Friday, May 28, 2010

Video: Crystal on 'Ellen,' Crystal on Ryan's radio show

From MJ's Big Blog, Crystal's interview on Ellen Degeneres' show:

Crystal discussing breakup with her boyfriend on Ryan's radio show:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'American Idol 9' - What started in Chicago ends tonight

Welcome to the final live blog of the season! Phew! Let's get this show on the road, shall we?

Lots of teasing about what "started out in Chicago." Interesting that Crystal and Lee met at the first audition all those months ago and are the last two standing. Ryan teases us by telling us that only two percent separates the two finalists. It's rather vague, though, in that he said "all season."

Ryan intros the judges, including Simon Cowell who is sitting at the Idol judging panel for the very last time. Crystal and Lee take the stage dressed in school children outfits. They are overwhelmed. We see the hometown crowds in Toledo, Ohio and Mt. Prospect, IL. Janell Wheeler is hosting Crytal's party.

First number is "our Top 12" singing "School's Out for Summer." Orianthi is on lead guitar and totally overshadows the finalists. Casey introduces Alice Cooper who continues the tune, drowning out our Top 12 completely. They all stomp around and look totally stupid.

After a slew of commercials, Kris Allen performs his new single, "The Truth." There's some kind of sound screw-up at the beginning and we hear Ryan talking over the opening. Kris seems to be lip synching this one. It was just one year ago that we had that strange moment when Kris was declared the winner and his mouth fell open in shock.

Bo Bice and Kimberly Caldwell are in the house.

After Kris sings, Ryan starts out a video "tribute" to Simon. Clips of early audition rounds, including Juanita Barber ("What About the Chillrun") and William Hung! Tee hee. Lots more to come, we are warned.

Siobhan and Aaron start out singing "How Deep is Your Love," and are joined by Robin and Barry Gibb, the two surviving Bee Gees. Unfortunately, Siobhan ends up singing better than Barry and Aaron shakes nervously. Jordin Sparks is dancing in the aisles and David Hasselhoff offers up some polite applause when it ends.

Back from another long commercial break, Michael Lynche is on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase singing "Takin' it to the Street" and intros Michael McDonald. The Michaels continue the song.

Now, a special song by Dane Cook featuring some of Simon's best insults. "Simon Said" is pretty cool, but the best part was bringing out some of the contestants that Simon said these things too - the Brittenum Twins, Tatiana DelToro, Ian Bernardo, and Renaldo Lapuz! I think Normund Gentle was in there too, but can't rewind because my dog ate my remote. Wow! That was great!

Lacey, Didi, Katie, Siobhan, Paige, and Crystal open up "Beautiful."  Gee, do you think Christina Aguilera is the next guest? The girls sound horrible, except Paige, who is actually rather good. Yup, Katie intros Christina, who had to be cringing back stage listening to them butcher her songs. A slew of dancers come leaping out along with her. Show them how it's done girl!

While Christina is singing, let me toss in one complaint. Why all the "old" performers on this show tonight? Are they trying to appeal to the older viewers? Well, if so, they're not. I'm pretty old and I don't really want to listen to bad performances by people who used to be amazing. End of rant.

Ricky Gervais is on camera from some remote location to honor his "good friend" Simon. "You only take 80 percent of their wages!" Heh! Gervais continues on, wondering if they can go round by Simon's house because he just "throws away money."

Lee opens "I Can't Go For That" and is joined by his good buddy Andrew. The rest of the Top 12 boys join in. There's Timmeh! Big Mike jumps on the stage and the theater rumbles.It's a Hall and Oates medley, so guess who the next guests are! Darryl Hall and John Oates emerge. At least they can still sing, unlike poor Barry Gibb. The boys sing backup.

Ryan chats with Crystal's father who is looking fly in his leather outfit. I love Crystal's dad! Crystal opens "Ironic" and intros Alanis Morrisette. Crystal blows Alanis away.

We return. Ryan intros Carrie, saying it's hard to believe it's been five years since this next performer was crowned! She's singing her new single "Undo It."  Carrie's lookin' fierce in leather and high boots. This song is closer to pop than country, actually, and I am rather enjoying it. Best performance of the night (but that's not saying much)! After the performance, Ryan tells us Carrie wrote this song with Kara.

The Idols get their new cars in a pre-recorded clip featuring Kris Allen. They are getting the very same Ford Fiestas with the graphics they created. They don't seem all that excited, though? This leads us into a "best of" the season's Ford videos. Crystal and Lee are on stage. Crystal says she's having a blast.

Casey James is up next singing "Every Rose has its Thorns." And then, Bret Michaels returns from the dead to sing along with him. Wow. Wasn't expecting him. It's not often a celebrity gets that close to dying and then shows up on Idol a few weeks later. Somehow, though I'm a bit nervous watching him.

Ryan announces next season's auditions are going live on MySpace. Not sure exactly what that means, but we'll check it out later.

Lee is singing with Chicago - completely out of tune, natch. Lee sounds like he's giving birth, but the guy singing for Chicago isn't much better. This is pretty awful.

Matt Rogers (Season 3) is in Mt. Prospect with the crazed Lee fans. Then there's another video montage tribute to Simon. Paula's featured on these vids, but so far, we haven't seen her in the theater. I'm betting she'll make a grand entrance at some point.

General Larry Platt performs "Pants on the Ground." Larry busts some moves putting the young 'uns on stage with him to shame. He is joined by William Hung!!! This has to be the worst finale yet, but in some perverse way, I'm totally digging it's awfulness. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I'm following along on the VFTW message board!

