Thursday, March 31, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 11 (again) results show recap

Paul broke out the rhinestone suit for one last gasp.
Last night, the Idols rose to the challenge, singing songs from the Elton John catalog. I thought it was a pretty good show and all the Idols did fine. Other critics have panned some of the performances, including one of my favorites, Paul McDonald's, but in the end, it's up to the viewers. I voted online last night. Pretty cool, actually.

To recap, my picks for the bottom three are Haley (despite glowing reviews of her performance), Naima, and Stefano. I think Naima and Stefano will be going home. I haven't been right since the Top 13, however, when I correctly predicted the end of the road for Ashthon (seems so long ago, doesn't it!). At any rate, we'll have to watch and find out!

Cold opening with video of last night's performances with some backstage glimpses. Steven's comment to Haley ("You sing sexy") was rather disturbing considering she's, what, 18 or 19?

Voiceover man intros our judges and Ryan emerges from behind the screen. His hair, about which I didn't comment last night, is still rather flattened. He informs us there are two eliminations and no more saves. As if we didn't know this already. Last night there were 55 million votes, a record at this stage of the competition. The Top 11 come out and the audience goes nuts. Ryan lets us know Fantasia is performing tonight as well as and Jamie Foxx.

Tonight the Idols are singing duets. Lauren and Scott sing "I Told You So," the Carrie Underwood/Randy Travis number. They sound real nice together. The judges give them a standing ovation! Ryan calls them to the center of the stage for some results! Interesting twist. The lights dim and Ryan reads the judges comments, with Lauren's first. She looks like she's about to throw up! "After the nationwide vote, both of you get another chance to impress." They hug.

The kids plug some stupid contest on, which segues into this week's Ford video. The song is "Superman" and the video is rather lame. There's also a live scavenger hunt for keys to a Ford Focus.

Ryan chats with the contestants. Casey says he's going to keep some growth on his face, but he is a "mysterious guy." James has received a lot of fan mail, including bracelets, which he wears. He also got a custom-made WWE belt with Crazy James engraved on it. We get to see it. WTF?

More music. Naima and Jacob are singing Ashford and Simpson's "Solid." Jacob singing this to Naima is a bit awkward. His dance moves are rather stilted. Naima steals this one right from under his nose. I can see this as a tour duet. Now for their results. Ryan reads Naima's comments and then Jacob's. I think she's a goner. Jacob has his eyes close and his cheeks puffed up. One of them is in the bottom three. "The person in our bottom three and in danger of elimination tonight is Naima." No surprise there. She takes a seat on one of the stools of doom.

Now for Fantasia singing "Collard Greens and Cornbread." Tasia wants everyone to get up on their feet. She's wearing a tight red dress slit up to where, and her blond hair is in a strange pompadour. The song is about collard greens and cornbread kind of love. Not sure I understand what that is, exactly, but whatever. Steven seems quite taken by the song and Randy is grinning from ear to ear. I so miss Simon tonight!

Ryan brings Fantasia over to the contestants. He asks her if there's one thing she wishes she knew when she was on the show. She says it's a tough business and you have to keep people with you who aren't just going to tell you what you want to hear. It's about the love of the music. She's talking real fast! Jacob is clapping wildly. He's kind of a male version of 'Tasia.

Haley, Pia, and Thia do Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." Their harmonies are whack. They are all doing this strange crouching motion. Why do singers do that anyway? Pia owns the performance. Now for the "ultimate buzz kill." Ryan starts with Pia and then moves on to Thia. Pia and Thia. Love it. Haley is last. JLo is shaking her head. "After the nationwide vote, I can tell you, Pia, you are safe." OMG what a shocker. Thia or Haley. Haley, right? Wrong, it's Thia. Thia's mom is sad.

Kris Allen (Who?) is in the house tonight. Next we see a day in the life of the Idols. First they work in the studio and then they're off to Las Vegas to a charity event for Mohammad Ali. Kelly Clarkson is there. A newly skinny Jordin Sparks was also there, but we don't get to see her. The Idols meet Ali.  Pia is overwhelmed. The stupid Idol mansion leaks so the kids have to move to a hotel.  Lauren falls down the stairs. Then they go back to the studio to pick their songs for next week. Then it's time for a little spa action, followed by rehearsals. Performance show Wednesday and the the "dramatic" save show. What? They saved Casey? I had no idea! The doctor has Casey lie down and he's still a mess. Finally he is reunited with the rest of the Idols and they have a group hug. The week begins again on Friday. Round and round they go.

The boys from the house - Paul, James, Stefano and Casey - have a band. They  perform "Band on the Run." Stefano is on keyboard, Casey on bass, and James and Paul are playing guitar. The vocals are awful in the beginning, but they tighten up in the second half of the song. Casey looks very cool on the bass. It's interesting, the first time this has ever been done, but they need more practice.  Steven says they can open for Aerosmith next tour! This will certainly be part of this summer's tour.

Results now. Ryan tells Casey if he knew how many votes he got, he'd be very proud. He is safe. He gets a huge hug from Jacob. James is also safe. Paul or Stefano? Not Paul, please. The final person in the bottom three  is Paul. Stefano is safe. Boooooo.

Jamie Fox and perform "Hot Wings." There's a drumline and dancing girls. Jamie Foxx is over-autotuned as usual. The dancing girls are all over the place. I don't like this at all.

Time for the results. Paul, Thia and Naima stand tall. Paul is safe. It's the end of the road for Thia and Naima. We see both of their funeral videos. I'm gong to miss Naima. And that's it.

Isn't it interesting that this was supposed to be the "year of the girls!" But, so far, only girls have been eliminated! Six guys and three girls are left, and Haley is still borderline. I do think a guy will go next week, though. It's inevitable.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 11 (again) performance recap

After last week's dramatic save of Casey Abrams, the Top 11 remains standing and tonight, the Idols will perform songs from Elton John's catalog. Two people will be leaving tomorrow.

This theme hasn't been done since Season 3, and that night, there were some memorable performances (Jennifer's Hudson's "Circle of Life" and George Huff's "Take Me to the Pilot" to name a couple). What will the Idols sing tonight? Will Scotty break out "Country Comfort?" Let's find out!

We open with dramatic footage of Casey's save and the ominous  warning that "There are no second chances."  We got it. Scary voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan, and the judges take their seats. Ryan loves that Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. The energy level is high tonight. Ryan says everyone is still buzzing about last week's results show.  Ryan presents the Top 11 ("For the second week in a row").

There's video of Elton John. Elton started out in 1970 and has produced over 30 albums. His influence on today's artists is obvious (Lady Gaga). Jimmy Iovine tells us the contestants really have to sell the lyrics. The kids went to an Entertainment Weekly fashion photo shoot to get a lesson in style.

Scotty McCreery - "Country Comfort" 
Scotty tells us the lifestyle is totally different from things back in North Carolina. And sure enough, he's doing the only country-ish song Elton ever wrote! Scotty is strumming his guitar tonight. A little too much twang. He gives his Grandmother, who's in the audience, a shoutout.  He sells it and he sells it convincingly. The song is right in his wheelhouse, and he makes no mistakes. Good job Scotty.

Steven says there's nothing he can say that an old-fashioned pair of cowboy boots wouldn't fix. "You did it again for me, Scotty." JLo says Scotty has amazing instincts for what's good for him. She encourages him to stay grounded. Randy says Scotty's seasoned so fast, he felt like he's already watching him as a performer. He says this song sounds like it could be on his record. I agree.

Naima Adedapo - "I'm Still Standing"
Naima chose this song because of the lyrics (she's still standing), but she's put a reggae kick to it. And she's got the Jamaican accent to go with it. She stays in tune and seems to hve gotten her dancing breathing under control. She urges the audience membert to get up and dance. It's odd, but good. Naima is probably the most marketable of the entire group, actually. I'm digging her more each week.

JLo says she loves Naima and her reggae swag. She's not sure this song was suited for the flip. "Better idea than payoff for me." Randy agrees with JLo. He loves reggae, but thinks it came off kind of corny. The audience boos. Steven says, "Boom chacka lahka baby... good for you for picking a song that fit you!"

In her post-performance clip, Naima says this is who she is and the song was great for her.

Oh no... there's a new songwriting contest to help Taio Cruz write a song for Coca-Cola. You write the lyrics and the song will debut on the finale. At least the winner doesn't have to sing it. Or does he/she?

