American Idol: Top 5 Results

4 05 2012

Results shows are tough at this stage in the American Idol Season.

BUT…

Even though Randy said this was the best Top 5 ever… I considered 2 or 3 of them mediocre and in danger after wednesday night’s performances. Philip didnt knock it out of the park as he ususally does, Holly was, as always, forgettable at best, Skylar was pitchy in that last song – and they know it now that they’ve watched it back, Jessica has been coasting a bit… the only one that had a stand out night was Joshua, which we have come to expect.

So now people are voting for who they want to win this thing…right? It’s not really about the individual performances of any given night, it’s about their whole body of work to this point, and who people think should be the next ‘Idol’.

We can talk more about this…after we get to the results from last night.

Joshua. Safe

Holly and Philip. Holly in the bottom, Philip safe.

Jessica and Skylar. Jessica safe, Skylar in the bottom.

Bottom two: Skylar and Holly

Holly has had an express ticket to the bottom since the Top 10. Could it finally be her time? Skylar was highly praised last night, but sitting where I was sitting, she was screechy and pitchy in that last ballad.

The person eliminated… Skylar.

Holly slays another dragon.

So, who will the mass voting audience decide is their American Idol? The decision is made NOW.

Is it the raw acoustic Philip Phillips? Not everyone ‘gets’ his Dave Matthews vibe.

Is it the 16 year old phenom with the Whitney voice, Jessica? A few years ago, I wouldve said she was the shoo-win, the perfect picture of what the Simon Cowell regime crowned a commercial goldmine.

Is it Joshua, with ‘the voice’ ‘the gift’… he is literally the male version of Fantasia, and as highly praised as Fantasia was in her Idol stint, she was not THAT successful at finding a broad market later on.

Or… is it the blonde ballad singer Holly. She brings nothing creative or new to the table, except a good voice. Maybe, that’s what America values over everything else.

Thoughts?

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American Idol: Top 6 recap

19 04 2012

It was only fitting that on the day of Dick Clarke’s passing, the incarnation of American Bandstand and his sucessor would take the stage and the living rooms of millions across the world.

Dick Clarke paved the way for this KIND of entertainment. Music fused with dance, personalities, celebrity, and must-see TV. He will be missed, but his legacy will remain in Hollywood for the ages.

The Top 6 performed twice last night:  a Current song, and a Soul song. There’s probably only ONE person that was thrilled about the second song theme…

Let’s start with Holly.
1. Rolling in the Deep – I knew it was just a matter of time before someone decided to take on this classic Adele tune. And yes, it is classic. I’m putting in that category of songs you shouldnt touch for about 10 years, because no on can sing it like she does. Holly is a Brit, so no DOUBT she’s been wanting to sing this song since performing it infront of her mirror (like the rest of us). She did a good job, her voice is strong and she can sure belt it out when the song calls for it. She lacked sass, which is what this song really needs to be successful.
2. Son of a Preacher – everyone struggled with Soul, but Holly did better than most. Her voice is powerful and smooth so she can easily sing… anything. It was nice to see her confidently strut through a song instead of nervously taking the stage.

Next, Colton.
1. Bad Romance – really?! That was my initial thought. Then again, it’s Colton… you knew he would change it up to fit his style. He changed it up just enough to make it different fromt he original, yet it stayed true tot he melody. Colton is picking better songs to ‘play’ with now. Bad Romance is a bit of an anthem… and he nailed it.
2. September – Earth Wind and Fire, virtually unrecognizable after he ‘Colton-ized’ it. But in my opinion, it sounded like a brand new song that could be a hit record today. The judges didnt LOVE it… I kinda did.

Elise Testone…
1. No one – Interesting choice. Elise has ‘mad skills’, her runs are insane, her inflections are totally unique to her, but I wish she’s stick to the rock/blues style she’s been KILLING lately. WOuldnt it have been cool to see her come out and do The White Stripes, RadioHead or King of Leon? I SO wish she had done that instead…
2. Lets Get it On – If I had a list (and I do) of my LEAST favourite songs (dont judge), THIS song would be on it and very clsoe to the top (cue the hate mail). So I may not be the best judge of how well or how poor Elise sang it. The song can’t be saved… in my opinion. So whether Elise was disconnected for bang on, I couldnt tell you. However, I CAN tell you that the judges spent more time trying to explain why they didnt like it than any other contestant. I think Elise is in trouble…again.