Another clip of Paula reminiscing about Simon. Is it time for Paula's big entrance? She says she's proud to be his friend. And here she is on the Idol stage once again! The judges all stand. She greets the judges, finishing up with Simon. She goes on and on and on. Jeez!  She says the show will go one without him, just like it went on without her.

More video clips with Frank Sinatra singing "My Way" in the background.  After this barf-fest, Kelly Clarkson is up, along with Ruben and Fantasia. Carrie joins them and then Jordin! They even invited Taylor! Kris Allen comes up last. No David Cook? They are singing "Together We are One." Wow, a gathering or winners! They are joined by an assortment of former Idols all dressed in white. I see Bo, Archie, Constantine, Diana, Blake, Castro, Justin G, Elliott... too many to name. Paula is sitting in Simon's lap. This might be the only performance I'll watch again.

Simon hits the stage. He says he didn't think he'd be this emotional and that it's great to have "this little one" back (Paula). He chokes up. He thanks everyone and hugs Ryan and Paula.

How are they gonna follow that? Oh, with another group sing! "Our Top 12" had a quick change from their white Simon Cowell tribute outfits to black. They are joined by Janet Jackson singing  who's chopped off all her hair. Wow. It's like listening to Michael. Of course, it's lip synched, so it might be Michael.

JJ drops the vampire dress and we're off with some "Nasty Boys." Finally, something we can dance to. This show's felt like a funeral so far or an homage to entertainers past their prime!

Now, with about six minutes left, we turn our attention back to Crystal and Lee, and their journey from Chicago to this moment. They are singing "With a Little Help From My Friends." And of course, Joe Cocker takes his cue. He looks about 80! Actually, he looks like Fred Sanford! No joke. He can still wail, though. Taylor Hicks must be having a conniption!

Finally, we are going to find out the winner. Edward Boddington makes his annual appearance with the certified voting results in an envelope. "After the nationwide vote, I can now tell you the winner of American Idol 2010 is... Lee DeWyze."  Fireworks explode in Mt. Prospect. Our Top 12 surround Lee who is overcome with emotion. "OMG, OMG," he keeps saying. "I've never been happier in my life." Now he has to sing "Beautiful Day."  Confetti falls, Lee yowls his song, and we are, blessedly out!

Thanks to all of you who took this journey with me this year despite the mid-season blog switch! I intend to continue to posts tidbits here, especially once the tour gets underway. There's always lots of fodder during the tour. Watch for the Idols on Larry King Live Friday, if you can stand it! And with that, I'm out...

'American Idol 9' - I've got issues!

 Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze at a press conference Monday

The finale hasn't even aired and I've already got issues! I mean, really, this season has been dismal from the start, but when was the last time a Top 2 performance show was so lopsided? Season 6 maybe (Jordin Sparks vs. Blake Lewis)? And what's positively galling is that despite having flopped like a dead fish on the biggest night of his performing life to date, Lee is probably going to win it all.

Here are my issues in no particular order:
  • No coronation song - Sure, they're schlocky and cornball, and pretty much everything bad, but these stupid songs have become an Idol staple. So why covers this year? And why these covers? U2 for Lee was a ridiculous choice. At least Crystal's song was something she could actually sing, but will anyone ever play either of these songs on the radio? No.
  • Simon Fuller should be taken out backed and walloped for picking "Black Velvet" for Crystal. We've heard that song dozens of times on this show and it's tired and old. It's 2010, people, why not something a little fresher? 
  • Which leads me to my next issue. Rather than some tired old cover song for their first single, why couldn't they have sung one of their own songs? Both Crystal and Lee have original songs that are decent. If the purpose of this show is to find a new recording artist, why not let us judge them on something original. This was the perfect opportunity and Idol blew it.  
  •  Finally, it comes back to Lee, who as I said earlier, will probably win. Why? He's a male and the women who watch this show generally don't vote for other women. There are legions of women swooning over every move Lee makes as though he were some rock god or something. He's not. But he's a male and that's going to get him a lot of votes. Crystal will "Clay" Lee, just like Adam is "Claying" Kris. So what's the point? You win, but you're runner-up clobbers you in sales? Might as well just declare them co-winners and dispense with all the drama. 
I am so glad this season is almost over. It's been a struggle from the get-go and I'm wondering how involved I'm going to want to be next time around. Oh, I'll try, but Idol has definitely lost its luster for me.We'll be back later for a play-by-play of the finale. As usual, I'll be watching so you won't have to!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 2 performance show recap

Well, this is it folks. Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze are facing off to determine who will be the winner of American Idol 9. We'll be live-blogging starting at 8 p.m. and invite you to join in!

Cold opening with clips of Lee and Crystal in their first audition video clip. Mashup of performances. Each of them say, "I am the next American Idol." Ryan pipes in with, "But only one will have that chance," and we're live. Ryan enters the Nokia Theater L.A. Live and is greeted by 7,000 fans. I love finales!

Ryan intros the judges. Crystal and Lee enter through the crowd. Crystal drops her mike. Nervous much? She hugs her boyfriend and takes the stage. Lee says, "Wow!"  Crystal says, "This is a lot of people," and Lee says, "Hello everybody."

Ryan tells us there are three songs, one chosen by the contestants, one by Simon Fuller, and their own personal coronation song. Crystal won the coin toss and will go second. Thus, Lee is up first.