Paul McDonald - "Rocket Man"
Paul says his band used to do a cover of this and it was a disaster. Jimmy says Paul should act as if he just performed before 20,000 people and this is his encore. Paul asks how we're all doing. He's wearing the bizarro white embroidered suit again (for the third time). And guess what? I totally love this performance. He's finally connected with me. No dancing, just Paul singing. Sure, his voice is kind of wonky, but it's got an interesting tone to it. I love his little whispered ending. His best performance ever.

Randy says when Paul gets into the tender zone, it's infectious. JLo wonders if he's holding back and there's more to his voice than he's showing us. "We believe," says Randy. Steven wonders if Paul's been watering the suit because there's more flowers on it. I don't think Steven liked it. He says he likes that Paul sometimes hits the notes and sometimes doesn't.

Pia Toscano - "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
She really is stunningly beautiful. Too many people have sung this before. Jimmy wants her to go somewhere between Fergie and Axil Rose on this! She promises something other than a ballad next week. But it's Elton John week. No real surprises here.Pia gets a choir behind her. . Her vocals are spot on, her delivery impassioned. It's a moment.

Steven says Pia's done it again. He says it might prove someone might be wrong in asking her not to sing ballads. "It's just about as good as it gets." JLo says the notes take us to another worldly place. She says she felt Pia trying to break the barrier. JLo is excited. Randy says she's slayed every ballad she's sung. He just wants her to switch up gears. He says he heard some Whitney and Mariah in there. JLo wants her to fill up the stage - get to the next color of performance. JLo is really on tonight. Randy wants something mid-tempo next week. Steven agrees. JLo wants to be surprised.

Stefano Langone - "Tiny Dancer"
One of Stefano's problems is that he doesn't connect, and this song really isn't one to which one can connect. The lyrics are odd. That being said, there's a warmth in Stefano's voice tonight that's been missing. His phrasing is much better. He closes by singing to Jennifer! Good move Stefano! 

JLo swoons! She says she could really feel him connecting with the audience. "Amazing, really good." Randy says he loves that Stefano connected and kept his eyes open. He says he was right on when he hit the money notes. Steven agrees. He likes the sweet in his voice. "You nailed it. I thought it was really good."  Stefano says he's his own worst critic, but had to move away from last week's debacle.
Howie Mandel is in the house and sitting with Stefano's dad,. whho looks just like him. Howie has a chance to plug his new show, 'Mobbed,,' which premieres tomorrow night on Fox right after 'Idol.' 

Lauren Alaina - "Candle in the Wind"
This is the best-selling single in Billboard history. Jimmy thinks Elton's songs play to Lauren's strength. Her interpretation is interesting and her enunciation quite good. The song works well as a country tune, and Lauren's voice is clear and clean. She does "get" the song. This is her best performance to date.

Randy says this is one of the greatest songs ever written, and agrees with me. It's her best to date. "Very hot." Steven says he's loved her since the first moment she laid eyes on him. "That was just perfect... that was beautiful... you keep singing like that and you'll be able to afford the rest of that dress." The dress is long but has shorts undernearth.  JLo says it's the first time everybody in America got to hear the first time they heard her. Lauren says she can't believe she's standing there. She's such a kid, but she looks about 30!

This show is actually very good tonight. Who'd a thunk it?

James Durbin - "Saturday Night's alright (for Fighting)"
Jimmy isn't sure of this song, but James says he needs to be true to himself as an artist. An artist, eh? James is starting out in the audience and descends the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. He hits the stage at the right time. He flings the mike stand, stomps his feet, and leads the audience clap. Fire brims from the stage. He writhes a bit. And the scream in the end. His vocals are a tad under, but otherwise it was a very good performance.

Steven says "James you brought the heat." He thinks James has a very good rock voice and warns him not to wear out his rock welcome! JLo says she forgets it's a competition show when she watches James. Randy says he loves how much James enjoys himself. "Dude, that was a great, great, great performance." James says he was worried about having a Pepsi moment (hairspray, fire, MJ). Ryan reminds him the show is sponsored by Coke! "A Coke moment."

Thia Megia - "Daniel"
Jimmy urges her to sing the lyrics. She's going to try to channel her brother moving away. She succeeds. I'm feeling it. This girl has such a beautiful voice. I don't care what anyone says! Her performance is moving and I seriously get a little teary (I'm such a sap).

JLo says it was beautiful. "It was a beautiful moment for you." Randy says it was a relaxed side of her and he liked that, but thought the song was safe. He sucks his teeth. Steven says when you find the right song, the voice appears. Thia says she knows her brother is watching and love him.

Casey Abrams - "Your Song"
This is my favorite Elton John song and I'm glad Casey is singing it. Jimmy says it's time for Casey to come back and earn the "save." So does that mean Casey will become a robot? Rodney Jerkins wants Casey to trim the beard (which he does). As for the song, Casey doesn't stray from the original. The arrangement is simple, a piano. The lyrics are perfect for the moment. It's really the first time Casey's voice is right up front and he hits some very interesting notes at the end. Thing is, I prefer him to be a bit more, well, Casey. It was kind of boring, actually. Well sung, but boring.

Randy says he's sure he speaks for the other judges that saving him was one of the greatest saves. He calls the performance brilliant and well done. Steven concurs that one of the finest moments of the show was putting him through. Steven says Casey sings different every time and that shows he's a true artist. JLo says they've had to make hard decisions and she's lost sleep over it, but she didn't lose any sleep over saving Casey.

Jacob Lusk -"Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word"
Jacob says the first time he heard the song it was Mary J. Blige's version. Mary J. is in the studio with him. Jimmy says Jacob tends to over-dramatize! He starts out in his falsetto. When he digs into the song, he kills it (in a good way). He pleads, he begs, and makes strange faces. His last note is wow.

Steven says he watches how far out there, or in there Jacob gets. "Once again, you slayed me." JLo gives Tricky Stewart a shoutout for the arrangement. "That last note, you don't see that every day." Randy says it was a beautiful song for him, but wants one spot where he goes all the way up.

Haley Reinhart - "Benny and the Jets"
So Haley gets the pimp spot? This better be good! Jimmy says some part of her has been missing every week. She starts out lounging on the piano. It's a bit slowed down from the original. Haley works out all the interesting parts of her voice, including the growling. She sounds a bit hoards. SHe also reminds me a bit of Maria Muldaur ('memba her?). She shouts too much at the end. JLO is digging it. Not pimp-spot worthy.

JLo shouts, "Yes, that was it Haley." She thinks it all came together. "Great way to end the show... it was amazing." Randy says this was another amazing song. "Best performance of the night right there!"  Steven says, "You sing sexy."

  • Scotty - A-
  • Naima - B-
  • Paul - B
  • Pia - A+
  • Stefano - B-
  • Lauren - A
  • James - A-
  • Thia - B
  • Casey - B-
  • Jacob - A-
  • Haley - B-
 Using my grading system, four are in the bottom Naima, Stefano, Haley, and Casey. I think they've done enough pimping of Casey this week so he should be safe. I'm sticking with the other three, though. Going home? Stefano and Naima.

Fantasia will be on the results show singing her new single, "Cornbread and Collard Greens" (really). is also on (again?).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 11 results show recap

Naima performing "Dancing in the Streets"
I have to admit I've been positively giddy with excitement all day about tonight's results show. No, at this point I don't really care who is eliminated. What I'm looking forward to is Jennifer Hudson's performance. I've been listening to her new CD, I Remember Me, all day, and I just can't believe what she can do with her voice. I can't even think about hitting some of those notes. Amazing.

As for the show, I've got Haley, Thia, and Stefano in the bottom 3 with Haley going home. I'm putting all my pool points on her once again.

Montage of last night's performances and the judges' comments open the show. Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan. The judges take their seats. The audience is pumped up. Ryan tells us over 30 million votes were cast. "The outcome of that result may shock you." Ryan tells us Sugarland and Jennifer Hudson will perform and then brings out the Top 11. Shocked? Crap, am I going to lose again.

Marc Anthony worked with the Idols this wee, giving them advice on how to perform before a live audience.  He then offers his own take on what the judges said. Of course, he doesn't agree with Jennifer! He says he is so proud. "What a treat for me. I'll do it again. You can get me real cheap," he finishes.

