Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010: Year In Review

Top 10 Songs of 2010

10. Mike Posner - "Cooler Than Me"

One of my most-played songs of 2010. The best song Justin Timberlake never recorded. While no one can really replace JT, while he's off acting and actively not recording a follow up to "Future Sex/Love Sounds", I'll take Mike Posner and this killer song.



9. Lifehouse - "All In"


This is exactly the kind of song I would have listened to over and over again in 2002. And trust me, that is a compliment. A gorgeously shot video in the vein of older Incubus and Our Lady Peace videos from the early 2000's. Lifehouse is one of those bands you really don't think of that often, but they continue to release amazing songs that become hits while staying fully under the radar ("You And Me", "Broken", "Spin", and the #1 song of 2001 as named by Billboard's year end chart, "Hanging By A Moment"). I'd say they don't make 'em like this anymore, but this is clear evidence that they do.


8. Kanye West - "All Of The Lights"

Pure rap genius. Featuring Rihanna, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Common, Fergie, The Dream, Tony Williams, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, and Elly Jackson. Who ever heard of one song featuring that many people? NO ONE. And that's why it's genius. The Rihanna hook is genius and the Elton John outro is genius. There is just no other word. I could do without the Fergie cameo though. Just saying.

7. Methods of Mayhem - "Time Bomb"


It is clear that Methods of Mayhem have come a long way since they featured Fred Durst and Lil Kim in one of the worst songs I have ever heard. I probably never would have heard this song - their first single since 1999 - if I hadn't seen their performance on Jay Leno. One of the best lyrics of the year in the first verse - "Over again it plays / I'm not scared to face the wreckage of my younger ways". Tommy Lee finally grows up (sort of) at 48 and the result is amazing.



6. Adam Lambert - "If I Had You"

This song, and especially the video, is a fierce glitter apocalypse. Also included on the Top 10 because it contains an obviously essential line to any party: "got my boots on, got the right amount of leather, and I'm doing me up in a black kohl liner." I wouldn't dream of partying in a debauchery soaked forest any other way. Probably the most fun glam song of the year from one of the most underrated and amazing albums I have heard in a long time ("For Your Entertainment", 2009).



5
. JTX - "(I'm Gonna) Party Like A Rock Star"

While the edited version is nowhere near as fun as the unedited, both versions of this song are pretty awesome. This song gained popularity on Sirius HITS 1 but not on the Billboard Hot 100 sadly. The kind of party anthem that could have been written in 1989, 1999, or 2009. And that is one of the greatest compliments I can give. And it features probably the best lyric of 2010, "I guarantee you Steven Tyler wouldn't put up with crap like this." The unedited version is below.



4. Sean Kingston & Justin Bieber - "Eenie Meenie"


Every year I have to include some kind of slightly embarassing song for my best of the year list. (Don't forget in 2008 I included "Fashion" by Heidi Montag on my top 10 songs of the year. Don't forget.) Much to my disappointment, this duet didn't become the hit I had hoped, although it did reach #15 on the Hot 100. The lyrics are completely nonsensical and I don't care. I too dismissed this song at first, but give it a chance. It will grow on you - like a fungus.



3. Deadmau5 f. Rob Swire - "Ghosts N Stuff"


If one song can inspire me to an entire blog post and basically define the soundtrack of my favorite book of all time, it more than deserves to be here. See my thoughts here.



2. The Pretty Reckless - "Make Me Wanna Die"

I played this song on repeat quite frequently towards the end of 2010. The song and the video are intoxicating. A real rock song.



1. Enrique Iglesias f. Pitbull - "I Like It"

It is only once in a very long while that a definitive summer anthem like this song comes along. This is the kind of song that I will be able to listen to in 10 years and be instantly taken back to driving down 95 in my brand new car with the windows down. This is the kind of song you fist pump to in dingy college bars and love every second of it. Far and away the best song of the year.



Honorable mentions:

Pop:
~ Timbaland f. Katy Perry - "If We Ever Meet Again"
~ Taylor Swift - "Back To December"
~ Miley Cyrus - "Can't Be Tamed"
~ Nick Carter & Jennifer Paige - "Beautiful Lie"
~ Greyson Chance - "Waiting Outside The Lines"

Rap/R&B:
~ Pitbull f. T-Pain - "Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)"
~ Nelly - "Just A Dream"
~ Jason Derulo - "What If"
~ Diddy Dirty Money - "Coming Home"

Rock:
~ Florence and the Machine - "Dog Days are Over"

Country:
~ Sugarland -"Stuck Like Glue"
~ Clay Walker - "She Won't Be Lonely Long"

Undescribable:
~ Antoine Dodson - "Bed Intruder"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Less Than Zero: The Soundtrack

"Less Than Zero" by Bret Easton Ellis is my favorite book of all time for a variety of reasons.

The debauchery, the hedonism draped in a fog of drugs and fast cars, cocaine on the sleeve of an $800 suit.

Nights at Spago, Valium, Quaaludes, Betamax, Christmas in Palm Springs. Crimson and clover, over and over.

"'Just charge it,' Trent says wearily."

The realization that we could Disappear Here and no one would know the difference.

"The flash blinds me for a second and I take a swallow from the champagne bottle."

The fact that Bret Easton Ellis wrote this masterpiece at 21 years old and it would become my favorite book at 18. The fact that the disenfranchisement of the mid-to-late 1980's never went away, it just disguised itself behind cell phones and the fact that the way we can not disappear from being contacted makes us even more alone.

When it was made into a movie in 1987 starring my favorite actor of the 1980's, Andrew McCarthy, as Clay, the soundtrack was as follows:


  1. Aerosmith - "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu"
  2. Roy Orbison - "Life Fades Away"
  3. Poison - "Rock N Roll All Nite"
  4. LL Cool Jay - "Going Back To Cali"
  5. Glenn Danzig - You and Me (Less than Zero)"
  6. Slayer - "In-A-Gadda-De-Vida"
  7. Public Enemy - "Bring The Noise"
  8. Black Flames - "Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)"
  9. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - "She's Lost You"
  10. Alyson Williams & Oran Juice Jones - "How to Love Again"
  11. The Bangles - "Hazy Shade of Winter"
But really - these songs were selected to ostensibly sell records and "Going Back To Cali" or any such mid-80's rap song would never have been on the record players of the disenfranchised teenagers in the book. This was, of course, before it was cool for teenagers wearing Ralph Lauren polo sweaters draped around their shoulders to embrace rap music.

So here it is, based on thematic elements, character development, and just the all around atmosphere of the book: my idea of the real soundtrack to the book "Less Than Zero".