Philip Phillips…
1. You Got it Bad – how does this kid, the guitar wielding son of a Pawn Shop owner in the deep south, even KNOW this Usher song? Well, it int Usher’s song anymore… it’s a Phillip Phillips song now! He threw down an unbelievable acoustic version of the song that would make Dave Matthews proud.
2. In the Midnight Hour – guitar-less Phillip has to rely on his dancing to keep his body from running off the stage. His guitar is his anchor. That’s not to say it isnt nice to see him go Joe Cocker on stage to a classic Soul song. He can do anything…

Next to the stage, Jessica Sanchez
1.Falling – Remember when EVERYONE sang this song, in any and every singing competition? Well, it has been a few years since this song was played 1 out of every 3 songs on every radio station… which is why I didnt hate it. Also, it was Jessica SAnchez singing it. This girl attacks vocal runs like none other. She absolutely came out strong from her near elimination last week and proved her talent cannot be matched.
2. Try a Little Tenderness – I thought this song was a little bit forced vocally. She shouldve tried a little tenderness! She belted or growled every note to perfection… it just wasnt  my taste.

Next up, Skylar
1. Born this Way – the Country version. I have both on my iPod and the country version actually has more plays. Skylar keeps finding ‘country versions’ of songs, the reson they are so successful is because Americans EAT UP country versions of hit songs. And she is definitely finding her way in this competition… I like HER version of country better than any other version of country on TV (I’m talking to you Raelynn on The Voice).
2. Heard it Through the Grapevine – didnt have a country version… until last night. Yep, Skylar countrified Gladys Knight and the Pips, and it was… really cool. Skylar had a good night and didnt seem to have any trouble with the Soul theme.

End with, Joshua (the Closer)
1. I believe – I hated this choice. He picked the insipid Fantasia song she was FORCED to make her first single. I has moments, and he loves the ‘moments’, I jsut thought it was a bit cheeseball and …. not current enough. It lacked cool factor, but that’s his only downfall.
2. A Change is Gonna Come – Even I was standing at the end of this song. What a PERFECT song choice, and a PERFECT rendition of an old soul classic. Joshua knows his style, knows his voice, knows his gift and consistently delievers memorable performances.

Thoughts?

 





American Idol: Top 7 ‘This Decade’

12 04 2012

Finally the Idols are allowed to sing songs from THIS decade. It’s only the Top 7.

Anyone else enjoy the duets almost MORE than the actual performances? Wow, they’ve paired up Elyse and Philip brilliantly, Colton and Skylar perfectly and the power houses in Josh, Jessica and Holly kill it every time. It’s genius.

I was extremely excited for this week, I think it gives a really good indication of the kind of music and artist each singer aspires to be – because they pick songs they are listening to NOW, it’s current. Who CARES if they can sing the mess out of Whitney Houston or Billy Joel… that’s not the album they are going to make.

Skylar opened the show with a Kelly Pickler song. I didnt think I knew ANY Kelly Pickler songs, but I recognized this one. She has a killer voice, and it’s a popcountry version of a power ballad – totally her wheelhouse. That’s the kind of almbum she’s going to make, that’s the kind of music you can expect at her concerts. If you like it… buy it.

Then Colton took on ‘Love the Way You Lie’. He slowed it right down, and  made it a beautiful piano ballad. He has toned down the Colton squeak in his voice, and is starting to really develop a mature approach to his music. I thought it was a great arrangement, and his voice was strong enough to deliver. He WILL give Philip a run for his money… could even be your Top 2 battle.

Elyse and Philip’s duet to Goyte ‘Someone that I used to Know’ was inspired. It was the perfect blend of oddity and muscality. I hope I can download it.

Holly took on a Pink song and fell short once again. Week after week this girl ‘almost’ nails it, but can’t quite deliver the punch to rise above the other talent on stage. It wasn’t terrible, her voice soared in places and she takes criticism very well for a young girl, I just can’t imagine she’ll be here much longer.

