Tuesday, May 22, 2012

American Idol Finale Review and Recap - May 23, 2012 - Who is your American Idol?

Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez are young singers who pretty much have nothing, and I mean nothing, musically in common. They differ in height, gender, coast, wardrobe, hairiness, and musical choices.

1. Jessica Sanchez - Don't Walk Away from Me (Whitney Houston)

Whitney is a good choice for her. It's almost weird to think that a Whitney song is considered safe, but for her big voice, it really is. Surprisingly, she didn't pull out all the stops on this one. She held back. You could hear some nervousness, but she seemed to get past it pretty well.

2. Phillip Phillips - Stand By Me (Ben E King)

He changed it up again. Slight nervousness like Jessica. But his prop of the guitar really helps calm him down. I liked the change up, but it didn't highlight his musicality as much as it did Jessica.

Round 1 - Jessica

1. Jessica- The Prayer (Yolanda Adams)

She's going for ballads tonight. I love her sound, but as someone who grew up in a Filipino home, her song choices are almost predictable for girls with singing aspirations on the karaoke machine. Nice money note. Still very restrained, somewhat dull outside of the money note. Lovely falsetto - great range for a 16 year old.

2. Phillip - Moving Out (Billy Joel)

He toned this song way down. I'm surprised because he needs to amp up the excitement factor to win the votes. I like the sound, as this one is much better and more confident than the first number. Hmm that was an abrupt ending.

Round 2 - Jessica

1. Jessica - Change Nothing (Pedro Costa)

Not exactly expecting to say this, but Jessica actually had a few flat notes in this number. I'm shocked. How did she go through most of the season spot on and then come out flat in her last number? I think she should have really powered this one up.

2. Phillip - Home

Clever sound. Almost retro in many respects. He didn't go for his normal kickaround sound like he's done all season tonight. This might put some of his regular fans off, but the people out there might really enjoy it. I liked it because he actually sounded pretty sincere vocally.

Round 3 - Phillip

OH NICE - Scott McCreary is singing the final song to end the night. He's really felt comfortable in his sound all year long. I'm happy that's he's doing well and selling albums.

So, who will win? It's tough to say. Phillip has been the season-long favorite. I thought he was struggling tonight until that final song. Tomorrow's finale episode goes 2 hours 17 minutes long, so we'll have to just wait and see!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

American Idol Finals 2012 - Preview of Jessica vs Phillip

Last week, it was the final three that many, including me, had predicted from the beginning of the season. I'm pretty sure that if you look at my posts, Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez, and Phillip Phillips were near the top of most every show.

But in the end, typical voting patterns had to be bumped up against the performances. And Phillip was clearly the strong choice of the strongest voting block, the teenage girl, and every year they have one or two heart throb choices. He edged out Colton Dixon this year for that vote.

That left Jessica and Joshua. I'm still amazed that Jessica was voted off, but not at all surprised that she was saved. Her showing in the finals confirms that the judges saw America taking her vote for granted. They clearly did not want a Jennifer Hudson repeat, which is why the "save" came about in the first place.

Joshua has been consistently strong all season. In fact, he has been more consistent that Jessica and Phillip. But that doesn't necessarily translate to votes. His powerful singing style is reminiscent of older singers, but I thought that would translate to fewer youth votes.

I'm undoubtedly very happy that Jessica and Phillip are in the finals, as they have been my sentimental favorites throughout this season. I can't say I favor one or the other. The Filipinos will come out strong for Jessica and the Southern vote will come out strong for Phillip. In some ways, I wouldn't mind seeing a girl win, as it's been a while.

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson should be commended for their excellent stewardship of these contestants. This batch of finalists, with a wonderful May of competitions, probably ranks as one of the best.

Can't wait for the finals!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

American Idol Final 3 Review and Recap - May16, 2012 - Who will go home?

After watching today's rehearsal to tonight's show, I was afraid I'd find this show less interesting, but I suspect it will be insightful and an enjoyable retreat.

It's fun to see the stage and audience of rehearsal in comparison to a packed auditorium, with all the musicians and backup singers in their costumes.

 Round 1 - The judges give the performers the songs they're supposed to sing.

