top three performance show sure was a disappointment. It was a whole lot of blah ballads and bad song choices. However, one contestant shouldn’t take any blame for it, and that’s the show’s best singer, Jessica Sanchez. She rose above the crappy song choices that the judges and Jimmy gave her to deliver three very good performances. However, those bad song choices may hurt her in the end as she fights with Phillip and Joshua for a spot in the final two. So, will she make it? Let’s take a look at my rankings and predictions below and see…

American Idol Performance Rankings 5/16/12~

Round 1: Judge’s Pick
1. Joshua “I’d Rather Go Blind”: despite this being a very obvious choice by babbling blunder Randy Jackson, Joshua sang the heck out of it. It was nothing new or interesting, but the best one in this round which was the worst round of the evening. (Hello, the judges are morons sometimes).
2. Jessica- “My All”: singing the most difficult song of the night which was a # 1 hit for Mariah Carey in 1998, Jessica gave her all. She did a very good job on this monster of a track, but you could tell she was reaching at times. She admitted backstage she would never have chosen it for herself. Hello, she’s smart. And clearly J. Lo is dumb or just a big giant jerk for giving it to her. Why are these judges so against the best singer making the finale? Ugh, I want to smack them. And then they give just decent criticism for this good performance. I mean none of them could do anything close to that vocal. Color me frustrated, but Jessica was a gallant trooper.
3. Phillip- “Beggin'”: singing some song I’d never heard of before by Madcon, Phillip did his usual thing turning the song into a Dave Matthews clone. It was fine, but snore…

Round 2~ Contestant’s Choice
1. Jessica- “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”: singing Aerosmith’s only # 1 song, Jessica absolutely slayed it. Her vocals were wonderful and she gave arguably the best performance of the night on it. Wonderful and she somehow made the song seem relevant almost erasing memories of Steven Tyler & Co’s original Armageddon anthem.
2. Phillip- “Disease”: I actually thought Phillip did better on this one than the judges for once. It was right in his vein and it actually sounded a little NOT like Dave Matthews 2.0. That’s good because I’d rather have him sound like the song’s original singer Rob Thomas (of MatchboxTwenty) anyway.
3. Joshua- “Imagine”: um, holy crap, that was bad. I’m sorry, I don’t know what the judges were thinking liking that. It was the most disconnected and strained version of the song ever. He clearly had no clue what the song was about and over sang it into oblivion. You know it’s bad when it had me thinking about Madonna‘s version of the iconic John Lennon tune from her ReInvention tour where she out sang Joshua tenfold and actually interpreted the lyrics as they were meant to be sung. (Yes, I did just write that sentence).

Round 3~ Jimmy’s Picks (easily the best round)
1. Jessica- “I’ll Be There”: while I wish he had picked something more current for her like Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”, Jessica still nailed this Jackson 5 treasure. Her vocals were pristine, beautiful and luscious throughout. It was a restrained and lovely performance.
2. Phillip- “We’ve Got Tonight”: while I wasn’t jumping out of my seat like the judges for this one, I did think it was one of P2’s best of the season. I give him props for not singing like himself, sticking with the melody of the song and actually connecting to the true emotion of it. However, I have to say it paled in comparison to Bob Seger’s original and especially my favorite duet of it by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton.
3. Joshua- “No More Drama”: or more like more contrived drama… Sorry, Mantasia but this was so by the numbers forced and predictable. Not only was he off vocally in the first half of the song, he didn’t really communicate the message of the song. He just took us to church but without delivering any real message. Instead it was just vocal highjinks and jumping around in that terrible scoop neck t-shirt.

Overall Rankin for the Night:
1. Jessica
2. Phillip
3. Joshua

Predictions…
Safe: Phillip
Bottom 2: Jessica & Joshua
Going Home: Joshua

I think Mantasia may finally have over sung for the last time tonight. It’s unfortunate because I would’ve loved to see the vocal acrobatics that a battle between he and Jessica would bring. Unfortunately one of them will be facing off with the season’s likely winner, the cute white guy with a guitar clone of the year Phillip… On the whole, I’m rather disheartened with tonight’s show. I think the judges really screwed the contestants with those bad choices and Jimmy messed up with his pick for Jessica which could hurt her. I hope not. Hopefully her great vocals will mobilize her fan base and she will also pick up Hollie’s leftover fans. We shall see tomorrow night on the results show which also brings the return of another Idol alum who should’ve won his season but was stopped by a cute white guy with a guitar. Yes, I’m talking about Adam Lambert...

American Idol Quick Wrap 5-2-12- “The Music of the 60’s and Brit Pop”

May 3, 2012

Dueling themes kept things interesting again this week on American Idol as the singers took on the songs of the 60’s and British pop. Both genres provided some standout performances but the latter really helped the singers step up their game. It was a night where one singer built on her momentum for her strongest week yet and one singer fell to his farthest depths with his worst frame to date. So, just who were those two and how did everyone rank as a whole? Well, check out my rankings of all the performances plus my predictions below.

