Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kris Allen wins American Idol 2009 Season 8

Post-partem and post-competition analysis

I really enjoyed Kris Allen and Adam Lambert competition this year. In my eyes, these were the two who entertained me most thoroughly throughout the season.

Adam was my David Archuleta for this season. Last year, the manvoice coming out of the boybody of David Archuleta was such a surprise and joy that you just had to assume he'd be in the finals, if not the winner. This year, Adam had a rockvoice coming out of a glambody and you also had to assume that his vocal gymnastics would land him a win.

Kris was my David Cook for this season. Last year, each subsequent week had me shed my initial impression that Cookie was a mass murderer punk. Week after week, he grew to me to be a gifted vocalist with a clever and fine ear to popular taste. Kris's almost non-existent coverage (except for the "white chocolate" quartet during group rounds) didn't even allow us to register him on our radar, except as that cute twink. But like Cookie, he showed week after week to have an interesting and savvy ear for popular taste.

And like last year, I ended up voting for the creative person who grew on me. It's an odd thing to select someone who may show star quality right away. First impressions truly are very important. But the reason I preferred last year's method of selecting the final 12 to this year's method was that we grew familiar and fond of certain performers. It was a way to bond with them, to like them.

The best part of these 4 hombres is that they appear humble yet confident. That's not just a sure vote getter, but it's also encouraging that nice people can do well in entertainment.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finals - American Idol - 2009 May 19

Here we are! Pins and needles all day, wondering how entertained I was going to be by these two boys. I wanted Allison, Kris and Adam in the final 3 and am glad that I got two of my three in here.

First we'll have Adam Lambert of San Diego. Next we'll have Kris Allen of Arkansas.

First, Thanks for the excellent season in review Jim. Those were pretty close to my thoughts it looks like.

Here we go! Live from my hotel room in Chicago (and not back in Los Angeles)

7:00 OK, so we didn't have that totally cheesy boxing comparison like last year. At least they acknowledged the many people who competed leading up to this night this year.

7:02 According to Ryan, it's Acoustic Rocker versus Glam Rocker, Conway versus California, the Guy-Next-Door versus the Guyliner

7:03 Simon's wearing his end-of-season suit.

7:04 Lots of famous folks in the audience. Each guy sings three times. They sing a Kara song, a song picked by Simon Fuller and then a song of their choice. Now, a long commercial

7:09 Adam as a kid - he was hyper and loud? Really?

7:10 Mad World in the blue light AND fog AND the staircase. And in a majorly 1980s sort of trenchcoat. Man this is an awesome and intense song. I love this - so glad he's reprising it. The extra production stuff added isn't to my taste but his vocals are so lush and beautiful! Not an easy number to top at all.

7:12 Randy is in a heck of a suit combo. Kara said blahblah. Surprise, Paula is proud of Adam.

7:14 Simon thought he was over-theatrical? Hmmmmm, why did he start with a diss of Adam? Last year, he gave all the props to Archie and America picked David Cook.

7:15 Kris is re-singing Ain't No Sunshine! Surprised me on this one, as I thought he'd do Falling Slowly - but it was his first real dark horse number. Such a huge contrast between this and Adam. Huuuuuge retard on the beginning. Tied to the piano and not roaming, no fog machine like Adam. Ooh, he's mixing up the tempo and going major emo the interpretation! And he's showing his falsetto, too.

7:18 Randy loved that performance as one of Kris's best. Ditto Kara. Paula said he's a great artist. Simon believes that Kris truly belongs on this stage after that last performance. Wow, where's the ovation?

7:21 Ryan forces the issue. Simon calls Round 1 to Kris. Commercial

7:25 Adam sings Change is Going to Come, as picked by Simon Fuller. Wow, totally done with a huge R&B sound. Lots of amazing falsettos and scales. Incredible rich sound and amazing vocal play.

7:28 Randy kissed his butt. Kara kissed his butt. Paula kissed his butt. His iconic butt. Simon thinks Adam is 100% back in the game. Man that trenchcoat really bugged Simon.

