live-blogging the american idol season 11 finale

ImageSeason 11 of American Idol comes to an end tonight; we find out who inherits the sash and tiara from Scotty “Baby Lock Them Doors” McCreery. Will it be southern heartthrob and Dave Matthews impersonator Phillip Phillips, or will it be ballad-bot Jessica “BB Chez” Sanchez?

I think both have rabid fanbases that voted their fingers off last night, but Phillip’s excellent coronation song “Home” may have given him the lead. I have no horse in the race, as my girl Skylar Laine was eliminated fifth, but it will be interesting to see if Jessica can be the first female to win the title since Jordin Sparks.

8:01 – What do you think Phillip and Jessica talk about? I just spent 30 seconds pondering this. Thirty seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

8:03 – Oh top 12…so much potential, so much disappointment.

8:04 – Is this a tie-in for So You Think You Can Dance? Reminder: it’s back tomorrow. Watch it!

8:06 – I love how Jane Lynch has a better seat than Scotty McCreery.

8:08 – Phillip Phillips in his finest henley and white pants. What a dapper gent.

8:10 – Idol will never limit the number of votes a person can cast, a la Dancing With the Stars, because they love to brag about the record-breaking number of votes.

8:12 – Seriously geeking out over Phillip and John Fogerty singing together. What a great pairing.

8:14 – Um, I might have spoken too soon, because this is not audibly pleasant. Sorry Phil, I think it’s you.

8:15 – Phillip’s vocal limitations are so apparent when put next to a legend like Fogerty.

8:18 – The first of many filler segments: the judges acting wacky. Or, Steven Tyler being himself while J. Lo and Randy look on bemusedly.

8:20 – Full confession: I never got the Joshua Ledet hype. Too much hollering and screaming for me.

8:21 – Holy s#*t…Fantasia looks downright hideous. Whoever put that weave on her head and shoved her into that sequined sausage casing should be shot.

8:23 – Thank you to Fox for cutting to a commercial break. My retinas were starting to burn the longer I looked at Fantasia. I’m all about loving your body, but there comes a point where you put on a sequined and mesh catsuit, look in the mirror and go, “No, this won’t do.”

8:30 – I can’t decide if Jimmy Iovine’s mental block with Jennifer Lopez’ name is funny or sad.

8:32 – It’s almost criminal how early the uber-talented Erika van Pelt was eliminated.

8:34 – Chaka Khan continues tonight’s trend of vulgarly tight bodysuits. If I can see the outline of your labia and ass crack, take it up a size.

8:40 – “Here, Phillip Phillips. Have a new Ford car, despite not appearing in any of the music videos!”

8:45 – I’m trying to come up with something to say about Rihanna’s performance…but I don’t even know where to begin.

8:51 – Oh Skylar. You should be competing for the title tonight. Life is unjust.

8:53 – Reba is like Skylar in 40 years. I’ve been saying all season that Skylar is like a mix of Reba and Miranda Lambert, so this duet is perfect.

8:55 – STEVEN TYLER HAS A SLOTH.

8:59 – Jessica Sanchez is singing a ballad. There’s something new and exciting. Even her little brother is bored.

9:01 – The girls were so much better than the guys this season.

9:11 – I chuckled at the ‘singing the phone book’ bit. Help.

9:14 – Didn’t J. Lo perform two weeks ago? Why is she back, in drop-crotch pants, no less?

9:15 – “Tonight we go orangutan/Bananas.” Jennifer Lopez, lyricist extraordinaire.

9:20 – Couldn’t comment during the second J. Lo song, as I was demonstrating some of my Zumba moves. Everyone in the room with me, cats included, implored me to stop.

9:25 – A live engagement of two former Idol contestants. The circle of life, folks.

9:28 – Hollie, my favorite little pixie British Texan. She sounds lovely with Jordin Sparks.

9:32 – Funny how this whole shebang is about Phillip and Jessica, yet the two of them have barely been on screen the last hour and a half.

9:35 – If the guys are singing Bee Gees, I bet the girls are doing a Donna Summer medley.

9:37 – I didn’t miss Colton’s straining emo faces one bit. Between his neck tendons and Phillip’s forehead vein, this was the season of overwrought body parts.

9:40 – I’m not sure what’s going on with Jennifer Holliday’s mouth, and that concerns me.

9:43 – That was over the top in a very uncomfortable way.

9:47 – Wow…Joe Perry and the rest of Aerosmith finally got over their Idol snit and are performing. Also, Steven Tyler looks like Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter.

9:49 – I can only assume that, to round out the judges performance trifecta, Randy is going to recite some poetry about his time with Journey and working with Mariah.

9:52 – Aww, how cute. Jennifer is pretending she knows the words to “Walk This Way.”

9:58 – Praise the fashion gods…Phillip Phillips is wearing a suit jacket. Over a henley. Of course.

9:59 – Phillip and Jessica singing together is like the musical equivalent of peanut butter and vinegar.

10:02 – PHILLIP PHILLIPS WINS!

10:03 – “Home” is the best coronation song since “A Moment Like This.”

10:04 – Despite my aforementioned ambivalence, I am tearing up watching Phillip cry.

Well, there you have it. Phillip Phillips, winner of American Idol season 11. Another guy with a guitar. C’est la vie. Thanks for reading! Watch So You Think You Can Dance!