Lee DeWyze - "The Boxer"

Little video of his parents prior to Lee's performance who talk about his aspirations to be a baseball player. Lee already looks like he's got tears in his eyes. He's not quite in tune and there's some kind of funky camera mess in the middle. His father looks like he's in a trance. It's actually better than the first time. Too many "la la lies," though. The audience seems to love it.

Randy says this is a great way to start off the night, but isn't sure it was energetic enough. Ellen says she couldn't be prouder if she "birthed him herself." Kara agrees with Randy and says Lee has to "punch harder." Simon says, "This is the big one, right, so I would expect a lot more passion, excitement... That was a kiss on the cheek, when I want a kiss on the lips." Heh!

Crystal Bowersox - "Me and Bobby McGee"

Crystal's father says she found her mother's guitar when she was ten and taught herself to play. She thought it was a Christmas present!  Crystal looks just as cool as ever. This is a great song as it really shows off her clear voice. She has a great tone and keeps it on point. It feels like a little celebration of her journey. I love it.  Whoa, Crystal done brung it!!!

Randy says it started a little bit slow, picked it up in the middle, and at the end returned to the Crystal they love. Ellen thinks Crystal is so compelling on the stage - you and that guitar filling up the room. Kara says she loved it the first time and loved it this time. "You have fire in your belly." Simon says this is Crystal, back on her best. "We've got a competition tonight."

Round one to Crystal!

Simon Fuller's choice

Lee - "Everybody Hurts"

This song is totally not in Lee's range. He is totally off to start with. I grimace, it's that bad. Not a good choice at all. Is Fuller trying to throw Lee under the bus with this? Awful, simply awful, and Lee knows it too. Even the choir couldn't save this mess.

Randy thinks this was better? What? Ellen says he really got into it a couple of times, but then pulled back. She wants more. Kara says what makes Lee great as a performer is that he's emotionally accessible. Simon thinks this was a brilliant choice, but points out that he went off a bit. He wants a ten out of ten on the last performance.

Crystal - "Black Velvet"

No guitar for Crystal this time, and she's in a black dress with heels. I just had a little Kelly Clarkson flashback.  She tears it up, fluffs the lyrics a little, but tears it up. The audience doesn't look too into it, though. It's not as good as her first song, but better than Lee's song, I think.

Randy says, "Mamasox is in it to win it!" Ellen comments on the wardrobe change. Ellen gives her a standing "O." Kara says this is the night to do it all and "that's what you were doing." Simon says he had a little problem because he's almost allergic to the song, but says, "You took that song and you absolutely nailed it. I'm very impressed."

Round two to Crystal.

Coronation song (i.e. the single the winner will record)

Lee - "Beautiful Day"

He doesn't seem to know this song at all and is even more out of tune than normal. People are all excited, but I'm not quite sure why. This is terrible. There are simply no words.

Randy says, "Good on you." Ellen asks Lee how he feels. He says he feels good and he's feelin' it. Ellen says watching the process she can see he was in it, taking in all the energy. Kara says she thinks he got swallowed up in the song, but that he's grown the most and has the most commercial voice. "You deserve to be here." Simon thinks Lee made the most of it. He says it's his final time to judge this show and this is what the show is all about. "I genuinely wish the best for you, you're a great guy."

Lee says he wants to be doing this for the rest of his life and appreciates all the support. "I love you guys very much," he finishes.

Crystal - "Up to the Mountain" 

The song has a bit of a gospel tinge, and in fact, she gets the choir. It's really like a typical coronation song with peaceful valleys over the mountain, and such, but at least it has a little substance to it.  She actually does a pretty good job with it, all things considered.  It sounds a bit like "Change Gone Come." Crystal loses it at the end.

Randy says, "This is what this show is about - an amazing song, by an amazing singer." He thinks this was her best performance ever. Ellen says we're always looking for someone unique and that Crystal is in a league of her own. Ellen will buy her album and see her on tour. She's happy to be witness to the rise of Crystal's career.

Kara says at times Crystal's walls have been up, but this time, she was completely involved. Crystal interrupts to speak to Simon. She says he's been amazing, and thanks him for all the help and wisheView Blogs him well!  Simon says this was "by far the best performance of the night." His final critique ever (on Idol at least)... "That was outstanding!"

Round 3 to Crystal.

Will Young, winner of the first Pop Idol, sings us out with "Leave Right Now," and we see a video montage of the season. When he finishes, the Top 12 are on the stage and we are out.

So, Crystal won the night on my scorecard. Thus, she should win the title. Simple as that.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Video: Crystal singing in the Chicago subway

Here's a video of Crystal singing in a Chicago subway station. Not sure of the vintage, but it's pre-dreadlocks, so I'd say at least two years old. Doesn't matter, this girl had it then and sure has it now. Check it out.

Video: Adam Lambert performs in Boston

Adam Lambert rocked the stage Saturday night at the annual KISS (Boston) summer concert. Here are videos from the show:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Video roundup: Lambert on Leno, Normund Gentle, David Archuleta

Here are some of today's hottest videos! First, Adam Lambert performs "If I Had You" on Friday's Tonight Show:

Season 8's Normund Gentle's "Bitchslap:"

David Archuleta at the the the Apple Cupertino, CA campus:

May 21: Idols on the charts

Chris Daughtry and his band get a nice boost on the Billboard 200 after their appearance on the May 11 edition of American Idol. Leave This Town jumps from No. 85 to No. 51, an impressive 44 spots. Not such great news for Jason Castro, however, as his self-titled debut drops off the charts after six weeks.

A new Idol-related album hits the charts this week. American Idol: Season 9  featuring the Season 9 Top 10 enters the Billboard 200 at No. 77. Click here for the track listing.

