Monday, March 31, 2008

Scenes from the Morrissey Convention

I went, and I stood on my own.

I checked out the annual Morrissey convention for the first time on Sunday night. It was held at Crash Mansion LA downtown and emceed by Richard "Flashback Favorites" Blade.

I had been to several KISS and Cher conventions, and I have to say the Morrissey convention paled in comparison to them when it came to memorabilia and schwag. There were only maybe 5 vendor tables set up in the lobby, peddling buttons, t-shirts, bootlegs. That aspect of the show was disappointing.

The entertainment more than made up for the lack of merchandise. These Charming Men, a Morrissey/Smiths tribute band from Dublin, played two sets. They played an all-Smiths set and then an all-Morrissey set. Singer Lee Brady looked more like Frank Whaley than Moz, but he sounded a lot like Moz, and the band members were skilled musicians. The end product was a very effective tribute. Fans sang along to every tune. The club was rockin' especially toward the end of the Morrissey set when the band played the anthemic "Irish Blood, English Heart."

Other activities included a "Name that Tune" contest. I was impressed at the fans who could name the Morrissey tunes in a few notes, even though Richard Blade did give out a few hints. There was a tattoo contest where fans showed off the Moz heads on their biceps and backs (and one girl showed off "Viva Hate" tattooed on her belly).

A guy proposed to his girlfriend on stage, stating that she was a big Moz fan so he thought this was an appropriate venue. Yes, there is a light that never goes out.

Former Morrissey band member
Gary Day made an appearance for a brief DJ set.

Standing on the sidelines in true "How Soon Is Now?" fashion, I really enjoyed the people watching. The crowd was 98% Chicano and many were dressed to the nines. There were a lot of rockabilly types and gals in 50s clothes with fantastic hairstyles or Betty Page bangs. Many guys were rockin' the pompadour. I really didn't fully understand the appeal of Morrissey to the Chicano crowd, so I read up on it in Ask a Mexican by Gustavo Arellano. Arellano likens Morrissey's music to ranchera and his effeminate stage presence to Juan Gabriel. Morrissey has returned the affection he got from the Chicano crowd by moving to Los Angeles (or "Moz Angeles" as one fan's T-shirt said) for a spell and by once declaring he wished he'd been born Mexican. Morrissey's theme of alienation appeals to Chicanos and, well, just about everyone at some point or another.

And I left on my own.

Check out my photo album for more pics of the Moz Con.

Remember, people, Morrissey has your back.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Idol - Coolia on the Top 10

This week's the Idols performed songs from their birth years. I think this is done just to make those of us watching at home feel really old.


Ramiele Malubay - "Alone" - 1987

Ramiele takes on former Idol winner Carrie Underwood with this song choice. I had to go back and watch Carrie's performance on YouTube to confirm what I already knew - as much as I disliked Carrie, she and her big 80s hair would blow Ramiele off the stage. This was the performance that made Simon say, "Carrie, not only will you win this show, you'll sell more records than any previous Idol." This is the performance that could make Ryan say "Ramiele, you are leaving us tonight," although I suspect her cuteness, viewer sympathy for her being ill, and her big voting bloc may keep her safe. The song was just too big for her, and she shouldn't smile while wailing in desperation about lying in the room pitch dark ahhhhlooone!

Jason Castro - "Fragile" - 1987

Well, I love this Sting song, and it's a song I'd never expect to hear on Idol before Jason Castro came to Hollywood. I love the original song choices Jason makes and the emotion he puts into his performances. However, I have to agree with the judges that this wasn't dissimilar from the usual Jason laid back troubadour routine. He did inject a little latin flair. There's no reason he can't be successful in the James Blunt/John Mayer mode with these types of songs, but I don't know if he can win this competition being so mellow. Also he should realize his laissez faire vibe in combination with his dreads conjures up a certain image: pothead.

Syesha Mercado - "If I Were Your Woman" - 1987

Yikes, Syesha, did you have to do that baby cry impression again??!? That is so creepy. I wasn't familiar with this Gladys Knight tune, but I was impressed with Syesha's belting. I can't say I'll remember it tomorrow, though.

Chikezie - "If Only For One Night" - 1985

I think the problem with Chikezie as a crooner is that he just has zero sex appeal. When he reaches into the crowd, I'm surprised the girls want to touch him. He does have a nice tone to his voice, and I couldn't find much fault with the vocal. Still, I was a bit bored. I prefer his jug band routines. I think he's in danger of being sent home, especially after sassing back to Simon once again.

Brooke White - "Every Breath You Take" - 1983

Brooke had a stutter at the beginning but kept her composure and delivered a mostly smooth vocal. She kept her eyes shut a lot, which made this feel stiff to me. She does have presence, I'll admit, and this was a good song choice for her. She still irritates the hell out of me, but that probably says more about me than it does about Brooke.

Michael Johns - "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" - 1978

Finally, we get to see what Michael can do! He's not just a stud - he can rock. He wisely returns to Queen, since the judges had lauded his "Bohemian Rhapsody" from Hollywood Week as his best performance, at least until this week. Michael delivered these rock anthems with a lot of gusto and owned the stage. There was a bit of Broadway in the delivery, but overall, this performance shows why he deserves to be in the Top 10. However, I still feel he'd be a better front man than a stand-alone artist. Girls went wild for him - maybe even wilder than they did for young David?

Carly Smithson - "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - 1983

Hmm, did Carly sing this in tribute to her former roommate Amanda who should have sang this during 80s week? It's a bold song choice, and I thought she delivered a confident and powerful vocal. She didn't personalize the song at all, but still I thought the judges were overly harsh on her. I wonder if their comments will plunge her back into the bottom 3 or if America's affection for this song will keep her safe.

David Archuleta - "You're the Voice" - 1990

Answer: Unskinny Bop, We Didn't Start the Fire, Humpty Dance, Opposites Attract / Question: What are lame songs from my high school graduation year 1990 that would have STILL been preferable to the song David picked?!? David looked like a robot up there, trying to stir the crowd up with an unfamiliar John Farnham anthem. For the first time, I could picture him ending up singing in a church alongside Mandisa and George Huff. He really needs to watch the cheese factor - this performance was cornier than an episode of Hee Haw. He also made a teen idol faux pas by admitting to having a girlfriend, or at least a potential prom date. Come on, David, it's up to Tiger Beat to find a prom date for you!

Kristy Lee Cook - "God Bless the USA" - 1984

Kristy Lee is a freakin' genius! This is one of the smartest song choices in the history of Idol. I won't call it a completely shameless vote grab, because she did deliver a strong, emotional performance. I personally have a soft spot for this tune as it was the soundtrack for every Fourth of July fireworks display and air show under the Arch when I was growing up in St. Louis. The performance may not have been better than any 10:00 AM musical revue show in Branson, but I think it will definitely keep Kristy out of the Bottom 3 for once.

