Find my latest American Idol article here.

Most people were not surprised at all to see Jason Yearty leave, though his goodbye song was his best on Idol yet.  If he could have sung that good before last night he might still be around.  Robbie Carrico was no real surprise either,  but the America’s collective gasp was almost audible as the next two contestants Alexandrea Lushington and Aliana Whitaker were ushered out the door.  Obviously there were others who should have gone ahead of them such as Amanda (Skunk Girl) Overmyer and Kady Malloy, but this should not come as a real surprise to anyone.  American Idol is not a competition where you get to vote out the ones that you hate (wouldn’t that be great, though?).  It is competition where you vote for the best.  I you are not in the top three, overall, or if you do not sing the best on a given night, you have a chance to go home.  We are not privy to the stats, but I assume that there are those two or three who get the 30,000,000 votes and the rest divide up the change.  If you are not one of the best, you could always go.This, oddly, is what gives the “vote for the worsters” some power.  If these few a-holes can band together, they can have some effect on those who are not at the top.  Get ready folks because this could mean we will see Danny Noriega and skunk girl for a couple of more weeks.  These people “worsters” have no real power over the competition, because once it gets down to around 10 contestants, they will be overwhelmed by the numbers.  It is only sad for those who could have made a little college money off the Idol Tour by making top 12, but are replaced by lesser, undeserving talents such as Sanjaya.I wondered for a second if the reason the judges say stupidly positive comments to these contestants is because they think this might get these people off the “worster’s” radar, or they think they can attempt to cover up for the voting flaw in their show by making the audience think that these contestants are actually good.  If either of these is the case, they should stop it.  Paula show just keep her mouth shut or go back to agreeing with Randy, and Simon should hit them with both barrels. 

Idol Girls Disappoint

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I will begin the review of ladies night with a note to all of the female contestants.  Pick songs within your range.  It is pretty easy to tell if a song is too low for you, and if it is you have three choices: 1) work with the band to raise the key, 2) change the notes in the song to where you can sing it (risky), or 3) don’t sing the song, simple.  Every year it seems that the female contestants, even the good ones, can not keep from picking songs that are too low for them.  You have a whole decade of songs to choose from, and you are on American Idol.  You should be good enough to find at least one song that you can sing from a decade’s worth of music.  Remember, it takes more than just the last note to make a song.

We learned several other interesting things last night.  From Paula, we learned that the competition needs certain people even if they consistently sing in a horrible fashion.  All I have to say about that is that the competition only needs one person in it, and that’s the winner (and maybe Simon).