‘american idol’ finale live blog

This season of American Idol started out with so much promise; new judges, no more Simon, the promise of new blood in the fading franchise. Things went south quickly, thanks to the early elimination of Pia Toscano, the Judges’ Save used way too early, lack of criticism from the judging panel and obvious examples of producer pimping/manipulation. Tonight, the season 10 winner will be crowned, an underwhelming competition between Scotty “Lovechild of Alfred E. Neuman and Howdy Doody” McCreery and Lauren “Toddlers and Tiaras All Grown Up” Alaina. For me, it’s the battle of who could care less, as my favorite, the sublime Haley Reinhart, was eliminated last week. Stay tuned as I live blog all of the filler segments and performances, and of course, who is crowned Wholesome Southern Teen Idol.

8:02 – When I think that more people vote for American Idol than the presidential election, a little part of me dies.

8:03 – Something that’s plagued me all season: is ‘Alaina’ actually her last name, or is it a middle-name-as-last-name sort of deal? Boggles the mind.

8:05 – Jacob Lusk is loving this Lady Gaga choreography.

8:07 – This isn’t a knock on Lauren’s weight, but she appears to be wearing an outfit from the Fat Elvis collection.

8:08 – Commercial Break Twitter Update (CBTU) “@realityblurred: Um, Lauren’s hometown Idol finale party had tons of empty seats. The camera couldn’t even conceal that.”

8:11 – The fact that both Judas Priest and Iggy Pop have appeared on Idol this season does not bode well for the future of the music industry.

8:15 – No, Ryan, do not go to Randy for any soundbites/reactions tonight. Please.

8:16 – It has occurred to me that I’d enjoy kickin’ it with the Dawg, but in the context of Idol, I’d like to sew his mouth shut.

8:18 – I would rather listen to seven hours of Randy saying, “You’re in it to win it!”than a three-minute Jacob Lusk performance.

8:21 – CBTU “@votefortheworst: Jacob Lusk needs time to queen out by himself. Eliminate Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight and let Jacob go to town on his own.”

8:26 – I shouldn’t be enjoying this Casey Abrams/Jack Black performance as much as I am.

8:30 – I forgot most of these girls even existed.

8:33 – The top six girls are dressed like strippers at a post-apocalyptic strip club.

8:36 – CBTU “@mattmitovich: True story: Jack Black thinks he’s dueting with Will Ferrell.”

8:40 – Steven Tyler…everyone’s favorite crazy uncle.

8:42 – LOVE Haley’s dress. I wish she was singing with someone a little more current than Tony Bennett, but she sounds wonderful, as usual.

8:46 – J. Lo’s hair, flesh and jumpsuit are all the same color. It’s unsettling.

8:48 – Seriously, who dresses these girls? I can’t even find the words to describe how atrocious their TLC performance ensembles are…

8:50 – I appreciate the sentiment, but “Live Like You Were Dying” is my least favorite Tim McGraw song. Of course he’s singing it with Scotty.

8:55 – CBTU “@rilaws: It’s so weird that Tim McGraw is being styled by George Michael these days.”

8:58 – I can’t wait for this Idol nonsense to be over so we can get to the goodness that is So You Think You Can Dance.

9:02 – Sorry, Mr. J. Lo, but this performance reminds me of the “Island Fantasy Spectacular” put on by my resort on Spring Break.

9:06 – Oh Stefano, don’t ever sing in falsetto again.

9:08 – I think I can safely say this season’s top 13 is the most adept at choreography. Yes, this is something I thought about and analyzed. Help me.

9:11 – This medley is painful. These six voices do not mesh well together.

9:12 – The girls got to sing with Beyonce and the boys get…Tom Jones. Naturally.

9:14 – CBTU “@EWMandiBierly: I wish they’d made the Top 13 girls be Marc Anthony’s feather girls.”

9:23 – This show needed a heavy dose of Gaga’s insanity. Love her.

9:25 – I love playing “Spot Mark Kanemura” during Lady Gaga’s performances. He’s one of my favorite SYTYCD alums.

9:27 – CBTU “@adambvary: Ummm. Is Scotty a little hot for teacher?”

9:31 – Loving that Carrie Underwood is wiping the floor with Lauren. Bow down, bitches.

9:33 – Again, this isn’t a knock on Lauren’s weight, but I couldn’t help but notice that her butt is about three times the size of Carrie’s. I wish I had a screencap so I could marvel at the difference.

9:36 – Beyonce’s back. Snooze.

9:40 – CBTU “@EWAnnieBarrett: Carrie Underwood’s “sun”-kissed legs are the skinniest hot dogs I’ve ever seen.”

9:44 – I will never tire of the commercial where the guy is doing a one-man flash mob in Grand Central.

9:46 – This unknown dude onstage with Bono and the Edge looks like a mix of Ethan Hawke, James Franco and Kris Allen.

9:50 – CBTU “@EWAnnieBarrett: Sorry Bono and the Edge aren’t home right now they’re walking into spiderwebs so leave a message and they’ll call you back.” (Follow her. She’s hilarious.)

9:54 – Uncle Steven woke up from his season-long nap to perform, everyone!

9:57 – CBTU “@MichaelSlezakTV: I am going to have to ‘rise above’ the show’s failure to give a couple of my fave finalists a solo performance slot. #HijackedBySpidey”

10:02 – Okay, folks, here we go…the 2011 American Idol is…SCOTTY MCCREERY!

10:03 – Congrats to Scotty, but ugh, that means we have to hear his stupid “Love You This Big” song ad nauseum.

10:05 – “@rilaws: Time to sing the baby song for babies. Baby gets a bottle after sing-song is over.”

An underwhelming ending to an underwhelming season. I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things…SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE starts tomorrow night : )

i’m a beLEEver : )

Well America, like it or not, your American Idol is….(cue unnecessarily long pause where Lee nearly vomited on himself and Crystal appeared to stop breathing) LEE DEWYZE! The paint salesman from Chicago beat out the single mom from Ohio by a close margin, capping off what some claim to be the worst season of Idol thus far. I wouldn’t say worst…maybe more like most boring? Most phoned-in judging?