Billboard 200 (Albums)

Billboard Hot 100 (Singles)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Video roundup: Crystal at 13, Kris Allen sings "The Truth"

Here's a clip of Crystal singing an original tune when she was just thirteen. Her voice is so pure and clean. Really nice.

Kris Allen sings his new single, "The Truth."

Crystal and Lee sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 3 results show recap

It's almost a waste of time watching this week's 'Idol' results show, that's how certain I am of the outcome. Of course, there's always Justin Bieber, Travis Garland (who?),  and the contestants' hometown visits to plump out the hour. Still, I am tempted to wait until 9:50 p.m. to tune in just to watch Casey's elimination.

But, of course, I won't do that! How else will my faithful readers find out what they missed by not watching. My motto - I'll watch so you don't have to! The sacrifices I make in the name of honest journalism (or bloggerism, or whatever)!

Here's how it all went down.

Cold opening features videos from Tuesday night and contestant comments. Ryan opens the show, and we see most of the Top 12 sitting in the front row. Ryan lets us nearly 47 million votes were cast. The video feed looks weird, almost like it was prerecorded.

The Top 3 come out and Ryan asks Casey about his perspective. Casey says it's surreal and that it really sank in when he when home. Crystal says you don't see how much work goes into the show from the outside. Lee says it's totally different than what he thought it would be and he's learned a lot about himself. Crystal says the experience makes them stronger and better people.

When asked if he wants to win, Casey says he never thought he would get this far, and it's so much more than he ever expected. "It can't be bad." Crystal says she's cool with whatever happens, but she'd love to win. Lee says he wants to win, but going through the steps seemed so far. "I've never wanted to win more than I do right now." Crystal says that they're at the stage where anything's attainable.

Ryan wonders how they are balancing the competition and their "real lives." Lee says while he'd love to hang out with friends and family, this has to be his main focus. Casey says he gets at least 150 text message a day, but he doesn't have time to get back to them. Crystal says she gets tugged in a million directions. She has her son to take care of as well as her diabetes. She says she's feeling better than ever and is getting great care because she is a contestant.

Randy says they've all found some direction. Crystal says everything the judges have said has been helpful. She thanks them. Lee says every week they're on the show they want to do the best they can. Casey is laughing and says, "Not every single comment was helpful."  The judges don't seem amused. Don't worry, Casey, soon you will be free of them forever.

Now for the Ford music video to the tune of "I'm a Real Wild Child."  Casey James' home visit is next. We watch as he arrives in Texas on a private jet. Hoards of screaming fans greet him and the police stop traffic for him. Casey appears on a morning talk show and then it's off to Cool, Texas, his hometown.

A huge crowd greets Casey at his old high school. He signs a frau's dachshund. Girls have his name written in marker on their chests. Then he's off to the hospital where he was treated after his near-fatal motorcycle accident. The staff greets him and he gives them a signed guitar. His mom is moved to tears. He appears on stage in Fort Worth. We don't get to hear him sing or play guitar, though. Too bad. I bet we get to hear Lee sing.

Ryan asks Casey how it felt to see the doctor who saved his life. Casey says he cries when his mom cries. Nice story.

We return from the break. All the Idols are in the front row. There's Timmy! Now for Travis Garland who apparently was discovered online by none other than Perez Hilton. See you don't have to be on this stupid show to become famous. This guy dances around and there's a triple split screen for extra added excitement.  How the hell does this guy rate an appearance on Idol. It sort of devalues the importance of the Top 3 results show.

Ryan pimps the auditions for Season 10. Then we watch Crystal return to Toledo. She signs some guy's chest and says this is all so weird. She pops her head in and out of the limo's sun roof and laughs her butt off. She gets the key to the city of Toledo and we hear her sing "Holy Toledo."

She's off to her dad's house for a barbecue and gets to see her son. She performs in front of a huge crowd and tosses out the first ball at a Toledo Mud Hens' game. She cries as she talks to Ryan and tells him her song has given her city a lot of hope. She's happy she had a chance to perform it at home and says she's wanted to do one of her songs all season. Maybe in the finals? That would be nice.

Lee's trip is next. He appears on the local morning show, throws out the first pitch at the Cubs' game (can't believe it), and lots of girls scream and yell. Little girls and big girls. He goes to his elementary school where there's more screaming.  He stops off at the paint store and cries. He tells them he's going to try and "win this thing." Lee arrives at home and then sings "The Boxer" at some kind of racetrack. He breaks down, his dad breaks down, and it's all very moving.

Back live, Lee's eyes are brimming with tears. He thanks his parents for their support. Enough already.

Justin Bieber performs. Somehow, I've managed to have avoided hearing this kid. Girls sing along with him. Male dancers who are trying to look baaad leap around behind him and a big plume of sparks introduce his second (yes, second) song. Terrific... a Justin Bieber medley.  This kid will be finished when his voice starts to change. What is wrong with the state of modern music today? There, I've said enough about Justin Bieber.

Finally, we are going to get to the elimination. The Top 3 are standing center stage. The lights dim. Ryan starts with Lee. More praise. Crystal is next and then Casey. "After the nationwide vote, the first person in next week's finale is... Lee." Big shock. "Joining Lee for a shot at the title is... Crystal Bowersox." She says, "Am I safe?" Crystal and Lee hug. Casey says he's thankful for the opportunity and says it's been an amazing journey. He sings "Daughters" again. He doesn't look sad at all. He walks by the judges and then picks up a little girl in the audience. Nice touch.