Carly Smithson- “Crazy On You.”-  It was good for her to start the show with an upbeat song, and she proved that she is a much better rocker than Amanda (Skunk Girl) Overmyer.  The song got a little screechy at points, and it was definitely not her best performance, but Simon praised her as the girl they’ve all got to beat.Seyesha Mercado- “Mr Jones”- The baby cry was creepy and irritating, and the song was bad and boring.  It could have been a “safe” song, if she had performed it well.  But, She was shaky, and the song was too low for her.  It was a horribly dreary song that did nothing to showcase her great voice.  I expected her to slay the ending, but she didn’t.  Simon referred to it as indulgent and silly.Brooke White- “You’re So Vain”- On a night when it the bar was not set too high, she was the best.  She sounded hauntingly like Carly Simon, in a good way.  It was her best performance yet.  She had a nice tone and hit her notes.  The judges all liked it as well.Ramiele Malubay- “Don’t Leave Me This Way”- At the beginning, her facial expressions were very affected and contrived, and once again, the song was too low for her.  She sang it good, but it was monotonous and boring.  The judges all thought it was OK, but Simon rightly characterized it as “forgettable”Kristy Lee Cook- “You’re No Good”  She was supposed to tell us something that we did not know about herself, so she told us she was a tomboy.  I think that this aspect of her life is the only this that Idol has played up so far.  Tell me something that I don’t know about you.  As far as the song went, she sang it well, once again, but she has a problem conveying a song to an audience.  Her movements were jerky, and she looked very out of place on stage.  If she does not find a way to express herself soon, she will be gone.  Lucky for her there have been people who sang worse than she has each week so far.  Simon recommended that she go country, and I agree.Amanda (Skunk Girl) Overmyer- “Carry On”-  Once again, a contestant sings a song that is too low for her, but at least she was horrible on the rest of the song also.  Most of the melody was not terrible (just bad), but the ending was excruciating.  I do not know why some of the judges have to prop up bad contestants.  As I said before, in contrast to Paula, the show does not ‘need’ this girl.  Simon did not fall into Paula’s trap.  He said that it was contrived, indulgent, and could not wait for it to end.  All I can say is, “Bye, it’s time to take your fake, sandpaper voice back home.”Alaina Whitaker- “Hopelessly Devoted”- First of all, I just want to give her some props for the “food should not touch” thing.  I agree whole-heartedly, as LL Cool Jay said in Toys, “I am a military man, and I want a military meal….I don’t want mixing on my plate.”  The getting a new fork for each item thing, may be going a little far though.She sounded nice on the long notes, but her voice broke and she got screechy a couple of times.  It really sounded like the effects of over practicing, but this is Idol.  You get a pass this week, but eventually, those voice breaks will kill you.  The judges were possibly a little over critical of her, but Simon did refer to her as a possible dark horse in the competition.Alexandrea Lushington- “If You Leave Me Now”- Though this was not a terrible performance, it was not that great either.  It was a safe song that was screechy on the high notes, and had a weird ending.  The judges (except Paula) did not care for it either.I thought that she sounded a little desperate after the song was over, agreeing with the judges’ criticism, and then saying “I know the song was right for me.  That’s all that matters.”  Then she mumbled something else in which she claimed to be an underdog.  She needs to not try so hard in the after-the-song discussions.Kady Malloy- “Magic Man”  Why did she pick this song???? It was a terrible song choice, and she performed it terribly.  It was too low for her (again!), was a mess, and was easily the worst performance of the night.  It may have been one of the poorest song choices in the history of Idol.  She will be going home this week, no doubt.Asia’h Epperson- All By Myself”  For all contestants:  If you cannot sing Streisand, Whitney or Celine as good as they do, then don’t try.  Remember, all of the notes count, not just the last one (contrary to what Paula may believe).  This song started out too low for her.  Her voice broke on the first chorus, and her power was not consistent.  Randy surprisingly said that she did a good job (If someone had done that to a Whitney song, I doubt if he would have been so kind).  Simon correctly said that if you are going to sing a song like this, you have to pull it off.  He called it a “silly decision.”We should see Kady and Amanda leave this evening.  My top three girls are Carly Smithson, Seyesha Mercado, and Ramiele Malubay.  I still think that Syesha is the best, but she will have to do better than she did last night if she wants to beat Carly Smithson.  

Shut up and Sing!

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I will begin this week’s response to the guy’s show with a note to the contestants.  When the show allows you time for a montage before your song, this time is critical, as important as the song you are singing.  This is time that you can use to connect with the audience and develop your fan base.  Use it well.  Do not waste the time given you by telling us things that no one cares about, and definitely do not mention anything that could be the least bit polarizing.  Those who sing well and use their offstage opportunities to connect with their fans go far in this competition.  You need that fan base to prop you up on the nights when you pick a bad song, hit a bad note or sing early in the evening.

Second note:  Don’t criticize Simon, ever.  You may think that you have some witty retort for him, but you do not.  You are too young to have developed a rapier wit, and your attempts to spare with Simon will almost always leave you looking like an ass.  The risk/reward in this is way out of whack.  In most cases, the contestant has just purchased his or her ticket home (if not this week, then soon).  People may forget that you sang some flat notes by next week, but they will not forget the fact that you are an ass, and eventually you will be sent packing.

Michael Johns- “Go Your Own Way.”  His montage was not great.  The “I’m a Jock.  I play tennis” line was kind of goofy.  If you are going to call yourself a jock, you should probably be a football player (rugby in Australia will do).  Tennis does not add to your rock cred.

The judges must really want this guy to succeed because they generally (except for Simon) liked it.  In my opinion, it was the worst performance of the night by a fair margin.  He was whiny and flat for the whole song.

The Fleetwood Mac song was a bad choice.  You are never going to sound as good alone as a group that has three professional recording artists in it.  On top of that, it was out of his range, and it was also not his style of song.

He should probably go this week for this performance alone, but he will likely get a reprieve.

Jason Castro- “For So Long.”  This was a good song for him, and he was very comfortable on stage.  However, I would really like to see him hold out just one note to prove that he can actually sing.  Simon and Randy did not like it, but he should survive another week at least.

Have you ever wondered if this guy could be the love child of John Travolta and Bob Marley?

