Listen to The Distance

Here’s the link to listen to Taylor’s new CD, The Distance. It’s being released today. Congratulations Taylor! Let us know what you think of  his latest effort and don’t forget to watch Taylor on Ellen DeGeneres today!


Vote for Taylor!!

Taylor Hicks leads as voting continues for Alabama’s Top Music Icon
Posted by Birmingham News March 09, 2009 8:04 AM

Choose Alabama’s Top Music Icon: Vote now

After the first day of voting in The Birmingham News’ music March Madness tournament, “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks is the clear favorite in the field of 64. The gray-haired leader of the Soul Patrol has received the most votes so far of any of the music legends in our bracket in which you’ll decide Alabama’s Top Music Icon.


You can also write in who you want to see at City Stages!


Top 9 & The Wildcards-week of 3.3-3.7

The Top 9 and The Wildcards

Last night they rounded out the top 9 with the addition of Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre and Jorge Nunez to the group that already included Danny Gokey, Michael Sarver, Alexis Grace, Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen.

The judges made 8 wildcard picks who will sing again tonight: Von Smith, Jasmine Murray, Ricky Braddy, Megan Corkrey, Tatiana Del Toro, Matt Giraud, Jesse Langseth, and Anoop Desai.

Tight Black T

For me there was really only one big surprise in the judge’s wildcard picks. For the love of God, why oh why did they pick Tatiana? Okay, I will admit that her Top 36 performance was not awful. But I think that Ju’not Joyner is much more talented and I’m disappointed not to see him get a wildcard chance. I say there was only one surprise, but that doesn’t mean I am completely on board with these picks. I know the judges like both Megan Corkrey and Jesse Langseth, but neither of them do anything for me. I probably would have given Felicia Barton another chance over both of these girls.

And I need to make a comment about Paula here. She has impressed me this season with her ability to remember the songs the contestants sang previously. Has she stepped it up a notch with the addition of Kara?

So, my wildcard picks, without benefit of them singing again of course, are: Anoop Desai, Ricky Braddy, and Matt Giraud. Though I think Jasmine Murray could bump out Braddy.

Lil’ Dawg

Okay here are my wildcard picks. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know who my first pick is. Yup, Noop Dawg! And not to copy Tight Black T, but Rickey Braddy and Matt Giraud round out the three.

Seacrest’s Hair

We have to wonder if the judges will bow to the need to have a gender-balanced top 12 and put through Megan, Jesse and… well, Tatiana, not because she’s better than Jasmine but because she is The Drama (especially since Nathaniel and Norman are both quite, quite gone now). We would like to see Anoop, Jesse and… well… we really didn’t care for anyone else. Possibly Jasmine. We mourn the loss of Felicia, who, once we finally got to hear her, proved to be quite good. We’ll sign her to our record label, American Idol Rejects Records.


3rd Group of 3-3.3.09

3/3/09 – Third Group of 12 Well, real life has gotten in the way of our AI recap this week. Gotta pay the bills ya know! We can give you our picks for tonight though. Lil’ Dawg: Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds Ju’Not Joyner Tight Black T: This is who I would like through – Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds and Ju’Not Joyner. But I think it’s very possible that Jorge Nunez will make it through instead of Joyner. ETA on Thursday by Seacrest’s Hair: We finally got around to watching the tape. We liked Alex, Felicia and Lil but had no hope for Alex actually getting through. We knew that spot was reserved for Scott…


Boxes Are Not For People

JMO: Boxes are not for people

Yesterday was an exciting day for Taylor Hicks fans, as we got the opportunity to listen to his much anticipated new CD on AOL Kids. It was like Christmas come early for me. I had the day off and I spent my first few hours of the day listening and relistening to the songs and chosing my favorites, of which there were many. He delivered on his promise – a CD that covered many musical genres, with the unifying theme being his voice. All was good in my little corner of the world – I was a happy fan.

And then I ventured out of my little corner of the world and discovered that many were not happy fans. According to some, he failed, once again. Others have called him a fake. The comments range from not enough harmonica, to where’s the blues and soul, to WTF is with the over pronunciation, to where’s the dirty bar singer, to he’s only trying for radio play, to this will never get radio play, to why are so few of his own songs on the CD, and on and on and on. ENOUGH ALREADY! The myriad of complaints and oftentimes contradictory needs and desires of his fans is enough to make a person’s head explode.

Here’s the thing – Taylor’s fans seem to have a penchant for putting him in a box, or at the very least, creating their own versions of Taylor Hicks. You can’t put Taylor, or anyone for that matter, in a box. What that means is that you are defining him/limiting him and he will NEVER meet your expectations. People, he is not going to be what you want him to be, he does not exist purely for your enjoyment alone. He can’t be all things to all people, he just has to be himself, and I think that’s what he’s doing. From what I’ve been reading around the Internet, I guess people don’t like that person much. Rolleyes

And what about those who say he’s lied to us, that he’s a fake? I was talking with my girlfriend the other day about how people take every word he says as gospel. What turnip truck did they fall off?! Listen, I figured out pretty early on that what Taylor says should be taken with a grain of salt, and a very miniscule grain at that. Wink Does he lie, no, not exactly. There is usually much more meaning to what he says than what people actually hear. The specific discussion Mari and I had was about songwriting. “I wrote about 30 songs in the past few months.” “This is a songwriters album.” “I learned a lot about the songwriting process.” These are not his exact quotes, but I think they’re pretty damn close. Anyway, so many people I’ve spoken with interpreted that as he wrote the whole CD. So, when the track listing came out and he had what, maybe 5 songs he’s written or co-written (haven’t seen the exact numbers), he’s now a liar. No, he’s not. He may have written 30 songs. He probably did learn a lot about the songwriting process. What he learned was that he probably has a lot more to learn and only those 5 were ready for primetime. Should he be faulted for that. Nope. He should be praised for having the good sense to know what’s good and what’s not. Is it a songwriters CD? Yes. The songs that were not written by him were good choices – well written songs that deserved to be showcased.

It’s kind of the same thing with the whole where’s the blues and soul complaint. Those are his influences, just as they are the influences of so many artists. And they are not his only influences. I think he showed us that on this CD. And let’s get real people, this was also in evidence on his second self-produced CD, Under the Radar, though that CD seems to be much beloved and the “real Taylor.” Huh It is yet another box, one that the industry, and obviously fans, put an artist into. People like Taylor are confusing to the industry and the public. It’s not confusing to me – it’s fascinating and exhilarating.

While Taylor has been a performer for well over 10 years, he has not been a recording artist for that amount of time. He’s still learning and growing as an artist, and that is as it should be. If he delivered a replica of Under the Radar every two years would you be happy? Of course not, but that’s basically what people seem to be expecting. If Under the Radar is all you want, then listen to Under the Radar. I’ll listen to that, The Distance, In Your Time, some Nashville Sessions, and even throw in a little Taylor Hicks and I’ll be happy. But that’s just my opinion.


2nd Group of 12 2.25.09

2/25/09 – Second Group of 12

Lil’ Dawg

Jasmine Murray: Starts off the night with a bad song choice. I don’t know if this was her first time singing with a live band or what, but it was very, very bad.

Matt Giraud: PEOPLE! SONG CHOICES! Viva La Vida? Why? I want the soul back . . . please.

Janine Vailes: Huh

Nick Mitchell: Sadly, the best vocal of the night so far, and the most entertaining.

Allison Iraheta: Someone made a good song choice! Wow! She was surprisingly good.

Kris Allen: Hmmmm . . . not too bad. He didn’t butcher Man in the Mirror completely, so that’s saying something in this competition right now.

Megan Joy Corkrey: I don’t really know. It started off okay, but then I agree with Simon that she oversang the whole middle. Weird hand movements though when she was attempting to dance.

Matt Breitzke: I liked it even if the judges didn’t. But I don’t think he’ll make it into the top 12 though. I guess we will just have to see how the rest are.

Jesse Langseth: Not good. I couldn’t understand her AT ALL and didn’t like the vocals anyway.

Kai Kalama: Fell off pitch a bit, kinda boring, NOTHING memorable.

Mishovanna Henson: Drops of Jupiter. Started off okay but then just broke down between the middle and the end.

Adam Lambert: I really can’t listen to him. I HATE his voice . . . but I think he’ll make it through anyway. Huh

Moving on: Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta and Matt Breitzke

Tight Black T

I’ve decided that I now officially hate this season. Last night’s show was torture and the producers should be brought up on charges of human rights violations. Seriously, that was the most painful two hours (okay, not two hours since I DVR’d it) I have experienced since childbirth! Where are the voices we heard in auditions and during Hollywood week? Is it really just the curse of bad song choice or are these just bad singers? Song choice was once again abysmal, but in addition, the majority of performers had no stage presence and couldn’t have found their way to the right notes with a map! It’s very sad when one of the best vocals of the night comes from singer/comedian Nick Mitchell. Rolleyes

It pains me to have to go through each contestant, but I would like to make some honorable, or dishonorable as the case may be, mentions. In the “where did your voice go” category are Jasmine Murray and Matt Giraud. While in the auditions I thought that Jasmine was more style than substance, I thought she had a decent voice. Guess I was wrong because it was nowhere to be found last night. And Matt, dude, what happened to that guy who just slayed Georgia during Hollywood week? In the “who the hell are you” category there’s Janine Vailes and Kris Allen. I never saw either of those people before last night, and I doubt that after tonight I will ever see them again. For “what the hell are you doing” there was Megan Joy Corkrey and Kai Kalama. Both had very odd and slightly uncomfortable body and facial movements during their performances. As I’ve said previously, that’s saying something from someone who loves Taylor Hicks. While on the subject of performance style – I can’t watch Adam Lambert at all. I sat with my hand over my eyes while he sang he makes me that uncomfortable. The next thing I was about to do was mute the TV because I can’t stand his voice either. He is just over the top in every way, and I was glad that Simon agreed with me. The winner of “whoa what was that,” was Allison Iraheta. Allison really surprised me. She has a great deal of confidence on stage for 16-years-old, and her voice is not bad. She is one to watch!

If it were up to me, and of course it’s not, I wouldn’t put any of that group through to the top 12. But, here’s who I think the fans will pick: Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, and Megan Joy Corkrey.

Seacrest’s Hair

Another week, another bag of cotton balls we had to use to stop our ears bleeding. Rolleyes Although, we will grant that this week was slightly better than last week. But would someone please come along and set us on fire (metaphorically)?

So we start with Ryan wearing one of Simon’s shirts, Simon winking at Ryan, and Kara saying there are no second chances when we all know there’s three wildcard spots.

Jasmine Murray gives a pretty straightforward reading of “Love Song” that the judges find pitchy. We are pretty sure it was the background singers that were pitchy; the performance was solid and energetic.

Matt Giraud sings our pet peeve of the month, “Viva La Vida”. He dances like a dork, which might have saved him if he didn’t also have a weird vibrato, spit in the mic, awkward and choppy arpeggios, etc. Randy thinks the song was too simple for him; we think it was just bad.

Janine Vailes, whom we have never seen before (did she audition in NYC?), picks “This Love”, which is an interesting choice. Everyone loves her legs; we love that she has excellent control over her voice and a wide range (and her legs). Randy claims it was pitchy, but again we are certain it was the background singer(s).

Norman Gentle (he might as well just legally change his name to that) sings… um… “You’re Gonna Love Me”? He has to go. Please, America. His dad looks like he’s never seen the act before but then is upset at Simon’s remarks. Kara gets the best line: “You wear the same shirt, like Simon, every week!”

Allison Iraheta is 16 and dresses like a pinup. Despite her mush-mouth, her version of “Alone” is pretty good and at the very least fits her (stage) personality and her alto voice. Even Simon is excited by her, and her mom strokes out in the audience. (Simon is correct that she has a different/better personality onstage… but then again, Ryan asked a really stupid question of a really distracted teenager.)

Kris Allen, another one we haven’t seen much of, looks like an amalgamation of two of our ex-boyfriends, or alternately like a skinny Danny Wood from NKOTB. We cannot watch him. His song starts rough but improves in the second half, but this is not a football game. Simon, inexplicably, loves it, as do Randy and Paula; Kara speaks first and ends up the odd judge out with her hate.