American Idol Performance Rankings 5-2-12

The 60’s~
1. Skylar “Fortunate Son”: I don’t care that I’m not very familiar with this Credence Clearwater Revival hit from 1969 or that I didn’t really love the song. None of that mattered because Skylar absolutely lit the stage on fire with this incendiary and fantastic performance. Loved it.
2. Jessica- “Proud Mary”: taking on Ike & Tina Turner’s # 4 hit was a tall order and only Jessica could pull it off with such passion and panache. She sold the crap out of it and sounded great as always.
3. Hollie- “River Deep Mountain High”: singing the song that got Pia sent home way too early last year, I was a little worried for Hollie. However, she nailed it. Her vocals were great and it was her most loose, relaxed and fun performance to date. Really really good.
4. Joshua- “Aint to Proud to Beg”: singing this 1966 hit for The Temptations, Joshua was totally in his element. But it felt a little safe and forgettable compared to his earlier performances this year. He did sing it wonderfully though.
5. Phillip- “The Letter”: so, he got rid of the melody from this 1967 #1 hit by the Box Tops, turned it into another Dave Matthews Band clone, and gave a lax performance. Even his sexiness couldn’t save it. And he paled in comparison to the brilliant version that Season 7’s Carly Smithson and Michael Johns performed back in the day. Check that out  here.

British Pop~
the great
1. Jessica- “You Are So Beautiful”: ok, what the heck does this girl have to do to get a standing ovation from these ridiculous judges? Because that was FLAWLESS and her best performance since “I Will Always Love You”. It was emotionally connected, vocally perfect and simply stunning. I dare say it improved on Joe Cocker’s 1975 original.
2. Hollie- “Bleeding Love”: with perhaps her best performance and vocal to date, Hollie did an astounding job on this song, which was the biggest worldwide  # 1 smash in 2008 for Leona Lewis. (Hello, how do you not know that song Steven Tyler? You silly dingbat!) She is really in it to win it and I think she may have saved herself from a spot in the bottom two for once with this fabulous song.
the very good
3. Joshua- “To Love Somebody”: Josh’s great vocal on this Bee Gee’s 1967 hit didn’t have me on my feet like the three stooges, er um our judges. But it was very very good and his performance was naturally great. Another solid one for Mr. Ledet and likely the thing that keeps him safe this week.
4. Skylar- “You Don’t’ Have to Say You Love Me”: our country cutie’s take on Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn good. She made it her own and sang the bejesus out of it. I just wonder if it ends up a little less memorable at the end of the night…
the terribly terrible
5. Phillip- “Time of the Season” : simply put, this off-key, flat, boring, lazy and astoundingly awful performance of The Zombie’s 1969 # 3 hit should finally land Mr. Growly pants in the bottom three.

Duets/Trios
1. Skylar, Jessica and Hollie- “Higher and Higher”: fantastic on all levels with great vocals from each of them.
2. Joshua & Phillip- “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling”: um, no… just no.

Predictions:
Bottom 3: Skylar, Phillip and Hollie (but Jessica could wind up here too. It’s close)
Bottom 2: Skylar, Phillip
Buh Bye: Phillip (I think his first trip to the nether regions will be his ticket out of here finally)

Well, that’s my recap and what do you think of that? Did you figure out who had their best and worst week? Here’s a hint~ Hollie is now a serious contender and Phillip could be on the way out. But will that actually happen? I hope so, but I don’t know. So watch American Idol tomorrow night with special guests Carrie Underwood and Coldplay and find out.

And here’s the best performance of the night one more time…. Jessica Sanchez doing “You Are So Beautiful”

American Idol Quick Wrap 3/28/12~ Idols Sing their Idols

March 29, 2012

I’m pretty sure I was watching a different episode of American Idol than Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson tonight, because while it was a pretty strong night on the whole, the judges were seriously in ridiculous over-praise mode. Let me give you one example…. They gave Heejun a standing ovation. Hello, Hee-frickin-Jun? Oh jesus, they must have been drinking some Paula Abdul juice in their coke cups because they were full of it, for pretty much the whole episode as they lavished way too much praise on Heejun, Joshua and Deandre who were the worst of the night while throwing shade all over Hollie for no reason. It was a bit of an infuriating night for me as I was still missing Erika and wondering why the judges were obsessed with trying to make another guy win this year. At least, we were all in agreement on our unanimous acclaim for Elise who wiped the floor with everyone…. So, with that said, let’s look at my rankings for tonight’s show where the contestants sang songs by their own personal idols.