1. Kings of Leon - "Closer" (2008)





2. Third Eye Blind - "Slow Motion" (1999)


3. Deadmau5 f. Rob Swire - "Ghosts N Stuff" (2009)



4. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - "Crimson & Clover" (1982)


5. Matchbox 20 - "Back 2 Good" (1996)




6. The Verve - "The Drugs Don't Work" (1997)




7. Brand New - "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" (2003)




8. The Verve Pipe - "The Freshmen"(1997)




9. The Cowboy Junkies - "Sweet Jane" (1988)



10. Foo Fighters - "Everlong" (1997)




11. The Moody Blues - "Nights In White Satin" (1967)




12. The Pretty Reckless - "Make Me Wanna Die" (2010)



"Clay, did you ever love me?" I'm studying a billboard and say that I didn't hear what she said. "I asked if you ever loved me?" On the terrace the sun bursts into my eyes and for one blinding moment I see myself clearly. I remember the first time we made love, in the house in Palm Springs, her body tan and wet, lying against cool, white sheets. "Don't do this, Blair," I tell her. "Just tell me." I don't say anything. "Is it such a hard question to answer?" I look at her straight on. "Yes or no?" "Why?" "Damnit, Clay," she sighs. "Yeah, sure, I guess." "Don't lie to me." "What in the fuck do you want to hear?" "Just tell me," she says, her voice rising. "No," I almost shout. "I never did." I almost start to laugh. She draws in a breath and says, "Thank you. That's all I wanted to know." She sips her wine. "Did you ever love me?" I ask her back, though by now I can't even care. She pauses. "I thought about it and yeah, I did once. I mean I really did. Everything was all right for a while. You were kind." She looks down and then goes on. "But it was like you weren't there. Oh shit, this isn't going to make any sense." She stops. I look at her, waiting for her to go on, looking up at the billboard. Disappear Here. "I don't know if any other person I've been with has been really there, either ... but at least they tried." I finger the menu; put the cigarette out. "You never did. Other people made an effort and you just ... It was just beyond you." She takes another sip of her wine. "You were never there. I felt sorry for you for a little while, but then I found it hard to. You're a beautiful boy, Clay, but that's about it." I watch the cars pass by on Sunset. "It's hard to feel sorry for someone who doesn't care." "Yeah?" I ask. "What do you care about? What makes you happy?" "Nothing. Nothing makes me happy. I like nothing," I tell her. "Did you ever care about me, Clay?" I don't say anything, look back at the menu. "Did you ever care about me?" she asks again. "I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care." "I cared about you for a little while." I don't say anything. She takes off her sunglasses and finally says, "I'll see you later, Clay." She gets up. "Where are you going?" I suddenly don't want to leave Blair here. I almost want to take her back with me. "Have to meet someone for lunch." "But what about us?" "What about us?" She stands there for a moment, waiting. I keep staring at the billboard until it begins to blur and when my vision becomes clearer I watch as Blair's car glides out of the parking lot and becomes lost in the haze of traffic on Sunset. The waiter comes over and asks, "Is everything okay, sir?" I look up and put my sunglasses on and try to smile. "Yeah."
~ Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top 10 Christmas Songs

10. Elton John - "Step Into Christmas" (1973)

One of the most unashamedly upbeat Christmas songs I have ever heard, and I love it.



9. Elmo & Patsy - "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (1979)

This song NEVER gets old. I couldn't find the original version on YouTube - copyright claims and all - but here is a "remix" version.



8. John Lennon & Yoko Ono - "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (1971)

Originally an anti-Vietnam protest song, this song has become a standard (and incredible) Christmas song. Little known fact: the chorus is the Harlem Boys Choir.



7. Lou Monte - "Dominic The Donkey" (1960)


My favorite Christmas song as a child...what can I say, I was an odd child.



6. U2 - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" (1987)

Gorgeously sad and the black & white music video only adds to the atmospheric quality of this all too short song. Honorable mention goes to the aching and slow version by Death Cab For Cutie.



5. Wham - "Last Christmas" (1984)

Absolutely NO song of Christmas lists of the past 100 years would be complete without the necessary inclusion of "Last Christmas". Bonus points for George Michael's sexy hair in the video.



4. Jon Bon Jovi - "Please Come Home For Christmas" (1994)

While the band's song "I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas" is amazing, I had to go with the solo song by JBJ, maybe because of the sexy video with Cindy Crawford that accompanies it.



3. Celine Dion - "The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)" (1998)

I could listen to this song all year round and that is the highest compliment I can give a Christmas song. Celine's entire Christmas album is incredible and the best Christmas album of all time.



2. Britney Spears - "My Only Wish (This Year)"
(2000)

Listening to this song brings me back to a very specific time in my life, of being 13 years old and assembling and decorating the Christmas tree singlehandedly while listening to this song on the CD "Platinum Christmas" on my "gray box "1998 Toshiba laptop.



1. Mariah Carey - "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (1994)

Hands down, the best Christmas song of the modern era. There is a reason why this song sounds good all year long. Also it is more than refreshing to see a home-video esque music video with Mariah running around in the snow with a hat, braided pigtails, and gloves on, instead of 6 inch stillettos.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Most Underrated Hair Bands of All Time

Leather, spandex, acid washed jeans, and the scent of Aqua Net will always bring us back to our favorite decade, the hedonistic 1980's. And to the average person, this will evoke the canon of hair bands: Poison, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Bon Jovi.

But if you're me, or any person who sewed patches on your jean jacket, copied your favorite songs off the radio on to a mix tape, or owned your favorite album on vinyl, you will remember that there were dozens of hair bands. Yes, some of them were bad and came towards the end of the decade and into the late 90's, churned out by record labels to make a quick buck. However, the most underrated hair bands of all time maybe weren't as commercially successful or didn't quite fit into the hair band mold but got thrown in there anyway.

So here's my list of the most underrated Hair Bands and why, as well as my favorite song by them.

Cinderella


Like many bands that I loved, Cinderella started out more hair band (just look at Eric Brittingham for proof) and evolved into a more blues-rock style that's closer to Aerosmith than Poison. Another awesome New Jersey band with a lead singer with a voice unlike any I've ever heard (Tom Kiefer.) This band is one of the few that continues to rock hard into the new millennium and is still one of the best live bands I've ever seen.

They're probably best known for their upbeat songs like "Shake Me" and "Gypsy Road" and their ultimate power ballad "Don't Know What You've Got (Til It's Gone)" but I'd have to argue their best songs are "Shelter Me", "Coming Home", and "Heartbreak Station."

I had to go with "Heartbreak Station" because someone named thesawgrassraven commented on their YouTube video and made this devastatingly heartbreaking comment "I keep hoping I'll wake up and it'll be 1987 again." Trust me, man, me too.



Tesla


Tesla didn't have the pretty-boy looks of most hair bands even though they opened for seminal bands of the genre like Motley Crue and Poison. But my god, did they have the musical talent that many (admittedly) lacked. Their cover of Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" brought something new to a song about the prejudice none of us can escape. (And threw in a few lines about having long hair and rebelling against authority.) Their ultimate power ballad "Love Song" is both epic and awesome. Songs like "The Way It Is" and "What You Give" were unmatched by their peers. And best of all, Tesla continues to make new music which is both relevant and amazing.



