Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol - The Second 12 of the Top 36 Perform

Jasmine Murray - "Love Song"

I like this girl so I was disappointed in the generic performance. She's cute and charming but this song didnt let her show off any skillz.

Matt Giraud - "Viva La Vida"

Matt is talented but seems to lack star quality. He also seemed very nervous to me. Watching him, I thought about Albert Brooks sweating through the newscast in Broadcast News. He looked that uncomfortable. And I'm surprised since he works in a dueling piano bar.

Jeanine Vailes - "This Love"

Ugh, I hated this. She does have great legs but she kind of looks like a drag queen. I found her performance to be annoying and shrill.

Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle - "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going"

LOL! I loved this performance. Finally, some entertainment in this boring show! I laughed and laughed. Yes, he's mocking the show. But hey, it needs some mocking. Plus, the boy can sing. You could tell that during Hollywood week, which was why the judges didnt know what to do with him. Here he struggled on the hardest song in the world, but he did hit a few good notes. I wish he'd make it to the Top 12 just so his Andy Kaufmanesque takeover of Idol could go on and on.

Allison Iraheta - "Alone"

Wow, I liked this girl a lot. I didn't expect to, given her look and demeanor in the interview, but she rocked out on a very hard song. She seems older than 16 to me. Her voice reminded me a little of Bonnie Tyler or last year's rock and roll nurse (but better than the nurse).

Kris Allen - "Man in the Mirror"

I agree with the judges that it wasn't a great song choice, but Kris is definitely cute and likable. He's got real teen idol potential if he can radiate a somewhat bigger personality. He started off shaky but got better as he went through the song.

Megan Joy Corkery - "Put Your Records On"

I wasn't digging this girl and wasn't sure what the judges were raving about. With her blond hair and innocent white dress and tattoo sleeve, she looked like the spawn of Brooke White and Carly Smithson. She's definitely beautiful but I found her voice irritating and pitchy and thought she seemed nervous. Also, what's up with the odd dance moves and Tammy Faye eyelashes?

Matt Breitzke - "If You Could Only See"

Blech. I'm typically a fan of contestants who are built like offensive linemen (cf Sundance Head, Matt Rogers), but Matt leaves me a bit cold. I thought this was a generic bar band performance of a generic bar band song. He then made things worse by smarting off to the judges.

Jessie Longseth - "Bette Davis Eyes"

Ooh, awesome song, but too bad she sounded so nasally. There is something irritating about her personality too. And then more sass to the judges. Goodbye, Jessie.

Kai Kalama - "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted"

Making an error of Samsonesque proportions, Kai either cut or tied back his hair so it looked like a mop top. His hair was really his best feature, and it looked dorky last night. This was a pretty boring performance and I don't think his heartwarming story will be enough to get him through.

Mishavonna Henson - "Drops of Jupiter"

I like this girl. She has a whimsical look about her and a nice personality. But she didn't really bring it. Still, I think she has a shot to make it. I like the name. She should drop her last name and just be Mishavonna.

Adam Lambert - "Satisfaction"

God, this kid grates on my nerves. I know he can sing but everything about him is so contrived. He's now desperately trying to be butch but we won't forget that he covered "Believe." His hairstyle is annoying but I guess it makes him Tiger-Beat-Ready. I thought the performance was totally cheesola, but I have to admit that his stage presence and voice are on a different level than the rest of this group, except for Allison. Notice how they let him sing last just like they let Danny Gokey sing last - they are pushing their favorites.


Top Guy - Adam Lambert
Top Gal - Alison Iraheta
Third Finisher - Nick Mitchell (a girl can dream)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol - The First 12 of the Top 36 Perform

Tonight's show began with some banter between Ryan and the judges. Paula seemed drugged out again. She had been looking better to me during the earlier shows this season. I guess that shows the magic of editing - not much they can due to hide her glazed over expression and slurring on Live TV.