The Top 11 sings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Jacob leads off. I hope the shocker isn't him. They're all dressed up tonight. The guys in suits and the girls in white dresses.They look really nice.  Haley is totally off. James does some screaming. I think they did this Season 2 as I recall.
The opening notes for "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" start up, the curtain opens and out rolls Stevie Wonder. The Idols are lined up on either side doing backup. Awesome. After that, Stevie calls out Steven Tyler and sings "Happy Birthday" to him. The Idols have a card and a cake and Steven is blown away. Very cool.

We see the Ford music videos of the week and then it's time for the first of the eliminations. Lauren, Pia, and Scotty are first up. They are all safe. Good fakeout Ryan.

Sugarland performs. Rather random for Motown week, don't you think? The song, "Stuck Like Glue," is rather annoying. Jennifer Nettles is wearing bright green stretch pants and a pink jacket with a blue belt. You get the picture. It's not pretty. Anyway, they finish.

Video clip of the Idols talking about James' obsession with pro wrestling. Apparently he watches it all the time. They put on a fake demonstration of Pia wrestling with the boys. Good times at the mansion.

More results. James and Paul join Ryan. James is so tall. He is at least a foot taller than Ryan. Ryan tells them they're not safe tonight. "You're really not safe tonight." Scary music starts and out comes Hulk Hogan. He has good news and bad news. The good news is both of them are safe. The bad news is that Ryan is not safe. Hulk fake hits Ryan who flies into the audience. Hulk then rips his shirt and says, "This is American Idol." Have you ever seen anything more bizarre on this show? I haven't!!!

Back from the break and Ryan tosses Hulk's shirt to James. Jacob, Thia, and Stefano are called out. This could be the bottom three. But no worries. Jacob is safe and is going on tour. Ryan reads Thia's comments and then Stefano's. He's history. "After the nationwide vote, Thia, I'm sorry to say you're in the bottom three tonight." Stefano is as well.

Naima, Haley, and Casey are next. He reads comments for them all. Casey looks like he's lost a lot of weight. One of them is in the bottom three. One gets sent back to safety. And it's Naima! She has a huge tattoo on her back. "The person taking the last stool in the bottom three tonight is... Casey." No way. We got to break.

If it's Casey, I bet the judges will use the save.

Jennifer Hudson sings "Where You At."  Her voice seems so much richer to me, fuller or something. I don't know, but she blew me away.  After she sings, she blows kisses to the audience and says Hi to Ryan. Ryan gives a shoutout to George Huff, who's been singing backup for Jen during her promotional tour. George is  ebullient as usual. I love you George! Jacob is barely able to contain himself. It's a moment.

Back to the eliminations. One is safe and it's Thia. Got to be Stefano, right?

The lights dim and Ryan tells us the person with the lowest number of votes is Casey. Randy is shocked. The Idols are shocked. I am shocked. Stefano must have cursed because there is a bleep in the sound as he is hugging Casey.

Casey is singing "I Don't Need no Doctor." As he gets into it,  Randy tells the band to stop. He says, "We know who you are and we don't need to hear anymore." Steven chimes in, "This is crazy wrong,"  They're using the save.

Casey just about passes out. The audience is chanting, "Casey, Casey, Casey." Casey goes to the judges and is still in disbelief. It keeps going on and one. He falls to the floor. He get ups. I'm afraid he's going to throw up all over Ryan (wouldn't that be something). There's lots of bleeping as Casey continues to verbalize! I hope all this doesn't put him back in the hospital.

The judges tell him he needs to get back to being the musician they know he is. "You deserve to be here," Jennifer says. The rest of the Idols join poor battered Casey on the stage, and Ryan makes an announcement. Next week, two people will be eliminated, but the producers decided that if the judges used the save this week, they would take all eleven on the tour. Wow. What a night! That had to be the best results show ever!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 11 performance recap

The Top 11 of 'American Idol 10' after Thursday's results show

Time flies when you're having fun, right? We're down to 11, and this week, the Idols will tackle a Motown theme. I thought I read somewhere that Nigel was eliminating these theme weeks and allowing the contestants to sing songs that worked for their voices and personal styles. So much for that. As 'Idol' has evolved, however, contestants have figured out how to twist any genre to fit their styles, so don't be surprised to hear Motown with a country twist from Scotty and Lauren. There's plenty of material for the rest of the crew (I desperately want Paul to do "Dancing on the Ceiling"). Let's see how it all shakes out!

We open with a black and white shot of Ryan with the Idols dancing in a line ala 1960.  It's Motown night, kiddies. Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan. Someone is holding a sign that says "Steven Tyler, Walk This Way." The judges take their seats and an old dude with a fedora is dancing in the crowd.

Ryan welcomes us and lets us know we have an important decision as to who makes the Top 10. There's a video about Motown. Barry Gordy borrowed money from his family to start the label in 1959. Ryan tells us Motown blurred social lines and made hit music that brought people together. This really was the most influential much the country had ever heard.

Ryan talks to Randy and asks him why this music has stood the test of time. He says it was music that brought people together. Jennifer wants to see the contestants make the songs their own. Steven (who gets screams from the audience) says the Motown music made him want to make out with girls! "It was the rhythm of the kiss!" His daughter Liv is in the audience.

Ryan brings out the Top 11. Lots of signs in the audience. Jacob is wearing a pink tie. He alwasys dresses so nice.

Casey Abrams - "Heard it Through the Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye)
Casey says he was raised on Motown. He says he needs to harness the energy of the song. Casey looks nice tonight. He's rocked the song up a little bit, but stays pretty true to the melody. He walks out into the audience and past the string section. Nice. Moving around doesn't seem to affect his vocals at all. It's tight, neat, and solid as a rock. Good Job. I say "Yeah!"

Steven says Casey is the perfect entertainer. Jennifer says Casey is already so specific to who he is. She wonders if there's anyone out there like him right now and doesn't think there is. Randy says Casey is a true original. He says Casey can only "do you," and "you is great!"

Thia Megia - "Heat Wave" (Martha and the Vandellas)
Thia says this was a tough week for her. She sing-songy and it's rather karaoke for me. It's totally the wrong song for her - too old, not a good singer's song. She's missing cues too. Nope, pretty bad. Sorry Thia. She looks cute, though.

Jennifer says she feels like we're scratching the surface with Thia. She wants her to dig deeper each week and connect to the lyrics. "Now I know you got it in you." Randy says she's there because they new she had it in her. He stills feels she can take more chances, but is happy she moved up a notch with something different. Steven agrees. "I'm good with it."

Jacob Lusk - "You're All I Need to Get By" (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)
Jacob says he grew up singing in church and only sings song that have meaning.  Jimmy wants Jacob to show some restraint. And he does show some restraint in the beginning, digging into the song before he lets loose on the chorus. He has such great range and this time, he's tempering it, letting his voice soar in the right places. Finally, we have something that's not ridiculous. Excellent!

Jacob's grandmother is hopping around. The judges give him a standing ovation and all is well. Randy says this is his best performance and calls him a true professional. HE says there was absolutely nothing wrong with the performance. "You did it man," says Steve. JLo says Jacob made them beg for the notes. Randy gives a shout out to the great bass legend, Bob Babbit, who performed with Jacob. Grandma gives him a hug. Then Ryan invites the whole front row to come up one at a time to hug him. All these girls are hugging Jacob!

Lauren Alaina - "You Keep Me Hanging On" (The Supremes)
Lauren is aware people are putting her down and she's just plain not going to let it bother her any more. So there. Her mic is too high and you can't hear the band. She sings to Randy. Thing is, the song works with a little country twang to it. It's a bit pageanty, but an improvement over the last few weeks.

Steven says every time he sees a little more come out of her. JLo says she like the attitude and that Lauren brought it to life. Randy says last week the girl they fell in love with in Nashville returned. This week, she's got her swagger on and is ready.

Stefano Langone - "Hello" (Lionel Richie)
Stefano says he grew up listening to Motown. He is warned to keep his eyes open. Ryan reminds us that David Cook killed this one in Season 7. He's singing too high. He oversings it and he doesn't really connect. He sounds very boy band to me. He's good on pitch, though, and that's a good thing.

JLo says Stefano can sing like crazy, but wants him to connect. She's firm about this. Randy says the connection is the only thing Stefano is missing. He says Stefano sounded good, but didn't feel the emotion. Steven says Stefano needs to pull back a little. Stefano seems confused. Randy says they want him and know he's great. JLo says it's like acting and if he can't connect, he needs to do another song.

Otis Williams, one of the founding members of the Temptations is in the house. He says he's enjoying the show "immensely."