1. Joshua Ledet - I'd Rather Be Blind (Etta James) - Introduced by Randy Jackson

This is nicely saucy and he works the mike and falsettos with grace and ease. He's got natural showmanship, I loved the way he did that finger move above his lip. He's wonderfully emotional and man that final scat is just ridiculous for a guy this young.

2. Jessica Sanchez - My All (Mariah Carey) - Introduced by Jennifer Lopez

JLo selected this song so that Jessica can be tender and emotional. She's technically very good, but there's a coldness there. Or maybe because she's so young that she couldn't connect to emotional level. But she didn't pick the song; the judges did. So I have to give her credit for doing it as well as she did.

3. Phillip Phillips - Begging (Madcon) - Introduced by Steven Tyler

This song really works for his style. He's really working the girls in the audience. I love the way he went into that quiet acoustic moment where he didn't have the band behind him. That was a nicely entertaining  musical spin on the number. This could have been a real concert.

 Round 1 Ranking 
 Round 2  - Contestants pick their own numbers

1. Joshua - Imagine (John Lennon)

He's pretty much the contestant who most connects to the song emotionally. Clearly that upbringing in the church allows him to work the audience as though he were in a pulpit or choir loft. I really liked he held back from his normal way of revving it up. Interestingly, he changed out of his awful jacket that he wore at rehearsal this morning and wore a black tux.

2.  Jessica - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Aerosmith)

Always tough to hear this song without thinking of David Cook's wonderful version. But this rendition is marvelous. She actually seems to get the emotional parts of the words, which she sometimes lacks. The turquoise jewelry is bigger than her torso! Ooh, that final money note is incredible.

3.  Phillip - Disease (Matchbox20)

I really liked the way he took this song apart and made it more funky, jazzy, smoky. He really seems so much more at home holding the guitar. So interesting the way he shirks the money money note Jessica yearns for. Like my statement last week, when left to his own devices, he chooses pretty safe stuff for himself.

 Round 2 Ranking 

 Round 3  - Jimmy picks their numbers

1. Joshua - No More Drama (Mary J Blige)

Perfect song choice for him. He's moving around a lot, but his vocal style for this is quite strong and emotionally gripping.

2.  Jessica - I'll Be There (Jackson 5)

Not a thrilling song choice for me, but she seemed to handle it very well. I think that at this part of the competition, every little over the top flourish can add a few votes. Given how close this competition is, and that she had been saved a month ago, this might not have been enough. But it sounded good.

3.  Phillip - We've Got Tonight (Bob Seger)

Well, look at that, he's singing the original melody! Man, this was a really good song choice for him. He really connected with it and made it so sweet and sexy. It was so passionate that Steven Tyler couldn't keep from getting bleeped.
 Round 3 Ranking 


So what was my cumulative result?

 Final Ranking 

THIS IS TOUGH! I like them all. But it's still a competition and every little bit counts. I'll be happy no matter who continues to next week. Who did you think will go on next week?

Want to see my review of the rehearsal? Or maybe you want to review last week's show?

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American Idol - Review of the Rehearsal for the Top 3- 2012 May 16

I scored invitations to the rehearsal at CBS Studios this afternoon. It started about 12pm, though we had to line up starting 11am near the Grove here in Los Angeles.

It's been a while since I took the time to watch a tv show getting taped as an audience member. It's been longer since I've been in rehearsals for such a tv show. To be honest, it was somewhat tedious. But it was exciting to get to watch the Final 3 of American Idol rehearse.

First, before the performances, we got to meet Ryan Seacrest. He's actually a seemingly nice and smart guy. In fact, there was one point where he made a suggestion to change his lines so they were more interesting and vibrant. Clever and helpful! He was chatting with Nigel Lythgoe, the American Idol producer, who sat in the middle judge seat the entire time.

Two of the judges were there for most of the rehearsal: Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler. They were clearly interested in watching the performances. What struck me as particularly impressive, however, was their willingness to go out of the way to chat up the kids who came to the rehearsal. I really enjoyed how Steven Tyler talked at length to a young girl in a wheel chair and then went up and got an autograph from Phillip Phillips for her. Classy!

When Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet, and Jessica Sanchez came out, they first filmed them standing sternly. I never noticed that when they start the show, the camera swirls around the contestants in outfits that they aren't wearing that day. It's the costumes from the previous week. That's because they filmed the final three in groups of two, in case Phillip and Joshua were the final two, or Phillip and Jessica, or Joshua and Jessica. Amusingly, Phillip and Joshua were playfully elbowing each other and trying to not giggle as they were being filmed. It just reminds you that these contestants are just kids, none of whom is allowed to have a drink at the bar after the show.

Now the performances. Oops. No, I won't ruin your enjoyment. Let's just say I can't imagine who America will pick, because they were all so very good.

So... I'll leave that review for the actual show. See you in a few hours!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

American Idol Final Four Review and Recap - May 9, 2012

The Theme for tonight is Songs that Personally Inspire

01.  Phillip Phillips - Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Standard Phillip song. Sounded fine but was really too predictable for him. I wish he did something that showed his range better than this piece.

02. Hollie Cavanagh - Faithfully

Really good song choice. Lots of money notes for her to work. Still the pitchiest of the remaining contestants but America doesn't seem to care.

03. Joshua Ledet - You Lift Me Up

He builds up so carefully and so impressively. He brings it all to such a marvelous conclusion. Joshua has a very professional sound and I can imagine him selling lots of albums.

04. Jessica Sanchez - Steal Away

She's got a a totally revved up sound compared to Eta's version. And it shows how much power she's got in that tiny body. It's not the catchiest rendition to do, but it givers her a great chance for an amazing money note and closing

Phillip and Joshua duet - She Said Goodbye Too Many Times Before

This song definitely works for both of them, with a slight edge to Phillip. Neither boys are imparting enough angst-ridden sensuality though. They do the ramp up very well, but I wish they'd harmonize and work their voices together more. On the whole, though, much better than last week's duet.

Hollie and Jessica duet - Eternal Flame

Hmm, not a really fair song considering what the men just had to sing together. Oh Oh. Hollie is way off key to start. Yikes in the second verse, Jessica hit a weird low note. And Hollie still wandering vocally.  Not happy with this number at all for either of them.

Foursome - I've Been Waiting 

This was a really odd arrangement for the group to sing. It totally did not work.

Part 2 - The next songs are numbers that the singers wished that they wrote.

1. Phillip - Volcano

This is so sincere and authentic. It's surprisingly moody and touching. Maybe I like it because he's not grimacing excessively and twitching his leg. This might be the best performance he's done all season long. It totally sounds unplugged.

2. Hollie - You Can't Make Me Love You

It wasn't really the right song for her. She had no opportunity to shine. I think the songs that have kept her alive far longer than she should have lasted all had one thing in common: powerful money notes. She didn't have a chance to show off.

3. Joshua  - This is a Man's World

Wow. I mean, wow. That is so compelling. I can't believe how much soulfulness he can drive with that voice of his. This should be a hit single by itself. Seriously good howls and I love the way he varies his verbalisms. Simply amazing.

4. Jessica - And I'm Telling You

She jazzes it up big time. I love the idea that she was powering it up with the threat a few weeks ago that she was going home prematurely. Dang, and she's acting it out as well. Is she actually tearing up? It's even more amazing that she's not a huge buxom gospel singer. That money note! Outstanding!

Ranking for this Part

1. Joshua
2. Jessica
3. Phillip
4. Hollie

I cannot even decide. I feel sorry for America in picking a winner here. I do know that given what I've seen, I'd like to see Joshua, Jessica and Phillip next week.

Don't forget to see last week's review of the Top Five!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

American Idol Recap and Review - Top 5 - 2012 May 2

Steven Van Zandt is the mentor. The dynamic between him and Jimmy is sort of funny - almost as though they're just trying to say opposite things.

Round 1 - 60s music

1. Hollie Cavanagh - "River Deep Mountain High"

Her low notes and bridges still are suspicious but she has a nice tone when she belts. Looks good tonight and sounds very in charge.

2. Phillip Phillips - "The Letter"

He sings it with that typical Phillip nerd rock sound. It's a solid sound, but he does maim the original melody. His face needs a laxative before getting on the show.