Megan Joy Corkrey seems more concerned with her weird wiggly dance as she sings “Put Your Records On”. It almost makes her look autistic, or maybe that’s just because she resembles Lily from All My Children.
[Image: 180px-Leven_Rambin.jpg]
Anyway, we thought she got strident near the end; Simon described it as “shouty”. Overall, though, she got way more judge love than we’d have given, probably because she’s a cute blonde.

Matt Breitzke sings “If You Could Only See” because it’s just like the perfect love song and he loves his wife, y’know. (Sorry.) He looks kind of evil to us, but more importantly seems really detached from the energy the band is producing. And he wants to argue with the judges? Look, buddy, I love “I Shot The Sheriff”, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good song choice for me.

Jesse Langseth throws a curveball with “Bette Davis Eyes”, which really suits her nasally voice. It was kinda karaoke for us, but we really love her post-song banter with the judges. She talks to them like an equal, which from what we understand of her musical background, she may be. We agree with the overall assessment that it was too “cool” in the “laid-back, detached, unemotional” sense of the word. If she makes it to the top 12, she has to really bring it next time. Sing from your ovaries, girl!

Kai Kalama, who we think is really cute and sweet, picks a song we love, “What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted”. We love that he picked an old song. We might be more like Paula than we’re willing to admit. Yet again tonight, we get a slow start and a better second half, and we’re left wishing he’d dared to go into falsetto at the end (not knowing whether he’s got any decent falsetto, of course). Judges think it’s safe, old-fashioned, and then Simon trots out wedding, hotel and backup singer. We really have to let him use these more frequently so he doesn’t bring ’em all out at once…

Mishavonna Henson sings a very tentative “Drops of Jupiter” with an awkward pronoun change. It’s like she’s used to singing it with “she” when it’s on the radio, but was forced by the homophobes at Fox to change it to “he”. We felt she was off-melody way too much (although it did go with the key) and was very much off pitch in the last note.

Adam Lambert in the pimp spot. Of course. He sings “Satisfaction” because his mom likes it. We hate when people decide on songs because mom likes it. Our mom likes the Grateful Dead… Anyway, his facial expressions channel Elvis, his vocal channels Steven Tyler, and like Randy says, his look channels that vampire kid. The arrangement is all the hell over the place and a huge challenge for the band. It’s still theatrical, but then again, it’s a Stones song so it kinda works. Maybe he’ll do some KISS in two weeks. Simon finds it uneven, and we agree, but he’s a lock for the top 12.

Our top 3 are Kai, Jesse and Allison, with Kris a close #4. We figure Adam, Jesse and Allison will go through, although either Kris or Megan could still have a chance. (Yeah, we’re completely confused and covering our butts here.)


First Group of 12 2.17.09

2/17/09 – First Group of 12

Tight Black T

In order to “freshen things up,” AI has brought back a format we have not seen since Season 3. Instead of 24 contestants, we now have 36. They’ve divided the 36 into three groups of 12. From each group of 12, three contestants will make it through: top male, top female and the next highest vote getter (male or female). Then, after the three groups of 12 there will be three wildcards picked by the judges to round out the top 12. What does this mean? It means that you have one chance to impress the American public. No pressure at all. Rolleyes So was this pressure the cause of last night’s poor performances? For most of the contestants, poor song choice did them in – and even the good performances weren’t stellar because song choice. “It was like the Lite FM show tonight,” Season 4 Finalist Constantine Maroulis said on American Idol Rewind. “I didn’t realize that was the theme, but these were some of the worst song choices in Idol history.” Who knew I’d agree with Constantine!

The wrong song parade started with Jackie Tohn and Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation.” I know the girl has a good voice, but it was nowhere to be found in this gimmicky performance. I enjoy Jackie’s spirit and enthusiasm, and as she herself said, she is an entertainer, but I don’t see this performance helping her move on.

Ricky Braddy was the invisible man during the early weeks of Season 8 – so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he has a very good voice. Braddy had one of the best vocals of the night singing Leon Russell’s “A Song for You.” Simon said he lacked personality, but I disagree. I thought he had good connection with the camera and the audience. The problem for Braddy is that last night was the first time anyone has seen him and I’m not sure he made enough of an impression to get through.

A “dirtied up” Alexis Grace was up next, singing “I Never Loved a Man.” There is no doubt that the little girl has soul, but I’m not sure she had enough soul to handle that song. It may just be my prejudice since I am a huge Aretha fan. That said though, I think she did a good job, and definitely has the vocal ability and presence to make it to the top 12.

Brent Keith, who showed his soulful style during his audition, tossed it aside for the comfy confines of country music. He played it very safe singing “Hicktown,” and sadly for him, I think he’s headed back there.

Stevie Wright impressed me with her audition song “At Last,” but the judges thought the song was too old for her. So what does she decide to do – she goes to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, out of the realm of good music and chooses Taylor Swift. WTF My viewing companion and I continually yelled “make it stop, make it stop,” at the TV during her performance. We could have turned down the volume, but what fun would that have been? Wink

Ah Anoop, how disappointed we are. His oft off-key and boring performance of “Angel of Mine” saddened me. Anoop has a wonderful voice, and I have enjoyed getting to know his abilities via videos of his college a capella performances on YouTube. I do think he still has a chance of making it to the top 12. As Simon said, people like him.

As for Casey Carlson, I’m not sure she should have been in the top 36 to begin with. She chose “Every Little Think She Does is Magic” by the Police. No one, and I mean no one, covers The Police or Sting. I don’t think it’s because they are icons, I just think that the songs are specifically written for Sting’s voice and style and they cannot be sung by anyone else. Not only were the vocals horrendous, but I was completely put off by the faces this girl was making. This is saying something coming from a woman who loves the king of odd performance faces!

I was optimistic about Michael Sarver. Again, song choice played a role in my feelings about his performance. Sarver chose “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw, not a favorite of mine. Many other AI contestants, including one of my favorites, Elliot Yamin, have sung this song. But it always comes across like the singer is just yelling the lyrics. Such was the case last night. But on this weird night, it turned out to be one of the better performances.

Anne Marie Boskovich gave a draggy, soulless performance of “Natural Woman.” There’s no doubt she has a good voice, but she’s a robot.

Stephen Fowler was the clearest evidence that poor song choice can bury a good voice. The voice we heard in audition and the early rounds in Hollywood was nowhere to be found in Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You.”

The scary point in the night came when a very subdued Tatiana Del Toro took the stage. Her performance of “Saving All My Love for You,” had good and bad moments, but the Stepford version of Del Toro was what made the biggest impression on me. Which was the act, I wonder? Fear

And of course, in typical AI fashion, they saved their golden boy for last. Danny Gokey’s song choice, Mariah Carey’s “Hero”, was nearly as bad as all the others, but in this case, his voice saved him. People, the rasp is going to kill me. I am a whore for the rasp!

My picks to move on: Danny Gokey, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver.

Lil’ Dawg

Jackie Tohn: Very energetic and enthusiastic. Vocals were a bit off, but I think it may have been partly because of the bad song choice (A Little Less Conversation).

Ricky Braddy: I think he has a pretty good voice, but I was kind of bored.

Alexis Grace: I agree with Simon and Paula that she has SO much soul for such a small girl. Hopefully she’ll go far.

Brent Keith: I don’t mean to sound like Simon, but it was just bad karaoke.

Stevie Wright: PITCHY! TERRIBLE! WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? Very bad song choice, very poorly done.

Annop Desai: I is disappointed. Sad I loved Anoop. Hopefully this doesn’t ruin his chances. Cry

Casey Carlon: You can’t cover The Police. It’s just not something you do. Very bad.

Michael Sarvar: It wasn’t terrible. Certainly better than most of the other people tonight.

Ann Marie Boskovich: She has a good voice but there is absolutely NO emotion behind it.

David Fowler: Bad, bad, bad. Bad song choice, bad vocals, just bad.

Tatian Del Toro: Her voice is good and I am nervous about how calm she was. I feel like that wasn’t really her!

Danny Gokey: I’m sorry Anoop my love but this one goes to DANNY! Amazing. I Puffyheart rasp.

My three picks to move on: Danny Gokey, Alexis Grace, and Anoop Desai.

Seacrest’s Hair

Ahh, the Top 36. Ahh, two hour stinkin’ episodes. Well, let’s start with Seacrest, who is wearing an ugly sweater and for some reason has dark brown hair! Augh!! He talks to the judges, Paula looks like she’s had work done, there is some vaguely inspirational yammering and then Simon doesn’t remember what we’ve changed the format to this year, segueing into Seacrest attempting to explain and really not clearing up anything for us.


Jackie Tohn, who is “Miss Personality”, chooses “A Little Less Conversation.” This Elvis hit did not become a hit until, hmm, roughly 2000? It reminds us of Hampster Dance. Jackie is dressed like a “Grease” extra. The song starts out Dusty Springfield, ends Janis Joplin, and in between is cluttered and full of yelling. The nice judges say she’s a “performer and entertainer,” while Simon and we say she’s “ungainly and clownish”. Yeesh.

Ricky Braddy talks about chicken fingers or something, and we see a clip of him from Hollywood, singing an Alicia Keys song. Our first thought is “Elliott” and then he says he’s going to sing “A Song For You” and our next thought is “Elliott Wannabe”. The performance wasn’t bad, save the high notes at the end that seemed hard for him to reach and a bit off — but it also wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Randy and Kara love it, Simon cites his lack of charisma.

Alexis Grace still has her “dirty look” pink hair, and her lipstick is much too red and distracting (uh, slutty, that’s the word) while she sings “Never Loved A Man.” Thank God for a woman who can belt without her voice going all gravelly! She’s sexy just on the edge of trashy, we love the lower parts, and Simon likes her so much he compares her to Kelly Clarkson. Paula even almost makes sense in what she has to say. Alexis’s parents are awesome old hippies. She wins, show over.

Wait, no. Brent Keith is up next, singing “Hicktown”. He’s got no energy, and certainly not the amount of energy the song demands and deserves. He’s also got no enunciation. We had an elementary school music teacher who would put on Alexis’s red lipstick and kiss the cheeks of any kid who didn’t enunciate. Obviously Brent didn’t have her, because he has mush-mouth. Can we mention here that we totally missed seeing those snazzy screensaver backgrounds during the off-season? Anyway, when even Paula thinks it was a safe song, you’re in trouble.

Stevie Wright was told to be younger, so she overshoots it and picks a Taylor Swift song, “You Belong With Me.” She might have improved the song just by having that nice deep voice, except the song totally doesn’t work with a contralto and she struggled with a melody that really isn’t that difficult. Song choice is so important, as we are rapidly learning again this year. We think it was just a hot mess, but Simon was seriously overly harsh on a 16 or 17 year old (Ryan says 16, but didn’t the caption at the beginning say 17?). And, uh, did Jackie hug Stevie’s mom up there?

Anoop Desai keeps up the oddball choices with Monica’s “Angel of Mine”, showing off his high range. We can almost imagine his a cappella buddies blooping and popping in the background… perhaps we spent too much time around a cappella groups in our own college days. He probably just killed some teenyboppers, and we really loved that tenuto arpeggio in the middle. Pretty sexy, actually, for a guy that looks like an IT nerd. Randy and Kara think he was sharp, in the musical meaning of the term, but we think they need to listen to the playback.

Casey Carlson looks like a clean Amy Winehouse and picks the Police’s “Every Little Thing…” You should know right now that we hate any song with more than four words in the title. We wrote in our notes that she totally fell flat — and then Kara said the exact same thing! No energy, and seemed out of sync with the band. Terrible song choice, and it went on forever. For. ev. er.

Michael Sarver seems very happy tonight, perhaps he got some before the show. His wife is cute. He is awkward with the mic and his song, “I Don’t Wanna Be” starts out slow (it is “pick songs Elliot sang” night) but he picks it up with the first chorus. We’re with Randy this time in that it was perhaps not the best song choice, but we really do like him. At this point, we noticed that Paula and Kara seem to be sharing a mic — are we right about this? Is the economy so bad that they couldn’t install a fourth mic?