American Idol Performance Rankings~ 3/28/12
~ the great
1. Elise: singing Led Zeppelin’s classic # 4 hit from 1969, Elise took on the most difficult song of the night and delivered in spades. Who knew she could rock so hard? She also slayed every note and nuance of the song and had a great time doing it. That was easily one of the best performances of the entire season. Elise is showing the youngsters how it’s done.
~ the good
2. Jessica: slowing down Beyonce’s top ten smash “Sweet Dreams” into an eerie ballad, Jessica hit all the right notes as usual. It was a sexy sumptuous performance and showed she is a serious pro with incredible range and adaptability. I still say she should win this whole thing.
3. Phillip: singing a song I’d never heard of by blues rocker Johnny Lang, Phillip really tore it up on “Still Rainin'” and he only made a couple of his weird faces. It was all in his wheelhouse and I actually enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. Well done.
~the pretty good
4. Hollie: taking on Carrie Underwood’s Grammy winning # 1 country smash “Jesus Take the Wheel” from 2005 was a bit of a risk for Hollie, but I think she acquitted herself very well. Like J.Lo, I really felt the emotion from Hollie for the first time. (And how much did ya’ll bawl during her mentor session with the amazing Stevie Nicks?). It was a lovely performance and I believed every moment.
5. Skylar: raising the roof with another country stomper, Miranda Lambert’s raucous “Gunpowder and Lead”, Skylar stayed on her road to Idol success. She hasn’t had a bad week yet, and I don’t know if she will at this point. Despite a couple of wonky notes at the beginning, this was another strong effort.
~the alright
6. Joshua: I don’t know what the judges were smoking when they stood up after this one, because the first half was just plain bad. The only reason Joshua isn’t farther down the list after his performance of Mariah Carey’s # 3 ballad from “1993 “Without You” is the fact that he has a great voice. The second half of the song was better, but I still didn’t buy the breaking down at the end. And I’m a fan of his.
7. Colton: singing his favorite “praise” song, Colton took on Lifehouse’s ballad “Everything”. Unfortunately, everything was not alright with his performance. The first half was pitchy and flat and he was strained throughout. He was also overpowered by the band. And seriously, shut up with the god talk. I’ve said it before, this is NOT American Christian Idol. He is beginning to bug the ever-living crap out of me…. Oh, and please eat a sandwich!
8. Deandre: well, this song did fit his voice nicely and he was confident in his performance. However, performing a song very few people have heard of, Eric Benet’s “Sometimes I Cry” will do him no favors. It was also pretty boring and unmemorable in the long run. And of course, the moronic judges gave him a standing “O”. What?
~ the bad
9. Heejun: seriously that was pretty terrible. Yes, it was an improvement over the train wreck from last week, but his take on Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” still was the big stinking egg of the night. Plus, anyone singing that on Idol will be compared to Elliott Yamin’s brilliant performance of the song in season 5 and Hack Heejun came nowhere close to that. And the judges gave this pitchy, disconnected, and irritating performance a standing “O” too. I don’t get it!

My Predictions~

Bottom 3: Deandre, Heejun and um…. Hollie? (or Joshua or Skylar?)
Bottom 2: Heejun, Deandre
Buh Bye: Deandre (even though it should be Heejun)

So, will our Milli Vanilli-maned falsetto singer finally sing his last note? Or is horrific Heejun on the way out? I’m happy with either result. But doggonit, if a girl is the lowest vote getter, the judges damn well better use their “Save”…. I’m actually a little nervous about what’s gonna happen. Who do you think will get the boot? And are you with me that the judges were seriously insane tonight? Sound off below.

American Idol Quick Wrap~ The Top 13 Guys

February 29, 2012

It’s back and I’m back… I’m talking about American Idol and my fabulous recaps of course… I’m so happy Idol is finally getting down to business showcasing the good singers and tonight we begin with the top 12 guys…. Er, make that top 13 as the judges decided to bring back a surprise thirteenth contender in bass R&B singer and mama’s boy Jermaine Jones. He was a nice choice and clearly a fan favorite, but how did he measure up with the previously selected top 12? And who soared on the fancy new stage tonight? And who bombed their big shot? Well, let’s take a look at my rankings for the first night of competition of American Idol Season 11 below.

Idol Rankings~ The Top 13 Guys (2/28/12)

1. Creighton Fraker: holy heck can he wail. Arising as the second coming of Sam Harris (hello the original Star Search winner from the 80’s turned Broadway star), Fraker gave an emotional and beautiful performance on Cyndi Lauper’s # 1 smash from 1986 “True Colors”. The judges rightfully praised his impressive pipes and his individuality in this glorious interpretation of her inclusive self affirming ballad. Seriously loved him and I really hope this unique and powerful singer makes it through on Thursday.
2. Joshua Ledet: taking us to church, “Mandisa” rose the roof with his version of Jennifer Hudson’s anthemic hit “You Pulled Me Through”. Despite an odd musical arrangement at the beginning, he absolutely slayed the song and got a deserving standing ovation. He’s in.
3. Aaron Marcellus: with arguably the best technical vocal of the night, Aaron tore through Jackson 5’s classic hit “Never Can Say Goodbye”. He has looks, charm and performance ability to spare. I just hope his polished performance doesn’t get overlooked by showier contestants. He is really good ya’ll.
4. Colton Dixon: our sexy rocker gave an ebullient performance of Paramore’s hit “Decode” even ending the song stomping on the piano. He’s a showman and has chops. He’s not going anywhere.
5. Deandre Brackensick: he’s really pretty to look at, now isn’t he. But this boy is no Milli Vanilli poseur. He has a wonderful voice with a gorgeous falsetto and boy can he whip that hair as he proved tonight on a very strong version of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Reasons”. I hope he gets the chance to take on a better song, cuz he is one to watch and has a ton of star quality to go along with his impressive singular voice.
6. Jermaine Jones: his velvety smooth bass fit Luther Vandross’s “Dance With My Father” like a glove. It was a winning if somewhat safe performance. I really like this affable guy and his voice, but I wonder how far he can go in the competition. And he needs to lose the nerves stat.
7. Heejun Hahn: he’s probably the most popular contestant, but he’s certainly not the best singer. While I love his voice and he has such great potential, he was incredibly nervous and a little boring on stage. I hope his great and funny personality come through as he continues his Idol journey. Cuz seriously, he’s totally going through.
8. Jeremy Rosado: I like this guy too. He seems like such a great guy with a big heart. However, despite a good voice, he was rather forgettable tonight as he covered one of my favorite songs of all time, Sara Bareilles’s heartbreaking “Gravity”. Unfortunately, he didn’t give it the emotional heft it needed. He did, at least, hit some nice notes. But it’s probably not enough to stay on the show…
9. Chase Lydon: with a perfectly passable version of Hunter Hayes’ current country hit “Storm Warning”, Lydon looked like the latest country star. I think he could go far, but he needs to leave a stronger impression next time. And pick better songs… I’m not sure what will happen with him.
10. Phillip Phillips: I know I’m probably in the minority, but I really don’t like Phillips’ voice. Why does he growl and yell at me? Why is he so odd and maudlin in his delivery? Why did his take on Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” make me feel so dirty, and not in a good way? It was all just a weird, sleepy, creepy Dave Matthews Band morphing moment…. That said, he’s clearly talented and really attractive. So, he could be moving forward.
11. Eben Frankowitz: ok, pretty much everything about this sweet 15 year old’s performance of Adele’s recent # 1 smash “Set Fire to the Rain” was just wrong. He was sharp, then flat and he had no emotional connection to the song. It was such a bad choice for him. That said, he can sing and could improve quickly. He’s also a very likable kid and the tween girls will enjoy him. But I think it may be too late for him. I wish he had waited a few years and got more experience.
12. Adam Brock: wow, this was really irritating. It was like a drunk uncle cruise ship karaoke performance. And it’s sad, because Brock has a decent voice. He just has no business doing using it on television every week. And his cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” was all kinds of wrong too. Looks like Hokey Gokey 2.0 should’ve “thought” more about his song choice.
13. Reed Grimm: all I can say is that was one grimm performance. (Yes, big pun intended). Sorry but everything about Grimm’s take on last year’s ubiquitous # 1 hit “Moves Like Jagger” from Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera was just atrocious. He was awful. End of story.