Lita Ford


I am pretty sure I still wish I could be Lita Ford. While not technically a "band", although she did have one, Lita is too amazing not to include. She's best known for "Kiss Me Deadly" which not only kicks ass but features the line, "I didn't get laid, I got in a fight" which is too awesome for words. Lita was one of the few ladies who could stand her own in a haze of hair bands. Her duet with Ozzy Osbourne "Close My Eyes Forever" is also one of the canonical power ballads of the era, but her best song is without a doubt "Playin' With Fire".



Slaughter


Between "Up All Night" being my teenage anthem, "The Wild Life" being my college anthem, and Blas Elias's hair, how could I not include Slaughter on this list? They were from Las Vegas, Sin City - which is sort of the brother city of the decade of decadence, Los Angeles.

Slaughter could be tender with their power ballad "Fly To The Angels", and, man could they rock. And come on, Mark Slaughter is so much cuter than that guy with the red hair from Firehouse.



Yeah they could be cheesy, they could put an emphasis on hair over musical talent, but is that really so wrong?

Honorable mentions go to these amazing but forgotten songs:
~ Killer Dwarfs - "Doesn't Matter"
~ London Quireboys - "7 O'Clock"
~ Steelheart ~ "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)"
~ Nelson - "(Can't Live Without Your) Love & Affection"
~ Danger Danger ~ "Bang Bang"



This is the kind of music video that makes me believe in music again...especially because it's from my favorite year in all of music history 1989!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Thoughts


Everyone says that the best era of KISS was sometime in the mid 1970's, when they released songs like "Rock N Roll All Nite", "Shout It Out Loud", "Detroit Rock City", etc. I would argue that the best - and the most underrated - albums and songs by KISS are from the hair-metal era.

OK, so maybe there isn't ONE cohesive album that inspires musicians like Slash and Tommy Lee to pick up their respective instruments like "Destroyer" or "Love Gun".

But COME ON, "Thrills In The Night", "UH All Night", "Heaven's On Fire", "Let's Put The X In Sex", "I Just Wanna" - these are much better songs than "Shout It Out Loud"!

And then there's my personal favorite hair metal era-KISS song "God Gave Rock N Roll To You II". The lyrics of that song should be burned into the consciousness of anyone who ever threw on a leather jacket and believed.

And as a side note, who can forget the poiwer ballad (co-written by Michael Bolton to the dismay of many KISS purists) "Forever" with that awesome orange-tinted video? Awesome.

Things I wanted to hate but just can't:

~ Slash & Fergie's song - "Beautiful Dangerous". The combination of Black Eyed Peas lead singer Fergie with the greatest guitar player of our time sounds like it's destined to fail. Yet, somehow, this works and it works well. The video is what would have been if old Guns N Roses videos about partying at the Rainbow and the Whisky were combined with Motley Crue's "Girls Girls Girls" video.



~ The Pretty Reckless. Yes the lead singer is 17 year old Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen, who more often than not resembles a sort of Gothic Barbie. Their first single "Makes Me Wanna Die" is incredible, so are both versions of the video (official and viral). By selling her sexuality with her music, Momsen isn't doing anything different than any other rock 'n roll singer throughout history. This reminded me a little bit of Courtney Love and Hole, and in a good way.



~ The song "King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles. I could not hate her absymally awful ear-killing song "Love Song" any more than I do, but for some reason, this song gets in your head and is just undeniably appealing. God help us. It also sounds like it should be in an Apple commericial, and maybe it already is.



* This. JUST BECAUSE.



Things I want to hate (and actually do):

~ The Dr. Luke overproduced and extremely auto-tuned two hit singles by Katy Perry - "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream". The entire song "Teenage Dream" sounds like Katy is straining to try to bring her voice up an octave and failing. I won't deny that I have both "Hot N Cold" and "I Kissed A Girl" on my iTunes but COME ON Katy, this is absymal. And your next single isn't any better.

~ The fact that "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz set a record for most consecutive weeks by ANY SONG IN HISTORY on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Enough said. This is hideous.

~ The fact that last week's #1 song in the country "Like A G6" by Far East Movement has an entire verse featuring these lyrics:
"Hell Yeaa
Drink it up, drink-drink it up,
When sober girls around me, they be actin like they drunk
They be actin like they drunk, actin-actin like they drunk
When sober girls around me actin-actin like they drunk"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

17

17 is an age for many things - the first kiss for late bloomers, the thrill of getting a driver's license and the almost certain subsequent first accidents, applying for college and the fear of rejection.

It's also one of those perennial ages, where everything is life and death and life itself throbs with the unfulfilled desire of being caught between freedom and captivity. There is nothing more emotional than being a teenager, of being stuck between what your parents want of you, what your friends expect of you, and what you yearn of you.

And listening to a mix CD labeled "Meghan's Birthday Mix - May 9th, 2003" brings me back into the thick of it.

I was in the heady, passionate thrall of my love of late-night heavy metal radio shows, leather and electric guitars, concert t-shirts from the 80s bought off Ebay for exorbitant sums, and wearing glittery royal blue eyeshadow.

To put it in its proper pop-culture perspective, 2003 was the year Ruben and Clay battled it out on American Idol, when Britney Spears released her last album that could be considered teen friendly ("In The Zone"), when people were just starting to really buy DVDs and burn CDs, the TV shows of the summer was The OC, and the one hit wonder of the summer was "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne.

And it was the year that split my junior and senior years of high school.


******

1. The Strokes - "Last Nite"

Most likely included because it was a hit (particularly in Europe) the summer beforehand and it was really this song and this band that led the "The bands" craze. (IE: The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes). The Strokes were the most interesting and tolerable of all these bands, while The Hives reminded me of the world's most awful bar band and The White Stripes fancied themselves too art-deco to be accessible to your average music fan.

2. Winger - "Seventeen"

How is it possible to have a 17th Birthday Mix without the inclusion of this song? Yes, it may be painfully literal, but it is also perpetually awesome.

3. Zappacosta - "Overload"

A forgotten gem off the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack. This song summed up the feelings I had for everyone I wanted but couldn't have.

4. Def Leppard - "Animal"

Whether a nod to my fledgling love for hair metal or a pointed reference to my devotion and insomnia, I'm not sure. All of us know this level of obsession and if you haven't, you haven't lived.

5. Motley Crue - "All In The Name Of..."

Hair metal, lascivious references to underage girls, and selling your soul to rock 'n roll. Sounds like my teenage years.

6. Sheryl Crow - "Anything But Down"

An odd inclusion on what is generally a fairly upbeat mix by its very nature of being assigned to a birthday. In a rare occurrence, I once used the lyrics of this song in an away message as the perfect way to describe the situation we were in - and the person on the receiving end actually understood the message. It was so much easier before you became you. But it doesn't surprise me that my 17-year-old self included this song of sadness in the middle of happiness; always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

7. OK Go - "Get Over It"

Still a great workout song and a semi-popular song at the time.

