Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Idol - Top 9 - March 31, 2009

1. Anoop Desai - Caught Up
OK, he's got some sort of strange fascist looking outfit going on. Anoop has gone Peronista. I'm not really enjoying the tough guy act. Maybe it's because I am unfamiliar with this song. The song doesn't really give the singer alot of vocal play so not sure what he could have done. Not a good song really for him because he comes across like he's trying too hard. I give 50 to the first singer and go from there.

2. Megan Joy - Turn Your Lights Down Low
Hope Megan can look good because after the last several weeks worth of performances, I'm not counting on her voice. Oh dear. Someone should really put her out of her misery and vote her off already. This is quite painful. What's with that dancing? Score 10.

3. Danny Gokey - What Hurts the Most
I like the new glasses. Singing a country song, Danny seems to be going for Michael's natural voter base. He's got an enjoyable voice timbre but there are odd notes here and there. The song is a good one for him, it's rather plain performance but his voice covers that. Not sure about his phrasing but it's definitely better than his other work in the Top 13. Score 70.

4. Allison Iraheta - Don't Speak
OK what's with the anime Pebbles look here? The hair has to go, but oooo I like that voice. Nice rich sound and a wonderful money note. Only a couple of odd tremors in there but an otherwise really good vocal performance for me. Interesting, they're really picking on her outfit. Score 80.

5. Scott McIntyre - Love You Just the Way You Are
Um, what's with the flock of seagulls hair? He has a lovely sweet voice but his performance is rather plain again. His vocalization can seem forced. Like Danny, he's had a good night in comparison to previous weeks. Nice money note but it was still a rather safe note. Score 65.

6. Matt Giraud - You Found Me
Spotty start to me. I don't get the way the crowd is set up all around him so close. Seems like favoritism. He's good when he's powering his voice but I'm not as impressed with his more tender voices. I like the falsetto. But in some ways, it wasn't the sort of song that suited him to me. Score 55.

7. Lil Rounds - I Surrender
Interesting hair. Oh no. Not a good song choice to me, because it seems like it's too low a register for her voice. And, as she powers up, she's ending up shouting instead of singing. If she moved it up a bit, she could come off alot more effusively and natural. Score 60. Oh good heavens, the baby comes out and hugs Randy. Of course Lil would cry. Heck, Stalin would have cried.

8. Adam Lambert - Play That Funky Music
He's going to go opposite from last week. But I loved last week. Hope this turns out ok. He's got some weird Elvis meets the Werewolf look tonight. I don't get the arrangement but it's an energetic performance. He certainly knows how to screech in tune. That's a heck of a money note. Score 85.

9. Kris Allen - Ain't No Sunshine
This is a perfect song for Kris. His voice sounds slick and sensual. He looks even more natural on that piano than even on the guitar. Ooh I like the groan, more than Adam's because it's such a sincere and sweet sound. And he's sort of the anti-Adam. He goes for the opposite money notes that Adam would. Wow, I love it. Score 90.

I'm surprised here. I am increasingly enjoying Kris's performances. He's really getting better each week, which in my book is a hallmark of a successful American Idol run. But Adam and Allison are still up there with him in my top 3.

5709 Kris Allen - 90
5708 Adam Lambert - 85
5704 Allison Iraheta - 80
5703 Danny Gokey - 70
5705 Scott McIntyre - 65
5707 Lil Rounds - 60
5706 Matt Giraud - 55
5701 Anoop Desai - 50
5702 Megan Joy - 10

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Review of Minsky's


We caught Minsky's last month at the Los Angeles Ahmanson Theater. New show, getting tested and packaged, before heading to Broadway, and we're the first to see it.

I really, really, really wanted to like this show. It has alot of the right ingredients. In some ways, I can see the producers' brains twirling and swirling and churning... "It can't miss!"... But surprisingly, it didn't work. Ironically, the show starts off with scene that depicts a really awful song getting turned into a fun dance number by Billy Minsky. The irony is that someone should have done the same twist to this musical.

Oh don't get me wrong. I enjoyed myself enough and had fine time with a couple of the great dance scenes. But the show didn't zing me, which is the real shame, given its potential.

