Thursday, March 31, 2011

American Idol - Elton John Week- Results

So Naima and Thia were eliminated. I'm not surprised about Thia. She was getting too predictable. But I really hoped Naima would stay a little longer. She brought some good variety. At least they'll both be on the tour.

American Idol - Elton John Week

Did you see the shocking episode of American Idol last night? CASEY CUT HIS HAIR AND TRIMMED HIS BEARD!

Here's what Casey looked like before.

And here's what he looked like last night.

This was Elton John week and I think all 11 contestants picked the right songs. Not all of them did Sir Elton justice, but at least they each picked the right thing to sing.

Scotty McCreery - "Country Comfort." Did you know Elton John had a country song? Yeah, neither did I, until I heard it last night. I had to Google it just to double check. So Scotty got to stand firmly in his comfort zone. He gave a shout out to his Grandma. He sang the word "truck" several times. He even his his "young lady killer" bass note at the end. (It wobbled a little, but he reeled it in.) He should still be comfortably at the top, despite being first up.

Naima Adedapo - "I'm Still Standing." This was in Naima's alto range, and the lyrics could have been written just for her. Critics were writing her off, but she's still there and improving every week. Like Scotty, Naima knows who she is an an artist. Unlike Scotty, the only pigeonhole you can put her in is "Naima." She is her own category. I don't care what the judges said, I LIKED the reggae.

Paul McDonald - "Rocket Man." I have to admit, there were parts of his performance I actually liked. Those were the parts where he sang without sounding like somebody was strangling him. Unfortunately, those were very small parts. I'm still not getting why this guy appeals to people. And he wore the rose suit again. I'm sure Elton would approve of the suit at least.

Pia Toscana - "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Another ballad, but so what? If you can belt out a ballad the way Pia can, you should sing ballads. The judges (Randy) were back-pedalling and claiming they didn't actually tell her not to sing ballads. Um, Randy, yes you did. It's on YouTube and everything.

Stefano Langone - "Tiny Dancer." He didn't butcher this one. It was actually a good song for him, and a good performance. He did his best to "connect with the audience," keeping his eyes open and even walking down to hold Jennifer's hand at the end. I'm still feeling a little biased against him because of last week's performance, but he does have a good voice. On the right song.

Lauren Alaina - "Candle In The Wind." It was Lauren's turn to do a ballad. This one really showed off her beautiful voice. She didn't have to prance around the stage at all. Just Lauren and a piano and that voice, that's all she needs. I wonder what would happen if she sang a ballad without the country twang? She's got the potential to be a cross-over artist, like Taylor Swift.

James Durbin - "Saturday Night's All Right." Honestly, this wasn't my favorite James Durbin performance, vocally. But singing in the audience and the burning piano and the on-stage acrobatics were fun. James is a natural performer AND he has a great voice. He also had the best line of the night when he said there was so much hairspray holding his hair up that with the burning piano he was a little worried about having a "Pepsi moment." (On a show sponsored by Coca-Cola.)

Thia Megia - "Daniel." When she talked about being able to relate to this song because she was so sad when her older brother moved away from home, I had high hopes for this performance. My hopes were dashed. Thia sang beautifully. She always does. But the emotion wasn't there. I think she could have a great career singing on the soundtracks for Disney cartoons.

Casey Abrams - "Your Song." Casey can sing ballads, too! And he cleans up real good. Even though I had recorded the show and was watching it later, there were still a few minutes to vote, so I dialed in for Casey. He really does deserve to stay on longer. But nearly two hours after the show, the line was still busy. Either there was a glitch in the system or Casey is totally safe.

Jacob Lusk - "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word." This guy can emote. He could give Thia an emotion transplant and still have plenty to spare. But all that emotion can get a little draining, like the guy I used to date that was just a little too needy. Dude, give it a rest!

Haley Reinhart - "Benny and the Jets." If you're a big Elton John fan, skip this paragraph, because I am about to utter heresy. This is one of my least favorite Elton John songs. I think HALEY SANG IT BETTER. She got to use all her vocal acrobatics on this one. I'm thinking she's safe this week.

And now for this week's Tylerisms:

"Nothing I can say to you that an old-fashioned pair of high-heeled cowboy boots wouldn't fix."

"Have you been watering that suit?"

"I've loved you since the first time you laid eyes on me."

"If you keep singing like that, you'll be able to afford he rest of your dress."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

American Idol Results - Shocker

This is what happens when people think their favorite is safe and don't bother to vote.