Philip continues to be the Dave Matthews of the competition. Grey shirt, jeans, just him and his guitar. THere’s something so magnetic about his persona and his craft. Last night he made  Maroon 5 song his own, I wouldve like to have heard him take on a more popular Maroon 5 song and turned it into a Philip Phillips song. But it was a great performance as usual, the judges want to see him grow… I dont think he cares to.

Jessica couldve chosen ANYTHING (like the 2012 edition of the phonebook) and she chose a relatively unknown ‘Studder’. Of course, she nailed it. Her stage presence is classy, confident and professional – I can’t believe I’m watching a 16 year old. Great song choice to add to her repertoire of great song choices and great performances on this show.

Joshua took on Bruno Mars, and I was scared for him. But then, surprisingly, his voice and energy on stage was a pretty great match. The retro feel of the song and of his voice made the marriage work. Joshua CAN sing current music, I’m glad he took the risk last night because it paid off handsomely.

Elyse ended the night (because she’s a ‘closer’ according to JLo) with You and I by Lady Gaga. An obvious fit, and I’m SO glad she went with it. The raw power in her voice, and the choices she makes vocally are abslutely captivating and she is ripping the stuffing out of these raunchy, rock jazz infusion songs. I hope she has found her stride once again and will continue in this direction.

Thoughts?

 





American Idol Top 9: Results

30 03 2012

After a night of unmatchable Top 9 performances, I was seriously dreading the American Idol Results Show last night.

Eliminating one of these singers seems unjust after such a stand out week of performances. It seems impossible pick the best or the worst of such a strong group. I guess this is where personal preference comes into play.

Did America dig Colton the way I digged Colton?
How many country fans are out there voting for Skylar?
Is Joshua starting to bore people with his abilities?
What is Deandres ‘target market’?
Is Heejun just a joker and playing us all?
Should Philip try to mix it up?
Has Elise finally found a fan-base?
Can Jessica ever really TOP her Whitney song?
Will criticism from the judges affect Hollie’s votes?

America voted, to my absolute pleasant surprise, the same way I wouldve voted last night.

Bottom 3: Skylar, Hollie and Heejun

the final result? Heejun was eliminated and sent home – after arguably his best week.

 





American Idol Recap: Top 9

29 03 2012

The Top 9 Idol show last night was definitely the best of the season, and arguably the best Idol show I’ve ever seen.

…and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve seen a heck of a lot of ‘Idol’ shows in my day. I’ve probably seen every episode, of almost every variation of ‘singing competition’ on TV. Even all the Canadian ones…

So I say this with extensive experience in my pocket, and with sincere reverence for the show that changed modern TV… Last night was absolutely a NEW level of ‘high’ for this show and a swift shot to the juggular of all the shows competing with it.

The format remains unchanged from the first time the ‘Idols’ hit the stage Season 1, the reason producers DONT tweak with the current format is beacuse every year, it is the PERFORMERS that make the show different and memorable. Sometimes, they dont. Remember Diana Degarmo? Exactly.

Last night’s theme was ‘Our Idols’ – meaning the contestants picked songs to sing from their personal favourite artists. And the legend, Stevie Nixx was there as a mentor. Usually, this theme is a recipe for disaster. Songs you belt out in the shower, in the car and infront of a full length mirror have the tendancy to flop on stage. But since the idol have already been forced to sing Whitney, and songs they dont really know… this was probably a relief to most.

In other years, I feel like this wouldve resulted in campy versions of hit songs by artists like Mariah, Usher, Justin Timberlake – current songs that would get them votes rather than actually choosing a classic song from a great artist.

Instead…

Colton – started off the night with waht I thought would be the knock out performance of the night. And it was. His best by far, and maybe even second only to Jessicas Whitney performance. But I could be slightly bias, he sang my absolute favourite song that I didnt think anyone else in the world knew. Everything by Lifehouse is a song I have sang to and cried to more than any other song in my life. Obviously, Colton and I are the same age and apparently were both affected by the haunting melody and beautiful lyrics. He resurrected this song for me, and even for those who didn’t know the tune. I will be downloading this one…

Heejun – was criticized last week for not taking the competition seriously. I was a little worried for him this week, picking his own song. But he, surprisingly, knows his voice VERY well. He chose a song that let us hear the rich tone and vibrato he has when he opens up. He didnt hold back at ALL on this song and it was his best performance by a long shot… He needed that to get back in the game.