Ann Marie Boskovich (we are back to attempting to spell her name correctly) picks “Natural Woman”. We didn’t realize she’s a demo singer, must’ve missed that originally, and what is with all the brunettes with long limp hair this year? Anyway, we find her between-note transitions awkward, there is a weird echo on the audio and we find the technical aspects of her vocal worse than the performance itself. And then she slams Sara Bareilles!? Hm. The worst Simon will say, for some reason, is that the song is “old fashioned”. Well, honey, the song is younger than you…

Stephen Fowler is apparently Michael Jackson, as he says “Rock With Me” best shows off who he is as an artist. We barely notice when he starts the song, which is bad enough, but then the tempo seems way too slow and he is absolutely not engaging us. He might actually be trying for “laidback R&B guy” but this isn’t the way to do that. He says he’s not comfortable without his piano, which is too damn bad. There’s no room for it on that stage. Simon says it’s “pointless”. Indeed.

Tatiana Del Toro is, unfortunately, actually really good with “I’m Saving All My Love For You”. In fact, we would go so far as to say she’s the first person on Idol to actually not destroy a Whitney song. We know, it pains us too. She understands dynamics. She knows how to hold a mic. The judges are afraid to admit to anything but “moments” being good, but a moment is defined as 1 and 1/2 minutes, which is exactly what the contestants get at this stage. The judges are also afraid of this new, demure Tatiana, because it seems like the eye of the hurricane. And all of a sudden, her PR accent starts to come out? Hmm. I sense vote pimping…

Danny Gokey is in the pimp spot and, in our opinion, wastes it by continuing to be Mr. Secular Inspirational Song Guy. If he makes it into the top 12, he’ll start breaking out the church songs, mark our words. It will be “On Eagle’s Wings” every week. But maybe you like that sort of thing? Anyway, he picks “Hero” this week, includes a bit of Jamar’s jumpy phrasing (perhaps in tribute) and is oddly not raspy all of a sudden. Why? The song is very pretty, but it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. The nice judges are psychotically in love with him. Simon says it’s “good but not fantastic”, as well as “heavy-handed”. We are very much in tune with Simon this year, and we are probably as jaded and, er, atheist as Simon, too.

Our own personal top three are Alexis, Anoop, and Tatiana (shut up). But we think that Danny, Alexis, and either Anoop or Michael will move on.


Top 36!! 2.11.09

Top 36 Chosen – 2/11/09

Well, our partner in crime, Lil’ Dawg has only one thing to say after last night’s show


Geez, what a one track mind! Rolleyes

Tight Black T

Well, we finally have the Top 36. For the most part, there were no surprises. I say for the most part, because there were actually three big surprises for me – Tatiana Del Toro, Nick Mitchell, and Nathaniel Marshall. If any of these people get to stay and a talented contestant is sent home I will not be a happy camper. Badmood

They shook things up a little this year with the contestants going to a mansion to hear their fate. No creepy elevator cam anymore, just a long hallway and then the judges sitting like the royal court. Another addition this year was the sing-off. If there were two contestants the judges were on the fence about, they each had to sing an additional song. Some of the match-ups, like Cody Sheldon and Alex Trugman who had become friends – were purely made-for-TV drama. Of the four match-ups that we saw, I disagreed with the choice on three of them. However, the last one, Breitzke vs. Sarver was a draw, with both men making it into the top 36. Simon said neither one could win. Well Simon, you just ensured that by putting in two guys who will be pulling from the same pool. Jamar Rogers, best friend of Danny Gokey, did not make it to the top 36. I hope Danny can handle not having his security blanket around.

There was an interesting development today regarding one of the top 36 – Joanna Pacitti was disqualified from the competition and was replaced with Felicia Barton. I do not remember Barton at all. Apparently, she was removed to “avoid the appearance of impropriety.” It had been reported that she has a close relationship with two executives of 19 Entertainment.

On Tuesday night, we will see the first group of 12 perform. It looked like a good group for the first night. Let the games begin!!!

Here’s the full list of the top 36:

Adam Lambert
Alexander Wagner-Trugman
Alexis Grace
Allison Iraheta
Ann Marie Boskovich
Anoop Desai
Arianna Ayesha Afsar
Brent Keith
Casey Carlson
Danny Gokey
Felicia Barton
Jackie Tohn
Jasmine Murray
Jeanine Vailes
Jessica Langseth
Jorge Nunez
Ju’not Joyner
Kai Kalama
Kendall Beard
Kristen McNamara
Kris Allen
Lil Rounds
Matt Breitzke
Matt Giraud
Megan Corkrey
Michael Sarver
Mishavonna Henson
Nathaniel Marshall
Nick Mitchell
Ricky Braddy
Scott MacIntyre
Stephen Fowler
Stevie Wright
Taylor Vaifanua
Tatiana Del Toro
Von Smith

Seacrest’s Hair

Hm, well, we really don’t have much to add. Nobody told us the ep was going to be two hours long, so of course we only got the first hour. How about some random observations?

Cody Sheldon looks like Eden Riegel from All My Children. That’s not a good thing for a boy.

Kara seems to be expressing opinions behind-the-scenes… we’d bet she got Joanna Pacitti booted after the fact. Either that, or Joanna’s actually still under contract with a label and they were surprised/appalled to see her appearing on Idol.

Simon is a pig. Kristin was obviously better than Jenn, and maybe it’s just that we’re not into tall blonde Swedish-looking chicks, but Kristin at least will bring some drama. We hadn’t seen Jenn since her first audition (which we missed actually, because that was the NYC ep), so obviously she wasn’t going to make it, no matter what Simon’s hormones said.

Alexis Grace’s new haircut is nice, but why the pink, honey?

Lil Rounds’ earrings are frickin’ huge!

Are we the only ones getting “weak” or “nasal” out of Jesse Langseth’s voice?

We only got to see Tatiana in previews, but did she seem fatter than she was a day ago?

Wish us luck with the VCR programming sitch next week…


Hollywood-Part 3,Solos 2.10.09

Hollywood – Part 3, solos again, 2/10/09

Seacrest’s Hair

Our partners in crime have gone MIA (although not M.I.A., thank goodness, did anyone see that disaster she wore performing at the Grammys?) so we are on our own for this ep. Aren’t you terrified lucky?!

The ever-inventive AI producers decided to cut this episode up and make it all flash-backy, including flashbacks within flashbacks: they started with the kids in the holding room and the judges with the Pile o’ Polaroids, then used that nifty rewind thing from the David Cook commercial to go back to the auditions… and then went back and forth repeatedly the rest of the episode, breaking it up with flashbacks to original auditions, including (for one person) an audition and H’wood failure from last season.

We were actually going to note every “Dramatic Shot Of Holding Room” (DSOHR) but there were so many we lost count. Your loss! Just know there were a lot.

Adam Lambert picks “lucky #1” (per Seacrest) and drags out Cher’s “Believe” to a very torchy slow ballad. Hm. We’re not sure about this.

Matt Giraud plays keys and sings “Georgia”, which is swingy, soulful and a tiny bit modern. He’s got a decent high range.


Jamar and Danny are still joined at the hip, although we’re willing to bet they only drew consecutive numbers in the final edit, not real life. Jamar seems to be losing his voice through “Delilah” and does some kind of staccato thing through what used to be drawn out notes, which the audience likes much better than we do. He squints so much we can’t tell if his eyes are open or not.

Danny rasps through “I Hope You Dance”, which we can’t stand, as he sounds like Macy Gray crossed with Elliott Yamin (and we like Elliott!). We think he picked a totally wrong money note, too.

DSOHR #2. (After this we lose count because they come fast and furious.)

Anoop Desai sings something blue-eyed soul-y; Jorge Nunez is kinda annoying but the judges still seem to like him.

Scott “Blind Guy” MacIntyre sings “Home.” Fucking “Home.” Daughtry. WHY??!?!!? His piano playing is nice but he sounds exactly like Daughtry’s recording. Again, WHY??!?!!? Also, he gets past-vid-pimped, maybe to make up for the Daughtryness, but it doesn’t work on us.

Kendall Beard (we don’t remember her) sings “Before He Cheats” (Carrie U.) and it is meh; Stevie Wright sings “Bubbly” in her lovely deep voice and we like it; Lil Rounds gives an unsurprising church solo-type performance of something we didn’t recognize in that short clip.

Kristin McNamara from “Team Compromise” (the blonde chick) sings “Because Of You”, yells it a bit and wears a hideous long, orange, printed dress that a blogger we read described as “vintage Mama Cass”. Except Mama Cass probably looked awesome in it.

Mishavonna Henson (holy crap, what a name) sings a note-perfect version of something we didn’t write down, and has an interesting whispery voice. She was booted from H’wood last year.

In the future-present, the kids are finally getting divided into the four rooms.

Tatiana, the bane of our existence, gives her least-obnoxious performance yet, until the last few notes and, y’know, her personality.

Alexis Grace sings “Before He Cheats” better than Kendall did; Kenny Hoffbauer (we don’t remember him) is a Jack Johnson clone, when Jack himself is starting to grate on our nerves; and Jasmine Murray blows people away with “Tattoo”, although she seems a bit off to us.

Nathaniel “The Queen” Marshall plays a nice subdued guitar on “Disturbia”, which we think was pretty good and not queeny, although it’s hard to tell with the constant cut-ins of him acting queeny during groups.

Joanna Pacitti and Casey Carlson forget their words; Stephen Fowler plays piano, sings with his eyes closed and grimacing, forgets his words, starts over, forgets his words again and gives up. But what he wasn’t screwing up sounded good!

In the future-present, Tatiana is removed from Room 1 and moved to Room 4, thereby making Room 1 more optimistic and Room 4 totally fearful.

Nick “Norman Gentle” Mitchell, sadly, decides to prance around as Norman and sing “Georgia” through his nose. We wish he’d either stop screwing around or get cut. He is Sanjaya-like.

Anne Marie B. sings “I Hope You Dance” very prettily but has a near-miss on the money note; Ju’Not Joyner sings Delilah pretty but husky (not like Danny’s rasp, though, for some reason Ju’Not doesn’t get on our nerves as much… maybe because he’s not being pimped).

Kaylan (pronounced Kaitlyn) Loyd sings older than she looks, but OMG is she chewing gum on stage? Maybe that’s why Simon cut her off.

Leneshe Young does a nice R&B-ish version of Sara Bareillies’ “Love Song”. Of course we get to see her sob-story again.

Kai Kalama is totally losing his voice, but is okay with the guitar; Sarver has re-dropped the “Jeremy” (so weird) and sings something we know but can’t figure out through the arrangement (a little help here?), doesn’t suck but throws in way more runs than we care for.

In the future-present, Simon runs away before the holding rooms get the news. We’re sure he had pressing business to attend to in London. Dodgy As we go into the holding rooms, Paula is wearing some kind of, um, scrap metal necklace? We think she wore something similar in Season 5 as well. Kara is pretty, and Randy is either wearing chains or they are part of his shirt. We need an HDTV.

They go to Room 2 first. It contains Alexis, Joanna, Casey, Kai, Arianna (remember her from Phoenix? neither did we), Jasmine, Stephen, Sarver and Nathaniel. After some annoying nail-biting stuff from the judges, they get through.

Next, to Room 3, which includes India (who apparently had a rough solo, although we didn’t really get much more than a second of that), little Castro, Kaylan and Leneshe. Hopefully Leneshe gets some offers elsewhere to support her family, because they are not through.

Room 1 has been waiting “forever”, including Anoop-dawg, Scott, DannyandJamar, Adam, Lil, Jorge and Jackie Tone (Tom? we have no idea). They are through.

Which means Room 4 gets to freak out some more. Already they have Tatiana, but now they’ve heard two rooms scream in joy. Nobody ever knows how many people are getting through in this round; it’s only the next round that has an actual quota, 36. So, the judges let them sweat for a really long time while Tatiana builds up to a really high, annoying, scaredy-pitch. Some guy finally raises his hand and pretty much begs the judges to say “No” already. They say yes. So Pain-In-The-Ass, Ju’Not, Jackie Mitcham (must be from NYC or San Juan, another one we don’t know), Cody Sheldon (Goth Boy), Matt B., Nick/Norman, Anne Marie, Felicia Barton (seriously, we think some people have never been shown before but made the top 36 so Seacrest is dropping names to later claim we’ve seen them before), and T.K. (last seen in Jacksonville) are through.

We’re almost done with Hollywood! Onward to further winnowing tomorrow.