Jackie Tohn - "A Little Less Conversation"

OK, Jackie, you can mug and prance around the stage all you want but you'll never outdo Jon Peter Lewis on this song! Her outfit was not very flattering, and Paula stated it reminded her of Randy's "Journey pants." Pretty sure that's not a compliment. She gets points for being an oddball but her Karen O type performance is not going to win over the dialing fingers of many Idol viewers.

Ricky Braddy - "Song For You"

Wow, I was impressed with Ricky's voice. It was gorgeous and reminded me a little of George Michael. He really delivered on this difficult song. Too bad he's lacking in the looks and personality department and we don't have any impression of him since he's had no coverage on the previous shows. I fear this great performance, coming early in the night, won't be enough to carry him through.

Alexis Grace - "Never Loved a Man"

Alexis is cute as a button, but I feel she is trying too hard to get "the look" the judges want her to have. She is coming off like a cross between Nikki McKibben and Amy Winehouse and Gwen Stefani. This was definitely a good performance although I didn't feel she was really feelin' the song, and I was less enthused than the judges who slobbered all over her. Simon delivered the coveted comparison to Kelly Clarkson that will no doubt have her sailing through to the next round.

Brent Keith - "Hicktown"

Brent is cute, but this was pretty standard country fare and unlikely to help him stand out. The judges felt he didn't showcase his range. He also perhaps studied with Chikezie since he too talked back to the judges too much, which is never appealing.

Stevie Wright - "You Belong With Me"

Aww, poor Stevie. I was rooting for her. I think she has a good vibe. But this teenybopper song did nothing for her. It was a very generic song and she struggled with it and seemed nervous. Maybe she has enough teen fans to carry her through, but I'm gonna doubt it. I'm sending her a virtual hug.

Anoop Desai - "Angel of Mine"

Ahh, Anoop. I dig this guy. He's handsome in a gawky way and oh-so-likable. However, this was a bizarre song choice. The chorus basically reduced him to a backup singer harmonizing type role, and it seemed awkward. He was also guilty of talking back to the judges. He's definitely popular but this bad song choice may keep him out of tonight's top 3.

Casey Carlson - "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic"

Casey really seemed to be trying too hard. I didn't expect to bring up Nikki McKibben twice in this blog post, but Casey's winking and face pulling certainly recall the cheesiness of Nikki. She was all over the place on this one and the song was just way bigger than her, as the judges all pointed out. That being said, she's freakin' beautiful, and thus she may get a pass.

Michael Sarver - "I Don't Wanna Be"

Hmm, not sure about this one. Michael is one of my favorites. He's got that Matt Rogers / Sundance Head big cuddly bear appeal. However, this song didn't really suit him, and he looked kind of silly trying to dance. Also, this song was delivered by Bo Bice in one of the all-time great Idol performances, so that is a hard thing to live up to. Still, Michael proved he can sing, and he has a ton of likability, so I predict he will be in the top three. Possible note of concern: his mother's extremly long hair and long skirt made her look like a member of the "Big Love" polygamy cult, but they're probably just Pentecostal.

Ann Marie Boskovich - "Natural Woman"

She's an attractive girl but this performance was shouty and boring to me. Once again, a bad song choice. These kids are overreaching by taking on icons. It smacks of desperation.

Stephen Fowler - "Rock With You"

I really objected to this guy being in the Top 36 after his complete meltdown in the solo audition where he forgot his words and stalked away from his piano. He blew his second chance here, fumbling around the notes on this MJ classic. He did hit an impressive high note, but the song choice was just so very, very wrong. I felt kind of bad for him that his wife didn't come support him in the studio and he had no other family or friends there. But maybe they all told him he was crazy to sing Michael Jackson.

Tatiana Del Toro - "I'm Saving All My Love For You"

Only Tatiana could make this song sound like the anthem of a stalker, with her creepy intensity. She did tone it down a bit but a few hysterical giggles came out during her post-song interview. She also came off very defensive, stating that her friends said her Hollywood Week behavior was very uncharacteristic. The girl can sing, and she handled this song okay, and obviously it ain't easy to sing Whitney. However her personality is so grating that I can only imagine her getting through to the next round by "Vote for the Worst" efforts.