I was never a huge Crystal fan, so I was happy with the results. Going into the show last night, I honestly had no clue who would win, because I don’t put much faith in stuff like DialIdol, but I think it came down to the fact that Lee’s fans were more likely to mobilize and vote because he appealed to a younger audience.Regardless if you were a staunch MamaSox supporter or not, you had to smile just a teensy bit at the outpouring of gratitude and pure excitement from Lee after he won.

It will be interesting to see how well Lee does in his post-Idol endeavors; Entertainment Weekly posed the question, “Will Lee be the next Kelly Clarkson or the next Taylor Hicks?” I think it’s wayyyy too soon to tell; let the guy tour, soak in his new life, figure out what kind of music he wants to make, and then pass judgment. I urge any haters to check out Lee’s pre-Idol stuff on YouTube or iTunes before they make any snap decisions.

I made it through 42 episodes of American Idol, which probably means I lost about 60 hours of my life to this show. I will never get to reclaim those lost hours, but I had fun watching and recapping. From the shocking elimination of Alex Lambert to the misused Judges’ Save, and all the way through to the finale, it was an interesting ride.

Thoughts on (the second hour of) the finale:

-LOVED Casey James and Bret Michaels singing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Did not love a celebrity who nearly escaped death and had a minor stroke last week performing without telling his doctor.  Bret is the ultimate Comeback Kid, though.

-Not gonna lie, I was enjoying Larry Platt’s dance moves during “Pants on the Ground.” When William Hung came out, however, he just ruined the fun.

-Paula Abdul looked great, but her “roast” of Simon was so awkward.

-All of the past Idol winners and top 12s from past seasons coming back to sing to Simon was a great TV moment. It’s easy to forget how many people have experienced success from this show.

-Joe Cocker kind of scared me…

-Departing musical director Rickey Minor did not get any acknowledgment from the show, which is a shame and kind of embarrassing on the producers’ part.

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

“american idol” top 4: consider the shark jumped.

If all of the preceding episodes of American Idol this season were distress signals, then last night’s performance episode was those signals flat lining. “Songs of the Cinema” night was an all-around disaster. The judges could barely muster up any relevant critiques, and even the praised performances were just so-so in comparison to other things we’ve seen from the contestants this season. This is the top four, people! This is the time when you need to step up your game, not sit back and churn out something mediocre that borders on karaoke.
Before I get to the actual singing, I have to address the ridiculous theme and equally ridiculous mentor. Ryan proclaimed that everyone loves the movies, but that doesn’t mean that everyone loves songs from the movies. Based on the pathetic list of songs the top four had to choose from, I gathered that the theme was actually “Songs Written Specifically For a Movie,” rather than “Any Song In a Movie/On Its Soundtrack.” Nine times out of ten, songs that are penned to play over closing credits of movies are dull and schlocky, which explains why I spent most of last night waiting for Idol to be over so Glee could start. This type of theme is usually a momentum killer, which is exactly what happened.
Jamie Foxx was partly to blame; he spent more time obsessing over his silly “artist” and “contestant” shirts than he did offering any useful critique. No, I don’t think sticking his face in Lee and Casey’s personal space counts as mentoring. Maybe I’m still riding high from the excellent mentoring of Harry Connick, Jr. last week, but it seemed like Foxx was just there for the face time and didn’t care too much about the contestants.
Lee Dewyze and his face full of spray tan opened the show with a shaky version of Seal’s “Kiss By a Rose.” First of all, way to pick an awful song, Lee, and second, please stop dressing like you’re performing at Zeta Chi’s Beer Bash 2010. The pitch was just beyond his grasp the entire song, and all of the words ended in a vague mumble. You know I adore Lee, but I had to hide my face behind a pillow in embarrassment.
Here’s a shocker: Big Mike picked one of Michael Jackson’s cheesiest songs, the Free Willy song “Will You Be There.” Nothing about this performance indicated that Mike has the chops to become the next American Idol. I’m hoping Big Mike will be heading home tonight. Free Willy, indeed.
I missed out on season 8, so I hadn’t seen any duets on Idol until last night. I think it’s a great idea, and I’m all for duets being introduced earlier on in the season. Group night creates lots of drama and entertainment during Hollywood Week, so why not carry that into the rest of the show? Lee and Crystal sang “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once. I loved how their mic stands were positioned to face each other, and I also loved that they both played guitar. I wasn’t too keen on how their voices meshed; Crystal’s Joplin-esque howl was a bit grating against Lee’s gravelly tone. Things definitely picked up around the chorus, and Lee redeemed himself for his hideous solo performance just minutes before. Bonus points to Crystal for calling Lee her “musical crush.”
Back in solo land, Casey chose “Mrs. Robinson,” which is hands-down my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. It could have been okay, but he chose to sit in the crowd and play a mandolin to a slowed-down version of the song. The judges were so proud of themselves for making the connection between the Graduate and Kara’s supposed crush on Casey, but anyone with half a brain/knowledge of music history knows that the song was originally titled “Mrs. Roosevelt” and was changed only to fit in with the movie. Nice try, though, Randy.
Crystal was the only solo performer to change up her song a bit, but no amount of orchestral rearranging could hide the fact that “I’m All Right” is the song from Caddyshack. It was the best performance of the night, but that’s like saying it was the pile of dog poop that smelled the least. I did enjoy her boyfriend’s American flag pants, though. Forgive me if this sounds incredibly mean, but her boyfriend is way cuter than I thought the boyfriend of Crystal Bowersox should be.
The duet between Casey and Big Mike was like a nonentity, as I think one of them will be going home tonight and the other next week. I do enjoy “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” for the cheesy ballad that it is, and I thought the guitar stylings of the two gents worked well. Casey may not be the next American Idol, but damn, that guy can play the guitar. Their harmonizing wasn’t as bad as I thought, but someone was way sharp during the chorus (methinks it was Casey.)
Will there be a shocking, Chris Daughtry-type elimination tonight as we see who makes it into the top three? You never know with American Idol
Photo courtesy of Fox.com.

i miss the kooky glassblower already.

