Posts tagged American Idol

American Idol Top 7

The top 7 took on songs from 2010 and on.  The mentor is Akon.  I guess it was enough that he has released some songs in this decade to make him relevant to be on American Idol.  But come on this guy doesn’t even have an official website, not to mention none of his music is even comparable to any of the artist on idol.  I had my reservations about him as the mentor, it wasn’t as bad as what I had anticipated but I guarantee many people watching thought to themselves, who the heck is Akon?


Skylar Laine – Skylar opened the show with Kellie Pickler’s ‘Don’t Know How Much I Love You’.  I thought this was boring and predictable.  Not worthy of kick starting the show.  She will probably stick around though because who else will the huge AI country fan base vote for?  She’s all that’s left for them.  She’s certainly good at what she does, but I don’t know if that’s enough for me.


Colton Dixon – ‘Love The Way You Lie’ was made popular by Eminem and Rihanna.  He performed Skylar Grey’s original version.  My wonderful AI companion that suffers through the show with me week after week is really tired of Colton and what he calls his “vapor voice.”  I think when Colton actually tries to sing it sounds even worse.  I cannot seem to figure out what people see in him.  I thought his performance was aesthetically pleasing.  But at the end of the day, what is making this kid stand out?  I’m not sure.


Jessica Sanchez – This was one of my favorite performances of the night.  I’ve had the amazing opportunity to see Jazmine Sullivan live and she is incredible.  I must say ‘Stuttering’ is no small feat and Jessica did a phenomenal job with it.  I almost preferred Jessica’s version.  She told a story and there was so much beauty & grace in this performance.  I got a little lost in it.  It’s hard to believe that Jessica is only 16 years old and singing like that.


Joshua Ledet – Here we go again, this week I’m going to complain about Joshua and how he is a runner up to someone else that performed the same song.  This time however I’m going to compare him to the actual artist, which maybe isn’t fair but we just saw Bruno Mars slay ‘Runaway Baby’ at the Grammy’s a few weeks ago and absolutely nothing can compare to that performance.  Bruno is so big right now and to cover him it needs to be something extremely special & fresh.  Bruno Mars is hands down one of the best performers of this era, his stage presence is out of this world… Joshua doesn’t have that yet, he didn’t even touch Bruno as far as I’m concerned.


Hollie Cavanagh – Oh Hollie, you were much less than ‘Perfect’ covering Pink.  Why can’t someone help you?  There are so many mentors and people behind the scenes on this show, can’t they give you a shove in the right direction?  Everything from the way she dresses to her song choices are just wrong.  It’s so frustrating because I know she has the biggest voice in the competition but she is completely unmarketable right now.  There is no way she’s escaping the bottom 3 this week and I won’t be surprised if she is sent packing.


Phillip Phillips – Ok so Maroon 5 is so big right now & Adam Levine is entirely relevant, I thought there was no way this could go wrong.  This could have been epic but does anyone know the song ‘Give A Little More’?  A weird part of me would have rather seen him do “Moves Like Jagger.”  Anyway back to his performance, what Phillip did with the arrangement was actually very compelling and good, but I’m assuming most people have never heard the original so it’s not something that’s going to impress the general audience.  I’m not going to disagree with any of the judges critiques.  My only problem is with all this comparison to Colton, why is it that no one has mentioned that every week Colton is sounding the same as well?  We will see if the judges comments influence the votes for Phillip.  It actually won’t be such a bad thing if Phillip falls into the bottom three this week, I think he needs a little jolt, something to kick him into gear. 

Elise Testone – I’m going to have a love/hate relationship with Elise just about every week I think.  I hate that she did this song.  I’m biased and love Haley, so I had my mind set before the song started that this would not be ok for me. However, she fell into this song perfectly and looked very comfortable on stage.  Maybe this is the direction she’s trying to go and I’m ok with that.  But this performance was not a huge moment for me.  Last year Haley performed it before it was even released, and was virtually heard by no one before she brought it to the Idol stage.  Haley did so good that when Gaga released it, I never acknowledged it as even a Gaga song.  Haley’s voice always fit better in my opinion.  I’m not going to completely disregard Elise’s performance.  At this stage of the game it was smart and will probably push her through to another week.


Must see performances this week are Jessica and Elise.  I’m struggling with my bottom three prediction because what I feel should be the bottom three is quite different than how I think the votes are actually going to fall.  But the weakest performers this week were Hollie, Skylar, & Colton.  On another note, how cool was it to hear a Gotye song on Idol?  If you ever get the opportunity, this is a show you have to see live.  He has a few dates in California over the next two weeks so check out the dates and try to get to one if you can!