8. Rolling Stones - "Honky Tonk Woman"
9. Rolling Stones - "Brown Sugar"
10. Rolling Stones - "Beast Of Burden"

A trifecta of Rolling Stones songs. I lived for classic rock and 95.9 THE FOX back in the day.

11. 50 Cent - "In Da Club"

Little known fact: I actually own 50 Cent's CD "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'". And this song is essential for any birthday celebration.

12. J. Lo & Ja Rule - "I'm Real (Remix)"

A 2001 hit for the pair that still holds up today as a great song.

13. The Donnas - "Too Bad About Your Girl"

For any girl who ever wanted a guy who had an awful girlfriend. A less popular but still awesome song in the vein of "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne.

14. Brand New - "Jude Law & A Semester Abroad"

Brand New's first hit, a minor one but a memorable one. I remember watching the video for this on MuchMusic (now FUSE, which is not half as good).

15. Prince - "Raspberry Beret"
16. Prince - "Little Red Corvette"

Arguably two of Prince's most popular (and best) songs. Both of these songs scream youth to me. "Little Red Corvette" is about vehicular sex and the point where experience meets naivete.

17. Third Eye Blind - "Semi-Charmed Life"

I didn't know that I would end up headbanging to this song at a Third Eye Blind concert 4 years later, or that headbanging is wildly inappropriate for a Third Eye Blind concert. More than 10 years after its release, this song will never remind me of any one era in my life as it has so successfully permeated all of them.

18. TLC - "Creep"

And if the mix hadn't already descended into complete randomness, this is where it begins. My birthday music ran the lot from hair metal to 90's R&B, classic rock and 00's pop.

19. Gary Wright - "Dream Weaver"

My most recent attachment to this song had to be through the Wayne's World soundtrack which was suitably eclectic for my taste, again ranging from Rhino Bucket to Alice Cooper.

20. The Rolling Stones - "It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It)"

A perfect song to close out the mix, which is interestingly heavy on the Rolling Stones.

*****

The number for Bennigan's is written on a Post-It from the Buenos Aires Hilton inside the CD case. I painstakingly typed up the track listing, printed it out, and pasted it on to the front of the burned CD cover paper.

Well, that was 2003 and Bennigan's closed sometime around the start of the recession and the end of my college career in 2008. With it went a lifetime of high school memories, birthday parties, bad decisions, Kilkenny Country Chicken Salads, and flirtations with waiters named Mike.

It was only a year later that I would include "If U C Jordan" by Something Corporate on my College Mix Volume 1, which includes the best kiss-off line ever: High school's over and you just won't quit. I felt like I was saying goodbye and good riddance to high school, but that was still a year away when I cut and pasted songs from a varied set of genres and decades into one CD.

But Bennigan's was the site of my 17th birthday party. I arrived with at least two and possibly three other friends, and yes, we listened to the mix the whole way there in my friend's Chrysler Sebring convertible. It seemed like the height of cool at the time, and of course, it was.

Man, we were killing time, we were young and restless, we needed to unwind....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Decade of Decadence


I look out my window, sometimes it's hard to see
The things you want in life, they come and go so easily
~ Cinderella, "Heartbreak Station" (1990)


I wonder if the person I was at sixteen was my truest self. Back then, I lived and breathed rock 'n roll as if it was my only shot at freedom. And back then, it sort of was.

I used to drag the clock radio into my room late at night on Saturdays via an extension cord and listen to Eddie Trunk's show "Saturday Nights Rocks" on WNEW. Eddie played all types of metal, from NWOBHM to the stuff released yesterday. Through Eddie I got introduced to the Priest vs. Maiden debate. (For what it's worth, I would always pick Judas Priest in that fight. Rob Halford is second to none.) On Friday nights, I would turn to VH1 at what seemed like a really late time to me but was probably 10 pm. I'd watch Sebastian Bach's show "Forever Wild" which followed him shopping in the Village at Trash & Vaudville or shooting animals with Ted Nugent. And - I know it's hard to believe, so brace yourself - the show would feature music videos. Yes, that is the first time I heard "You Can't Stop Rock 'N Roll" by Twisted Sister.

Now, I've lost track of Eddie Trunk's radio show. I'm pretty sure he's on Q140.3 and the Sirius/XM channel The Boneyard. I was bummed when, in 2003, WNEW underwent a format change and became some lame station which was either talk radio or easy listening. I forget. A very old orange and black Saturday Night Rocks bumper sticker is still taped to my closet door. Trunk now hosts "That Metal Show" on VH1 Classic. And despite being devoted to most any program on VH1 Classic, I have yet to watch it. But I know I should.


I used to sit on the dock at my summer house with my Discman and listen to "18 And Life" by Skid Row over and over again, wearing a Planet Hollywood jacket way too big for me. I'm surprised I didn't wear out that CD in the summer of 2001, 12 years after it was first released.

I devoured every VH1 countdown show (particularly "What's My 20? Top 20 Power Ballads" and "Top 40 Hair Bands of All Time" hosted by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister) and taped them so I could watch them many times and memorize the dialogue. If I watch now, through grainy clips on RealPlayer, I can still recite the dialogue along with Lonn Friend and the editor of Metal Hammer.



And best of all, or worst of all, I had that attitude. Somehow I lost it in college, or maybe it is specific only to those disenfranchised high school years. Maybe I got legitimately tired of going against the polo-and-pearls tide. It was somewhat exhausting but ultimately rewarding.

No matter what, Autograph had it right. "Day time, night time, any time, things go better with rock." So turn up the fucking radio.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Song of the moment - Deadmau5

Song of the moment: Deadmau5 f. Rob Swire ~ "Ghosts N Stuff"

The beat is what plays in your head after you wake up with a hangover at 6 a.m. and the light is sliding in through the blinds in your window. The lyrics say nothing and everything at the same time.

This one song epitomizes the entire decade of the 80's in just a few lines - the decadence, the hedonism, the cocaine residue on every $20 bill in your wallet. Using and abusing and not caring enough about anything.

I could hear it playing in the background of every blurry party in Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. It's a song that's unaffected by artifice. It slinks along, searching for something in the dark of night and not being all that disappointed when it finds nothing.

Is the song an ode to lost nights of drug use? Sex with strangers in bar bathrooms? Or only having the energy to take from the world without being able to give anything back?

The robotic maybe-female voiceover intro seems out of place, at first listen. Then you realize it voices the disaffection of a generation that existed for an all-too-brief moment.

"It's the way that you fake it, I know it's too late. But I, I just want to play it right."

The song is a fitting soundtrack to a life where everything is a game and people are pawns for the taking, where people slide in and out of consciousness and velvet walls slowly close in. Where artifice is only a cover for the raw malice evident within.