Luke Menard-  “Killer Queen”  Here is one guy who was helped by his introduction.  He showed that he has been involved in singing group for a while.  This is a very difficult song and he sang it well.  He showed more style in his voice and in his stage presentation than we have seen so far.  Randy and Paula both liked it, but Simon said that he paled in comparison with the original, and was “theatrical and whiny.”  I do not agree with Simon.  I think a good attempt at Freddy Mercury at this point in the competition should get some props.  He was not whiny, and accusing someone of being theatrical when singing a Queen song, is ludicrous.  There are no Queen songs that are not theatrical (Rush would also fit into this category).  I for one hope that he can stay around long enough for the audience to realize that he is one of the top singers in the competition.

Robbie Carrico- “Hot Blooded”-  Here is another guy who helped himself out in his montage.  He’s a drag racer (translates- rock cred).  The problem was that Ryan set a trap for him by bating him about Simon’s criticism from last week.  Before he even sang, he copped an attitude and told Simon to “get used to it.”

The song was a good choice, and he gave a good overall performance.  Randy, however, told him that his style was not strong enough for this song.  Paula confusingly said that she disagreed with Randy, and then proceeded to make the same point that Randy had made.  And, Simon said that he liked the vocal, but for the first time in the evening (but not the last) had to explain to a contestant that he was trying to give him constructive criticism.  Robbie was just the first contestant of the evening to ruin a decent performance with his attitude, and it could really cost him as he already appears to be the third best of the rocker guys.

Danny Noriega- “Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby.”  Danny was the first contestant to really flub up the intro montage.  Note to Danny,  Coming out and saying, “I was in a gay punk band” was not your best move (he didn’t actually say the word ‘gay,’ but he didn’t have to).  First of all, you were supposed to be telling the audience something that they did not know about you.  While the audience may not have known this, no one was surprised.  You need to play down the gay thing a little bit.  Choosing songs not by the Carpenters would be a good start.

I though it was a horrible song choice.  His voice sounded weak, and he was flat on the end notes.  The judges were split.  He will probably hang around a couple more weeks, but this performance did nothing for him.

David Hernandez-  “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”  Here is another guy who did not take advantage of his montage.  “I was in gymnastics.”  Why would you even say that?  Hey, I was in square dancing in seventh grade, and I don’t tell that to anyone (thank you sweet anonymity).

That being said, this was the best vocal of the night.  He does things with his voice that most of the other contestant would never attempt, and all the little extras are there.  It was also his best stage presentation.  The judges loved it, and Simon even praised him for accepting criticism in the past. 

This guy’s only problem is the off-stage stuff.  He needs to start working on a fan base, or David A. will smoke him at the end of the competition.

Jason Yeager- “Without Love”-  If you are going to come out in your montage and say, “I play multiple instruments.”  Be sure not to let them film your sucky guitar playing.

I thought the song was much better than last week.  It was a safe melody, but the verses were harder.  Unfortunately, I thought his performance could have been heard in any of a thousand bars this weekend.  It was not special or memorable.  The judges were little unduly harsh on him, but that does not mean that he does not deserve to be the next one to go.  He should not make any more Hollywood plans for next week, except to determine if he wants an isle seat for the flight home.

Chikezie- “I believe”-  This was a good version of a traditional Motown soul song.  He sang it well, and received praise from the judges.  His verbal sparing with Simon at the end of the song is the one case (maybe in the history of idol) that I thought was funny, but he needs to let that stuff go at this point.  I think he should still be around for another week.

David Cook- “All Right Now.”-  Here we have the perfect example of how you can take a perfect performance and destroy it with the off-stage stuff.  He is a better rocker than either Johns or Carico, and received straight positive marks from the judges.  However, he spent his montage time telling the audience that he was a “Word Nerd” who loves crossword puzzles.  I am sure that wrapped up the English teacher vote right there, but when Simon correctly pointed out that he had not done himself any favors in the montage, Cook proceeded to simply make an ass out of himself.  And, Simon called him out for it.  There has been enough of this already this season, and it is going to take sending a good talent home early to get these kids to realize it.  Before this outburst, I had Cook in my top three guys, after, I don’t even know if he’ll survive this week.  People will remember this, and as soon as the chaff is gone, he’ll be next.

David Archuleta- “Imagine”-  When I heard that he was singing a John Lennon song, I thought, “Surely he won’t sing ‘Imagine.’  That song is much too stylistic, the vocal is not strong enough, and he will only get compared negatively to Lennon.”  I could not have been more wrong.  It was awesome (this is not to be read in the voice of a 13 year old girl).  The judges loved it.  Randy said that it was one of the best performances ever on the show.  Simon declared him the one to beat.  They were both right.

