Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American Idol - the top 12

I wasn't gonna blog tonight due to time constraints, but I have been so blown away by some of the performances tonight that I just had to get my thoughts down in writing.

Syesha Mercado - Yeah, she was pitchy to start but she was also the first performer on the new stage. I liked the arrangement too. I still think she's one of the best singers, but I'm really worried about her based on this performance.

Chikezie - for the first time tonight, I was really impressed with him. Now if they could just get him into some better outfits! You can't be a rocker in an argyle sweater and a sweatband watch!

Ramiele - Boring, ordinary, and forgettable. She's a good singer, but this song didn't show it. I'm still not a fan, and I think she should probably go home this week.

Jason Castro - OK, so the song was forgettable, but he is one of the most talented in the group. He has a great voice, and I think he may be the only contestant who can give David A. a run for his money, but he needs to hit one out of the park SOON.

Carly Smithson - WOW. OK, so she's been singing that song every week for years, so it should be good. But I loved the arrangement, and she finally got a chance to really show her talent. Hm... she could challenge David A. too, but she's got to keep it up every week.

David Cook - Elanor Rigby is one of my least favorite Beatles songs, but David's arrangement was fantastic too. I finally believe that he could be a real rocker, not just a wanna-be. I still don't like the drugged-out eyes look.

Brooke White - Yep, she picked the perfect song for her voice. And it's so cool to see these people playing and singing. This year is truly a talent competition, not just a singing competition.

David Hernandez - Hm... it's just a very ordinary, amusement park-ish performance. It's just not a song that really showcases his voice. I still don't think he's the worst tonight, but I can see why he's towards the bottom of DialIdol currently.

Amanda Overmeyer - She should be singing Sgt Pepper's, but I'll have to fast forward through some commercials to find out if I'm right. OK, she's singing a song I've never heard of -- at least not by name. It's a good, solid performance... actually, it's pretty good. I'm getting a bit tired of her voice, but I love the way she made the song her own. (Or, if she didn't change it up, then she picked a brilliant song for her style.)

Michael Johns - He's my least favorite of the guys -- he's had some really awful performances in past weeks -- and while this week's performance was better, it was still ordinary and boring. He needs to go home soon.

Kristy Lee Cook - I'm still amazed that she made the top 12, but I guess there are a lot of country fans out there -- look at Carrie Underwood and even Kellie Pickler. Her country version of "Eight Days A Week" is actually damn good. Wow, I can't believe none of the judges liked it! I hate country, and I don't really like that song either, but I liked that version better than the original, and I thought the performance was great.

David Archuleta - Once again they've saved the best for last. This is a Beatles song I actually like, and I'm a bit disappointed that he chose to do the Stevie Wonder version. And he's stumbling over the words all over the place! That's his age and inexperience showing. He's lucky he has such a huge fan base. If he does that again in a later week, he'll be gone.

So, based on the performances tonight, I have to say that David A. will NOT win, because I suspect he will have another slip-up in future weeks. I wasn't so sure he could hold that front-runner spot all the way to the end anyway.

So who can win it? Jason Castro can, but he needs to do something amazing in the next week or two. David Cook can if he continues to give stellar performances like tonight's. And probably the best shot right now is Brooke White, who keeps giving solid, consistent performances. She also has a great personality and a unique sound, which makes her memorable every time she sings. That counts for a lot.

As for who's going home this week, it will probably be Syesha or David H, who had the weakest performances of the night and have had weak performances over the last few weeks as well. I'd rather see Ramiele go, but I think Syesha's time is up.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

American Idol top 8 girls

It's Wednesday! Time for the final 8 girls to perform on Idol as we whittle them down to six tomorrow night. Let's hope they have better song choices than the guys did last night!

Asia'h is up first tonight, singing "I Wanna Dance With Somebody". Didn't we hear her do this before? She sure does have a lot of spunk and energy. Good way to start off the show. She did it so well that it almost seemed like a "safe" choice, but we all know Whitney is not easy to sing! Probably not as good as Paula felt, but I think Simon was a bit hard on her.

Kady Malloy is up next. She certainly does need to redeem herself from last week, when she should have gone home -- and it doesn't look like she's gonna. She does Queen's "Who wants to live forever" and once again, it's boring and pitchy. She's flat from just about start to finish! Unless she gets the support of VoteForTheWorst, she's certainly going home this week. What??? Paula thinks this was her best performance to date? Wow, the past weeks must have been REALLY bad.

Speaking of VoteForTheWorst, up next is Amanda Overmeyer. At least she picked a song more suitable for her voice this week, Joan Jett's "I hate myself for loving you". But for some reason she just looks really uncomfortable on stage this week. Meh. Better than last week, but certainly not her best performance. Wow, Simon loved it? Interesting.

Next up is Carly Smithson, singing "I Drove All Night". It's a pretty good song choice for her with some big, powerful notes right in her mid-range that let her belt it out. She got a little screechy on the highest notes, but it was probably her best performance so far.

Kristy Lee Cook, another one who should probably go home this week, is up next singing Journey. That scares me. Holy vibrato, batman! Of course she gives it her country twang too, and then she can't hit the high notes. Poor song choice, mediocre execution. She should go home this week too.