Hollywood Week: Round 1 2.3.09

Hollywood Week: Round 1 – 2/3/09

Tight Black T

147 made it to Hollywood and to the stage of the Kodak Theatre. This year they held the first ever Idol Boot Camp. Contestants met with stylists, vocal coaches and surprise mentor Barry Manilow. Manilow’s non-moving face was even scarier then when he was on during Season 5! Fear Boot Camp didn’t help 43 contestants as they were sent packing after the first day. Song choice seemed to be a big problem, even for some of the judge favorites.

In the end, there were no real surprise cuts. We saw many of the faces we’ve already become familiar with, but many of those people called out for selection still have gone unnamed. All of my personal favorites made it through the first round: Anoop Desai, Stephen Fowler, Scott McIntyre, Danny Gokey and Jeremy Michael Sarver. Surprise passes were given to Von Smith (stop yelling dude!), “Norman Gentle” (ditch the shtick), and “Bikini Girl” (Randy and Simon are still not thinking with their brains).

Tonight is group night, the night the contestants dread. For me it’s the night when you separate those who truly want it, from those who are just going through the motions. If you don’t have the work ethic to get through this challenge you are not going to survive the rest of the competition – it’s just that simple. I’ve heard people say that group night is unfair, that if your group sucks then you’re going down. I see it as, it’s your time to shine baby, put it all out there and make it happen. I’d like to think my boys mentioned above will do just that! Smile

Lil’ Dawg

Anoop! Anoop! Anoop!
Puffyheart NOOPDAWG

Stephen Fowler: Perfect song, perfect voice.

Von Smith: Stop yelling. . . . please! How did he make it through? I’d rather not listen to him again . . . ever.

Danny Gokey: I still love the rasp. His performance gave me chills, which doesn’t happen too often.

Seacrest’s Hair

Well. We’re still having flake issues, as we got home late last night (not our fault, roads were terrible) and ended up missing the first 15 minutes of the show. Checking our colleagues’ notes above, we apparently missed Manilow, Anoop and some filler. Oh well.

Coming back from what we think was the first commercial, we saw some guys get through: Stephen Fowler, who perhaps missed his session with the stylists; Jorge Nunez (our notes say “whoa eyebrows”); and Von Smith, whose sweater just barely was worse than the faces he made while he oversang.

We cut to a Boot Camp flashback and Byrd telling the recruits that song choice is everything. We professional judges have known this for years! And yet, most of the contestants blow their song choices. Much later in the ep, we see Emily Hughes, who had picked a good song, switching as she stood on stage and totally blowing it (but getting through anyway).

Nick “Norman Gentle” Mitchell, who we missed last week, brings the somewhat-funny again just because he knew we missed him last week. Or not. Anyway, he gets through again because somewhere under the sparkly shirt (apparently he picked through the trash and got it back, because we can’t believe another one was available for purchase) he might have some talent.

Scott “Blind Genius” McIntyre and Frankie “Has A Cute Baby” Jordan made it through without clips for us.

Jackie Tone, who we did not see last week (see a theme here?) is just a screamer to us, but makes it through again.

We get some clips showing how everyone has already bonded after only a couple days together. Aww.

Danny and Jamar from Kansas City (we cannot separate them and wonder how comitragic it would be if they were the last two standing) are through, although we’re pretty sure Jamar’s doing a retread of his original audition and Danny definitely doesn’t have the high range for “Kiss From A Rose”.

Bikini Girl is back and wearing a garbage bag… we fast-forward through a lot of the unnecessary crap (how many middle-aged female or family-oriented viewers is AI losing by featuring her?) and then listen to her whiny rendition of “Breathe”. Kara is spot-on in her “thin” assessment. Sadly, BG is through. Hell, she’s not even that good looking, Simon and Randy! We are totally cuter and hotter than her. However, we’re also too old to try out for Idol. Sad.

Sweet Jessica Furney gets canned before we even get to hear her again, as do the girl with the dog and some girl from San Juan.

Jesus and Sarver (who is now Jeremy instead of Michael) are briefly pimped. Jesus has a nasty-looking pencil mustache and we think he gets canned because of it. Sexy Sarver is through.

The Osmond boy continues to fail to impress me but goes through. Erika Wesley, another San Juan auditioner, is not through and decides to argue… yeah, because that works in Hollywood.

Another set with no clips is through: Alexis Grace, Brett Keith Smith (only AI auditioners and serial killers use their middle name, yo), Annemarie B (we are giving up on remember her last name) and Adam “Wicked” Lambert.

Tomorrow is our favorite (no really) catastrophe, the Group Sing. We seriously love Group Sing. We will save further rhapsodic-type waxing for tomorrow, though.


NYC & San Juan, 1.29.09

New York and San Juan, 1/29/09

Seacrest’s Hair flaked last night and only recorded 3 minutes of the show. So, you’re stuck with two reviews today. Well, really only like 1-1/3 because I’m not sure Lil’ Dawg’s can really count for a full review. Wink

Lil’ Dawg
Adeola Adegoke: You know it’s not going to be good when they say they quit their job because they “knew” they were going to Hollywood. Rolleyes

Monique Garcia Torres: Pretty voice, but not strong enough.

Much needed Hollywood week! At least most of them can kind of sing . . .

Tight Black T

So first off, I think the producer’s evil plan to thoroughly confuse me worked, because I had no idea what city they were in half the time! Not that it really mattered. Only nine golden tickets were handed out in Puerto Rico so that certainly would not have filled a show. But it would have been nice to see more of the 26 ticket-worthy contestants from New York.

From NY (I think) we had the contestant who quit her job because she was sure she was going to Hollywood. Yeah, that never works out. Simon called her boss, who didn’t really seem all that anxious to get her back, but whatever.

Jorge Nunez, a college student from San Juan had a nice strong voice – though I do agree with one of the judges who said that he showed more passion in his Spanish language song choice.

The chick who had won something like 700 contests in her life did not impress the judges one bit. Even less impressive and incredibly annoying was her interminable begging.

Melinda Camille – the girl who dances naked in her room and wants to uplift humanity to a place of love and positivity – impressed the judges with her voice and personality. Randy asked her if she wished she could be naked right now. She said only if they were all naked. Kara maybe, the rest, ick!

“Entertaining is all I know,” said Jackie Tohn, and I got worried. But, she proved me wrong. Her first song choice, “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, was all wrong, but they gave her another chance. Her raspy, husky voice is very interesting and I’m anxious to see how she does in Hollywood.

They showed us two guys in ridiculous outfits. The first, the “Crazy Rocker” from PR was just plain annoying. He showed up in a cardboard iPod, and ended with a hand puppet singing “The Circle of Life.”

The second guy, “Norman Gentle,” amused the judges much more, even Simon. I have to say, his voice was not bad, but I never guessed they would send him to Hollywood.

Three quick yeses followed with Ashley Hollister, Kenny Hoffpauh, and Kendall Beard.

Monique Garcia Torres, a 16-year-old who showed up with her cute, funny 9-year-old brother made it as well, even though it seemed that the judges did not like her at all. “You need more confidence.” “You’re not ready.” So here’s your ticket to Hollywood. Huh

Alexis Cohen, middle finger girl from last season, was back with a whole new ‘tude. We’ll not exactly. New look yes. But in the end it was the same old Alexis.

The final contestant of the night was Patricia Lewis Ramon. For some reason she thought “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” was a good song choice. Luckily, they let her sing another song and she showed the lovely voice she has.

So we finally arrive at Hollywood week – billed as “the most dramatic Hollywood week ever.” Okay Seacrest, can I hold you to th


Porn turtles,lint brushes, & Bendies OH MY!

     We’ve been singing the Soul Patrol blues lately.  Where are the days of the Soul Patrol being one big happy family? Remember when we were a dedicated, loyal, organized, and creative community? The voting? The go phones? Taylor’s shout outs to his fan base? TuesTAYS?  It seems like issue after issue is splitting the fan base and it’s getting really old. These days it’s more like one big dramatic dysfunctional family.    

     Let’s put the fun back in dysfunctional! Let’s try as a group to recall some of the fun times and get things back on track for Taylor’s sake. So, sing your blues about the latest issues if you must, but see if you can also contribute a fun story or experience from the last couple of years. Like Taylor says “Share a little smile”. As a group we’ve done so many fun and positive things. It’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes, but in the big picture this is a strong, smart, generous, and loyal group. Hell, when thousands of women are interested in the same man there are bound to be some fireworks!  So,  shoot us some favorite stories and memories of the Taylor Hicks fan journey!


Salt Lake City, Utah 1.28.09

Salt Lake City, 1/28/09

Lil’ Dawg

Frankie Jordan: Great voice, very different. Kinda like Amy Winehouse, but better I think.

Megan Corkery: Pretty old-fashioned voice. Very memorable as Simon said. And her son is so cute! Smile

Austin Sisneros: Very bad song choices but you can kinda tell he has a voice. His little “it’s okay to follow your dreams” and “I’m here to inspire people” speeches reminded me of Archie. But his voice isn’t as good as Archie’s – not even close.

Taylor Vaifanua: I don’t think her voice is that great. It’s not bad . . . it’s just not wow!

Tight Black T

The intro hype on Salt Lake City, the home of last year’s runner up, David Archuletta, was that they met “some of the happiest people we’ve ever seen.” Shiny, happy people are not what American Idol is supposed to be about – it’s all about the music dammit. Oh wait, that’s something else. Rolleyes

What visit to Utah would be complete without the Osmonds, who make up 25% of the population of Utah. Okay, I made that up, but it’s gotta be pretty damn close! David Osmond, son of Alan, grew up in the family business, singing barbershop with his brothers since he was four. David suffers from MS, as does his dad, and a few years ago was in a wheelchair. In a remission period now, he looked unbelievably strong and healthy. While he had a good voice, the judges didn’t seem to like him very much, worrying that he couldn’t be a solo artist. But, they put him through to Hollywood just the same.

Goth chick Tara Mathews’ ESP must have been on the fritz since she had no idea she was going to suck so badly.

In our usual procession of losers’ montage, we had our requisite scary dude – Rick something or other. He was the full package of loser goodness – Michael Bolton 90’s hair, sunglasses on top of his head, and creepy, buggy eye lined eyes that darted around. The icing on the cake was when he said he could show them something else, and his tongue darted around like Bartie Crouch, Jr. from Harry Potter. Don’t get the reference, too bad.

I’m frightened by the fact that Simon actually seemed to enjoy being picked up by super-sized pink bunny, “Greg the Rabbit.”

We have had a slew of moms auditioning this season. Salt Lake City brought us Frankie Jordan, a 23-year-old stay at home mom. She sang Amy Winehouse. Her voice definitely had that same quality, but I think she is much more than a Winehouse wannabe. Her voice is very distinctive and I’d love to hear her sing something more bluesy.

Our other mom was soon to be divorced Megan Corkery. First off, her son was just the cutest thing. Megan sang “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine.” While I had high hopes for Megan, I’m not completely sure about her voice. The judges seemed to love her, particularly Simon. Maybe I missed something.

Austin Sisneros is an Archie wannabe. While he never said it, I could imagine the end of each of his sentences being punctuated with “gosh.” His song choices were horrid, and his voice was just okay. And you guessed it, we’ll be seeing him in Hollywood.

Originally from Samoa, Taylor Vaifanua is a very mature, very tall (5’11”) 16-year-old. As with so many contestants this season, I thought her voice was good, but couldn’t understand the praise heaped upon her. “One of the best vocals we’ve heard this season.” – Randy. Huh

Rose Flack was our tearjerker story of the night. In the past four years, this 17-year-old has lost both her parents and now lives with a friend’s family. Even with her tragedies, this girl still has spunk and a pretty positive attitude. Her funky style brought raves from the judges (and my viewing companion). Her cool vibe did not translate into good vocals though. There is something interesting about her and I’m hopeful that better song choices and the confidence of having gotten through that audition will bring out Rose’s potential.

They’re cramming New York City and San Jose into one night tonight. Thank God. It’s off to Hollywood on Tuesday, not a moment too soon!

Seacrest’s Hair

We’ve done these reviews in the past, and this is the first time we’ve been able to keep our audition notes down to two pages in the ol’ notebook. Dang. Anyway, we’re in Salt Lake City, and apparently the people here are happy because they smile and cheer for the cameras. Not because the producers told them to, of course.