David Cook - "Billie Jean" - 1982

Wow, as an infant, David looked like an alien baby. He's right - he did have a "massive skull." As this song started, I groaned, fearing he was just repeating his "Hello" gimmick. But as the song progressed, I grew impressed with his growling vocal power and felt he was in Daughtry's league for the first time. I still am not really a fan, but I have to give David props for the most original and confident performance of the night.


I'm gonna have to sleep on this one, but right now I'm thinking Chikezie, Syesha, and Ramiele are in the Bottom 3, with Chikezie going home.

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The Hills is Back!

America, rejoice...The Hills is back!

I don't know why this show is so addictive. It's just empty calories. Yet, I consume it.

When we last left The Hills girls, LC and Whitney were preparing to embark on another "business trip" to Paris. Lauren had to say goodbye to Brody for, what, like 2 weeks? You would have thought she was leaving to spend a year on the space station by the difficulty of this goodbye (and by his inability to stay faithful). Meanwhile, Spencer and Heidi had another huge fight which resulted in Heidi throwing something at his head and leaving to go spend some "me" time with her parents in Colorado.

Tonight's show begins with LC and Whitney getting off the plane in Paris and looking like they just stepped out of Teen Vogue. Where was the layer of grease that coats most of us after a transatlantic flight? Where were the baggy sweats and tennis shoes? They have two items on their to-do list: (1) pick up shoes for debutantes and (2) pick up their own ball gowns. Of course they rush directly to pick up their gowns, only to discover that in the time they spent squealing over the couture, the shoetique closed and they can't get the shoes! This is made into a mini-crisis although the ball is not until the next evening, meaning they'll have the entire next day to complete the errand. Phew! I was getting all stressed out!!

Meanwhile in the majestically photographed frozen tundra of Crested Butte, CO, we see Heidi skiing with her mom. Heidi looks kinda different, like she has managed to cram in some more plastic surgery during the show's two-month hiatus. She also looks rather gaunt, like grief over this separation has put her on a hunger strike. Her mom advises her to keep spending "me" time and find out who she is besides Spencer's Girl. Good advice, Mom.

Back in Paris, we see LC and Whitney at work. As usual the work involves helping models get dressed. LC receives a call from a buzzed Audrina telling her she saw Brody at a club with another girl that he referred to as his girlfriend and they were "all hugging and kissing and stuff." LC has a completely vacant expression as she shares this news with Whitney, who responds with her patented sympathetic pouty face. The solution they come up with is to go off and find new guys, so they meet up with a band that Audrina has recruited for them. LC doesn't have anything to wear to a club (um, didn't she come to Paris with a ginormous suitcase?) so she temporarily hems her ball gown. The band could be called The 5 Justin Bobbys based on their looks. One of them has a unibrow. Is that trendy now? LC makes a lot of eye contact with the nicest one of the bunch - the bearded Mathias.

Spencer decided to fly to Colorado to see Heidi, because she won't take his calls. He shows up and I thought her dad was gonna punch him out for a minute, but then he invited him in. Disappointing! When Heidi walks in, she shoots him daggers while seeming a bit smugly satisfied that she was able to lure him to Siberia. Spencer's dreams of a Dr. Zhivago type romance come to a crashing halt after several awkward dinners during which Heidi again asserts her need for space. What do you bet he called Audrina for a date on his way back to the airport?

We move on to the Cinderella portion of our show. High drama ensues when LC discovers - a mere hour before for the ball - that her curling iron burned her gown! She has a tiny breakdown and a glimpse of emotion crosses her face briefly, but Whitney saves the day by phoning the boutique to secure a replacement gown. They both emerge as belles of the debutante ball and LC even has a handsome prince - the aforementioned Mathias - show up on a Vespa to give her a midnight tour of Paris. Where's the love for Whitney, I'm wondering? She's always left to ask LC how her date went.

So why is there a season pass in my tivo for this show? As a gal in her mid-30s living in LA, I marvel at how different these girls' lives are from my own. I live 5 miles from them but I might as well be in Des Moines. I take voyeuristic pleasure in getting glimpses of clubs I wouldn't have the patience to wait in line to get into. I can feel momentarily superior for being older and wiser and make catty observations about Audrina's inability to formulate a complete sentence and Heidi's lack of musical talent. At the same time, I'm a bit envious, wishing that a curling iron burn on a gown was my big problem.

It's basically just escapist TV. The Hills is like a painting that matches your sofa - it may not be art, but it sure looks good.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Idol - Coolia on the Top 11


Amanda Overmyer - "Back in the USSR"

Idol may want to get rid of The Rock n' Roll Nurse by making her sing first, but she ain't goin' without a fight! And the fight is gonna take place in a roadhouse, with Amanda brandishing a pool cue in one hand and a broken bottle of Busch Light in the other! Amanda rocked this tune pretty hard. It wasn't really anything new for her, but I was entertained, and it's refreshing to see this hard rockin' of a gal on Idol.

Kristy Lee Cook - "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"

I thought the dress looked like a cheap Halloween costume - you know, the slutty female vampire, or something. This was a good song choice for her vocal range, but it was pretty dull. I also think she didn't exploit her country niche, which is what she needs to do to stay alive - secure the country music vote.

David Archuleta - "The Long and Winding Road"

The 12-year-old girl who subscribed to Bop! magazine is still inside me (somebody call an exorcist) and she melts when David performs. I'm glad he picked a song that was comfortably in his wheelhouse, and he successfully recovered from stumbling around blindly like Stevie Wonder last week. I think we'll see scores of girls - an Archuleta Army - sobbing in hysterics like Sanjaya's famous fan before this season is over.

Michael Johns - "A Day in the Life"

I thought this was hot, almost as hot as Taylor Hicks' version. I don't know why the judges bagged on him so bad. Are Simon and Randy just jealous? Did Michael refuse to join Paula in her hot tub? This song is kind of a roller coaster ride like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and I thought he handled the mood swings well. Paula blamed the "monitor in the ear" syndrome for Michael's shortcomings, only to discover he didn't have a monitor in his ear, and then she didn't quit when she was behind when it came to explaining herself. Michael handled clarifying that point without being snippy and then made a death dedication to ensure he'll be back next week.

Brooke White - "Here Comes the Sun"

What could be sunnier than sunny Brooke singing this song in dress that's yellow like the sun. Pardon me while I go into sugar shock. Like Simon, I found this whole performance cliched. "Whoo!" sang Brooke, and that was the only thing that kept me awake during her song. I feel extra-cynical for disliking her, but I do. I really do. And that's OK because Brooke will still pray for me.

David Cook - "Daytripper"

OK, the fake rocker is kinda growing on me. I think his use of the vocoder was a shout out to his longtime fan and Cher scholar - Nerdia. I am starting to "believe" myself. If David had more sex appeal, Michael Johns would probably have been sent home by now, but he doesn't, so the battle of the rocker boys will wage on.

Carly Smithson - "Blackbird"

I was hoping Jason Castro would do this song. Carly did an OK job with it, but it didn't really show off her vocal power and her attempts to sing it the way Ann Wilson might fell a bit flat. The outfit made her look a bit heavy, which she isn't. It would be nice to see her wear something with sleeves for a change. We've all had enough chances to admire that Amy Winehouse tattoo. Still, she's one of the top contenders. Carly, take your broken wings, and learn to fly again.