I promised my picks this week, so here they are for the boys.  My top three boys in the competition are:  David Hernandez, David Archuleta and Luke Menard.  I had Cook in this list instead of Menard, but his personality is torpedoing his performances.  It needs to be said that the top two are way above the rest, and Menard is not that far ahead of some of the others, but I believe that he does have one of the better voices.

In the end, I did choose David H. over David A, and am picking Hernandez to win the competition.  This is going out on a limb.  I do believe that Hernandez has the better voice, but not by much, and Archuleta is miles ahead of Hernandez in all of the other stuff, but I like the best vocals, and given time, I hope Hernandez’s personality will shine through.  If not, as I said before, Archuleta will smoke him, and Hernandez will go out before his time like Chris Daughtry did a couple of years ago.

This week we should see Yeager and (choosing between Cook, Johns, Castro, Noriega and Carrico), Carrico go home.

There Will Be Blood

Oh my.  My wife and I went to see this movie together.  I’ll give you her review first.  “I hated it.”  That pretty much says it all.

I can sum up the plot-line like this.  The once was an oilman who was a bastard.  Seriously, that seems to be the whole plot of the movie.  Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for this dreary, moody and melodramatic role, and he may have even deserved it, seeing as the director could not find time to develop any other characters or plot lines besides the emotional mood-swings of Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis). 

There might have been a compelling story involving a local faith healer, but this was choppy and a small part of the movie.  And, we never got to know him well or his motivations.  Plainview’s relationship with his son, H.W., could have been most interesting, but it seemed only to touch on a very few negative highlights, and we never really got to know this character.  I would have liked to have seen more about his dealings with Standard Oil, but these were perfunctory at best.  Even getting to know his “brother” better would have been nice, but this character was cut short also, though he may have been the best developed outside of Plainview himself. 

For a movie that moved as slowly as it did, There Will Be Blood seemed to cover little ground.  However, each and every one of the resolved conflicts in the movie seemed to be resolved too quickly and in much too high-handed a fashion with little or no explanation of character motivations.  The moral of the movie seems to be: If you are an awful person, you may not have a very good life.

One other thing.  What was with the score of this movie?  It would build and build until you were sure that something momentous was going to happen, but then nothing would happen.  There was one scene that was panning across a train station.  The music kept building until I was sure someone was about to die any moment.  The camera panned across the front of the train, and then moved on to another scene.  It was a beating.

I do not, not, not recommend this movie, and remember I am the guy who likes historical movies.

Government Health Scare

A friend sent an article to me this morning that talked about the three candidates and their ideas on health-care reform.  Generally, I believe that the less government intrusion there is, the better, but in this instance America’s politics have wandered into an area where I feel there is need for reform.  The problem is that I do not believe any of the candidates has a serious or good idea for reforming this problem.

Both of the Democratic candidates prefer some sort of all-inclusive government sponsored plan, while McCain’s plan prefers to remove the business incentive from the current system, ostensibly allowing businesses to pay people more in actual salary and allowing individuals more freedom and power when choosing a health plan.  I don’t see any of these plans as viable, or well thought out. 

I really would like to see a non-profit insurance company established.  Of course, you would have to pay the people who work there, but it seems to me that a group of people or businesses could come together and establish an insurance company that takes only enough to pay its medical bills and operating expenses.  It makes sense, and is the purest example of the original purpose of insurance, to get people to pool their money together, so that if something bad happens to one of them, the corporate body of funds covers the expense. 

Originally, insurance companies were created as a profit venture, but the problem came when this idea was taken to its logical conclusion (which is where it is now).  I believe there is a moral issue at work here.  These companies lose sight of their true purpose, pooling individuals’ money to protect against catastrophe, and begin to look at profits as their main objective.  In this scenario, the motivation is to get medical costs up, to justify raising premiums and to keep from paying as many claims as possible so that profits will be as high as possible.  It’s a problem when you take a person’s money for “health insurance,” and then make it one of your company’s stated goals to get and keep as much of that money as you can by refusing to pay or by making achieving payment so difficult that people give up. 

So why doesn’t someone start a non-profit insurance company?  Because, state laws are highly protective of insurance companies’ interests.  Texas has many state laws that protect the insurance industry.  For example, you cannot take an insurance company to court for not paying your medical bills.  I want to make it clear that I am not talking about tort reform.  That is another issue for another discussion.