Sixth up tonight is Ramiele, who apparently doesn't have (or want to share) a truly embarrasing moment, so she shares some boring childhood story. (But really, why do they ask the contestants to share their most embarrasing moments? And why would anyone want to answer that in front of 30 million people?) I'm not blown away by Ramiele this week -- she's just a touch flat at times -- but I guess I've never really been blown away by her. Still, it's another good, solid performance. Wow, you know it's bad when Paula starts off by saying "you have a beautiful face."

Next up is Brooke White, singing Pat Benetar. It's a good fit for her voice, and I like the stripped-down version with just acoustic guitar. This is probably the best we've seen from her so far. After that performance, I'm finally convinced that she deserves to be here, and should be in the top 12. Simon loved her choice too.

Syesha Mercado is last to perform tonight. She's my early favorite, but she really needs a breakout performance. She picks another Whitney tune and does a very nice job with it, although still no goosebump moment that I was hoping for.

Watching the recap... Asia'h wasn't as good as I would have hoped; Kady was just as bad as I had expected; Amanda was boring and mediocre; Carly finally impressed me; Kristy was forgettable yet again; Ramiele was solid but nothing stellar; Brooke was original and impressive; and Syesha sounded like a pro, but showed nothing extraordinary.

It should be cut and try this week, with Kady and Kristy Lee going home as they were by far the worst tonight, although Amanda is right there with them -- not sure how the judges could think she was one of the best of the night! But even Asia'h or Syesha could be in danger.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

American Idol top 8 guys

It's Tuesday night -- that means it's time for another session of Idol liveblogging! Tonight's the last chance to make the top 12 and move on to the "big stage", as Ryan puts it. It's 80's night tonight, so it should be a good one!

First up is Luke Perr.. er, Luke Menard. Everyone expected him to be gone last week, so it's no surprise that he starts off very shaky. Man I hope he goes home this week! Paula is in rare form this week, babbling on and on and on... it's only an hour show this week, Paula! Uh oh! Simon just gave him the golden blessing -- he said there's no way he makes it through to the top 12 and can't possibly win. That makes him a shoe-in for VoteForTheWorst (as if he wasn't bad enough already).

David Archuleta is up next... and apparently has to pee. Is that his secret weapon? He's singing AND playing Another Day In Paradise. If you watched the show, you don't need me to tell you that he is absolutely amazing. Wow. He makes some great changes with the melody that make it seem like he's been performing this song for 15 years. Randy just thinks it was "nice" but I'm not really sure what was wrong with it. Simon does make a good point that he needs to pick an up-tempo song sooner rather than later. But there's no doubt he's still the one to beat.

Ugh... it's time to sit through another performance of this year's Sanjaya, Danny Noriega. Boy, he is flaming hard tonight! Work it, girl! He does Tainted Love in kind of a cross between the original and Marilyn Manson's version. The vocals actually aren't bad, but the performance as a whole is just so ridiculously over the top. There goes Paula again... what is she on? He has GOT to go.

David Hernandez is fourth to take the stage tonight. He gives a solid performance, but it's not his best and he doesn't really do anything original wth it. Hm. I still like him... still probably in the top three guys, but he may not have the one of the best performances tonight.

Apparently there are some technical difficulties, so Michael Johns is going on next. Will that change the voting phone numbers for DialIdol.com? He's singing Don't You Forget About Me, one of my favorites. It's too bad he can't carry a tune in a bucket. Just because you're from "down under" doesn't mean you have to sing down under every note! Man this guy has got to go too... whch sucks because only two can go home this week. By far his worst performance of the competition.

After the break is David Cook, another wanna-be rocker who should go home sooner than later, playing guitar again tonight. He's doing a rock version of Lionel Richie's "Hello". (I wonder if this was someone else's cover of this song, like when Chris Daughtry did Live's version of I Walk The Line?) He was just ok last week, but I think he's even worse this week. The judges seem to like it, but they seem to like everything tonight. Even Simon's gone to the dark side! But apparently it really was an original arrangement, at least as far as the judges know.

Jason Castro lives up to his reputation of awkward interviews, before launching into a great rendition of Hallelujah. I didn't know this was an 80's song... I only know it from the Shrek soundtrack. I like the way he intentionally gets a little ahead of the beat at times, giving it a sense of urgency. It wasn't clear to me if Randy really liked it or not, but Simon loved it. I liked it, but I didn't think it was as good as Simon thought.

Last up tonight is Chikezie, doing yet another ballad. What's with the song choices tonight? Haven't the guys learned yet that BALLADS ARE BORING AND FORGETTABLE! It's a very safe performance, although he changes it up a bit at the end. It's actually pretty good, and luckily for Chikezie, there were three or maybe four people who were far worse tonight.

Overall... wow, I'm not sure what Randy was listening to when he says the song choices for the guys were far better this week. I honestly thought most of the guys were worse this week, whether it was bad song choices or just poor performances. The weakest performance of the night clearly goes to Michael Johns, followed by either Luke Menard or maybe David Cook. Unfortunately Danny Noriega actually wasn't one of the worst tonight, and, coupled with support from VoteForTheWorst, will ensure him a spot in the top 6.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

American Idol round 2 - top 10 girls

Time for another night of Idol liveblogging, although apparently Blogger has a scheduled outage at 9pm Eastern, so I'll take that time to give Little Miss a bath.