3. Skylar Laine - "Fortunate Son"

The mentors did a good job redirecting her song choice. This is a much better tune for her sound. Her dancing is spastic, but her sound is great. She might be rising to be my favorite.

Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet - "You've Lost that Loving Feelin"

This is creepy and antiseptic, especially for such a sensual song. At least Joshua's working the song better, especially the falsettos.

4. Jessica Sanchez - "Proud Mary"

She's handling the song with lots of great verve, and she definitely has a big voice. But the song itself might be too Tina for her to take it on.

5. Joshua Ledet - "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"

He really seems like a throwback from the 60s. It's amazing how natural he is in the R&B scene.

Results Round 1 - Top to Bottom

Hollie continues to rise and impress. She's totally doing a Syesha Mercado on me, where she looked risky all season long but gets better and better. Syesha ended up third in the famous David vs David year (Archuleta vs Archuleta), so she did pretty darn well.

Round 2 - British songs

1. Hollie - "Keep Bleeding"

That was lovely. Normally, I think she sounds best when she belts, but there she really sounded great without the overpowering sound. She's peeking at the right time.

2. Phillip - "It's the Time of the Season"

The sound is hot, but he's flat and when he goes falsetto it's scary.

Hollie, Jessica, and Skylar - "You Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher"

That was ok. It wasn't powerful enough, but the vocals were fine.

3. Skylar - "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"

What a nice transition from a ballad to a powerful money note. That was really very good.

4. Jessica - "You Are So Beautiful"

Nice money note. A sweet, restrained and surprisingly delicate sound during most of the song. That was excellent.

5. Joshua - "Love Somebody"

Wow - that was tremendous. He smacked that song silly.

Result of Round 2 - Top to Bottom

Well, this seems to be the results of today's contest. I don't want to say bye bye to Phillip yet, but he keeps performing songs that just aren't vote getters and that last number was painful.

Jessica and Hollie

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

American Idol Top 6 - Review 2012 April 25

Top 6 - Night of Queen

Wow, I'm not normally a fan of the group numbers but this group number just does no justice to Queen's legendary music. Roger Taylor and Brian May sound good like always, but seriously, they look more like Uncle Fester's relatives than rockers.

1. Jessica Sanchez "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Not her best effort but vocally she's really starting to own the stage.

2. Skylar Laine "The Show Must Go On"

Hmm, just like Jessica, she seems to be struggling with the rock format. Vocally she's doing reasonably, but it's almost like she's just trying to survive. Money note was fine.

3. Joshua Ledet "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

Nice interpretation. He really feels comfortable with his vocal style. Excellent

4. Elise Testone "I Want It All"

One odd note to start. Very rocker and powerful. Not sure if the tv audience enjoyed, but she did well.

5. Phillip Phillips "Fat Bottom Girls"

He's singing it flat to me, and he's sucking the melody out of the number. It is a good choice for him though because it fits his vocal style.

6. Hollie Cavanaugh "Save Me"

Some odd notes but she fixed it for the money note. It was a less than impressive rendition.

Rankings Top to Bottom

1. Jessica

Oh she's back to doing a ballad and is clearly in her element. That was so tender and lovely.

2. Skylar

She's equally in her element here. She is so at home here and her vocals soar.

3. Joshua

He did pretty well. I liked that vocal again.

4. Elise

It was an ok song to me. She sounded fine, but the song choice might be the problem.

5. Phillip

I totally did not get that song choice. He sounded ok, but that was a weird song for the competition.

6. Hollie

Wow, she's really coming on strong as the season progresses. She's totally doing a Syesha late run to me.

Rankings Top to Bottom

Combined, my rankings Top to Bottom are

Jessica tied with Joshua

Skylar tied with Elise

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moliere's The Bungler at A Noise Within - 2012 April 22

Moliere's Bungler is a masterpiece, but there's no doubt that the translation could easily leave today's audience cold.

The masterful folks at A Noise Within in Pasadena, California, however, once again impressed. They added delightful musical elements to reinforce the comic moments. Who knew a sousaphone could be so funny? "Spain"!

