‘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.

you’re a ‘hot mess’ and i’m falling for you.

It’s taken them three albums, but Cobra Starship has finally found stable middle ground. New album “Hot Mess” takes the smooth synth-pop sound from their debut album “While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets,” and mixes it with the over-the-top outrageousness of second album “Viva La Cobra.” Add a dash of big-named guests (Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, Kara DioGuardi, and Kevin Rudolf), sprinkle liberally with lyrics about partying and hooking up, and you’ve got the most consistent album that Cobra Starship has released in their four year career.

Many people who were fans of frontman Gabe Saporta’s former band, Midtown, often beg him to ditch his purple hoodies and go back to his roots, but he seems to be most comfortable in Cobra Starship, where he can take musical risks that would be career suicide for anyone else. Sampling Hall and Oates? No problem. Titling a song “Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous”? Of course.

One big difference between “Hot Mess” and Cobra Starship’s other albums is that this one follows the band’s first true radio success, with “Good Girls Go Bad” reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. None of Cobra Starship’s other singles have ever been featured this heavily on the radio, so it will be interesting to see if radio play translates to higher album sales.

Album opener “Nice Guys Finish Last” explodes out of your speakers and grabs you by the shirt, sampling both Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II” and Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes.” The title track has a catchy chorus and could easily get heavy radio rotation, if “Good Girls Go Bad” is any indication. “Fold Your Hands Child” and “Living in the Sky With Diamonds” provide a welcome respite from the album’s constant high. Cobra Starship even acknowledges the fact that most of the music scene doesn’t take them seriously with “You’re Not in On the Joke, singing “If you see them laughing/don’t follow them/’cause they’re not in on the joke.” It may seem exclusionary, but it’s true; diehard Cobra Starship fans get what the band is about, and that’s part of their massive appeal. Those who find the band annoying need not apply.

It’s sad, though, that Cobra Starship doesn’t get the respect they deserve and are written off as neon-loving hipsters with limited talent. Peruse and Cobra-related message board on punknews.org or absolutepunk.com and you’ll find comments like this gem: “What’s the joke to be in on? Getting a bunch of kids to listen to shitty dance music in the guise of a rock band?” Cobra Starship may not be the most serious of bands, but the music is fun, and that’s really all that matters.

Underneath their quirky, Day-Glo exterior, Cobra Starship is smart and it’s obvious that each musical step they take, including the ones taken on “Hot Mess,  is carefully calculated.

(photo courtesy of MTV.com)

enough already.

I listen to the radio a lot now that I’m home: in the car, while I’m at work, and in my room. I never listened to it when I was at school because I had iTunes, and frankly, the station selection in Poughkeepsie left a lot to be desired. I now realize I was better off not listening to the radio because the selection is terrible and they play the same 10 songs over and over again. Here are songs I would like to ban from further radio rotation:

Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow”: This is the number one song on the Billboard charts, so that explains why I hear it even on adult contemporary stations. I hated this song when it first came out, then I warmed up and enjoyed it on my Saturday night jaunts to the bar, but now I’ve come full circle and loathe its very existence. When Fergie starts to scream the bridge, (“People in the place/If you wanna get down,” etc.) my ears start to ring and just want to curl up in a ball until it’s over.

Shinedown, “Second Chance”: I hate everything about this song, from its stupid music video with the runaway ballerina to the insipid lyrics. No, you did not just see Halley’s Comet, so stop trying to tell me you did. I can already tell this song will soon be making it onto grocery store playlists, and once you’re heard in the frozen food aisle at Stop and Shop, you lose all credibility.

Beyonce, “Halo”: My qualm with this song isn’t so much the fact that it’s overplayed, but the repetition of the word ‘halo.’ Beyonce says it 69 times throughout the song’s duration, (yes, I counted) and after about the 20th ‘halo,’ I’m driving off the road because I can’t focus on anything else but Mrs. Jay-Z’s favorite two-syllable word.

3OH!3, “Don’t Trust Me”: This song was cute and quirky when it first came out, and even I was singing along to “Shoosh girl, shut your lips/Do the Hellen Keller and talk with your hips,” but the novelty wore off quickly. I understand the quirky appeal of both the band and the song, but quirk can only carry you so far in this music industry. Gimmicky music like this makes me crazy.

The Fray, “You Found Me”: I enjoy the Fray, I really do. I have their first CD and it’s gotten a lot of play on my iPod, but this song is just so treacly and melodramatic. It’s been used in every show from Lost to The Real World, so hearing it ad nauseum on the radio is just overkill. Not to mention it’s interchangeable with about 80% of the Fray’s other songs.

Britney Spears, “If You Seek Amy”: I’ve had . I love almost every track off Circus, except this one, so I was prepared to grit my teeth and suffer through the incessant replays of this song. The tongue-in-cheek hilarity of the song’s title is made even worse by radio edits, which change the titular lyric to “If you see Amy.” As unexcited as I am about Britney’s next single, the Blackout-recycled “Radar,” I’d much prefer 2007’s leftovers to this ridiculous hot mess of a song.