Skylar-  Her Idol is Melissa Lambert. Shocker. You can tell she’s like, a mega fan. This song was probably one of the only ones I felt was a little bit too much liek the original, and therefore MORE of a ‘I’ve always wanted to sing this song’ rather than a creative homage. It didnt really show off her vocals, but it DID show her comfort level within the female country rock genre. That’s her ‘thang’.

Jessica- Is just a MASSIVE star. Idol prodicers must be licking their lips and thanking the heavens for finding this one. She is the perfect little Idol package. She has a KILLER voice (she slayed a Beyonce song better than the Queen B herself…) she has amazing stage presence, and a true sense of herself as an artist… oh, and she’s 16. Steven has had hangover that last longer than that.

Joshua– Took on Mariah. I wouldve expected it more from the girls… but Randy is right, this guy has such a special, unique talent that he needs BIG songs to show them off properly. He showed it off alright. Another well deserved standing ovation from the judges. Every week, I feel like we are at a Joshua concert when he steps onto the stage – he is in command, he conncets with the music and the audience is right there with him. Such a pro.

Hollie – Still hasnt found her stride. She sang Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood. Yes, it’s a big song. It’s also a shower/car/bedroom song. If you dont do anything to change it, and you dont hit every single note… it’s karaoke (or Carrie-oke…sorry.) If there is justice, Hollie will go home tonight… the other performances of the night were in a different league.

Deandre – Finally got to pick an artist he COULS sing, and chose a soulful Eric Benet song. This is EXACTLY the direction Deandre needs to follow. I wouldnt say that I would pick up an album liek that, BUT I can marvel at the unique, distinct and fresh spin on dated R/B. This song was due for a refresh, and Deandre delivered… wow, that voice.

Philip – I would buy a ticket to a Philip Philips concert in a heartbeat after last night. You know EXACTLY what you’re going to get with this guy. Straight up acoustic rock n roll soul. This guy was going to inherit a pawn shop… now? It felt like a concert, like you didnt want the song to end, it didnt cut off in strange places to get to ‘the chorus’, he rocked out on that stage. The cutest thing in the world, was watching Stevie Nixx fall in love with him too!

Elise– Ended the night with Zepplin. Seriously. Zepplin. Not just Zepplin,  Whole Lotta Love Zepplin. NOBODY can touch songs like that… right? Wrong! Elise absolutely took over the night with her version of that song. It was pure rock n roll, it was new but stayed clsoe to the Plant original. Her vocals were spot on, and I wish she could sing 70’s rock every week. Holy smokes, girl can KILL a classic rock song like no other… who knew?!

Now you can see how Jesus Take the Wheel was a bit…underwhelming?

Everyone pulled out the big guns and had a Star Moment of their own on stage las tnight. Who the HECK will go home tonight, I don’t want to be disappointed after such an unforgettable night.





American Idol: Top 10 Performs

22 03 2012

The Top 10 performed the Billy Joel Songbook last night on American Idol… and I had high hopes.

In my opinion, there arent many (if any?) ‘bad’ Billy Joel songs to sing. So even if the contestant suffers from ‘bad song choice’ syndrome, and many of them do, this week should suit everyone.

Every theme favours some singers over others… in this week, it was undeniably clear who the ‘cream’ of the crop was – they absolutely rose to the occassion. If I had one complaint about the show last night, it would be the ‘expert’ advice from Diddy (even J-Lo had a hard time deciding what to call him!), Jimmy and Tommy Hilfiger. Diddy was useless and recycled the same ‘mentor’ crap for each contestant. ‘You gotta FEEL it’ , ‘You gotta put more SWAG into it’ ‘don’t change the song, respect the song’. It was BAFFLING to me that they would have him sit in as a mentor on Billy Joel week… surely, there would be a better suited person who needed an extra 15 minutes of fame?

Most contestants felt the same way and disregarded all of his advice. Smartly.

Here’s how the Top 10 performed last night:

Joshua – Can sing ANYTHING… except maybe, Billy Joel. His VOICE was great, but the styling was strange, and he looked a bit uncomfortable. It striked me as od that he would choose a song to LEARN from SCRATCH instead of selecting a song that he knew already. You can’t tell me he didnt know ANY Billy Joel songs… impossible.