Who could have predicted tonight's bottom three? Well, okay, I predicted Stefano would go home, and he was in the bottom three. But Thia? And CASEY? I'm surprised Randy didn't roll out his well-used line, "This is what happens when you don't vote." But everyone acted all confused about how this could happen. Thank goodness for the judges save, which was created for just this kind of situation. And now the Top 10 summer tour will be the Top 11 summer tour.

This had to be the best results show I have ever watched. Stevie Wonder sang a Happy Birthday to Steven Tyler (he's 63). Hulk Hogan made a surprise appearance and gave James Durbin the biggest surprise of his life. Jennifer Hudson brought down the house. And the drama of the elimination! I honestly thought Casey Abrams was going to have a heart attack, or faint, or throw up at least.

And now two contestants will be sent home next week. No more save. I am so hooked on this show this season.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

American Idol - Motown Week

It's hard to go wrong with Motown Week. There are literally hundreds of fantastic songs to choose from. Every contestant should have had a good night. Well . . . almost all of them did.

Casey Abrams started off the night with Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Acting on the producer's advice, he reigned in the wild man a little, which made the growl much more effective when he let it out. Unfortunately, the taming extended to his hair, which was slicked down with something that turned it dark, so it didn't match the beard anymore. But Casey was still Casey, which is a good thing.

Thia Megia ramped it up with "Heatwave" by Martha and the Vandellas. She "knocked it out of the park." Her voice and style seemed a little too smooth for this song, but I can't think that's a bad thing.

Jacob Lusk sang "You're All I Need To Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell. Like Casey, he reigned it in from his usual all-out gospel-fest and showed beautiful control. He had Jennifer dancing in her seat, and at the end of the song, Steven ran up on stage to hug him. I did notice that Jacob has such a strong vibrato that when he isn't all over the place on purpose, he has a weensy bit of a problem staying on pitch.

I worried how Lauren Alaina would do with Motown, since she is the token country girl. But no worries. She sang the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On" with attitude to spare, and if I had never watched her perform before, I would not have suspected she was a country singer. This girl is a big talent. It will be fun to see what she does with other genres.

Up to this point, I have really liked listening to Stefano Langone. He picked one of my all time favorite songs, "Hello" by Lionel Ritchie. And then he mangled it. The arrangement was so oddly chopped up I could barely recognize it. I think the style of the song was just all wrong for Stefano's voice. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Haley Reinhart was up next with "You Really Got A Hold On Me" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. She was totally in her niche! This girl has a rhythm and blues voice. As Jennifer said, she has the most soulful voice in the competition (aside from Jacob Lusk). I think she deserves to move up from her normal position in the bottom three this week.

I was seriously worried how Scotty McCreery would deal with Motown. He chose "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder. So how does a country boy do Stevie Wonder? By doing Glenn Campbell. Scotty sang like he meant every word, and then he threw in what Randy termed "the young lady killer note" at the end. Love that deep, deep, deep voice.

Pia Toscana sang Stevie Wonder's "All In Love Is Fair." Wow! This time instead of singing another diva's song, she was the diva. It was still a ballad, which is her bread and butter. She promised Randy to change things up next time.

Paul McDonald sang "Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. He brought out the guitar and wasn't jumping around the stage. So there was improvement there. But still, what is everybody raving about. I still don't get this guy.

Then Naima Adedapo got her act together with "Dancing In The Streets" by Martha and the Vandellas. When she was singing, she was singing. When she was dancing, she was dancing. And she has learned that she can't do both at the same time. This song was a great for her lower voice, too. All in all, a much better performance this week.

James Durbin brought up the rear with Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For The City." I love watching this guy perform! Not only does he have a fantastic voice, he knows how to work a crowd. And he was dancing! While he was singing! And still sounded good! The only way James will not win is if Scotty's country fans outnumber and/or out vote the rockers.

So my pick to go home this week is Stefano. He butchered one of my favorite songs. Haley and Naima both really got their acts together this time, so I hope they raked in more votes. I wish it was Paul's turn to go, but that won't happen for a few more weeks. (Frightening.)

Steven Tyler was in great form and gifted us with several new Tylerisms (beyond the hug):

"Perfect pitch with a perfect mix of crazy ____ out of control ego."

"You don't look a day over fabulous."

"You can't make a 3-point shot from under the net." (That's true.)

"E to the Z who tweedleedee." (What?)

"You ate the stage."

