Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: Year In Review

Top 10 Songs of 2009

10. Rob Thomas - "Her Diamonds"

Achingly sad but without losing the pop-rock catchy quality Rob Thomas has made his name on.



9. Ashley Tisdale - "Crank It Up"

The best pure pop song I have heard in a long time, it almost brings me back to the late 90's and the golden age of teen pop. A perfect party song, dance song, and a lot of fun.



8. Cobra Starship -" Hot Mess"

An ode to every sloppy drunk mess who looks better through beer goggles at closing time. This song came out of nowhere at the end of year and instantly stuck in my head.



7. Jay Z & Alicia Keys - "Empire State Of Mind"

This was the soundtrack of the 2009 World Series Champion Yankees this fall and every Yankee fan wholeheartedy embraced this love letter to New York City and the people that make it thrive.



6. Mariah Carey - "Obsessed"

Why I am obsessed (insert fake laughter here) with the song is beyond me. But the fact remains. I read on Billboard that this is the only song to ever make it to the Hot 100 that has featured a reference to Windex in the lyrics. And for that awesome fact, and many other great things about this song, it makes my Top 10 for the year.



5. Bon Jovi - "Superman Tonight"

A Bon Jovi love song in the tradition of all Bon Jovi love songs - from the references to Jon's old tattoo to the soaring arena-rock chorus. And as usual, I could not resist. Nor would I want to.



4. Brad Paisley - "Then"

Truly well written love ballads have become increasingly rare and I am grateful that country is the only genre that seems to embrace them anymore.



3. Sean Kingston - "Fire Burning"

The song of my summer, and when the song eventually faded at radio, I kept on requesting it. To the point where the DJ stopped taking request from me. Somebody call 9-1-1. And from the way I would run over to the dance floor everytime that first line blared out of the speakers, you would actually think there was a fire somewhere. Maybe even burning on the dance floor.



2. Weezer - "If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)"

I went on a Weezer kick at the end of 2009. I still don't know exactly why, but it's probably due to this amazing song. The video is a great live version the band performed with Leighton Meester at the Hammerstein Ballroom at their Halloween concert. Hands down, the best song Weezer has ever recorded.



1. Britney Spears - "3"

Another #1 song for Britney and the catchiest song I have heard in years. A true Max Martin classic gem and proof that he should write and produce all of Britney's music.



Honorable Mentions:
* Daughtry - "No Surprise"
* Paramore - "Ignorance"
* Leighton Meester - "Somebody To Love"
* Adam Lambert - "For Your Entertainment"
* David Guetta - "Sexy Bitch"
* Madonna & Lil Wayne - "Revolver"
* Lady Gaga - "Speechless"
* George Strait - "Living For The Night"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cause you made me the best mixtape I had


"To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind", but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules."

- Nick Hornby, High Fidelity


Somewhere in the back of my memory, I remember sitting in front of my radio circa the summer of 2000, waiting for the perfect song to come across the airwaves so I could hurry to press Record. The first few seconds of the song were always cut off, or sometimes I got the DJ talking at the beginning or the end of the song.

I realize now that this made each recording of this song perfectly unique. It would never be heard the same way each time. And there is something very romantic about that. Each song is a time capsule of sorts that would never be the same before or since.

I've had friends make me mix CDs but somehow they lack the painstaking effort of mix tapes. All that's required now to make such a compliation is the dragging and dropping of MP3 files into a playlist on Itunes. But, oh the mixtape. You had to sit and listen to each song, playing record and stop at the precise beginnings and endings of each song. There was more agony, more waiting - will they ever play my song on the radio? - and more heart.

Sadly, I came of age during the end of the mix tape era. Now there are no cassettes sold in stores and new cars don't come with cassette players. And as a medium, cassettes are impractical - they crack, the tape gets tangled, they're easy to record over. But their transience is what is sacred about them. Just like a lost love or a forgotten friend, it is too easy to let the music of the past slip through our fingers. But for our sake, we should hold on and press record one more time.

I'd recommend checking out the web site http://www.cassettefrommyex.com/ or their awesome book "Cassette From My Ex: Stories & Soundtracks From Lost Loves" edited by Jason Bitner (2009).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Top 100 Songs of the 2000s


Only time will tell what types of music will come to define the 2000's. We think of hair metal and new wave when we think of the 80's, and maybe grunge and teen pop from the 90's. The 00's were a polarizing decade, with many genres shining brightly and fizzling out just as fast.

I've read Rolling Stone's list of the best 50 songs of the decade and unfortunately, most of these lists tend to focus on the latter half of the decade.

There is absolutely no way I can attempt a list this ambitious in any particular order, so this will really be just as it comes into my head.

1. Brand New - "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" (2003)
2. Bright Eyes - "Lua" (2005)
3. Jimmy Eat World - "Work" (2004)
4. Kings of Leon - "Closer" (2008)
5. Britney Spears - "Oops! I Did It Again" (2000)
6. Blue October - "Hate Me" (2006)
7. Garth Brooks - "More Than A Memory" (2007)
8. Scissor Sisters - "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" (2006)
9. Taking Back Sunday - "The Ballad of Sal Villanueva" (2002)
10. The Darkness - "Growing On Me" (2004)

11. My Chemical Romance - "Welcome To The Black Parade" (2006)
12. Brand New - "Soco Amaretto Lime" (2001)
13. Death Cab For Cutie - "Tiny Vessels" (2003)
14. Buckcherry - "Crazy Bitch" (2006)
15. T-Pain - "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" (2007)
16. Howie Day - "Slow Down" (2000)
17. Dashboard Confessional - "The Secret's In The Telling" (2006)
18. Semisonic - "Bed" (2001)
19. Justin Timberlake - "Lovestoned/I Think She Knows" (2007)
20. Michael Ferraro - "Goddess" (2005)

21. The Shins - "Caring Is Creepy" (2004)
22. Brand New - "Jaws Theme Swimming" (2003)
23. DHT - "Listen To Your Heart" (2006)
24. Tuff - "American Hair Band" (2001)
25. 50 Cent - "High All The Time" (2003)
26. The Killers - "Mr. Brightside" (2004)
27. Damien Rice - "Cannonball" (2002)
28. Something Corporate - "Konstantine" (2003)
29. Butch Walker - "Best Thing You Never Had" (2004)
30. Marvelous 3 - "Cigarette Lighter Love Song" (2000)

31. Something Corporate - "Ruthless" (2003)
32. Bright Eyes - "Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and To Be Loved)" (2002)
33. Mariah Carey - "We Belong Together (Remix)" (2005)
34. Usher - "Burn" (2004)
35. Christina Aguilera - "Get Mine, Get Yours" (2002)
36. Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow - "Picture" (2002)
37. Brand New - "Degausser" (2006)
38. Jay - Z - "99 Problems" (2003)
39. Britney Spears - "3" (2009)
40. Frickin' A - "Just Friends" (2004)