Danny Gokey - "Hero"

Ahh, Danny - cute, likable, good singer, and touching backstory. No wonder the Idol producers love him so much that they let him sing last and the judges (other than Simon) fell all over themselves praising him. Let's just give him the golden ticket to the Top 12 right now, shall we? Sarcasm aside, Danny did turn in a very good performance. He's like a mix of Joe Cocker and Eliot Yamin and I love the soulful gravel in his voice. He took on a very tough song and, unlike many of tonight's puffed-up contestants, he made the song his bitch.


Top Boy - Danny Gokey
Top Girl - Alexis Grace
Third Top Finisher - Michael Sarver

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

DVD Review: Hall and Oates Live at the Troubadour

A review of the DVD release - Hall & Oates: Live at the Troubadour (2008)


Let me start by saying that I was encouraged to watch this new Hall & Oates concert DVD after I saw their Daily Show spoof of Hannity and Colmes recently.

Even though it was odd that they were introduced as “the best selling rock duo of all time,” a claim also made on their DVD…I thought “here’s a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously to redo the song “She’s Gone” to mock that Republican-obsessed TV program.

But unless you like to hear jaunty, high-energy 80s pop tunes dirged out into lullabies, this DVD may not for you.

Hell, we did aerobics to Hall & Oates in the 80s, their songs had so much kick. The arrangements and performances on this DVD seemed very tired. And yet…their vocals still sound great, which makes the show seem all the more disappointing and the “best selling” accolade all the more deflated.

Daryl’s face looks very pinched and his style of squinting when he sings doesn’t age so well. He looks like he’s had an allergic reaction to a cat. Keep in mind he did have an attack of Lymes disease in 2005, which may explain his look and low energy level.

I, myself, love older H&O tunes like “She’s Gone” and “Rich Girl” (my last favorite was “You Make My Dreams Come True”), while Coolia liked the later 80s tunes such as “Family Man,” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch.”

Their early album Abandoned Luncheonette was mentioned (from where “She’s Gone” came) during the show which made me wonder if this was the album they were promoting during their earlier Troubadour show they mention fondly. It’s hard to know because their between-song banter was sketchy and cryptic.

We love to make light of Oates as the lesser in the duo but his one solo of the show “Had I Known You Better” we all liked. Daryl did a solo song called “Cab Driver” and he spoke about a concert he did at his house:

But all in all, I got no sense of these performers’ personalities. They were like cardboard cut-outs of Hall & Oates.

Almost every song was drawn out to a tedious duration with insufferable scatting from Daryl and therefore, every song of this two hour show, from “You Make My Dreams Come True” to “Sara Smile” sounded exactly the same, which bored the hell out of us.


I enjoyed H&O when I saw them in concert at the Beacon Theater in NYC, probably close to 10 years ago. That show was electric and showcased their great pop melodies and many hits. As Nerdia said, this all-acoustic show was a bit of a snoozer. Typically, in a live show, the artists may do a brief acoustic interlude, which always makes for a nice change. But 2 hours of acousticness tends to just drone on and on.

The concert wasn't filmed with much visual flair, and there's no use of video or images other than shots of the band. So this adds to the sameness vibe. I was also distracted by the saxophone player who had creepy long hair and whose personality just grated on my nerves for some reason. It's not really rational but I found myself reacting negatively whenever they showed him - and they showed him a lot. On the other hand, some other band members got very little camera time at all.

Daryl still sounds great, but I found myself missing his proud mullet of the 80s. He has midwestern mom hair now. Oates was never a looker, and reminds me of Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter, but he's very fit. He still doesn't have that much to do. Remember him in their 80s videos, doing cartwheels in the background, like as if to say, "notice me dammit!" As Nerdia mentioned, his solo tune is worth a download.

I still love hearing their hits, and I can imagine myself putting this DVD on for background as I blog or read. It's not really compelling enough to watch on its own, but it's ear-pleasing.

Buy the DVD on Amazon

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