American Idol Top 8

Many of the contestants took their performances to another level this week with songs from the 80’s.  The mentor was Gwen Stefani and did she look phenomenal, or what? My dear lord.  Her and her bassist, and Tony Kanal were an awesome addition to the show. They had some great ideas when it came to the arrangement and they were just super cool.  Here’s the breakdown on the performances this week:


DeAndre Brackensick – Yes, yes, yes.  First song by him that I actually enjoyed from beginning to end.   He covered Debarge’s ‘I Like It.’  A little raspy and low in sections and then he pulled out the falsetto in all the right places.  The performance should have been tolerable even for people that generally don’t like him.


Elise Testone – I really wanted to hear her version of ‘Hallelujah.’  I think it would have been sick.  We are so used to that song sounding angelic & soft but she could have made it into an awesome rock song with her style.  Instead she did Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know What Love I'” & I think it was slow from the start and hard to get into.  The only thing remotely rememberable about the performance was the little run at the end, but even that is not comparable to what the other contestants accomplished this week.  Elise is always going to be fighting an uphill battle to get votes.  She has got to bring it every week to make it through.  I’m thinking this one just wasn’t enough.


Phillip Phillips – ‘That’s All’ by Genesis has such a cool vibe to it.  I thought the brother in law on guitar was a nice touch.  I have some concerns that he is doing the same thing week after week.  It’s not a bad thing, I like him and I won’t get sick of him ever.  He’s one of the only contestants that has a clear cut direction, and knows who he is as an artist.  But his style is most likely not the best fit for American Idol and his time is more limited than what I want to even think about.  I highly doubt he will be leaving the show this week but I have a hunch that he will be encouraged to reach out of his element on next weeks performance to garner support from the masses.  Now, if he will listen, who knows?  He’s hell bent on staying true to himself, which is great but what would be even better if the show and him could find some happy medium.


Joshua Ledet performed Simply Red’s, ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ and sadly all I can think about is this has already been done before.  He does so many traditional songs and unfortunately because of all the music competition shows there are certain songs I don’t need or want to hear anymore.  This happened to be one of them.  Stefano Langone just did this last season on American Idol.  Which even though Joshua’s performance completely out-shined and exceeded anything Stefano did last season, I’m distracted by the past.  It’s such a petty thing to complain about but my point is… it’s been done.  I can’t sit here and deny his talent but I do not get excited by him.  There is something missing for me.  The power in his voice is all there but I want more ‘wow’ moments from him like his ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ performance.


Jessica Sanchez – This girl and her alter ego talk about puts me over the edge.  But she has such a big voice and performs so well.  So, if she insists on accrediting her stage presence to her alter ego, I will just have to deal with it.  She did the uptempo ‘I Wanna Know’ by Whitney Houston.  Personally I appreciated the change of pace from last week.  Definitely not her strongest performance but the constant praise from the judges should put her through to next week.  It’s tough for the girls because viewers tend to vote for the guys but I’m really hoping the girls get to stick around this season because the ones that are left are pretty darn good.


Hollie Cavanagh – I wished for something like this performance, a little more movement, energy, some excitement.  She performed ‘Flashdance (What A Feeling)’ by Irene Cara.  I have a hard time criticizing her because she is putting in the effort.  I guess it just seemed so forced.  I hope she just gets some sympathy votes because the girl is trying.  If she is the one voted out I have a feeling the judges would use their save on her.  She has potential, definitely the biggest voice in the competition and deserves to hang around.


Colton Dixon – ‘Time After Time’ by Cyndi Lauper seems like an odd pairing but it worked.  The harmonies between him and Gwen during rehearsal were to die for, I wanted more of that.  Truly the minute they announced what he was performing, I knew it was going to be in the direction of Quietdrive.  Their cover is definitely worth checking out here.  It used to be one of my favorites.  I also thought it was cool that he credited the band for being his inspiration on the song.  Very cool, I dug the arrangement and it’s one of my favorite performances from Colton.


Skylar Laine decided it’s power ballad time and performed ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ by Bette Midler.  I think this was perfect timing for a ballad.  I think her high energy was getting just a tiny bit overwhelming the past couple weeks so slowing it down was smart, really great song choice.  I thought it was captivating beginning to end.  It showed her vocal range, it was excellent.


The highlights this week have got to be the duets.  I enjoyed each and every one of them, I think they showcased the contestants talent, not to mention they were entertaining.  The contestants seem much more relaxed, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because the viewers at home at this point are judging their every move.  Stand out solo performances  I would say; Joshua (even though I really didn’t dig it) and Skylar.  My prediction of the bottom three is Hollie, Elise, & DeAndre.  I think Phillip is a possibility for bottom three this week, but I’m having a hard time uttering the words (but it’s bound to happen sometime).  If you’re going to watch anything from 80’s week just check out the duets, they are pretty darn rocking.