My main point is this: why do we need a middle-man?  If the point of insurance is to band your money together, and to make sure that everyone is covered by the contributions of the whole, then there is no need to pay a for-profit company to do this for you.  What could happen, is that a large (and I mean large- the larger the better) group of individuals could set up an insurance company in this fashion to work in their best interests, not the interests of a group of stock holders (the insured would be the stock holders).  In truth, the insurance company has little to offer, except to be a place to pool money and weed out fraud.  They are no different than a stock broker who bundles your money with that of other people and helps you buy into a fund.  The difference is that the stock broker is not trying to figure out a way to keep your money for himself (except for fixed transaction fees).  When you want to sell a stock, you sell, the broker collects a few bucks, and you are done.  In contrast, when you have a serious health problem, many insurance companies will do all they can to make the pay-out difficult.

And as we have seen, with the growth of technology and the information age, there is really no need for a stock broker these days you can do it yourself on-line for even less.  The same technology could be used to help bring people’s money together to insure themselves.  This is the kind of leverage that could also effect medical prices in a good way for those choosing to insure themselves this way.

For me, the political solutions presented by both parties are no more serious than their current ideas for solving the “big oil” problem.  All the Republican idea does is to remove the onus from businesses to help provide health-care.  I do not believe for a second that businesses will raise employee salaries commensurate with the money that they will be saving on health-care.  The businesses will rely on the fact that most people do not associate the business cost of benefits with their salaries.  Most people are worried about their take-home-pay.  Good jobs will still have to provide health-care benefits in order to get good employees, and smaller businesses and lesser desired jobs (see burger flipper), will be effectively cut off from insured health-care coverage.

The worst part is that the Republican plan does nothing to deal with rising health-care costs.  It insinuates that allowing people to control their own medical benefits will cause competition and drive prices down.  But, that is not where the problem is, the problem is between the insurance companies and the medical companies.  I personally find it hard to believe that a company, such as Home Depot, cannot use the leverage of its thousands of employees to get access to decently priced insurance.  And, if a company that pools this many people together cannot get it done, I am sure that these people as individuals will have no chance.

The Democrat proposal is just as bad.  Any time government steps in and decides to simply cover the costs associated with an industry, the entities in that industry begin to salivate.  If you want to see medical costs go out of control, just allow the government to pay the bills.  In the end, the insurance and medical companies will reap record profits, and our taxes will soar in order to pay for it.

The only people benefited by McCain’s idea are businesses who carry insurance, and the only people benefited by the Dems’ ideas are the insurance companies, medical companies and themselves (politicians).  No surprises

Three Out of Four is Not Bad

Find my latest American Idol article here.

At last night’s results show, we saw that perhaps the wind has gone out of the sails of the “Vote For The Worsters.”  I rightly predicted that three of the four would be gone, and I don’t believe that I gave Colton much support.  Perhaps if I had looked back at what I had actually written, I would have seen the wisdom in him leaving over Yeager. 

Good job America!  It shows that you still know more than the judges when it comes to a performance.  Even though Joanna got support from Randy and Paula and Colton was not strongly criticized by any of the judges, you were able to see for yourselves the weakness of Colton’s performance and the awfulness of Joanna’s performance.  I don’t believe it took too much of a musical ear to decide not to call in and vote for Amy or Garrett.  Deciding not to vote for them was a no-brainer.

I like to think that when Ryan chooses two of the contestants to put on the hot seat (before he lets one of them go) that both of them had the lowest remaining totals.  I cannot imagine it being fair otherwise.  If this is true, Chikezie will need to step up his game a little bit, even though he was not that bad.  He did go early, and Simon took out his hatred of the 60’s on him, but if his chooses a good song this week, he should be fine.Kristy Lee Cook will also need to step up her game if she hopes to save “Trigger” from the glue factory.  She has a voice that is nice to listen to, and she looks very nice in a pair of Go-go boots, but she needs to add style to the songs that she sings.  She does not need to pick anything by a strong singer such as Aretha Franklin.  Karen Carpenter or Anne Murray and country songs are better for her voice (these are just examples, I’m sure there are others).As far as Amanda (Skunk Girl) Overmyer, I was giddy when I saw her standing with Joanne, and I could just see her leaving next week (assuming the judges do not go out of their way to prop her up).This season looks to be shaping up well.  My friends and I usually make our top four picks after the first week, but looking at the boys, I have requested and extra week to make my decision.  Another compromise was that we would pick our top six this year instead of our top four, and pick our two favorites next week also.  So by Friday of next week you can expect a top six prediction, a top two and a winner, from your (mostly) friendly Idol correspondent.Finally, I want to comment on the Paula video.  At least she did not attempt to perform the song live, as she did before the Superbowl (it was not even live then, but they tried to make it look that way).  I was just getting over that trauma.  I’m mostly glad that she had the bravery to come out and really sing the song.  I mean she showed that showed that audience that she still had some real pipes.  It was obvious that she was singing live during the video, and the best part was that she didn’t have to rely on a studio producer and a voice harmonizer to make her sound decent.  Oh wait,…[The above paragraph is an example of sarcasm.  Nothing in it should be taken at face value.  I really thought the video was ridiculous bordering on pathetic].