Haley Reinhart - "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)
Haley's going for the Haley Scarnato shorts look. Maybe that'll save her? They've straightened her beautiful hair. She puts too much of the raspy, snarly stuff into this and it's not convincing.  She's all over the place vocally, and seems to be trying too hard to sell us that she's a hard ass. I like her voice, but I didn't like this performance.

Randy says by the middle of the song, the Haley they fell in love with came roaring back. He's happy to see her return to that form. Steven says he felt Haley. "It was beautiful... you don't look a day over fabulous." JLo says Haley has the most soulful voice of any of the girls.

Scotty McCreery - "For Once in My Life" (Stevie Wonder)
Jimmy Iovine fears he's going to sound like a lounge singer! The song starts with a harmonica riff. If anyone was worried about Scotty and the Motown theme, relax. He takes the song, countrifies it, and yet stays true to the vibe. He staggers a bit on a couple of notes, but those low notes save him every time.

Steven compares Scotty to Glen Campbell and says he loved it. "You really ripped it... when you go down to the low notes, you tweak everyone." JLo says it wasn't his strongest, but the low not at the end gets her all over again. Randy agrees. He says he felt the song should have peaked a little earlier, but by the end, he got the "young lady killer note."

Pia Toscano - "All in Love is Fair" (Stevie Wonder)
I love this song. Jimmy warns her not to overthink it. She's got the string section and it's a soft, gentle arrangement. I am reminded a bit of Beyonce. Her ending is powerful. I think she nailed it. She looks amazing too. This girl can sing anything.

JLo says Pia killed us again. She goes through the same checklist she went through with Stefano. She thinks Pia can have a career like Celine, but she wants to see Pia own the stage. JLo has some very constructive criticism. Randy says JLo's right. He loves that she incorporated a little more falsetto in the beginning. His only criticism is that she's singing too many ballads. "You can't live by ballads alone." Steven says he thinks Pia is the closest star in the 'American Idol' universe. Ryan has her turn around to reveal the low cut of the dress.

Paul McDonald - "Tracks of my Tears" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)
Paul also grew up with a lot of Motown. I wonder if Paul knows that Adam slayed this one during his season? Paul's playing guitar tonight. He greets the audience. His hair looks weird. The song is a good choice and he's turned it into a folk-rock number. He messes up the lyrics, though. He has such strange enunciation. Actually, though, it's probably his best performance to date.

Randy says he likes Paul didn't dance around and he likes the guitar. He notes Paul's voice is unique and that he took the song to a cool, Rod Stewarty place. "When you sing tender, at the very end, oh my God." Steven compares him to Dylan, Willie Nelson... he loves what Paul did with the guitar. JLo says Paul is the most rounded, seasoned performer and calls him the "complete package... all you need is a good producer."

Naima Adedapo -"Dancing in the Streets" (Martha Reeves)
Naima has the perfect voice for this song. Perfect. And she's doing this right, bringing the one and only real Motown performance of the evening. Sure, she hits a couple of bum notes here and there.  but when she kicks into some wild African dancing with drummers, she keeps her breath to finish the song. I applaud. That was fun.

Steven says "It's E to the Z with the tweedly dee!" JLo calls Naima an exciting performer and she got goosebumps! Randy says finally all of Naima showed up. He says the arrangement was brilliant. "Very smart tonight, good looking out."

James Durbin - "Living for the City" (Stevie Wonder)
James is a bit sloppy with the notes in the beginning, but he sure has the rocker moves down. He's a band boy to be sure. I am so hearing Adam Lambert right now. James has so much polish and charisma. It's amazing. He rocked it.

Steven is shaking his head in disbelief. JLo lets James soak it up for a minute. The audience is crazy. She says he's serious business. "It's an incredible thing to watch... you leave me speechless!" Randy says it was rough in the beginning (I agree), but when he finally hit the pocket it was unbelievable. Steven says sometimes it takes a little bit of crazy to make a difference in this world. "You nailed it."

This week, I thought I'd try something different and grade the Idols' performances. Here's how I think they did:
  • Casey - A-
  • Thia - C
  • Jacob - A-
  • Lauren - C+
  • Stefano - C+
  • Haley - C-
  • Scotty - A-
  • Pia - A-
  • Paul - B-
  • Naima - A-
  • James -A-
Grading really helps to pick the Bottom 3 - Thia, Haley, and Stefano. I really think this is Haley's last week.

Tomorrow night, Jennifer Hudson will perform "Where U At" and we'll also get a chance to see George Huff who's been backing her on this week's promotional tour. Now that's worth watching!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Frenchie Davis to appear on 'The Voice'

Frenchie Davis, who was disqualified from 'Idol' in Season 2 after some risque photos of her surfaced, will be one of the contestants on NBC's upcoming show, 'The Voice.' Frenchie, who was considered to be a lock for the Top 30, was cut after Hollywood week.

'The Voice,' which debuts April 26, features a panel of "coaches" - country singer Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Maroon 5's Adam Levine. Each of the coaches will chose a team of singers during a blind audition (the judges won't see the performers' faces and will choose based solely on vocal ability). The coaches will then work with their teams to help develop their performing and singing skills. The winner will be awarded $100,000 and a record deal.

Frenchie was chosen by Christina during her audition Thursday.

After 'Idol,' Frenchie landed a role in the Broadway production of 'Rent.' She played the role of Effie in the West Coast touring company of 'Dreamgirls,' and in 2007, starred in 'Mahalia, A Gospel Musical' in Hartford.

In 2008, Frenchie toured with Ruben Studdard in 'Ain't Misbehavin' She is set to play the role of the Fairy Godmother in a production of 'Cinderella' in Berkley.

'The Voice' will air at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 12 results show recap

Casey Abram's performs during the Top 12 performance show
Last night, the Top 12 performed music from the year they were born, and overall, it was pretty much a train wreck. Casey Abram's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was particular strange, what with the bizarre lighting, screaming, and horrifying facial expressions.

But Casey wasn't the worst of the night, not by a long shot. That honor has to go to Paul McDonald whose rendition of "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues" was utterly tuneless and his dancing, well, let's just say it was reminiscent of the famous "Elaine Bennis" dance from Seinfeld. Jacob Lusk's yowling of Heart's "Alone" was a close second.

The thing is, I'm pretty much convinced that none of these guys will end up in the Bottom 3. I think we'll have three girls - Karen, Naima, and Haley, and Haley will go home. Will my predictions hold up? We'll soon find out.

We start out with more clips of the Idols as kids. Scotty wanted to be an astronaut, but he didn't have an "astronaut brain!" Clips of the judges' comments. Were they watching the same show I was? 

Scary voiceover man, who I guess has become a regular now, intros the judges and Ryan. Ryan tells us Lee DeWyze is with us tonight as are the Black-Eyed Peas. We see baby pictures of all of them. Ryan thanks us for our support of the Japan relief fund, but he doesn't tell us how much money was raised.

The Top 12 performs their ga-roup number, starting off with "Born to Be Wild." Jacob comes in too late.The girls sing "I Was Born this Way" and  Stefano leads off "Born to be Wild." They do a messy mashup of the two songs. Jacob takes the choreography very seriously! The whole thing is a horrific mess. Love it.

We see this week's Ford video. Ryan tells us this year 'Idol' is celebrating its tenth anniversary and over 250 million downloads have been sold. Everyone in the audience gets a copy of the 'Idol' anniversary CD. More stupid filler. Scotty can wiggle his ears. James wants to learn to speak Swedish. The girls make fun of Lauren's accent. They talk about their pets. Pia's dog Chloe sings.

Time for the lights to dim. But no, the lights turn green and and Irish jig plays. Jacob, Lauren, and Casey join Ryan center stage. Ryan reads the judges' comments. Ryan asks Randy what the key is to overcoming pitch problems. Randy says you have to be able to hear the note in your head. JLo says you have to be able to hear yourself on stage. Jacob is safe! Lauren is also safe. Casey? Ryan asks Steven what the ingredients are in the Goop. He says its the stuff that it takes to be creative. No worries, Casey is safe.

Haley and Dancin', gleaming toothed Paul are next! "Blah, blah," Haley, "blah, blah." No one cares what you have to say because you're going home girlie. Paul smiles brightly. One of them is safe and the other is in the bottom three. Haley goes to the stools of doom! Yesssss.

Pitbull is in the house and is sitting with Marc Anthony.

