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

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two words: Matt Giraud

Simon Cowell thinks the Top 3 on American Idol this season will be Adam-Danny-Lil. With the exception of Adam, if this turns out to be the Top 3 - AMERICA GOT IT WRONG. I liked Danny in the auditions, but his flat singing and somewhat arrogant personality has gotten to me. Lil has NEVER proven herself to be a good singer, and her rendition this week of "The Rose" was hideous.

Kris Allen - who I love - should sail straight to the finale on his beautiful voice, aw-shucks good looks, and nice personality. Kris even plays the guitar! Allison Iraheta is polarizing - some weeks I love her, other weeks I am iffy. Anoop Desai has long been a favorite of mine, but sadly there is no way he will win the competition.

And then there is Matt Giraud.

My unlikely favorite, my dark horse - Matt is the one who has truly EARNED my admiration and affection over the past few weeks. Both his studio and live renditions are the most frequently played on my Itunes.

Yes, Matt faltered with "Viva La Vida" and "You Found Me". Then he shined with "Let's Get It On", "Who's Loving You" (this was very early in the competition), "So Small", "Part Time Lover" and even the song that garnered him the lowest number of votes last night - "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman".

When Matt was the lowest vote getter last night, my heart skipped a beat. (I voted for him approximately 30 times but that was not enough to save him.) I am not afraid to admit that I cried in that moment. And when the judges saved him, I still cried. This is why American Idol is one of my favorite shows - for these moments of true drama and emotion. And because of contestants like Matt Giraud.

Matt's live version of "Part Time Lover"

Live performance of "Let's Get It On"

Plus it would have been a TRAVESTY if Matt had gone home and Lil had stayed! Kind of like last season when Michael Johns was eliminated and Kristy Lee Cook was still inexplicably on the show. Yes, I am still bitter.

Matt - I will be voting for you every week. I'm a believer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 7: April 14, 2009

Top 7 - Songs From The Movies - April 14, 2009

Allison Iraheta - "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" C+
As Randy would say, "Yo Dawg, it was just alright for me. You did your thing." Each week, I feel differently about Allison - at first I couldn't stand her, then her amazing performance of "Give In To Me" during Michael Jackson week sold me on her vocal ability. But I just can't decide whether I like her or not. This performance was okay but not great.

Anoop Desai - "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" B+
Nice job Anoop!! Interestingly, the first two songs of the night are my two songs with my boyfriend. Anoop did a much better job than Allison; he kept the melody pretty and simple. I do worry that voters may forget his sweet but understated performance. More American Idol contestants could learn from Anoop's performance tonight.

Adam Lambert - "Born To Be Wild" B+
Each week, whether you love him or hate him, Adam is certainly entertaining. I think he is the most talked about Idol contestant this season and he is the one that will almost certainly go on to great things. I didn't like this performance vocally as much as ones in the past. The backup singers sounded hideous. However, Adam is a true rock star with great stage presence. Stage presence can often be that "it" factor and is something many (if not most) Idol contestants lack. I would definitely go see Adam in concert - he is electrifying and exciting. I'll forgive him this week for a performance I didn't like as much.

Matt Giraud - "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" A-
The second Bryan Adams song of the night! I have a feeling Matt would have won me over tonight even if he didn't sing Bryan Adams (one of my favorites). Matt will be the one I am voting for tonight. Matt's performance was so pretty and soulful. Kris and Adam may be the heartthrobs of the group, but Matt is my dark horse and one of my favorites. VOTE FOR MATT!

Danny Gokey - "Endless Love" D-
SERIOUSLY SIMON??? Are you crazy? How can you compliment Danny each week even when he doesn't deserve it?? Is he paying you off? Are you studiously avoiding anything that disrupts the Danny-Adam-Lil final 3 you so desperately want? COME ON SIMON!

This was a flat, boring performance. I have heard better singers in karaoke bars, weddings, and cruise ships. DO YOU HEAR THAT SIMON? My boyfriend is a better singer than this! The harp was interesting however, that prevents this performance from getting an F.

Kris Allen - "Falling Slowly" A-
This performance gave me chills. Well done, Kris. You took an obscure song and made it your own. Kris was sexy and soft and gorgeous as usual. It astounds me each week when the judges fail to praise Kris for anything he does. He is a far more nuanced and interesting singer than Lil or Danny could ever hope to be.

Lil Rounds - "The Rose" D
Way to fight with Simon after your performance, Lil. Simon had it right this time - she has been billed as this "incredible talent" but where is this talent?? "I Surrender" and "What's Love Got To Do With It" were unexciting. Allison is truly the girl to beat in this competition. I am interested to see if the competition will come down to 3 guys - I have a feeling it will. If it were up to me, it would be Adam-Matt-Kris. But I know it won't.