Last week, as I watched Siobhan Magnus, one of my picks to make it to the top 4, if not top 3, sing her American Idol swan song, I felt a whole lot of…nothing. I’ve experienced many emotions over the years as an avid Idol viewer, but never has that range included apathy. As I watched Siobhan absolutely kick ass on “Think” in that gorgeous two-tone pink dress, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe season 9 is the worst season so far, although one could make a compelling argument in favor of the snooze-worthy season 5, with the Blake/Jordin finale, but that’s a topic for another time. The five contestants left standing elicit nothing more than mild enthusiasm from me, yet by this point in other seasons I was already (illegally) downloading performances and anxiously awaiting the day Idols Live tickets went on sale. If I miss an episode of Idol this season, eh, I move on.
So where did American Idol go wrong? How did Ken Warwick and Co. reach this plateau and turn a watercooler show into a defeated shell of its former self? Let’s face it, when you’re being beaten out in ratings by a cheesy (albeit delightfully so) dancing competition made up of minor celebrities, it’s time to panic a little. There are numerous reasons why Idol is slipping this year: the loss of Paula and subsequent addition of Ellen, losing favorite contestants before the top 12, Simon’s last season, etc., but most of the blame can be placed on the contestants themselves. You could have the best recipe in the world, but if the ingredients you use are subpar, the end product isn’t going to taste so great. Clunky metaphors aside, here’s my take on the top 5:
Call Aaron Kelly the Little Engine that Is Trying So Damn Hard. You can almost hear, “I think I can! I think I can!” running through his mind as he makes an earnest face and hits a glory note. His naivety and innocence are refreshing amidst backtalk and egos, and the country tone to his voice is great, but Aaron hasn’t had a true “wow!” moment to make him a legitimate contender. He’s too much like Archuleta 2.0; we’ve already gone down the precociously talented teen guy route before.) I do think he’ll have success in the country industry, but I hope he finishes high school and maybe considers college before taking on the entertainment industry. (Am I really giving out parental advice? In that case…get off my lawn, turn your music down, pull up your pants, etc.)
I take back my earlier comment about feeling nothing during last week’s results show. I felt deep-seated rage that we could have been done with Big Mike and his ridiculous behavior back in the top 9. He represents everything annoying about Idol. “Check me out on iTunes!” Um, no. “I’m doing it for my people!” You don’t have people. You’re a contestant on American Idol. Then there’s the lip licking, the facial mugging, the arm flexing, the weeping, eye-glitter fanatic wife, the need to pick up all lightweight contestants and mentors…I could go on and on. Maybe it’s just my musical taste, but I don’t find his R&B stylings to be anything new and different, nor anything I would download/listen to.
Casey James is the epitome of vanilla: semi-decent to look at, marginally talented, but oh-so-boring. I’m not saying I want my Idols brimming with personality, because hello, I want to sucker punch Big Mike every time he appears on my TV, but I think Casey was born without the personality gene. The goat vibrato slips into his voice far too much for my liking, and the John Mayer-ish faces he makes while playing guitar are frightening. He could make the top 4, barring any shocking eliminations, but his complacency is not going to win him the competition.
I confess that I usually join in on the backlash that comes from a contestant being too heavily pimped by the judges/producers, and this season I bought my round-trip ticket on the anti-Bowersox express. I’ve always criticized Crystal for sticking too close to her “wheelhouse,” as Randy would say. We get it; she likes girls with guitars and soulful jams. Yet when she tried something different-ish, a Shania Twain cover, it was lethargic, half-assed and a bit pitchy. I think tonight’s Sinatra night is literally do or die for Crystal; no instruments and no rearranging of songs allowed. How is she going to fit her crunchy granola hippie style into that box? I wasn’t too keen on her comment on last week’s results show that she “didn’t think” she’d ever been in the bottom 3. Really? You can’t remember? Maybe the judges have been blowing smoke up her butt for so long that she has selective amnesia. I know Crystal is favored to win, but I’ll be shocked if she does….
…Because I think Lee DeWyze is going to come from behind and take the crown right off Crystal’s head. We could have a repeat of last year on our hands: an overhyped favorite and a dark horse in the finale, with the dark horse ultimately victorious. Lee is by no means the most consistent person ever to grace the Idol stage, because he does suffer from pitch problems every week and he’s yet to really command the stage. That being said, he’s the only remaining contestant whose album I would be interested in buying, although if he were competing in any season other than the current one, he’d be a mid-pack player at best.
Tonight’s show should be very interesting…

live-blogging the ACMs

I hadn’t intended on live-blogging the ACMs, but halfway through Reba’s opening monologue, I decided to get my laptop and have at it.

8:18 – Eighteen minutes in and we’ve had three performances and no award presentations. This is why country awards shows are so great.

8:20 – This may be one of the worst Kenny Chesney songs I’ve heard. Every song of his is starting to sound the same.

8:23 – Is it wrong that I’d rather see the Jonas Brothers’ concert in 3D over Kenny’s?

8:26 – Reba looks great, as usual.

8:27 – Mom, upon seeing Faith Hill: “Wow, is this ugly hair night?”

8:29 – Lady A takes song of the year! Love them.

8:31 – Dear Laura Bell Bundy, country music doesn’t need its own Britney Spears. You’re better suited for Broadway.