He hugs the judges and then we see his farewell video, including the when he removed his shirt. The show runs over one minute and we are out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 3 performance show recap

It's all on the line as Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Casey James vie for a spot in the American Idol 9 finals. Each will sing two songs, one picked by the judges and the other a personal choice. We'll be live-blogging the performance show starting at 8 p.m. Here we go!

Cold opening. Ryan walks the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase and stops by each of the Top 3 introducing them by noting their hometowns.  "This is the fight for the finale, and this is American Idol," he proclaims.

Ryan re-descends the ALMS, and tells us this is the week! He asks the audience to shout out the names of who they think it's going to be, and I hear a lot of "Lees." One week from tonight we'll be at the Nokia Theater.

Round One - Contestants' choice

Casey James - "Okay, It's All Right With Me"

Casey's got the acoustic guitar out. He says he chose the song because it sounds like something he would have written himself. It's too wordy and he seems to be rushing through the song. Casey seems a bit stiff. Not the greatest song choice, unfortunately. But in his favor, he seems a lot more relaxed. I think his visit home really energized him.

Randy says that song was just "all right" with him too. He wanted to hear something different. Ellen says, "This is the moment - live or die, sink or swim (or whatever)" She felt the same way as Randy and wishes he had brought it.

Kara says it's hard to pick a song that not everybody knows. She doesn't think this worked in his favor. Simon says this is the most important night of his life. He would compare this song to a salad before dinner. He said it sounded like Casey was busking. "It was a dud song choice, but you sounded good." Casey looks very disappointed.

Crystal Bowersox - "Come to my Window" (Melissa Etheridge)

Perfect song choice for Crystal.She edits it so that she gets the chorus in and gets stronger as the song goes on. But the arrangement is a bit fussy and she nearly drowns in it. The vocals are outstanding, though, as always.

Randy says it's that time in the competition when they're looking for a winner. He says he didn't like the arrangement, but loved her vocal. He thinks she was fighting the arrangement, but she rose above it. Ellen says this is the kind of song Crystal wants to sing. "Melissa would be very proud of you."

Kara thinks Crystal was fighting the arrangement. "It was still a good vocal... I hope you have a moment." Simon says Crystal hasn't compromised herself as an artist and he has a lot of respect for her. He thinks it was an honest performance and that she made the right choice.

Crystal says she felt elated singing the song. She's glad she's got her mike stand and her health, and that her son is healthy!

Lee DeWyze - "Simple Man" (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Lee tells Ryan his trip home was amazing and he wanted to bring that energy back with him. Lee's got the pimp spot, the special lighting, and all the tools to have his "moment." The song is perfect for the moment and he's on top of it. His vocals are a little off, but there's' definitely some magic going on here. This is a song that gets to the root of America and really won them over. This is the performance that will get Lee into the finals.

Randy says this is a brilliant song choice. "Somebody here's feeling like they can win this." Ellen says this shows that Lee takes this seriously. She says he was like a baby lamb and now he's like a "springy carefree..." gazelle or some nonsense.

Kara says what Lee did was what every contestant should do. In her opinion, round one goes to Lee. Simon asks why he picked this song. He says when he plays it, he can really get into it and connect. Simon says that was "absolutely on the money."  He says Lee crushed the other two. Get the crown out now people.

I have to agree with the judges on this one. Round one to Lee.

Round Two - Judges' Choice

Casey - "Daughters" (John Mayer, picked by Kara and Randy)

The judges weigh in on what Casey has to do to stay in the competition. Does it really matter? Nice arrangement - a piano and two guitars. It's real nice, but a but lazy. This was not enough to overcome the obvious love fest going on for Lee, though. Nope. Casey's gone.

Randy says this song fit him like a glove and he hopes Casey will keep on going in this direction. Sounds like a goodbye to me. Ellen likes it a lot. Kara says this showed Casey's more artistic, sensitive side, and thinks he did a good job. Simon says it was a much better choice. He calls the arrangement lazy and wishes Casey could have had a much bigger vocal moment. He argues with Kara about the merits of the song.

I want an iPad.

Crystal - "Maybe I'm Amazed" (Paul McCartney, picked by Ellen)

Ellen says she picked this because she loves the song, and thinks it and Crystal are amazing. Crystal doesn't genderize the words, and that's awkward. She screams, she's pitchy, and it doesn't work at all... Bad, bad, bad choice Ellen.

Randy says, "Great songs, great vocals, and we've got someone who's in it to win it." Ellen likes it. Kara says Crystal showed parts of her voice we haven't heard. She thinks Crystal took a lot of risks. Simon says he was surprised when he heard the song choice, but now he does. He says, after that, Crystal may be thanking Ellen for putting her in the finals. He's lying. Clearly they want Crystal and Lee in the finals. Crystal could have stood there and yodeled, and they would have praised her to the highest heavens.

I miss Big Mike.

Lee - "Hallelujah" - (Leonard Cohen, picked by Simon)

Simon picked the song because it's "Lee's night" and he wants him to have a "moment." Could you be any more blatant, Simon? He's got the full string section and a choir. Should have saved this for the finale, Lee. His vocals aren't great, but who cares. Lee's in the finals.

The audience goes wild. Lee looks like he's about to cry. Randy says he's been waiting the whole season to see who's going to throw down the gauntlet. "Unbelievable, dude." Lee thanks Simon. Ellen says she's glad Lee trusted Simon. "That was stunning." Kara says, "Lee, you are what this show is all about... someone who starts out in one place and ends up somewhere else... you just owned this entire night." Simon says he is very proud of Lee. He thinks Lee proved he's a fantastic singer and a great person.