Our "reigning" American Idol, Lee DeWyze performs a dreary dirge. He won last year? Really? Compared to some of the guys this year, he actually doesn't sound bad. I want Crystal to come back and sing something.  Lee tells the Top 12 to remember why they tried out in the first place and at the end of the day, you've still got your music.

Who will join Haley on the stools of doom? Scotty, Pia, and James join Ryan. Scotty is safe. Someone in the audience shouts out that Pia is safe, and she is. Ryan asks Steven if he sees a little of himself when he watches James. Steven says, "No" and then "Yes." James is also safe. Stefano and Naima are next. Stefano is wearing a white wifebeater under his sweater. Naima says she's beginning to have a passionate hate for the word "pitchy." One is safe, the other is not. Ohhhh... Naima is in the bottom three.

Finally, we get Karen and Thia. Got to be Karen to make my sweep. JLo wants Karen to find songs that are in her range and show off her "beautiful voice." Thia says she hope we know she's not just a ballad singer. She says she can show so much more. And it's Karen in the bottom 3. "One of them could be leaving us unless they're rescued by the judges."

The Black Eyed Peas perform. They don't get a chance to give the Idols any advice!

We return from the break. Karen, Naima, and Haley are center stage. One goes to safety, and it's... Naima! Yeah! Don to Karen and Haley. "After the nationwide vote, the person in danger of leaving us tonight is Karen." Boooos from the audience. Will she get the save? She's singing "Hero" again. Randy and JLo are actually talking about this. I think they might save her. She sang beautifully. The judges will chat. Karen begs and cries. But it's all for naught. Randy delivers the bad news. "We are not going to use the save."

Karen watches her funeral video. Before it's even over, the judges are on the stage consoling her. They don't normally do that. End of the road for Karen and no points for me.

That's it for this week. Now we move on to the NCAA tourney! Let's go Orange!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 12 sings songs from their birth years

The Top 12 after last week's results show (Casey was in the hospital)

It's been a tough week and I know I need a little break. What better diversion than watching the Top 12 perform songs from the years of their births. The show starts now.

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Ryan Seacrest open the show with a message of support for the people of Japan. Tonight, all proceeds from downloads of the songs the Idols sing will go to benefit the American Red Cross disaster relief fund. Tomorrow, we'll find out how much money was raised.

The judges take their seats and Ryan intros the Top 12. Ryan tells us the week's theme.

Naima Adedapo (1984) - "What's Love Got to do With It"
Naima's mother was a performer and sang to her as a child. She talks about her children and the sacrifices she and her mother have made. Naima starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Her vocals are a bit shaky and she's off-key. I do love her outfit, but I'm not digging this performance at all. It's too slow and the hip-hop infusion doesn't work.

Steven says she opened up a can of ... He loved it. Jennifer says Naima brings her thing to whatever she does, but she says Naima is consistently pitchy. She's worried about how she'll do against the others. Randy says she's always under the pitch and the vocals were a mess. "They were all over the place, babe." He's right. She says it felt good to her, but she understands what they are saying. "I can roll with it." She may roll right on out of here after this one.

Paul McDonald (1984) - "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues"
Paul's having some vocal issues. The song suits his odd voice, actually, and it's' certainly better than last week. His moves are so spastic, it's a hoot to watch. It gets worse as he goes on. It's' a hot mess. Seriously, why is this guy still around? I start laughing uncontrollably.

Jennifer says she knows he was struggling, but that he has so much soul and star quality, he made it happen. Randy laughs. He differs with JLo and says some of the notes were pitchy. But, he liked that Paul is like Ray LaMontagne, and puts his own spin on it. "Get the notes right." Steven says Paul defines a "cool dude in a loose mood." Paul says he's been sick all week and hopes everyone enjoyed it. I did, but probably not the way he wanted me to.

Thia Megia (1995) - "Colors of the Wind"
Her mother is so cute. Thia says she wrote her first song when she was six and we get to hear it. Her vocals are stunning, so polished. And she's in tune. The song really is perfect for the night. She probably shouldn't have been smiling so brightly, but otherwise, it was perfection.

Randy says the vocals were okay, but is having a problem with is that she's been singing ballads every week and there was nothing special or unique about it. He calls it boring. Steven said she sang it beautifully. He asks her if that's who she is. She says she thought it was perfect for what's going on right now. JLo says they loved her voice when they first heard her. She says she hears nervousness in her vibrato. "Push out of the box, work on the vibrato, and them come out next week and kill it." I'm sorry, but I thought that was a solid and moving performance, and I don't even particularly like Thia.

Peggy Blu, the vocal coach from hell, is in the house! As is Kate Hudson!

James Durbin (1989) - "I'll Be There for You" (Bon Jovi)
James tells Ryan they've formed a band (him, Stefano, Casey, and Paul). Mama says he sang his ABCs in perfect pitch. Jimmy Iovine tells James to stay healthy. Ugh, James starts out completely lost tunewise. He recovers, but his preening for the camera is annoying. James is definitely playing the rock start about now. Nope, the vocals are off, way off.

Steven says James made Desmond Child proud. He says he has leftover sandwiches older than him. He tells him not to get too poppy on him. James says he's saving Aerosmith for the finale. Steven says he'sll get up and sing with him. JLo says a great performer makes you want to sing along and she was. "I love it, you were great." Randy says there were a couple of spots, but that he found a way to make it his own. James shows off his custom made leather bandana studded boot decorations. Going glam on us? Steven says James has "a rich vein of inner crazy. I love Steven Tyler.

Haley Reinhart (1990) - "I'm Your Baby Tonight"
Her parents sing in a band. Mom is pretty bluesy. She tears into the song and funks it it. She is also off a bit, but her voice is such that it isn't as obvious. I wonder about the song choice. As she goes on, it deteriorates, and ends up sort of a mess. I think she's toast.

JLo says Haley looks beautiful. But? She says there's a lot of character in her voice, but she seems unsure of her movements. She implores Haley to do what comes naturally. Ryan wipes off some lipstick from her chin. Randy is confused. He points out the wide variety of songs she's sung and says this shows she doesn't know who she it. "It wasn't a great performance." Randy being Simon this year! Steven says it was "sweet and tough," but that he is always waiting for the Janis voice. He wants to hear more blues.

Stefano Langone (1989) - "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (Simply Red)
 Stefano's father and grandfather were both musicians. His dad is proud. My first thought is that the performance is very karaoke. Thing is, because he doesn't know the original, he is able to avoid sounding like the original artist, which is a good thing, It's actually a decent performance, possibly the best so far. And that's saying something. At least it isn't boring. He warbles horribly at the end, though. Ouch.

Randy says it's the best performance of the night. He says he took a song that had the highest level of difficulty like the Olympics and slayed it. "Over the top," says Steven. JLo says if he continues to sing to her and connect with his eyes he could win this thing. Stefano comes down and hugs Mama.

Pia Toscano (1988) - "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" (Whitney Houston)
We see little Pia singing "I Will Always Love You." Her grandfather was her biggest fan and she wishes he was still around to see her now. "What I do, I do for him." The arrangement is too fast or something. She isn't really with the music. I hate her jumpsuit. Maybe it's because her mike is too high. It seems disjointed to me. Her vocals are good though. One problem seems to be the mic is turned up too high and the band seems distant.

Steven says Pia is why this is called 'American Idol.' JLo says the producers took her there and it was perfect for her. Randy says every week she produces amazing vocals. "Pia is in the competition, where you all at?"

Scotty McCreery (1993) - "Can I Trust You with my Heart" (Travis Tritt)
Scotty grew up idolizing Elvis. This kid is ready for the recording studio. No kiddin. He lucks out again and gets to sing a country song. I wonder if he can sing anything else? He's a bit wobbly tonight, which is unusual, but his voice is so reamarkable, I can forgive anything.

JLo says Scotty pushed it out there a bit more at the end. She says he's right there. Randy says he's happy Scotty did a song by his "dear friend" Travis and did Travis proud. "We believe in you Scotty." Steven says Scotty is going places. Scotty's baseball team is in the house! He's just a kid.

Karen Rodriguez  (1989) - "Love Will Lead You Back" (Taylor Dane)
Karen is the only remaining YouTube auditioner. She tells Ryan her sister pushed her to audition so she could get closer to Ryan who's good friends with Nick Jonas. Mama tells us she lives her music through Karen. Sadly, Karen massacres this song. She doesn't get the depth of it at all and it ends up being and off-key pageant performance. She does a little bit of it in Spanish, which is actuallyl better I'm putting my money on Karen this week. That was a mess.