I mean, think of the genetics! Charles Strouse wrote the music (3 Tony's including the admittedly manipulative Annie). Choreographer Casey Nichalaw had done Drowsy Chaperone (I was half-expecting the odd and fun twisty dance steps from the wedding songs to make their way into this show). And Bob Martin, also of Drowsy Chaperone, worked the book.

The cast includes Christopher Fitgerald as Billy Minsky (with his Tony nom for Young Frankstein's Igor, not for Boq in Wicked). His love interest is Katherine Leonard. And despite the decent performances - - I really don't care if they fall in love and frankly they writing makes them seem indifferent as well. Especially since we first see them together on stage in an amazingly predictable, unoriginal scene of parallelism.

Instead, Billy's #2 steals every scene. And why shouldn't she? Beth Leavel won her Tony in Drowsy Chaperone for play a scene stealer! In fact, her two big numbers in this show almost sound like the numbers she was parodying in Drowsy Chaperone!

The other cast members were, in some ways, seemingly forced to participate in random acts of burlesque. It wasn't funny. Or musical. In Drowsy Chaperone, I was invited to relish and luxuriate in the homage to the musicals of yesteryear. In this musical, the numbers were paraded, but like the romance between the leads, there was no passion, no heart, no heat.

So, though the first big number may have been "Working Hot", I'd have to say it's more like "Working It Out".

March 2009

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American Idol Top 10 - March 25, 2003

Smoky Robinson helped the gang today, because it's Motown week. How much of a facelift did he do? Look out Kenny.

I really am hopeful about the music, because this is such a potentially tuneful week. If it goes as I hope, then we'll have a nailbiter tonight.

1. Matt Giraud - Let's Get It On

Ooh, he got away from the piano. Hmmm I like him more at the piano because he looks like a preppy nerd trying at impress his girlfriend. My my my, such a tight pair of pants, Batman... Tunewise, I like the excellent song choice because it works with his smoky sound. Nothing too wild about the interpretation. Oh lovely money notes at the end. Since I tend to set the first person at a score of 50 and compare everyone to the that score, Matt gets 50, but I really think more folks are going to be scored lower than this.

2. Kris Allen - How Sweet It Is

He's doing a folksier / country version of it. Hmm, the arrangement works for me. I like it though there were a couple of odd notes at first. What's up with the shirt? Looks like a reject outfit from Les Miserables. Paula's dancing around. Nice song choice after all. He has a good money note there at the end. Just a tad less impressive than Matt so far. Score 48.

3. Scott McIntyre - Can't Hurry Love

During the interview Scott said that he's "single right now... until that person shows up"... Gender neutral... Very interesting... Can we have yet another gay contestant this year? I like the song but unfortunately, it does make him sound somewhat saccharine. It exposes some of weaknesses in his higher notes. The dancers behind him are somehow meant to create a different zing to his offering, but it does come off weird in some way because the other sings don't seem to have backup dancers. Wow, I think Simon has it right. It's all about song choice and not his voice. Score 30.

4. Megan Joy - For Once in My Life

Ok. I only have one thing to say about this one. Thank goodness I only have to hear this song just once in my life. Oh wait, I may have to listen to it again tomorrow if she's ejected. Oh this is not good for me. Lots of bad notes and she looks like she's dressed in only 1/2 of a Little Mermaid outfit. Randy called it a train wreck - he's so polite. Ms K is right - song choice was that the song controlled Megan and not Megan controlling the song. Maybe I'll be polite. Score 2.

5. Anoop Desai - Oo Baby Baby

I have to ask, is Smoky of any use? He keeps saying "Keep it exactly like that". Compare that with last year's Mariah who made lots and lots and lots of changes! Here comes Anoop. He really like taking the songs that are burnished into our heads, almost untouchable songs. Hmm not happy with this one. He's trying to look sexy but comes off narcoleptic. Not happy about a couple of those notes. He's pretty impressive but not perfect. Right on Simon, he looked sleepy. Score 40.