We laughed and smiled throughout. It didn't feel like an ancient work at all. The cleverly translated prose was a joy.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

American Idol Top 7 (again) - Review 2012 April 18

Top 7 - Second Chance - Songs of the past decade and Soul Train songs

Going to be a really tough show I think.

1. Hollie Cavanagh

Adele is big and this song fits her voice. First time throughout this competition where I thought she sounded good.

2. Colton Dixon

Lady Gaga? Really? Nice try on the rock sound, but he's not as butch as she is so it's not really working for me. Really weird faces today. Some bad low notes.

3. Elise Testone

Wow, this is so low. Her performance is always nice and slick, but it's not a wow song. It was a solid performance though.

4. Philip Phillips

Like Elise, this song isn't memorable. But he did it quite well with tremendous restraint, sex appeal and great vocals.

5. Jessica Sanchez

Love the stage. This is a really good performance, though not as sensual as it could be. This girl has some amazing vocal control at her age.

6. Skylar Laine

Skylar does Gaga with a twang? Hmm, not sure about this version. The performance is good though. Nice money note.

7. Joshua Ledet

Love his vocals. It's really good for his voice and he seems to feel at ease singing this.

Ranking from Top to Bottom for Song 1 Jessica Hollie Joshua Philip Elise Skylar Colton

Soul Train

1. Hollie

Good song choice. Not as good as her first song, because her flat notes came back. Good money note.

2. Colton

Love the stage but this performance did not do much to impress me. There were a couple flat notes. The interpretation was nice.

3. Elise

Her voice is quite competent but there's a detachment there that makes it seem less exciting. She needs a better song.

4. Philip

That was a wonderful song choice, rendition and vocal for him

5. Jessica

For a song about Tenderness, she pounded it into the ground. I mean, she sounded great but she's always so much on steroids. She's a lot stronger than the last couple weeks.

6. Skylar

She's got natural entertainer skills. I liked this one more than the first one.

7. Joshua

His vocals are quite strong. I can see him selling records if he can keep the stress of homesickness at bay.

Ranking from Top to Bottom for Song 1 Joshua

So what's the final ranking for the night? This is tough. I'll arrange them as follows.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Billy Elliot at the Pantages Theater 2012 April 13

First let me start with a simple comment : Billy Elliot is my favorite musical for the decade 2000-2009.

Given that, it's tough to capture some of the vitality and political power from the London productions. This is my fourth time catching this show (2 in London and 1 on Broadway).

I was disappointed that the giant dancing dresses were reduced to human sized mannequins. It totally reduced the fantasy element of the Michael and Billy's number. And, just like my disappointment with the Broadway version, the lack of a real elevator at the end of the play reduced some of the impact of the final song.

The dancing, though, was phenomenal as always. The performers were quite impressive for a road show all around.

If there was a significant disappointment, it was in Billy's voice. I'll decline to say which Billy we had, but he may have just recently gone through puberty and his voice seemed less than adept.

On the whole, we were satisfied with the production.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

American Idol - Top 7 - Reviewing "Saving Jessica Sanchez"

FOX must be trying to rev up the ratings. Or maybe Facebook and Google aren't doing enough to promote American Idol this year.

Because this can't be right. Seriously, It's Jennifer Hudson / Chris Daughtry all over again.

Thank goodness for "The Save". Jessica Sanchez, young and still growing (literally) in front of our eyes, just cannot go this early.

As a reminder, here were my rankings from the other night, top to bottom.
Skylar Laine
Elise Testone
Joshua Ledet
Jessica Sanchez
Philip Phillips
Colton Dixon
Hollie Cavanaugh

It's exactly as American Idol presented.

Except the wrong threesome appeared in the bottom 3!

What on earth is going on here? It's the first time this year that I've totally batted out on my prediction. 

Anyway, it sounds like I'll have to spend a couple hours every Wednesday night once more making sure that I vote. I vote for things I care about (local, state, federal elections, American Idol season 7 and 8) and when I think there's an injustice (Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry). I was pretty shocked that weak in weak out week in week out Hollie would be going home finally, but this just seemed wildly off.