So, there are my rankings, but what does any of that mean? Well, it may mean nothing, because we all know America doesn’t exactly agree with me at times. (If they did, it would’ve been a Haley v. Pia finale last season)… All I can do now is guess which men will make the final five on Thursday night. Luckily, several of them will be given a second chance “Wild Card” performance opportunity for the judges to add them to the overall top 13… Now, let’s take a look at my guesses, er um, predictions…

My Predictions~

Who’s In: Joshua, Phillip, Heejun, Colton

Fighting for 5th spot: Creighton, Jermaine, Aaron
(All will likely be up for Wild Card spots if not automatically in)

Spoilers who could be up for Wild Card: Chase, Deandre

Who’s Out: Eben, Adam, Reed, Jeremy

There you have my two cents… What are your thoughts? Who did you love? Who do you think will make it in?
And finally, some Idol Thoughts: wasn’t Ryan looking dapper this evening with his nice suit and new hair? ….Also, did you notice both Reed and Steven swore? I’m sure Fox was not happy about that… What the heck was Randy’s shirt? … And is it me or did J Lo get more “Bronxy” tonight than usual? … Sound off below and check back here tomorrow night for my take on the ladies.

And here’s my fave from tonight~ Creighton Fraker’s “True Colors”

The American Idol Finale~ America Gets it Wrong… Again…

May 26, 2011

Ok, America, what is your problem? Year after year, you pick the wrong winner for American Idol! I mean Lee over Crystal? Kris over Adam? Taylor over Katharine? Ugh… And now Scotty McCreery wins over Lauren Alaina. Now, at least it’s not as atrocious a result as those other seasons, but it’s still disappointing. Lauren is clearly the better and more talented singer while Scotty is a serviceable singer and decent entertainer. Of course, Scotty is apparently a teen idol that the girls love. Not to mention, the churchgoers, the Southerners and the conservative power voters of America…. To think, they probably all liked Lauren too, but still another boring boy wins in the end is frustrating indeed. At least, both Scotty and Lauren look as though they will have successful careers and both of their coronation singles are at the top of the iTunes charts… Of course, will they reach superstar Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood levels? That remains to be seen, but it’s doubtful. I’m certainly more interested in seeing the career trajectory of the massively talented ninth place finisher Pia Toscano (yes that was the biggest “shocker boot” of the season Idol fans) and the darkhorse of all darkhorses who won me over and proved the most interesting and daring of all the contenders, Haley Reinhart. I do expect both of them to release singles asap (and they will according to the interwebs buzz)…. Until those two and our country kids release their albums, we can take comfort in the fact that at least Idol got its groove back this season with great singers and two good and entertaining new judges. (Simon who?) … So, for the last time this season, it’s time to do some rankings. This time, I’m gonna count down the best and worst of last night’s performances on the season 10 finale of American Idol.