Girl’s Night at Idol Separates Contestants

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Last night’s female Idol opener reminded me more of seasons past.  The cream rose to the top and the lard (see Joanne) sank to the bottom.  It should be much easier for the fans to weed through the girls than the guys this season.

Kristy Lee Cook- Her uninspiring version of “Rescue Me” was one of the low-lights of the night.  It was upbeat, as the first act on Idol has to be each week, but it lacked any style.  Her song was just as bad as Colton’s the night before for the same reasons.  All her notes were in tune, but it was very vanilla.  If she does not show some personality soon, she will be gone, and the only way she will be getting that horse back is in a bottle of Elmer’s.

Joanne Borgella-  First of all, I want to address this “Plus-sized Model” moniker that she has labeled herself with.  Note to everyone:  “Plus-sized Model” is just code for “Fat Chick”.  Oddly you do not ever hear of a guy being referred to as a “plus-sized model”.  He’s just fat (believe me, if there is one thing I know about, it’s fat), and, so is Joanne.  The Plus-size comment is just to make her feel better about it.  As far as her version of “Say a Little Prayer for You” goes, it was terrible.  Randy and Paula were awfully (and undeservedly) nice to her in their critiques.  Simon was right.  I watched it twice.  It was pitchy from beginning to end, a complete mess.  She could not seem to hit or hold her notes.  If things go as they should tonight, she will be able to have another Twinky and go back to her old job.

Alaina Whitaker- “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday”: One of the best of the night.  She had a strong voice, hit most of her notes, and was good on stage.  We should see her again.

Amanda (Skunk Girl) Overmyer- After promising not to sing any more Janice Joplin songs, she came out and sang a Van Morrison song just like Janice Joplin.  The judges, especially Paula attempted to cover for her by saying that she was not a one-trick-pony and was sincere.  For me, I felt exactly the opposite.  She appeared to be extremely affected (fake) and is definitely a one-trick pony.  She will continue to get pumped up by the judges and will be this year’s Mikalah Gordon, Kevin Covais or Gina Glocksen, a person who the judges allow to go much further in the competition that she should.

A note to Idol contestants and judges:  People do not come on Idol and attempt to sing Bob Dylan songs.  First of all, Dylan is polarizing, you either love his frog voice or you hate it, and more people hate it than love it.  But, Dylan gets a pass.  Whether it’s due to his song writing ability or just the fact that he is Dylan, he gets respect.  Idol contestants, you are not Bob Dylan and any attempt by you to sound like Dylan is going to sound like a turd.  Don’t sing Dylan, and in the same way for the same reasons, you should not sin Janice Joplin.  Her voice is too stylistic, and you cannot pull it off.

Amy Davis- There are not enough syllables in atrocious to appropriately attach meaning to her version of “Where the Boy’s Are.”  This one also falls in the category of “What the hell was she thinking?”  It was a terrible song choice and a complete mess.  Flat and weak most of the time, and she could not even hit the notes at the end.  She should also go tonight.

Brooke White-  Her version of “Happy Together”, though not as good as David Cook’s the previous night, was still her best vocal so far.  She was a little flat on some of the long notes, but all-in-all it was a good performance.

Alexandrea Lushinton (sounds like a bad name from a soap opera or the board game Clue)-  “Spinning Wheel”:  She had the best stage work of the night.  He voice was good, but her high notes sounded a little like bad male falsetto (this may have been the song).  Her main problem, and I’ll go ahead and throw Asia’h into this category also was attitude.  Ladies, you are not Beyonce, yet.  Please do not act like you are.  If you persist in doing this in front of the cameras each week, America will be more than happy to prove to you that you are not yet Beyonce.

