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2012: Year In Review

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Yes, it's that time of year again. It was a fascinating year in music, where the biggest hits of the year were the most unexpected.

10. Olly Murs f/Chiddy Bang - "Heart Skips A Beat"

Both Olly and Chiddy Bang have come out with music recently that can only be described as a perfect representation of 2012, yet also evocative of an earlier age. One of my most played songs of the year. In a perfect world, this would have been a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit instead of peaking at #96.



9. Justin Bieber - "Die In Your Arms"

A love letter to the Motown era and the early days of the Jackson 5, with a synthesized piano beat and finger snaps. So smooth and sweet. A perfectly crafted pop song and a homage to the beginning of what became an iconic era. The best song on the latest and greatest CD by Justin Bieber (oh god did I really just write that?)



8. Pink - "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)"

Pink, fascinatingly enough, has been one of the biggest success stories to come out of…

For all those believers...Ten More Amazing Bruce Springsteen Songs

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After seeing Bruce Springsteen for the first time on September 21, 2012 at Giants Stadium, it's official: I believe. A friend of mine recently told me that if you Google "Bruce Springsteen concert religious experience", it will come up with millions of hits. And that's because it truly is. From the gospel singers to the raised hands of the faithful and the overall aura of awe and happiness, I feel like I reached another, deeper level of humanity that night.

And in honor of that amazing night, here - as a follow up to my May 7, 2009 post of the Top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs - are ten additional songs that have touched my soul over the past 3 years.

1. American Land
Wrecking Ball, 2012

This is a song not to be missed, simply put. The reason why this was left as an iTunes only bonus track for Wrecking Ball is a travesty I will never comprehend. I have posted the Glastonbury 2009 live version below as it is a perfect representation of the concert I went to - high-energ…

4 Year Anniversary

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Today is the 4 year anniversary of me starting this blog. I could not have told you on August 14, 2008 where I'd be today and all the ups and downs I've encountered since then.

The most important thing is that rock 'n roll music continues to live and I'm more confident than ever that it always will.

Thank you to everyone who has ever read a post on this blog, commented, liked it on Facebook, read anything I've posted on Twitter. Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend Andrew who has made it his mission to read & comment on everything I've ever written.

And here's to another four years...

Real Rock Never Dies.



And they try to tell us that we don't belong
But that's alright, we're millions strong
You are my people, you are my crowd, this is our music, we love it loud


Shovels & Rope - "Birmingham": Top Songs of 2012

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Last week, iTunes outdid themselves with the free song of the week by featuring "Birmingham" by Shovels & Rope. The first moments of the preview shed light on a song that needed to be heard in its entirety to grasp each complexity, each nuance of the lyric, and the filtered pain in the two voices which blend together so perfectly.
I haven't heard a song this achingly beautiful in years. It's a velvet lined throwback to an era when you could stumble blindly into a bar and have your world changed by two people on stage with a harmonica and a guitar. Songs that tell the story of an entire existence in less than 4 minutes, with all the sweat, blood, and agony of each day wrapped up into the most succinct of lines. 
Rock of Ages, cleave for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Buried in the sand
Five hundred miles from Birmingham

It's a song for everyone that yearned to bury all of their soul in rock 'n roll music, when it was hard to believe and you fought anyway t…

Top 20 Best American Idol Performances - Season 11

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20. Philip Philips - "U Got It Bad" (Top 7 Redux)
Original Grade: A-
April 18, 2012 

Seductive and subversive.
"He pushed himself on parts and drew back on other parts - the perfect give-and-take for this performance. The way he dropped his voice on "messed around" expressed the shame and desperation of the lyrics. It definitely felt like an interlude at his concert. With the right material, I think Philip has a great touring career ahead of him."



19. Philip Philips - "Give A Little More" (Top 7)
Original Grade: A-
April 11, 2012

"I was glad to see that Philip looked like he was having FUN FOR ONCE! He brings an angry energy to each song, even when the lyrics don't demand it. I thought he brought a better, sexier tone to the song than the original. One of my favorite performances from Philip, whose consistency is turning into complacency quickly. If Philip wants to follow in the footsteps of Kris, Lee, and Scotty, I think he needs a…

American Idol: Finale Performance Night - May 22, 2012

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Finale Performance Night (Top 2) - May 22, 2012 Some quick thoughts on American Idol tonight before I head to bed. Will update more tomorrow with my in-depth commentary!
1. Jessica Sanchez - "I Have Nothing" A- A very pretty performance from Jessica, who gave this one her all. Jessica is a true powerhouse vocalist and will hopefully have a huge career after this show. Sounds like Beyonce covering Whitney. Unfortunately, Jessica's degree of difficulty in the song that Simon Fuller chose for her was much higher than the one Simon selected for Philip. Does anyone else remember Shannon Magrane's cover of this song during Whitney Houston week? Jessica sang circles around Shannon with this version.
2. Philip Philips - "Stand By Me" A+ I actually said out loud "this will be boring" when Ryan announced Philip's song title. I was stunned by the result. My notes: "This was insanely unbelievable. Oh good God, that was unbelievable." Perfect arran…