8:33 – I adored LBB in Hairspray and Legally Blonde, but honey, that was just terrible.

8:40 – I greatly prefer the kinder and gentler side of Toby Keith, instead of his ‘angry American’ shtick.

8:45 – This one-two punch of the Toby Keith song and then USO footage is really getting to me. I will not cry, I will not cry…

8:53 – Sooo I still don’t think I get the difference between Single and Song of the year…

8:54 – Another Lady A win! Hillary Scott looks lovely in that fuchsia dress.

9:00 – Person most out of place tonight: LL Cool J.

9:01 – T. Swift is already more in tune in these 30 seconds than she was in her entire Grammy performance.

9:04 – Taylor’s come such a long way since her performance of “Tim McGraw” with the song’s namesake sitting in the front row.

9:05 – I’d like to know what product Taylor uses in her hair to keep it so frizz-free and bouncy. Also, I’m surprised she sang “Change.” Interesting choice.

9:06 – Julianne Hough is way too orange and her poor boobs look like they’re trying to make a run for it.

9:08 – Fun fact: Gloriana’s Cheyenne Kimball had her own MTV reality show back in the early ’00s, and she dated American Idol‘s Jason Castro on the show.

9:09 – Who is this man in the overalls with the tanorexic lady? Never heard them on country radio before…

9:12 – There will not be any commenting during the upcoming Lady A performance. I must watch every second. “American Honey” is my jam.

9:16 – I will be purchasing both of Lady A’s CDs tomorrow. It’s official.

9:18 – Just voted for Brooks and Dunn to sing “My Maria” and for Carrie Underwood as Entertainer of the Year.

9:21 – Rascal Flatts could literally sing the phone book and people would buy their CD. Whoa, Gary Le Vox is a bit pitchy, dawg.

9:25 – Album of the Year goes to…Miranda Lambert. I’m not really shocked; she’s a total critics’ darling.

9:28 – If I was a famous person, I would go on as many USO tours as I could. Damn it, I’m tearing up again.

9:29 – Jason Aldean’s first album is great, but aside from “Johnny Cash,” everything else he’s put out is just so-so.

9:38 – I can’t listen to this Miranda Lambert song on the radio anymore because the first time I heard it, I was sobbing so hard I could barely drive.

9:42 – I’m losing the remote control battle to Mom and Celebrity Apprentice.

9:44 – I doubt you can find a grown man openly weeping about humanitarian work on any other awards show. Bravo, Montgomery Gentry.

9:46 – Jack Ingram and Dierks Bentley = two very talented men on one stage. Love them both…but this song is kinda lame.

9:51 – I despise this Zegrid commercial where the man paints things on his torso. Creepy.

9:53 – On a CBS-related note, I’m totally geeked for this week’s episode of Survivor.

9:56 – Carrie’s my homegirl, but this song is so treacly and overwrought.

10:00 – Oh, another Lady Antebellum win. Shocking.

10:03 – Tim McGraw brings the total number of ACM performances I’ve cried during to three. Stop toying with my emotions, country music.

10:11 – Brad Paisley is just awesome.

10:15 – I’m glad Brad doesn’t take all of his songs so literally…can you imagine what sort of stunt he could have pulled with “Ticks”?

10:17 – Matthew McConaughey’s “lady” (his word, not mine) looks absolutely mortified that he just shared the location of their daughter’s conception.

10:18 – Brad Paisley may be the first person to ever accept an award while soaking wet.

10:24 – Yessss Brooks and Dunn are singing “My Maria.” Awesome song….but lots of technical difficulties.

10:27 – The fact that Ronnie Dunn is successfully hitting all those falsetto notes is impressive. These two will be sorely missed from the country music scene.

10:29 – I covet Carrie’s white cupcake-ish dress.

10:30 – Randy Travis is starting to resemble Skeletor. And I think approximately zero people are shocked that Brooks and Dunn just won Top Vocal Duo.

10:37 – Reba’s great, but I find 98% of her music to be quite boring. Now “Fancy”…that’s a song I can get behind.

10:40 – Ugh, Josh Duhamel, that’s an ugly suit. Did Fergie pick it out?

10:42 – Miranda Lambert’s dress has just been panned by the illustrious fashion critics also known as my parents.

10:47 – Is this Keith Urban performance live? I’m confused.

10:50 – It’s totally adorable that Nicole Kidman is singing along in the audience.

10:54 – And Entertainer of the Year 2010 is…CARRIE UNDERWOOD! I’m sure my one vote was the deciding factor. You’re welcome, Carrie.

10:56 – And Hootie is closing the show. Goodnight y’all : )