Best of the Night: Kris
Worst of the Night: Danny

Friday, April 10, 2009

Top 25 Songs of My College Years

These are the songs that I will forever associated with the years 2004-2008 and my college experience as a whole. Some are funny, some are sad.

1. The Shins - "Caring Is Creepy" (2004)This song summed up the end of freshman year - haunting and ethereal. Many people will know this song from the Garden State soundtrack.

2. O-Zone - "Dragostea Din Tei" (2003) - also known as "Numa Numa song"
Played at pretty much every frat party, also great times dancing with Christine while driving my boat.

3. Death Cab For Cutie - "Champagne From A Paper Cup" (1998)
Describes the end of a party winding down - extremely beautiful song that has the 3rd most amount of plays on my Itunes. Definitely describes many many nights at college.

4. Tom Petty - "American Girl"
Every time I hear this song I will instantly be reminded of someone I would rather not remember!

5. Jay-Z - "99 Problems" (2004)
I rapped this song a million times in my room while getting ready to go out.

6. The Killers - "Somebody Told Me" (2004)
One of my favorite songs to dance to freshman year and a huge hit at the time.

7. Will Smith - "Will 2 K" (1999)
A favorite New Year's Eve party song for the 2005/2006 evening!

8. Dashboard Confessional - "Screaming Infidelities" (1999)
Again - the reasoning behind including this one isn't pretty but it certainly was one I listened to constantly on my Discman freshman year. Yes, Discman.

9. Bright Eyes - "Lua" (2004)
I listened to this song all the time junior year. Features one of the most beautiful and amazing lyrics ever: "And I know you have a heavy heart, I can feel it when we kiss/So many men stronger than me have thrown their backs out trying to lift it"

10. Brand News - "Degausser", "You Won't Know", and "Jesus Christ" (2006)
From my lost semester. These three songs will always remind me of bitter cold evenings and too many cigarettes.

11. Bright Eyes - "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends"
A beautiful and sparse acoustic song I listened to freshman year over and over.

12. Brand New - "Soco Amaretto Lime" (2001)First kiss with Andrew <3 span="" style="font-weight: bold;">

13. Garth Brooks - "Friends In Low Places"
My favorite song to sing karaoke too - also one that I managed to have played at 95% of Tri Delta parties.

14. Taking Back Sunday - "The Ballad Of Sal Villanueva" (2002)
One of the rare songs that went just as well with cigarettes as it did with working out. This song applied to my life at the time.

15. Counting Crows - "Always On My Mind (Live)"
I listened to this extremely depressing and emotional version of the song far too many times in the winter of 2004. Suprisingly this Youtube video is the exact same performance of the song I listened to on MP3.

16. Scissor Sisters - "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" (2006)Played this all the time in London, also a Jazzercize favorite.

17. T-Pain - "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" (2007)
I am T-Pain, enough said. I think I sang this song more in one year than any other song I have ever sang in my life.

18. White Lion - "Farewell To You"
Sadly, this was my song with a certain someone for far too long!

19. Jimmy Eat World - "Work" (2004)
The most played song on my Itunes, there is no way I could leave this one out. Or the excellent demo version of this song, which may be superior to the original.

20. Bright Eyes - "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" (2004)
Listened to this one all the time freshman and sophomore year and actually wrote a piece of writing to accompany it. This song 100% captures where I was at the time.

21. Rufus Wainwright - "Hallelujah" (2001)
Listened to this song fairly consistently throughout all four years.

22. Brand New - "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" (2003)
If any one song defines my college experience, it is this one. And for all the wrong reasons.

23. Bon Jovi - "Livin' On A Prayer" (1986)
My sorority's song and basically everyone's favorite party anthem.

24. Trick Daddy f. Twista & Lil' Jon - "Let's Go" (2004)
A favorite freshman year party song.

25. Straylight Run - "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making" (2004)
Song that summed up the end of sophomore year.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 8: April 7, 2009

Top 8 - April 7, 2009 - Songs From The Year You Were Born

Finally! The long awaited songs from the year you were born theme! I know I was awaiting it...maybe I was the only one.

Danny Gokey - "Stand By Me" (1980) B
This performance was a good, solid way to start off the show. I am not sure why Danny Gokey seems to have a free pass to the finale - I think he is being set up for the shock elimination of the season. He consistently has solid performances but they don't stun me. I like Danny and I liked the arrangement of this song. Nice job.