Ranking the American Idol Season finale performances…
1. Beyonce- “One Plus One”: holy crap, THAT is singing people. The diva needs her stage baby and Ms. B owned the Nokia last night. Fantastic. Grade: A+
2. Lady Gaga- “The Edge of Glory”: with her triumphant current 80’s dance smash “Glory”, Gaga gave you performance art, sexy dancing (with the amazing Mark from season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance), wonderful vocals and a daring leap off a “cliff” at the end. Simply great. Grade: A
3. Steven Tyler- “Dream On”: um, how old is he and how on Earth does he still hit those notes? Now, that’s how you rock future Idol contenders! I just wish the song had been longer. Grade: A
4. Lauren & Carrie Underwood- “Before He Cheats”: the dueling ladies powered through Underwood’s smash with fun and finesse and wow was Carrie gorgeous. She did kinda wipe the floor with Lauren a bit though… Carrie: A+, Lauren: B, Overall: A-
5. James Durbin & Judas Priest- “Living After Midnight/Breaking the Law“: despite wearing the gayest outfit ever, James rocked the crap out of the Priest hits alongside the iconic metal band. I didn’t think I’d like it, but damn, it was good. Grade: A-
6. The Idol Girls & Beyonce- “Beyonce Hit Medley”: if it was just Beyonce, this would’ve ranked higher. However, it was still a strong medley featuring standout performances from Pia, Haley and surprisingly Karen. And I have to say practically all these ladies were good dancers too. And then, Beyonce just murdered “Crazy in Love” at the end of course. Grade: B+
7. Haley & Tony Bennett- “Steppin Out”: This would’ve ranked higher too if not for a few flubs on Bennett’s part because Haley was astounding on the number. However, you have to give Bennett credit. He’s literally like 85 years old! Well done and they had surprising chemistry. Grade: B
8. Scotty & Tim McGraw- “Live Like You Were Dying”: in a well matched duet, both men sounded good and gave each other mad respect. Strong song choice too. Grade: B
9. Marc Anthony w/Jennifer Lopez- “Aguanile”: sure I didn’t understand a word Anthony was singing and his creepy facial expressions were unappealing, but damn if he isn’t a fantastic singer. Plus, J Lo werrrrrrrrrrrrrrked it with the booty shaking. Grade: B
10. The Idol Top 13 finalists- “Born This Way”: I was prepared to cringe with this one, but the finalists shocked me into happy Glee-type submission with their performance of Lady Gaga’s empowering # 1 smash. Standouts were Stefano and Haley and hello,, this was the best dancing by any top 13 in the history of the show. Grade: B
11. Reeve Carney, Bono & The Edge- “Rise Above”: sure the vocals and the passion were there. Plus there were cool Spidermen flying around during this song from the troubled U2 Broadway musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. Unfortunately, the song and the performance were rather snoozey. Grade: B-
12. Scotty- “I Love You This Big”: reprising his coronations song with confetti flying and tears flowing, Scotty gave an emotional and appropriate performance. However, the song is really trite and boring. But I loved all the family hugs and then Scotty dissing Jack Black (unintentionally that is) was hilarious. Grade: B-
13. Jacob Lusk, Kirk Franklin & Gladys Knight- “I Smile”: taking us to church for one last time, Jacob got his gospel on with some music legends. It was a high energy entertaining performance, but Jacob was pitchy and inconsistent. Plus you could barely hear Gladys and Franklin was just running around yelling at everyone. Grade: C+
14. TLC, Lil Jon & the female finalists- “No Scrubs/Waterfalls“: it was great to see TLC back on stage again, but the Idols and Lil Jon added nothing to the songs and it was a little low energy. Grade: C
15. Casey Abrams & Jack Black- “Fat Bottomed Girls”: um, it was fun? … But it was a bit of a mess and Jack Black sounded better than Casey. Oops. Grade: C-
16. The Idol Male Finalists & Tom Jones- “Tom Jones Medley”: an utter and complete disaster for the most part. Grade:D+

So, there you have it. One last Idol ranking session… And there are no predictions to make… Ok, here’s one: Scotty and Lauren will have success, but nowhere near the success of Beyonce. And why do I bring her up again? … Well, let’s be honest, she stole the show last night.. So, before I go and you give me your thoughts on last night’s finale, take one final look at B’s performance of her new single “One plus One” below.

Beyonce “One Plus One”

American Idol Recap 5/24/11~ Let’s Hear it for Lauren!

May 25, 2011

Well, it took all season, but when she needed it most, Lauren Alaina finally went for broke. In tonight’s American Idol season 10 final competition show, the country cutie took on the other country cutie, Scotty McCreery, in an easy and decisive victory. She hit all the right notes in song selection, performance, vocals and personality and she did it all with laryngitis. (By the way, did you hear the crazy TMZ rumor that Haley was gonna replace Lauren if she couldn’t sing?… Now that would’ve been a cool show, but I’m thrilled Lauren put the rumor to rest). It was such a clear-cut win for Lauren, most notably in her final triumphant song, that it seems obvious she will win…. However, I think any Idol watcher knows that would be a seriously naive thing to say. Because despite Lauren’s dominance, one should never underestimate the power of a Scotty McCreery fan. In fact, his biggest fans~ tween and teen girls, country fans, and the folks from the Red states~ are notorious for making their voices heard loud and clear on Idol. (And don’t forget previous winners David Cook, Kris Allen and Lee Dewyze were all outsung  and out performed on their final competition nights and still won). So, we have a serious battle. And remember, Scotty did fine too. So it’s gonna be close. I just hope people realize who should win the show (ahem Lauren) and take a look at my rankings for tonight’s show for all the proof you need.