Carly Smithson kicks off the show singing Heart's "Crazy On You". It's a great song choice for her, although she did have a few pitch problems. I can't believe how Simon gushes over her -- I think she's good, but not THAT good. But maybe Simon's right and she just hasn't picked the right song to truly showcase her voice.

Wow, Syesha can imitate a crying baby dead on! She does a twist on "Me and Mrs. Jones", changing it to Mr. Jones. I'm a little worried because this song just doesn't showcase her fantastic vocal talents. It COULD, though -- if you've ever heard Daryl Hall sing this song, you know what I mean. She does an admirable job but it's just not a good song choice -- as Randy says. (That's one point!) She's still my favorite though.

Up next is Brooke White, also playing guitar tonight. She picks another great song, although it's really no surprise she would pick Carly Simon. Once again she does a respectable job, but I wasn't blown away. I do think, as Simon has said about others, that playing an instrument detracts from the vocal performance. I think singers are worrying too much about their playing and let their vocals slip. *Ding* -- score two for Marc as Randy echoes my words yet again about song choice. (We won't score another point for Paula repeating what Randy said.) OK, now Simon says it too, so I don't feel nearly as original. :)

Ramiele Malubay is fourth tonight. At least her hula dancing is better than Sanjaya's!! Her song choice is awful -- there are only two very short segments that really showcase her powerful voice. She's also very pitchy in spots. It's such a boring song, too ... the melody just repeats over and over again. The judges all echo the same sentiments, but they all like her as a singer overall. Still not one of my faves though.

Well I had to take a break there to play with Little Miss a while and then get her into bed, but now I'm back to the DVR to finish up.

Next up is Kristy Lee Cook. For a self-professed tomboy, she sure does clean up nice! As usual, she gives a good, solid performance, but she's still forgettable. Hmm... she does have maybe one hint of some power there in the middle. Randy says it really well when he says he was looking for "some breakout moments"... points to Randy for saying what I've been trying to put into words! Simon makes a good point too, that it's not clear what type of singer she really is and could probably "make a statement" if she finds her genre.

After the break is Amanda Overmeyer. I caught part of her performance live the first time around, so I already know what I have to say. She picks a great song, "Carry On Wayward Son", but what happened to her?? She sounds AWFUL! She's terribly flat all through the first verse, and she knows it -- it even looks like she might cry! It only gets marginally better as she goes on. She must be sick or something. The hair is hideous too! You know it was bad when Paula leads off by complimenting her dancing! It's a shame too, because I really like her. I hope she's safe because she's still one of the best 4 or 5 girls.

Alaina Whitaker is gonna sing Hopelessly Devoted To You? Uh oh! But first, a little insight into Alaina's obsessive-compulsive eating habits. LOL! She does a decent job, without too much country twang, except when it comes to the high notes which she overshoots. Ouch. Once again, a good performance, but nothing memorable.

Next up is Alexandrea Lushington. She sings a Chicago tune and it's just awful. She can't find the pitch to save her life. It doesn't get any better when she tries to change it up either. Wow, what is with these song choices tonight? Wow, she knows exactly how bad it was too. Simon probably says it best when he calls it "boring". Too bad because I liked her last week.

Kady Malloy is our next performer, and once again she picks the absolute wrong song for her voice, Heart's "Magic Man". (With all those 70's songs to choose from, did they really have to pick two Heart songs?) It's not bad, but it's too low for her and she doesn't have a chance to shine at all. Randy calls it an "interesting" song choice, and Paula mentions the trouble with the low notes (*ding* another point for me).

[Side note: I'm watching the DialIdol stats now and I'm VERY concerned about Syesha, who's currently shown in second-last place. Uh oh!]

Last up tonight is another of my favorites, Asia'h Epperson. It's interesting that she makes the connection between performing as a cheerleader and performing on Idol. She seems to be the only one who realizes that you can't just get up there and sing, you need to PERFORM too. Unfortunately she picks an awful song for her range, Celene's "All By Myself" -- way too low for her. She completely misses one of the early high notes... I wonder if she's sick??? But WOW, she really belts it out at the end! Fantastic ending. Randy does mention that she was sick. Simon thinks the song is too big for her, but I have to disagree. I think that ordinarily, she would've been able to pull that off.

Boy, what a let-down overall! Watching the recap, I have to say Carly actually had one of the better performances! It's always hard to tell with the very first performance of the night. I still like Syesha, Asia'h and Amanda, despite less-than-stellar performances by all of them. So who's going home this week? Based on this week's performance alone, it should probably be Amanda and either Alexandrea or Kady. But based on past performances, I think Amanda and possibly Alexandrea will be safe for another week. That leaves Kristy Lee and Alaina, both of whom were forgettable tonight, joining Kady in my bottom three.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

American Idol round 2 - top 10 guys

No time to do a full liveblog tonight, so I'll just give a quick recap of each performer.

Michael Johns - I really haven't been all that impressed with Michael, ever. (Have I? Check my previous posts.) He's terribly inconsistent, and tonight was one of his worst. I'm not sure what people like so much about him. Is it the accent? Funny that Paula calls him "consistent". As usual, Simon's spot on and Paula is... well, Paula.