Jason Castro - "Michelle"

With those soulful eyes, Jason can sell just about anything by gazing into the camera. This was a good song choice for him, but he still didn't stretch at all. His response to Randy's critique was that he didn't really have enough time this week, which seems weak. I know filming the Ford commercial takes a few hours, and picking out an outfit that looks like something David Cassidy might have worn on The Partridge Family took a few more hours, but that should have left a few days to go through The Beatles catalog and pick out a challenging song and practice it enough to own it. Still, he's dreamy. He got almost as many screams from the girls as young David.

Syesha Mercado - "Yesterday"

Syesha's outfit looked like what Mrs. Roper might wear to Burning Man. I was pretty bored by this performance, but the judges were complimentary, so I'm going to refrain from picking Syesha to leave this week.

Chikezie - "I Just Seen a Face"

This was a bit of a retread of last week's quiet-to-manic performance, but I have to admit I enjoyed it. He has a warm tone to his voice and a much more likable personality since he abandoned the sass. With the up tempo turn and harmonica-playing, I think he just might steal the country music vote from Kristy Lee this week. Charley Pride would be, um, proud.

Ramiele Malubay - "I Should Have Known Better"

Yikes, Ramiele beats out Brooke and Syesha for the worst dressed of the week award. She should stop letting her BFF Danny Noreaga be her stylist. Ramiele is adorable, but this performance was pretty mediocre. Will her intense fan base keep her in the game? Tune in tomorrow night to see, America...


Bottom 3: Ramiele, Kristy Lee, Chikezie
Going home: Kristy Lee

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

American Idol - C. Crumpet Swank Attends the Live Top 12 Show

Coolia very kindly invited me to join her for the historic taping of American Idol 7: The Top Twelve Sing the Lennon/McCartney Songbook [a.k.a. AI7: TTTSLMS]. We camped out in front of the iconic CBS Television Studio in beautiful Hollywood, CA on a breezy, sunshiney 70 degree afternoon. Coolia arrived first and impressively claimed position #31 in line—a very choice square of sidewalk. Ever the tardy gentleman, I was precluded from arriving at the same time by some business on the Westside.

During our wait we became best buds with two nice girls from Santa Cruz who flew down for the taping. The four of us bonded over celebrity trade rags. We contemplated the apocalyptic import of the appalling Kardashian girls having their own television show for no apparent reason, and collectively chortled at the sight of K-Fed caught on camera playing golf in a nice horizontally-striped polo shirt, all the better to show off his recent 30 lb. weight gain. The turbulent existence of Heidi Montag was explained to me as well.

Not that we had to look inside US magazine for some outlandish pseudo-celebrities to admire. Who was that woman just ahead of us in line—she looked so familiar? Tell me if you know her: sixty years old, frosted rooster ’do (not unlike Cher’s famous coif from 1979), huge earrings, garish make-up. Don’t know her? Maybe a description of the outfit will help…a truly layered ensemble, the foundation of which was a Capri style black body suit which did little to camouflage the extra 30-40 lbs. being carried around the lady’s apple-shaped waist. The catsuit was layered with a very sensible denim mini and a black cobweb style top (I’m not sure what the right word is—large lace; macramé; fishnet?). Very Madonna 1984, but without creative flourishes. Oh, and of course, black boots.

Although I couldn’t rightfully call her “Leatherface,” unlike some celebs (did you catch Cameron Diaz at this year’s Oscars?), I do feel comfortable referring to her forthwith as “Bacon-chest.”

There were countless numbers of Lana Clarkson’s (R.I.P.) too--fading starlet types who still shop in the junior departments because they’re thin (irrespective of their looming 45th birthdays). You know them--the trim bitchy gals who fancy themselves soignée, yet feel compelled to wear too much make-up and must have their straw-like hair colored and streaked so that it is that perfectly fake looking combination of red, blonde and brunette that they think is hip/chic. What a sad bunch.

Once we made it inside we were relieved to find ourselves among those offered actual seats, as opposed to a spot in the new mosh pit at the front of the theatre. While I wouldn’t say we were exhausted from waiting for admission, the thought of standing for two more hours, regardless of how close it put us to Amanda Overmyer’s torturous spittle, was not appealing. Plus, even those people in the very last row had a magnificent view of everything. Contrary to what you see on TV the Idol soundstage is not big at all—smaller than most junior high school auditoriums, in fact. Call it the “Price is Right” effect in terms of editing and camera angles.

By the way, Ryan Seacrest is one lucky bastard. The show has permitted him to launch himself into stratospheric riches and media ubiquity and most of what he does is read from a teleprompter. Oh yes, and he gets shepherded around the stage to his every cue by a gruff (lesbian?) showrunner with whom he playfully wrestles during commercial breaks, right up until 2 seconds before the broadcast returns—that Ryan, what a card!

Unfortunately we were not seated next to anyone famous, or even quasi-famous--unlike the last time Coolia and I attended, an occasion on which I had the pleasure of sitting beside Simon’s harridan-voiced, but comely, girlfriend Terri, who was only two seats removed from Simon and the other judges. Our friends from Santa Cruz, however, had the distinct pleasure of sitting directly behind Bacon-chest and only one row behind none other than…drum roll please… Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and Mama Kardashian (!), who was wearing an awesome, canary-yellow smock dress that was to die for, but which, in typical Hollywood fashion, was too youthful for her to carry off.

Regardless of their fashion choices, these three wannabes got plenty of up-close-and-personal love from Ryan, Simon and Paula during one of the commercial breaks (Randy wisely abstained). Ryan is chummy with them because they and he owe part of their livelihood to the shilling of E! and I guess he has roped Simon and Paula into their Armenian vortex as well. Personally, I think that any woman who deliberately misspells her daughters already insufferable names, Kourtney and Khloe, deserves to be executed (as well as the offensively named daughters, of course). That would leave only Kim standing, who rightfully spells her name with a K, but I’m sure she can go on making sex tapes without the help and guidance of her mother and sisters.

Now, on to the performances…

SYESHA gave another solid, but buzz-lacking performance. I turned to Coolia and immediately predicted that she (Syesha, not Coolia!) would be in the Bottom Three. Her position as the first singer would not help her fortunes on a night of twelve performances, especially if she didn’t turn it out, which indeed she didn’t.

CHIKEZIE redeemed himself for all his unmemorable vocals, obnoxious antics and poor sartorial choices over the last few weeks. He really connected with the live audience on this one and it was a pleasure to see how jazzed up he was at the judges’ unanimous embrace of his performance. He took a song I didn’t know and turned it into a contagious joy.

CARLY knocked it out of the park. It turned out to be the best performance of the night, and, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best performance of any song by any contestant during the entirety of AI7 thus far. And I’m not even that much of a Carly fan.