6. Michael Sarver - Ain't Too Proud to Beg
He's got a big voice but does he really have to go begging for the evangelical vote by saying he's gonna church it up? He's got a nice big boy voice but I really don't feel the emotion in his voice during this song. If this is taking us to church, it must be a Quaker sevice. It's sort of like a song you'd hear at a senior citizen cruise ship. It's better than last week at least. I'm surprised he wanted to go for some meandering money note because it wasn't clear, it wasn't on pitch and it wasn't pretty. Score 10.

7. Lil Rounds - Heat Wave

Oh no. Lil - this was your week. I definitely did not like this song choice. Oh it got better at the end but I did not even like the first part of this song. I'm majorly disappointed. Where's my Diva? This was Motown week and I really felt like Lil should have shined. Here come the comments. Oh kiss of death: You look beautiful. It really is the song choice problem. Of course Paula liked it. I still liked the end of the song some, so Score 20. Come on Lil, think "Diva" not "Whoopie from Sister Act".

8. Adam Lambert - The Tracks of My Tears

Adam's next and he looks like he's sincerely trying to forget all about last week. Wow, he looks so different. Sort of like Link Larkin in HairSpray-the movie-then-the musical-then the movie. WOW love the tenderness singing beside the acoustic guitar. Bordered on boring but in fact it wasn't, it was moving. Of course, Kris could have played it himself. Only one weird note. Oh like that ending, even if it was a smidge over the top. Kid can sing - it was gorgeous with a capital groove. Score 90. Seriously. It blew everyone away tonight. Sort of my impression with David Archuleta did Imagine and when David Cooke did Billie Jean.

9. Danny Gokey - Get Ready

OK, so it's an acceptable arrangement and a nice sound in general. But, I did not like the way he sang it as much as other songs he's done. He was too breathy. Maybe he needs to workout some more. For some reasons, the judges (except Simon) are liking him. Out of habit? We know the boy can sing, but we don't need any grade inflation here folks. I'm disappointed because I think he could have done a hot sexy Motown song instead of this. Where's the sexy folks? Motown was sexy! The best performances tonight worked the sexy.

10. Allison Iraheta - Papa was a Rolling Stone

Allison's moved on up to me in the past few weeks. She's really powered past the others and I've felt more than comfortable buying her last two iTunes songs. Ooh, she's putting the sexy in the song. I like it. This girl can sing, though what's up with that outfit? MONEY NOTE of the nite. Loved it loved it loved it. Finally, we got a good money note on Motown night. Loved it. Score 70.

So there it is folks. Two singers were in a class by themselves and a couple others came close.

In order:

5708 Adam
5710 Allison
5701 Matt
5702 Kris
5705 Anoop
5703 Scott
5709 Danny
5707 Lil
5706 Michael
5704 Megan

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

American Idol - Top 11

(Sorry, I had this in draft mode but never officially "published" it until just now.)

American Idol - Tuesday March 17, 2009
The Top 11

OK, So it's country night. Hmm, not sure if all the hype about country music is needed.

1. Michael Sarver - "Ain't Goin Down Til the Sun Comes Up"
I wonder why the made such a big deal about the words. He's got them down, but it's not like the melody is served by them. He's having fun, but I'm not enjoying his vocals for a change. Somewhat disappointing since this should be his kick butt episode. I have to only give him 50.

2. Allison Iraheta - "Blame it on the Heart"
I love Allison's voice. She's a natural performer to me. I guess if she had to sing a country song, this is the one for her to do. It really suits her. Man I like her and hope she goes far. I have to give him a 67.

3. Kris Allen - "To Make You Feel My Love"
Now, Kris is someone who has grown on me in the past 3 or 4 weeks. Wow, that was beautiful and smooth. You could tell he's singing to his wife. I really liked this low-key and romantic performance. I usually don't like ballads on this show, but this was lovely. 78.

4. Lil Rounds - "Independence Day"
Now Lil, I've always liked. I'm somewhat surprised she dressed so sophisticated for country night, but with her voice, I don't care if she's wearing a sack cloth. I do like her voice. Now that she opens up her song it's powering on. Only a couple odd notes on her riff. Good money note. Score 71.