They surprise us by cutting straight to the Osmond kid, David, who like his dad Alan has MS, and like all Osmonds has that smile. We did a quick Google search and confirmed that Take Six is one of those annoying Christian bands, so of course David loves them. We were hoping for “Puppy Love”, really. Anyway, you can’t reject an Osmond while in Utah; it’s just not allowed, like being gay. David gets a ton of “constructive criticism” and a golden ticket.

Bring on the losers! Tara Mathews is the typical fat Goth chick, claims she has ESP, and can’t sing worth a damn. We get a quick montage of a goat girl, a horridly dramatic girl, and a creepy guy with… oh, Michael Bolton hair and a penchant for licking his lips. A lot. Lewdly.

Chris Kirkham might have gotten through, even with his karaoke voice, if he hadn’t come in with Simon on his shirt… Simon on a stick… and a giant pink bunny. Apparently not everyone in SLC is a teetotaler.

Then we get a montage of graceful losers, the judges ponder moving to SLC, and Seacrest tries to pep-talk the Mormons into fighting back.

Frankie Jordan has a very, very, very cute baby (so cute we forgot to check out the hubby) and a quite pleasant voice. Seacrest gets to say “Frankie goes to Hollywood.”

Oh look, more cute baby! Toddler, actually. His mommy is Megan Corkrey, who filed for divorce and auditioned for Idol almost concurrently. It’s also her birthday. She has a very weird, slide-y, edgy voice and we definitely don’t care for her song choice. This is Simon’s “favorite audition”. And apparently Simon likes “different”. Did he get hit on the head with something? Replaced with a pod person??

Now we get a montage o’ winners, because apparently Megan put the judges in such a good mood they’re letting everyone through. Or not.

Andrew Gibson only gets a quick moment, but makes us wonder why baritones think they could possibly get on Idol. Sorry, pop music is for tenors. Go back to a cappella choir.

Austin Sisneros is not auditioning just for himself, but as an example to… um, his classmates? Other kids? He’s got a lispy speaking voice but sings pretty well, despite weird song choices. Raffi? This kid confuses us. He gets through, we think, on perseverance, likeability and cuteness. What a season this is turning out to be.

Next, a crying montage, followed by a snippet of Jarrett Burns, who picks a girl song but seems to have a decent range. And another montage o’ losers, edited to turn into an extended yodel. Great.

Taylor Vaifanua makes us pause the VCR to get her name down. She’s wicked tall, some kind of ethnic, and claims to be 16, although she looks maybe 25 to our eyes. Pretty good, but… eh… she gets through.

Finally, after much pimping, we meet Rose Flack, who is a cute 17 year old orphan from Idaho. She has short blonde dreadlocks and is repeatedly described as a “free-spirit”, which says to us she knows where to get the good stuff. We liked her song choice, “I Feel The Earth Move”, and she sings it a lot better than the judges give her credit for. We love her, so she’ll probably be cut in the first public-voting round.

Tomorrow (can we really stand a third hour this week?), Rutherford, NJ a/k/a New York City and San Juan, PR are crammed into one hour. This is all for the best, because next week, everyone gets torn to shreds in Hollywood. Excellent…


Jacksonville, Florida 1.27.09

Jacksonville, 1/27/09

Lil’ Dawg

I don’t like when Randy and Simon switch seats. Meh!

Sharon Wilbur: Her voice is okay but I really don’t like how she ends each line. The gulpy, baby voice is very Britney Spears.

T.K. Hash: SO CUTE! And he can sing. But I agree with Randy, his performance was kinda over the top.

My comments are short, as is my attention span for this show lately. I can’t wait for the top 24.

Tight Black T

The Jacksonville audition show started out with a look back at one of the hottest bands of the early 80’s – Journey – more specifically, their bass player, the one and only Randy Jackson. OMFG, the hair! My viewing companion and I could not stop laughing. Her comment – “it’s actually square!” And let’s just say that he is no Al “Boogie” Carty when it comes to the moves. Rolleyes

The reality of last night was that Randy’s hair was about the funniest and most exciting part of the night. Oh wait; there was Paula and Kara kissing. Yeah, even that could have been better. The lack of actual talent this season is evident in the amount of filler they need to use for a one hour show. Seacrest is getting an awful lot of screen time this season, outside of his usual time with the contestants. It seems like it will be a running joke between he and Simon about how he delivers his lines. I don’t get it. And last night they had him driving what looked like a golf cart and supposedly getting lost. Funny?

Okay, onto the “talent.” Justin Guarini look alike Joshua Ullo made it through despite Inspector Gadget sound effects. He had an okay voice and might actually be good if he stops messing around and just sings.

Sharon Wilbur and her dog Sasha made it through as well. She was cute and her voice was different, but there was a slightly annoying quality to it. It could have been the song choice or nervousness; we’ll have to see if it’s still there in Hollywood.

Kanewasa Finnie proved that confidence is not everything. Her mother said she had been singing all around Jacksonville since she was five. What she didn’t say is that she had left bleeding ears in her wake.

Julissia Veloz, Miss Florida Latina USA, was better than the judges expected, but as far as I’m concerned, not good enough to be put through, but she was. Is that where the bar is set these days – better than we expected?

Then we had the first odd, slightly uncomfortable moment of the night. Naomi Syke’s friend loves Randy Jackson, and so they told her to come into the audition room. The girl sat on Randy’s lap, while for some inexplicable reason; Seacrest sat on Kara’s lap with her hands on his chest, and Paula sat on Simon’s. Naomi was terrible of course, and they all laughed thinking it was a joke. Which it wasn’t, and then they all ended up consoling her. That’s been happening a lot lately.

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Murray chose the very wrong song to show off her voice, Big Girls Don’t Cry, by Fergie (I loathe Fergie). But a good voice rose above a crappy song. As with Lenesha Young from last week, Jasmine has very commercial appeal.

Bearded 18-year-old physics student George Ramirez was my WTF moment of the night. His pre-audition package piece actually creeped me out. My viewing partner and I were astonished by his lack of hips or a butt. We’re not sure how his pants stayed up even with a belt. The boy was just plain odd. I have a cousin named George Ramirez and I know he has a kid of the same name about that age. All I can say is, we better not be related! Fear

Kara fan Ann Marie Boskovich didn’t really get to sing before they sent her away. I think something was lost in the editing because I didn’t get what they saw that they wanted to send her away to “come back a different person.” She came back a while later, having found a makeup artist on the street, a new pair of shoes, and ditching her jacket. She’s cute and has a nice voice, but as the judges said, she needs to find her star personality.

T.K. Hash is a 23-year-old cutie who didn’t make it last year and was back for another try. His version of “Imagine” was all over the place, with too many runs and changes in the melody. But, you can’t deny he has a nice voice and is pretty easy to look at! Hopefully they can teach him what to do with the lovely instrument he has.

And poor guitar guy Michael Perrelli, having to put down his guitar for the audition was too much for him to handle. I agree with Simon that he doesn’t have the kind of voice AI is looking for, but he does have a voice that I hear on the radio everyday. Do we need another, I don’t know. I didn’t think we needed another Nickelback sound-alike, but along came Daughtry!

Salt Lake City, the home of Archie, is up next tonight. I’m not sure if I can take another “oh gosh” AI contestant. I prefer the dirty bar singer types myself. Wink

Seacrest’s Hair
This is why we love American Idol: we get to pretend Jacksonville was named for Randy. Rolleyes All righty, then.

We’ve still got 1-hour shows this week, which is great, because we really can’t take much more suck than that at once. Even the sucky people don’t suck as hard as they used to. But they do surprise us right off the bat tonight by letting through the first person, Joshua Ulloa, who not only thinks people remember Justin Guarini, but also believes that he is a sound-effect machine. The judges are, inexplicably, taken with this.

Sharon Wilbur, who has the same hairdo as the “trashea/larnix” girl from last week, brings her poor dog along (it has a better hairdo). She’s squeaky, she’s whiny, she throws way too many crappy runs in there, and pronounces “baby” as “bay-bay”, like Britney. Oh yes. And while Paula tackles Kara with a kiss the way we used to kiss in fifth grade, with a hand between their lips (we figured that would prevent AIDS), Sharon is let through.

Seacrest goes off-roading in a golf cart, but comes back.

Dana Moreno thinks she’s a soprano and isn’t. Kaneswa Finnie’s mother thinks she can sing… nope. (However, Kaneswa would make a fine juniors fashion model, and Simon should’ve told her mother that.)

Julissa Veloz has a fascinating first name and a tiara… over a haircut we haven’t seen in about 35 years. She’s got an endearingly dorky laugh (well, endearing to us, maybe not to Simon) and her singing voice is rough around the edges. She disappears behind the wall o’ Idols with Paula and comes back with four yeses.

Darrin Darnell starts out as a social butterfly, but we think this dude needs lithium. He meets another auditioner, the other guy doesn’t get through, and Darrin is so upset that he can barely get through his audition. But that’s okay, because he would have been that horribly off-key anyway.

Naomi Sykes absolutely cannot sing, and actually kinda talks her way through her song. But her redheaded friend Samantha (who for some reason needed to meet Randy in slo-mo) is cute, and we’d like to know if maybe she can sing. Or meet us somewhere later.

Jasmine Murray sings a Fergie song like Fergie run through Cher’s voice-altering machine (which seems to be getting a workout this season). We don’t care for her, but Simon’s absolutely right that she’s commercial. Ugh. She’s through with four.

George Ramirez, who we have nicknamed “Amish”, has a weird, quiet, throaty, possible baritone, but its definitely monotone. He’s… disturbingly calm. Maybe he should cut down on his mood-levelers and give some to Darrin up there…

Anne Marie Boskovich loves Kara and gets sent away to give herself a quick “star power” makeover.

T.K. Hash has apparently been here before, although we don’t remember him. We have a notoriously bad memory, however. He’s good, but a bit florid — our opinion and Randy’s as well. He’s through, however.

Michael Pirelli is madly in love with his guitar, but unfortunately has never seen American Idol before. At least we must assume so, as he had no idea his audition had to be a cappella. He proceeds to fight a meltdown, blasts through “Jumper” (really blasts — we had to turn the volume down), and gets rejected and told to “get a real job and start a band”. We thought he wasn’t that bad, but he does need to quit doing the frat party covers and learn to write his own stuff. It’ll boost his confidence. And hey, he’s only 18… another 9 audition seasons available to him!

Anne Marie is back to finish her audition (and the day, thank God). She’s ditched her jacket and gotten sexed up by a makeup artist. She could be a total sexpot, then sings “Bubbly”… okay then. She’s through to Hollywood, and will hopefully show up a hell of a lot hotter. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the girl-next-door look she was rockin’ before, but… we need a sexpot.)

Simon is just as glad as we are that this city is history. Next up… Salt Lake City (where we are willing to bet they will not be using the Beach Boys song of the same name) and an Osmond relative. Yay.


Taylor Hicks Artist Bio

From Rocket Science client write up.

Alabama’s favorite son continues to be in “The Right Place” since becoming the fifth-season winner of American Idol.  During the last two years, Taylor Hicks has seen his Arista debut album certified platinum, performed with the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers and Willie Nelson, toured through Asia, penned a brisk-selling Random House memoir, and made his Broadway debut in Grease

Currently working on new album, to be released in Spring 2009, Taylor recently released another reflective of his pre-Idol years, Early Works (Vanguard Records), which merges his indie albums In Your Time and Under the Radar into one collection.  Along with his contribution to the forthcoming Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, recorded live in Ashville, North Carolina, his own DVD, Whomp at the Warfield, offers fans exhilarating live performances by Taylor and his band at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco.

For now, he is excited to spend the summer in New York City, performing eight shows a week in Grease at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.  As Teen Angel, singing “Beauty School Dropout” while also showcasing his harmonica skills, Taylor appreciates the opportunity as “a perfect fit for me to experience Broadway theater,” in a musical much-loved for its memorable songs.  The three-month role, which began in June, will wrap in early September 2008 

Taylor was eight when his family moved from his native Birmingham to nearby Hoover and his parents divorced.  Early hardship quickly led him to the warm and tender mercies of soul music.  As a youth he realized he had perfect pitch, and taught himself to play guitar and a blues-wailin’ harmonica.  After graduating high school in 1995, he studied business and journalism at Auburn University and shepherded the release of his first independent album, In Your Time.