DAVID HERNANDEZ made the worst song choice of the night. He is the best male singer in the Top Twelve, but what an error in judgment on this one! In the hopes of establishing some hetero cred amidst the news of his fully-nude shenanigans as a professional stripper/lap-dancer at a gay club, he felt compelled to choose a song about falling in love with a girl, but instead of picking something that was going to show off his stellar R&B voice, he selected the vocally inconsequential “I Saw Her Standing There” and then proceeded to muck it up by smothering it in vocal embellishments (a very gay thing to do!) to prove his vocal talents. The judges rightfully pointed out this latter offense, and I again turned to Coolia and predicted that he would be in the Bottom Three, barring outright disasters from the remaining contestants. As much as I blanched at the thought of him going home as soon as Wednesday, I knew that he would take it like a man—after all, he already has had experience as a bottom.

RAMIELE has a warm, strong, technically impressive voice which will sound great when recorded, but I just don’t think she has enough emotional grist to transform any song into something special. Her demeanor when not on stage just reinforces this conviction. She’s a 17 year-old who has the emotional sophistication of a 10 year-old and it shows when she sings. Listen to Bette Midler’s version of “In My Life” and you will see what an impact some interpretive skill can have in tackling this song.

JASON For all the reasons which I will soon enumerate that make Brooke White such a refreshing blast of air (and formidable contender) the same should apply to Jason Castro, yet I feel like the symmetry is waning. Four weeks into the competition there is a same-iness to what he’s doing that is less compelling than what his female cognate, Brooke, is offering us. He needs to steal a page from her playbook.

BROOKE is my favorite of the season and I hope she wins. If she keeps up with performances like “Let It Be” (and all her others preceding), she might very well win, despite not having a strong voice in terms of multi-octave range or the ability to sustain long notes. What she does have going for her is manifold: a genuine connection with her material; a wonderfully scratch/raspy quality that sneaks into her phrasing; musical chops (that ole guitar, piano and glockenspiel talent); a pretty face, great legs, and no (apparent) vanity; plus an endearing presence when not singing (e.g., the clip “packages”; listening to the judges’ criticism; etc.). She has not made one false move yet. And I love the notion that an American Idol contestant doesn’t have to have the biggest voice in the world in order to win. Let’s give the brilliance of such “small-voiced” but amazing singers such as Suzanne Vega and Julie London their due. Heck, even Billie Holiday was “small-voiced” when set beside Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Go Brooke, go Brooke!!!

MICHAEL Simon really got it right. Michael Johns is totally coasting and needs to step up his game. Or maybe he can’t? He’s so ripe with promise, but has yet to WOW us. That snippet of his startling “Bohemian Rhapsod” during Hollywood week has left us wanting more, but not getting it…yet. The women of America want to know, as is their just due, will he be able to deliver? Coolia has said that she thinks Michael is better suited to fronting a band, rather than being a solo star, and I think she’s right. It doesn’t mean that band singers are less charismatic or less-talented; it’s just that they exude a certain energy which profits from interaction with the band. He will have to relinquish his front-runner status unless he gives us a little sumpin’ sumpin’ soon.

AMANDA really worked the stage and made you think, I could watch her do her thing for an entire evening. A lot of contestants can’t claim that. (Would you really want to attend a Ramiele-only concert? I didn’t think so.) Amanda’s voice is gravelly great, but I still question whether she has sufficient interpretive and technical skills to liberate her from doing the same type of song over and over. I disagree with Simon’s opinion that this performance was weaker than last week’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” She was far more focused in her energy and delivery this week. It remains to be seen how long she can survive, since she is perhaps the most “love-her-or–loathe-her” contestant. And if Carly continues to so effortlessly offer up amazing renditions of rock songs, Amanda may have some of her votes siphoned away by the bonnie lass.

DAVID COOK I really liked the inventive, Depeche Mode-worthy arrangement of “Eleanor Rigby” and his spirited delivery of it, but with each passing week he strikes me as more and more of a poseur. The judges were all over Robbie Carrico’s ass for not being a “real” rocker, but is David Cook a real rocker? He’s more like a rock avatar, if you ask me. He fits the part, but isn’t the real deal. He’s in love with the notion of being a rock star, without organically being one. Does that make sense? That issue aside, I do have to say that on this number he showed some vocal prowess that we hadn’t heard before (sustained sung—as opposed to yelled--notes; key changes: etc.,) but still, I think his voice lacks a certain distinctive tone compared to Chris Daughtry, Bo Bice, or even Phil Stacey for that matter.

KRISTY LEE Poor Kristy Lee!!! She takes the judges advice to heart (“Kristy darling, you would be wise to pursue the county angle”) and then all three rip her a new one with the most collectively negative criticism of the night for doing so. Let’s lay the blame where it should be—on Ricky Minor for that maniacally fast arrangement. Even Jennifer Beals wouldn’t have been able to keep up with that. Given the ridiculous speed, I thought Kristy did a decent job, but she did come across as especially nervous. Then again, who wouldn’t, trying to keep up with that rollercoaster of an arrangement? This particular song aside, Kristy does seem to have the greatest lack of confidence among all the Top 12 contenders, and she needs to get over that quick if she’s going to fight her way to the middle of the pack. At this point it seems inconceivable that she could rise higher than 8th or 9th position. As to whether the song she chose even lends itself to any type of county arrangement, I have to disagree with the judges’ insistence that it doesn’t. It does, just not such a frenetic one.

DAVID ARCHULETA And so the boy wonder stumbleth… Finally some deflation of all the hoopla and an opportunity to let this truly be a competition. Amen.

The voting numbers were flashed one last time, we were forced to “fake clap” to address some technical issues, and the lights went up…

On the way out we had the pleasure of chatting briefly with Ross the Intern who has maintained the weight loss he achieved on Celebrity Fit Club. He looked great. I told him he looked fabulous, and I meant it. He can now give any twink a run for his money-- he’s finally “the bottom with quite a bottom” that he knew he could be! Plus, he was just as sweet in person as you would expect.

I also got some love from Chikezie’s Mom. When we were filing out of the studio and walking back to our cars I told her her son was great that night (which he was!) and then asked her who she thought might be going home, since undoubtedly her boy was safe. Ever the Nigerian diplomat, she politely declined to hazard a guess. What a lady!

In closing I would like to share with you my favorite memory of AI7: TTTSLMS. Midway through the show, in a rare moment of total studio silence, I yelled out “Paula, we love you!” and she very graciously turned around and said to me, “I love you too!” Ask Coolia--that ain’t nothing but the truth. I felt as if I could dance like there was no tomorrow… And indeed, I still am.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

American Idol - Coolia Attends the Live Top 12 Show

C. Crumpet Swank and I attended last night's Idol live performance show, and we had a great time! I think I had been on the waiting list for tickets since last season. I got to CBS Television City a little after noon although the ticket said to show up at 3:30 PM. I knew from past experience these things are first come first serve and there's no guarantee you'll get in. We were number 29 and 30 in line so I was sure we'd get in. We passed the time chatting with other avid Idol fans.