American Idol: Top 3 - May 16, 2012

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Top 3 - Contestant's, Judge's, and Jimmy's Picks - May 16, 2012
1. Joshua Ledet - "I'd Rather Go Blind" A- (originally by Etta James)
I love Joshua's style on this song. The way his voice caressed the words, the old-school style microphone, suit and rose on his lapel. Joshua is by far and away the best performer of the Top 3 and has arguably the strongest voice. This was a pretty good song choice for Joshua from the judges, although it didn't allow him to do anything that we hadn't seen from him at this point. The run at the end was unbelievable!
2. Jessica Sanchez - "My All" B (originally by Mariah Carey)
The judges saddled Jessica with the most challenging song of the night. While the judges' song choices for both Joshua and Philip were right in their respective comfort zones, Jessica had to tackle the insanely difficult Mariah Carey hit. While she sang beautifully, Jessica always sounded just a bit off as though she was trying to hit …

American Idol: Top 4 - May 9, 2012

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Top 4: California Dreamin & Songs You Wish You Wrote - May 9, 2012
1. Philip Philips - "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" C (originally by CCR)
I love this song so much and this version of "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" did not do the song justice. I suppose it was a competent cover but in a singing competition like this, everyone's looking for more than just competent. Philip was solid but forgettable on this track, which sounded strained at points. It was a boring performance overall and not one I would download. Philip's going to have to do more than this to win American Idol (at least I hope so).
2. Hollie Cavanagh - "Faithfully" B+ (originally by Journey)
A pretty and restrained cover of this gorgeous Journey classic. I wanted to see her a bit more intense at the end and lift her voice even higher than she did. However, the end was lovely. I was a bit puzzled by the fact she said she didn't understand the lyrics at first. I wouldn't call th…

American Idol: Top 5 - May 2, 2012

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Top 5 - 60's & British Invasion Week - May 2, 2012
1. Hollie Cavanagh - "River Deep, Mountain High" B
I think Hollie could have brought even more energy to this Tina Turner classic than she did. It amazes me how some contestants acknowledge the history and dare-I-say mythology of the show (best example of this during this season would be Colton Dixon, who knew how to play the game) and others who ignore it completely. The quintessential balladeer of last season, Pia Toscano, was shockingly eliminated after her performance of this song. But it just might have been that frightening jumpsuit Gwen Stefani styled her in. Anyway, back to Hollie, this was a competent and a good performance but something about it was missing for me. She sounded good and looked great but I think she lacked the charm of the Pia Toscano and Glee versions that have come out recently.
2. Philip Philips - "The Letter" D+
So much to talk about on this song. The fact that Jennifer Lopez HAS …

American Idol: Top 6 - April 25, 2012

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Top 6 - Queen & Contestant's Choice Week: April 25, 2012


1. Jessica Sanchez - "Bohemian Rhapsody" A/A-
What an unexpected song choice from the girl with arguably the biggest, most traditional "American Idol voice" in the competition. It was gorgeous and nuanced. Really phenomenal overall. I thought she did a great job overall with a song that should never be reduced to 2 minutes. Jennifer Lopez was right when she said that Jessica could have commanded the stage more for such a true rock 'n roll song.




2. Skylar Laine - "The Show Must Go On" A/A-
Skylar sang with so much passion and conviction. But in the back of my mind, I had Carly Smithson's unbelievable version from Season 7. The second half of the song improved on the first. Skylar has such a big voice and is so fierce. I would love to say that I think she's a lock for the finale, but at this point, I'm not sure what will happen. Regardless, what a tour-de-force performance! One I…

Alex Clare - "Too Close": Top Songs of 2012

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The song "Too Close" by Alex Clare is only the second song I've heard all year (after "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men) that is an inevitable lock for my Top 10 Songs Of 2012 list.

It's quickly shot up to my Top 25 iTunes Most Played list - phenomenal considering I've only added it 6 days ago. And yet, I haven't gotten burned out on "Too Close" - there is something layered about the song, something new that I discover and rediscover each time I listen.




This song has come out of nowhere to rocket up the iTunes charts and is prominently featured in a new commercial for Windows & Internet Explorer.

I'd say my initial attraction to the song was based on the juxtaposition between music and lyrics. To my chagrin, it's been a long time since I've heard an upbeat, electronic-based song that has thematic material not consumed with drinking and going to the club.

You know I'm not one to break promises
I don't want to hurt…

American Idol: Top 7 (Part 2) - April 18, 2012

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Top 7 (Part II) - Now & Then - April 18, 2012

The most music in a regular American Idol telecast ever! 14 songs in 2 hours. I was highly impressed by Ryan Seacrest's tribute to Dick Clark at the top of the show. Ryan honored someone who had clearly had a huge influence on him both personally and professionally in a succinct and classy manner.

1. Hollie Cavanagh - "Rolling In The Deep" A-

I was worried for Hollie when I heard she had chosen the done-to-death Adele hit. But I loved it despite myself. The acapella intro and more dramatic instrumentation gave it a feel of a fighter in the ring. She had a nice anger (oxymoron?) throughout this and threw in a few different inflections to change it up from the Adele version ever-so-slightly.

2. Colton Dixon - "Bad Romance" A

What a risky song choice which completely paid off for Colton! I could see Colton making music like this after Idol - and he should. There was a touch of the theatricality of Adam Lambert and th…