Kris Allen - "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" (1985) B+
Maybe this was not as good as it could have been, but it didn't deserve to be so panned by the judges. Kris picked a fun song and did a nice job with it. Maybe it is playing in the fan pit that is the kiss of death, as Matt learned last week with "You Found Me". Kris, get out of the pit and back on the stage because you - yes, YOU - deserve a spot in the finale. Now if only the producers would stop showing your wife on screen so much.

Lil Rounds - "What's Love Got To Do With It" (1984) C+
This was by far Lil Rounds' best performance so far, but as my mom keenly observed, maybe it was only because she did a very good imitation of Tina Turner - right down to the way she walks around on stage and some head tilts. Why is Lil so overhyped? Yes, Lil, I too used to imitate Tina Turner - when I was 6, I used to dance around the living room to the Private Dancer record (yes, a vinyl record). But I am not on American Idol trying to prove myself as an artist.

Anoop Desai - "True Colors" (1986) B+
Nice job Anoop! I love how the judges are so hypocritical with their praise. One minute they are telling you to be young and contemporary, try something fast paced. Then you try it and they say you are trying to impress your frat brothers by singing Usher. Anyway - Anoop muddled through their confusing praise/criticism to come out with a sweet and pretty vocal performance. I am a bit concerned that Anoop only seems to shine when singing ballads - prove me wrong Anoop Dawg, because you are still my second favorite in this competition!

Scott MacIntyre - "The Search Is Over" (1985) CYes, it was interesting to see Scott perform without the piano. And I think he did a fairly good job. His guitar playing was a bit questionable however. I think I saw him play approximately three chords. Scott is a nice guy and has a likeable personality. I think that has gotten him far in this competition, but it won't take him into the top 3. His voice is simply okay.

Allison Iraheta - "Can't Make You Love Me" (1992) B
I honestly don't have too much to say about this performance. Allison does have a voice beyond her years and I do admire her ability to inject emotion into a song. However, this was a bit forgettable to me, as Simon might say. I thought her performance of "Don't Speak" last week was better. At least her choice of wardrobe has improved (although not by much) for this performance.

Matt Giraud - "Part Time Lover" (1984) AIt confuses me how there are two Matts: the one who sings "Viva La Vida" and "You Found Me" and the Matt who sings "Part Time Lover" and "Let's Get It On". Please, Matt, for my sake, keep being the latter. When he is on, Matt is incredible. He is sexy and fun and this performance reminded me very much of Justin Timberlake. Matt has just secured the spot as my third favorite in this competition behind Kris and Anoop (respectively). The best of the night!!!!

Adam Lambert - "Mad Mad World" (1982) B
Am I the only one in the world who was not absolutely thrilled by this performance? Maybe it is one of those things that has to grow on me, like fungus or drinking black coffee. I thought it was gutsy of Adam to sing perhaps the most heartbreaking line ever sung on American Idol: "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had." I much preferred Adam's other performances to this one.

Best of the night: Matt
Worst of the night: Scott

Monday, April 6, 2009

The antithesis of rock 'n roll

The word antithesis is defined by Webster's dictionary as: "the second of two opposing constituents of an antithesis , the direct opposite 'her temperament is the very antithesis of mine'".

The antithesis of rock 'n roll music has got to be "You Found Me" by The Fray. Very close seconds to this horrid song include anything by the Dave Matthews Band and "Your Body Is A Wonderland" by John Mayer. Actually, make that anything by John Mayer. The most ironic antithesis to rock 'n roll is the song woefully titled "Rock 'N Roll" by Eric Hutchinson. VH1 - PLEASE stop playing that awkward video. I've seen better singer-songwriters in subway stations.

But, back to "You Found Me". Now, I actually like The Fray. I met them briefly when they opened for Ben Folds in October 2005. They were nice and signed my concert ticket. The song "Fall Away" is absolutely beautiful and "Over My Head (Cable Car)" was quite the catchy hit. But really guys? "You Found Me"???

Here are some sample lyrics from this hideous song:

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

But in the end everyone ends up alone
Losing her, the only one who's ever known
Who I am, who I'm not and who I wanna to be
No way to know how long she will be next to me"

When did rock 'n roll become so whiny? Can anyone picture Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, or hell, even Bono complaining that they were "lost and insecure"? Even Kurt Cobain might have actually been lost and insecure but he sure didn't come across that way. Aren't rock stars supposed to be confident and sexy? Yes, it's okay to be a little vulnerable on your signature (power) ballad - see "Angie", "Crazy", "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" for examples - but "You Found Me" is no signature ballad, power or otherwise.