Things got a bit chaotic when we were moved from the street queue to the holding pen area. The wranglers gave out blue bracelets to those who would be in the pit (mostly young) and purple bracelets to those who would be seated (mostly old...including us). No care was given to keep people in numerical order. At this point a number of VIPs began pouring in. Around 4:30 PM most people in our area were ushered in, but our group was told to wait and that we would be seat fillers. One irate woman began screaming about how she had left her house at 1pm and wouldn't be denied. I about had a breakdown myself, thinking maybe I'd spent the day sitting on the curb for nothing. Fortunately, we all did get in, and we got good seats toward the back, but centered. The studio is much smaller than it appears to be on TV, so there really are no bad seats. The good thing about being in the back is nobody hassles you to cheer or wave your arms during the songs.

The new set is impressive, with the raised platform for the band, tons of lighting and monitors that continually flash the Idol logo. The pit section is a good addition, although it might be better if it was set up in such a way that the contestants could walk on a catwalk out into the center of the pit.

Celebs in the crowd included Taye Diggs and some Kardashians (the mom Kris fer sure and I think the girls were Kim and Kourtney). The judges came over during a break and greeted the Kardashians. Kris and Simon did that European cheek kissing greeting thing twice. I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Simon and Ryan seem buddy buddy during the breaks - I would say the bickering is just their schtick. It's hard to say if Simon flirts more with Ryan or with Paula. He spends a lot of time spinning Paula's chair, playing with her hair, fidgeting around her. He's like that kid in grade school that always picked on you who you later found out actually had a crush on you. The judges got escorted out for most commercial breaks. I guess they didn't want to fraternize with the huddled masses near them in the pit.

Here's my thoughts on the performances as we heard them live...

Syesha Mercado - "Got to Get You Into My Life"

Syesha had the disadvantage of going first and she didn't really put anything new into this performance. It was capable but not really memorable.

Chikezie - "She's a Woman"

Wow, Chikezie was a revelation. He really rocked the house with this Beatles tune I hadn't heard before. I loved the arrangement and the way he progressed from a mellow bluegrass opening to rocking out. He seemed to be having a lot of fun and looked totally comfortable doing his bizarre scattin' and shufflin'. We spoke to Chikezie's family on the way out and complimented his performance. They were very proud. We learned he is rooming with David Hernandez. We couldn't get his family to predict who would be going home - they praised all the kids.

Ramiele Malubuy - "In My Life"

Simon was so bored during this performance that he actually turned his back to the stage and sulked, fiddled with Paula's chair, sulked some more. I spent more time watching Simon than Ramiele. I guess this tells you that Ramiele didn't blow anyone away with a fairly safe song choice. Her big fan base should keep her safe.

Jason Castro - "If I Fell In Love"

Jason put a lot of emotion into his performance, but I'm starting to get frustrated. He's got to show he can do more than strum the guitar and sing mellow songs. Still, Jason's cute, and I think he'll be around a while. But seeing him live, I'd have to agree with Simon's comment that he was like a college student singing in his bedroom - he couldn't really fill the TV studio with his presence, much less an arena.

Carly Smithson - "Come Together"

I was really impressed by Carly. She really blew everyone else off the stage vocally, and I think she's the only true diva in the competition. I liked her blue dress, too. I don't know if she's likable enough to go all the way, or if being Irish will hurt her in that regard, but I thought this was a stellar performance.

David Cook - "Eleanor Rigby"

I liked David better live than I did on TV, but my overall impression is still that he's Daughtry-lite. He's got good stage presence but doesn't ooze sexuality like Michael Johns nor does he have the voice of Daughtry. I also thought this rendition was a little too similar to what he did with "Hello" - trying to make the song sound ominous in a stagey way.

Brooke White - "Let It Be"

We saw Brooke's former employers in the crowd, with a sign that said "We love Brooke, but we miss our Nanny." I really don't care for Brooke, but her performance was OK. I feel like when she plays piano, she concentrates so hard on hitting the right keys that she doesn't always focus on the vocal. I'm not sure she's great at multitasking.

David Hernandez - "I Saw Her Standing There"

Ugh, this was awful. I think David tried to be Taylor, dancing behind the judges, but he's no Taylor. This was a cheesy song choice, and he brought nothing new to it.

Amanda Overmyer - "You Can't Do That"

I was the only one in the crowd with an Amanda sign. Mine read: "Vote off Amanda??? Overmyer Dead Body!!" I didn't get any screen time, but I'm pretty sure Amanda saw me. When the contestants were in the line up on stage at the end of the show, she looked in my direction and pointed and laughed. Anyways, I thought she was good this week. At least she brings something different. She seemed very confident live, and she smiled more this week. I still think people are gonna find her too abrasive, though.

Michael Johns - "Across the Universe"

I think Michael is coasting, much like Jason is. I really haven't been blown away by Michael since he sang "Bohemian Rhapsody" during Hollywood Week. He better bring it, cuz looks can only take you so far (ask Ace Young).

Kristy Lee Cook - "Eight Days a Week"

This was definitely hokey, but I think country fans will eat it up. The judges hated it. Paula gave her harshest critique of all time, actually declaring she didn't like it, that it didn't work, and not even saying something nice about Kristy's outfit!

David Archuleta - "We Can Work It Out"

David shows humanity by forgetting his words and looking painfully awkward trying to be Stevie Wonder. He still got more way screams from the teens in the crowd than anyone else. This golden child will sail through. I wonder if the Idol producers told him to screw up just to keep things interesting.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

American Idol - C. Crumpet Swank's Predictions

Here's my guess for the Top 12 final rankings:

  1. David Archuleta
    That kid can sing. And he's like your little brother.
  2. Brooke White
    She is the shrewdest female in terms of picking the right material, which, as the judges have always said, is the single most important aspect of the competition. She knows her limitations vocally and wisely plays to her strengths. No one ever said that the highest ranking female in an American Idol season need have the vocal power of Mariah or Celine or Christina, even though in seasons past such women have risen to the Top [Kelly, Katharine, Carrie]. I think this will be the season when a girl with a more modest voice proves that there's more to being a legitimately wonderful singer than a 5 octave range. Think the Idol version of Julie London or Norah Jones. Plus, Brooke is humble, musically assured (piano, guitar, glockenspiel), and totally attractive without looking like a Barbie doll. It is my hope that she unseats David A. for a surprise victory.
  3. Michael Johns
    Sexiest male idol contestant ever? Heaps of charm. Lots of stage presence. Very good singer. Needs to show a bit more range; every performance thus far has been cut from the same cloth. Did I mention how S E X Y he is? Teenage girls across American right now are discovering the joys of masturbatory fantasy with visions of Michael J. resplendent in their heads. When do we find out if he sports chest hair or not?
  4. Carly Smithson
    Excellent singer, but in the end, I don't think anyone wants their American Idol to be Irish. Regardless, she will get a chance to record a follow-up to her major label debut flop.
  5. David Hernandez
    I think he's a wild card and will rise through the ranks like Elliot Yamin [whom no one would have pegged for a #3 placing at the outset of his season]. Oddly enough, David is the best soul singer in the Top 12, even though he's white. Once Chikezie and Syesha are gone, soul-lovers can root for David or Ramiele depending on their gender preference. I don't think the male stripper thing is going to penetrate (no pun intended) the American consciousness enough to hinder him. Even though he's gay, you can't really tell from his mannerisms, so that will not cost him any votes, unlike Danny.
  6. Jason Castro
    Even though I think he's incredibly charming, both on- and off-stage, I'm not convinced his voice has enough personality to let him go all the way to the top. Also, will the young Moms of America (ages 30-40) vote for him even though they find the dreads skanky?
  7. Ramiele Malubay
    Strong voice, but lacks stage presence; she seems a little stiff. And there will come a point where we finally adjust to that huge voice coming out of that little body and the juxtaposition will cease to earn her votes born from marvel and wonder. Plus, no sex appeal--she seems like a 10 year old; a Filipino Bratz doll? Then again, perhaps I am underestimating the power of the Filipino/Asian/Islander voting bloc which catapulted Jasmine Freaking Trias into the Top 3 over LaToya London a few years back. It still rankles me. So yes, she could end up in the Top 5, though I don't think she deserves it, from the performer vs. singer angle.
  8. Kristy Lee Cook
    Being a tomboy cursed with the body and face of a supermodel actually causes her problems as a singer, because she's not fully comfortable on stage physically. I think she will continue to have difficulty reconciling what people expect of her personality/manner/style with who she is. She will optimize her chances if she mines the country vein for all it's worth. Unlike in seasons past, she is the only singer in the Top Ten with country-market potential. I think confidence is a problem, too. Her nerves may get to her. I like her way better than Haley Scarnato as the resident "gorgeous girl," but I think she will peter out around the same time.
  9. David Cook
    His main competition is Michael, who will instead prevail as the de rigeur rocker of the bunch. Plus, everyone I know thinks Cook is a poser/Daughtry rip-off. His "feeling" when he sings seems very calculated. He's not very authentic. Rock to him is a game of dress-up and play more than anything else. There's nothing wrong with that being an element of one's mission/persona as a singer, but it can't be the engine.
  10. Amanda Overmyer
    Rocker-voiced girls--Melissa McGhee, Jessica Sierra, Gina G.--have never climbed higher than #9, and Carly will be able to siphon some of the rocker vote from Amanda if she takes heed and sticks with songs like Crazy on You. Plus, Amanda seems like the most "love-her-or-loathe-her" figure this season and you can't get far without some uniform support. Plus, her lack of graciousness in accepting the judges' kudos the other night was not appealing and will definitely turn people off if she continues to react in that way to their praise. Smile, indeed!
  11. Syesha Mercado
    Syesha and Ramiele are stylistically the same and people will invariably prefer Ramiele's tweeness to Syesha's regal self-satisfaction. It seems impossible that there wouldn't be a black singer in the Top Ten, but I think it may actually pan out that way, since David H. and Ramiele are essentially R&B singers, and better and more likable than Syesha and Chikezie.
  12. Chikezie Eze
    I loved this guy in his initial audition and have since done a complete 180. He's insufferable, old-looking, not handsome, a shrill dresser, a hammy singer, a mouthy jerk, and he thinks he's a far better singer than he actually is. Mark my words, cheesy Chikezie will not be part of the Summer
    Idol tour.


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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fierceness Works on Runway But Not on Idol

Sigh....Danny Noriega's Idol journey ended tonight, and, with it, a good deal of my enthusiasm for the show. I don't think Danny was the world's greatest singer, but he was quite entertaining. I think he has star quality, and, well, he's FIERCE. His exit performance of "Tainted Love" tonight reinforced that. Too bad he didn't perform it quite as confidently last night, although I still think he acquitted himself well enough to earn another week. Danny brought the "Wow, What Will He Do Next Week?" factor that Sanjaya brought last season, only he could actually sing.

I fear Danny was just too flaming for a large portion of the Idol viewership. He was definitely the most flamboyantly gay contestant in Idol history. It's sad to me that just being his fabulous self probably led to Danny's eviction. I hope he bounces right back with a role in some touring production of Rent and maybe a cover story in The Advocate!

Being flamboyant certainly didn't hurt Christian Siriano, the winner of Project Runway. Of course, the judges, not America votes for the winner on this show. But America did name Christian the fan favorite. I think most would agree the Runway audience is probably more open-minded than the Idol audience.

The Other Idol Exiles tonight...

  • Luke Menard - Everybody in my Idol pool picked Luke to go tonight. He was cute, but he just didn't really have the charisma to go farther. The "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" song choice was unrecoverable, and he had that cheesy glee club style of performing. So now Luke is singing "Back Home Again in Indiana"
  • Asia'h Epperson - Wow, I'm surprised to see Asia'h go. I think she lost points for picking a Whitney song, for having to sing first, and for wearing not the most flattering of outfits. I think people may have forgotten her dramatic storyline - auditioning just after her father died in a car wreck. She was perky and had a good voice, but not a big enough voice for the songs she attempted (Celine last week, Whitney this week).
  • Kady Malloy - Kady's funeral dirge rendition of "Who Wants To Live Forever" didn't win her any new fans. As Simon pointed out, she could never radiate the fun and spiritedness live that she did in her video packages. I hope she gets a show in Vegas doing all her vocal impressions.
Stay fierce, Danny! You gave us all a boy could give.

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American Idol - Nerdia Rates 80s Week

Luke Suckhard
I agree with Simon enough to say it was girly. I would go farther in saying it was flaccid.

David Archuletta
Although he looks like he's 7 years old, I still like this guy. Well done.

Danny Noriea-gay
I guess I can agree with Randy that his vocals need a bit more oomph. But he is the charismatic leader in working the camera. I was told last weekend that it was the Cher in me that likes him. Fair enough.

David Hernan-hunk
I'm warming up to this guy!

Michael Johns
Randy, that wasn't INXS - it was a Simple Minds song, and a poorly chosen one in my book. It's hard to sound good singing that song unless you're Simple Minds.

David's Cooking
Bf's comment: he gave that Lionel Richie song some balls. Well said.

Jason Castro
Fabulous song choice but he's no Jeff Buckley. Craped out at end.

Boring, cliched, snooze-fest. As quoted from Reno 911 last night - this guy's an Encylopedia Bore-tanica, a The-snore-us.

Asia'h TooPeppyson
Yes, it's hard to do Whitney. Even she seems to be having trouble doing it of late.

Kady Mineral Alloy
I agree with Simon; she's dead inside. Well...he didn't put it that way. Cold as a stone.

Amanda Oversinger
The judges liked this but I thought she lost footing this week. Seemed very unsure of herself.

Carly Smithsonian Institute
I actually love this song. And when I played with my dog Franz instead of watching her sing it, I actually enjoyed it. Watching her I just get an old relic vibe.

Kristy Lee Simmer
This was baaaaad. Iconic Steve Perry was way too big for her.