American Top 12

The Top 12… er, scratch that, Top 11 (more on this later) Idol contestants picked songs from their birth year for the show this week.  This is one of the few themes that I don’t mind because I think it’s a great way to introduce them and show a side of their personal life.  It also lets the contestants choose from a wide variety of genres.  So it’s a great opportunity to make song choices that fit their voices and that they will enjoy performing.  Not all take advantage of this chance, as we saw tonight many of them really struggled to find a song that excited them.  Which is perplexing to me.  If I were preparing to audition for American Idol I would be studying so much music and getting familiar with categories that I’m likely to come across.  But nevertheless you still have contestants (cough DeAndre) that essentially waste this week by doing safe songs that they are clearly not familiar with therefore end up looking very unenthused about even being on the stage.  But you can see for yourself, I stayed awake long enough that I have linked the videos of the performances to each of their names (unfortunately with the exception of Hollie, not sure why but I spent a lot of time digging and came up empty handed).


So the show kicks off with my man Phillip Phillips who is just too stinking charming, even as he’s passing kidney stones and needing surgery.  The song he did is originally an Otis Redding song, remade by the Black Crowes which apparently qualifies it as a song made in his birth year.  I won’t argue, it was a good fit for him.  He stepped out without his guitar and unlike moments with Paul McDonald last year, it wasn’t painful to watch.  This kid has it going on.  I was disappointed that he went first because it made the rest of the show seem like a chore to get through.


Jessica Sanchez – It’s certainly hard to believe that this girl is 16 years old.  She has a lot of swagger when she’s up on stage.  She’s extremely confident in what she’s doing.  I like that the judges gave her constructive criticism.  But I disagree when Steven says she shouldn’t stray far from ballads.  I didn’t mind the song choice of “Turn The Beat Around,” in fact I have never liked that song but she had my attention throughout and her delivery made me actually appreciate certain aspects of the arrangement of that song.  I like to see the contestants have fun, and to hear ballads week after week is borrrring!


Heejun Han – Oh dear, I believe this boy has planted himself in the bottom 3 this week with the subpar performance of Richard Marx “Right Here Waiting.”  It wasn’t terrible but it definitely wasn’t good either.  I haven’t decided yet if him announcing that his girlfriend was there was a sweet gesture or one that irritated me.  With the extent of my experience with young boy bands, I’m a strong believer in keeping the girlfriend out of the spotlight, haha!  Anyway I want to hear Heejun sing something in Korean.


Elise Testone – Whoa, biggest shocker of the night.  I threatened to move out of the country last week if she wasn’t the bottom girl.  And well, she was the bottom girl but she wasn’t eliminated & thank goodness because then we wouldn’t of been able to see such a dope performance from her.  I think she would be great doing a Joss Stone sounding record.  And last week is a perfect example why I hate theme weeks with artists like Whitney Houston.  Elise got buried last week, but definitely crawled up out of the hole for me with this rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Lets Stay Together.”  It was like watching an entirely different performer.

DeAndre Brackensick – Oh what does this young boy know about ‘Endless Love?’  I just don’t know about the song.  Song choice is crucial for everyone but I think even more for him because his voice really relies heavily on emotion.  His falsetto you can feel in your bones when it’s genuine and when it’s not it is very anti-climatic and almost turns you off.


Shannon Magrane – I’m so dang proud of her for coming back this week and doing a Mariah Carey song.  She didn’t shy away from taking on a song with a big voice.  She did a great cover of ‘One Sweet Day.’  And fun fact about Shannon, her dad Joe played for the Cardinals and is from my home state.  I dig people from Iowa.


Colton Dixon – I didn’t know that White Lion song but I didn’t even care.  Steven Tyler seemed a bit crabby this evening.  He just straight up didn’t like the performance.  I wonder if it was because he was the only one who had heard the song prior to Colton’s version.  For me, there was nothing wrong with that performance.


Erika Van Pelt -ugh, girl… Bryan Adams, ‘Heaven’… really?  I hate this song.  Not sure why, never liked DJ Sammy’s techno version of it either.  There is not a singer in the world that could perform this in any way, shape, or form and make me like it.  I can’t even fairly make comments on her performance because I just plain don’t like it.