Randy says it started a little rough, but by the time she hit the chorus, it was better. He's still not jumping up and down. Steven loves it when she breaks into her "ethnic what-is-isness." JLo says if she is nervous about certain notes, don't do it. "Perform it from your heart and watch how it translates.

Tamyra Gray is in the house.

Casey Abrams (1991) - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana)
Casey's parents were in their forties when he was born. He looks older than 19 too. He's playing bass guitar. Has he turned into a "white guy with a guitar?" I think not! What? Holy cats and dogs. This is postively electrifying. Casey screeches a bit, but it's so intense and he's so into it. Dude just sprinted to the front of the pack.

Steven says Casey is crazy and talented. JLo says it was a risk and there were parts of it that got screechy. She wishes it had been more pleasant. After he drops about forty names, Randy says he's most impressed that Casey loves taking risk and that he puts art first and them commerce.

Lauren is next. Looks like Jacob's got the pimp spot tonight.

Lauren Alaina (1994) - "I'm the Only One" (Melissa Etheridge)
Lauren has the flu. Her parents look like teenagers. Lauren's voice is weak from being sick and her energy level is affected. She puts a bit of a country spin on it and gets a tad shrieky. Plus, I think she missed some lyrics here.  It's not good. JLo looks upset. Her mic was turned up too high as well.

JLo says "Very nice." She says she stayed true to the melody of the song, but made it her own. Randy says it was very nice, cold or not. Steven says when someone has a strep throat it makes them better. "She's back."

Jacob Lusk (1987) - "Alone" (Heart)
Jacob's mother thinks she can sing, but she really can't. She's almost as fierce as he is. The song is sort of a weird choice. He's over the top, as usual, and has some pitch problems, but at least he's feeling it.  He gets the dramatic lighting and all, though, and finishes up rather splendidly. It isn't his best, but I don't care because I totally love this guy!

Randy says it was a nice performance, but he lost himself, but them saved it. He says "Jacob is in it to win it." Steven "Gospel had a baby and they named it Jacob Lusk." JLo says she loves that he gives himself to every performance. "Seriously, so good." Randy says, "We got a hot competition."

Note: Jacob sang in Nate Dogg's gospel group a few years back. Nate died Tuesday, and I think Jacob's performance was affected by that.

Best and Worst
I liked Casey the best tonight. He was original, intense, and straight up sold it to me. Stefano and Thia round out my top 3. I'd put Jacob, James, Pia, Lauren, and Scotty in the middle. Haley wasn't bottom-three worthy, but I think she'll end up there. Paul should be in the bottom 3, but won't be, which leaves Naima and Karen. Karen should go, but I think it'll be Haley.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preview: Jennifer Hudson's 'I Remember Me'

I Remember MeJennifer Hudson's sophomore album, I Remember Me, is being previewed this week on AOL.The album will be released March 22. Click here for the link.

Jennifer talked about the album in a recent interview with Tom Joyner. She wrote the title track to get out some of the feelings she's had over the past few years.

“In 29 years I feel like I’ve led at least four different lives. Nothing is the same today as it was two years ago, so I just want to say I remember me.” she said in the interview. “And that’s what I love about the album, it’s kind of a collection of me. I refused to record anything I did not love.”

I've given this one quick listen. My favorite is "Still Here," written to honor her grandmother. I also like "Where You At" (written by R. Kelly), "I Got This," and "Believe," a good old gospel kick. Ms. Hudson may have lost 80 pounds, but her voice is stronger than ever. I like it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Anoop Desai uses creative marketing to fund project

Season 8's Anoop Desai is employing the assistance of Kickstarter to fund the promotion of his self-produced debut CD. Anoop, who finished sixth, has set up a site called Help Anoop Desai Bring Back the Fidelity of the Human Voice, and is soliciting backers for Zero.0, the first part of a trilogy due to be released later this month.

Anoop has to raise $10K by April 6. Kickstarter requires a project reach its funding goal before the set deadline or the artist receives no money. So far, Anoop has raised $7,825.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Video: Adam Lambert's 'Idol' performance "Aftermath"

Courtesy Neon Limelight.

'American Idol 10' - Top 13 results show recap

Jacob Lusk performs on Wednesday's Top 13 performance show
The first performance show is history and tonight we learn who will earn the dubious distinction of being the first person to be eliminated from 'American Idol 10.' In my pre-season rankings, I figured Stefano would be the first one out and last night, I had him in my bottom three, along with Ashthon and Paul. I think Paul may escape (he was the VFTW pick) and Karen will take his place. In the end, however, I really think it'll be Ashthon who be departing. And we are ready to begin.

The show opens with clips of last night's performance show and the judges' jubilant reactions. Loved Steven's "plethora of passion" description of Casey Abrams. Scary voiceover man does his thing, introducing the judges and Ryan. JLo is wearing a one-shouldered white blouse. The audience goes bonkers. Totally bonkers!

Ryan welcomes us to the show and tells us Diddy Dirty Money is in the house along with Adam Lambert. Diddy, formerly Puff Daddy who dated JLo. Awkward. Ryan tells us 30 million votes came in last night. He also tells us there will be yet another judges' save. Ryan intros the Top 13, who are short one member. Casey is missing. He's in the hospital again. This isn't good.

We watch as the contestants arrive at the 'Idol' mansion for the first time. They haven't lived in a mansion together since Season 2. They run all around like children, jumping on beds and shrieking with glee. James says the bathtub is bigger than his bed at home. Jacob shouts "American Idol" to the hills to hear his echo.Naima is amazed at the size of the closet.

Time for the first group number. And it's Michael Jackson tribute. They are not singing live. It's totally cheesy. Jacob camps it up so much I burst into uncontrollable laughter. They end with "Masn in the Mirror" and a spectacular "Pointy Pose!"

Here's the first Ford video. The song is "The World."  The contestants also got to attend the premiere of 'The Red Riding Hood,' which comes out Friday.  They walk the red carpet and ohh and ahhh at the celebrities. Amanda Seyfried, the star of the movie, who gives them tips of being a star. They watch the movie and agree, Casey looks most like the werewolf.

Ryan tells us the movie looks frightening, but nothing is scarier than sitting on the couches. "Dim the Lights!"  Ryan calls down Jacob, Karen, and Stefano. Ryan asks Jacob what he thinks about his performance. He says he definitely messed up, but pulled it together. Karen says there were some technical difficulties and she'll do much better next time. Stefano says not being voted in by America didn't shatter his confidence and he showed another side of himself on the stage last night. They are all safe, Ryan says, except Karen. Tricky Ryan. Karen says, "That's okay."  More results plus Adam Lambert when we come back.

Adam Lambert performs an acoustic version of "Aftermath" with his band members. I like the album version of this song, but the acoustic version is much stronger. Adam throws in a few of his signature screams to show us he can still do it and the women in the audience howl with delight. After the performance, Ryan welcomes Adam back. Adam says the message of the song is the most important part of the song, which is why he wanted to strip it down for this performance. The song is also available as a remix and will be sold to benefit the Trevor Project. JLo says she wants to see him "Dougie" dance and demonstrates. The Top 13 (minus Casey) do the dance.

Back from the break, we go to more results. Lauren, Ashthon, and Haley join Ryan. Lauren says what the judges said "kinda sucked," but she agreed it wasn't good when she watched it back. Lauren tears up and Ryan cuts her a break. She's safe. Ashthon says she should have picked a song everyone knows. No one really cheers for Ashthon. Randy says Haley belongs somewhere in the middle of pop and country. He loved her in the group number. She says she likes to switch it up a lot. JLo says she looks like a young Stevie Nicks. Both Ashthon and Haley are in the Bottom 3. Everyone else is safe. They don't seem to get it at first, but then James jumps up and the rest of the group react.

As we go to break, Ashthon looks as though she is about to hit someone and Karen is smiling brightly. Diddy Dirty Money is next.

Diddy performs "Coming Home."  It's like he's singing it to JLo who applauds politely. Ryan thanks Diddy who tells the Top 13 they get out of life what you put into it. "Never give up on your dreams... keep God first in your life..." Diddy plugs his upcoming tour.

Finally, the results. The girls stand on the stage. Karen is safe. And it's Ashthon. But wait now. She gets one more shot to sing and the judges could use their save. She's singing the Diana Ross song again. She's still flat. No way will the judges save her. Jacob is singing along and swaying with Karen. Thia is about to cry. Ashthon starts to cry, JLo delivers thenews. "Not this time, baby, I'm sorry," she says.