Jason Castro - When he started out, just him playing guitar and singing, I was really impressed. He reminds me a little of Jason Mraz or John Mayer. Certainly one of the top 4 guys. Randy is right, though... the vocals alone weren't that strong, but I like him as a performer overall.

Luke Menard - I found him very forgettable and ordinary tonight. I mean he's good but nothing special. Meh.

Robbie Carrico - His voice sounds very much like Chris Daughtry's but not quite as good or distinct, and he's also lacking Chris's personality. It was a solid performance, but I wasn't blown away. I wouldn't be disappointed or surprised if he goes home this week or next.

Danny Noriega - I so want this guy and his Jennifer Aniston hairdo to go home! OK, he gave a solid performance, but again there was nothing special.

David Hernandez - He was one of my Hollywood favorites, and he gives another very good performance. He doesn't just sing the song, he performs it! It's far from ordinary. He had one or two pitchy notes but the performance was great overall. Without a doubt one of the top four guys, and the judges all gave him rave reviews. I'm SO glad to see Simon eat his words!

Jason Yeager - I thought he had an excellent but forgettable performance last week, so I'm glad to see him come out rocking this week. I liked it better than Randy... I thought it was far better than last week, and I do like him. I think he's still worthy of the top six.

Chikezie - This week is far better than last week, but he looks like Gary Coleman in the layered polo shirts and red Chuck Taylors. I wouldn't be sad to see him go, but he'll probably stick around. I do love his attitude, ripping on Simon! He's a quick wit!

David Cook - David's out to prove that he's a real rocker, complete with electric guitar. Another good performance but I just don't see anything special in him. I could see that performance in any bar any weekend. He is a decent guitar player, though. He's probably top 6 material, but probably not top 4.

David Archuleta - David gives another brilliant performance tonight, for any age. He's obviously the clear favorite right now, but can he win the whole thing? We've seen what happens with the early favorites in the past, most noteably Chris Daughtry. Can he hold on till the end? My prediction is that he'll finish third or fourth.

So, based on tonight's performances, the worst two were Michael Johns and Luke Menard. However, I think Michael will be safe for another week. This is a tough one... based on overall performances, I'd say it should be Luke and either Danny or Chikezie to go home, but I'm a bit worried about Jason Yeager, mostly because of the judges' comments. I guess if I had to pick two based on everything (all performances, judges' comments, audience reation, and personality), I'd predict Luke and Jason to go home this week.

The top three guys are easy -- David A., David H., and Jason C. The fourth, fifth, and sixth are quite a bit tougher. Michael Johns has a big following despite his mediocre performances. Danny is also a big crowd favorite, and Chikezie is the only African-american in the group which gives him a built-in following, because we all know that Idol voters vote along color lines. Then you've got your two rockers, David Cook and Robbie, and I don't think there's room for both of them in the top six -- the question is whether either of them is good enough to beat out Michael, Danny or Chikezie.

p.s. I'm a bit worried about Jason Castro since DialIdol currently has him at the bottom of their rankings! Not good!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

American Idol - girls top 12

Hello again Idol fanatics! I'm back for another night of Idol liveblogging (albiet 2 hours delayed), one eye on the TV, the other on DialIdol.com, and the fingers furiously typing (and occasionally rewinding) away!

Based on DialIdol's stat's today, no huge surprises -- my four favorites are listed in DialIdol's top 5, with Danny Noriega being the only surprise.

So here we go... Kristy Lee Cook is up first. The girl sold her horse to audition for Idol! That's crazy. Her voice is just ok, but she's got good stage presence and great facial expressions -- although maybe a bit over the top at times. For the first one of the night, she's not bad. Hmmm... Randy doesn't like her. Maybe I was just blinded by her "shine", as Paula put it.

Joanne Borgella is up next. Although it's very early in the voting, DialIdol puts her in last place currently, so I'm really curious to see how she does. She starts out pretty strong, although the song's a little low for her in parts. And actually, although her voice is a little shaky at times, I think she gives a very solid performance. Randy seems to agree with me, but Simon hated it. I'm a bit surprised -- I thought she was better than Kristy.

Up next is Alaina Whitaker. I remember liking her in her first audition round. She's got a strong voice, and probably the best performance so far, but I don't hear anything unique in her voice. I'm kind of on the fence about her.... on one hand, she sounds like a very good amusement park singer (I've worked with some as good as her)... on the other hand, she's got a great voice and that "x factor" could come out somewhere along the way. All three judges like her too.

Rocker chick Amanda Overmeyer is our fourth singer tonight. Her hairdo looks like a bad Elvira, but her voice is strong as always.... although she doesn't seem very comfortable with the scatting. Actually, there's really not much to this song, so it's hard to tell if she has any real talent -- she basically screamed her way through the song. Hmmm. I agree with Simon, though... the song wasn't the greatest, but she's good and she's got a great personality. She'll probably stick around for a while just based on her image.

During this commercial break, I should mention that I got to meet Ryan Seacrest not too long ago! He was at the Redskins vs. Cowboys game and I am in the Redskins marching band (yes, the Redskins have a band!)... and because of rain, our pregame show was cancelled so we were all hanging out in our locker room when someone said Seacrest was out in the tunnel area! A bunch of people took pictures with him and even some video, and he was very friendly and funny, even hamming it up and sending out special messages for the guy with the video camera. Amazing -- I thought he might be a real jerk. But I guess that's how he got to where he is today.