Focusing on music full-time, Taylor became a fixture around Birmingham, opening concerts and club dates for visiting stars like James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo’ and others.  He honed his skills and learned to please diverse audiences.  “At some of the beach bars I played over the years, I had to entertain 15-year-olds sitting with their 75-year-old grandparents,” Taylor recalls.  In early 2005, Taylor released his second indie CD, entitled Under the Radar.

His personal twist of fate came in New Orleans, at the wedding of an Auburn friend, the night before Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, 2005.  With his flight cancelled, he was given a free airplane voucher.  Earlier that summer, he had considered auditioning for AI in Memphis, but the auditions were cancelled as the city became one of hubs of the Katrina relief effort.  Through the summer and fall, however, auditions proceeded in eight cities across the country Taylor eventually used his voucher to travel for a Las Vegas holiday, coincidentally American Idol were auditioning in Vegas during his vacation.

By February, as the fifth season got well underway, two dozen semi-finalists had been chosen. From the start, Taylor’s material set him apart, with such blues and funk-based rockers as the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It to the Streets,” Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and “In the Ghetto,” and Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.”  By May 12, “Soul Patrol!” fever was everywhere as Taylor was brought to Birmingham for a weekend celebration, a concert in his honor and a personal meeting with Governor Bob Riley, who officially proclaimed Monday, May 16 as “Taylor Hicks Day.”

A lifetime steeped in the blues, soul and R&B of his native Southern heroes – Ray Charles, Otis Redding, James Brown and Sam Cooke, to name a few – culminated in no uncertain terms as Taylor Hicks won the fifth season of American Idol It was an emotionally uplifting night – May 24, 2006 – when 36.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the season finale, the year’s third-largest audience for a televised event after the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.  More than 63 million votes were cast in crowning a gritty, down-home, white R&B singer the new winner.

Less than three weeks later came the debut of Taylor’s first single, “Do I Make You Proud,” coupled with “Takin’ It to the Streets,” culled from the AI Season 5 Encores CD.  The single entered at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Pop 100 and Single Sales charts, with first-week sales over 190,000 units.  As with previous AI winners’ singles, a portion of the proceeds from every CD single, download, ringtone and ringback benefited the American Red Cross.  Coinciding with the single release, a cover story named Taylor as People magazine’s Hottest Bachelor of the Year.

His self-titled album, Taylor Hicks (Arista), was released on December 12, 2006.  It debuted in the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 and was quickly certified platinum.  Produced by Grammy winner Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty, Santana, Willie Nelson, Courtney Love), the album showcased Taylor’s talents and roots: from the feel-good groove of “The Runaround” to the ballad “Just to Feel That Way” to the bluesy “Heaven Knows” to the earnest “The Right Place,” originally written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance for Ray Charles to record before his death. During the fifth season of AI, in the summer of 2006, Taylor had already recorded his third indie album, Live at the Workplay Theatre, with the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra.

Audiences cheered Taylor during the summer American Idols Live! tour, and he went on to thrill audiences across Asia.  Back in the U.S., Taylor went on the road performing with Willie Nelson, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers and Jackson Browne.  Adding publishing to his list of growing accomplishments, Taylor’s memoir, Heart Full of Soul: An Inspirational Memoir About Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way (Random House), was released in July 2007.  It’s clear that Taylor Hicks continues to find his way to success, at a level that a young boy from Birmingham may not have imagined. 



New CD & DVD Coming Soon!

The Soul Patrol is anxiously awaiting the soon to be released new CD, The Distance. Taylor has been working with some giant names in the music business and is eager to share his latest effort with the world.

Taylor Hicks
January 21, 2009 12:22 PM ET
Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
Former “American Idol” champ Taylor Hicks returns March 10 with a new album, “The Distance,” the follow-up to his lone major-label release.

The album is preceded Jan. 27 by the digital single “What’s Right Is Right” and will be released on Hicks’ own Modern Whomp Records, with distribution from independent artist services company Artist to Market.

Hicks enlisted Eric Clapton producer Simon Climie for “The Distance,” and longtime Clapton collaborators Doyle Bramhall II and Nathan East play on the album. Paul McCartney drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. mans the kit.

Hicks left J following his 2006 self-titled debut for the label, which sold 703,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Here is the track list for “The Distance”:

“Wedding Day Blues,”
“Seven Mile Breakdown,”
“What’s Right Is Right”
“Woman’s Gotta Have It”
“New Found Freedom”
“The Distance”
“I Live on a Battlefield”
“Maybe You Should”
“Once Upon a Lover of Mine”
“Keepin’ It Real”

Taylor also has a DVD coming out in March called Whomp at the Warfield,filmed live in San Francisco at the famed Warfield Theatre. It can be ordered on Amazon.


Taylor Hicks performs a roster of his biggest hits and favorites before an enthusiastic “Soul Patrol” of fans. Mixing R&B, rock and blues into one incredible package, he’ll knock you out with one show-stopping performance after another!

FEATURED SONGS: Gonna Move, Give Me Tonight, Heart and Soul, Just to Feel That Way, My Friend, The Deal, Hold on to Your Love, Wherever I Lay My Hat, Soul Thing, Heaven Knows, The Maze, Right Place, The Runaround, The Fall, Badge, Naked in the Jungle


Louisville, Kentucky 1.21.09

Louisville, 1/21/09

Tight Black T

I had high hopes that Churchill Downs would produce some thoroughbreds. Well . . . I can say that Louisville was significantly better than San Francisco, but I’m just not feeling it this week.

Before I start my review/recap, I’d like to take a moment to talk to all the parents out there. I know ya’ll love your kids and think they’re the greatest – well mine is, but that’s quite another story. Wink But let’s be realistic people, telling your kid they’re a great singer when they clearly are not is not being a good parent – that’s child abuse. Being a good parent is telling your kid the truth and not allowing them to make a fool of themselves on national TV. If someone could forward this to the parents of Tiffany Shedd I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

I’m not even going to talk about the ugly from Louisville because that is starting to wear on my nerves already. Hollywood week can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. I’m just going to touch on singers of interest here.

There was a curious moment when Joanna Pacitti entered the audition – Kara knew that at one point she had been signed to A&M Records. Is this Kara chick that good, or was she prompted? Anyway, Pacitti was good, but a bit hesitant. She had mentioned in her package piece about having lost a lot of confidence in the past year, and it showed. But I think she has the voice to make it to at least the top 24.

Musician Brent Keith Smith will be a big hit with the girls. But while he has a good voice, his song choice and the almost screaming performance kind of turned me off. I do hope he can redeem himself in Hollywood.

Simon thought Matt Giraud, the dueling piano player sounded like Elliott. Matt only wishes he sounded like Elliott. The only similarity was the vibrato. There is something about Elliott’s voice that soothes me, while this guy grated on me a bit.

Alexis Grace, the 21-year-old stay at home mom grabbed me with her big voice. I usually don’t root for female singers, but she’s got me in her corner already.

Four other golden ticket winners, Kris Allen, Felicia Barton, Ryan Johnson and Shera Lawrence got short shrift in the visibility department. They were all lumped together and we didn’t get a feel for who they are or what they can do. Ryan Johnson sang “A Change in Gonna Come,” which seems to have become an AI audition staple since Taylor sang it. Ryan is no Taylor.

Lenesha Young was our pull at your heartstrings story from Louisville. The 18-year-old spent much of her childhood homeless, but has a very strong family. She performed an original song, which never goes over well with the judges. But Lenesha hit it out of the Idol ballpark on every level – this kid has commercial success written all over her. She’s not my cup of tea, but I can already hear that voice on the radio singing the next Beyonce-like song.

Next week, onto Florida, where it looks like they leave Seacrest out in the swamp somewhere. Hmmmm.

Lil’ Dawg

Brent Keith Smith: Puffyheart

Ross Plavsic: Reminded me of some creepy ghost movie . . . the “woohing ghosts . . .”

Alexis Grace: Such a big voice out of such a little girl!!!

Aaron Williamson: Trying to be Taylor with all that wooing. NEVER!

Kris Allen: Mmmmm, I like guys who wear hats like that. Wink

Seacrest’s Hair

We found Louisville slightly more entertaining than San Francisco, thank goodness. That doesn’t mean, however, that the contestants were any better. Diving right in…

Tiffany Shedd looks like the “Leave Britney Alone!” guy from YouTube, and we were distracted by her huge boob mole until she started singing… her voice sounded roughly like that voice-altering thing Cher uses, but without any sense of pitch. Ew.

Joanna Pacitti is lucky from the start, Kara recognizes her from A&M Records, where she was signed several years ago. She’s Carly Smithson 2.0! She’s also good; we found her voice a bit strident but then again she was singing Pat Benatar. Perhaps she can persuade us with a softer sound?

Mark Mudd, Jr. sounds like those old recordings of hillbillies in the National Archives. His family has a history of bad luck, and it’s not stopping here.

Next to walk in is generic “soap opera bad boy with a heart of gold” Brett Keith Smith, who sends Paula and Kara under the table but does absolutely nothing for us. Yawn.

Then we get a montage of losers: a woman who’s gotta be 40, a goat girl, a longhair, a plain ol’ weirdo, and fat Michael Jackson.

Matt Giraud is a dueling piano player that Simon compares to Elliott Yamin. No. He’s just karaoke to us, so that dueling piano player/comedian personality had better show up fast.

Ross Plavsic is pimped for at least two commercial breaks, and looks vaguely like Ashton Kutcher, so we are prepared to be Punk’d. Closer inspection reveals that he looks like Ashton only if Ashton put his head in a vise for a few days. He’s a dedicated nerd, which is nice for him, but despite the… interesting resonance in his voice, he has no sense of pitch and spends too long being rejected.

We get a Golden Ticket montage set to “Shout”, another commercial break, and then Alexis Grace, a little girl with a baby and a military fiance… and a big voice. She’s cute, but as Paula said, needs to “dirty it up” a bit before she gets to H’wood.

Then a yawn montage, after which we’re woken up by Aaron Williamson, another one of those lanky, loud, super-energetic black guys. He yells his song, gets everyone else in the room yelling as well (and Kara is, apparently, testifying), and Seacrest mutters “What the hell?” and heads in to investigate. Yeah, he’s totally not making it through. And his energy disappears almost immediately thereafter!

Rebecca Garcia is a nice girl who gets interviewed by the local Fox affiliate, then comes in with serious pitch and lyric issues… despite having a cheat-sheet on her arm. Kara oopses and accuses her of being a joke contestant. Oh well.

We get a montage of four yeses that don’t stand out for us.

And finally, it’s time for Luh-vlle’s sob story, the formerly homeless, possibly high school dropout (that’s unclear) Leneshe Young, who is a cute, funny, less-precious Paris Bennett with a decent original song that makes Simon see dollar signs. She’s gotta bring it, though, because I think last week’s tornado lady is our sob-story winner thus far.

Us, cynical? Nah…


Kansas City, Missouri 1.14.09

Kansas City, 1/14/09

Lil’ Dawg
(Continuing to be a woman of few words. It will get better – she’s promised!)

Day Numero Dos.

Kansas City reminds me of a circus!

Brian Hettler: No comment on the singing, but Simon’s face was priceless.

Billy Vinson: Hahahahahahahahaha

Danny Gokey: Love his voice, definitely the best we’ve heard, I think. He’ll go far. Puffyheart the rasp!

Lil Rounds: Tons of passion, so natural

Tight Black T

11,000 showed up in Kansas City, home of AI7 winner David Cook, and an additional 27 came away with the coveted golden ticket to Hollywood.

Of course, every night has to start out with a bit of pain – that’s the AI way. Tonight’s introduction to the pain came from Chelsea Marquadt. I think Simon summed this one up quite accurately, though the girls disagreed. “You sounded like a cat that jumped off the Empire State Building, and the sounds it makes before it hits the floor.” Yup.

Ashley Anderson may have started out on the wrong foot, singing the wrong lyrics to a song Simon co-wrote. But once he corrected her she proceeded to wow them with her control and range.

Casey Carslon, a cute 20-year-old from Minnesota was the full package as far as the panel was concerned. She’s cute, and her voice is cute. I sensed a bit of country in her voice even though she performed “A Thousand Miles,” by Vanessa Carlton. We’ll see if that’s the direction she takes if she moves on.