Elise Testone – Sang my absolute favourite Billy Joel song, Vienna. She had the perfect mix of blues, soul, rock and singer songwriter to NAIL the song to the floor. It’s liek she finally cared enough about a song to make it her own, and I hope that America votes for the performance… it was one of the tops of the night.

Colton –When I heard waht the theme of the night would be, instantly I said “Coltons gonna do Piano Man”. He had to. And he DID! A bright red piano, a single spotlight and a story. Colton had it all, and this was right in his wheelhouse to knock out of the park… it was certainly his night!

Deandre- I was worried about Deandre this week. ehn I think Billy Joel, I dont think Deandre. His voice is so specific, and I’m finding it hard to fit him into a genre that works perfectly with his unique talent. It isnt Billy Joel. He sang Only the Good Die Young, which was probably the best song he couldve chosen, but it did NOTHING for him in my opinion. He’s going to struggle with the themes… Country is coming up.

Skylar – Sang Shameless as a country song, which I thought was creative… but then I hear that both Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley have done that cover – so she already knew the song as a country record. I didnt really enjoy her version, I felt like she was yelling alot and the song didnt need it. But, you know exactly what you’re going to get from her week after week… down and dirty country no matter what the theme.

Erika Van Pelt –  Got a WICKED hair cut and looks like a completely different gal. She took on the iconic, New York State of Mind and oversang it in my opinion. It’s a great tune, and her husky vocals really matched the bluesy New York smokey club nuances… but I wanted her so be soft and fluid using steady blues runs instead of vocal acrobatics. It was good, it just wasnt comparable tot he original.

Heejun – stumps me. Whenever I try to form an opinion about him as an artist and as a character… I get stuck. Is he funny? Yes. Does he mean to be? I dont know. Can he sing? Yes. Is he an artist? I dont know. I feel liek it could all be an act, and we’re the fools getting duped. I should focus on the singing… last night it was like friday night karaoke at a bar in Chinatown. I dont mean to be rude, but the background images, the lights, the jumping around, the dancing… hard to focus on the singing.

Hollie – The little girl with the bog voice pulled out another HUGE ballad to tackle, Honesty. Her vocals were great, she has some unbeleivable power, and like J-Lo said, she fearlessly takes on some pretty massive songs! I don’t think she’ll win, but she certainly deserves to be here in this company.

Jessica – Is a phenomenal talent. That’s unmistakeable. But I hope she doesnt resort to pageant -esque versions of big songs as a crutch. It’s hard to place her as an artist when she does that. LAst night, she sang a song about ‘dreams’, and it was such a ‘Star Search’ moment. Obviously, she’s taking the advice of the judges who told her to stay in her power ballad niche.

Philip –Was a guy I expected to have a good night, and he went far beyond my expectations! Him and his guitar and boring ‘grey’ shirt sang the stuffing out of Moving Out. He made it into an acoustic rock revamp, totally fresh and cool again! He was another standout performance for me, and his star is starting to RISE.

Best of the night?

Elise, Philip, Colton.





American Idol: Top 13 Performs

8 03 2012

The Top 13 sang for the first performance show of the season.

Well, the first REAL one. The first one that opens the phone lines to a democratic voting system to let ‘America’ decide the best and the worst. (or at least, most popular and least popular)

I had a hard time with this one, not gonna lie. I think it was the ‘theme’ and the execution. The theme was Stevie Wonder for the guys and Whitney Houston for the girls. The ‘Celebrity mentor’ was Mary J Blige.

I’ve told you how I feel about them forcing these girls to sing Whitney Houstons songbook. Its very specific, it’s iconic, it’s so closely associated with HEr and HER god-given abilities. She has been the ‘untouchable’ artist every year, in every singing competition. ‘Dont Sing Whitney’. This year, people who shouldnt be singing Whitney, are being faced with quite a challenge. The ONLY reason they are doing this, is because they wanted to be the first show to do a Tribute. They couldnt let X Factor steal that from them.

And don’t get me started on Mary J Blige… who so conveniently crops up on these shows minutes before her new record or new tour starts. Every time. But they couldnt have invited Selena Gomez for this occasion right? Don’t worry, she’ll get her shot. I’m sure her people are working on it.