41. Taking Back Sunday - "You're So Last Summer" (2002)
42. Phantom Planet - "California" (2002)
43. Carly Hennessey - "Just Missed The Train" (2001)
44. Kelly Clarkson - "Can I Have A Kiss" (2007)
45. Dashboard Confessional - "Screaming Infidelities"(2002)
46. Jesse McCartney - "How Do You Sleep" (2008)
47. Tesla - "Cry" (2004)
48. Damien Rice - "I Remember" (2002)
49. Bruce Springsteen - "The Fuse" (2002)
50. Bon Jovi - "Last Cigarette" (2005)

51. Kid Rock - "All Summer Long" (2008)
52. The Darkness - "Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" (2005)
53. Hellogoodbye - "Touchdown Turnaround" (2006)
54. Bright Eyes - "Lover I Don't Have To Love" (2002)
55. Britney Spears - "Everybody" (2007)
56. Our Lady Peace - "Innocent" (2002)
57. Matthew Good Band - "Hello Time Bomb" (2001)
58. Bon Jovi - "Last Man Standing" (2005)
59. O-Zone - "Dragostea Din Tei" (2003)
60. Bright Eyes - "Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh" (2000)

61. Our Lady Peace - "Do You Like It" (2002)
62. Avril Lavigne - "Girlfriend" (2007)
63. Rufus Wainwright - "Hallelujah" (2001)
64. Straylight Run - "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making" (2004)
65. Ben Harper - "Waiting For You" (2006)
66. Jay - Z & Alicia Keys - "Empire State Of Mind" (2009)
67. Bon Jovi - "Summertime" (2007)
68. Weezer - "If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)" (2009)
69. Matchbox 20 - "Rest Stop" (2000)
70. Fall Out Boy - "I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)"(2007)

71. Leona Lewis - "Run" (2008)
72. Sugarcult - "Memory" (2004)
73. Kenny Chesney - "Keg In The Closet" (2004)
74. Kris Allen - "Wipe It Away" (2007)
75. Sexton Blake - "Girl You Know It's True" (2007)
76. SoulDecision - "Faded" (2000)
77. Oasis - "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" (2002)
78. Tom Jones - "Sexbomb" (2000)
79. Incubus - "Are You In" (2002)
80. Avril Lavigne - "My Happy Ending" (2004)

81. Ultimate Fakebook - "A Million Hearts" (2000)
82. Simple Plan - "Addicted" (2003)
83. Jessica Simpson - "What It's Gonna Be" (2001)
84. Jack's Mannequin - "The Mixed Tape" (2005)
85. Lustra - "Scotty Doesn't Know" (2004)
86. Brand New - "You Won't Know" (2006)
87. David Bisbal - "Aqui Y Ahora" (2006)
88. Phantom Planet - "The Guest" (2002)
89. The Dandy Warhols - "You Were The Last High" (2003)
90. Rascal Flatts - "Fast Cars And Freedom" (2004)

91. Air - "Playground Love" (2000)
92. Motion City Soundtrack - "L.G. Fuad (Let's Get Fucked Up And Die)" (2005)
93. Death Cab For Cutie - "Photobooth" (2000)
94. The Submarines - "Brighter Discontent" (2006)
95. Backstreet Boys - "Just Want You To Know" (2005)
96. Eminem - "Drug Ballad" (2000)
97. Gin Blossoms - "Come On Hard" (2006)
98. Bowling For Soup - "Girl All The Bad Guys Want" (2002)
99. Ludacris - "What's Your Fantasy" (2000)
100. Willa Ford - "A Toast To Men (Fuck The Men)" (2003)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 10 Party Songs Of 2009

You played them while pre-gaming. You threw your purse down and ran to the dance floor to dance to them. You blasted them in the car on the way to the bar. These are the Top 10 Party Songs of 2009.

(Doesn't that sound like the intro to a VH1 show? I thought so. Anyway...)

10. Black Eyed Peas - "I Gotta Feeling"

#1 Billboard Hot 100

So "Boom Boom Pow" would be right up there as one of the worst songs of the year, and just when I had given up all hope of the Black Eyed Peas ever coming out with something I would like, this song comes out. Just in time for the baseball postseason, which was perfect, because everyone was hoping that each night was gonna be a good, good night for their favorite team.

9. Flo Rida - "Right Round"
#1 Billboard Hot 100

Probably one of the most surreal television moments of the year was watching Flo Rida (extremely poorly) perform this song on a results show of American Idol. Last I checked, odes to strippers and "going down" weren't exactly TV-PG. However, it was absolutely perfect for every single club when the lights went low and the music went loud.

8. Cascada - "Evacuate the Dance Floor"
#25 Billboard Hot 100

Just when you think this song is infectious and sweet, the most random rap I have ever heard on a pop song starts in. And it's perfect. Bubblegum dance pop that almost takes you back to 1996.

7. Pitbull - "Hotel Room Service"
#8 Billboard Hot 100

Although "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" was clearly the bigger hit, this anthem by Pitbull ranks far higher on my list of ultimate party songs of the year.

6. Britney Spears - "3"
#1 Billboard Hot 100

One of the best songs Britney has released in years. An ode to threesomes, or maybe those awkward drunk grinding trains you often see in extremely dark clubs around 1:30 a.m.



5. LMAFO & Lil Jon - "Shots"
#97 Billboard Hot 100

For the amount of times I have heard this on the dance floor, you would think this would have been a Top 10 hit. A slam-dunk hit based on the fact that every drunk person at a club loves to hear a song about taking shots. And so do the bartenders.



4. Ke$ha - "Tik Tok"
#3 Billboard Hot 100

At first, I thought this song was extremely annoying. And then: it grew on me. Like a fungus. To the point where I could not stop playing it over again. An ode to being drunk, owning it, and just not caring.

3. David Guetta & Akon - "Sexy Bitch"
#7 Billboard Hot 100

The way the beat starts, low and slinky, and builds to the hook of the song is sexy and absolutely evocative of every night ever spent in a dance club, where by the end of the night, you don't even know where the time went.

2. Ashley Tisdale - "Crank It Up"

If only this song had become the club hit, it deserved to be. It may still be awaiting a US release, so there may be hope for this one yet. Ashley Tisdale's album "Guilty Pleasure" was actually, suprisingly, one of the best albums of the year - full of fresh, inventive, very 2009 pop. "Crank It Up" is one of the sexiest, poppiest and most fun songs Britney Spears never recorded.



1. Sean Kingston - "Fire Burning"
#5 Billboard Hot 100

There is absolutely no other song I would put as the number one party song of the year. I do believe this song is the sole reason I appear to be discouraged from requesting songs at the local club. From the opening lyric to the very last beat, the hands down best party song of the year. And probably next.

Monday, November 23, 2009

For Your Entertainment...


At the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert set out to do exactly what he ended up doing. His performance of "For Your Entertainment" was racy, sexy, and totally provocative. Now the headline on AOL reads "Did Lambert Go Too Far?" (as if he would do such a thing by accident).

It was the first real genuine bad-ass rock 'n roll moment on a live awards show since Guns 'N Roses swore on TV while presenting an award - ironically also at the AMA's, as I remember.

Lambert himself said to the Associated Press: "There are a lot of double standards as far as that goes. We've seen female pop and rock performers do that for the last 10 years. They've been very provocative, owning their power and sexuality. You just don't see men doing it very often. And I'm hoping to break down that double standard with this number."