7:30 Commercial

7:35 Kris Allen now is singing Simon Fuller's choice (What's Going On, Marvin Gaye), with a guitar and and his trio of bongos and guitar. Love the relaxed and groovy sound. This is really showing how we will have a recognizable sound coming from him professionally soon.

7:38 Randy thought it was just ok. Kara thought it was just ok. Paula loved it. Simon thought it was inadequate for this round in the finals.

7:39 Simon gives this round resoundingly to Adam

7:42 The semifinalists are brought back together

7:43 Now, we're going to hear Kara's song, No Boundaries. Something's wrong with Adam's mike I think - Sound's weird. Gasp, is it Adam? Nice rock sound. No screaming at all tonight. Really comes off like a rock anthem. Something Queen could have done. Only problem is the song's an emotional, melodic, rhythmic dud. It stinks. It's a shame Adam has to carry it out to us.

7:47 Randy loves Adam but thought he was pitchy. Kara is thankful that he sang her song. Paula is awed by Adam. Simon said he thought Adam sang like he's this year's winner.

7:49 Commercial

7:53 Kris is now starting up No Boundaries. He's totally stripped the song of all the built up rock drama that Adam had. Oh he's building up. Hmmm, the only problem is that it's showing a little weakness in his voice on the scale up. I like the interpretation because I think I can remember it more (not saying much given the material). Actually, this interpretation works better for Kara's song.

7:55 Randy thinks Kris's key might have been too high but thought the song suited him better than Adam. Kara said he should be judged on the season. Paula sort of blew a kiss at his twink look. Simon believes he deserves to be on the stage. So in other words, nobody wanted to bad mouth him. Ryan doesn't ask who won this round. To me it was a draw.

7:58 Adam is at 866-idol-01 866-idol-03 and 866-idol-05 while kris is 866-idol-02 866-idol-04 and 866-idol-06

7:59 Recap time.

OK, so this was a tough one. I agree with Simon on the first two rounds. They never said who won the final round, but it sure sounded like a draw to me, based on their statements. It was also a draw to me, based on my assessments.

OK I gotta admit, these two look really good together! Trying to keep my mind focused...

8:00 Carrie Underwood now sings the closing. She's not in a humongous dress, but in a jeans and boots combo. She's singing Sweet Home. Now they're recapping the season visually behind her. Yikes, Tatiana! Oh no, I bet she returns tomorrow... This song really shows why we all loved Carrie a few years ago.

And earliest headlines? Adam Lambert tops Kris Allen on 'American Idol' -- but not by much...

Phew, what a final! Now.... Who to vote for? It really was a draw... Maybe I'll watch this new show Glee first....

9:10 WOW, I really enjoyed the pilot of Glee. Just a (church) choir singer at heart here I guess.

9:11 Anyway, here's how I see Idol. As I've mentioned all week, I think that Kris will get the bulk of Danny's votes. If the separation between Kris and Adam was only 1 million votes, then I think Kris will win. But, given the body of work throughout the season, I have a slightest preference for Adam. He I think has shown the most consistency and guts all year long. In the end, I will likely be downloading more Kris albums, but for this contest, I guess I have to favor Adam.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

American Idol Finalists Selected! Simon Predicts Big Ding Dong Next Week

9:00 And this... is one of the dumbest beginnings to an American Idols show ever

9:01 OK, at least it didn't have Seacrest trying to be all melodramatic. So not really that bad

9:02 Show starts with 88 million votes registered. I have no idea how many I turned in.

9:03 Ford commercial

9:04 OK, so without a doubt, it's no wonder America's automotive companies are failing. These are the absolutely worst commercials ever. If it weren't for the opportunity for eye candy, you wonder why they even bother

9:05 Keyes is giving a very important message about African children suffering from HIV. Text ALIVE to 90999 and you'll donate $5 to help their plight.

9:06 A kid named to Noah is singing a song in English that he learned just this week. Interesting sound. A cross between modern American rhythms and African harmonies and phrasing.

9:09 It's a long song. He's breaking it down now, whatever that means.

9:10 We're up to the commercial and it's gonna be a long night.

9:13 We watch Danny's homecoming

9:19 We get teased because Danny is not told about his results

9:20 Now Kris

9:21 Free cheese dip? Scary...

9:24 Nice homecoming

9:25 commercial

9:30 Jordan Sparks is doing her new song. Girl looks good.

9:31 Nice refrain "Why does love always feel like a battlefield"

9:33 Aww, she still has some pipes... And gams...

9:37 Now Adam's hometown visit

9:38 I don't want to see the streaker

9:41 Nice to see the theater place he went to as a kid to see the children

9:42 Huh, he went to a good high school... Well, except for the streaker

9:42 Adam Lambert visited a Marine base? Interesting... Why do streakers love showing up at schools?

9:44 Commercial

9:48 Katy Perry will perform. Interesting, Adam and Kris looked relaxed and Danny's stressed. Oh Danny admits to being stressed about the wait. That's what he gets for never being in the bottom 3.

9:49 Um, what is she wearing?

9:52 Not exactly a memorable song. The outfit was far more memorable.

9:56 Finally Here it is

9:56 And the first finalist is: Kris Allen!!!! Look at the look of surprise on all the judges faces! Sorry folks, you don't know everything! Take that! Good job Kris!

9:57 And he faces Adam Lambert!!!

9:58 It's my matchup that I've been expecting (I wanted Allison vs Kris but was realistic because America didn't like Allison).

9:59 We get to say goodbye to Danny and his good, predictable, unsurprising singing.

9:59 Danny sings goodbye to everyone, as time runs out. And, of course, he sings his slow, predictable, oddly phrased lament. Admittedly, it's tough to hit those falsettos when you're choked up.

10:00 I have to say, I hope he finally gets to grieve for his wife. He never really had enough time to grieve for her when the audition happened. I mean, come on people, it takes a while to get over that sort of thing. And now that the crass commercialization of her death is over, he can actually feel his lamentations.

10:02 Simon didn't expect tonight. Ummm he said this could be a real big ding dong... Ummm

10:03 Ummm

10:04 Ummm

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Final 3 - American Idol - 2009 May 12

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7:43 Getting ready for the show. Trying to follow the micro-blogging format for the moment. Not sure if it'll work, but hey, I'm in a hotel room and so there's not much else to do.

7:44 So many new ways of trying out the blogging. I had a post-results blog last week.

7:50 And this micro-blogging is very different from my past blogs. Check out last week's format, one that I've used for the past couple years.

7:52 Start already!

8:00 These are your top three - three unsmiling statues. stern and stoic.

8:02 Here come the guys, and this time they're allowed to smile

8:03 Paula picks Danny Gokey's song: "Dance Little Sister" by Terrance Trend d'Arby

8:04 Oh he's starting it pretty upbeat. And sort of loud and breathy. Why is he so mad at his little sister? He's sort of commanding her to dance. Hmm, I miss Cookie and Archie's dancing last year.

8:06 It was alright in energy I guess, but not particularly fun to watch. Kara said something I agree with: It wasn't something that we'd remember.

8:07 So Paula sips the Danny juice?

8:08 Boy the judges get alot of airtime! Danny's fanbase will vote at 866-IDOLS-01, 866-IDOLS-04 and 866-IDOLS-07.

8:10 Finally a commercial. Isn't it amazing how much time is wasted? I don't understand why we get only two songs from each singer instead of 3 like years past. What happened to Clive? Did he kick the bucket?

8:14 Kara and Randy picked something for Kris - why does he have a blue fingernail? He's supposed to sing "Apologize" by New Republic.

8:15 Kris is singing this straight and not big. I like it this way, though I think David Archuleta's take last year had a catchier arrangement.

8:16 Hmmm what's with that falsetto? Oh good he's staying away from it. I like Kris's folksy sound. Oh dear, if he's going to play the piano (with closeups of his playing), please wash those hands!

8:17 Randy liked it. Kara thought it just competent. Paula pointed out a bum note. Simon bashed not Kris but the judges

8:20 Kris is 866-IDOLS-02, 866-IDOLS-05 and 866-IDOLS-08. Poor guy didn't have a chance to talk before the commercial.

8:25 Simon will have Adam sing "One" by U2 and he's name-dropping Ambassador Bono's name.

8:26 He started it out in an amazingly slow and unacted manner. I really like it when he does this. It's so tender and sweet when he's simple and plain.

8:27 Out comes the high notes. I liked the tender part more. He returned to the simple part after the very short loud part. They showed his boyfriend there for a moment and then focused on his proud papa.

8:28 A love fest for Adam. They really just want to hand him the gosh darn tiara now. Last year, they sort of wanted to do the same for Archie but David Cook's fans disagreed.

8:31 Wow 3 minutes of loving blather before the commercial! Adam is 866-IDOLS-03, 866-IDOLS-06 and 866-IDOLS-09.

8:35 Idol gives back overview... Carrie Underwood does the report.

8:39 And now back to commercials... So, we miss out on an extra song from each singer, we miss out on the homecoming coverage, and we instead get something that they could have shared with us in weeks past? What a rip off! I thought this was a singing competition!

8:43 Danny Gokey gets to talk about himself. Of course, he's going to do "You are so beautiful" by Joe Cocker.

8:44 He's starting it soft and simple, which is quite a surprise for him. I don't think he's ever sung like this before. Though his phrasing is similar.

8:45 He just broke out into his loud section. He ended it rather simply, which for him is a good thing.

8:46 Ok, so everybody just oozed on him.

8:49 Kris is singing "Heartless" by Tanye West... Interesting

8:50 Ooh, acoustic guitar solo. NICE. Wow, he's all out there on his own. Very hot. I love that he did this thing so true to himself. This was awesome - I'll totally love downloading this one.

8:51 Randy loved it more than the original! Kara called it fearless. Paula had a muted response. Simon loved it.

8:58 Adam will be doing "Crying" from Aerosmith. Oh, this is gonna be a loud one. There he goes, he's scaling it up and down all 17 octaves in his range. Hmm, it's really too much in some ways because he was just trying to show off his stuff, like a diva flexing her breasts.

9:01 Everyone's sucking up, including Simon.

9:02 No matter how he polarizes the audience, I do like the way Adam always compliments everyone he can. It's so nice. Nobody else on the show has done that to his extent.

How did I like the six songs? Here they are in my order
1. Kris #2
2. Adam #1
3. Adam #2
4. Danny #2
5. Kris #2
6. Danny #1

Voting for Kris and Adam... See ya again real soon!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ain't Misbehavin - and Ain't Bad

I think back to my review of Jersey Boys and how, though I thoroughly enjoyed the music and acting, found the book to be weak. Well Ain't Misbehavin' doesn't even bother with a story.

It's really a musical revue, with a well-selected array of Fats Waller music to enjoy. The singing and posturing (there wasn't a story so it's tough to call it acting) were well done, though I have to say that it might be time to consider new actors. We watched basically the same cast as most audiences of the past 25 years. Lovely voices, great performances, but somewhat oddly out of place when the songs were supposed to be performed by younger adults.

Nonetheless, some numbers were appreciably enjoyable. Honeysuckle Rose was a joy, as was the amusing You're Feet's Too Big.

Eugene Barry-Hill
Doug Eskew
Aermelia McQueen
Roz Ryan
Debra Walton

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bye Bye Allison! Recapping American Idol Final 4

I knew it was going to be a tough week. These were my four favorites as the Finals round developed. I'm sort of the mindset that I'd be happy with any one of these four going on and winning. More importantly, as the Daughtry, Aiken, Hudson, et al examples show, losing isn't exactly that bad either.

First off, Ryan mentioned repeatedly that the order in which they were making announced Top 3 finalists were not in any numeric sequence. That means: they wanted to milk the drama. The longer we stay tuned, the more commercials we watch and the greater the odds that American persistently remains the top show in the country.

So what's with all the news articles and blogs that announce "Shocker, Kris saved"? Was he that bad? I don't think so. I believe that Adam was the only one whose song choice was perfect for him for Rock night. All three remaining were susceptible to voter disinterest after a poorer song choices.

I do know were song choice influenced me. Danny's choice of a song where he could to scream makes some sense, since he does like to belt it out. But his best performance of the finals so far has been during Rat Pack week, where he was original and restrained that scream of his. And of all songs to scream to, why on earth would he pick one that was so fraught with peril during a live performance? That's moxy, yes, but not exactly good strategy.

I'm really disappointed that Allison will be going home. I am certain that she'll be on the radio. How can you keep that preternaturally mature (for a 17yo) voice down? It's like last year's David Archuleta. A man voice in a boy body - it's just too good to keep quiet. But Allison's good fortune is that she knows what she excels in, tailors songs to her sound, and has the maturity to know that her sound may or may not be for everyone.

And, awww, she held herself together pretty well and didn't cry alot. Not bad for a 17yo.

So I'm in quandry. Who do I want to see in the finals?

I love Adam's voice, mostly when it's restrained. I enjoy his glam rock singing, but I've never been a fan of glam rock performances. I love Freddie Mercury's singing and am a huge Queen fan, but I bet I'd have alot of raised eyebrow action going on if I attended one of their concerts. Most of Adam's numbers come off too strong for me, so it's best if I just listen to him on iTunes. Or watch him take over Broadway.

I love Kris's interpretations and quirky folk rock sound. I bet he can do well fronting a band with a similar sound. For the most part, I'm assuming that it will lean country. Most of the songs I've downloaded from iTunes this season have been Kris's and Allison's. He's a good listen and I would enjoy seeing his honest humility in the top 2.

Danny's voice I've always liked. But he's lost the key a few times too many for me and played it unremarkably safe. It's a shame really, since he voice has alot of potential to come out swinging. He'd make a fine solo artist. What unnerves me, though, is his similarity to Taylor Hicks. Taylor had a great soul sound. Taylor looked silly dancing. Taylor had a peculiar look. Taylor looked like he was older than everyone else. Taylor remained conservative with his sound. Sound familiar? Now, Taylor won American Idol, so the ingredients in and of themselves aren't bad. But he hasn't exactly been a commercial success.

So who to pick? I can't decide until I hear them. Based on my downloads, I may want to see Adam and Kris. No matter how it turns out next week, though, I'm sure I'll be happy because this has been a really enjoyable final group of 4.

And you?
a) What was your impression of Allison's good bye?
b) Who do you want to see in the Final Two?
c) What will be the most surprising thing we'll see next week?

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Final 4 - American Idol 2009 May 5

Woohoo - American Idol is on Cinco de Mayo... So, I'm combining Cinco de Mayo with Idol... Taking a tequila shot whenever we hear Randy's "da bomb", feel Simon's wrath, smell Kara's pits, or ogle Paula's well, you know....

So it's Rock night. This will clearly favor Adam and Allison. I saw a blog that referred to these two as "Adison", so I'll stick with that nickname. Adison should rock out tonight. Kranny (Kris and Danny) will be ermmmm less likely to do well, IMHO.

So we have Slash from Guns N Roses here to deliver sage counsel to these kids. Interesting. Wondering if his neurons will be misfiring like Keith Richards... Hmm, so far he's understandable.

5701 or 1866-idols05 Adam Lambert
Whole Lot of Love Led Zep
Of course Adam would do this song, which is on everyone's favorite rock list. Adam wants to kill this week and I bet he's going to. He looks like Robert Plant meets Queen. Dang. I have to start with a score of 50? This will be a weird range of scores tonight then. He's not working on the improv notes like he typically does. OK, I get it. It gives alot more power to his voice if he holds back. Scoring starts at 50. He killed. He's definitely a rock star.

So far, no tequila shots. Kara is wearing a jacket and Paula's hiding her cleavage.

5702 or 1866-idols06 Allison Iraheta
Cry Baby - Janis Joplin
Aww Poor Allison. She has to follow that great performance. Slash repeated Simon in his critique and said that Allison needs to be less fearful. Hmm surprised she's doing this number. Starts slow and quiet and then unfurls that voice. Her hair is toned down this week. Look at those pants! I like her performance but I'm hearing a couple of uncertain notes. I wish she chose a better song for herself. She sang it well though. Score 35. Finally, she's getting spunky and not just smiling and taking it.

Hmmm I'm taking a shot anyway - Simon's been all nice and Randy's not used the word bomb. What's up with tonight?

Kris Allen and Danny Gokey - Renegade - Styx
I love Styx, but these guys look ummm angry. Kris is wearing some serious leather tonight. Danny looks like he's just come in from a job interview. They're not even working with each other. Ooh, finally, nice harmonies. This song really showcases Danny more than Kris.

Paula cleavage sighting. Tequila shot.

Ooh, Kris did not look happy. Maybe it's because his pants are too tight. I suspect it's because Danny had the better parts in that duet.

5703 or 1866-idols07 Kris Allen
Come Together - Beatles
He's doing Come Together? Oh Kris... not sure about this. Not sure his voice is strong enough. Beatlemaniacs like me know... Slash didn't seem too impressed either. Oh I dunno. Kris isn't stoned enough to do this number. He's too cleancut to say these high lyrics. It's an ok performance so far. Not really the type of kick butt performance that got me to favor him the past few weeks, but he's got a good interpretation on it. Ooh, Simon didn't like it - it was too safe. (Tequila shot) Score 30.

5704 or 1866-idols08 Danny Gokey
Dream On - Aerosmith
Oh he cannot be doing this song. The final scream should have deterred him. So far a nice starting sound but I'm hearing some off notes. He does the chorus part ok so far. He changed outfits. Now he's dressed like he's conducting a job interview. Oh no the falsetto is coming. OOOOOOO NO. Danny. Danny. Someone killed Danny. Someone killed my eardrums. What on earth was that? Score 15. Song choice is everything sometimes, and murderous final notes is indeed bad. Huh, he didn't think it was bad? Ummm....

Thanks Simon. (Tequila shot)

Wow, what an interesting night so far. I think it's turning out as everyone expected. Adam and Allison are rocking out and Kris and Danny are struggling.

Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert - Slow Ride - Foghat
I love this song. They're singing together and it's a balanced number by equals. And in contrast to the two guys, these two look like they're having fun!

Ooh, who did Danny piss off. While replaying the phone numbers, they replayed that awful scream by Danny. Poor thing.

OK that wraps it up... I love all these 4 singers so it's a tough choice. I think they went in the order they sang tonight.

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Broadway Idol - Constantine Maroulis

As a prelude to tonight's American Idol Rawk-fest, one of AI's better-known rockers of years past has succeeded on the Great Broad Way. Yup Season 4 finalist Constantine Maroulis has been nominated for a Tony Award. According to the still solvent L.A. Times he was nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

If you haven't heard much about Rock of Ages, it did receive a few Tony nominations. According to their website, it features music of JOURNEY, NIGHT RANGER, STYX, REO SPEEDWAGON, PAT BENATAR, TWISTED SISTER, POISON, ASIA, and WHITESNAKE.

His competition is pretty tough. He's competing against the three boys starring in "Billy Elliot, The Musical", one of my favorite musicals of the past few years. Though I preferred the London showing, the US performances were still exquisite.

American Idol has really been a hit on stage, if not as much on iTunes. Diana DeGarmo of season 3 made her Broadway debut in Hairspray . Other idol finalists and semi-finalists on New York stages include Clay Aikens (Spamalot), Tamyra Gray (Bombay Dreams), Josh Strickland (Tarzan), and Frenchie Davis (Rent), and LaToya London (Color Purple). Jennifer Huson has made several appearances in various musicals. Constantine has also shown in Wedding Singer.

Constantine stands to do better in the Tony standings than he did under American Idol. On Idol, he was voted off in the 6th place position. In New York, there will only five nominees to compete against.

David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish - Billy Elliot, The Musical
Gavin Creel - Hair
Brian d’Arcy James - Shrek The Musical
Constantine Maroulis - Rock of Ages
J. Robert Spencer - Next to Normal

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