Fifth up tonight is Amy Davis. I don't remember seeing her before tonight either, but her early auditions sound pretty good. But YIKES... she starts out way off pitch and doesn't get much better. The performance reminds me of a pagent performance -- good, but very robotic. The judges get it exactly right -- pitchy, boring, nothing engaging, cabaret, dull. DialIdol puts her currently in the bottom three -- no surprise there.

Next is the girl who probably got the most airtime of anyone, Brooke White. I thought she was good, although I was never overly impressed. She does have a bit more unique voice than some, although not as unique as someone like Amanda, which means she can actually sing any kind of music. She's good and solid... maybe a bit much vibrato for a pop song, but generally very good, and she has good stage presence too. I think she could do really well in the competition if she picks the right songs.

Alexandrea Lushington is up next, singing Spinning Wheel. Great song, and she certainly gives an energetic performance, but I thought the ending was awful. Maybe she's sick too, because she goes into this weird falsetto. Randy and Paula like it a lot more than I did, and Simon disliked it more than I did. I thought it was a good performance with average vocals.

Checking DialIdol again, Joanne is still in last place... although at this early stage, the margin of error is still so big that she could still end up anywhere in the final ranking. I'm very surprised, though. Was everyone else really that much better than her?

Next is Kady Malloy. She's a recording studio assistant? She should know how to sing then. Wow, she does a GREAT Britney! She sings Groovy Kind Of Love, and although it's clear that she is a very good singer, she almost sounds too affected, like she's trying to sound like someone else. I'm not sure that's really her normal, natural singing voice. I like the little things she does to change up the song a bit, but she also hits a few really sour notes near the end. I agree with Randy and Paula, she needs to turn it up just a little bit and really let loose. I do hope she stays around for a few weeks -- she's currently in the bottom three in the DialIdol stats... but it's still early.

Asia'h Epperson is up next. She's the one who gave the emotional first round audition a few days after her father passed away, so it was hard to tell if she was really good or not. She comes out and gives probably the best performance so far tonight -- certainly the most energetic. She also has a very distinct voice, and that could work very well for her. And Simon agrees with me as usual, saying it was the best of the night. (Where are my royalties?)

Our tenth performer tonight is Ramiele Malubay. She's currently in first place in DialIdol's stats (and has been all night). I was never really impressed with her, and I remember wondering why she made the top 24, so I'm REALLY interested in this one. The song starts out very dull, boring, and even a bit strange -- not quite the "mysterious" sense I think she was going for. I don't like the way she purposely hangs behind the beat on many of the phrases. I will admit that she has a much more powerful voice than you would expect, but I wasn't blown away or anything. Wow, the judges just gush over her. I guess that's why she's doing so well in the voting.

Just two singers left to go, and it looks like Joanne could end up with one of the two worst performances of the night. (I still think she was better than Kristy though!)

Next is my favorite girl from the Hollywood round, Syesha Mercado. Man, she gives me goosebumps within the first three notes! She has a great range too. Wow! Best performance of the night by a mile! I can't believe it's not Randy's favorite. Yes, there were a few pitchy spots, but I thought she was great overall. She was the only girl I really liked from Hollywood, and she's still my favorite -- top 4 material for sure.

The last performer tonight is everyone's favorite Irish lass, Carly Smithson. Interesting that they made a point of talking about her previous record deal -- something the news outlets picked up as the "big controversey" this week. (There's no rule that contestants can't have had records or record deals previously, just that they can't currently be under contract.) Her performance is ok but pretty ordinary, and very flat in a few places. I'm not impressed at all. Hmmm... so apparently she's sick too, but apparently Randy is absolutely deaf. There is no way that was the best vocal of the night, let alone the whole top 24!! Randy! Dog! I've lost all respect for you. Yep, once again Simon is right -- if this was the first time I was seeing her, I think she'd be completely forgettable.

So that's it for another night of liveblogging Idol! As they recap the singers, I think Amy Davis clearly had the worst performance of the night. I mean they couldn't even find a recap clip where she was in tune! The ones that really impressed me tonight were Alexandrea, Asia'h and Syesha. Add to them Amanda, Brooke, and either Ramiele or Carly and you have your top six, at least in my mind. Personally I think the talent on the guys' side is better, although the top three girls are probably better than the top three guys. As always, Simon is exactly right -- at this point there are three really good guys and three or four good girls. But anybody could really turn it on and show that "x factor" any given week. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

American Idol top 12 guys

So here it is, the first real week of Idol and the first time we get to see all of the guys perform. As usual, I'm more than 2 hours delayed, but I'll stick with the liveblogging format anyway.

First up is David Hernandez, my Hollywood-round favorite, singing "Wait Till The Midnight Hour". He's good, but I'm not as impressed as past performances. It's fairly bland and he had one really flat note at the end. Simon got it right when he said he didn't hear anything distinct.

Oh, while I have a chance, I should remind you to go to DialIdol.com and download their American Idol auto-dialer! I find it more interesting to watch the stats than really using it to vote, because I know my votes really don't make THAT much difference.

Next up is Chickezie. Yeah, just Chickezie, like Cher or ... um... right. Wow, based on the first few notes, I wonder how he made it into the top 24. He's certainly not good enough to go by just one name. Maybe it just started too low, because it got a little better by the end. And the outfit is awful. (Oh, Simon just said that too.)