Ramiele Malubad
She's been one of my favorites but she looked frumpy this week and her eyes looked blank; plus I hate how she keeps correcting Randy on how to pronounce her name. Don't go by a complicated name and get irritated when people can't get it. I still love how her voice soars high and then swiftly goes soft like at the end of "Against All Odds." That's awesome.

Brooke White Surpremecy
Sorry...but that's the vibe I get. Although I can't stand her; unusual arrangements like this will keep her in the game.

Syesaha Mercado
In a week overflowing with too many Whitney covers, hers was the best. Not awesome; but passable. Her hot looks should keep her in the game although many see her leaving today.

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American Idol - Coolia Rates the Top Eight Girls

Performances and Embarrassing Moments

Asia'h Epperson - "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"

Sometimes I feel like this show should be called America's Next Top Celine or Whitney Impersonator. I get so tired of these song choices. These kids have the whole glorious 80s catalog to choose from, and out of 16 performances this week, we get 3 Whitney and 2 Celine songs? That makes the show nearly 1/3 Celine & Whitney. That is way more than the recommended weekly dose of diva wannabes. Anyways, I thought Asia'h seemed a little mechanical, and the backup singers outshone her at times. She did improve toward the end and pulled off a big finish. Good energy, but she brought nothing new to this song.

Kady Malloy - "Who Wants To Live Forever"

Simon feels Kady lacks personality, but that failing didn't stop the last Idol who sang this tune - Katherine McPhee. I thought Kady delivered an emotional rendition, although it's not in the same league as Freddie's original version, or Shirley Bassey's powerful cover. Kady is always funny in her interview segments (wacky misadventures include bombing a talent show audition and knocking over a wall of speakers in the process), so it's nice to see her serious side in her performance. It's true she doesn't have a ton of charisma on stage, nor does she have one of the bigger voices. I do think she's likable, though. Who wants to live forever? Apparently Simon Cowell, judging by his botox addiction.

Amanda Overmyer - "I Hate Myself For Loving You"

Amanda's most embarrassing moment is not her DUI arrest, but rather some mysterious night of partying that ended with her deck and pool burning down. Mmmm k. I was really hoping we'd get to hear Amanda take on "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but this isn't a bad second choice. She rocked it pretty hard, and her hair was much improved.

Carly Smithson - "Drove All Night"

As much as I am tired of these diva ditties, I have to admit I enjoyed Carly's rendition and much preferred it to Celine's. She can really hit the big notes, and she's confident without seeming arrogant. She may not be attractive enough to win, but she should sail into the Top 12.

Kristy Lee Cook - "Faithfully"

When Kristy was 7, she liked to pretend she was a dog and drink out of a dog bowl. It's unclear if she tried Beggin Strips, but I've always been tempted - they just smell so bacony. So, last week Alaina revealed OCD tendencies that make her compartmentalize her food and she got sent home - will the same fate befall Kristy since she told us about her personality disorder? I'd say probably not, because she put an interesting country spin on this Journey tune. Again we had to be reminded that Randy used to play in Journey and he's familiar enough with them to refer to Steve Perry as "Perry." You're so cool, Dawg. Tell us - what's Neil Schon REALLY like?

Ramiele Malubay - "Against All Odds"

This was the Phil Collins song I was hoping David Archuleta would sing. Ramiele looked cute, although her outfit was a bit frumpy. She sang the song well, but failed to wow me or the judges. Again, this seemed like a bit of an old fashioned and formal song choice for her.

Brooke White - "Love is a Battlefield"

I think Brooke's stripping down of this 80s tune worked better than David Cook's similar treatment of "Hello." For one thing, it's much stronger source material. For another thing, I thought Brooke put some tenderness and emotion into the performance. She still kind of annoys me with her goody-goody-ness, but I think this was the best performance of the night.

Syesha Mercado - "Saving All My Love For You"

In the circle of Idol life, we end where we began - with a Whitney Houston song. I think Syesha is a bit full of herself. This was a good performance but sorta karaoke for me. She brought nothing fresh to the mix.


Going home - Kady Malloy, Syesha Mercado

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

American Idol - Terry's Take on the Top 8 Boys

  • Luke Menard - Zoinks! Me thinks I just heard his death squeal. Ugh. Pitchy and boring. Not one single nano-sliver of George Michael's charisma. He's a goner.
  • David Archuleta - Just another day in paradise for all of us. This kid is wicked awesome. Even when he has an "off" night he still manages to captivate and compel you to watch and be amazed. I love this kid. He's going to win. I don't see anyone keeping him from that.
  • Danny Noriega - Terrible song choice except that it let him let loose his inner queen and strut around like a peacock in heat. Hated the beginning, disliked the middle and still pretty bad at the end....vocally. Visually, rather entertaining. He could be in danger of not making it to the final 12.
  • David Hernandez - Good song choice and really good (but not great) vocal. He's improving each week with both his vocal and stage presence. I think his comfort and confidence levels are growing and it's showing up in his performances. I like watching a person (or people) grow like that. It's interesting to me.
  • Michael Johns - He's trying so desperately to channel some cross-breed of Jim Morrison and Michael Hutchence. I still say that it may be completely natural (he blames his older sister) but it looks a bit fake/forced to me. This was his weakest by far, but still pretty good when compared to the other boy/men. But, I'm biased towards this song. So long as it's not butchered I'm going to love it. The Breakfast Club is one of my favorite movies (and I still watch it numerous times every year) and the song is a favorite from one of my favorite soundtracks. That's hard to live up to. ("I want to be an Air Force Ranger....")
  • David Cook - Rocked out Lionel Richie? Really!? Who in the hell would have ever thought to do that!? Could such an odd thing work!? Hell yeah!!!!!!! This was one of the biggest surprises EVER on Idol. Caught me completely off-guard and totally worked in every way. I even forgot about his stupid hair!! This could and would easily be a hit single all over again. Brilliant!!
  • Jason Castro - First let me go on record and say that I am a straight man. But, I'm telling you, if I was a teenage girl or a gay guy I would have fallen in love with him after this. Loved it!! He can emote like crazy and it seems so real and passionate. Wow, I think my heart just skipped a beat. Hey, don't question me. I am straight...straight I tell you! Straight!! :-)
  • Chikezie Eze - Started bad, improved to end much improved (note the sarcasm) to a bit weak. But, did improve some along the way (more sarcasm). I can clearly remember making out with my girlfriend with the Luther Vandross version playing in the background. I wouldn't want this version playing in the would kill the mood.