Kady Malloy- “Groovy Kind of Love”-  I completely disagreed with the judges on this one.  It was a good song for her, and she sang it well.  He vocal was one of the best of the night.  Note to Simon:  This song was redone in the 1990’s by a Brit and was a hit, Mr Contemporary.

Asia’h Epperson-  “Another Little Piece of My Heart”- Here is a girl who sang a Janice Joplin song, sang it well and made it her own.  She used the stage well, but her performance (especially the facial features) looked very affected.  I do not think she was quite as good as either she or the judges thought, but she was still one of the better singers of the night.

Syesha Mercado-  Her choice of “Tobacco Road” seemed an odd, since she had the whole 60’ to choose from.  It was not her best vocal that we have seen, but was still one of the top two of the night.  She needs to steer clear of songs that make her sing in the low part of her register, and focus on ones that showcase her great pipes.  I still believe she is the best female singer in the contest, she just chose a bad song this night.

Carly Smithson (Tat-girl)-  I don’t ever remember hearing “The Shadow of Your Smile” before, and I am sure that if the original artist had sang it this well, it would have been a bigger hit than it was.  I really want to hate this girl, this song was excellent, the best of the night by a good margin.  Simon was an idiot on this one.  However, it seems like someone who is vain enough to do that (tattoo) to her right arm would have seen the orthodontist years ago and had that horror show of a mouth fixed.  It only seemed like a little while after his season was over that Elliot Yamin had his grizzly smile fixed.


So tonight I am hoping to see Garret Haley, Jason Yeager, Joanne Borgella and Amy Davis hit the road.


Additions, and Corrections to Yesterday’s Idol Talk

Find my latest American Idol article here.

I need to start paying a little more attention.  First of all, I neglected to even mention Robbie Carico’s well done rendition of “One”.  It is always nice to see a rocker show that he can actually sing.  I am a little suspicious of him in the same way that I was suspicious of Bo, to seasons ago.  I looks like if you were to shave either one of those beards, you would be left with a pretty wimpy looking guy.

Second, yesterday I said that only Asia’h Epperson had impressed me among the girls.  After watching last night’s show, I realized that I had my names and faces confused, I meant to give that credit to Syesha Mercado instead (more on the girls in today’s second installment).

Third, I went back and watched Jason Castro’s performance again after several arguments with people whose opinions I respect.  I must say that it was better than it looked the first time.  He looked very comfortable.  He was on pitch the whole time with several accidentals thrown into the song, but his voice sounded a little weak.  This may have been a result of the style of the song.  It will be interesting to see if he has some real pipes in there.

Finally, I watched Colton Berry’s “Suspicious Minds” again, and I came to realize why I hated his version so much.  As I said before, he sang all of the notes on key.  The problem was that he took a great, soulful song and reduced it to a piece of bubble gum.  It was like what might happen if Hanson decided to sing an Elvis song.  This guy needs to infuse some style into his music.

Real men watch Idol

Aaahh! Idol season once again.  I have been a faithful viewer of American Idol over the past few seasons, and have really enjoyed the show.  A few guys at work and I have weekly “Idol Talk” where we talk about the show and make predictions.  Usually, we pick out top four (two guys and two girls) after the first week of the top 24.  This year, however, the talent seems to be a little better.

Yesterday, in the first installment of “the guys”, there was no one who stood out as terrible, as in past years, and there was also no one who stood out as great such as Melinda or Blake did early on last year.  For the most part they were all on pitch, and performed passable renditions of their songs.

Most of the time I like what Simon has to say and agree with him, but he needs to realize that when the contestants do a 1960’s episode, the songs are not necessarily going to sound contemporary.  It’s good to change a song and make it your own, but a contestant that does this is always running the risk of having the judges hate the version because it does not sound like the original.  At this point in the competition, it is best to sing a popular upbeat song, sing it well, and be as personable as possible while those who do not sing well, choose their songs poorly and/or argue with the judges fall by the wayside.

Watch out for David Hernandez.  His voice has been consistently the best of the guys so far, showing a refinement that most of the others do not have. If he survives the curse of going first, and singing a forgettable song this week, he could be a force to be reckoned with.  He also needs to improve his stage presence greatly.

Chikezie, who I will now refer to as Jacuzzi (thank you, Simon) performed a decent Motown song, but Simon hated his appearance.

If Danny Noriega’s singing ever drops off, it will be easy to hate him.  He definitely has a good voice, but his “Hound Dog” rendition was weird, and his arrogant expressions were extremely off-putting.  He will probably be this season’s Sanjaya or Kevin Covais except that he can sing.  All the little girls will love him and vote for him, and I will not be happy until he is gone.