5. Adam Lambert - "Ring of Fire"
Funny intro. Oh my. Interesting. Soooo risky! It's definitely theatrical ala Queen or Who during Rock Opera's greatest flaming moments. I really like this take, but I cannot imagine folks out there enjoying it. Actually, since I do like the Beatles' and George Harrison's and Led Zep's experiments with eastern music, it works for me. But it ain't country. Ugh, I want to score him 70 but I think given the show I have to give him only 55.

6. Scott McIntyre - "Wild Angels"
Not sure if I would have picked this song but it's actually a reasonable song for his voice once he gets into the meat. A couple of flat notes in there which is a shame since he has a good sound. In some ways, it's another safe song. Hmm, I imagine that Paula wants him to dance, but that's just not going to happen. Seems like the judges think he's being safe too. Score 60.

7. Alexis Grace - "Jolene"
I like this song normally but not sure the look and the song and her personality all are working together. There are some odd notes here and I'm not sure if the blues sound works for her. I like her more with attitude and not poor-me. Score 45.

8. Danny Gokey - "Jesus Take the Wheel"
Hmm, what an odd choice to sing and what's with the white Members Only jacket? Oh ok he's on his mark now. Nice smoky sound with only a couple odd notes. He's got money notes. One of those two-half performances. Not one of his best but he should be ok. Score 62.

9. Anoop Desai - "You're Always On My Mind"
Anoop has one of those sincere voices that is clear and without pretense. This is a good song choice given that, except that it's one of those danger songs again. Oh lovely opening verse. So nice. Good arrangement. He's wearing a jacket, like Danny - are they cold? Wish he milked the money note some more. Very nice albeit somewhat safe. Score 68.

10. Megan Joy - "Walkin After Midnight"
OK, so she knows what her strengths are. Look at the outfit! If she stops dancing this will be good. Good song choice because it's fitting her well. Um, if she stays away from those high notes, she'll be better off. She gets the last notes mostly. Score 52.

11. Matt Giraud - "So Small"
Another Underwood song? Must be something about choosing past Idol winners that gives strength to your audience vote. Nice take on this one. Very soulful sound. He's another one who's been growing on me. Score 72.

So the rankings are:
78 Kris Allen
72 Matt Giraud
71 Lil Rounds
68 Anoop Desai

And the bottom 3:

Megan Joy
Michael Sarver (too bad)
Alexis Grace (too bad)

Interesting. Only Lil is one of my favorites for the final 4. Might be a heck of a wrestling match towards the end of this season.

Til next week!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Idol Finals - Triskaidekaphobia

As a regular viewer of American Idol since Season 3, I fear that I fear the number 13. It's so weird to have finals with 13 finalists instead of 12. And, apparently, Fox didn't do it's homework... The 13th phone number after its regular sequence of voting phone numbers wasn't available: It goes to a sex chat line! Good heavens! I guess Triskaidekaphobia has its benefits!

So from tonight's show, two will go home tomorrow.

The theme: Michael Jackson.

1. Lil Rounds - The Way You Make Me Feel

Looking forward to this because I like Lil.. Hmm, I like the look but the treatment's kind of too up and up. She's trying to jazz it up, blues it up and keep it from being too limp. She has vocals but she's doing some Patti Labelle moves that seem to be new. I like it but am wondering who she really is. Got better as it went along. Nice falsetto. Hehe, agree with Simon on the outfit. Score 67.

2 Scott MacIntyre - Keep the Faith

Hmm, Scott is a good story that Fox has pushed. Good voice all along too. But he's doing a ballad, which is typically not the best way to get votes because it's just so safe. Nice tones. Ooh, nice falsetto. Got more exciting as it went along, but it's still a ballad. His performance simply cannot be too exciting because his sight impairment will limit the ability to work the crowd like the other singers. It ought to be interesting to see if people will vote for him. Score 60.

3. Danny Gokey - Pretty Young Thing

Oh good. They didn't belabor the story about his dead wife. It's sad, but somehow I felt manipulated by Fox. Eh, when have I not felt manipulated by Fox. He certainly turned the song to a more modern sound, but hmm his performance seems a bit forced. Love the tone of his voice and his moans are on key. Wasn't off key all throughout the beginning, like last month. Good job overall. And after, at least he admits he's not a natural dancer. Score 80.