Jermaine Jones – So, search American Idol this week and most of what you will get is this guys name.  He’s getting all kinds of publicity for his 4 outstanding warrants and is it just me or is this slightly insane?  How does something like this get past the producers?  I was concerned that the show was airing the conversation where he is told he is no longer in the competition, it really runs on a fine line of bad taste to air that and could be looked at as a cheap way to get viewers to tune in.  And I think it’s shady that they brought this contestant back and just now found out about the warrants for his arrest.  So I’m not saying this all hasn’t been done for publicity however, I thought it was handled fantastically as far as what was aired.  And for the record, I’m not buying that all he did was fall down a flight of stairs and subsequently felt the need to give the police a fake name.  Onwards and upwards though, we are officially down to our Top 11.


Skylar Laine – “Love Sneaking Up On You” is not my favorite Bonnie Raitt song but in general the vibe fit Skylar really well.  She has the perfect blend of attitude and soul that she puts into all her performances.  She’s very entertaining to me.


Joshua Ledet – Uh hello!?  This cover of Michael Bolton “When a Man Loves a Woman” was awesome!  One of the few times I’ve seen the judges get out of their chairs for an actual good reason.  He blew me away, it was very cool to see.


Hollie Cavanaugh – I’m not a huge fan of this Celine Dion song.  It’s obvious that the girl can sing her butt off on any song.  She’s certainly impressive.  I thought her parents were adorable and I enjoyed seeing a softer side of her in the pre-performance interview.  I’m not sure who is styling her on the show but I am not a fan at all.  Tonight’s dress was ugly.


My bottom 3 prediction: Erika, Heejun & I guess DeAndre.  This week is slightly difficult to predict because overall I feel indifferent with just about all of the performances.  The 3 must see performances from this week are Elise, Joshua and for the last you can make the decision: Hollie, if you want to hear a power ballad, Phillip Phillips if you want to be entertained.

American Idol Top 13


Tis that time of year again folks.  Good to be back and writing in on the American Idol action… I think.  I rarely let myself suffer through the full episodes of the weeks prior to this one.  I have caught enough to enlist some of my favorites from the get-go.  I went social media crazy upon first glance of Phillip Phillips.  He makes me swoon.  I also really like Skylar Laine, and with a voice like Jessica Sanchez has, I have to put her in my top list.  Overall with the contestants this year I’m displeased and truly just underwhelmed.  Pretty sure I always feel this way but here goes another year…


There are so many successful singing competition shows now that each show has to really produce some interesting and just plain talented people to get people to tune in.  If you don’t do that there are so many other shows to tune into to get what you’re looking for.  Personality is such a huge part of being able to draw in the votes and captivating the audience when it comes to American Idol.  The other shows have a lot of production behind them, where AI is still pretty stripped down.  Which gives it sadly more of a karaoke feel I think.  However, sometimes on the X-Factor I feel like there is this whole production for an artist that is not even relevant.  The Voice probably does the best job of finding some balance and really highlighting the talent, vocally & otherwise.  But I digress, we are talking about Idol here.


Who’s idea was it for the poor girls to do Whitney Houston?  There’s a very small percentage of even the most successful female singers in the industry that can tackle such a great vocalist.  I felt bad for the girls actually, many of them hit a brick wall this week.  As for the boys Stevie Wonder is one of my favorites of all time, but his music is starting to feel a little said & done when it comes to these shows.  When is someone going to give me a TV show thats going to introduce me to new music?  I will just have to deal with the cards that are dealt, and so will the contestants.  So how did our top 13 do?  I wrote a little blip about each of them, but have not been successful in finding the performances on youtube so there are not videos to link.  As a temporary solution I have linked their AI page to their names, until I can find a reliable stash of youtube videos you will just have to take my word for it if you missed the show.


The show kicks off with Joshua Ledet performing my favorite Stevie Wonder song, ‘I Wish.’  Completely forgettable, anti-climatic and not impressive.  Could not even believe the judges were placing this at the top of the night.  Clearly they missed Marcus Canty’s rendition on The X-Factor because he killed this song.  Even though I still have my doubts and suspicions that not all of the X-Factor is done without a little technical help (i.e. I think lip-syncing could be involved) this performance on Idol did not even compare.


Elise Testone performed “I’m Your Baby Tonight” crash & burn, this was utterly painful.  I needed to go back to her audition tape to figure out how she ended up on this stage.  Her attitude did not help, she just looked mad which doesn’t translate well to getting viewers at home to vote for you.  Her voice is unique and there is not a whole lot that this show is going to do for her.  At the end of the day you’re on American Idol, and you got to roll with the punches when it comes to your song choices.  You are no longer your own artist making your own decisions.  She’s got to be one of the bottom girls or I’m moving to another country.


Jermaine Jones – “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” this was a snoozefest for me.  I think that his voice is cool and smooth and all, but I guess I don’t feel it like everyone else does.  Sadly I probably won’t appreciate him until I hear some of that Michael McCary, Boyz II Men bass.  Just sayin.