Where does he come up with this stuff? He's becoming the best part of the show.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

American Idol - Cute Baby Pictures

Last night on American Idol, the contestants were allowed to choose songs from the year the contestants were born. (And I use the word "choose" loosely. There have been hints that the contestants sing what the producers want them to sing.) We were treated to seeing baby pictures of all the contestants and interviews with their emotional/crazy parents. Yes, they were adorable, and most of them apparently started singing before they could talk.

First up was Naima Adedapo, who was born in 1984. She sang Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?" Ouch. She scaled way back on the choreography this week, but that didn't help her vocals much. And the arrangement was too choppy.

Then there was Paul McDonald. Who had a cold. He was also born in 1984 and chose "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" by Elton John. He sounded like Elton John with a head cold on helium. Everybody seems to love this guy's voice and singing style, but I just don't get it. If he was on the radio, I would change the station.

Thia Megia sang the 1995 theme song from the movie Pocahontas, "Colors of the Wind." She did a good job with it. The judges were bored, but what do they want? Last week she jazzed it up a little and they didn't like that, so she went back to ballads. She really does have a beautiful voice, so I think she's safe for a while.

James Durbin was born in 1986 and chose "I'll Be There For You" by Bon Jovi. I like James. He's fun to watch. I like the way he pointed out that he wasn't going to be doing any kissing at the mansion where all the contestants are staying because he is married. I also like his versatile voice. (Go to YouTube and watch him singing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and you'll be a fan, too.)

There were two Whitney Houston songs last night. Haley Reinhart, who was born in 1990, sang "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Oh, Honey, don't go there. Haley really does have a good voice, and she sang well, but compared to the original, not good enough.

Then came Stefano Langone, born in 1989, singing Simply Red's hit, "If You Don't Know Me By Now." Once again, he showed that he really did deserve to be saved as one of the wild card picks.

Pia Toscana had the other Whitney Houston song of the night, singing "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" from 1988. Now Pia has the kind of diva voice that can get away with this, but whose stupid idea was it to turn it into an up-tempo dance number. It was okay, I guess.

Does it surprise anyone that Scotty McCreery idolized Elvis and dressed up as Elvis for Halloween? But there were no Elvis hits from 1993, so Scotty chose "Can I Trust You With My Heart" by Travis Tritt. He's still safe deep in country territory, but slightly more modern country, and he showed off his higher register a little more, which is still most people's lower register. This kid could sign with a record label right now.

Karen Rodriguez was wearing ear plugs, which really helped her stay in tune this week. She was born in 1989 and chose Taylor Dane's "Love Will Lead You Back." She did a good job, not spectacular, but good. But girlfriend, what was that thing on top of your head? And if the hoop earrings hit your shoulders and tilt at an angle, they're just a smidge too big.

Casey Abrams was born in 1991 and picked Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." AND he played electric base. AND there was an awsome light display behind him. He's got the wild man thing down. I could actually understand some of the words to the song, which is more than I could say for Cobain and company's original. Although I really prefer Weird Al's version.

Poor Lauren Alaina had the flu. But she still had energy to spare and if anything it gave just a hint of huskiness to her voice, which was perfect for singing "I'm the Only One" by Melissa Ethridge (1994). She redeemed herself this week.

Jacob Lusk picked, of all things, Heart's 1987 hit "Alone." While I think it's a smart move for the contestants to choose a song from another genre and opposite gender just for contrast, this time it didn't work out so well. He sounded a little too much like Ann and Nancy Wilson, and I don't mean that in a good way. I really don't think he'll be around as long as everybody predicts he will be.

Unfortunately, I think Naima might be the one to go this time. I would like to see Paul voted off, but that won't happen for a while since he's the current darling of Vote For The Worst.

As for the judges. . .

Randy is trying really hard to be the mean judge this year.

Jennifer looked beautiful (that's in her job description) with big, wild hair, smokey eyes, and some sort of animal print outfit.

Steven came up with several more Tylerisms, such as:
"I've got leftover sandwiches under my bed older than you."
"That man right there has a rich vein of inner crazy."
"Ethnic what-it-is-ness."
"Cool dude with a loose mood."


Post results show update:

I was wrong this time. My pick to go home, Naima, was in the bottom three, along with Haley and Karen, but it was Karen who had the least votes. Naima has another week to resolve her pitch problems on the big stage. Haley has another week to find the style that suits her best.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

American Idol - What am I watching here?

After Casey Abrams performance last night, JLo said, "What am I watching here?" That was how I felt about some of the performances, and not in a good way. So here's my rundown.

Lauren Alaina - She sang Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine." The judges were right. It's just too easy for her. It was nice, but she was phoning it it. She's good enough that she'll be around for a while, but it was just good enough.