Dust off the crown, people. Casey's out, and Lee and Crystal are in.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Preview of Bo Bice's new album, '3'

3Bo Bice's third album, 3 drops Tuesday, but you can get a sneak preview of the entire album here. Much like See the Light, the new album has a real country flavor and features new, original tunes from the American Idol 4 runner-up.

Bo is donating the proceeds of the first single “Long Road Back,” to Tennessee flood victims. Recently, he participated in a fundraiser for the children's charity "Country Cares."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Video: Casey James tears it up during hometown visit

AP Photo/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Max Faulkner

The Season 9 Top 3 had their hometown visits Friday and among the parades, keys to their respective cities, and other tripe, they each had a chance to perform for their hometown fans. Now, I admit, I've been critical of Casey James, but damn, this dude is the real deal when it comes to the blues.

Check out the video of his 7-plus minute performance of "Drowning on Dry Land" at Keys Lounge in Fort Worth. Where has this Casey been for the last month? He totally rocks!

May 14: Idols on the charts

Undo ItAdam Lambert, Daughtry, and Danny Gokey all move up on this week's Billboard 200, and Carrie Underwood's single "Undo It" re-enters the Hot 100 at No. 95. Here's how the Idols did on this week's charts:

Billboard 200 (Albums)

Billboard Hot 100 (Singles)

Todrick Hall gets a gig!

Season 9 contestant Todrick Hall will be playing the role of Seaweed in Hairspray for the Gateway Playhouse (215 South County Rd., Bellport, NY). The musical opens July 7 and runs through July 31. Click here for ticket information.

Todrick was eliminated in the Top 16, just missing the cut to the Top 12. Todrick appeared with Fantasia in The Color Purple, and has also appeared in High School Musical 2 and Beauty and the Beast at Disney World.

In addition, Todrick wrote and choreographed Oz, the Musical an original production.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top 3 have hometown visits and get judges' song choices

It was a big day for Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Casey James. The trio had a chance to return to their hometowns Friday to celebrate their reaching the American Idol 9 Top 3. As part of the celebrations, each received a text indicating the song chosen for them by the judges.

Ellen Degeneres picked Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" for Crystal and Simon chose Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for Lee DeWyze. Casey's song, John Mayer's "Daughters," was chosen for him by Randy and Kara.

Here's Crystal doing two of her original songs, "Holy Toledo" and "Gray Haired Rock Star" at FOX Toledo. Good stuff!

American Idol's Crystal Bowersox performs at Fox Toledo from Sentinel-Tribune on Vimeo.

Here are some links with more details of the Idols' hometown visits:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 4 results show recap

Okay, tonight we learn who will be the American Idol 9 Top 3 and watch as one person's dreams are dashed. Or not? At least whoever is eliminated this week will have a chance to watch Chris Daughtry, the most famous Top 4 bootee, perform.

The cold opening features yet another mishmosh of video clips and inspirational words from the Top 4. Ryan intros the judges and lets us know 37 million votes came in Tuesday night. Bon Jovi, Fantasia, and Daughtry (who knows all about the Top 4) are performing tonight. With no time to waste, we get right to Fantasia, the first performer.

Fantasia sings her new single "Bittersweet."  Tasia's looking a bit like Mary J. Blige - nowhere near as strange as she did the last time she performed on the show (remember Simon's look of stupificaton?). She's wearing skin tight leather pants and a white jacket, and her hair is "Justin Bieber-ish!" The song isn't half bad either. She might actually have an R&B hit on her hands?

Fantasia talks about her album. It's been three years since her last one and she thinks that's too long. She tells Ryan it's all soul and she's written several songs for it. Her daughter is now nine and Fantasia says she's a little taller than Simon. Good one!

We return from the break. The Top 4 are sitting on individual stools. We see the Ford music video. They are driving a Ford Fiesta "around the world." Mike looks huge in this car! It is odd to see just four of them. They still seem to get a kick out of watching themselves on video.

Ryan reminds us that those who make the cut to the Top 3 get to go home. We have a chance to watch some of the former contestants' homecomings (even Taylor)! It's pretty emotional, really, seeing them all tearing up. Nice little montage of the various Idols performing and even a clip of Elliott's mother in the parade. We heart Claudette Yamin.

The Top 4 speculate on what they're going to do if they have a chance to go home. Michael is looking forward to seeing his puppy and Crystal wants to jam with her old bass player. Casey is looking forward to smelling Texas air and seeing his "puppy dogs."

Their families are on the couches. This is different. It's time for the first result. Ryan has Mike and Casey stand up. Ryan reads the cards. Crystal looks very nervous. Ryan wants to know who picked "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." Michael did. Casey says he had another song in mind, but Mike was so excited about it, he deferred.

Ryan reads Lee and Crystal's cards. Crystal says they picked their song because Once is her favorite movie. She encouraged Lee to watch it and when they learned it was movie week, she knew immediately that was the song they should do for their duet. "After the nationwide vote, Casey, you are safe and in the Top 3."  Wow. That means Mike is a goner. I'm surprised they didn't hold that one until the end.

Daughtry is up next performing their new single, "September." Not a Daughtry fan, never have been. Don't like his voice (Casey take notes on the goaty vibrato - it's served Daughtry well). The song sounds like every other Daughtry song to me, a little slower. I think I'd better quit while I'm ahead.