American Idol Top 2 Performance Rankings 5/24/11
1. Lauren- “Like My Mother Does”: on the song that will become her first official single, Lauren finally had the moment we’ve been waiting for all season. She gave us an incredibly emotional performance with beautiful flawless vocals that were authentic and totally moving. Yes, I had some tears in my eyes. (Oh, did I mention I was at the live show too?!!! And she was even better in person than when I watched the telecast back again at home)… The song was a perfect fit and seems destined to be a hit in the vein of her Idol Carrie Underwood’s song “Mama’s Song” It was so good, that the thunderous standing ovation seemed to go on and on. It was truly a palpable moment at the NoPia, ahem Nokia theatre, easily the most momentous of the night.
2. Lauren- “Maybe it was Memphis”: performing Pam Tillis’s 90’s smash country hit, Lauren found another perfect fit for her smooth tone and yearning vocals. Clearly, Ms. Underwood knew what she was doing picking this song. It was another home run for Lauren as she easily ran away with both the second and third rounds tonight.
3. Lauren- “Flat on the Floor”: with her first choice tonight, the encore of “Flat”, Lauren took a slimmer victory over peer. Nonetheless, she displayed a fire and commitment that had been missing a few weeks back and she had fun, working the stage like a pro with no hint of her damaged vocal chords. Clearly, she was in it to win it tonight. (hehe, I just echoed Randy Jackson’s incessant yammerings. Drink two!)
4. Scotty- “Gone”: on his best performance tonight, the encore of Montgomery Gentry’s hit, Scotty almost beat Lauren. He wowed the crowd and made the girls scream, and it was his best vocal of the night. However, it just wasn’t enough to stop little Lauren.
5. Scotty- “I Love You This Big”: singing his first single, Scotty sounded good on this ballad that felt like a retro 90’s country hit. Sure, he hit his notes and had a great deal of conviction, but the song still felt a bit cheesy. And Scotty also seemed to be straining a bit when watching it back on TV. This one was definitely better live. However, I’m not sure it’s the song country radio programmers were hoping for…
6. Scotty- “Check Yes or No”: Scotty’s idol George Strait chose his own song for the teen titan and it worked well for him. It would probably sound nice on the radio driving through a cornfield… But watching Scotty cop to all his vocal affectations and crazy facial contortions and the song lost its appeal. And why exactly was he playing the guitar if he was actually only strumming one out of every ten notes? I’m just saying… Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t bad. It was just pedestrian and a bit boring. Those are two things Scotty has been throughout the season despite good vocals and a winning personality. We’ll see if that finally catches up to him.

So, there you have it. The score board says it all. Lauren: 3, Scotty: 0… The golden girl got her groove back in this country Idol contest, but will one big win be enough to take the title? I’m not sure… I do know she’s got my vote and I’m thinking Hayley fans turned to her as well. Plus, she really has so much potential and it’s about time Idol had another female winner… And yes, they’ll both be successful, but Lauren has crossover potential while Scotty will remain squarely in the country lane. So, I’m thinking her fan base may be wider and is still growing. With that in mind, I have to make a crazy prediction… Despite all odds, my better intentions and conventional logic, I’m going to predict Lauren wins over the frontrunner in an incredibly tight contest! … Yeah, I may be throwing my money away, but I’m a betting man and I say “Let’s hear it for Lauren”. I mean Steven Tyler declared her the winner and we all know he’s not crazy… Oh, wait, he sorta is… Ack, can I get my money back? … Well, it’s too late. I’ve laid my bet on our Georgia girl. How about you? … Let me hear your thoughts and place your bets below… Oh and let me know if you gave a rat’s patootie about that random Coke contest song by Taio Cruz… And if you enjoyed the return of season 7 winner Cook on his performance of the awesome goodbye song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”~ even if it was pre-taped… And check back here tomorrow night for my final Idol wrap up of the season….

And one more time, let’s hear it for Lauren!

American Idol 2011 Top 2 Power List

May 24, 2011

Last Thursday, I was stricken with enormous grief when the ultimate dark horse Haley Reinhart was eliminated from American Idol. It was a sad day as Haley was the one truly interesting and exciting finalist left in the competition. Now, don’t get me wrong~ Lauren and Scotty are both very talented. However, Haley brought a unpredictablity factor plus she had gumption, fire and stood her ground. She also was the one contestant who blossomed and grew throughout the competition. If you readers will recall, I was no fan of Haley’s for the first month and a half of the competition. But when she completely slayed Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, I sat up, put my foot in my mouth and turned a new leaf. I became a Haley fan. And week after week, she kept me on the Haley train with fantastic performances like “I Who Have Nothing” and “Bennie and the Jets” that had me picking up the phone to speed dial… Oh, Haley, I will miss your strange arm waving and big Mariah Carey 1990 hair. At least we will see you perform your new single on the finale on Wed night….

Ok, now that I’ve said a proper goodbye to Ms. Reinhart (who is not dating Fozzy Bear, ahem, Casey Abrams, contrary to many media reports), it’s time to take a look at our final contenders… In this corner, it’s a teen country singer. And in this corner, it’s a … teen country singer… Uh oh, is this gonna be a boring battle of the Southern singers? Or will they surprise us with some exiting song choices for their final three songs? Well, each contestant will be doing a song chosen by a country superstar (Carrie Underwood picks for Lauren, George Strait for Scotty), plus an encore of one of their favorites from the season and finally the song that will be their first single. I’m not expecting fireworks, but I am hoping that Lauren blows Scotty out of the water. Hey, what? I can have a favorite… But does my favorite have the power to win? Well, take a look at my final totally unscientific American Idol Power Rankings for the top two from season ten below.

American Idol 2011 Top 2 Power Rankings~
1. Scotty: he has flown through this competition as a front-runner with grace and gratitude. He has a great deep country voice and a ridiculous amount of teen idol appeal that the Southern voters, the grandmas and the tween girls go crazy voting for. He also seems like a really nice, fun and grounded guy. He’s never been in the bottom two and he’s generally given good performances week in and week out… However, why do I find him so boring? Does he have appeal outside of the heartland? And will he ever hold the microphone properly? Despite those facial affectations, the boy who looks like Alfred E. Neuman from Mad Magazine has to enter the finale as the one to beat. (last week~ 1)
2. Lauren: she has the pipes and personality. She has the potential to be a huge country star and a possible crossover pop star (unlike Scotty who will stay squarely in the country lane). She is also one to root for and has displayed great vocals throughout the competition. Heck even Steven Tyler crowned her the victor after her first audition. So, why does it seem like she is gonna have to slay a dragon to win the competition? Well, she has had serious confidence issues throughout the season, some conflicting judges’ critiques and has taken few chances thus far. Plus, she has such incredible potential and has yet to reach it. However, the woman who can outsing Scotty for days, has nowhere to go but up and it’s likely that all of Haley’s fans will switch to voting for Lauren as opposed to Scotty. So, I think the battle could be very close. And I’m hoping she nails it and gives us our first female victor since season 6’s Jordin Sparks. (lw~ 2)