Let’s get to the singing, shall we?

Joshua – had NO problem channeling Stevie Wonder and knocking another song out of the park. His voice is undenyable, his charisma is infectious and confident, he can SANG. This was a perfect theme for him, right in his wheelhouse.

Elise Testone – attempts the first Whitney song. And I’m thinking, this could be a long night. ‘Im your Baby tonight’? Really? IT sounded like a girl completely unfamiliar with this style of music. She was lost, so she ended up just getting through it and hoping there would be worse to come… she wasnt far off.

Colton – sang ‘Lately’ with a moody, rock ballad vibe. It’s a tough gig trying to get through this competition as an ‘alt’ musician. This was probably brutally hard to pull off, but there are likely rougher waters ahead for this guy. I love what he brings to this competition, I’ll always be wondering what he’s going to pull off! I wouldve liked to see him at the piano again.

Shannon Magrane – The leggy blonde Volleyball player. That’s how I remember her. I SHOULD be remembering her for her voice, but I dont. She has power, but she is another victim of snging a song WAY too BIG for her. ‘I Have Nothing’ requires Whitneys pipes. But that’s not her fault, it’s the producers in my opinion… she wouldnt have attempted that song had she not been forced to pick a Whitney song.

Deandre- Funniest moment of the night, was the response he had to seeing himself crying on the bigscreen “Lawd have Mercy!” Classic reaction. I was worried about teh kind of artists Deadnre is making himeself, and last night he continued to confuse me… but he was still highly entertaining. That falsetto is going to get him places, and that hair? Lawd!

Skylar – The country singer – a little bit Lambert, a little bit Clarkson and a little bit Reba. She did what was expected with this theme – she took a Whitney song, ‘Where do Broken hearts Go’ and made it a Skylar song. I dont know that I LOVED it as a Skylar song (the nasally country sound aint always my cup o’ tea) but she showed herself as the artist she will become. Love it or Hate it… she was certainly NOT the worst of the night,

Jermaine – I was not a fan of his the minute he sang Luther Vandrose. Who is your audience? I dont have much to say about him because I found myself drifting and getting a snack, and checking my email… during his performance. It was – fine (?!) I’m not excited by him.

Erika Van Pelt – I feel like we still havent seen Erika. She has moments, and she had some monets last night. But I need her to unleash and show us a performance worthy of winning this show. Beacuse, I feel liek she could be a contender if she chose the right songs and had the eye of the tiger. There’s no time to hold back. But I really hope we see her again next week. Again, I think this might be the result of an unfair theme…

Heejun – is an enigma. He is dryly humorous, totally charming and yet,  confusing. He’s a real character, and I like that! However, I often feel like he’s still riding this competition like it’s a week at band camp. Then he opens his mouth, and it’s pure and hauntingly beautiful. He had another really outstanding performance last night, I hope he can break the mold next week… do something hip and cool.

Jeremy Rosado – got his second chance, and unfortunately didnt deliver. He has a nice voice, but his song last night was dull, dull, dull. NO excitement, no big notes, no ‘moments’. Even J-Lo didnt cry and ‘face melt’ as he was singing…what does that tell ya? He was that bad…even his biggest fan was unenthused.

Hollie – The small blonde with the big voice. This girl actually had the chops to belt out a tough Whitney song with some impressive gravtas. Was it just me, or did most of these singers sound bette rin their rehearsals than on stage? I found that with a few, and in particular Hollie (and Shannon who bombed). It was actually one of the best of the night for the girls… but that’s not REALLY saying much.

Jessica – You knew it was coming right? As soon as they said “Whitney” you knew someone was taking on…’THE’ song. ‘I will always Love you’ will go down as THE Whitney song, and the song only a handful of epople will EVER be able to sing. One of those people, apparently, is Jessica Sanchez. Holy smokes. Youtube this one if you didnt see it.

Philip – is in his own category. It’s hard to critique him. He’s so unique, and so ‘into it’…that you just know he’s all about the music and landng the ultimate ‘gig’. I’m so glad they are taking a chance with this guy and letting him do his thing in this competition. He proved last night that the format wont get in the way of his style.








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