We hear David Cook's "Don't You Forget About Me," the new boot song, and watch Ashthon's farewell video. She continues to cry. Naima flings herself at Ashthon and we are out.

That's it for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and for my Syracuse friends, "Let's Go Orange." Bring that Big East title home!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 13 performance recap

The Top 13 celebrate after last Thursday's results show
We're finally down to the live (or sort of live) performance shows, and tonight, the Top 13 will perform songs by their favorite artists. This theme is broad enough so that no one should have a misstep and all the songs should work, right? Well, maybe. Song choice is always an iffy proposition, especially this early in the game. And, even though they've made the Top 13, there's still that Top 10 and lucrative tour carrot dangling in front of these contestants. Of course, after last summer's rather dismal tour ticket sales, who knows how that's going to work out this year. But that's another story for another day. First, we've got to navigate through 13 performances.

Although you won't be told this during the broadcast, tonight's show was actually taped Tuesday night. So, of course, there are song spoilers out there, which of course, I looked at. All I can say is some of these people may be in over their heads. But again, I've gotten ahead of myself.

Scary Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan who descends the Adam Lambert Memorial Stairway. The crowd is seriously pumped. Jennifer's single is No. 1 on iTunes. Ryan then calls out the Top 13 who meander out on the stage. James appears to be wearing some sort of military costume.  Each of the contestants work with a producer and record the songs for a compilation album that will be released this week.

Lauren Alaina – "Any Man of Mine" (Shania Twain)
From the pimp spot last week to the death spot this week. The Idol powers that be must be pretty confident that little Lauren is safe and sound.Lauren sounds a bit breathy on this one. She prances about and makes all kinds of cutesy faces. She's wearing a floppy looking blue belted top with black tights. Lots of personality, but the vocals tonight are a tad off.

Steven says he wishes the song was a bit more kick ass. JLo says Lauren doesn't have to try, but wants to see her kick it into high gear. JLo's red lipstick is pretty glaring. Randy name-checks Shania. He wants her to pick songs that will make her "shine beyond belief." She says she had a good time and apologizes to Steven. No worries. Lauren's in this for the long haul.

Casey Abrams – "With A Little Help From My Friends" (Joe Cocker)
Why am I not surprised? Casey first heard the song on The Wonder Years when he was five. Producer Jimmy Iovine tells Casey the song is physical. We see a clip of Cocker singing the song on last year's finale. Casey descends the staircase. I'm not sure what to says about this. His vocals are okay, but it's like he's trying too hard. The presences of a semi-choir helps. I think Casey would have been a better fit on America's Got Talent. Didn't really love this, although, it seems, the audience did.

JLo says Casey blew her away and that she was watching someone important. Randy says he's always excited to see what Casey's going to do. He says making listening to him fun and he loved it.
Steven says "You are a rainbow of talent... a plethora of passion... you came to do what you wanted to do and you did it." I love the word plethora.  Casey says he felt like Joe Cocker embodied him for a minute.

Ashthon Jones – "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" (Diana Ross)
A big song to further Ashthon's Diva run. She's working with Rodney Jerkims (who wrote Medina's "What are Words"). Her vocals are weak and pitchy, and she seems to be wandering aimlessly about. Too many "yeahs" tossed in as well. Not a good performance Ashthon. Not good at all.

Randy says he liked it. Barry Gordy is in the house. He says he was worried about the song choice. He says it sounded like a safe song and that she might have done herself some good. Steven says there's a lot more in there than she's showing us. JLo says Ashthon is elegant and professional. Now she wants to see her sing some songs that everyone can sing along too.

Paul McDonald – "Come Pick Me Up" (Ryan Adams)
I'm not really familiar with this song. Paul starts out asking the audience if they're OK. I don't know if they will be after suffering through this. I don't get this guy at all. His voice is horrible amd his herky jerky movements are distracting. He might be the worst singer I've ever heard on this show.Count me among those who do not get it.

Steven says he loves the character and rasp in Paul's voice. JLo says she loves that the audience was into his performance. "You're so unique... I hope America gets it." She doesn't know this song either. Randy says he loves who Paul is and loves Ryan Adams. I really don't understand what Randy is saying other than he's a huge fan. Are these people watching the same show I am?

Pia Toscano – "All By Myself" (Celine Dion)
Hey, a big ballad worked last week. How can she go wrong with this one? Pia has a very clear voice and sounds as though she's had vocal lessons. Her phrasing is very nice and she emotes well. She's very controlled, maybe too much so. She misses a few notes, but hits the ones that matter. The song is rather boring and dreary, but she sang it well. I don't think she was as good as she was last week, though.

Someone shouts out "We love you Pia" JLo is overcome by emotion and says Pia topped last week. Randy once again reminds us all that he's been on the show ten years and tosses in another "Yo."  He talks about how they always warn girls not to sing the "big three" (Mariah, Whitney, and Celine). But he thinks she nailed it. Steven says Pia "polished that apple" and wishes her a happy International Woman's Day. He loved it 

James Durbin – "Maybe I’m Amazed" (Paul McCartney)
James gets the snowfall background. I'm seriously starting to like this guy. I like the way they changed it up and his delivery. It was nice that he didn't scream all the way through the song and it was clear he really connected to the song. His voice is actually halfway decent.

Randy says before he joined Journey, he loved the kind of voices that can sing anything. "This dude can do anything... James Durbin is dangerous... this man can sing." Steven says, "If ever there was a review to sing about you, you just sang it." JLo says James needs to get used to the applause. She says he has a melodic quality to his voice. The audience loves it. James salutes the band.

Haley Reinhart – "Blue" (LeAnn Rimes)
Haley starts out sort of yodeling. She's kind of a Taylor Swift-lite. At least she hits all the notes and puts some oomph into it. Girl knows how to sell herself. Nice job.

Steven says the rest of country music fans in America are roaring. "So, so fine." JLo says America is getting to know her. She says Haley does special things with her voice. "Really good job." Randy likes that Haley can do anything, but thinks it was a little boring.

Jacob Lusk – "I Believe I Can Fly" (R. Kelly)
I love you Jacob! They've changed up the arrangement and Jacob gets a gospel choir. He's a little rough in the middle, but lassos it by the end. Jacob tends to oversing but he does make you feel it because he feels it. I liked it, didn't love it.

Steven says he can't even judge Jacob because he is so good. JLo says it's very hard to judge him because he makes them feel so much when he sings. "It's anybody's game... you're at the top of the list." Randy says they did a good job choosing the talent. He says when Jacob starts he has a signature sound. He's excited every time Jacob hits the stage.

Thia Megia – "Smile" (Michael Jackson version)
After Randy compared Thia's vocals to Michael Jackson, how can she go wrong? Thia has no idea who Charlie Chaplin is. She started out beautifully - gorgeous notes and delivery. Then the song changes up and is ruined. Simon would have called it "cruise ship."

Randy says he loved the intro and thinks she sounds a bit like Adele (really?), but when she jazzed it up he didn't like it so much. He wishes the whole song was like that. Steven agrees. He thanks her earnestly. JLo says the beginning reminded her of last week. She's like to see Thia move more. "You sing like an angel." Thia says she felt "a lot more better" in the beginning of the song. Ah the wonders of youth.

Stefano Langone – "Lately" (Stevie Wonder)
No more Stevie on this show. Please. In my impressions piece, I predicted Stefano will be the first to go. Ugh. His pronunciation is strange. The arrangement is awful. He's sort of singing/talking it. Randy seems to like it though. Nope, you are in serious jeopardy, son.

Steven says Stefano pulled it off. "You pulled it off." JLo says she was dancing a little. She says it was really Stefano. "You sounded great." Randy says it started out rocky, but by the middle of the song, he was soaring. "Stevie would be proud."

Karen Rodriguez – "I Could Fall In Love" (Selena)
The bi-lingual performance last week got her into the Top 13, so why not another. Unfortunately, she seems to be having some vocal problems. The song is boring. And she doesn't sing any of it in Spanish. She should have.

JLo says Karen looks beautiful. She says she could tell Karen was a little uncomfortable with the lower notes. "You're one of our strongest girls. I hope you make it to next week." Randy says it seemed like she was fighting the song. He says it was boring. Steven feels the same way and wants to see more energy from her. Karen designed her dress.