4. Michael Sarver - You Are Not Alone

We have an American Story in Michael, what with the blue collar job working at an oil rig. Over on top of the feedback, he's singing a ballad. Another safe song. I'm surprised he didn't do a more of a country sound. A bit too much vibrato for me tonight, which is surprising since he didn't do much of that earlier this year. Oh, nice clear tones when he doesn't try to shake it. I like the song choice for him. It'll get him some votes. Score 68.

5. Jasmine Murray - I’ll Be There

This is such an old fashioned song. At least it's been done more recently with Mariah. She just doesn't sound like she's 16. Not happy with her low notes but she has a good upper range and power sound. Ooh good money note ending. Definitely hope she has a career some day and hope that youth vote for her despite her older sounding song choices. Surprised Randy liked it, since he hates it when anyone sinces Mariah's songs. Score 65.

6. Kris Allen - Do You Remember the Time

He's married? Seems younger than the others but is similar in age. Hmm I don't like the song choice. He might get the young girl vote but his performance didn't really have a zing in it. The performance could have come from alot of clubs across America really. A shame, because I think he's cute and has a nice voice. Score 50.

7. Allison Iraheta - Give In To Me

Wow, look at her. She's hot and does not look 16. She has a fantastic rock voice that she rolls out tonight. This is really a good heavier rock take on the song. Love the money note too. I cannot believe she's this talented and polished. If America can get over her wild look, they'll go for her. She and Chris Daughtry ought to do an album together. Score 85.

8. Anoop Desai - Beat It

Oh no, NC Anoop will be doing the most famous song in the collection, so that's not very good. Hmm. He does carry the notes right. He even flourishes well. So it's a shame since he has such a nice voice. Oops, one bad note. Hmmm. Sort of a campy performance on there. Not sure I like the dancing and all that. Smile dude! People vote for you if you smile. Simon is brutal because you just cannot touch this one number. Score 45.

9. Jorge Nunez - Never Can Say Goodbye

Jorge (and Kris) doesn't seem to get the backstory that the other singers get. Once he settled down, nice vocals, but this song can be too easy in some ways. The arrangement wasn't one that powered forward, so I'm sure someone is going to say it's a bit too cabaret. I wish he could own the stage a little more. OK, Kara enough with the language difference. Sheesh. Ooh, Simon's not happy. To me, just a shade below Kris on this performance because Kris at least had a guitar. Score 48.

10. Megan Corkrey - Rockin’ Robin

Huh? Michael Jackson did this song? Hmm, somehow it does't seem to be in the spirit of tonight's contest. I'm not sure about this song. Well it gets better as it goes along. The first part seemed corny for her. The performance is not comfortable. Don't think it worked. Too bad. She was in my middle tier for this show. Score 40.

11. Adam Lambert - Black or White

OK Fiyero. Hope he does well because I like anything Broadway. From the pics of him, I wish he never died his hair black because he's a nice looking lad. Ooh, nice light job on the stage behind him. He sure works that stage like Fiyero. Hmm, sort of a slowish song for him. Nice vocals. Finally someone who doesn't look uncomfortable on stage (other than Allison). He's spiked that arrangement very nicely. Sounds like a favorite for the later rounds. Hmmm. How do I choose between Adam and Allison tonight? Because I expected this from Adam, maybe I'll score him harder. Score 83.

12. Matt Giraud - Human Nature

Another boring intro story. These guys are hurt by them I think. Hmm a safe song. Oh I like that falsetto. Nice sound and good piano playing. He looked good. Not sure how to they differentiate some safe performances from others, but this one had some good vocal flourishes that show he's not some random lounge singer. Score 63.

13. Alexis Grace - Dirty Diana
Oh good lighting for her too. Nice rocking nasty girl here. Not sure if America's grammas will vote for her, but the men may. Good vocals though somewhat shouted out. The attitude is good but it's sort of much. Only one bad note. Aww, didn't like the cut money note short. Hope we see her next week. Score 55


85 Allison Iraheta
83 Adam Lambert
80 Danny Gokey
68 Michael Sarver
67 Lil Rounds
65 Jasmine Murray
63 Matt Giraud
60 Scott McIntyre
55 Alexis Grace
50 Kris Allen
48 Jorge Nunez
45 Anoop Desai
40 Megan Corkrey

Unfortunately, if I were to drop the bottom two folks tonight, that would be Megan and Anoop. Somewhat surprised by that but that's what the finals are all about, right?

Do I see any favorites? Not sure. I see certain people I expect to see move forward. But I'm not "turned on" by any competitors like last year. I don't see anyone who has grabbed me and to say "That person BETTER be a finalist". But I won't be at all surprised if the top 5 are Allison, Adam, Danny, Lil and Jasmine - they seem consistently good.

Til tomorrow night!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

American Idol Semi-Finalists Group 3

Final group. March 3, 2009. Still hating the new format. No mincing words there. Hope they revert to the old format. Can we vote on that?

1. Von Smith. Marvin Gaye's You're All I Need to Get By
Cute boy singing on the low side but has a nice falsetto slipping in. Surprised he did a "pop" veneer on this song. Kinda worked. Younger kids I don't think will realize it's an older song. Reasonably good money notes. Theatrical but sounds not too shoty to me. Score is 60.

2. Taylor Vaifauna sings "If I Ain't Got You"
Just ok really. Seems like it was too low a register for me. This was a safe song but it didn't show strength of voice or anything. No way to remember this. No real money note or falsetto. She's 17? Score is 50.

3. Alex Wagner-Trugman does "I Guess Why They Call It the Blues"
This is a scary karaoke piece. He growls and tries way too hard to look hot. Is he constipated? Oh dear he knocked over the mike stand. Sort of a cheesy arrangement too. Aww he's gonna cry. Poor big-footed guy... Score is 40.

4. Arianna Asfar does Abba "The Winner Takes It All".
She's 17 and doing Abba? Not a good idea to me. Oh dear, she's doing it like a torch song. This is frighteningly flat. Who told her to sing those falsetto vibratos? Creepy and uneven and flat. Score 20.

5. Ju'not Joyner sings "Hey There Delilah"
Sort of a nervous quietness but mostly in tune compared to the last couple singers. Sang it slower than the original. Gets better as he opens it up. Good money note and passing falsetto. Score 65

6. Kristen McNamara sings "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman
A Karaoke host? Surprised by her voice because she has such a Barbie look and sound to her. Weird arrangement but a she has nice vocals. Not a good money note. She's 23? Score 50.

7. Nathaniel Marshall, drama queen, belts out "I Would Do Anything for Love"
He looks like an 1980s aerobics instructor. Let's Get Physical. But Meatloaf? Not sure about this. He sounds better if I don't watch the screen. But his voice is rather plain. Score 40.

8. Felicia Barton does "No One"
Sort of a Cher look. A couple of odd notes here and there but mostly good. Nice money note. Surprised at how she sounded. Score 60.

9. Scott McIntyre (the "blind guy") does "Mandolin Rain"
I want to like him because he sounded good up til tonight. Some pitchy notes. Nice tone. Got better as it went onwards. Crowd seems to love him. Score 65.

10. Kendall Beard sings "This One's for the Girls"
Smart to do country. Hmmm sort of flat and not a great falsetto. Better in the lower registers and with big voice. I want to like her but I'm not enjoying the flat sound. Score is 45.

11. Jorge Nunez sings out "Don't Let the Sun Go Down"
Nice tone to his voice. Good soaring notes. His expressions seem a touch much. He looks like he wants to eat that last chocolate in the box and won't let you grab it. Best vocals tonight for sure. Score is 70. All this accent stuff is patronizing.

12. Lil Rounds "To Be Without You"
She's another one of my pre-competition faves. It's a very good vocal and performance but not a good song for me. She sounds good but wish she sang something else. Score 68.

So, for me:

Men: Jorge
Women: Lil Rounds
Wild Card... Scott

On to the weird wildcard show on Thursday!

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