“american idol” top 9: part deux

…And I’m back! Since I last discussed the goings-on at American Idol, we lost Didi and almost lost Big Mike, but then the judges had a momentary lapse of judgment and decided to save the beefy, lip licking super dad. Between Big Mike and Andrew constantly reminding us that they’re fathers on Idol, and Kate Gosselin exploiting her motherhood on Dancing With the Stars, there has never been more parents on TV looking for sympathy. I literally shouted at the TV last week when Simon told Big Mike he was safe. I hate the judges’ save in principle, and it was even more annoying tonight when they were tripping over themselves to congratulate themselves on their great save. On to last night’s festivities…
Adam Lambert, he of the screeching and eyeliner, became the first former Idol contestant to serve as a mentor. As an Idol purist, I called foul at this; why not bring back a truly successful Idol, such as Chris Daughtry? Carrie Underwood? Jennifer Hudson? Before I get a bunch of Lambert fans jumping down my throat, I’m not suggesting that Adam isn’t successful, just that he’s only had a year to cultivate his post-Idol career, while others have had more time. That being said, I thought Adam was the best season 9 mentor thus far, offering useful and insightful advice to the contestants, but whether or not they decided to use it was another story. (I’m looking at you, Andrew.)
Crystal Bowersox started the night by singing “Saved,” an Elvis song I was previously unfamiliar with, although my knowledge doesn’t extend far beyond “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Love Me Tender.” Big shocker here – Crystal vocally nailed it. It wasn’t bad karaoke, but it was fairly forgettable. My whole issue with Crystal is that she’s predictable. I don’t know if I can see her winning the Idol crown this season, and I think her career is going to be middling at best. I just had an argument with a coworker about Crystal, because he thinks she’s going to be “huge in the hippie community.” I responded that a) the fact that he thinks there is a hippie community concerns me, and b) if Crystal is signed by 19/Jive/any sort of Idol-related record label, the hippie community is going to reject her, because she’s going to be all sterilized and pasteurized of her crunchy granola goodness. (It’s also important to note that my coworker’s grasp of reality is practically nonexistent. He still goes to Phish concerts.)
I enjoyed how Adam bluntly told Andrew Garcia that his rendition of “Hound Dog” was boring, and urged him to pep it up. Great advice, but Andrew completely disregarded it and sang a half-assed, lethargic arrangement. If Andrew doesn’t get the axe as part of tonight’s dual elimination, I’ll be shocked. Dude’s been seemingly phoning it in since the top 10.
I never thought I would write this phrase, but Tim Urban had one of the best performances of the night. His version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was great. The guitar part was nice, it actually seemed heartfelt, and the vocals weren’t terrible. Way to go, Timmy. You’re probably safe for another week.
Lee has always been my favorite Idol, but it’s getting kind of transparent that the judges are trying to create a competition between him and Crystal. I liked his take on “A Little Less Conversation.” He made it sound modern, and his vocals were, for once, growly and in tune.
Aaron Kelly‘s performance of “Blue Suede Shoes” was vocally on point. It showcased his lower register quite nicely and got rid of that going-through-puberty crack he has going on sometimes. The vocals were about all that went right, though, as Aaron had trouble connecting to a song whose lyrics included “drink liquor from a fruit jar” (or something like that.)
When Siobhan met Adam, the world did not collapse into a black hole of screeching and big hair. Rather, she seemed shyly starstruck, which was cute. I love “Suspicious Minds,” (see Chris Daughtry’s version for proof) but I don’t know if it was the best song for Siobhan. The arrangement was definitely too slow, which hindered her vocals, and the whole pacing seemed off. I loved her pseudo-Elvis jumpsuit and pompadour hair, though. I’m quite scared that Siobhan could be in danger due to the double-elimination tonight, but she’s had worse performances and stayed on, so we’ll see.
I’m still peeved the judges saved Big Mike, so I took a Twitter and potty break during his performance of “In the Ghetto.” Please go home tonight.
Simon’s critique of Katie‘s performance being “very loud and a bit annoying” was spot-on. She sang “Baby, What You Want Me to Do,” and her performance definitely felt very karaoke-ish. Someone in the wardrobe department must hate Katie, for she was in another unflattering, bizarre outfit with way too many accessories. I hope she gets the ax tonight. I’ve had enough of the Miss Teen Connecticut act.
The final performance of the night belonged to Casey, and I have to admit, I don’t remember what song he sang or anything about the performance. (Wikipedia tells me it was “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” No wonder I couldn’t remember.) That doesn’t bode well for Mr. James.
Stray observations:
-Mama Lambert is very pretty. (She being the woman sitting next to Adam throughout the show.)
-Kara, stop using “fire” as a way to describe things. It’s not an adjective.
-Ryan Seacrest must be stopped. Between his dancing in the aisles during Tim’s performance to his Dunkleman joke, he was out of control last night.
-Having the cast of Glee right behind the judges all night was great; Jane Lynch’s visceral reactions to various comments were priceless.

Photo courtesy of fox.com

‘american idol’ top 11: too awful to make a witty headline.

I almost didn’t want to write about American Idol again, because I mentally checked out of the show about halfway through last night, and because it was so damn boring/awful/pitchy/etc. that I don’t care who goes home tonight; it could be any one of six people and I’d be happy. But I have some perverse dedication to this blog, even though about four people read it on a regular basis (Hi Mom!), and honestly, last night was just too awful not to discuss. The Idols could pick from any number one single in Billboard‘s 50-year history, and they managed to pick some of the schlockiest, cheesiest, over-performed songs on the list. Guest mentor Miley Cyrus wasn’t as bad as I thought she’d be, although her statement that, “People take me seriously because I take myself seriously,” proves all that is wrong with today’s youth.

Lee Dewyze, my current favorite, started the show with “The Letter,” by the Box Tops. The brass ensemble was borderline hokey, although it was a nice departure from the ‘dude stands behind mic stand with guitar’ performances in Lee’s past. I liked the vocals, and he definitely brought more stage presence, although he clearly had no idea what to do with his left hand, the one not holding the microphone, and flailed it around awkwardly.

Why Paige Miles thought it would be a good idea to pick “Take a Look At Me Now (Against All Odds),” a song already covered on Idol by Corey Clark, George Huff, Jessica Sierra, Scott Savol, Katharine McPhee, and Ramiele Malubay, is something I can’t fathom. Calling her performance ‘pitchy’ is an understatement. My living room cleared when Paige started singing. I think my dog was in pain. The girl sang better when she had laryngitis, for crying out loud. It was just awful.