Well, it's clear that Luke is going home. Of that I have no doubt. Now I have to decide between Danny and Chikezie. Hmmmm. I gots me some thinkin' to do (Jethro)

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

American Idol - Coolia Rates the Top Eight Boys

Performances and Most Embarrassing Moments

Luke Menard - "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"

Luke's most embarrassing moment occurred when his sister dressed him in a tutu and took a Polaroid. His second most embarrassing moment was this performance. He must have had a jitterbug in his brain when he made this song choice. Egad! This brings back memories of being in 6th grade and convincing my mom to buy me a "Choose Life" T-shirt from Spencer's Gifts so I could tell the world I was anti-abortion (and a Wham! fan). Luke has the vocal ability to pull off the George Michael high notes, but he doesn't have any of George's charisma or fashion sense (I disagree with Paula - maybe some orange shorts would have brightened up his Gap look). A handsome face isn't enough. After this performance, I'm fairly sure Luke is gonna go go.

David Archuleta - "Another Day in Paradise"

Ugh, of all the bad Phil Collins songs (and they are legion), I hate this one the most. Honestly, David, even "Sussudio" or "Billy, Don't You Lose My Number" would have been preferable. Despite the hideous song choice, David delivered another confident performance - switching smoothly from a tender piano opening to standing before the microphone and bringing it home. I agree with Simon, though, that he should lighten it up and have some fun. And I could have done without his slightly preachy explanation at the end that he chose the song to educate us all about homelessness. That all seemed kind of calculating to me and made me worry David might slip into Melinda-esque fakin' the humble.

Danny Noriega - "Tainted Love"

Danny's embarrassing moment came at a movie theater when his friend tripped him and he totally fell down the stairs in front of his crush and it was all TMTH (too much to handle)! How much do I love Danny? Enough to vote for him 10 times tonight because I'm worried he might be too gay for America. I loved his sassy performance of this new wave classic, and I also dig his purple streaks. He just brings a lot of energy and attitude to the show, and I don't even mind it when he snaps back at Simon. Is it me, or was he flirting with Ryan before they went to commercial?

David Hernandez - "It's All Coming Back to Me Now"

David's most embarrassing moment came when news of his past as a stripper at a gay club leaked. OK, actually it was when he did a photo shoot and didn't realize he had a booger hanging out of his nose. Kudos to David for taking on a tough Celine tune and delivering it with the bombast required for any Jim Steinman tune. I thought he did sound flat in a few spots, but overall, a strong performance.

Michael Johns - "Don't You Forget About Me"

Hey Randy, this song was by Simple Minds not INXS. Are you sure you're qualified to judge this thing, Dawg? Michael made the perfect song choice, and even if The Breakfast Club really doesn't hold up when you watch it as an adult, this song still does. Michael delivered it with a lot of swagger. I wonder, though, if he might be better fronting a band rather than going solo?

David Cook - "Hello"

Well, the judges slobbered all over this, but it really didn't work for me. It reminded me of a bad SNL parody, like when the Sweeney Sisters used to do their medleys. I just think the song is too cheesy to hold up to a serious rock ballad arrangement. You know, even if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. He's up there pleading " it me you're looking for..." and all I can think of is that video with the blind girl sculpting Lionel's head out of clay. I will give David credit for doing something different and taking a chance, but I felt like he was trying really hard to be Daughtry.

Jason Castro - "Hallelujah"

Jason had the best embarrassing moment story of the night - he was on a date and went to tie his hair back and one of his dreads broke off in his hand. He also had my favorite vocal of the night. He picked a challenging song that wasn't a typical Idol ditty, and he brought a lot of emotion and realness to his performance. He really does make it look easy.

Chikezie - "She Fills Me Up"

I couldn't decide if I liked Chikezie's outfit or if he looked like he was trying out for a spot in Boys II Men. Anyway, it's still an improvement from that red suit. I thought Chikezie did a solid job with a demanding song, although he was pitchy in spots. However, I don't know if he has the personality to go much further.


Going home - Luke and Chikezie (I hope it's not Danny!)

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Why Ghost Hunters International Sucks

My bf and I love the Sci Fi show Ghost Hunters. We love the sensible leadership of Jason and Grant, their rational desire to debunk allegations of ghost activity and yet their occasional admittance of haunted places once in a while, their skeptical stance on orbs. We love the cast of characters: Donna who didn’t seem easily rattled (or maybe she was just edited that way), the annoying and yet goofy melodrama of Brian, we even grew to like Tango. We were excited to learn of a new spin-off, Ghost Hunters International (GHI). After a falling out with Grant and Jason, Brian Harnois joins another long-timer Donna LaCroix, and sporadic members Andy Andrews (I know) and the Irishman Barry Fitzgerald. New hunters Shannon Sylvia (who suspiciously was recently seen appearing on the vapid show Most Haunted) and joins and Robb Demarest, from another TAPS franchise is chosen to lead this rag-tag group. We were sorely disgusted with the result. In fact, I kept falling asleep half-way through most episodes. My bf and I recently sat down to discuss the problems.
  1. There’s very little skepticism or debunking going on. Robb and Andy try but…
  2. A sudden Christian element (prayers, rosaries) has infiltrated the show and this destroys much of the credibility from the original Ghost Hunters. In fact, there’s a constant assumption of evil. We miss the “ghosts are people too” ethos of the first show. To assume you’re always dealing with eeevil clouds your judgment. And this show’s judgment is in a fog bank.
  3. In fact Irishman Barry is in ghostly hysterics half the time. He would fit more with the fraudulent-seeming Most Haunted show from England. Barry, who’s silly, skinny soul patch should go post-haste, sees ghosts every episode. And runs from them. Brian got ripped a new one for running out of a prison in the first show with his infamous exclamation “Run, Dude, Run!” GHI seems to be edited to engage in fear mongering. Which makes it very unscary.
  4. Brian is pretty much a non-entity on the show. His main asset on the first show was his irritant role in the group. He’s not even touchy on this show.
  5. Shannon is dead weight.
  6. Donna is a great disappointment. She was a semi-kewl chick on Ghost Hunters, rarely getting her feathers ruffled as far as we could tell. On GHI, she’s whiny, alarmed, or clutching a rosary most of the time. It usually necessities Andy coming in to debunk her grand claims of ghost activity.
  7. And thank God for Robb and Andy, who are good but alas no Jay and Grant. They don’t have their sense of humor; they don’t have their camaraderie; and they cannot instill debunking-focus over the entire group. They seem to lack the leadership skills or authority Jay and Grant have. For instance, when Shannon and Donna were fighting, Robbs direction was very tentative. Jay would have brought down some anger into the situation and they would have had to get their shit together.
  8. Too many “personal experiences.” They’re in fabulous locations all over the haunted world and they can't come up with a single interesting piece of visual evidence or any really outstanding EVPs. As Jay and Grant would say, personal experiences are good but they don’t prove anything, they’re just supporting evidence.
  9. It turns out there’s a language barrier when trying to communicate with ghosts who may only speak say Romanian or Italian.
  10. Where did all the superstitious paraphernalia come from anyway? What happened to the more scientific tone of the American show? What happened to all that TAPS education?
  11. No more interesting SWAG...all the funny versions of TAPS t-shirts members would wear from week to week.
  12. And finally, I miss the funny intro with cast members throwing looks over their shoulders with disturbed expressions.
Why did the Ghost Hunters franchise spend all that money to turn itself into Most Haunted?
Read my comments about season 2

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