So, there you have it~ my final power list for this rejuvenated and very good season ten. Sure, I would’ve loved a finale with Pia v. Haley, but we all know I rarely get what I want with this show. If that were the case, Adam Lambert, Crystal Bowersox, Melinda Doolittle, Chris Daughtry and Carly Smithson would’ve rightfully won their seasons. But, that’s too bad for me. So, let’s look forward to tonight and see if Scotty truly has the power or if Lauren will be David to his Goliath and steal the crown in the battle of the country kids. Tune in tonight at 8pm on Fox and let me know who you think will be the victor.

American Idol Recap 5/18/11~ Holy Haley

May 19, 2011

If you had told me that I would be power voting for Haley Reinhart when the top 24 of American Idol was announced, I’d have said you were crazy. If you had said it again through the semi-finals and the first few weeks of the top 13, I’d say you were as nutty as a fruitcake. But goshdarnit, if you had said it, you would’ve been right. Because over the past month or so, Haley won me over and turned me into a super fan. And last night, she utterly destroyed her competition with three meaty performances leaving Lauren chasing her tail and Scotty out in the dust. The question is~ did she convert enough voters to halt a teen-country battle in the finals? I say she did. But which likable teen will falter because of it? I sure hope it’s not Lauren who has technically the best voice left in the competition. Instead, I’d like to see Scotty say sayonara. You may think I’m crazy, but let’s look at my rankings from last night’s performance show for proof.

American Idol Performance Rankings 5/18/11:
1. Haley– “What it is and What it Should Never Be”: tackling the Led Zeppelin rocker from 1969, Haley easily had the best performance of the night by a mile. She rocked. She wailed. She was sexy and effortless on her own personal song choice. It was simply awesome and made a somewhat obscure track relevant for today’s young listeners. She also got to sing with her dad on guitar which was a great moment. With this song, she took chances and showed how much of an individual and a risk taker she can be as an artist. Again, she makes us want to see what she’ll do next and with songs like this, she can’t miss.
2. Lauren- “I Hope You Dance”: with her best performance in weeks, Lauren’s vocals on Lee Ann Womack’s # 1 country hit (and top 15 pop hit) were simply gorgeous. Her tone, as the judges noted, was just beautiful and the song was a perfect fit for her. Just lovely and a good pick for her by the judges.
3. Haley- “You Oughta Know”: eating up the chorus of Alanis Morisette’s signature top ten smash from 1995, Haley marched through this song like a soldier. Sure, some of the verses were a little muddled, but she gets an “A” for effort on the most difficult song of the night. (Hello, Jimmy and the judges really gave her challenges unlike the song’s they selected for her peers). But when she hit the chorus, it was money and she sold it and had fun. It was authentic as well. Big props to Haley for coming into her own on these rocking numbers.
4. Lauren– “Wild One”: Lauren’s first song was her own choice, Faith Hill’s # 1 country hit from 1994, “Wild One” and it fit her like a glove. She was pitch perfect as usual and had a lot of fun on the number. This is the kind of music she should and will be making.
5. Haley- “Rhiannon”: like an ethereal muse, Haley nailed two-thirds of this classic # 11 hit from 1976 by Fleetwood Mac. The opening verse was amazing and the end was flawless. The difficult middle section (hello Jimmy Iovine really gave her a tough assignment!) was good, just not great. But as a whole, the song was strong and Haley looked amazing. In fact, Haley emerged as a star again tonight on three distinct songs that showed range, improvement, star quality, humor, sex appeal and, ahem, balls.
6. Lauren– “If I Die Young”: despite a little bauble in the middle when she was overcome by the emotion of the moment, Lauren delivered a sweet and soulful performance of The Band Perry’s current country smash (which was Jimmy’s song choice tonight). In fact, she outsang the original by leaps and bounds. While I wish she had taken it to new heights, she at least made it her own and showed heart and vulnerability.
7. Scotty– “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”: ok, Scotty didn’t have a bad night. He just had a boring night. All of his songs were adequate, but pretty unmemorable. This version of Thompson Square’s current hit was his best. His voice fit it quite well and he showed some personality and worked his guitar well on his Jimmy song selection. But it was just good. I have no idea why the judges thought it was great.
8. Scotty– “Amazed”: opening the show with his choice of Lonestar’s # 1 country and pop smash from 1999, Scotty did a serviceable job. His voice was smooth and he tapped into the emotion effectively. But I felt like he didn’t quite sell it or own it. And in a night where the ladies were so much more memorable, he needed to do more here.
9. Scotty– “She Believes in Me”: with his judges’ choice song, Kenny Rogers’ # 1 country/# 5 pop hit “She Believes in Me” from 1979, Scotty tried to stretch and hit some new highs. Unfortunately, he came up short with a forced and pitchy performance that was easily the worst (not totally bad though) of the night. What did we learn from this song? We learned Scotty doing country pop is not a good idea…

Predictions~
Ack, this is a hard one. Haley is clearly winning over new fans and is the most exciting singer left in the running. Lauren stepped up her game and is ridiculously loveable with a great voice. And Scotty has been the front-runner, has a distinct voice and lots of fans… So who goes home?
Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the country kids will be in danger and make a giant leap with my elimination prediction…
Bottom 2: Lauren & Scotty
Big Bold Buh Bye Prediction: Scotty

Ok, so I may be as crazy as Steven Tyler on a Tuesday, but I’m thinking America may finally get it right and send Scotty home leaving us with an awesome all lady finale. Sure, I may be way off and going with my preference over my better judgement, but I don’t care. It worked last week with James. So, let’s see… But now, I want to know what you think? Will Haley make mincemeat of Lauren or Scotty in the finale or will the South rise and send Hurricane Haley back to Chicago? Sound off below.