Opera singer Brian Hettler took on Aretha’s, “Think.” What a train wreck. Randy couldn’t stop laughing, Simon sat stone-faced and I said, “okay, but he can sing opera.” Uh, no. Not that Josh Groban is opera, but when he attempted “You Raise Me Up,” I seriously could not wait for one of the judges to put a stop to it!

The next contestant was a bit confusing to me. In his pre-performance package piece, Fedora wearing Von Smith said, “My range is a little bit strange and I attempt to sing things guys don’t sing.” Well, that really got me excited to hear his audition. Rolleyes He sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” LOUDLY! Okay, trying to get past that, he did have good control of his voice (just not the volume). But I thought, nah, he’s a goner. Then they surprised me – he’s going to Hollywood. We’ll I’ll be damned.

Next was Jason Castro’s brother, Michael, a much-anticipated contestant in my household. The only resemblance between the brothers is their mouth (pointed out to me by my Castro loving watching companion). Michael claims to have only taken up singing 20-days before the auditions. “Hey, if J can sing, I can sing.” Most would consider this fool-hearty; Kara thought he was a ballsy dude. I’d have to agree with that. And you know, he wasn’t bad. I heard Jason in his voice, but there’s more power there.

And then we reached the contestant who is 27-years-old, doesn’t look like an Idol, and was a bar singer. Sound familiar. All those things together had me thinking, welder Matt Breitzke didn’t have a snowballs chance in a pizza oven with this group. And when Randy said, “Cool bar singer,” my viewing companion and I were like, “Oh, here it comes.” But, his very soulful “Ain’t No Sunshine,” while not the killer TH version, was very nice and won over all the judges, except Randy.

Jasmine “Jazzy” Joseph was up next. Uh, no.

Jessica Funney, a very unassuming young girl from Kansas was up next. Jessica lives with her nearly deaf grandmother so she can continue to live in the home she loves. She sang “Crybaby” by Janis Joplin, and this red-haired, eyeglass wearing girl from Oz, won over all the judges. “I like you; you stand out, small town girl with a big dream.” Awww. The kind of story AI thrives on!

There was a pleasant surprise with the rapping sisters – one of them could actually sing! And for a moment, I thought Simon had a heart when he said how much he liked the sister that didn’t make it, and how everyone should have a sister like her.

Jamar Rogers and Danny Gokey are best friends that decided to come to the auditions together. If you’ve been a watcher of AI over the years, you know that these situations often do not work out. In the case of this pair, it did. I wasn’t particularly fond of Jamar. His performance was too loud and a bit overdone, but the judges gave him a ticket anyway. And then there was Danny. I love Danny’s voice. I read a blogger last night on MTV.com who said that Danny had “the most soulful voice of any white guy on AI ever – sorry Elliott.” My apologies to Elliott and Taylor – I think this guy might be right. I can’t wait to hear more from him, and hope that the pressure of Hollywood week on top of the grief he is experiencing over the death of his wife is not too much for him.

And talk about not looking like an Idol – geeky Anoop Desai surprised everyone with his voice. But we’ve been down that road before, haven’t we? They shouldn’t be surprised when an amazing voice comes out of some unassuming geek (or dork) – see Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks.

Band director and father Asa Barnes was questioned why he chose the song he did. His answer “I like it.” That’s tellin’ em Asa. LOL! It got him a ticket.

Michael Nicewonder, relative of Hank Williams, Jr., put his Oedipus complex on display with his original songs, making my ears bleed and causing me to cringe over the lyrics he wrote to his mother and grandmother.

Simon was so right when he said the panel was duped for putting back flipping, whining, Dennis Brigham through. Sheesh!

And of course we had our annual outraged contestant. This one apparently has some in with God because she insisted that they were wrong and God was going to make them pay – over, and over, and over again.

As they often do, they saved the best for last. 23-year-old mother of three Lil Rounds kicked ass. She is the full package – beautiful, classy, sweet, and a killer voice. Was it me or did her husband not look thrilled about her getting that golden ticket? Maybe the prospect of taking care of those three kids on his own was too much for him!

My top picks from Kansas City – Danny and Lil.

Seacrest’s Hair

We are short on time and very stressed this evening, so this will be way shorter than last night’s, with just a couple highlights. When they were bad, they were really, really, really bad, and “Jazz” Joseph and Michael Nicewonder came close to the horrificness of years past.

The first one shot down, though, Chelsea Marquardt, was a really hard read. She looked like she was going to have a technically perfect voice and the emotion of a steamrolled toaster, with that polished blonde look. But she actually couldn’t sing for beans! We just want to know how terrible everyone else in “varsity choir” is.

Before we get into the ones that got through and the ones we liked (not always the same), is this the new Lumberjack Seacrest? Seriously. Plaid? I’m skeered!

All right. We don’t know why Casey Carlson got through, she wasn’t that great. Von Smith is a little scary with all that power, and he shall henceforth be known as “Hat Guy”. Castro’s brother is… the obnoxious version of him. Is that a little sister in the family shot? When’s her turn? Dennis Brigham, the guy who dreamed of Simon, needs to dial back his personality — whoa, buddy.

The ones we liked: Breitzke, the welder, may give Phoenix’s Sarver a run for his money in the married-guy-with-kid(s)-and-dangerous-job category, and we’re not sure why Randy thinks a “bar singer” type isn’t right for AI, since Taylor Hicks won. Y’know, that guy in the far left corner of the backdrop.

Anoop Desai has us thinking this might be the year for an Asian-American Idol. Nice surprise in a Geek Squad package, kind of like a boy we worked with many years ago.

Jessica Furney is pretty, chubby and has glasses, and lives with her really old, really deaf Grandma. She shows up looking like she’s going to do yardwork (except we wouldn’t do yardwork in nice Guess jeans) and blows us away. Hopefully she won’t get made over too much.

India Morrisson is Princess P redux. Cute, though. We have a ton of music teachers getting through, which is astounding. And a couple sob stories, of course, Danny Gokey the widower and Lil Rounds the mom of 3 tornado survivor. At least they both can sing worth a damn.

So this could be interesting. Hopefully next week we will be better rested and maybe even able to watch the show in real time… but then we’d have to give up the fast-forwarding. Hmm. We’ll think about this…


Phoenix, Arizona 1.13.09

Phoenix, Arizona 1-13-09

Tight Black T

Season 8 of American Idol started out in Phoenix, AZ where 10,000 people showed up for the auditions and only 27 came away with golden tickets.

The show opened with scenes from the last seven seasons, culminating in shots of the winners during their winning moments. The “inspirational” intro continued with Seacrest reminding us that, “This show is not about the destination; it’s about the journey itself.” Rolleyes

All those in Taylorland were happy over plenty of sightings of Taylor’s picture during the audition. Last year it seemed like they tried to hide his face in every way possible. His face is actually quite prominent, as you get to see him every time a contestant leaves the audition room. Hey, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

And how did the introduction of a fourth judge change the panel’s dynamic? More unanimous votes. What? I don’t think I’ve seen so many unanimous yes votes before. Were the contestants that good? Is this a kinder gentler AI? I don’t know, but it was just plain . . . freaky!

The two-hour show was not as much of a freak-fest as in past seasons. They did seem to focus on the good or at least passable singers. Of course, they started things off on freak footing with Tuan Nguyen whose hair was more impressive than his singing. “I’ve never seen anything like that, and not in a good way,” said Kara. Yup, that pretty much summed it up.

We were introduced to Lea Maria Golde, a 16-year-old from California who claims to be Kara’s biggest fan. I saw Paula cringing as Lea came over to the judges table with a book containing over 100 songs she had written. Her singing wasn’t awful actually, “better than Rhianna live” was a quote from someone watching with me. Haha Kara encouraged her songwriting and sent her packing.

And what the hell was with the girl in the bikini and why did she get sent through to Hollywood? Simon and Randy’s ears must not have been working due to the blood rushing to other parts of their bodies. And about that – she is not at all attractive, at least in my book. Pack only one bikini Katrina, you’re not going to be in Hollywood long.

My favorites from the night:

For cuteness: Arianne Afsar. She’s adorable, very sweet, and has nice voice. But I’m not sure she has the mental toughness to go very far.

Best female voice: Stevie Wright, 16 from California. When she said she was singing “At Last” by Etta James, I was skeptical – she’s 16, no way that’s going to work. But she pulled it off. I’ll admit, some parts of the song were a bit weak, but she nailed the parts that were meant to grab your heart, and that’s what mattered to me. She’s young, but I think she has the ability to take the coaching she’d get and really fly!

Best male voice: Scott MacIntyre, 23. Scott is a nearly completely blind pianist. His field of vision is basically limited to one key width on the piano. He entered college at the age of 14 and graduated at 19. I echo Simon’s sentiment, “You’re a cool guy, I like you.” He sang “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, and the way he caressed the notes made me shiver. Oh, and Ryan, high-fiving a blind contestant – not cool dude!

So, it’s onto Kansas City on Wednesday night. Let’s see if the kinder, gentler Simon and AI continues or if they were just lulling us into a false sense of security.

Seacrest’s Hair

Seacrest’s Hair, a/k/a the long-winded one who refers to herself with the royal “we”, hasn’t watched much American Idol since Season Five, but found the new focus on not-retarded, not-emotionally unstable losers to be totally refreshing. New judge Kara is both sane and cute, which is a nice combination.

There was the irritating overview montage of the first seven seasons, including those screaming crying tweens that we’ve all seen on YouTube already, but luckily we could fast-forward through all of that. It does seem to be the theme for the year, though, this reflective montage (thinking about the “past winners” commercial that’s been running for at least a month).

Phoenix, apparently, thinks they are auditioning “So You Think You Can Dance”, as they are very, very, very into the dancing. Hence our first contestant, Twan something-or-other, who is half-Vietnamese, half-Afropuff. Hopefully he’s good at bagging groceries, because he’s not making it to Hollywood.

We’re getting a nice balance right off the bat with the pedigreed Emily Hughes (mom was a singer), who looks like Frenchie from Grease, but with tattoos. She’s a singer in an all-girl band and when she makes it through, she basically leaves the poor band in the lurch. We think she’ll go pretty far based on actually being able to sing Barracuda with no accompaniment. That song is hard, man.

Our next loser is Randy Madden, who seriously looks less like 28 than Taylor Hicks ever did. He’s a cryer, and his voice is as weak as the rest of him… and flat. “What else can a guy do?” he asks… and we answer, “Learn to sing, maybe?”

J.B. something-or-other (yeah, we could have rewound the tape) has a nice legato voice, but we agree with Simon that he’s gotta loosen up. The sound was a bit forced. Hopefully Byrd can do something with him if he makes it through the Hollywood round.

This next one reminds us of that Keith (“Keef”) guy who kept auditioning and got worse every year… but less confident. Michael Gurr was so scared that he actually made himself physically sick. We’re not even sure how he made the noises he made, but it sure wasn’t singing. We hope he didn’t land in the hospital, anyway.

Now the murder trio: Will Kunick, a high-pitched frog, murders Tears for Fears; D.J. Bradley not only murders Celine Dion but messes up the words, too; and Shawn Vasquez murders Dionne Warwick while making us wonder: was that a flamboyant boy or an ugly girl?

Andre “Xray” Caraway is a mess of long limbs, Jheri curls and way too much energy… we are certain there’s a place in the world for him but hopefully it’s far, far away from us. It’s nowhere near Idol, that’s for sure, and the nice man in white (ooh, security! SEXY!) is going to make sure he stays away.

Arianna Afsar is a do-gooder 16-year-old that we hope we won’t get sick of — she’s got a good “starter voice” that’ll benefit from training, and she’s probably a lock for the top 10 or top 12 or whatever we’re doing this year.

Elijah Scarlett is a basso profundo, and incredibly difficult to listen to. We won’t miss his complete lack of range.

Lea Marie (Golde, although she’s apparently not using her last name) is Kara’s “biggest fan!!!” and has written “over 100 original songs”. Well, that’s a bit harder than writing someone else’s songs, isn’t it? She’s got a stupid pink cowboy hat and bright red hair (and enough makeup to cover freckles that I am certain she has) and therefore reminds us of Kimmy Gibbler from “Full House”. Yup, she’s that annoying. Remarkably, she sings her chosen dance-pop song relatively well, but she needs a few more years under her belt for her voice to mature and lose the irritating edge. Luckily the judges agree.