Whatever happened to sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll? I would prefer the much-mocked Lord of the Rings and/or biblical references of heavy metal to this garbage.

Also, isn't rock 'n roll supposed to be an escape? Do I really want to hear that "everyone ends up alone"? I'll turn on "Everybody Hurts" if I want to wallow in it. I do understand that rock music has served as an outlet for protests, social change, and history in the making over the past 50 years - but this song is none of that. Listen to Bob Dylan's catalog for that.

Now as I read these lyrics, it becomes apparent to me that this song has a religious meaning as well. For some reason, I never picked up on this when it played on the radio. Maybe that was because I changed the station so fast the full meaning of the lyrics never sunk in (haha).

Much to my dismay, this song has peaked at #7 so far on the Hot 100 and sold one million downloads (RIAA certified). And I'll leave this entry with a quote from the TV show that made The Fray's music so popular: Seriously?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

American Idol Season 8 - Top 9: March 31, 2009

I've decided to start a new thing, which is my thoughts on American Idol each week.

March 31, 2009 - Top iTunes Downloads

This theme turned out to be a particularly dubious one. Maybe if it had been limited to Itunes downloads that were currently on the charts, it could have been a better theme. But trying to find the connection between the wide variety of songs that were chosen last night was like looking for the sense in Paula's comments.

Anoop Desai - "Caught Up" B-
I love Anoop. Let me just get that out of the way. I do. But this performance was just trying too hard. I don't think Anoop compares to Usher in terms of the type of singer or artist they are. And Anoop came off just a little arrogant after the judge's comments when he was speaking to Ryan. This could hurt him in the voting...although I voted for him about 35 times last night.

Megan Joy - "Turn Your Lights Down Low" C+
This was just okay, and I mainly say that because I actually like Megan. She is a beautiful girl and her quirky voice is endearing to me. "For Once In My Life", last week's performance, was not so good, but this was an improvement. I have to say it was kind of boring though.

Danny Gokey - "What Hurts The Most" B
Although I still don't think Danny has the best voice, this performance brought tears to my eyes because of the raw emotion of it. Danny did a great job with this song last night.

Allison Iraheta - "Don't Speak" C+
Although I do credit her for her amazing performance of "Give In To Me" during Michael Jackson week, I do NOT consider her the dark horse and I think she is way overrated. Why will Allison not win American Idol? Because of her very unscripted and often annoying personality. Her flippant remark "I'm not dark, I'm not, like, cutting myself or anything" was offensive and cringe-worthy. That said, her performance of "Don't Speak" was good but not great. I think the judges could have commented a bit more on her singing and not her atrocious (Simon catchphrase) outfit and hairstyle.

Scott MacIntyre - "Just The Way You Are" B-
This was undoubtedly Scott's best performance. Unfortunately, that's not saying much. Although Scott is clearly a sweet guy and has a great sense of humor, I don't think his voice is strong enough to stay in the competition for much longer. I did like how he chose to perform with just the piano and not the backing band, that was a great touch.

Matt Giurad - "You Found Me" C+
Oh Matt, I voted for you a ton of times last week after your incredible and sexy performance of "Let's Get It On". That performance was confident and soulful. I can not stand the song "You Found Me" by the Fray. Wait for a blog entry later on how that song is the absolute antithesis of rock 'n roll and rock stars in general. I do think Matt sounded much better than the original song but I wasn't inspired to vote for him like I was last week.

Lil Rounds - I Surrender D
I do not understand how Lil Rounds is so hyped. One word: overrated. This performance was awkward and shrill. If I heard this on the radio, I would definitely change the station. Lil Rounds is the stereotypical diva and Syesha Mercado did this better last season (although Syesha inexplicably made it to the Top 3 - I am not sure how that happened).

Adam Lambert - Play That Funky Music A-
Could Adam be the David Cook of this season? I was pretty confused when I heard Adam would be singing this song, however it ended up pretty cool! He took an old song (that is VERY dated) and made it sound current and cool. Now that is commendable. I loved his voice on this song. He really does mix it up every week, you have to admit, whether you love him or hate him.

And this time the producers saved the best for last.

Kris Allen - Ain't No Sunshine A
Undoubtedly the best performance of the night. After this, it is apparent that Kris is my American Idol no matter what happened. He has had great performances all in a row - "To Make You Feel My Love", "Remember The Time" and now this. Kris has a beautiful, amazing voice and clearly a ton of fans! I loved hearing him play the piano and sing at the same time. He took this song and made it his own. Amazing job!

Who should go home tonight? Lil Rounds. But she obviously won't! UGH. Not after that oh-so-staged business with her kids.


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

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