Erika Van Pelt – A Whitney song was a stretch and push for her.  She did “I Believe in You and Me,” I was prepared to hate this, and I’m not really saying that I didn’t hate it.  It was hard to love, there were parts that were shaky but overall I was impressed with her range, probably only because I didn’t know she had it.  I don’t know if there’s a lot more to uncover with this one like the judges are assuring but I do want her to stick around awhile longer so we can dig into that rasp in her voice.

Colton Dixon was so nervous for tonight but it wasn’t bad.  Stevie Wonder is way out of his element and that was something the show wanted to be made known.  His style was enough to make it sound like his own.  He was one of my favorites of the night and he’s going to be around for a long while.  He better just get used to being pushed into doing styles and genres that don’t necessarily fit in his realm, because that’s just American Idol for you.


Shannon Magrane – I was sad about this performance.  There’s something about her that I can’t help but want her to do good.  I think her nerves probably got to her, she’s young.  She missed a big note.  Did anybody really listen to her sing that in the rehearsal, it was a night and day difference.  I think she’s actually capable of big things but who knows if we will actually be lucky enough to see it.


DeAndre Brackensick – I hated whatever song he did last week but doing “Master Blaster” seemed to be right in his element.  The hopping around was a little distracting.  He was feeling it.  I guess I like his voice… but he annoys me.  I will try to be more open minded but there’s not much else to say.


Skylar Laine – There is something weirdly charming about Skylar to me.  She was crazy last week on stage, probably how I would look if I ever had to get up on stage and sing a song.  You know she is feeling every single note.  She makes everything look so darn easy and effortless.  She belt out that Whitney song like she’s been singing it all her life, and you know she hasn’t because she’s a straight up country girl.  I can’t believe I’m saying it but I dig her.  She’s definitely one of my early faves.


Heejun Han – I hope he stays around for awhile.  Is his voice spectacular?  I don’t exactly think so, but he’s got a sense of humor, he makes me laugh and makes the show slightly more interesting.


Hollie Cavanagh – She slayed a Christina Aguilera song last week so we know she has a huge voice.  I had no real concerns about her performing Whitney, I just knew her voice was one of the very few big enough that could pull it off.  And she did, it was beautiful.  I want to see her loosen up, she’s totally the Pia of this season when it comes to having the voice but lacking the strong stage presence.  She’s got a big smile, but I need to see her having actual fun on stage.


Jeremy Rosado – I couldn’t even tell you what Stevie song he sang. He has a beautiful voice but it’s just not enough.   Seems like a nice guy but, the end of the road is coming soon for him.  I literally have nothing interesting to say about this one.


Jessica Sanchez – It takes balls to step out and decide to do “I Will Always Love You.”  By far biggest Whitney song, one of the biggest ballads of all time.  I kept thinking, how darn brave.  She stepped out and just nailed it.  I thought it was pretty much flawless beginning to end.  The difficulty of this song is indescribable.  My jaw dropped to the floor watching her hit all the notes.  It was awesome.

Phillip Phillips – I have so much to say about this kid.  No surprise here that I did most of my pre-American Idol live show research on him.  Don’t get me started on the Dave Matthews comparisons because it seems to get me upset.  Let’s focus on what happened tonight.  Was there any other Stevie song for him to do?  Does no one want to mention that he already sang this in his audition?  I mean I don’t care because it was absolutely incredible.  But he had an advantage, a lot of hours put in already preparing for this performance.  At the end of the day for me, nothing can compare to someone that is as musically inclined as he is.  He used his ear and his musical style, and he made “Superstition” into his own song.  I’m so ready for the days when American idol evolves into more than just a singing competition and the contestants get some credit for picking up an instrument and making a performance more than a sing-a-long.  I’m all about a musician, not just someone with a big voice.  Phillip Phillip’s is my dream come true this year, my Paul McDonald but with more control over his voice.  I’m ridiculously excited to see what comes from him throughout this season.  He better not disappoint me!

American Idol: Top 4

Not sure where to begin with this Idol nonsense.  It may have been the worst top 4 performances that I’ve ever seen.   I was highly disappointed in all the song choices.  I was even more disappointed in the judges and the production.   I have plenty of conspiracy theories, and based on what I’m reading on other blogs and Twitter, I’m not the only one.   The motives behind why they are partial to certain contestants over others is something that I have yet to figure out.  It’s certainly made for a frustrating season to watch as a viewer.


Lets get into it.   James begins the show with “Don’t Stop Believing.” My first thought was, oh, interesting that he’s the lead performer and won’t close out the show.  Little did I know that they would switch it around at the end to give him the “pimp spot.”   So James not only opens the show, but he then gets to for the 4th time this season close it out.   So let’s get around to my second thought, who doesn’t know this song? How many times have you gone to a karaoke bar and not heard someone belt this out.   I think the song choice was a great one, but he didn’t do anything with it.  The judges are always talking about James adding his style to songs.   This could have worked had he have added a rocker vibe to it.