Next is rocker wanna-be David Cook. He's singing "Happy Together". He starts off pitchy and doesn't get much better. DialIdol puts him in the bottom 4 right now, and I'm not surprised. The ending got interesting, but then the arrangement ended on a major chord which was just WEIRD! Not David's fault in this case. The judges seemed to really like it, despite the shaky start, but I don't really agree. Hmm... he's managed to work his way up to the middle of the pack on DialIdol now (10:54pm EST).

Jason Yeager is up next. What's with the blonde patch? Is he a Blake Lewis wanna-be? Jason goes WAY back, singing "Moon River". Never would've picked him as a crooner, but he's actually good. Boring, but good. Which is why he's currently in the bottom 3 on DialIdol. He's got a really good voice, but he's totally forgettable.

Wait a second... is Moon River a 60's song?

Next is Robbie Carrico. I guess I vauguely remember him from the first-round auditions, but don't remember seeing him in Hollywood at all. He's good, but I'd love to see more power from him. His voice is somewhere between Bo Bice and Chris Daughtry, although he's not as good as either one... at least not yet. I'm sure he'll be around for a while.

David Archuleta is up next, singing "Better Shop Around". It's a bit low for him, but he does a fantastic job. Wow. It's absolutely amazing to think this kid is only 17. Unfortunately, he won't win, because he's TOO good. Just like Paris Bennett, who was also only 17 and fantastic, people will become acustomed to him being fantastic and one day he'll have a minor slip. He sure is funny, though.

Next is Danny Noriega. Bring that 'tude, girl... er, boy.... er, something. I'm not sure why he ever made the top 24 -- maybe to add diversity? He does an admirable job on Jailhouse Rock, although his dancing (if you can call it dancing) took a little bit away from the singing. I'm amazed, DialIdol puts him in the top 4 right now... although in these early weeks, the accuracy isn't very high and he could still end up anywhere in the bottom 10.

Luke "pretty-boy" Menard is up next. I don't think we've seen him at all this season. If we did, he's totally forgettable. And apparently he's totally forgettable this time too, as he's in last place on DialIdol (and has been all night) -- and I haven't heard a note yet. Maybe the fact that he looks a little like Orlando Bloom will save him? Yep, it's a boring, forgettable performance. What's with all the ballads tonight? Haven't these guys ever seen this show before? (Hey, there goes Simon stealing my lines again!)

Self-professed Ellen look-alike Colton Berry is our ninth performer of the night, singing another Elvis song. His pitch is all over the place, and overall his tone is just dull. He shows some hints here and there of having some power in his voice, but he needs to grow FAST in order to stay around for more than a few weeks. I think Randy was generous with his comments, but as always Simon is spot on -- he's a good singer, but not good enough to be a star.

Next up is Garrett Haley, another one I don't remember ever seeing in the early rounds... and I think I'd remember this freak. Ryan even made a point of mentioning the lack of camera-time. He has a very high voice and a good vocal range, but picks a ballad that doesn't showcase that at all. Yet another very forgettable ballad. Actually, it was worse than forgettable -- it was downright bad. Which is why he's currently in the bottom two on the DialIdol stats.

Next is Jason Castro, another contestant I don't remember seeing before tonight. He's actually gonna let him play guitar on stage, which I think is awsome, even if this is a "singing" competition. Not only is he a decent guitar player (not that he's playing anything difficult), but he sounds good too, plus he makes an effort to make the song his own. That was actually a very good performance -- possibly the second-best of the night after David A. Now I see why he's currently 3rd in DialIdol voting... and I haven't seen Michael Johns yet. Hmmm... Randy doesn't like the changes he made to the vocal line... and Simon's repeating me again! (Fox 5, if you want to hire me for Idol Chatter, I'm available!!! And I certainly know what I'm talking about more than Jack Diamond does!)

Aussie Michael Johns is the last performer tonight. He's certainly gotten a lot of airtime already this year. Michael sings Light My Fire, complete with flame backdrop. I actually think this is a horrible performance -- certainly not the best we've seen from him, and we've seen a lot better renditions of this song from other Idol contestants. But he certainly has a lot of energy and a very strong voice. Randy compares him to Michael Hutchins??? Not anywhere close! Wow, even Simon likes him. They must've really heard something different in the studio than I heard on TV. I mean he wasn't the worst of the night, but he certainly wasn't the best, and I'm very surprised that DialIdol shows him in second place currently.

So at the end of the first night, we have two distinct groups -- memorable or forgettable. My personal tops were David H., Jason C., Robbie, and of course David A. I also think David Yeager has a lot of potential, he just needs to choose better songs. And of course Michael Johns has a lot of stage presence, despite his shaky performance tonight. That leaves six that should be going home some time in the next three weeks: Chickezie, Garrett, Danny, Luke, Colton, and David Cook -- although I think David C. and David Y. could easily trade places.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Idol top 24 selection show

Although I already know the top 24 list, I'm still wondering what happened to some of my early favorites and if maybe they made it into the top 50 without being shown during the Hollywood round.

No real surprises during the first half of the show, other than how many people made it through that I don't remember EVER seeing. The biggest surprise to me was that Simon doesn't like David Hernandez. I thought he was fantastic! So there it is -- the one Simon says can't possibly win!