Stevie Wright was named after Stevie Nicks… wasn’t there another girl a few years ago named Stevie as well? Anyway, this one looks like Jessica Biel, is 16 and a bit breathy, but has a good sense of pitch and excellent range that she shows off by singing “At Last”, which seriously we need to retire as an audition song. Please. Simon thinks she needs to “grow teeth” in order to proceed, and we agree, because more confident singers will plow right over her if she doesn’t. Let’s see what happens in Hollywood.

Michael Sarver is a right sexy married daddy of two who works on an oil rig (scary!). He’s a sweet, tough dude, and the ladies are gonna love him.

We’re treated to a montage of suck and pain. We fast-forwarded. Taping is the only way to watch this show and not go insane.

Finally we get to the ultra-promoted “Bikini Girl”, who actually has a name — Katrina Darrell. We swear we’ve seen her on other reality shows, or maybe just the work of whoever created her. She wouldn’t have gotten through with clothes on, that’s for sure. (And we’re still not convinced Seacrest is straight, bikini-stalking or not.)

Eric “Sexual Chocolate” Thomas is that guy we all went to school with, except in our school he was white, had frosted tips and wore a sideways sun visor. He was never going to get through. Yeesh.

Brianna Quijada spent all morning teaching some choreographed dance to the other contestants, yet still had a ton of energy. She can send some of that our way… She hasn’t got much of a range, and a baby voice, but if she can keep from “Wait, can I start over?” in the future she might have a chance. She got through on two votes.

When we first saw and heard Deanna Brown, we thought “Pickler”… and then she sang. What a delicious, husky singing voice she has! She’ll go far; we just hope that she records songs worthy of her voice.

Cody Sheldon provided the producers with the opportunity to use cliched horror movie cuts and background music, but he has a beautiful, radio-ready voice and surprised us by singing a James Morrison song. Maybe he can ditch the eyeliner for Hollywood? Please? He’d be soooooo cute.

Apparently Simon is so bored by the job that he created for himself that he has to ask the contestants, “Which three countries would you be popular in?” Perhaps he’s doing it as an intelligence test, because a large number of contestants aren’t sure what a country is. We’re definitely in America…

One of the few who knows what a country is and can name two oddball ones (plus Canada) is the socially-awkward Alex Wagner-Trugman. He’s got a good voice, the potential to look cute with grooming, and a weird nervous habit of saying bizarre things and following up with “no, not really”. We like him, but aren’t sure how that sort of thing is going to play when the public starts voting. Good luck, kiddo!

And now we get another montage of suck, featuring “Dead or Alive”… and we fast-forward.

Our last featured audition is Scott McIntyre, who shall be known as “Blind Guy” in the media. He’s hot. He’s a super-genius who started college at 14 and finished at 19. He plays the piano, he sings, better yet he sings Billy Joel… and he sings with his eyes open, which we vastly appreciate having been scarred for life by Andrea Bocelli.

We liked Emily and Deanna best, and Michael Sarver. Twenty-seven total through in Phoenix… next up is Kansas City, home of David Cook and hopefully a few more people who aren’t tone-deaf psychos…

Lil’ Dawg

Lil’ Dawg’s contribution this week is, well, small. Lil’ Dawg spent more time laughing at the freak contestants than paying attention to the good singers. At one point, after hearing the guy with the deep voice, she went in search of one of her favorite AI clips – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqzF3YL8l…re=related Yeah, she’s sick. She did admit that she’ll be more into commenting once the numbers are smaller. Yeah, we’re gonna hold ya to that Lil’ Dawg.

X-ray (Aundre Caraway): Enthusiasm isn’t always a good thing. . . .

Arianne Afsar: I didn’t want her to stop singing. She sang “Girl Put Your Records On” better than Corrine Bailey Ray herself. Cute girl, I might add.

Cody Sheldon: Has a good voice but needs a little help. If he gets to the top 24, hopefully he doesn’t let them change him like they did Sanjaya. Reminds me a little of Danny Noriega.

Upcoming Schedule:
Top 36 Semi-Finalists Revealed Wednesday, February 11.
Voting Begins Tuesday, February 17.
Top 12 Singers Revealed After Judges’ Wild Card Round Thursday, March 5.
Top 12 Finalists Perform for First Time Tuesday, March 10.


Welcome To The 5th Judge

Welcome to The5thJudge

Welcome to The5thJudge, THR’s home for AI8 reviews and recaps. Each week, three foolish, I mean, brilliant reviewers will give their take on this seasons performers. You won’t necessarily hear from all three reviewers each week, particularly in the early rounds. But, you will find that Tight Black T, Seacrest’s Hair, and Lil’ Dawg each have their own unique opinions on music, performance, and AI itself.

The eighth season is set to begin on Tuesday, January 13. This year, auditions were held in Jacksonville, Kansas City, Louisville, Phoenix, East Rutherford, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and San Juan. Hoping to spice things up a bit, they’ve added a fourth judge to the mix, Kara DioGuardi. It will be fun to see how she affects the dynamic that we’ve all become accustomed to. Simon has been quoted as saying that the two “girls” gang up on him when rating contestants. Kara has conceded that she and Paula often have similar opinions, which creates some tension with Simon. Notice Randy’s not complaining. Rolleyes We’ve already seen some spoiler information http://taylorhicksrocks.com/forum/thread-317.html and our three judges will be keeping a special eye on those people to see where they go.

Timing of reviews will vary because; well we’ve all got lives. Once we get down to the top 12 we will make sure our reviews are posted before the results show. Please feel free to post your comments on our reviews and on the contestants themselves – we love intelligent discourse. Wink

So, see ya’ll back here mid-week for our first recap.


San Francisco, California 1.20.09

San Francisco, 1/20/09

Tight Black T

Maybe it was the excitement of the rest of the day, but AI’s San Francisco auditions left me bored to tears. The show was down to one hour (thankfully) and seemed to focus more on the losers than the winners. And truthfully, even those who received the coveted golden ticket, only 12 in all, did nothing to peak my interest. Though what should I expect from the city where they discoverd Kat McPhee and William Hung. Rolleyes Built this city on rock and roll my ass!

I should have known that the night was not going to go well after they put Tatiana Del Toro, the model with the annoying laugh, through to Hollywood. This is a singing competition, as we so often hear from Simon. This one looked like she was ready for the “Miss American Idol Pagent.”

The kinder gentler Idol season continued with Jesus Valenzula who, while handsome, really didn’t have much of a voice. His two little boys better be standing with him on stage in Hollywood because otherwise he’s a goner.

After a procession of oddball characters, they breezed through three ticket recipients, and if I didn’t have DVR, I never would have even caught their names. John Twiford, Allison Iraheta, and Raquel Houghton were so . . . uninspiring, that I guess it didn’t matter anyway.

Adam Lambert, an actor who has appeared in Wicked for the past year, had a very David Cook vibe. The judges thought he had one of the best voices they had heard thus far, but Simon was put off by his theatrical style. While I didn’t find him all that compelling, I do think he’ll be a contestant to watch.

And then there was the requisite tug at your heart-strings contestant – Kai Kalama. Kalama takes care of his sick mom during the day and works as a musician at night. As with Adam Lambert, I though he had a nice voice but he didn’t grab me. Simon’s advice “Watch me for confidence.” Yeah right Simon. Dodgy

Lil’ Dawg

Overall SF was nothing special, I was very bored.

Only two people are even worth mentioning.

Adam Lambert: I think he’s a good singer, but personally, I don’t like the tone of this voice.

Kai Kalama: Definitely has a good voice, but he’s a little shy right now. I think if he losens up a bit a lot of people will support him.

Seacrest’s Hair

After a day of watching nothing but news, we were hoping for a bit of entertainment, but San Francisco just didn’t deliver. It’s pretty sad when the most interesting part of the show is the totally not staged — we mean it — seriously, this is real intro piece wherein the judges critiqued Secrest’s delivery. Rolleyes

Actually, the highlight for us had to be Annie Murdoch, who did not make it through, but gave a performance so disconnected from reality that she either had to be drunk or autistic. Too bad, because she was cute!

The utterly dim Akilah Askew-Gholston actually made Paula run away, and her segment took so long that we fast-forwarded in hopes that there’d be something interesting further ahead in the hour. Nope.

We saw seven people get through: Tatiana DelToro, who is so impatient that she couldn’t wait for the judges to come to Puerto Rico, and thus went to San Francisco… and also couldn’t wait to go through the audition, competition, signing and recording process before putting out a “media package” for her “album”. Jesus Valenzula is cute and well spoken, and his kids are even cuter, but the judges are already disinclined to put him in the top 12. Three middling singers were put through in quick succession where we would normally get a loser montage. Adam Lambert is a musical theatre veteran who we don’t think is nearly as theatrical as some other contestants we’ve seen. And today’s sob story, Kai Kalama, takes care of his seizure-prone mom and needs to groove more onstage because gorgeous tone and gorgeous hair can’t carry you through to the top.

If those were the ones they chose to focus on, what were the other five golden-ticket-getters like? We hope Louisville will be a better, but dare not get our hopes up.


Grease National Tour-Teen Angel

Flashy role ‘Taylorized’ made for American Idol champ

By Richard O Jones

Staff Writer-Middletown Journal

Friday, January 16, 2009

CINCINNATI — Although he’s never done any acting, “American Idol” Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks thought that a Broadway show like “Grease” would be an effective lubricant for his career.

And even though his character, Teen Angel, has only one number in the show, Hicks was still able to make an auspicious acting debut suspended in an ice cream cone 45 feet over a Broadway stage.

On Jan. 20, he reprises that feat when the national tour of “Grease,” in which the American Idol plays the part of Teen Angel, the spirit that tries to convince Frenchy to finish high school.

“It was an intense way to start an acting career,” Hicks said. “But she stays in school every show, so I must be doing OK.”

He said he wanted to make the transition to acting slowly by taking a smallish, but flashy and important, part.

“I’d been offered bigger roles,” he said, “but for me, my career is a marathon, not a sprint, and I wanted to do something that I could build on. This particular role seemed a good way to do that.”

In addition to the grand entrance, Hicks said that he has been allowed to “Taylorize” the role — both costume-wise and musically, including the insertion of a harmonica solo into “Beauty School Drop-Out.”

The tour also features Allie Schultz, a singer and actress who also first came to the national spotlight via a television talent contest, “Grease: You’re the One That I Want,” the series that prompted this production, which opened on Broadway on Aug. 19, 2007.

Though Schulz did not win the competition, she understudied the roles of Sandy, Cha-Cha and Patty on Broadway before joining the national tour in the role of Rizzo.

The tour also features Eric Schneider as “Danny” and Emily Padgett as “Sandy.” Schneider made his Broadway debut in “Jersey Boys” and has also appeared in “Altar Boyz” both off-Broadway and national tour. Padgett also comes from the Broadway cast of “Grease,” where she understudied Sandy. Her other credits include the national tours of “Cats” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”


Too Old To Rock ‘n Roll?

JMO: Too Old to Rock & Roll?
Lately it has been pointed out to me that I am over the hill and should be quietly making my way to the elephant graveyard. The music in my head needs to be stopped and my feet should no longer dance. Basically I should just be shot!.

Which leads me to ask what is the proper age to be a Taylor Hicks fan and when are you just age inappropriate?

Over the last few years I have meet beautiful, vivacious and yes sexy women of all ages who just love Taylor. I’ve heard endless stories of how Taylor has opened up the world for them again and brought fun and music back into their life. Is that wrong should all these women just go away? *Statistics now show that the the groups that purchase the most music both downloads and in stories sales are the 20 -25 and the 30- 65 years olds. Taylor is being marketed to AC radio whose core listening group is between 18 -65. I’m seeing mixed messages here.

I feel if Taylor wanted to appeal to tweens he would have dyed his hair and sold out to Disney long ago.

As for the video the director and artist work on the concept of a music video but it is the director who puts those concepts on film. It is most likely the director (Jake Davis) made the casting decisions not Taylor. Extras are usually more about a look then an actual age group.

Does Taylor Hicks hate me and hope I never show up at another show, honestly I don’t know. Think I’ll ask him next time I see him.

But until he tells me to stop I’ll be there with my party hat on shaking my maracas!

But that is just my opinion!

*statistics from various sources