Well, Adam certainly did that. He got the Parents Television Council up in arms. They claim that the performance was inappropriate to be aired on television, even though it aired around 11 p.m. and that the poor impressionable children will be scarred for life.

At that, I am going to quote Bret Easton Ellis. "Rock 'n roll. Deal with it."

What an exciting moment, the proverbial shot in the arm the music industry needs - someone that is pushing the boundaries and irritating the older generations much in the way that Elvis and the Beatles raised the ire of the WWI generation.

I'm almost glad that the PTC is shaking their fist at Adam Lambert (and very ironically, Dick Clark, whose production company was involved with the AMAs - Dick Clark is the epitome of G rated old timey fun).

It means Adam did something right.

Rock 'n roll is not meant for children...it is meant to open our eyes, to shock us, to break our hearts and put them back together again, to turn us on and make us believe.

Thank you, Adam, for making me believe in the future of rock 'n roll.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Top 10 80's Power Ballads Of All Time

I can't believe I have not written this entry a long time ago!

So get your lighters out, freshen up your hair with some Aqua Net, and enjoy my list. Rock on.

10. Steelheart - "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)" (1990)

The first lesson in Power Ballad 101: start with those ripping guitar chords, start slow, and let the power build. End strong with a pitch-perfect heavy metal scream. I love every second of it.



9. Poison - "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" (1988)

Although I debated including "I Won't Forget You" just for the fact that I can not hear this song without doing an air drum solo, no list is complete without the ultimate 80's power ballad. Also, my personal favorite lyrics are "To hear that tears me up inside and to see you cuts me like a knife." Although we may not be writing future #1 hit songs in laundromats or dating ex-strippers, who can't relate to this bit of Bret Michaels-penned wisdom? This video is the hallmark of what 80's videos should be (well, so are "Home Sweet Home" and "Heaven" but I disgress. How much white leather pants can we take? The answer is plenty.)



8. Tesla - "Love Song" (1989)

Tesla is, in many ways, the opposite of your traditional hair metal band. In fact, calling them a hair metal band would be to put them in the wrong category, but this song is an awesome power ballad that defies the genre. First off, it opens with over a minute of intro music, which most power ballads wouldn't dare to do. Bring in the synthesizer and 10 seconds of piano music and move on. But here, it works. And god damn it, love will find a way. Just look around, open your eyes.



7. Europe - "Carrie" (1986)

A little cheesy and a little awesome, Europe personified everything that we love and hate about the 80's. Yet another girl's name ballad, but a great one, with a lot of synthesizer and 80's melody to it. And just look at the hair on Joey Tempest. It doesn't get better than this. I know you want to sing along now: "Caaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrie, Caaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrie, things they change my friend, ohhhhhhh."



6. Great White - "Save Your Love" (1987)

Far more haunting than the average power ballad, there is something soft and seductive about this song that lends itself to giving the listener chills. To me, it evokes driving around North Stamford at night alone and smoking cigarettes in the dark circa 2004. This video is a little cheestastic, so I recommend listening to it with the lights down low, without getting distracted by the unintentional hilarity of it. Where are they anyway, an abandoned factory? And oh wait, it's raining indoors.



5. Heart - "Alone" (1987)

This song has been covered by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Kristen Chenoweth to Celine Dion. Yet it remains a classic for a reason. The plantive and desperate refrain, "How do I get you alone?" has echoed in everyone's head, and instantly evokes that lost love. It remains Heart's biggest hit song, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. And it's incredible. Probably the ultimate female power ballad.



4. Cheap Trick - "The Flame" (1988)

You were the first, you'll be the last. More definitive words were never uttered in an 80's power ballad. While Cheap Trick is not a band most would associate with the 80's hair metal scene, this song is the quintessential power ballad and an excellent one at that. Released in 1988, this song became a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit. And how badass is Bun Carlos, the drummer, smoking a cigarette while playing?



3. Cinderella - "Heartbreak Station" (1990)

When people think of Cinderella and power ballads, the obvious choice is the excellent "Don't Know What You've Got ('Til It's Gone)". But this song is the underdog and my clear winner for best power ballad by Cinderella. Tom Keifer is an incredible singer and Cinderella's authentic bluesy style set them apart from other more glam bands like Poison. (Although make no mistake, Cinderella's look was certainly glam metal at the beginning of their career). This sparse but ethreal ballad is incredibly moving and one of my favorites.



2. Bon Jovi - "I'll Be There For You" (1988)

From that opening guitar bit to the haunting first lyric "I guess this time you're really leaving", this song gives me chills every time. I heard it on the radio today, on Sirius Channel 23 Hair Nation, and it never gets old. In fact, like a fine wine, it gets better with age. In concert these days, it's still a staple of their live show, except this time guitarist Richie Sambora takes over lead vocals. It's been debated among fans, with some saying they've paid to hear Jon sing one of their old favorites. Yet Richie's more husky, bluesy voice adds something new to the song that doesn't fail to bring me to tears each time I hear it live.

Here's a live version from the end of the mammoth "New Jersey" tour. This video was taken from a Jan. 28, 1990 performance in Brazil.



1. Skid Row - "I Remember You" (1989)

My second favorite song of all time eclipses all other power ballads, of any decade. All the elusive pieces that make a good song great come together on this one, from the lyrics to the guitar solo to the vocals and even the video is incredible. Sebastian Bach is my favorite metal singer of all time, both viscerally intesne and heartbreakingly beautiful. This song is a cut above many other 80's power ballads, because it has grit and most importantly, heart to it. It's style over substance, lyrical perfection over repetition, and one of the most flawless songs I will ever hear in my life.



For fun, here's someone else's list of their Top 20 songs. All are good, but I could do without the inclusion of 2 Foreigner songs.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Frickin' A - the best band you have never heard of


I stumbled across Frickin' A by accident really. As a band, they're no longer together, but some of the members went on to form Lovesick Radio - a band I've really grown to like.

I bought Frickin' A's 2004 album "Big Egos...No Ideas" off Ebay for about $4 - a bargain really for any CD still new in the wrap.

The band is hyper-aware of the music industry, its failings, and the bands that are their peers. Half the songs are break-up songs, the other half

Tracklist:

1. Drive
2. Just Friends
3. Trend
4. Jessie's Girl
5. Party Like A Rock Star
6. Dump Me
7. Naked In My Bed
8. Cut Number 7
9. Last Summer
10. One Step Away'

The album opens with the song "Drive", a catchy 3-chord pop-punk song about the remnants an ex leaves behind. "Your cigarettes are in my backseat, and I can't get very far listening to the CD mix you made me. There's your lipstick on my floorboard, your footprints on the dashboard, you're everywhere but by my side, and I can't drive," the lyrics go.

"Just Friends" is the highlight of the album. A little bitter, a little tongue-in-cheek, this was the song that got me interested in the band and the best song on the album.

"Trend" pokes fun at the often ridiculous fads in the music industry. A good, solid song that is pretty amusing for anyone who knows these fads all-too-well.