Just my two cents. We'll see what happens next week!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

American Idol Top 7 - Review 2012 April 11

Top 7 Review

Here we go. We now get to the part of the show where it gets a lot more difficult. The top contestants are pretty much all that's left. We've lost some of the early obvious ones who were not going to win.

There's really only Hollie left who has been consistently close to getting voted off. But that doesn't always suggest bad luck. Syesha was in the bottom a couple times and she ended up with at number 3 and a nice career.

And the theme: Anything from 2010 on...

1. Skylar Laine

She's doing Pickler? The notes were quite good. She carries the country sound really well, and actually sounded better than Pickler on this song.

2. Colton Dixon

He's singing like a colorful emo kid. He's got lots of falsettos in this piece, and he's pretty much on pitch. He did pretty well.

Duet - Philip Phillips and Elise Testone

I love this song and the arrangement worked, but I think their two voices didn't blend together so hot.

3. Jessica Sanchez

She introduced us to her Filipino family and then grows seductively into her big vocals. She's got some pipes.

4. Joshua Ledet

Pretty energetic performance. The looks and vocals were quite good.

Duet - Skylar Laine and Colton Dixon

They do sing well together. They're look like they're enjoying it, too.

5. Hollie Cavanaugh

Powered up, but sort of pitchy.

6. Philip Phillips

It was a nice sound again, but his facial ticks are now starting to get on my nerve.

Trio - Joshua Ledet, Jessica Sanchez, and Hollie Cavanaugh

It's way too low for all three of them. It sounds creepy

7. Elise Testone

Gaga song - sounded really good for her voice.

My Rankings, top to bottom:








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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

American Idol Top 8 - Review 2012 April 4

Top 8 - Music of the 80s

1. DeAndre Brackensick

Somewhat tepid falsetto tonight to me. The scales are nice, and he looks very casual, but it's not very assertive. Why are they so into him?

2. Elise Testone

She's very polished. The slower parts were weaker, pretty flat, but her finale was very good.

Duet : Colton and Skylar
Fairly predictable Islands in the Stream. They don't really have good chemistry, but Skylar's voice matches this piece especially.

3. Philip Phillips

He's got his sound on with Genesis, but there are a couple flat notes. The weird faces and ticks are getting creepy.

Duet: DeAndre and Hollie
What is she wearing? Her voice fits the song pretty well.

4. Joshua Ledet

It's a good song choice for him, but I am starting to get biased because I think he overdoes it. Had no idea he was that young.

5. Jessica Sanchez

Like Joshua, she can over do it, but in this song she holds back nicely. Nice money notes. She's so young and sounds so good.

Duet: Philip and Elise
They really don't sing with each other, other than via harmony. Big question: Who was actually raspier? Nice sound.

6. Hollie Cavanaugh

She sounds better than last week. Well check that. Started to go off pitch bad. Better money note.

Duet: Joshue and Jessica
Quite a good sound to it. Looked good together

7. Colton Dixon

Good song choice. That was a pretty good interpretation and only had a couple weird notes.

8. Skylar Laine

Excellent. Best of the night.

Joshua Colton


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

American Idol - Top 9 - March 7 2012 - Recap and Review

Top 9 - American Idol
Stevie Nicks is the guest mentor

1. Colton Dixon

Too slow and boring start. He's trying to build up a ton of intensity, but the song isn't helping. One flat note. Not his best. Not getting why the judges are loving him so much.

2. Skyler Laine

She really has the country sound down. She's almost Carrie in her performance style and sound. Excellent

Trio of Colton, Philip, and Elise - Doing Fleetwood Mac
Colton sounds good here. Elise has the look but her dancing is too bouncy. Philip is a touch flat as he impersonates Joe Cocker (I think he feels awkward without a guitar).

3. Heejun Han

Adam Pascal look out because Heejun has your sound down. Surprisingly touching and sensitive. Impressive to say the least.

4. Hollie Cavanaugh

Although the sound of her voice is pleasant enough, it wasn't enough. The flat notes aside, she did better on the lower notes and sounded weaker on the big notes.

5. DeAndre Brackensick

The whole song is done in a strong falsetto, which may sell albums and get on the radio. I usually don't think do well with Idol voters, though.