But did anyone even notice that it wasn’t good? He sang off key, it was boring, it was screechy and just plain hurt my ears.   But yet the judges are his biggest cheerleader.  I was looking forwarded to his second performance, “Love Potion No. 9.”  But he added his rock vibe and the song was lost in translation for me.  I guess he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t with me.   But I truly was feeling the acoustic version he was performing for Gaga and could see that as being a better performance.   But what’s the use in talking about James anymore, is anyone listening?

Back to Haley world.  Randy talked about the difficulty in singing “Don’t Stop Believing,” excuse me… “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson is killer.   I know this from personal experience of trying to belt this out alone in my car.  This song is so tough with the notes, runs, and emotion.   I don’t think it was the best song choice for the mere fact of having to cut the song time down.   This is a perfect song that you can’t change, it has an impeccable amount of build up and explosion.   It didn’t translate well because she had to make the jump from a calm soulful beginning to screaming emotion.  Sooooo the judges didn’t like it, imagine that.   And this time I could see where the comments were coming from, where other times I think that they are way off.  But they are always picking on her.   The problem I have is how they went on and on about it.   It has to be so hard for her.  I know people don’t like to see her talk back, but put yourself in her shoes.   She’s just trying to defend herself.  I wouldn’t care in the least if they were giving the sort of feedback they give her to everyone.   James performed that Journey song right before her and it was terrible.  But all James got was praise, it’s getting to be ridiculous how much they hate on Haley.

Even after watching two more contestants perform, the judges go back only to reiterate the fact that Haley’s performance was the worst.   This is just moments before her second performance on a live show.  How does one pull themself together?   They completely rattled her and I think that was the goal.  I thought this week would play in her favor since she did such an incredible job last week with her rendition of Gaga’s “You and I.”  Funny how not much if anything was mentioned in the reel about the performance.   I know that footage has to be there, Gaga would have said something about it upon meeting her.  I also have a strong feeling that Gaga digs Haley’s voice and style.   It’s interesting that there wasn’t a whole lot to take away from the Gaga clip with Haley, besides an acting/drama lesson?   Her second performance of, “I Who Have Nothing,” was certainly an improvement.  I would have liked to have seen her do a more exciting/fun song.   Thankfully she didn’t because it would have been hard to come out and have fun after the first round.


Scotty, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt with the Alan Jackson song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.”   It’s hard though, I think mostly due to my PR background, I’m always questioning peoples motives.  I mean come on, could this type of song be chosen at a better time?   I really don’t think so, and I would find it hard to believe he wasn’t prepped for the pre-interview for the song.   He said all the right things.  And he’s just a kid, to capture that emotion has got to be difficult.   He had to of been about 6 years old when 9/11 happened.  However, I will say this… he did an excellent job of telling the story.   As much as I was doubting his involvement with the song choice, there were moments in the song that gave me the chills.   Which, again is probably due to everything that is happening in our country right now.  It was a smart move.  Now his second song, lordy… so bad.  He performed, “Young Blood,” by the Coasters.  What were those crazy eyes?  I have no words.   The young girls love him, I don’t think that performance hurt him much as far as voting is concerned but really what was that?  So creepy.

Both songs Lauren performed were amazing.  She is my overall winner of the night, hands down.  I was worried how she would recover from her near departure last week.   She sang Martina McBrides, “Anyway” and Elvis Presleys, “Trouble.”  I mean the second song was a little out there, because she’s the furthest thing from evil. I think it could have been better had she have been able to channel the character a little more.  But wow, the first song she just belted out beautifully (again a song about natural disasters, could it have come at a better time?)  And the second song she had fun with. It was a great night for her.

American Idol: Top 5 Recap

This week we had Sheryl Crow as the Idol mentor.  Ironic because not too long ago she bashed the show in an interview with MSNBC saying, “Let’s face it, it undermines art in every way and promotes commercialism, I am sad people love it so.” I wonder what made her change her mind.  I enjoyed her nonetheless and I thought she gave some decent advice.  The contestants sang two songs each this week and overall I thought it was a good night for everyone, with the exception of Jacob.  Who ended up being the one voted off.  So now we are left with James, Scotty, Haley and Lauren.  Here’s what I thought about the performances Wednesday night:


James did, “Closer to the Edge,” a 30 Second to Mars song.  It gave him some relevancy in my mind of where he would fit in post Idol.  When he sang “Without You,” it took me right back to the first time I heard Kelly Clarkson sing it.  Her vocal performance on that song in particular has been cemented in my head since the day I heard it.  Obviously his sound is very different than Clarkson so the two didn’t compare. I sort of liked the vibe he brought to the song.  It wasn’t even close to being his best vocal performance but the crying kind of pulled me into the performance.  Even with his rocker swagger he finds ways to make himself vulnerable and relate to the audience.  Not easy to do.  Despite the fact that he sounded probably his worst the judges ate the performance up, per usual.  The audience is practically brainwashed into voting for him with the constant praise from the judges.  It would be so shocking if he went home anytime soon.