It was their cover of "Jessie's Girl" (originally a major 80's hit for Rick Springfield) that gained the band some attention. It's a good cover, but nothing remarkably different from the original. Here, it works and doesn't disrupt the flow of the album like many covers (Britney Spears's cover of "The Beat Goes On" by Sonny and Cher comes to mind. 10 years later, I still feel this is one of the oddest song choices ever included on an album). This song has a slight more rock edge than the original, but largely sticks to a winning formula.

Another one of my favorite tracks "Party Like A Rock Star" is a bit ambiguous. I can't tell if it is empowering to the girl who is the subject of the song, or if it points out the sadness behind the partying. However, it makes the song a bit more interesting than a typical rock 'n roll party song. Maybe I like this one because it reminds me of my college days.

"Dump Me" is more of a funny break-up song than the others, about a guy who doesn't seem to understand that his girlfriend is breaking up with him. A catchy sing-a-long track. "Stood me up on Tuesday, our 3 month anniversary, I might not make it through the day. I think she's going to dump me, yeah."

"Naked In My Bed" is an okay song, but features lyrics like "I met her at the pool, she was smokin' hot". Kind of reminds me of Avril Lavigne's Sk8ter Boi, "He was a boy, she was a girl." Pretty obvious, yes.

One of the most interesting songs on the CD is called "Cut Number 7", an almost 8 minute epic about a band getting their start in the music industry. They write an amazing song, but between A&R people, the record label, focus groups, and their fans, they lose track of which song actually should be released as a single. After the failure of their band, they realize they should have stuck with the original song that captured everyone's hearts so long ago.

"Last Summer" is all about being 17 and having nowhere to go, the first summer that you fall in love and feel all too much, all at once. It's a great nostalgia track.

"One Step Away" is one of the longer songs on the album, and a slower ballad - in stark contrast to the rest of the album. It is interesting that they choose this song to close off the album, but it's a good track all the same.

Overall, this album stands out over the mediocre pop-punk of bands like Simple Plan. They're self-aware, which lends itself well to not falling into self-parody. They have a wicked sense of humor and great pop-rock hooks. The lyrics can be hilarious and hint at something deeper - at the same time. It's worth tracking down this album on Ebay, as it's no longer available in stores.

Check out the band's lyrics here: http://www.azlyrics.com/f/frickina.html

Friday, September 18, 2009

Early 90's Music

One of my personal passions in life has become simply: keeping the 80's alive. But I have a dirty little secret, my passion for early 90's (who am I kidding? ALL 90's) music. Here are some of my favorite songs from the early 90's - some of which I've discovered through the amazing Sirius XM channel 90's on 9.

I wanted to pick songs that truly captured the early 90's - maybe some that have become a bit forgotten today.

Natural Selection - "Do Anything" (1991)

Although this song once reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it isn't available on Itunes and I would never heard it except for 90's on 9. The vocalist does an excellent Prince impersonation, the female vocalist is straight out of Madonna's "Justify My Love", and the tune follows the clap-clap-skip rhythm of John Cougar. Oh, sorry, I mean John Mellencamp. So clearly, any 80's fan would love this song. Some excellent early 90's R&B.



Nelson - "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection" (1991)
I could listen to this song on repeat - over and over and over again. Arguably one of the last mainstream hits of the hair metal genre, this song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991. It is insanely catchy, I know every word, and I know I should be somewhat ashamed, but I am not. Because this song rocks! The hair, the cheesy videos, and the fact that they are twins...it's just too awesome.



Go West - "The King of Wishful Thinking" (1990)

The song that opens up "Pretty Woman" (great movie) and such a snapshot of the time. From those opening synthesizer beats, you already know you are in for a great 90's song! A #8 Hot 100 hit for the group.



Taylor Dayne - "Love Will Lead You Back" (1989/1990)

Couldn't you just hear this song as a slow dance at the Max as Zack and Kelly sway back and forth in each other's arms? A #1 hit and written by Diane Warren. Clearly a favorite of mine then!! This song is so quintessential early 90's lost love ballad that it warms my heart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Future of Rock 'N Roll

Every generation has their rock 'n roll trends. In the 70's, it was what is now called "classic rock" but at the time was most likely called AOR (album oriented rock), which competed with the birth of punk. In the 80's, new wave bands were popular, alongside NWOBHM (if you don't know what it stands for, don't ask) and hair bands/glam metal. In the 90's, we saw the rise of "grunge" (spare me) and alternative rock.

And what will we remember from the 00's?

Trust me, the easy answer is "nothing". The easy answer is to disparage the music of the last decade as it comes to a close. Well, guess what? Many of the generations before us disparaged the music of the time and longed for the "way things used to be". To say there is no good music currently being written and played is WRONG.

OK, yes, we have the Nickleback effect. Songs by both Theory of a Deadman and Shinedown are virtually indistinguishable from anything Nickleback ever put out. And yes, Nickleback has to be one of the most commericially successful but least creative bands I have ever heard, and no one should be attempting to copy them note for note.

However, newer bands like Kings of Leon, Interpol, Daughtry - and my personal new favorite Lovesick Radio (with members from the now-defunct band Frickin' A - a band I will almost certainly write about later, as I tracked down their debut album on Ebay and am listening to it right now) - are exciting.

So is there a future for rock 'n roll? Certainly. But only if you look for it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Then vs. Now: Music and young girls

The year was 1996. I was 10 years old. Friends and Seinfeld were two of the most popular shows on TV. Bill Clinton was president. Dial up AOL was just taking off. Albums still had the potential to be RIAA certified diamond with sales of 10 million copies. And what was I listening to?

My first CD was Ace of Base - "The Sign". I also had Real McCoy's "Another Night" album, Celine Dion's "Falling Into You". And then I listened to Disney related music, like the Lion King soundtrack and A Goofy Movie soundtrack.

Well, kids are still listening to Disney related music. Except now, it's Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. Maybe Demi Lovato, if they are ever-so-slightly edgier.

I will admit I just watched the "Best Of Both Worlds" Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert DVD. Interspersed with the concert footage is some video of the fans attending the concert. They are singing at the top of their lungs Hannah/Miley songs for the camera and saying why they like her so much. This is innocuous, as are many things that Hannah/Miley does. Every generation has their teen idols and for those born after 1996, it is Miley.

It's what these Miley fans are wearing that is so shocking. These girls are wearing what appears to be makeup, long blonde wigs, glitter and sparkles, and too tight clothing that looks like it belongs on a sorority girl making her way out to a bar, nervously clutching her fake ID.(This photo is captioned, from the NY Daily News web site, "'No. 1 Fan' Eliana Planer, 8, from Raleigh, N.C., affixed eight Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana pins to her hat and showed off colorful argyle socks in an outfit she got from Kohl's.")

Aren't kids kids anymore? Apparently not.

I'd chalk this up to music and pop stars that are targeted DIRECTLY at them. When I was younger, most kiddie shows were animated. Not computer generated, not live actors. ANIMATED. The live action shows like Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World were targeted at an 11-15 year old audience, which is far different from a 4-10 year old one.