Another performance that falls into the ‘just awful’ category is Tim Urban‘s take on Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Freddie Mercury rolled over in his grave, for sure, during Tim’s performance. There was nothing exciting about the vocals, and Tim’s attempts to be fun by sliding across the stage, touching audience members’ hands and standing amongst the audience were just cheap gimmicks to cover up the fact that he’s a terrible performer.

Aaron Kelly – whom Ryan called David Archuleta when giving out his numbers – picked another tried and true Idol favorite: Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” It was okay. It’s nothing I’m going to remember in a week or two, but his vocals were decent, and his performance was another chance for him to show off his earnest faces.

Crystal Bowersox‘s “Me and Bobby McGee” was yet another crunchy granola acoustic jam, this time with a rug on the stage! She really makes it seem effortless, but homegirl has to mix it up with the musical choices in the upcoming weeks if she wants to be a true contender. Enough with the Starbucks music. Take a page out of the books of Lambert, Cook, Allen et al, and find a song that isn’t from your genre of music, and revamp it to fit said genre. Otherwise, I think Mamasox will find herself amongst the eliminated former front runners, including but not limited to Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Melinda Doolittle.

I missed Big Mike‘s performance; I’m not sad at all. I don’t like him.

Andrew Garcia‘s performance of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was cheesy and amateurish. I know, I know, this is an “amateur” talent competition, but I’ve seen more skill from drunken coeds doing karaoke. He lost the guitar and gained a whole lot of awkward stage presence. I won’t be surprised if he’s in the bottom three tonight.

Katie Stevens‘ attempt at being young and cool resulted in ill-advised suspenders and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” It reeked of high-school talent show. I just can’t get behind Katie as a valid contender for the Idol crown. Her voice is great, just not technically at the level it should be to compete on a nationally televised talent competition.

I may be the only person who enjoyed Casey James‘ “The Power of Love.” Sure, Huey Lewis and the News isn’t the most current song choice, but Casey’s vocals were great. I could have done without the horn section blasting down from the band loft; they definitely contributed to the outdated feel that Randy spoke of, and they pretty much muted Casey’s guitar playing. (I did quite enjoy his comment to Miley that he’s a big fan…of her father. Zing!)

Didi Benami just plain sucked last night. There’s no other way to say it. Her performance of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” was cheesy, overdone, and flat. I believe I may have changed the channel to check the weather forecast during this performance.

Siobhan Magnus and her magnificent pink faux-hawk took on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Vocally, it wasn’t perfect, but I did like hearing Siobhan’s voice against a more upbeat, less morose song. “The shriek” is getting old fast, though, and while I don’t hate it, I find myself bracing for impact throughout her performances, waiting for that note.

My bottom three prediction for tonight: Urban, Miles, Garcia, with Urban going back to safety first and most likely Miss Miles heading back to her kindergarten class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

‘american idol’ top 8 guys: a crying shame

After viewing last night’s episode of American Idol, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or shake my fist disdainfully at the pathetic displays of talent that made up the semifinal round. Forgive me for repeating a sentiment many others share, but these 16 people are the most talented out of the thousands that auditioned? If so, I weep for the future of the music industry.
My favorite male contestant, Lee Dewyze, started the show with Owl City’s “Fireflies.” I grimaced when I heard his song choice because I think this is one of the most annoying songs on the radio right now, but Lee actually made it likable. I appreciate his willingness to take on a song that doesn’t fit his “style,” so to speak. What is up with Simon obsessing over performances having “moments?” Was he hired by Hallmark recently? It’s strange.
My second favorite male contestant, Alex Lambert, picked a great song in Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble.” I just adore the sound of Alex’s voice, and this song was a good showcase for it. The poor kid still has no stage presence, but there’s a marked improvement since week one and his deer-in-the-headlights performance.
That brings us to Idol punching bag Tim Urban. I believe my exact words when I heard he was singing Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” were, “What the hell?” This is a beautiful, nuanced song, and I couldn’t bear the thought of Tim vocally destroying it. However, it wasn’t all that bad. Was it as good as Jason Castro’s version (which still gets played on my iPod a lot)? No. Was it much better than anything else he’s sang on Idol so far? Yes. Nothing he presented last night merited a hug from Ellen DeGeneres, who claimed she’s been really hard on Tim for the last couple of weeks. If by ‘really hard’ she means ‘vaguely critical,’ then sure, hug away, Ellen.
The curtain has been pulled back to expose Andrew Garcia‘s talent to be mere gimmickry. One can only turn so many female pop songs into acoustic jams before America gets bored. His attempt to recapture the “Straight Up” magic by taking on Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” ended up working against him. He messed up the lyrics during the first few lines, his vocals were clipped and breathy, and the whole thing just came off as weird. He removed any and all range from the song, and believe me, Ms. Aguilera has quite the range. I think the neck-tattooed wonder might be in trouble tonight.
Casey James‘ version of Keith Urban’s “You’ll Think of Me” was much better than the goat vibrato he served up last week. He did some weird things to the melody of the song, but it was a decent performance.
Aaron Kelly picked possibly the cheesiest, most melismatic country song I know: Lonestar’s “Already There.” He started off very shaky and sharp, but he was able to recover by the chorus to give a passable performance. It’s hard not to like Aaron because he’s so earnest and he tries so hard. Props to Simon, though, for sticking up for Aaron after Kara claimed he couldn’t relate to a song about a dad on the road. I always think it’s such BS when the judges say stuff like, “You weren’t living the song,” or, “You didn’t bring the song to life.”
Todrick Hall finally lost the theatrics and sang a decent version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” although I have a sneaking suspicion he used the arrangement from Glee. The gospel-lite arrangement suited his inclination towards dramatic performances, and he finally gave a straightforward vocal performance that showed why the judges wanted him in the top 24.
I totally called Big Mike singing last tonight, so I wasn’t at all shocked to see him in the pimp spot. (I’ll stop talking about the pimp spot next week, I promise. Even I’m getting sick of it.) Before the commercial break, when Ryan said Mike would be singing a Maxwell song, I turned to my mother and said, “If he sings “This Woman’s Work,” I’m going to barf.” I should clarify that I have nothing wrong with the song; Kate Bush’s lyrics about suddenly having to grow up and face reality in the time of a crisis are truly lovely and moving. Just reading the lyrics online makes me emotional. However, nothing about Big Mike’s performance was deserving of Simon’s “best performance of all these live shows by far” label, nor did it merit Kara’s apparent crocodile tears. For someone who had to tell all of America that she was crying, she sure had a dry face. Those falsetto notes Mike tried to hit were akin to a yowling cat, and it just got worse from there. All of his theatrics, from the dramatically raised hand, to the pained, supposedly emotional looks into the camera, felt so overdone and uncomfortable. When you’re singing a song that packs that much of an emotional punch, just stand there and sing it. No amount of fist-thrusting or shoulder shaking is going to suddenly turn Big Mike into the next American Idol. And no, Randy, he is not the person to beat. Stop saying that.
While I can think of four girls who might be in danger tonight, I can really only pinpoint Andrew Garcia as someone who might be watching his goodbye montage come 8:58 pm tonight. (Side note: how annoying is it that Idol and Survivor are on at the same time? I need a DVR, stat.)