The audience goes wild. Ryan asks Chris how it feels to step into an arena. He says it's still amazing to him. The song reminds him of the simplicity of his childhood. Ryan asks Ellen what the Top 3 can learn from watching Daughtry perform. She says, "I'm so proud of y'all. Just give us that 100 percent." Randy says Chris is living the dream and loves when these contestants come back. Chris tells the Top 3 to "stay hungry" and not to compromise the music that they love. Really? Ryan disses Big Mike about staying hungry. I don't think Big Mike has to worry, though. There's no way either Crystal or Lee is going home. No way.

More results. Ryan starts with Michael. He looks like he knows he's out. Kara says she was looking for something like "This Woman's Work." Michael says it was a tough song for him because MJ makes it sound effortless. Lee is next. he looks like he's going to be physically ill. Ryan asks if he thought the criticism was valid. Lee doesn't think his performance was karaoke, but could have done more with the arrangement. He's happy with what he did and is hoping to move forward. Funny when Idol started out as nothing more than a glorified karaoke contest that now that word is so feared and dreaded!

Crystal is next. Ryan asks Simon how he saw her redeeming herself. He says he thought it was a much better performance and this was the artist they fell in love with. Finally, Ryan announces the next person who is safe.
"After the nationwide vote, Mike hang tight for a minute. Lee, friends, Lee is heading back to Chicago."  Michael is definitely out. No way is Crystal going home. Not happening.

Bon Jovi is up next singing "Superman Tonight."  And this is relevant how?  Jon looks like he's wearing a Justin Bieber wig. Love the shirt open to "here" and the medallion. So 80s, so not cool. What's with the twang all of a sudden? Blech.

Ryan wonders how the band can continue to do this year after year. JBJ says they've "crossed generations" and are still humbled. More results on the other side of the break.

Okay, it's an intense moment on the stage. Ryan wonders what Lee and Casey have been talking about. Lee says he's taking it all in, but then he's feeling for Michael and Crystral. Casey says when Ryan said his name he was ready to go sing his swan song. Silly goaty goose, haven't you learned by now that the elimination is always at the end of the show? Do you get the feeling Casey's not the brightest goat in the herd?

Finally, we dim the lights for the decision maker. This is so stupidly non-dramatic. Why didn't they leave it between Casey and Michael? Sheesh. As Crystal and Big Mike cling to one another, Ryan speaks solemnly.   "The person who is in the Top 3 after the nationwide vote is... Crystal."  OMG Crystal is safe. Heh!

Crystal goes over to the couches and hugs her boyfriend. Michael says it's been unbelievable. He thanks God for the judges' save. His wife is crying. We see the video of Mike's strange Idol journey, starting with the birth of his baby. Love watching him bench press Aaron!

After Michael sings "Will You Be There" again, he hugs the judges. Randy tells him this is a "jumping off point."  The show closes with Michael holding his baby who starts crying. Appropriate I must say.

Well, there you go. No surprises this year!  Two more weeks of this! Can you stand it?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 4 performance show recap

With the finale right around the corner, it's do or die for the American Idol 9 Top 4. This week, the Idols will sing songs from the movies and Jamie Foxx returns as guest mentor. The producers have also brought back the duets from last season. We'll see about that!  Let's get on with the show.

Ryan opens the show by telling us it's our job to see who gets to the finale. He intros the judges and lets us know that there'll be duets. The Top 4 emerged looking fairly relaxed and confident. Intro the movie/Jamie Foxx video package. Ryan says Jamie has a career "without boundaries." He's an actor and a multi-platinum artist. Jamie's got his head shaved and is sporting some chin whiskers. He urges the Top 4 to "get into another gear." "Take what you have and elevate it.

Jamie's in the audience with tee shirts he brought to the contestants. The shirts read Contestant and Artist. Once he hears them sing, he'll present them with either one of them depending on how he thinks they do! The objective is to be an "artist."  Tricky.

Lee DeWyze - "Kiss from a Rose" (Seal)

Jamie gets right up in Lee's face and says if he can't sing like that, he can't sing in front of 10,000 people. Jamie's fierce! At the end of the rehearsal, he gives Lee an "Artist" shirt. Lee's got the acoustic guitar out this week. He sounds very hoarse and somewhat out of tune. He doesn't stray far from the original arrangement and seems to be mumbling at times. Doesn't he know the words?  He gets better in the second half of the song, but it doesn't fit his voice and falls a bit flat for me.

Randy agrees with Jamie in that he's looking for who's in it to win it. He says Lee did nothing with the song and it was just okay. He says Lee should have chosen something more rock. "It was just okay." Ellen thinks more could have been done with the song, but she loved it.

Kara says that Lee had a great week last week. Someone screams, "We love you Lee." She points out that he got lost in the arrangement. But she doesn't think this takes away from the fact that he's still great. Simon agrees with Randy. He says there are plenty of song he could have chosen. "That was verging on karaoke," he says, and says Lee should get a "Contestant" tee shirt.

Lee says he enjoyed singing the song. He's not backing down one little bit.

Michael Lynche - "Will You Be There" (Michael Jackson)

Big Mike has some stool time with Ryan. Michael tells us there's a lot of pressure this week because your family and city are counting on you. A year ago, Mike made a goal to get in the Top 3 and he feels the weight of that goal. 

Jamie and Mike dance! The rehearsal doesn't go well and Jamie gives Mike a "Contestant" shirt. I love this song. Mike starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. He changes it up enough so that it doesn't sound a bit like Michael Jackson. The gospel background singers work real well and Michael sings with power and conviction. It's outstanding!