Now every television show seems to be tied into a pop starlet looking to build her singing and acting career. Look at Miley herself, iCarly, Selena Gomez, Hilary Duff, Demi Lovato. Even Jamie Lynn Spears and her show "Zoey 101". There's concert tickets, lunch boxes, posters, candy, tie-in books (wait, do people actually read any more?) with the star's face plastered all over it. And there is the inevitable Wal-Mart (or Kohls, or K-Mart) clothing line. So an 8 year old girl can dress "just like" her favorite star, who is at least twice her age.

Even the star's wardrobes themselves are suspect. Miley Cyrus was 15 when she was thrust into the public eye. While nothing she is wearing is particularly R rated or scandalous, I compare her clothing to what I wore when I was 15 - namely men's black concert t-shirts that hung way too large on an 125-pound frame. The jean style then was far from the low cut, tight jeans that are favored today - instead they were cut way too high and were incredibly baggy. Hey, it was cool at the time. I think. There was more of an innocence.

Isn't that what being a child is about? Innocence? The music industry today should support that. Let kids listen to Disney movie soundtracks and harmless Swedish pop or 90's dance music. Let kids be kids.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Songs I have been listening to excessively lately

* The Spill Canvas - "All Over You"

This is the song I've probably been listening to more than anything else. I am so emo.

In my daydreams, in my sleep, infatuation turning into disease
You could cure me, see all you have to do now is please try




* Fefe Dobson - "Don't Let It Go To Your Head"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sePYsG2jOVA

* Live - "All Over You"

An amazing live version:


* Jesse McCartney - "How Do You Sleep"
* Chris Isaak - "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing"
* Kelly Clarkson - "Can I Have A Kiss"
* Carly Smithson - "Just Missed The Train"



* Lovesick Radio - "Boys Don't Matter"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Skid Row: the world's best forgotten band



I was lucky enough to discover Skid Row way back in 2001 - I don't remember how, but I assume from one of those amazing Top 20 shows that VH1 used to put together. ("What's My 20?" was one of my favorites and the ultimate best countdown show ever on television was "Top 40 Hair Bands" hosted by Dee Snider - with Poison at #1 and Twisted Sister at #2 - although since it was hosted by Dee Snider, that may have had something to do with it).

There is something so incredible about Sebastian Bach's voice that it gives me chills every time I listen to a song like "In A Darkened Room", "I Remember You" or "Quicksand Jesus". He is honestly one of the best metal vocalists of all time and my personal (albeit biased) favorite. Sebastian was a force of nature - all hair, leather pants, and the skinniest and sexiest 6'4" guy I have ever seen.



There was no moment where Skid Row sold out - no cheesy power ballads (although who am I kidding, that's my favorite genre). The video for "I Remember You" doesn't feature closeups of crying girls, coordinated guitar moves, or white leather pants (Jani Lane, I'm looking at you). Instead the video is the story of a man down on his luck, living on the streets, who reminisces over a photo of his lost love - interspersed is footage of the band playing in a warehouse.

They only released two albums at their peak and a third album after grunge had taken over in 1995 that is largely forgotten. Nothing they did after Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso (drums) left is worth mentioning, especially not their "punk" version of "I Remember You" - this is just blasphemy.

But - oh my god - those two albums were perfection. Their self-titled 1989 debut is a black sheep in the family of hair band debut discs but by the time the second album rolled around, they would never have even been invited to the family reunion. "Slave To The Grind", from 1991, is a crunching, straight-up metal disc that proves they could do ball-busting metal songs and gorgeous, aching slow songs.

"Slave To The Grind" became the first metal album of the SoundScan era to debut at #1. A pretty cool statistic.

Their best songs of all time: "I Remember You", "Quicksand Jesus", "Monkey Business", "18 And Life", "Wasted Time", "In A Darkened Room", "Youth Gone Wild", "Psycho Love", "Forever" (from 40 Seasons, their greatest hits).



As stated in the Top 40 Hair Bands special, "if there is one band that could reunite and MATTER in 2001, it would be Skid Row because they just have that pompacity." Wow the fact that I can recall that from memory is a testament to just how many times I watched that show.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Results Show: May 20, 2009


I was at a Yankee game/charity benefit when the American Idol results show (aka last episode of the season) and I am just watching the entire thing, start to finish, now. I managed to be surprised when I watched my VHS tape back to see the last 40 or so minutes of the show - luckily no one revealed the winner until I got to see it for myself.

But anyway - here's my review of the show.


American Idol Finale Results Show - May 20, 2009

Top 13 American Idols - "So What" C+
It is kind of entertaining to me the lyrics that the producers chose to omit, but even more amusing to hear the Idols sing "and you're a tool, so what". Whoever came up with the weird jumping choreography for this was sadly misled. However, this is a tolerable performance for a group number and it certainly beats any of the Ford music videos.

David Cook - "Permanent" B
This song is so poignant after his brother's death after a long battle with cancer. I am not sure how he got through this song without crying. He delivered a very powerful and excellent (as always) vocal. The song itself isn't as stunning as it could be, but Cook's performance was extremely moving.

Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle - "And I Am Telling You..." D
Is this even worth reviewing? He isn't even funny and he clearly never took the competition seriously. Everything was just a joke to him, and while it is arguable that many people take the competition too seriously, he treated it as a joke. He can hold a note though. How did he get through to the Top 36 over far more talented people like Rose Flack?

Lil Rounds & Queen Latifah - "Cue The Rain" B-
This performance of Queen Latifah's new single is okay, and sort of interesting. It is better certainly than anything Lil Rounds ever did on that stage by herself. The backup dancers might be a little bit overkill for this song. This is a pretty energetic and upbeat performance, and probably the most eye-catching of the night so far. The last lyric of the performance was done well.

Alexis Grace & Anoop Desai & Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours" (with rest of the Top 13 on backup) B
Both Anoop and Alexis sound good despite this hideously insipid song. Jason Mraz even sounds good, but maybe that's just because he's so damn cute when I am actually watching him sing this on TV. This version of the song - slightly reggae - is far superior to the radio edit. As Randy might say, there is no denying that Alexis and Anoop "can really sing". (Yes! I know you are shocked! On a singing competition!)
Kris Allen & Keith Urban - "Kiss A Girl" A
The first song of the night I would actually download and listen to over and over. Keith and Kris complement each other very well on this song; it's a fun and rollicking performance. Most importantly, they both look like they are having fun with it. Now if only all Idol finale performances could be so great!!! Simon seems to be reluctantly giving a Standing O and Justin Guarini is shown looking longingly at the stage - looking back on the glory days.

Top 13 Girls & Fergie - "Glamorous/Big Girls Don't Cry" C
Megan Joy looks like she can not believe she is singing this inane but insanely catchy song. Alexis Grace and Jazmine are having a blast with it. Fergie looks kind of frightening and doesn't sound much better. This new dark hair doesn't suit her in the slightest. Now only if they had done "London Bridge" - just picture it!! I will not even bother to review the performance of "Boom Boom Pow", which is one of the worst songs this side of "I'm Yours". How this song became a #1 Hot 100 hit is so far beyond me I don't even want to discuss it. Ugh!