Scott McCreery – "The River" (Garth Brooks)
This guy has an awesome country voice. I really don't think there's ever been a country singer on this show as good. He could have won Nashville Star every season. Can he win Idol? I don't know, but if he can maneuver around the various themes, he might very well have a shot.

Randy says, "If it ain't broke, don't even consider fixing it." He says this is exactly where Scotty belongs and he could put out a record right now. Steven says some nonsense. JLo says she loved seeing Scotty open up as a performer.

Naima Adedapo – "Umbrella" (Rihanna)
Naima's working with the producer who produced the song for Rihanna. Naima busts out with some dance moves. But her singing is off, way off. In fact it doesn't sound like she's singing at all. More talking. Then she busts into some reggae. A bit schitzy. She ties to do too much, but at least it was entertaining.

Steven says she was "crazy good," but pitchy. "You brought another little something and I adore you for that." JLo says, "You're doing it like a real recording artist," but that Naima needs to work on the control. Randy says you gotta have the breaths for the cutoffs. He loved the reggae thing and wished she's stayed in that.

Best and worst

Oh, man... well... do I have to? I think Scotty was the best of the night followed by Pia and James. Middle of the pack - Haley, Jacob, Casey, Lauren, Naima, and Karen. Bottom three, Ashthon, Stefano, and Paul. Who am I forgetting here? Doesn't matter. It'll be either Stefano or Ashthon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7: Idol in the news

Adam Lambert will perform on Thursday's results show
Snow day today so I've had a chance to check out the news and pull out some headlines! I did pick up one little tidbit off Facebook, and that is Season 3's George Huff has been rehearsing with Jennifer Hudson and urges his fans to check out her upcoming tour. Does this mean George will be on the road with JHud? Could be!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Video: Jacob Lusk "A House is not a Home"

It's official. My pick for this season is Jacob Lusk. Sure, he's goofy, but I think he's the best male singer in the history of the show. I have no hope that he'll actually win it all, but I'm really looking forward to watching him every week.

He starts out a little wobbly, but once he shakes his nerves, it's breathtaking.

Let's toss in "God Bless the Child" while we're at it.

Lorda mercy!!!

Vegas performance.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

'American Idol 10' - The results are in with a couple of surprises

James Durbin and Stefano Langone perform during the Las Vegas round
The first results show of the new season and it's two hours long. Two hours? Really? I really don't want to recap this, but I'll do my best.

Get ready for lots and lots of filler. We see a montage of the auditions of the Top 24. Ryan tells us 40 million votes came in over the two nights. Ryan intros the Top 24. Only half will survive. Apparently, the Top 10 will be named and then the judges will pick contestants who will sing again. The judges who will pick two more as their wildcard picks. Kinda like the "save." Expect lots of drama. Lots of it.

We start with the guys. There's a long video with the guys goofing around in an interview shoot. Casey says he is more like a lumberjack than an American Idol. Brett says he's like a burnt cookie with frosting or maybe a rainbow cookie in a plate of chocolate chips.

We dim the lights. Scotty and Robbie take the stage. Ryan gives the pair their results and the judges weigh in. And It's Scotty who makes the cut.

Next up Jovany, Jordan, and Clint. Same scene, except none of them are going through, at least not yet,

The girls have their camera time. They're all best friends (sure they are). First up, Pia and Lauren Alaina. Kelly Clarkson tweeted that Lauren is like Kellie Pickler. Ryan reads the comments and Lauren is in. No surprise there. She goes to sit with Scotty. Pia is also in the Top 10. A moment, actually. This girl has tried and tried to get there an finally made it.

Ta-Tynisa and Julie are next. Sad, but true, when Ryan called for Julie, I thought, "Who?" Julie says she was sad that she let people down with her weak performance of "Breakaway." Steven tells her he loves her honesty in saying she shouldn't have performed that song. And the winner is... Taty is out. Julie is also out.

Back from the break, Ryan calls out Kendra, Ashthon, and Karen. Ashthon does not make it. Ryan says one of them has made it, and it's Karen. Randy doesn't look happy about this at all. Wow.

Tim, Casey and Jacob hit the stage. Please put Jacob through, please. I'm wringing my hands. Steven says Tim should have sung Jason Mraz or John Mayer. And Jacob makes it, Between Casey and Tim, one of them is in (duh). Of course, it's Casey. He hugs Julie.

Naima, Thia, and Lauren Turner take the stage. Thia is crying and can hardly speak. I hope Lauren Turner makes it. I really love what she did last night. One of them is in the Top 10... Naima is not. Booooooo. Steven is shaking his head. This leaves Lauren and Thia. And it's Thia who makes the cut. This is tough.

Brett and Paul are next. Please let it be Brett. Brett says his hands are numb and he's in a trance right now. Paul is wearing the ridiculous white embroidered jacket. He smiles his bright, white smile. One had made it, the other has not. "The person who will continue in the competition based on Americas's vote is.. Paul."

We return from the break to find out the fates of Haley and Rachel. And it's Haley. She's the final girl. James and Stefano are next. This is a no-brainer. They've been roommates since Hollywood week. The spot goes to James. He gives the rocker hands to the camera.

The wildcard competition is coming up after the break.

Back from the break, Ryan asks Randy if America got it right. He hedges. Ryan tells us the judges will pick who will sing again. All 24 have rehearsed with the band. Jennifer says they're going to chose six - three guys and three girls. First up, Ashthon. She totally nails "And I am Telling You I'm not Going." She walks right up to the judges and does the "And you, and you, and you" line, pointing at them. Girl's got to make it. I think the judges already know they want her in this thing.

Jennifer picks Stefano. He sings "I Need You Now." James looks like he is crying. It's a pretty dramatic performance. Kid really is singing for his life. I didn't think I'd like this, but it is certainly emotional. Randy says he loves that he chose this song to anoint this moment. JLo sas she's shaking. She says there's no way to not get it right or wrong. "You came through baby." Steven says, "You gilded the lily with your own passion." We'll see who else sings before we make a judgment on this one.

Four more will sing. Ryan says he doesn't even know how many are going through. Steven picks Kendra. She's singing "Georgia." She starts out in her lower register and then kicks it up. I don't think she is as good as Ashthon. She gives it all she's got, though, but was it enough?

Randy says she rocked it at the end. "Very nice, very nice." JLo picks Jovany. He's singing "Angel" and dedicates it to "the one I once loved." Is this a Marc Anthony song? He sings in Spanish and English and it's nice. JLo says, "You did a good job, baby. You did all you could do." Only two more chances. Whose 'Idol' dream will be shattered... after the break.

We return. Steven picks Naima. That means Ty-Tynisa, Lauren, Rachel, and Julie are out. Rachel makes one more bitch face, they hug, and that's it. Naima sings "For All We Know." She really is amazing, but not right for this competition. I hope for good things for her, though, because she really deserves it. Maybe she could try out for X-Factor. Naima cries when she finishes her song. Steven says she brought it to him.

The last guy is going to be... Robbie. No Brett? Awwww. Tim, Clint, Jordan, and Brett stand together. Brett runs down and hugs the judges. Awww again. Robbie sings, "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word." Appropriate. Thia, Pia, and Lauren are huddled together listening. I'm going to enjoy writing Thia and Pia. As for Robbie. I think he's the best of the three... but it's not a knockout. Still, his sweet vibrato and vocal control... yeah, he's going through. Randy loved it. He says, "This is the toughest night ever."

We go to break. So, how's this going to work? We've got 15 minutes left. Do we have to endure JLo's video before we learn who they're saving? Do I have time to go to the store?

The six wildcard picks are standing together. JLo says they're not ready. So we can see her video first. Clever. It's overly auto-tuned with lots of people dancing in a club. Pitbull raps, and Jennifer dances a lot and poses. I dance around my desk for a minute.

Okay, let's get the answer. They have come to a conclusion, which will be revealed, after the break.

Here we go. Randy starts. They've chosen Ashton. Yay! Jennifer says there are two more. The second person going through is Stefano. He and James hug. Steven has the last pick. I'm thinking Robbie. It's Naima!!! Wow. What a surprise. I'm not often surprised like that, but I'll take it. Naima's husband is leaping up and down in the audience. Awesome moment.

So that's it. The Top 13 (Jacob, Casey, Ashthon, Naima, Karen, Lauran, Pia, Thia, James, Paul, Stefano, Scotty, and Haley) has been chosen and we start the live performance shows next week.