David Archiletta was good, as expected, but it would not hurt him to sing something a little less effeminate than “Shop Around.”  With his talent, looks and “Aw-shucks” attitude, he should go far into the competition.

David Cook’s version of “Happy Together” was the highlight of the evening.  The alternative style of the song was unexpected and good.  After hearing him in Hollywood, I thought that he did not have much of a chance, but I may have to rethink that idea.

I will put Colton Berry in the forgettable category with his well sung, but lame version of “Suspicious Minds”.  He could be in trouble.

When I said before that no one stood out as terrible, I was, of course, not including the performance of Garrett Haley which was awful.   There was really nothing good about his performance of “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” and Simon’s criticism, though mean-spirited, was absolutely accurate right down to his pasty, dead looks.  He should be the first to go.

I don’t know if I just didn’t get it, but it seems everyone liked Jason Castro’s “Daydream” but me.  When I find myself out on a limb like this, I generally back up and give it one more try before passing judgment, and this is what I choose to do today.  I will say, however, that he is the perfect example of why humans should not get hair extensions from muskoxen.  Someone, please take a curry-comb to that young man.  Jason, this next bit is for you.  Your stupid hair-do does not cover up that goofy look on your face, and together they make you almost unwatchable.  Haircuts are cheap, and a beard might cover that s— eating grin nicely.

In the “What the hell was he thinking?” category, Jason Yeager attempted to single-handedly destroy the show’s perennial #1 rating with his yawner of a rendition of “Moon River.”  Has this guy never watched Idol before?  And, his vocals would have been the worst if not for Garrett.  He will probably be the other one to go this week, and I will be sad to lose “skunk-boy” as a good companion to the “skunk-girl” who we will see tonight. 

Luke Menard, who has a good voice, sang “Everybody’s talking.’”  He did a good job on the song, but as Simon correctly pointed out, it was forgettable.  He could be in trouble for this very reason.

Michael John’s ended the show with “Light My Fire” by the Doors.  He sang it well, but in contrast to what the Judges were saying, it was not an original version.  He sang it straight up, but it sounded good, and was a good, upbeat choice.  I had him slotted as not-that-good after he sang a bunch of easy songs in Hollywood, but I may have to reevaluate him also.  His stage presence was one of the best of the night.

Tonight we get the girls.  So far, there has only been one who has impressed me, Asia’h Epperson, but of course there are several that they never bothered to show us in Hollywood so that they could squeeze another 15 minutes of that crying bastard with the fake British accent in on the previous shows.

Miami Vice

I recently watched the movie version of the 80’s hit Miami Vice with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.  As with most remakes, the makers of this film had several choices: 1) Try to redo the series as closely as they could set at the same time, 2) Do a comedy version that pokes fun at the series and the time that it was done, or 3) Do an original and updated version of the series.

I am a child of the 80’s and I loved them.  The music was great (all of you 70’s lovers who constantly bash the 80’s need to learn this truth), and the attitude of America was positive.  The style was, however, lacking (at least among the fashionable).  In truth Miami Vice and Michael Jackson pretty much sum up what was bad about the 80’s.  The dress and mannerisms of Jackson and the characters on Miami Vice (the TV series) show a natural downward progression this occurs when disco meets the “me” generation.  These characters were sappy, vain and oversexed (and they dressed horribly, and yes, I had one of those god-awful Don Johnson cotton jackets and a Chess King shirt that would have looked equally good on Michael Jackson or any character from Star Trek). 

A true attempt to seriously redo the series would have failed because people do not want to be reminded of the things mentioned above.  On the other hand, comedy theatrical versions of serious TV shows are often beatings (see the Wild, Wild West- I just threw up in my mouth.).  And, movies like The Wedding Singer have already done a good job of appropriately poking fun at the 80’s.

No, the producers and the director (Michael Mann) did the right thing by recreating the show for today.  It was much edgier, and serious.  It was episodic which is always good for these types of movies, and the acting was good.  For the most part, it moved well for a 2 hour+ movie, but tended to get a little slow at some points as they used several sex scenes to attempt to build the characters.  One each would have been enough.  The Crocket character and his relationships got a little hokey, but all-in-all these characters were believable.

I did not go into this movie with high expectations and was pleasantly surprised in the end.  It’s not for the kids, but I really show not have to even say that about a movie whose title implies sex, drugs and violence, and this movie delivers on all three.