Randy says he didn't love it and wishes he'd chosen an R&B song. Ellen says you can't go wrong with the sound of a choir behind you and jokes about Free Willy. She says she thinks it's weird that his goal is to get to the Top 3 and not to win. She says this was a little bit predictable.

Kara says all she could think of were the songs he did that gave her goosebumps. She thinks Mike played it safe. He says he has more tonight. Simon doesn't know what Free Willy is! A discussion ensues about whales and Willies. "At least you gave it 100 percent, and I kind of felt that you meant it," he says before he is cut off.

Crystal and Lee Duet - "Falling Slowly"

Crystal and Lee are both playing acoustic guitar facing each other. Their voices blend rather nicely. I think Lee muffed the lyrics, though. Not good. It sounds like they are just jamming with each other. Nothing special and it seemed Crystal was much stronger of the two. Risky choice in that it was one of Kris Allen's best performances last year, but hey, who cares, right?

Randy says, "What a difference a couple of minutes make... that's how you do it." Ellen says, "You are the new Captain and Tennille." Kara says this was one of her favorite moments of the season. "You brought out the best in both of you." Simon calls it a "fantastic song." Really? I didn't think it was all that.

Crystal says Lee is her "musical crush," and she told him this when they were sitting next to each other at the audition in Chicago. Hmmm. What are the odds that these two would be together at this stage of the game and may well end up in the finale challenging each other. Interesting.

Casey James - "Mrs. Robinson"

Now this was predictable. Jamie asks Casey to seduce him! He wants Casey to understand the bigger picture. Casey gets an "Artist" shirt.

Casey's playing a mandolin. At least he tries to change it that much. He's in the pit with the swooning fan girls. It's different, I'll say that much. He blew the lyrics at the end just a little ("those who pay?") and his goatlike vibrato is up front and center. Just meh for me.

Randy asks why he chose this song. Casey says there are a lot of reasons. They all point to Kara! Heh! He says Casey sounded cool. Ellen says she wishes he'd had a "big boy guitar." She likes that he came back and did something different with the song. She turns it over to "Mrs. Robinson" (Kara). She says this is Casey fighting to stay in the competition. She thinks it was a good choice. She is surprised at how naughty Randy is. She explains the meaning behind the song and movie.

Simon says he didn't think the song or the performance had the "substance required for a night like this... I thought it was a little bit lazy... You could have made more of an impact." He thinks it was a weird song choice.

Crystal Bowersox - "I'm Alright" 

Crystal has stool time with Ryan. He wonders about her song choice. Crystal is a bit star-struck. He wants her to "raise those pretty blue eyes up." He gives her an "Artist" shirt.

Good choice for Crystal. It's right in her wheelhouse and allows her to be herself. Yup, she's back all right.

Randy says "You are definitely and artist." He likes that she tried to switch it up. Ellen says the performance got "Crystalized" and she made the song better. Kara agrees and calls her an artist. Simon says "After that performance, you Crystal, are back in the game."

Crystal's boyfriend is wearing American flag MC Hammer pants!

Michael and Casey Duet - "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman"

The boys are playing their guitars. Casey bleats out the opening while Michael makes funny faces. The song gets a little more shape when Michael's verse kicks in. Casey plays a nice Spanish lick on the guitar. Their voices don't sound horrible together and they give it an interesting kick. Better than I expected, actually.

Randy says he loved the guitar playing. "Nice one." Ellen says, "As a matter of fact, yes, I have loved a woman!" Simon cracks up. Kara says, "The duets tonight were incredible... better than the solo performances." Simon thinks they should give Jamie's artist tee shirts for the duets. I agree.

Jamie says it was a great night. He says it's an artistic challenge to make a simple song their own. He wants them to "let go" next week. He's looking for someone to go from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Best and Worst

I agree that the duets were better than the solo performances. By far. As for the solos, Crystal wins the night, followed by Michael and Lee. That leaves Casey out. We shall see.

Wednesday, Daughtry and Fantasia come home to Idol and Jon Bon Jovi performs. Daughtry on Top 4 elimination night! Heh!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 4 meet the press

For the first time in Idol history, the Top 4 sat down Friday for a bonafide press conference. Of course, this could be indicative of a general lack of enthusiasm for this season as a whole. Pulling a presser generated a bit of a buzz, after all.

Reading through the transcript, it's clear the Idols were on a fairly short leash. They were all very supportive of one another and had nothing negative to say about anything. There were a couple of moments where they may have been surprised by the questions, however, particularly when it came to the relative successes of last season's Top 4 (all four have put out albums to varying degrees of success).

You can read the entire transcript here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Video: Bo Bice performs on Nashville flood relief telethon

Bo Bice was one of dozens of country music stars who pitched in to help victims of the flooding in Nashville on Thursday night's Nashville Flood Relief telethon. Bo, Bart Walker, and Vince Gill, performed "Long Road Back," the first cut from Bo's upcoming album, 3

Here's a video:

May 7: Idols on the charts

Shania Twain - Greatest HitsNothing new on the charts this week, but country singer Shania Twain got a boost after serving as guest mentor last week. Her album, Greatest Hits, reenters the Billboard 200 at No. 68. The album was released in November 2004.

Billboard 200 (Albums)

Billboard Hot 100 (Singles)

18. “Whataya Want From Me” (Adam Lambert): LW 13
41. “Live Like We’re Dying” (Kris Allen): LW 33
84. “Temporary Home” (Carrie Underwood): LW 61
97. “All I Ever Wanted” Kelly Clarkson: LW 96