Archive for February, 2009


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.