Katrina Darrell (Bikini Girl) and Kara DioGuardi - "Vision of Love" A
Wow, Kara can sing. Although Bikini Girl does have a better voice than she got credit for, Kara blows her out of the water with the husky tone of her voice. The problem with Bikini Girl was that she tries to imitate other singers - maybe a Christina Aguilera type? - as opposed to finding her own voice (aka: the Kady Malloy problem). This duet was entertaining, fun, and actually sounded good. Maybe the best moment of the night!

Allison Iraheta & Cyndi Lauper - "Time After Time" A-
Remind me why Allison got voted off before Danny again? Oh right, there's no explanation for that one. How the hell does Cyndi Lauper still look the same after all these years?! This is a wonderful duet, their voices sound great blended together.

Danny Gokey & Lionel Richie - "Hello/Just Chill/All Night Long" C+
Wow, David Cook's version of "Hello" blows Danny Gokey's out of the water. Danny has a great future ahead of him as a poor man's Taylor Hicks or a glorified wedding singer. (Mind you, I am not comparing Taylor Hicks, who I love, to a wedding singer!) It strikes me that I have no idea of this song by Lionel Richie that I have heard at a million corporate beach parties and weddings. OK wait, I suppose this is "All Night Long", I mistakenly thought the title was "Fiesta". Either is appropriate I guess.

Adam Lambert & KISS - "Beth/Detroit Rock City/Rock N Roll All Nite" A-
I think Glambert can single-handedly bring back 80's glam metal. Just picture a duet between him and Sebastian Bach, or Rob Halford, or (best idea ever) Tom Kiefer from Cinderella. Adam takes his place beside legends like Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons with such ease. I've said it once before and I'll say it again - Adam Lambert is a fucking rock star. You drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy...
Matt Giraud & Santana (with Top 13 Idols on backup) - "Black Magic Woman/Smooth" B
First of all, Matt should have been given more than just this brief lead vocal on "Black Magic Woman" - a song I don't even particularly like, although it is certainly preferable to "Boom Boom Pow". Kris's solo line on this song is phenomenal - made even more so by Danny following right after. Kris even looks like he is having fun with the choreography. Santana is excellent as always.

Megan Joy, Michael Sarver & Steve Martin - "Pretty Flowers" B
Steve Martin looks like Roy Orbison with those glasses on. And if I was born before 1986, I would certainly be dating myself with that comment - now I'm just proving how obsessed I am with 50's and 60's music. This is an odd but interestingly catchy song. Megan and Michael were the right vocalists for this song.

Rod Stewart & Top 13 Guys - "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy/Maggie May" B-
The choreography is straight out of a bad Chippendales show and is unintentionally hilarious. However, this performance redeems itself when Matt sings "now we're all alone". HOT. Adam hits the glory note at the end, was there any doubt? Rod Stewart's voice is somehow not as up to par as I had hoped it would be, although "Maggie May" is an amazing classic rock song.

Adam Lambert, Kris Allen & Queen - "We Are The Champions" A+
This. Was. Incredible. Absolutely awesome. This was the kind of epic performance that rarely comes along on any television show, American Idol or not.


CONGRATULATIONS KRIS ALLEN ON BECOMING THE NEXT AMERICAN IDOL!

Kris Allen - "No Boundaries" A
"No Boundaries", as a song, gets a D from me. Kris manages to make this song sound far better than it should. This performance is great because right before Kris sings, when Ryan says that it's time for him to sing "No Boundaries", Kris and Adam laugh - in my mind, it is at how bad this song really is. I much preferred the performance of this song on Live with Regis and Kelly by Kris where he strips it down to an acoustic guitar and piano arrangement. This rendition however gets an A because Kris manages to remember these inane lyrics while hugging all of the Top 13 contestants and gives a very emotional performance. Alright, yes, I admit it - I cried.

And can I just say, all over again, and for the record officially - Matt Giraud still remains my favorite American Idol 2009 contestant. Close second is Kris, followed by Adam, and then Anoop (who still holds a spot dear to my heart).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 3: May 12, 2009


Top 3 - Judges and Contestants Choice songs: May 12, 2009

Danny Gokey - "Dance Little Sister" (Paula's choice) C

This performance reminds me of karaoke, or a wedding singer. Or someone that I would be impressed with on a cruise ship. However, how many cruise ship singer/wedding singer soundtracks do YOU own (with the possible exception of The Wedding Singer soundtrack - because that is excellent)? He needed to clear his throat on this performance. His dancing was pretty bad and his vocals were tolerable. However, "tolerable" does not an American Idol make, let me tell you.

Kris Allen - "Apologize" (Randy & Kara's choice) A-

I was torn with what to give Kris on this song, an A- or a B+ so I copped out and gave him both. This slowed-down version of the song was beautiful and Kris's piano playing was very nice. The guitar in the background of the song sounded great too. Honestly the only week that Kris faltered was "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" and even that was a B performance.

Adam Lambert - "One" (Simon's choice) A-

I was very impressed that Simon got Bono's and the band's personal approval to use this song on the show. Adam did not disappoint; he made the song his own with different inflection and emphasis of the lyrics that might have been slightly absent from the original. I liked how he bookended the song with a slow start and end, but in the middle of the song, he made it a faster Broadway-rock hybrid.

Danny Gokey - "You Are So Beautiful" C+

This was okay, I suppose, but it was boring despite the new arrangement. I have a feeling this was a slightly-disguised ploy to play the emotional card yet again by Karoake Gokey. UGH. I only wish Danny would wipe that smug smirk off his face. You are not guaranteed anything Danny! My mom used to sing this song to me as a child and I must say I enjoy her version better than this. Maybe my mom can be the next American Idol.

Kris Allen - "Heartless" A

What a great version of this song! To take a rap song and make it into something aching and pretty is challenging and Kris was up to the challenge. I love how Kara couldn't refrain from including criticism in even a positive critique. Really Kara? I will download this song and listen to it over and over again. I give Kris credit for going out on a limb and making the song TRULY HIS OWN.

Adam Lambert - "Cryin'" A-

So maybe Adam didn't completely revolutionize this song by Aerosmith, but I loved it. Although since when is a song from 1993 a classic? Oh God. Does this mean I'm getting old? I remember 1993. I think I bought my first CD in 1993 (it was "The Sign" by Ace of Base in case you were wondering). Anyway - back to the performance. Adam's voice sounded great, but the backup singers were too loud and drowned out his voice. I loved his outfit and his attitude - again, he is an all-around performer. I am impressed with his on-stage confidence but seemingly sincere humility when listening to the judges. Danny could learn a thing or two from him!

Best of the night: Kris
Worst of the night: Danny

Monday, May 11, 2009

First time I heard the music, I knew it was my own

For fun, some top 5 lists:

Top 5 Metallica songs
Andrew got me thinking about this one.