I'm also disappointed, although not that surprised, that Josiah didn't make it through. He did bomb his final audition, which shows he can't sing anything they throw at him, so maybe it's for the best. We could see him again on a future season though -- he's only 16.

And the there's nerd-boy Kyle. What?!?! Simon thinks he should have been in the top 24?? Over Josiah? I guess that's Simon just fishing for ratings, looking for this year's Kevin "Chicken Little" Covais or Sanjaya! Wow.

So, not much to comment on from the top 24 selection show. I only remember seeing about half of the finalists perform before the Hollywood round, and there are at least six or seven in the top 24 I don't remember ever seeing! Do they have any shot at winning? A lot of prior contestants have complained that lack of air time early on hurts them when the public starts voting.

So for now, I guess I have to stick with the four favorites I mentioned yesterday: David H., David A., Syesha, and Amanda. Of those four, David A. has the best shot at winning because of the age factor and growth potential. But to be honest, I suspect the winner will NOT be one of those four, but someone I just haven't noticed yet. I'm sure I'll have a much better feel after the first round when we get to see all the contestants perform.

Friday, February 15, 2008

American Idol hollywood round and Top 24

Well due to a family emergency and a rough week in general, I'm still playing catch-up with our tv watching this week. I half-watched the Hollywood Week episode while doing some work, but couldn't really pay attention, so tonight it's time to rewatch it. But looking at the top 24 list, I see I didn't do too well with my audition-round predictions. Here are the people I mentioned by name in previous posts.

Angela Martin - She's the single mom whose daughter has Rett Syndrome. I didn't think she was the greatest singer, so I'm kinda glad she didn't make the top 24, but I'm curious to see exactly what happened.

Beth Stalker - I don't remember her first audition offhand, but I know she stood out to me even though the judges weren't that impressed. I guess she didn't stand out in Hollywood either.

Samantha Musa - Hmm... I'll be interested to see what happened to her and why she didn't make it.

David Archuleta - No surprise he made the top 24.

Angelica Puente - She was one with a great voice but a bad case of nerves.

I realize this might be pointless since I'm already three days behind the air date, but I do want to make some comments as I watch anyway.

Brooke White is one who did make the top 24, but I haven't been overly impressed with her so far. I'll be interested in seeing what she does later in the show.

Jake Mellema, the drummer/singer - great wedding singer, but not an American Idol.

David Hernandez - I don't remember seeing his first round audition, but I'm VERY impressed with him. He's the first guy we've seen in a long time who adds little vocal treatments like runs and growls, like many of the best women do (Kelly Clarkson and Katherine McPhee come to mind). I would've been shocked if he didn't make the top 24.

Amanda Overmyer - I haven't quite decided yet if I like her or not. No surprise that she made the top 24 -- she has fantastic stage presence. And she does have an unmistakably unique voice, which has done well for people like Fantasia and Taylor Hicks. Top 12 for sure, but I doubt she can win.

Josiah Leming - He's the brit-punk singer. I really like him, and I'm really surprised to not see his name in the top 24, especially given the judges' comments. What happened??

Danny Noriega and Ramiele Malubay - They featured short clips of these two back-to-back, and I see they're both in the top 24, but I wasn't impressed with either one! I can't see how either one of them was better than Josiah, but I guess I'll keep watching to see what happened on the final day. Maybe it's a race thing and Idol is looking to boost the diversity of the final 24?

The next two up were Carly Smithson and Michael Johns, and once again I saw nothing memorable from either of them. They're both good singers, but they both had some pitch issues. Once again, I'm surprised to see them in the top 24, especially given some of the people who didn't make it.

David Cook's another who made the top 24. I wasn't overly impressed by his first performance, but he probably had the best rendition of "Everything I Do" of any of the guys.... although the next one featured, Robbie Carrico, sounded even better.

So at the end of the first two days, we still haven't seen any of the five people I mentioned from the first audition rounds! What's up with that??

There's finally a post-cut interview with Angelica Puente, but we never did see her sing in Hollywood.

Now they're finally featuring Angela Martin. As if her backstory wasn't sad enough, she also lost her dad shortly before Hollywood. And given her final a capella auditon, I'm actually surprised she didn't make it through -- ESPECIALLY with nerd-boy in the back row going on!

Now we're up to the final day of Hollywood auditions. Maybe we'll actually see some of my top picks, even though they didn't make it into the top 24.

Here's David Archaleta again. He was fantastic in the audition rounds, and he delivers another goose-bump performance here. Still, I don't think he's as good as David Hernandez, but the judges keep throwing in that "so amazing for 17" line, which has helped people like Jordin Sparks and Paris Bennett.

Syesha Mercado - VERY impressive final performance, especially given the condition of her voice. I'm glad to see she made the top 24. I agree with Randy -- she's one to watch.

Here's Michael Johns again. I wasn't impressed the first time, but I've never seen anyone actually do a GOOD rendition of of Bohemian Raphsody. I'm still a little surprised he made the top 24 -- I don't think he's nearly as good as the judges thought. I guess we'll see. Carly Smithson's final performance was also much better than her first. She's really good, but still somewhat ordinary. I don't think she can win unless we see some big spark or goose-bump moment.