American Idol Recap 5/11/11~ The Girls Rock and The Guys Bore

May 12, 2011

First of all, Randy Jackson needs a good smack upside the head. As any of you who watched American Idol last night would likely agree, he was full of crap when he was critiquing Haley last night on her fantastic performance of “Earth Song”. He kept yammering on about it being a bad choice and it having nothing to do with who she is as an artist. Um, Randy, shut up. First of all, judge her singing~ which was incredible. Second of all, the assignment was to pick an inspirational song and “Earth Song” is nothing if not incredibly inspirational, moving and important. I mean what the hell? And while I’m ranting, J Lo should take some heat for her B.S. critique on that one too. And then, the two of them with their constant overpraising of the boys just made me sick. Seriously, it was perhaps the most infuriating judging of the season. I almost prefer Steven Tyler’s constant and useless “That’s a beautiful thing” sentiments…. Grrrr. Yes, last night’s American Idol drove me nuts on so many levels that I power voted like a crazy person for our dear underdog Haley, not to mention Lauren who had her best night in weeks. If the show wants to stay relevant, these two ladies should make the top three and break up the boring Idol boys club…. Wow, I am ranting, but I think many of you would agree… Anyway, for further proof of what I’m talking about, let’s rank last night’s performances where the top 4 singers took on two themes: “Songs of Inspiration” and the “Songs of Lieber and Stoller” (big hit songwriters in the 50’s and 60’s~ how’s that for irrelevant… those dingbat Idol producers!).

American Idol Performance Rankings 5/11/11:
1. Haley- “I (Who Have Nothing)”- um, wow wow wow. Simply brilliant. Haley was fiery, focused and fabulous on this dark and brooding ballad, a Shirley Bassey classic from 1963. It was easily the best of the night and showed what an interesting singer Haley is. She has become the most fascinating performer in the competition fusing heart, humor and hubris into her performances and boy did she let the judges have it and eat their words with this sensational performance.
2. Lauren- “Anyway”: with her best vocal in months, Lauren was simply flawless on this beautiful 2006 Martina McBride # 5 hit country ballad. It was the perfect choice for her and would be a smash country and AC hit today if it was released. Lauren has the best pipes left in the competition and she made that clear with this amazing vocal.
3. Haley– “Earth Song”: I said it before, I’ll say it again: Randy and J Lo are full of it. How on Earth they didn’t get inspirational and incredible from Haley’s performance of Michael Jackson’s iconic plea from 1995 “Earth Song” is beyond me. And the second half was perfection. It was authentic, emotional and resonant and Haley nailed it, not to mention she outsang that chorus too! Who knew crazypants Steven Tyler would be the voice of reason on this one?
4. Lauren– “Trouble”: with a sassy and sexy take on Elvis Presley’s 1958 hit, Lauren was indeed “in it to win it”. She owned the stage and the song and even had fun singing it. Well done.
5. Scotty– “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?”: with a lovely vocal and an understated performance, Scotty did justice to Alan Jackson’s 2001 # 1 country hit about the aftermath of 9/11. It was simple and tasteful, just not memorable.
6. James– “Love Potion # 9”: if James hadn’t been running around the stage as if he were playing Madison Square Garden, this one could’ve been a giant clunker. The song, a hit for The Searchers in 1963, was a blah choice, but at least his rockin’ arrangement made it serviceable. However, James has become so arrogant in his performances that it just felt like a big indulgent jam session for a self-serving wanna be star.
7. James– “Don’t Stop Believin'”: well, that was just boring, uninspired and bad. I’m sorry it was a second-rate cruise ship rendition of the signature 1981 Journey hit (and recently a Glee smash). Heck, he was flat on practically the whole song and brought nothing new to it… Really disappointing.
8. Scotty– “Young Blood”: that was simply atrocious. Sure, Scotty hit his notes just fine on this 1957 song by the Coasters. However, it was a herky jerky theme park performance that was gimmicky, irritating and a waste of his talent. Plus, that was the worst song choice of the night by a mile.

Predictions~
Ack, honestly, I have no idea… In my opinion, the bottom two should be James and Scotty with James going home… However, I doubt that will happen. I’m worried at least one of the ladies will be in danger and it may be Haley because of all the controversy with the judges comments. On the other hand, it could be Lauren because people may vote to save Haley and forget to support the lil country girl. I just don’t know… So, I’m just gonna say a crazy prediction that in a shocker James is eliminated, hehe…

But I want to know what you think. Are you as infuriated by the judges as me? Did you love Haley and Lauren too? Are you over James? Does Scotty still have this in the bag? And how awesome of a mentor was Lady Gaga? Sound off below.

And here’s a couple treats for you from the girls who rocked it tonight…

Haley- “I (Who Have Nothing)”

Lauren- “Anyway”