‘american idol’ top 16: eight girls is enough.

I first need to acknowledge the wonder that is one-hour episodes of American Idol. All the filler was gone and the viewers were left with an emphasis on performances, as it should be. Last night was the final episode before the top 12, as we were reminded every five minutes.
Katie Stevens began the night with Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.” I really should like Katie, considering we share the same home state, her mother is an alum of my college, and her brother is currently a sophomore at my alma mater. However, I find that Katie brings nothing new to the Idol stage. This performance was the youngest she’s ever seemed, which is about 30. She started the song too low, and then her voice just went flat on the chorus. Based on the judges’ comments, they seem to have given up on her. I think Katie may be traveling back to Connecticut at the end of the week. Simon’s comment that she “kind of sucked….the air out of the room” was classic Cowell.
Siobhan Magnus, however, won’t be returning to her home state of Massachusetts for a while. I don’t care what Simon said; her performance of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” was brave, on-key, and showed the amazing amount of vocal restraint she has. Starting the song a cappella takes guts and confidence in your vocal abilities. I hope Siobhan goes far into the top 12, because she’s the only female contestant I really enjoy.
I’ve been rooting for Lacey Brown since Hollywood week, and I think last night was the first time she picked the right song for her voice. Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” highlighted all the uniqueness of Lacey’s voice, and while it wasn’t a performance I’ll remember in six months, let alone six weeks, I think it’s enough to carry her into the top 12.
Katelyn Epperly may not have done enough. Her performance last night was the epitome of “phoning it in.” I don’t care if she claimed she was trying to be less cheesy; the girl stood behind her Wurlitzer with the same kind of enthusiasm I muster for folding laundry. Her vocals on Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” were okay, but it was like Laurie Partridge 2.0 with the plaid jumper and the lackluster musicianship. I think she might be in danger of going home tonight, unless the buzz from last week’s “The Scientist” can propel her into next week.
Watching Didi Benami‘s performance of “Rihannon,” I was sure that the judges were going to rip her apart. It was like a bad coffeehouse performance, and I’m not sure if Didi was actually playing her guitar. Poor Stevie Nicks; after Taylor Swift murdered this same song at the Grammys and Lacey murdered “Landslide” a few weeks ago on the Idol stage, she’s probably not very willing to lend her songs to others. I already aired my grievances about Didi’s tone and lockjaw, but tonight I realized she over-enunciates her words to boot. And seriously, enough with the waterworks. I don’t care if they’re happy tears or not, just stop. This woman is one criticism away from a mental breakdown.
Someone who rightfully shed tears last night was Paige Miles, who definitely reached the end of her Idol journey with a whispery, shaky take on Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” I don’t know why she picked the song if it evokes such strong emotions in her, because clearly her emotions got in the way of delivering a good performance. It was hard to watch a verklempt Paige try to explain her song choice to Ryan, when she clearly knew the song was her death sentence.
Unlike seemingly every person on the American Idol payroll, I’m not drinking the Crystal Bowersox Kool-Aid just yet. Her semifinal performances, including last night’s version of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” are good, but they’re a bit predictable. I know what I’m getting each week, and while the judges like to think it’s because Crystal “knows what kind of artist she’ll be,” I think it’s because she’s a one-trick pony. Just wait until the top 12 theme nights, Miss Bowersox. I can’t wait to see how she puts her girl-with-a-guitar spin on the Barry Manilow catalog, or better yet, disco week! I think Crystal may soon suffer from the backlash that comes from being excessively pimped by the judges. Despite what Simon claimed on Leno the other night, I don’t think this competition is Crystal’s to lose.
Closing the show was Lilly Scott, with a take on Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.” She carried a mandolin, but I couldn’t discern it among the horrific sounds made by the Idol Karaoke Backing Band, nor did it appear that she played it very much. Instruments are not props, Idol contestants, but rather a privilege. The whole performance was weird, from the arrangement to the weird ensemble Lilly was wearing: balls of yarn hanging from her ear lobes, granny boots and a gray patchwork dress. The vocals were so-so, but none of the judges touched on that, maybe in their haste to end the show. I think Lilly is going to have to break out of her “look at me! I’m quirky!” box to be a true contender in the top 12.
The boys perform tonight at 9 – tune in for another hour of performances from men with middling talent. Seriously, this season kind of sucks.