The last contestant to be featured is Josaih Leming, and it's clear why he didn't go on. He's probably just too young and inexperienced. I'm glad the judges put him through anyway, but I'm not quite as surprised now that he didn't make the top 24.

So that's it for the Hollywood auditions... now all that's left is to whittle the group down to 24. Looking through the list, I'm amazed at how many names and faces I don't remember seeing in this episode! I'm sure we saw some in the first rounds and I just don't remember, but they'll show clips during the selection show. But for now, my top picks have to be David Hernandez, David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado, and Amanda Overmeyer, in that order. (I guess that means I do like Amanda after all!) Of course there could very well be someone else in the top 24 we didn't see tonight that is far better than any of those four, but it's late, so the selection show will have to wait another night! And I promise I'll keep the next blog post shorter!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why I'm voting for Barack Obama

I'm not really that politically active -- I don't read political blogs, I haven't watched a single debate this campaign, and I haven't even read the candidates' positions on the issues. And as little as three days ago, I was still undecided on who I would vote for next Tuesday. I mean to me, all of the candidates' positions are pretty close and none of them are going to match my views 100%. (In fact in one of those candidate picker surveys, Bill Richardson was my closest match.) But I've finally decided that Obama is my candidate, for one reason -- I believe he has the ability to implement change.

Sure, all the candidates are talking about change this year, both Democrats and Republicans. But I believe Obama is the candidate who can work across party lines and bring true change to Washington. Yes, Clinton may have more experience and she might even seem more "presidential" at times, but are there any Republican senators who would actually work with her? And while I'd much rather have another 8 years of the Clinton era than go through another 8 under George Dummy-ya, the country needs something better than more gridlock. Hopefully Obama is a fresh face that hasn't rubbed too many Republicans the wrong way and can truly work with both parties to put the country on the right track.

Plus, have you heard Obama speak? He's truly inspiring! Can Hillary deliver a speech with the same passion? Just given the few commercials and clips I've heard, I'd have to say Obama is the best candidate to go head-to-head with the Republican nominee in November.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

American Idol auditions - Nebraska

There's not much to blog about in these first round auditions, since we see so few of the people who actually make it through, but one girl did blow me away tonight -- Angelica Puente. Obviously she was nervous, and the judges are right that she was a bit to "mimicy", but I think the judges were a bit harsh. The girl can blow! If she gets her confidence up, she could be a front-runner. She could definately fall into that "shows the most improvement" category, plus she's got the "sob story" of her father being so strict. Keep an eye on this girl!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Idol San Diego auditions

I wasn't even going to bother blogging about these first Idol audition shows because they normally show so many awful singers, but one singer tonight really grabbed my attention -- Samantha Musa. I thought she was amazing. I did not expect that voice to come out of her at all! And she's cute to boot. My only concern is that she may be TOO good at this point, or maybe not unique enough. The ones who impress us from the beginning tend to get ordinary and we expect perfection every week, then they either have a minor slip-up or the fans get complacent and they end up voted out. But she is certainly one to watch this season!

The other guy who impressed me was David Archuleta. He's got a great voice for only 16, nevermind the fact that he overcame partial vocal paralysis! He's got three things working in his favor already: a good voice, the age factor ("fantastic for your age" is a comment the judges love to throw out), plus the sob story. He could do well if he makes it through Hollywood.

I only wish we got to see more than 5 or 6 people who actually get to go on each week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And this season's American Idol winner is...

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged, huh? Well it's Idol season, so I'm planning to start liveblogging again, at least when we get to the REAL shows, not these crap audition shows.

With that being said, we may have already seen this season's winner -- Angela Martin. She's not the greatest singer, but she has the story. You see Angela is a 26-year-old single mom whose daughter has Rett Syndrome, a debilitating neurological disorder.

Basically, the winner and runner-up of American Idol has either been:
a) the person with the best sob story (Fantasia)
b) the person Simon says can't possibly win (Taylor, Clay, Bo, and Blake), or
c) the person who comes in fairly unnoticed and shows the most growth (Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood, Diana DeGarmo, and of course Kelly Clarkson)

In fact the only Idol winner that doesn't fall into one of these categories is Reuben Studdard, and we're still not sure how he managed to win (or, more accurately, tie) season 2.

We've seen the sympathy vote help some other less-than-steller contestants too, like season four's Anthony Federov (who doctors said would never sing again after a tracheotomy) and Kellie Pickler ("What's calamari?"). The sympathy vote may have even helped Chris Daughtry in some respects, with his story of supporting his wife and her two kids (although his talent alone should have been enough to win the whole thing).

So have we seen the next American Idol already? Personally I don't think Angela's voice is strong enough to win, but if she makes it through Hollywood, I guarantee she'll be a finalist, and probably finish in the top 5. (Oh, and apparently Washington Post writer Lisa de Moraes agrees -- see the last paragraph.)

Of all the others tonight (which I'm only partially watching), the only one who stood out to me was Beth Stalker. I was amazed when Simon said she wouldn't stand out -- so maybe she is this year's contestant that Simon says can't win! If anybody's "ordinary", it's Chris Watson, the one who said he wants to be a legend.

Anyway, I'll be watching Idol on DVR for the next 4 weeks but after that, I'll be back to liveblog!