Casey Abrams - Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends." He is fun to watch, and I think he may have curry combed that beard. It looks a little less like something might be hiding in it.

Ashthon Jones - Diana Ross "When You Tell Me That You Love Me." Kind of - boring.

Paul McDonald - Ryan Adams "Come Pick Me Up." This guy was okay when he sounded like Kenny Loggins doing a Rod Stewart impersonation. But this performance was just weird. Randy said he hoped "America gets it." I think only people who actually know who Ryan Adams is will get it.

Pia Toscana - Celine Dion "All By Myself." Everybody knows American Idol contestants shouldn't do Mariah, Whitney, or Celine. Pia proved herself the exception to the rule. She has the big diva voice to pull it off.

James Durbin - Paul McCartney "Maybe I'm Amazed." This guy can sing! And the AI stylists are at work already, because he lost the tail and got a haircut. James is going to be in the top 3. Wouldn't it be awsome if an Aspie won?

Haley Reinhart - Leann Rhimes "Blue." This girl is a vocal gymnast. Yodeling is not easy, but she made it sound good. Randy thought it was kind of sleepy, but I don't think he's a real country guy.

Jacob Lusk - R. Kelly "I Believe I Can Fly." This song has been done to death, and Jacob wrung the last vestiges of life out of it.

Thia Megia - Michael Jackson "Smile." The beginning showcased her real strength, which is the beautiful tone in her voice. The judges didn't like the jazzy second half, but I did.

Stefano Langone - Stevie Wonder "Lately." Stefano was a wild card pick, so he had something to prove. And he proved it. I think he'll be around for a while. I liked his up-tempo version of this song.

Karen Rodriguez - Selena "I Could Fall In Love." She was off pitch most of the way through. Jennifer took great pains to point out that Karen usually doesn't have that problem, probably hoping that the voters would give her a pass this time.

Scotty McCreery - Garth Brooks "The River." Scotty has a voice that's just easy to listen to, whether he's singing or talking. As long as he doesn't make any huge mistakes, he should be around for the finals. Randy told him to keep doing exactly what he's doing. But I would really like to see him take a song from another genre and "countrify" it. (Think Journey's "Open Arms.")

Naima Adedapo - Rihanna "Umbrella." This was either a big flop or a big hit, depending on which part of the performance you look at. She threw in a lot of great dance moves, but when she was dancing she couldn't stay in tune. As long as she was holding still, her voice was just fine. And then she busted out the reggae. LOVED IT! Too bad she didn't do more of that, and less dancing.

So who's going to be sent home tonight? I would pick either Paul or Ashton. Unfortunately, Paul has hit the radar of the Vote For The Worst website, which almost guarantees him several more weeks. Ashthon was a wild card pick, which meant she had to really sell it and get more votes, but I'm not sold. Karen's performance was awful, but she already has a fan base from MySpace, and she will probably ride through on the strength of past performances and the Latino vote.

As for the other two wild cards, Stefano is safe, but Naima is teetering dangerously. She might make it through just because she has the guts to go where no contestant has gone before. And she locked in the rastafarian vote, if they can find their cell phones.



I was right. Ashthon was eliminated.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

American Idol - Watching the train wreck

This is the first season that I've really watched every episode of American Idol all the way through. In years past, I would just watch segments on YouTube. It saved a lot of time. I didn't have to watch the commercials, or listen to any of the judges' comments.

But this year, we switched cable companies and now that we can actually get FOX (yeah, we're rural) I thought it would be fun to see how Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez did as judges. After watching the first episode of tryouts this season, I was hooked. It's a little like watching a train wreck. No matter how awful it is, you just can't look away. Why, oh why, do they let some of those people even get in the same room as the judges? Thank goodness for fast forward. (And does anyone else think Steven Tyler looks a little like a capuchin?)

Now it's down to the final 24 and everyone has had a chance to sing for America and we'll find out who made it to the final 12 tonight. And I just want to say . . .


My personal picks for the top 12 are (in no particular order):

Thia Megia
Pia Toscano
Lauren Alaina
Karen Rodriguez
Haley Reinhart
Naima Adedapo
Scotty McCreery
Jacob Lusk
James Durbin
Casey Abrams
Robbie Rosen
Paul McDonald


Post-Results Show Update

Hey, I picked 11 of the top 13. (It's supposed to be top 12, but the judges picked 3 wild cards instead of 2.) Robbie Rosen didn't make it. Ashthon Jones and Stefano Langone were wild card picks.

And just to compare, this is Steven Tyler.

And this is a capuchin monkey.