Desperate but yielding.



Deadmau5 f. Rob Swire - "Ghosts N Stuff"

it’s been so long I’ve been out of my body with you
I feel alone, feel at home, feel like nothing is true
she took me to a place where my senses gave way
turn it round, shut it down, what the people say
climbing up, killing time, let them give you some
take my hand and let it come, let it come, let it…

take it back when she knows that you're doing it right
cause everybody else knows what they're taking tonight

but I just wanna play it right
we’re gonna get there tonight

it’s been so far, I’ve been walking the line on my own
lift me up to the stars, we are coming home
I only had a chase, but we're out of time
we are souls in the cold, physical design
set me free, set me out on the run
lift me up to the sun, to the sun, to the…

we are burning down, we are burning down
it’s the way that you fake it, I know it’s too late

but I just want to play it right
we’re gonna get there tonight

Thursday, June 3, 2010

American Idol Season 9: Top 2 FINALE - May 25, 2010


Top 2 -  Finale Week:
May 25, 2010

Lee Dewyze - "The Boxer" B+

This performance lacked the original conviction he had when he performed it back on Inspirational Songs Week, back when I still had Tim Urban to stare at on a weekly basis. (If only...) The most beautiful moment of the season was the clip where Lee performed this song in front of his hometown crowd in Chicago, and his voice broke with tears on the line "I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains." It made me cry to see it. But this version of the song was similar, but not quite as good.

Lee Dewyze - "Everybody Hurts" B+

I was more than excited to hear the judge's song choice for Lee was R.E.M.'s classic "Everybody Hurts". A wonderful song that I was interested to hear how Lee would sing. While he did a good job, there was nothing too revolutionary about the performance, and I had hoped for a bit more emotion for Lee. The long note he sang on "don't throw your haaaaaaaaaaaaaaands" didn't sound so great either.

Lee Dewzye - "Beautiful Day" B

It just wasn't the amazing song I'd hoped for Lee, something like his previous choices of "Halleujah", "Treat Her Like A Lady", "A Little Less Conversation", "Lips of An Angel", "Fireflies", and/or "That's Life". It just sort of fell flat, and this is the kind of song that's supposed to soar and swoop. As it was his last performance, I was a little bit generous with the grade. But really, this kind of performance isn't the reason why I voted hundreds of times over the course of the season (wow, that's scary) for Lee.

Crystal Bowersox - "Me and Bobby McGee" A-

As she has drawn many Janis Joplin wannabe comments this season, it is only fitting that Crystal chose this song as her repeat performance song on the Finale night. Freedom is just another fucking word for nothing left to lose. You tell em, Crystal. And honestly, she really had nothing to lose on this night. As Simon said earlier in the season to Tim, "you're going to smile, people are going to vote for you, and nothing I say matters." Interestingly, in this season, nothing was more true. She gave it her all on this song, and I applaud her for it. (I still picked up the phone to vote for Lee however.)

Crystal Bowersox - "Black Velvet" B+

This was certainly entertaining, but not perfect. There were a few voice problems at parts, and Crystal's gritty voice didn't quite gel with the silky-smooth jazz of the song. She did put a good amount of passion into it. I didn't like the last semi-scream of the song.

Crystal Bowersox - "Up To The Mountain" A

Clearly Crystal picked a song that meant a lot to her. This was Crystal letting down her walls and the somewhat cocky attitude that followed her around the whole season. This was a song about fighting hard everyday of your life and never admitting weakness. And my god, I believed her when she sang these lyrics, something that has been sorely lacking from American Idol this season. Best performance of the night, by far.

Best of the night: Crystal - "Up To The Mountain"
Worst of the night: Lee - "Beautiful Day" (yes, it pains me to write this)

American Idol Season 9 - Top 3: May 18, 2010


Top 3 - Judges and Contestants Choices Week
: May 18, 2010

Casey James - "OK It's Alright With Me" C+

For some reason, this didn't strike a chord with me. The song was unfamiliar and by the ever-so-annoying Eric Hutchinson. Whenever I think of him, I picture him bopping along more awkwardly than a 7th grader at his first middle school dance in the horrid video for "Rock 'N Roll" (which is probably the least rock 'n roll thing this side of Clay Aiken). Casey's voice is great and has a lovely tone, but this song did nothing for it. The backup singers sounded strange on the track, particularly to the end.

Crystal Bowersox - "Come To My Window" B+

In stark contrast to both of Casey's songs, Crystal took on a personal favorite song of mine, by one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters, Melissa Etheridge. And how did she do? In my opinion, she did pretty well. I don't get the same desperation and aching you hear in all of Melissa's songs from Crystal but she certainly was impressive.

Lee Dewyze - "Simple Man" A-

Probably one of the more interesting song choices of the night, and a song I didn't know previously, but a band I did (Lynyrd Skynyrd). The guitar sounded a little "Stairway To Heaven"-esque, and it worked. Of course. It was clear that Lee connected with the song entirely and it made all the difference in the world. This is the kind of music he should make.

Casey James - "Daughters" B-

OH NO. Another insipid song by one of my least two favorite musicians ever - John Mayer. That said, this song is particularly hated by me. Casey greatly improved on the original, but I really couldn't get over my hatred of the song and the original artist. Casey strikes me as much more of a rocker type than either Eric Hutchinson or John Mayer, and he did himself a disservice by selecting the first song. We can argue conspiracy theory for the selection of the second song, but it would be a futile effort. Sadly, everyone with estrogen loves this awful song and its cloying message.

Crystal Bowersox - "Maybe I'm Amazed" A-

First and foremost, the thing I will remember about this performance is how Crystal did not change the lyrics to suit her gender. It was a bold and risky move and it paid off...it didn't distract from the song, but added to it. Also, I was very glad to see she put down the guitar and focused on the emotion of the song. She sang with passion and ferocity

Lee Dewyze - "Hallelujah" A+

This is the moment where Lee Dewyze won American Idol Season 9. No, we did not vote dozens of times for him for his just-ok-for-me-dawg performance of "Beautiful Day" the following week in the Top 2, or for his less-passionate-than-the-first time performance of "The Boxer" that same week. And I can't even remember what the other song was. This is the moment that was in the back of our minds when we picked up the phone to dial the familiar digits we'd been calling all season. 1 - 866 - IDOLS - 0 Whatever. This was the moment where the lights bathed him in a gorgeous glow, backup singers descended from God-knows-where, and he had one of the very very few "Idol Moments" (TM) of the season. Gorgeous. A revelation. Thank you Lee Dewyze for restoring my faith in American Idol. (Like I'll ever stop watching anyways).

Check out the audio and video over at Rickey.org : http://www.rickey.org/?p=41056 You would be doing yourself a disservice not to.

Best of the night: Lee - "Hallejuah"
Worst of the night: Casey - "OK It's Alright With Me"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 4: May 11, 2010


Top 4: Movie Week - May 11, 2010

Lee Dewyze - "Kiss From A Rose" B+

A somewhat bold choice from Lee. The song didn't quite fit his voice very well on the higher notes and it was a bit sleepier than his previous performances. However, still worth a listen as Lee has one of those voices that generally sounds good on most things and amazing on exceptional things.

Michael Lynche - "Will You Be There" A-

Well, Simon got a bit bogged down in the fact that the song was from Free Willy, the movie about a boy and his whale friend. But I was more than impressed with Big Mike's version of this song. I'm the last person to be a Big Mike fan, mind you, but I have to give credit where it's due. The gospel choir and Mike's glory note (towards the end) combined to make this a good if not especially moving performance.

Casey James - "Mrs. Robinson" A-

Casey added something a bit different to this song with the ukelele. Jason Castro -dare I say it - may have done it better in Season 7. (Then again everybody did it better in Season 7, but I disgress.) Each time I listen to this performance, I get a little bit more out of it. The second half is really where Casey shone on this song. The first time I listened to it, I might have given it a B, but the tone of his voice comes out stronger and stronger with repeat listenings. It's a bit too quirky to take it all in the first time around, but give it a chance. One of the sleeper performances of the season.

Crystal Bowersox - "I'm Alright" B

At first I didn't know if I knew the song, but I realized it's the kind of song that still gets played on classic rock stations. Crystal kept switching between a gruffer kind of growl and a sweeter, pretty voice. I don't know if the switch really worked. Not bad by any means, but as Randy would say, it didn't really work for me, dawg.

Lee & Crystal duet - "Falling Slowly" A+

I think this performance showed us the finale. Right then, right there, it was decided. One of the best performances I have ever seen on the Idol stage (and the best duet this side of Carly Smithson and Michael John's amazing A+++ duet of "The Letter" last season when they returned for a results show). The camera angles on this one were epic. I loved how the two guitars gave the slower song a rock edge and changed it up a bit. Amazing.

Casey & Mike duet - "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" B

I am not sure how many times I'll say it, but here I go again. This performance did not compare to Matt Giraud's "Judge's Save" TM performance from last season of the same song. But hey, I wasn't expecting it to. Casey and Mike both performed admirably on this song, considering the whole concept of them dueting was a bit awkward. They certainly did a better job than the last two male contestants forcd to duet last season: Kris Allen and Danny Gokey on a very odd rendition of "Renegade" by Styx. (I just don't like that song anyway, so maybe I'm biased.)

Best of the night: Lee & Crystal duet
Worst of the night: Casey & Mike duet

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 5: May 4, 2010


Frank Sinatra Week - Top 5: May 4, 2010

Aaron Kelly - "Fly Me To The Moon" B+

Considering Aaron was a bit out of his element in this genre, he did a solid job with the song. It was a pretty, cute performance. He has come a long way in terms of confidence since the semifinals, where Aaron seemed a bit like a fish out of water trying to compete with people 10 years older than him (which he was!) He had really nice pronunciation with this song, when so many slur the words together to the point where you can't understand the lyrics.

Casey James - "Blue Skies" B-

Casey looked like a lost lamb without his guitar, which I don't think bodes too well for his future career. As an artist, you have to be flexible and you may not always have access to whatever it is that keeps you in your comfort zone. Listening to the performance sounds better than watching it, where the awkwardness unfortunately shows through a bit. It's not the kind of performance I'd listen to again. If it was Andrew Garcia, I would have given this performance a C+ but I like Casey.

Crystal Bowersox - "Summer Wind" B+

A jazzy, confident performance by Crystal, although her vocals came out a bit breathy in the first part of the song. I could picture her singing this at a jazz piano bar. She got a lot more confident and stronger in the last part of the song. She did inflect a lot of emotion into the song

Michael Lynche - "The Way You Look Tonight" A-

Big Mike did a great job with this, it pains me a bit to admit it. This is the perfect kind of song for him - a slow but jazzy R&B number. Of course it's a little bit over the top, but what else would you expect from Big Mike? The last note was great and this definitely earned him another week in the competition.

Lee Dewyze - "That's Life" A

Incredible. Sexy. Far and away, my pick to win it all. I absolutely can not wait to see what kind of CD Lee releases. I loved the dynamic between him and guest mentor Harry Connick Jr. It was amazing to see what he did with a theme that may have taken him out of his comfort zone (ie: no guitar) and made it completely his own. Casey could have learned a lot from Lee tonight (and I say that with love, Casey).

Best of the night: Lee
Worst of the night: Casey

Saturday, May 1, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 6: April 27, 2010


Top 6 - Shania Twain Week:
April 27, 2010
Lee Dewyze - "You're Still The One" A-
I had a feeling Lee would take on this song, and of course, I was right. He sounded amazing, as always, and put a lot of emotion into the song that made all the difference in the world.

Michael Lynche - "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" B+
I have been extremely irritated with Big Mike lately (and his wife, but I digress). I think he's stayed around too long while superior performers have gone home. Do we even have to mention Katelyn Epperly, Alex Lambert, Lily Scott, and Janell Wheeler as examples? But Big Mike redeemed himself with this touching and beautiful performance. Finally a song worthy of Big Mike's theatrics, which he toned down tonight. He actually sounded like an R&B superstar on this song and I was totally impressed.

Casey James - "Don't" A
The best performance of the night. A song I could imagine hearing - and loving - on the radio. Casey stripped it down (don't read any sexual innuendo into that one, Kara!) and was incredible. How he ended up in the Bottom 2 is one of those inevitable and dumbfounding Idol mysteries.

Crystal Bowersox - "No One Needs To Know" C+
This came off as cutesy and over-indulgent. Crystal does have a great voice but the "this is dedicated to my boyfriend - hint hint" came off as irritating. As someone on another blog (Entertainment Weekly, I think) said, this is not A Prairie Home Companion. THIS. IS. AMERICAN. IDOL. (Seacrest. Out!) Whereas the front runner of season 8 (Adam Lambert) was perpetually humble towards the judges, Crystal put forth a haughty attitude that instantly turned me off. Yes, Crystal, bigger isn't always better, and this performance was neither. I liked it less each time I heard it.

Aaron Kelly - "You've Got A Way" B+
A sweet, small country performance that 17-year-old Aaron dedicated to his mother. (Awwwww.) Nothing phenomenal, but Aaron was a breath of fresh air after Crystal.

Sibohan Magnus - "Any Man Of Mine" B
This actually sounded like a country song mixed with R&B in a very odd marriage. There is no way Siobhan deserved to go home based on this performance, which was actually pretty fun. I loved the energy she showed in this performance. However, the scream (the 8th we've probably heard) was out-of-place yet again and the performance suffered for it. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Best of the night: Casey
Worst of the night: Crystal

Saturday, April 24, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 7: April 20, 20120

Inspirational Songs - Top 7 - April 20, 2010

Casey James - "Don't Stop" (originally by Fleetwood Mac) B
A perfectly competent cover, but nothing spectacular. I think Casey just does what he does so effortlessly that we forget that he is a great contestant. He has a great tone to his voice and is always excellent on the guitar. I think here he suffered from picking the wrong song. I disagree with the judges in the sense that I do think this song can be viewed as inspirational. How amazing would it have been if he had stripped the song down and performed a haunting acoustic version that really let the words resonate?

Lee Dewyze - "The Boxer" (originally by Simon and Garfunkel) A-
Lee sang this song with lots of emotion, which I think made a difference in contrast to Casey's performance. I have to say I was not impressed with the song at all itself, and the la-la-las got a little old. (Anyone else find it odd that this was the only part of the performance they showcased on the recap? La-la-la-la-la...) It was this performance that showed to me that Lee could probably sing the phonebook and I'd still be impressed with him.

Tim Urban - "Better Days" (originally by Goo Goo Dolls) B+
Because I won't be able to do it ever again, or at least in a blog post related to a Tim performance, I'm going to say it for the last time. That hair, those blue eyes, those incredible abs, everything added up perfectly to make Tim the dreamiest contestant this side of Kris Allen (or Michael Johns - take your pick). Tim's last performance on the Idol stage (as he did not get a farewell performance due to Idol Gives Back running 1/2 hour long) was good but not great.

Aaron Kelly - "I Believe I Can Fly" (originally by R. Kelly) B
Aaron did sort of a country version of the song, which was actually interesting, as the lyrics might work very well for a country song. I was very impressed by Aaron's voice towards at the end of the song, where he picked up more steam, and the arrangement got a bit more dramatic, Celine Dion style.

Siobhan Magnus - "When You Believe" (originally by Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey) A-
Beautifully, gorgeously sung, although I didn't feel too much emotion throughout the song. I was expected the judges to praise her enormously and was shocked when they didn't. She picked a bit more of a diva song and gave an according performance. This was the best performance from Sibohan in a long time.

Michael Lynche - "Hero" (originally by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott) B-/C+
A little bit too much posturing for me. I am tired of his melodramatic performances with just OK vocals. And I am also tired of seeing his wife in the audience every five seconds. I really have nothing much to say about this performance. Decent enough but ultimately forgettable.

Crystal Bowersox - "People Get Ready" (originally by ??) A-
I liked her acapella intro, although she hit a pretty bad sounding note in the beginning. A true watercooler moment and a true American Idol moment, in the sense that I think people will still be talking about this performance in years to come. For some reason though, I just can't get on the Crystal bandwagon. I know she's great, I know she's the frontrunner, but I don't know...

Best of the night: Siobhan
Worst of the night: Big Mike

Friday, April 16, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 9 (Part II): April 13, 2010

Top 9 (Redux) - Elvis Week - April 13, 2010

Crystal Bowersox - "Saved" B
The second half of this performance was better than the first. There was a fun groove to this performance and I liked the arrangement more towards the end after the breakdown....but in the end, I couldn't get too excited about it. Crystal put a lot of energy into the performance which made it more entertaining to watch. I won't be downloading it however.

Andrew Garcia - "Hound Dog" C
Andrew never found his spark on the Idol big stage, and this would be his last performance. Utterly forgettable although not a train wreck. I never found Andrew's voice to be particularly strong, and certainly not better than Alex Lambert, Janelle Wheeler, or Katelyn Epperly, all of whom were voted off in the semi-final round.

Tim Urban - "Can't Help Falling In Love" A-
Although Tim didn't take Adam Lambert's advice to sing the last part of the song in his "head voice" (which must be a fancy term for his falsetto), he shined in this performance. It was a simple yet elegant song arrangement and Tim sounded good. Simon even trotted out the "Zero to Hero" left-handed compliment he bestowed on Anoop Desai last season.

Lee Dewyze - "A Little Less Conversation" A+
In one word: AMAZING. In a few: soulful, sexy, and perfect. The studio version is equally (if not slightly more so) amazing. Lee outdid Chris Daughtry's Season 5 version, which is not something you'll hear me say very often. More than worth a listen.

The studio version:



Aaron Kelly - "Blue Suede Shoes" B+
I loved the bluesy arrangement which saved the song. Simon was right when he said it was like a high school performance. (I hate to say it, but it's true.) Aaron even threw in a little bit of country in this version, which made it different from the original. The second half was, again, much better than the first where there was more of a slower breakdown. I had to laugh at the addition of the words "fruit jar" to replace something related to liquor.

Siobhan Magnus - "Suspicious Minds" B-
Sibohan brought more of a diva style into this song, something we have been sorely missing this season on Idol. It was a much better performance than last week and Siobhan sang it a little more "pretty" and a little less "screechy". She gave a nice response to the criticism Simon threw at her but overall it wasn't one of Siobhan's best.

Michael Lynche - "In The Ghetto" B+
A toned-down and suprisingly touching performance from Big Mike. At first when I heard he was going to do this song, I was expecting another over-wraught and melodramatic performance but he did the song justice. It was very authentic and sounded from the heart. Mike made this song sound current, even though I am sure it is 40+ years old.

Katie Stevens - "Baby What Do You Want Me To Do" B+
A sassy and fun performance. She has grown in confidence on the Idol stage and seemed less robotic and more herself this week. Her voice cracked on one of the notes but overall a solid performance although not one I will be downloading.

Casey James - "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" A-
A sexy, bluesy, and great performance of a more obscure Elvis song. I think the judges feel his selection of more obscure tracks works against him, however I would have to say the opposite. He isn't going to be compared to prior Idol contestants or, worse, the original artist.

Best of the night: Lee
Worst of the night: Andrew

Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 9: April, 5, 2010


Beatles Week - Top 9 - April 5, 2010

Aaron Kelly - "The Long And Winding Road" B-

This was a sweet, but bland performance. Aaron struggled a little bit at certain parts of the song and Simon was correct in calling it old fashioned. But still, Aaron Kelly has mastered that aw-shucks charm that David Archuleta gave off so effortlessly. Aaron remains likeable and a more than competent singer.

Katie Stevens - "Let It Be" A-
One of Katie's best performances. She is slowly growing and improving on the Idol stage. Katie has been criticized online for being robotic and pageant-like. With this performance, I think she changed all that and revealed a softer, more heartfelt side of herself. I had pretty much written off Katie as a true contender for the American Idol crown, but this song coupled with "Wild Horses" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" might have changed my opinion.

Andrew Garcia - "Can't Buy Me Love" C

This performance started off barely decent and progressed into ultimate cheesiness. The music sounded EXACTLY like "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones and compared to Tom Jones, Andrew just couldn't compare. It wasn't a trainwreck, by any means, but this should have been the performance that sent home Andrew to a ninth-place finish.

Michael Lynche - "Eleanor Rigby" C-

Horribly melodramatic. Big Mike pushed too far with his falsetto and accented words in a way I can only describe as off-putting and unnecessary. I correctly predicted that he would be the lowest votegetter and based on this performance, he did not deserve the Judges' Save. As I have said before and I will say over and over again, he is no Matt Giraud (who was the recipient of the first ever AI Judges' Save last season). I admit Big Mike can sing and his cover of "When A Man Loves A Woman" was excellent, but I wouldn't have shed a tear over seeing him go last Wednesday. Especially based on this performance, which did not even come close to holding a candle to David Cook's excellent Season 7 rendition of the same song.

Crystal Bowersox - "Come Together" B

An interesting performance, to say the least. I believe viewers turn in to see what Crystal will do each week for the sheer enjoyment of it all. She is so effortless at what she does, I wonder if it will come back to haunt her. Meaning, viewers love to root for the underdog and right now Crystal is the front-runner. Could this be the shock elimination of the season? Anyway, back to the performance. I still prefer Carly Smithson's version of "Come Together" for Season 7 - god I miss Season 7 - but Crystal's was certainly good but not great.

Tim Urban - "All My Loving" B+

Oh Tim, what can I say? Finally a performance the judges praised, although I didn't find it to be any worse or better than last week's "Sweet Love" (which of course the judges hated). Tim's voice sounded smooth and I don't need to write about how gorgeous he is again this week - ok fine, I will (that-smile-those-eyes-that-hair).

Casey James - "Jealous Guy" A

This is the kind of song I could hear on the radio - Casey has a real radio voice, the voice of a true artist. Casey put a lot of emotion into this performance and it showed. I loved how he picked a more obscure John Lennon song (or at least obscure compared to songs like "Can't Buy Me Love" which probably every person on this planet has heard). You just can't teach someone how to perform like this. Amazing.

Siobhan Magnus - "Across The Universe" B-

I tried to like this performance. I really did. The ending note was gorgeous but somehow the whole thing just did not come off great to me. I did appreciate that Siobhan didn't feel the need to insert a scream into a song arbitrarily.

Lee Dewyze - "Hey Jude" A-

Oh Lee, you are the dark horse. You are the closest thing we are ever going to get to David Cook. But yes, it's not fair to compare Lee to David because Lee stands out on his own as a great singer and interpreter of songs. I loved Lee's use of the bagpipe player - finally something unexpected and unique. Probably one of the craziest and riskiest things I have ever seen in years of watching Idol and yes, it paid off. A true performance. I felt like I was at a concert watching someone I had paid good money to see.

Best of the night: Casey
Worst of the night: Big Mike

Monday, April 5, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 10: March 30, 2010


R&B/Soul Week - Top 10: March 30, 2010

Siobhan Magnus - "Through The Fire" (originally by Chaka Khan) B
I thought Sibohan did a lot better than the judges gave her credit for. She did pick a song that fit the R&B theme quite well, and adjusted her voice somewhat to fit the theme. Overall, she embraced the R&B theme much more than I thought she would. Maybe she suffered as she picked a song that sounded quite dated and threw in a scream that did not at all fit with the songs. The last scream was actually painful to listen to - ouch.

Casey James - "Hold On I'm Coming" (originally by Sam & Dave) B+
A fun, energetic performance. Casey's performances always have a fun, bluesy vibe. Casey may be the season's most talented musician, but you would never know it due to all the attention Crystal gets. I think Casey has a "moment" in him, the kind that will make all our jaws drop and grab our attention. He is the kind of singer that will hopefully go on to front a rock band - I would think this sort of role would suit him much better than life as a solo artist.

Michael Lynche - "Ready For Love" (originally by India Arie) B-
First off, it was odd for Big Mike to be sitting behind the judges. Odder still was that none of them turned around to watch his performance. It was a perfectly competent performance, but I couldn't get excited about it for some reason. I also couldn't find anything wrong with it. Yet, it was a performance that certainly highlighted a different, more subtle side of the usually cheesy and energetic Big Mike.

Didi Benami - "What Becomes of The Brokenhearted" (originally by ?) C+
It seemed Didi was singing too fast for the music, and it never really straightened itself out. She sounded okay for the most part, but it was certainly not a memorable performance by any means. It was a bit melodramatic and Ryan Seacret's not-so-subtle references to Didi's deceased best friend came off as cheap and unnecessary. I also am not sure how this song is the definitive song to dedicate to a friend who has passed away. The second half of the performance was a lot better than the first.

Tim Urban - "Sweet Love" (originally by Anita Baker) A-
I could listen to - and watch - Tim sing all day. Simon was hilarious, because it is true - it really doesn't matter what the judges say. Tim will continue to smile that beautiful, crooked smile and get thousands of votes (mine included). I was expecting the judges to praise him profusely after this great performance, but it wasn't to be. But who cares? Those abs, those eyes, those perfect teeth. He's got my vote. (Side note: Props to Randy Jackson for using one of my favorite words - pedestrian.)

Andrew Garcia - "Forever" (originally by Chris Brown) B
The first thing that caught my attention about this performance was the song choice. Chris Brown isn't exactly family-friendly entertainment anymore, but this song, released before the assault incident, stands up as a quality piece of R&B. Maybe FINALLY the judges will stop talking about Andrew's performance of "Straight Up" way back in Hollywood week after this performance, which was fun and different. Unlike his cover of "Genie In A Bottle", which came off as boring and creepy, this was a fun twist on the original song.

Katie Stevens - "Chain Of Fools" (originally by Aretha Franklin) B+
I liked her makeover. Her cover of "Chain Of Fools" was fun and she showcased a little personality. Frighteningly, I have loved this song since before Katie Stevens was born. I thought she did the song justice, overall.

Lee Dewyze - "Treat Her Like A Lady" (originally by the Cornelius Brothers) A+
The first A+ of the season! Last season I gave out the only solo A+ to Adam Lambert's cover of "Whole Lotta Love" (I think I also gave one to Kris and Adam's duet with Queen). When did Lee get so undeniably sexy? Tonight was the night I have to agree with Simon - his life may have changed forever. It would be a crime if it didn't. This was a subversive, gruff, incredible performance. In one word: AMAZING. This will surely make my Top 25 Most Played list in a few months, right up there with anything by Matt Giraud.

Crystal Bowersox - "Midnight Train To Georgia" (originally by Gladys Knight and the Pips) A-
Somehow, Crystal has set the bar so high for herself, I am worried it might be her undoing. This was a great version of a song I've loved my whole life. The backup singers didn't sound too great, however, and I would have preferred her to sing without them.

Aaron Kelly - "Ain't No Sunshine" (originally by Bill Withers) B-
On its own, this would be a good, solid performance. But compared to Kris Allen's haunting and excellent version from last season, Aaron's version just falls short. Not much to say about this one.

Best of the night: Lee (by a mile)
Worst of the night: Didi (by a hair)