6. Jessica Sanchez

The vibrato is now starting to get on my nerves. But her sound is quite strong even for a song that is potentially underpowered. Made me think of Celine Dion. Star quality through and through.

Trio Heejun, DeAndre and Joshua - Doing Michael Jackson
Joshua and Heejun seem good for this style but surprisingly DeAndre doesn't sound as at home until he got to do falsetto. TAs a group, there is no feeling of cohesion like the earlier trio, especially when it comes to ugh that dancing.

7. Philip Phillips

Man I love the sound of his voice and his rock sound. I feel like we're already watching his actual concert.

8. Joshua Ledet

Another emotional performance for the night. He sounded better tonight than on previous nights.

Trio of Skyler, Hollie and Jessica doing Madonna
Hollie still sounds weaker than the others to me. Skyler doing pop is surprisingly pitchy and awkward.

9. Elise Testone

Zep? Really? Wow, she pulled it off. Not sure she America wants to see Zep on Idol, but that was a fun, sexy performance. Even the screams worked, and well.

My Top (no particular order)

My Bottom (no particular order)

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

American Idiot - March 24, 2011 - Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

This production of American Idiot impressed me. Typically, I strongly prefer London or Broadway productions over the national tours, but this particular show was executed particularly well.

I last saw American Idiot in July 2010, with the most impressive John Gallegher Jr as Johnny and Tony Vincent as St Jimmy. In this production, Van Hughes (who took over on Broadway) and Scott J Campbell as Tunny were particularly impressive.

The music is of course the main draw of the play. I still think the book is on the weak side and director Michael Mayer's decision to excise some dialog to let the music shine still rankles me. Not that I don't enjoy a rock opera, but a persisten drumbeat of nihilistic rage can IMHO be buttressed by some choice prose sans angry ennui.

Nonetheless, I am stunned that they crammed most of that enormous set from the St James theatre on Broadway into a traveling show. I still love the way the actors move an enormous scaffold, transforming it from a rock altar to a bus in mere moments.

I thought St Jimmy wasn't as menacing and evil under Joshua Kobak, but because of that, it was more apparent (despite the weak dialogue) that St Jimmy was really Johnny's expressed Id. I don't know why I didn't notice their matching jackets at the nightclub before, but in this production it helped highlight the psychological problems that a drug addled youth experiences.

Dancing still stellar. I love the choreography, especially during the sensual and scary scene with the drugs. And of course, who can't express elation - fantasy or not - at a good aerial ballet between Tunny and Extraordinary Girl.

One thing struck me with this cast in particular. Hughes, Campbell and Kobak had abs and bods of steal. Nice as eye candy, but Johnny and St Jimmy just don't strike me as characters who would think of doing crunches all day long. A small distraction, but it did affect my view of the characters.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

American Idol - Top 10 - March 21 2012 - Recap and Review

American Idol - Top 10 - Billy Joel Night

P Diddy was funny and Tommy Hilfiger was weird.

1. DeAndre

Only the Good Die Young. His voice was ok. Too light in the loafers. And the dancing wasn't exactly impressive.

2. Erika

New York State of Mind. She looks like Adam Lambert with her new hair. Vibrato doesn't match the song, to me.

3. Joshua

She's Got a Way of Talking. Sounds nervous, until he went into his Gospel sound. But I wasn't enjoying the Gospel interpretation.

4. Skyler

Shameless. Another number that was pushed which made it offkey. What is going on tonight?

5. Elise

Vienna. It's the first song tonight where she wasn't trying to overdo the song. Sounds good.

6. Phillip

Moving Out. An interesting take. Almost didn't recognize the melody, but I liked the sound. Vocals were much better than last week.

7. Holle

Honesty. She's always belting out. It doesn't offer enough of a build up. She has some pitch issues here.

8. Heejun

My Life. Now that was a funny albeit unconventional way to start off his song. He's really starting to enjoy the entertaining part. His voice though wasn't at his best. Oh nice change up towards the end.

9. Jessica

Everybody Has a Dream. She has a killer voice. That's all. Best vocal so far tonight.