I do worry that he is going to struggle after Idol.  Whether he wins it or not, I see him going for a genre that is not the easiest to break into.  There are so many barriers and the audience is a tough crowd to please.  I think the general population is going to have a hard time accepting him because of his Idol background.  Adam Lambert was able to find his niche but James won’t be able to follow that path.  He seems to be getting a lot of support and praise from the bands he’s been covering.  That will help him.


Two weeks ago I would have said there is no way for Scotty to win the whole thing.  But man he’s had some strong performances when it has really counted.  I’m thinking Scotty might be here to stay.  His Montgomery Gentry performance was so good. Then he followed up with “Always on my Mind.”  Both performances showed how well rounded he is as a country artist.  He had a great night.  They haven’t crowned a male, country singer for the top prize.  I mean he’s going to thrive post Idol in the country scene, so then AI can take credit for launching both Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery.  It would give the show more credibility.  How can they not have him win?


I loved Lauren.  I think its incredible the turn around shes made in the last 3 weeks.  She has taken all the important steps to move forward in this competition.  You can absolutely tell that she’s putting in the work to try and win this thing.  I think she would be one of the most exciting people to watch win it.  You can tell that it’s her dream.  She broke down tonight when she found out she was one of the bottom two.  It will be interesting to see if she can bounce back from that or if she will play it safe next week out of fear of elimination.  I was disappointed to see her in the bottom two after she had just pushed herself with her two songs this week.

Ah, Haley… what a breath of fresh air.  I completely disagree with what Randy and JLo said about her needing to find a song that the audience already knows. It was completely risky, but it paid off.  I always refer to Idol as a glorified karaoke contest.  Here Haley comes in and just kills this unreleased Gaga song, that for the most part no one has heard.  Haley did such a phenomenal job that it could easily be her first single.  It didn’t sound like anyones song but her own, which has got to be one of the most important things to me.  All the contestants sound great and record the tracks week after week, but the ones that I choose to buy and download are ones that are unique.  I don’t want just another decent cover of a song.  I want one that makes people forget that it’s a cover, that they really have to sit for a second and think about what the original sounds like.  Season 8 contestant, Allison Iraheta did “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and whenever someone I’m with hears it play they think its killer.  Haley closed the show with “House of the Rising Sun.”  People are saying that it’s the best performance on the Idol stage of all time.  It’s right up there for me.  At the moment I can’t think of another performance in all the other seasons that I like better.  It was just beautiful.


On to the results show.  I was concerned about Jennifer performing on the show.  She’s using Idol to her personal advantage and some seem to have mixed feelings about that.  I think they chose the perfect time to let her perform.  Had she of done it too early I don’t believe the audience would be as accepting.  On the flip side you don’t want her performing too close to the finale.  So I guess if she was going to have to make her appearance they chose the best time for it.  I didn’t find it too entertaining.  It’s difficult because she needed to sing live since it is “American Idol” and she would have received an insane amount of criticism if she didn’t.  However, Jennifer is an incredible performer mostly because of her dancing.  We didn’t get to see all that.  She did what she could with it, but for me it just wasn’t enough.


Wednesday, Jacob finally received the criticism that he needed to hear.  He says that he can relate to all kinds of music.  I disagree.  He oversold himself.  One minute he’s telling us he can’t sing a Marvin Gaye song… the next he’s trying to tell us his direction is Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown.  The kid belongs on Broadway, in Gospel music, that’s his niche and because he didn’t tap in to that completely thats why he went home.  I’m very surprised he made it as far as he did.  So yeah, goodbye Jacob.  I’m sorry to say that I have been awaiting your departure for some time now.  Not sad at all to see you go.




Paul McDonald Brings Real Music To American Idol

To be completely honest I’m getting a little tired of writing recaps on Idol.  But I’m committed to bringing Style Bust readers a weekly update so I can keep you in the loop with pop culture (this is perfect water cooler talk, right?)  It was rock and roll week on Idol and the contestants chose from a massive catalog consisting of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductees.  So let’s start with what I liked tonight…


I’m sure Casey pleased his fans with Creedence Clearwater Revival.  It was definitely cool to hear a song of theirs on the Idol stage.  And with him playing the upright bass, you just don’t see that everyday.  I loved it.  Amazing performance.


Pia chose an uptempo song, finally.  I just don’t know how someone can have an incredible voice like she does and then I just sit at home feeling indifferent about her.  And I think I finally put some pieces together as to why.  The judges keep pushing Pia to develop stage presence, and no doubt about it she’s doing her best to gain control of the stage.  But she has no rhythm, it’s not her fault.  But because she can’t move, I think it’s hard to see her feel the music.  She relies so heavily on her voice just as it is, but she doesn’t make me believe in anything.


Now Haley made me believe in something.  I think she’s the dark horse this season.  She’s really improving each week and I hope she gets to stick around longer.  She sings with conviction, its a truly beautiful thing.  I think the past two or three weeks she’s found her niche and she just needs to hang in the competition.  Her voice can carry itself but when she is actually feeling the song, her performances are just so impressive.


And Paul was back in action this tonight after being in the bottom three last week.  He sang “Folsom Prison Blues,” by Johnny Cash and killed it.  He had the last slot of the night and it felt like an encore.  It’s still so strange for me to see an artist like him on the American Idol stage.  He’s playing to a tough crowd that is familiar with and responds well to the Pia Toscano’s of the competition.  But tonights performance is what Paul is about, it felt sooo good!  He is no doubt the kind of artist I want to see in concert.  He clearly knows how to rock out.  Its incredible to see some real musicians on stage this season.  Idol has come a long way over the past couple years.

James slowed it down with, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  However I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  Lauren performed a mediocre version of Natural Woman.  The song is overdone, it gets performed just about every season and honestly I don’t think anyone has performed it better than Kelly Clarkson, since she slayed it in season 1.  It’s a tough song to sing and while I liked seeing Lauren more relaxed, overall it didn’t blow me away.  Jacob did “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.  It’s rare when I’m impressed by a MJ cover and his rendition was no different.  I liked that he brought his own “Jacob” flavor, but at the same time the original is just too good to touch.  He got a positive response, (but at this point who doesn’t on this show).  It’s a big love fest with the judges, for no apparent reason.  The contestants are good but not as amazing as the judges seem to think.

The Spotlights Hitting Something – Haley Reinhart

Idol was yet another week of disappointment. I think the only way that last night could have been enjoyed is if you are a die hard Elton John fan, but maybe I’m wrong, let me know if I am.  I was more or less bored to tears.

Haley was hands down the best performance of the night.   I am beyond proud of her for just killing “Bennie and the Jets.”  It was just perfect.   Like Jimmy Iovine said, she put it all together with this song.  Her voice is amazing, she was confident and beautiful on stage.  I don’t know if there is anything bad you can say about her performance.  I was smiling ear to ear.  It was a wonderful ending to a subpar night of Idol.

Casey, phenomenal.  He sang, “Your Song.”  He mellowed out a little bit which I think will cater to the mainstream audience.  Personally I think his craziness but there’s a time and a place.  He was stripped down and I think this was a smart move for him.  After last week’s surprise save, he killed it.  The song choice was perfect and it gave the audience a chance to connect with him again.

Lauren – Ah, the old “Candle in the Wind.”  She sang it so beautifully.  I was so impressed.  She has such a great country voice and I love what she did with that song.

Pia, the judges want to see her move and take over the stage.   Watch her tonight on the elimination episode when she’s doing the group performance.  Talk about someone that can’t dance.   It’s not a dancing show so I don’t care if she can dance or not, but the girl seriously has no rhythm.   It’s no wonder she plays it safe on the stage during her performances.


Paul’s performance, I just didn’t connect to it.  And if I didn’t, I guarantee those that are on the fence about Paul didn’t either.  Total bummer. Paul is a sincere, honest, amazing artist.  He’s so out of place on the Idol stage.  To try and make people understand and feel him when he’s singing cover songs week after week… it’s no easy feat.  He doesn’t belong here.  I need the Indie rocker back, singing songs that he believes in.

James performance was not visually appealing to me.  It was probably wonderful if you were in the audience but there was too much going on.  The camera was chasing him around the place and a piano on fire.  Not to mention his performances are all starting to sound the same to me.   I thought this week would suit him well because he would be forced to change it up and show another side.  Didn’t happen, oh well.

Personally I’m ready for Naima and Thia to get the boot. What Naima tried to do this week was hard, changing a classic Elton John song.   As always, I appreciate her efforts.  She wants to make a song her own, but this wasn’t the week to mess around.   And Thia, she’s just not that entertaining.  If anyone else goes home I will probably be disappointed.

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