5. To Live Is To Die
4. Turn The Page (cover)
3. Nothing Else Matters
2. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
1. The Unforgiven



Top 5 GNR songs
5. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
4. You're Crazy (1988 Acoustic Version from Lies)
3. November Rain
2. Rocket Queen
1. Paradise City



Top 5 Led Zeppelin songs
5. D'yer Maker
4. Over the Hills and Far Away
3. Stairway To Heaven
2. Thank You
1. All My Love



Top 5 Tesla songs

5. The Way It Is
4. Cry
3. What A Shame
2. Love Song
1. What You Give



Top 5 Skid Row songs

This one was absolutely impossible. I would have loved to include Youth Gone Wild, but I had to put on 18 And Life, because the summer of 2001, I would play this song over and over and over again on my Discman.

5. Quicksand Jesus
4. Monkey Business
3. 18 And Life
2. In A Darkened Room
1. I Remember You



Top 5 Poison songs

5. Talk Dirty To Me
4. Ride The Wind
3. Flesh and Blood (Sacrifice)
2. Lay Your Body Down
1. Life Goes On



Top 5 Aerosmith songs

5. What It Takes
4. The Other Side
3. I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing
2. Crazy
1. Love in an Elevator



Top 5 Motley Crue Songs

5. Nona
4. All In The Name Of...
3. Home Sweet Home
2. Girls Girls Girls
1. Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Top 10 Bruce Springsteen Songs

Getting away from the best (and cheesiest) show of my spring season - I thought I'd return a little bit to what I do best which is making long lists of my favorite songs.

What I love about Springsteen is that his songs tell a story. First and foremost, that has to be my favorite thing about his music. In a world of "oh baby baby" choruses and inane rap songs about money, cars and hoes, Springsteen's music draws you in and doesn't let you go.

My favorite Springsteen album is "The River", his double album from 1980, which I have always thought speaks volumes about my personality. The album juxtaposes very upbeat songs with very sad songs, for a really fleshed-out total experience.

From Wikipedia: Originally, the album was going to be a single set entitled The Ties That Bind and released in late 1979, but Springsteen decided it was "too pop" and added darker material after he'd written "The River". Indeed, The River became noted for its mix of the frivolous next to the solemn. This was intentional, and in contrast to Darkness, for as Springsteen said during an interview, "Rock and roll has always been this joy, this certain happiness that is in its way the most beautiful thing in life. But rock is also about hardness and coldness and being alone ... I finally got to the place where I realized life had paradoxes, a lot of them, and you've got to live with them."

But anyway - this post is not about "The River", it's about my Top 10 Springsteen songs.

1. "The River" (1980)

One of the very rare songs that makes me cry each and every time I hear it. The song is a beautiful and desperately sad story of two young people who fall in love. They are just teenagers when she gets pregnant accidentally and out of a sense of duty, he marries her. But they never feel the same passion again they did on those nights by the river.



2. "The Price You Pay" (1980)

Now they'd come so far and they'd waited so long
Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong
Where the dark of night holds back the light of day
And you've gotta stand and fight for the price you pay


The last line of the entire song is delivered with such force and emotion that on its merit alone I would include this song in my Top 10. Springsteen's voice is incredible here.

This song is about taking responsibility for your actions - as Steven Tyler once sang "Everybody's got their dues in life to pay" - where each day is a fight and you fight because you don't know how not to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipQXEScm0Fw

I can't embed this one unfortunately - this is an alternate take of the song with additional verse and alternate intro.

3. "I'm On Fire" (1984)

This song may be less than 3 minutes, but it manages to convey the utter desperation in the lyric and manages to give me chills. This song brings to mind rainy nights and smoky, empty bars, while a jukebox plays forlornly in the background. It captures the sadness of sitting up all night with a bottle. The backbeat is hurried and rushed, while the guitar is slow and soft. It's an interesting juxtaposition.

My favorite lyric in the song: "It's like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul."



4. "Born To Run" (1975)

The obvious choice but this song is a rock 'n roll classic for a reason. One of Springsteen's most prevalent themes is escaping this godforsaken town and getting out on the open road, and this song captures that perfectly. If you've never heard this song, you need help and I am not going to embed it here. Go turn off Z100 and put on your local classic rock station. Immediately.

5. "Cover Me" (1984)

The live version of this song on the Live 1975-1985 box set is INCREDIBLE. Another reason why I love Springsteen is because he injects such passion into his live performances and rarely disappoints. While the upbeat music behind this song belies the actual frustration of the lyric, the live version gets much closer to matching the lyric to the performance.



6. "Pink Cadillac" (1983)

A fun and upbeat song that is a great sing-along. Any song with the lyric "But my love is bigger than a Honda / It's bigger than a Subaru" deserves to be on a top 10 list any day of the week.



7. "The Fuse" (2002)

A slow-burning sexy song from Springsteen off The Rising album. It calls to mind hot sultry summer days and for some reason, ice melting. Maybe because it's just that hot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYuLm-JzQjA

8. "Atlantic City" (1982)

One of Springsteen's most haunting and sparse songs, this song is also a historical lesson about the struggles in Atlantic City. This was one of the first Springsteen songs that ever caught my attention, back when I was 14 and bought Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits (1995 version) at Circuit City - probably because the song title referenced New Jersey.

This song cuts you at your core. The acoustic nature of the song is in stark contrast to so many of Springsteen's other songs - it stands out and stays with you long after the record is over.



9. "Further On (Up The Road)" (2002)

Maybe it's a bit of an unorthodox choice to pick a recent album track from The Rising, but this song stays in my head.



10. "Fade Away" (1980)

I was going to include "All That Heaven Will Allow" from the Tunnel of Love album but I went with this song instead - mainly because it is more powerful and I've loved it far longer.

"Fade Away" is the story of a man whose love is slowly slipping away from him - their relationship hasn't been the way it used to be for a while and they can only reminisce on the great memories of the past rather than continuing to make new ones. Again - another passionate and aching song that I have always loved.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 4: May 5, 2009


Top 4 - Rock Week - May 5, 2009


Can I just say that this is my ideal American Idol episode? Slash has always been one of my favorite musicians, and Guns N Roses one of my favorite bands. I love the concept of putting them in the club and having them rehearse with a band.

Since I am watching the episode online instead of live on TV, I'll be able to comment before hearing the judges' opinions. I have to admit that sometimes I will be swayed by their comments.

Adam Lambert - "Whole Lotta Love" A+

My first and only A+ of the season goes to Adam with this performance. I am absolutely blown away. He killed it. From the first word to the last note, this is incredible. The band was on fire, the guitar solo was hot, the lights just added to the whole performance. He is an electrifying performer and someone I would easily go to see in concert. I have never ever seen an American Idol performance like this one. Adam is a true rock star - he has the look as evidenced by his sexy hair and leather jacket last night, the charm, and the voice most importantly.

Allison Iraheta - "Cry Baby" A-

Wow, Allison's voice never sounded so good. Her voice sounds bluesy, soulful and full - she isn't straining or trying too hard. Her performance is passionate and inspired. She really owned the stage in a way she never had before. This is the kind of song she should be singing - a perfect song choice. There is no way Allison should go home after this kind of performance. After hearing the judges comments, they do not know what they're talking about - the song choice was incredible.