10. Colton

Piano Man. Great stage. He's really into this song and it shows.



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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

American Idol - Top 11 - March 14 2012 - Recap and Review

Top 11 - Year they were born

Oops. A little undisclosed criminal past brings an end to Jermaine Jones.

1. Phillip Phillips
Nice rock sound again. He's moving like he didn't even have any surgery. Pretty amazing. Only a couple notes that wandered.

2. Jessica Sanchez
That was an amazingly energetic performance for a 16 year old. And that little pause was wonderfully dramatic.

3. Heejun Han
Passable sound, but it could be ramped up some. At least he fixes the notes that start flat.

4. Elise Testone
Nice sound for her voice. Good smokiness.

5. Deandre Brackensick
Glad he changed song but this was still sort of safe and tame. A couple odd notes

6. Shannon Magrane
Not loving the song. Straying flat again this week

7. Colton Dixon
I'm not sure about the song, but it works for his voice.

8. Erica Van Pelt
Oy stop the flat phlegmy sound

9. Skyler Laine
Seems like she has this one down. Mostly on pitch and good sound.

10. Joshua Ledet
He picked a really good song for his voice this week His best song that they've shown

11. Hollie
A good song for her but a couple of flat notes.



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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

American Idol - Top 12 - March 7 2012 - Recap and Review

Men do Stevie and Women do Whitney

1. Joshua Ledet

Interesting sound. More gravel and soul. The dancing looks awkward to me though. Nice scat.

2. Elise Testone

Glad she changed her song but sounds like it was too last minute. The performance is so so. Some of the lower notes are too breathy and she's trying too hard.

3. Erika Van Pelt

Hmm, a couple flat notes to me. Nice build up. Controlled, though might be overly so.

4. Colton Dixon

Nice and sensitive performance. Sounds more on tune when he's not going reedy. Great finish.

5. Shannon Mcgrane

Was sounding ok, but an important note was very icky. Pretty lightweight to me.

6. Deandre Brackensick

His sound isn't my favorite, but he was good. I liked his rhythm and tempo for the piece.

7. Skyler

Good ramp up from a weak start. A strong finish. She impressed

8. Heejun

He's a pretty funny guy. Surprisingly tender tone. Couple odd notes and too safe, but good.

9. Holle

I like her tone but she seemed tentative in the middle. Nice money note with a lovely turn to tender.

10. Jeremy Rosado

It was awkward to me. It didn't feel quite there.

11. Jessica

This is a very risky song. Lovely control. A bit much on some vibrato tricks and too fast on them, but money notes are pretty darned good.

12. Philip Phillips

Great sound for this piece. Good interpretation and entertaining.

My tops:

1. Philip
2. Jessica
3. Skyler

My Bottom:

1. Shannon
2. Jeremy
3. Elise

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Feb 29 - Top 12 Girls American Idol

Top 12 Girls

1. Chelsea Sorrell

Country girl with a gun. Singing in a Carrie Underwood fashion. Slightly flat. Score=50

2. Erika Van Pelt

Blond deep alto. Going for that fierce What About Love thing. Nice. Score=70

3. Jen Hirsh

Agoura Hills girl. A couple of off notes but a good smoky sound. Nice money note. Score=65

4. Brielle Von Hugel

Surrounded by the boys. She's doing the Dock by the Bay. Somewhat pitchy and trying too hard to look sultry. Score=45

5. Hallie Day

Has a husband. Sort of a Marilyn Monroe gal. Nice money note. Smokey sound. Score=60

6. Skyler Laine

Another country girl from a tiny town whose family owns the store. Energetic and good sound, with a fine money note. Score=75

7. Bailey

She was not on pitch at all. Score=30


Texas girl Started pitchy but righted itself once she could start belting. Money note wasn't my fave.

9. Haley Johnson

Looks like a valley girl but sang Sweet Dreams in a deep alto. Not a good choice for me. Not at all on pitch on that money. Score=25

10. Shannon Magrane

16 yo girl whose Dad is a former baseball player. Not sure why she's trying to look and sound older. Nice gospel sound but lacks big pipes. Good money note. Score=60

11. Jessica Sanchez

Flipican? