Wednesday, October 26, 2011
It is a complete and total shame that Carly and Michael didn't finish higher in American Idol's Season 7 - but it was a season filled with talent in a way that hasn't really been mirrored since and, of course, someone had to go home each week. They reunited on the live finale show for this cover of the Box Tops' 1967 hit and sang the hell out of it - and made it FUN, something that is rarely genuine and all too often manufactured on the reality show stage. Their voices blend perfectly and make me wish that they recorded a CD of duets.
9. David Cook - "Billie Jean" (American Idol, 2008)
Haunting and subversive - the performance that launched the beginning of a new era of guys-and-guitars on American Idol. But you'd be hard-pressed to find any performance that followed this one that could even come close to matching its quiet ferocity. The sense that you are watching a true rock star in the making - it's intoxicating and all-too-thrilling.
8. Allison Iraheta - "Cry Baby (Elimination Performance)" (American Idol, 2009)
With hardly any time to recover from the injustice that was Danny Gokey being deemed safe after his horrendous performance of "Dream On", Alison Iraheta took the stage for her elimination performance - the rare moment where she improved on her original performance and showed the audience that she could sing circles around Danny. Her voice cracks with the raw emotion she infuses into her performance. Absolutely devastating.
7. Haley Reinhart - "Bennie & The Jets" (American Idol, 2011)
An essential performance for Haley that elevated her from a frequent place in the Bottom 3 to a Top 3 finish in a season whose end was predetermined by the producers from the start. The kind of performance that reinvented her persona on the show and generated genuine buzz around her. An absolutely genius song choice and one that made me fall in love with Haley and her incredible voice. Haley would go on to kill it in weeks to come (see her amazing versions of "You And I", "House of The Rising Sun", "I Who Have Nothing", "Rihannon", and "Who Is And Who Should Never Be") - but I have picked this performance because it made me believe. And what more can you ask for, really?
6. Chris Rene - "Young Homie" (X Factor, 2011)
I think Chris so far on the X Factor has suffered from a particular and all-too-sad talent show syndrome - peaking too early with an incredible performance (see: Andrew Garcia, "Straight Up") and never reaching that height again. Was it his sad story? Was it his smooth delivery or his intensely personal lyrics? Whatever made this performance such a success, it is one worth watching over and over again. Currently this video has amassed 8.9 million views on YouTube in just two months.
5. Adam Lambert - "Mad World " (American Idol, 2009)
Interestingly enough, the first time I heard his performance I rated it only a solid "B". It's the kind of take on the song that grows on you over time, organically, as the meaning seeps in your soul. Everything about this performance was perfect, from the arrangement to the haunting blue light. Subtle and understated - in direct contrast to many of his in-your-face previous performances (see: "Black Or White", the sitar-singed version of "Ring Of Fire"). Beautiful and ethereal. The kind of performance people are still talking about 2 years later.
4. Drew - "It Must Have Been Love" (X Factor, 2011)
I don't know how someone so young (just 14 years old) has the maturity and the forthright honesty in her voice to make me believe every word she sings so completely. But it is so evident from this unbelievably crystal clear performance that Drew has the purest, most heartbreaking interpretation of almost every song she sings. This version of Roxette's amazing 1991 hit takes on a new, fresh light through the lens of Drew's voice.
3. Matt Giraud - "Let's Get It On" (American Idol, 2009)
Matt Giraud was the infamous Judges' Save in the first season where such a trick was employed - and one of my favorite American Idol contestants ever. Matt faltered during several weeks and soared during many more of the weeks. But it was his cover of Marvin Gaye's perrenial classic "Let's Get It On" that won him a permanent place in my heart. Matt could be the successor to Justin Timberlake in this all too gorgeous version of the song.
2. Carrie Underwood - "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" (American Idol, 2005)
I had to include this as it is in the Top 25 Most Played songs on my college laptop. I had never heard this song before hearing Carrie's version and I loved how she seemed to tell a story in just a minute and thirty seconds. She sings softly at all the right places and belts it out in all the remaining places. It's a song that is difficult, with lots of words and not a lot of space to sing them, and Carrie tackles it in a way that is effortless. Watching this performance, it is clear why Carrie walked off with the Season 4 Idol crown.
1. Vicci Martinez - "Jolene" (The Voice, 2011)
It is a fucking shame that I can not find the original live performance on YouTube. It was beyond breathtaking and the kind of performance that brought me to tears each time I saw her perform it. The studio version of the track is embedded below. Vicci makes the audience - and, certainly, me - believe each word she sings with a desperate ache that is so rare in a musician these days - let alone one who is broadcast to an audience of millions, rather than one who is breaking hearts and bar stools in a dingy bar somewhere.
We Are Crazy Mix
The mix was not originally made for me. I always thought it was titled “We Are Crazy Mix”, however a close glance at the full title reveals it to be “We Are Crazy Nuts Driving Around.” And we were young, we were brave, but most of all, we were crazy with all the false bravado and not-so-secret insecurities of teenage girls.
The mix starts out with the perennial teen girl favorite “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”; the sonic throb of the intro would pound through her old car’s speakers each time the CD began. I would rest my hand on the windowsill of the passenger side and chomp on Starbursts and Hostess cupcakes as we drove all over our county in search of boys and adventure.
Nearly each time we were in her car, I demanded to hear this mix. Mostly, I was indulged. It was a welcome respite to the sweetly, softly sad indie rock we would often listen to, bands with names that hinted at places I would never see.
The CD itself is a psychologically fascinating mix of girl-power anthems (Cyndi, No Doubt) and misogynistic rap songs (Ludacris, DMX, Cam’ron). Thrown in the middle is one seemingly throwaway track – “Kick Some Ass” – which stands the test of time as the best driving song ever written (ever) and one sadly longing quirky ode to transience (“Every Me, Every You”).
And we drove everywhere, with the recklessness I once had and the knowledge we didn’t really have anything better to do besides our homework. There were boys that we only wished were ours. We clung to them as if they meant so much more than they did. If good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere, we went nowhere.
The CD held thirteen songs and four seconds of a fourteenth song. But thirteen is an unlucky number and the last four seconds of the mix foreshadowed one of the habits that ultimately tore us apart.
I still drive around listening to this mix. I ended up in possession of it, most likely due to my undying devotion to the songs I had heard over and over again. But this time I am in the driver’s seat.
WE ARE CRAZY NUTS DRIVING AROUND MIX
- Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
- Cam’ron featuring Julez Santana – “Oh Boy”
- The Bloodhound Gang – “The Bad Touch”
- The Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated”
- Aqua – “Happy Boys And Girls”
- Fat Joe with Ja Rule and Ashanti – “What’s Luv”
- Madonna – “Like A Virgin”
- No Doubt – “Spiderwebs”
- Ludacris – “What’s Your Fantasy”
- Stroke 9 – “Kick Some Ass”
- The Beach Boys – “I Get Around”
- DMX – “Party Up”
- Placebo – “Every Me, Every You”
- Afroman – “Because I Got High” (4 second clip)
1/5/10, 7:51 PM
Stroke 9 - "Kick Some Ass"
Placebo - "Every Me, Every You"
Ludacris - "What's Your Fantasy"