Kris & Danny duet - "Renegade" C+

What an odd concept to have these duets! I am not sure if I was really feelin this, dawg. Kris sounded good although his voice did crack a bit on one note. However, Danny sounded - AGAIN - like he has to clear his throat. The band sounded amazing though - they deserve credit where credit is due. Simon, how much are they paying you to praise Danny unconditionally? And Danny, could you sound ANY MORE arrogant?

Kris Allen - "Come Together" B+

A very solid performance by Kris, but I have to say I prefer Carly Smithson's version in Season 7. She put a grit and vocal quality into it that Kris didn't quite have, although his version was definitely enjoyable and well-done. I think Simon's comment about it being like "eating ice for lunch" was hilarious but not dead-on. The judges definitely threw Kris under the bus tonight. OH NO.

Danny Gokey - "Dream On" D

This was hideous. I shudder to think what Steven Tyler would say if he heard this performance. Danny's attempt at the scream at the end was painful and he was straining to CLEAR HIS THROAT. Get the man some Ricola! Everything about this performance was painful, from Danny's weird purple shirt-black vest outfit to the trying-too-hard spiked hair to his lack of stage prescence. DANNY IS NOT THE AMERICAN IDOL. Sorry Danny, I used to like you. I really did.

Allison & Adam duet - "Slow Ride" A-
This was an exciting and electrifying duet - Allison and Adam had great chemistry on stage with each other, unlike Kris and Danny who seemed to have some kind of tension. This is what a duet is supposed to be like, as Kara said - when the two people are pushing each other to be even better.

Best of the night: Adam (by a mile)
Worst of the night: Danny (by a mile)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 5: April 28, 2009


Top 5 - Rat Pack - April 28, 2009

Well I thought this theme was going to be a complete disaster and it was actually pretty stellar. (I think I'm going back to 1994 with the use of the word stellar.) Everyone sounded pretty good this week, there were no absolute trainwrecks.

Kris Allen - "The Way You Look Tonight" A

Kris was amazing. He is incredible, charming and affable. He is the real deal. Finally Kara called him the dark horse tonight. Kris hasn't gotten his fair share and has been a bit overshadowed by the preordained Adam-Danny-Lil Final 3 (well now that Lil was voted off there goes that! HA!) This was incredible. I also love this song and hearing it always reminds me of "My Best Friend's Wedding".

Allison Iraheta - "Someone To Watch Over Me" B+

One of Allison's best performances in weeks. Tonight she proved that she can sing a ballad. I was impressed that she sang delicately without losing her edge. She looked very pretty also - no more bizzaro outfits. She gave an emotionally charged performance and definitely connected with the music.

Matt Giraud - "My Funny Valentine" B

Matt truly fit the theme tonight. This performance was solid but a little unexciting to me. The note at the end was both sweet and impressive. I love you Matt, but I honestly don't have that much to say about this song tonight. I think it's because I don't really like this song, no matter who sings it (even Bon Jovi's cover doesn't impress me too much - so that's saying something). I am voting for you though and crossing my fingers!

Danny Gokey - "Come Rain or Come Shine" B+

I had to grudgingly give Danny a B+ because this performance was GOOD. I was impressed and mostly shocked. His vocals were much improved and didn't give me that urge to tell him to clear his throat that I have sometimes. I cracked up when Randy said for the millionth time "You can sing!" I see his "confidence" as complete arrogance, but maybe that's just me. I really liked the arrangement on this song, it added a lot to his vocals.

Adam Lambert - "Feelin' Good" B

Adam looked like a 1920's mobster tonight - he certainly looked the part! To me, this was one of his weakest performances. I do like Adam although Kris and Matt are my favorites. I just didn't feel this was his best. The last note killed it however - that note alone could give Sebastian Bach a run for his money. (That's probably the biggest compliment I could give.) So I had to add points for that alone.

Best of the night: Kris
Worst of the night: Adam (I do really like Adam, I swear!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 6: April 21, 2009


Top 6 - Disco Night - April 21, 2009


Lil Rounds - "I'm Every Woman" C
This was okay, it was better than her hideous performance of "The Rose" last week. But this week, Lil is singing in the dreaded number one spot (which is often forgotten about by voters). While this performance was vocally OK, Lil didn't stretch herself to hit any notes. She just sang it kind of flat, with no vocal runs or anything interesting. Actually the most interesting thing about this performance was her very 70's black bodysuit. This should be Lil's last week on American Idol.

Kris Allen - "She Works Hard For The Money" A
Contestants like Kris are the reason I watch American Idol - they light up the screen, they are consistently imaginative and exciting to watch. Kris is all these things - and more, because he is the sexiest American Idol contestant this side of Michael Johns. Tonight Kris did what I hoped he'd do - make an acoustic and soulful cover of a disco song. Although his pre-performance banter with Ryan didn't quite reflect it, Kris brought emotion and inflection into the lyrics (which are often glossed over due to the beat and tempo of the song). Great job Kris.

Danny Gokey - "September" C+
One of my favorite disco songs - and all Danny could do was remind me of a wedding singer. Paula was definitely on crack when she said Danny has a sexy voice - I always want to tell him to clear his throat. Oh Danny, I liked you so much during the auditions. Now, I see you as a bit arrogant. You are not guaranteed a spot to the finals! You have to earn it. And you have not, despite the judges' obviously fixed comments!

Allison Iraheta - "Hot Stuff" A-
After the show is over, this was the song stuck in my head! One of the best performances from Allison - she recaptured the magic of her "Give In To Me" performance tonight. I was very impressed and I liked the arrangement. She will hopefully be safe tonight - she certainly deserves a spot on Idol far more than Lil. I haven't downloaded any of her songs since "Give In To Me" but this song will definitely be on my Itunes! Allison has a unique husky and sultry voice that stands out from any one else in the competition. She is nothing if not her own person - and at 16 years old, that is a true accomplishment.

Adam Lambert - "If I Can't Have You" A-
Grandiose and smooth are the two words that come to mind after this performance. Adam has more range than any other singer in this competition. He can go from rocker to balladeer, seemingly with ease. Adam should be on Broadway, he should be a recording artist. Adam has even an unlikely fan in my mom, whose tastes tend more towards Keane and ABBA usually. Adam hit all his notes and sounded amazing.

Matt Giraud - "Stayin' Alive" B-
Oh Matt - why? I am your biggest fan but even I can not excuse this performance. It was okay, I mean, it wasn't a trainwreck. But my heart sank after this performance. His falsetto sounded good and the "aliiiiiiiiiiiiive" part was pretty good too. I will be voting for you tonight, Matt, but I am not sure I can save you. The performance does get better with repeat listening on my Itunes but I'm not going to listen over and over like I have with "Let's Get It On", "So Small" and "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman". Matt can really sing but I was very disappointed with his song choice.

Anoop Desai - "Dim All The Lights" B
A solid, if unexciting performance from Anoop. It started off a little rough with the first note. The new look is working for him - he looked sharp tonight! I hope he will stick around another week, but I do not hold out any hope that he will win this competition. I honestly do not have much to say about this performance. Hopefully being in the "pimp spot" (singing last) will help him out!! The song lyric "turn up the old victrola" cracked me up - when was the last time a victrola was used, 1924?

Best of the night: Kris
Worst of the night: Lil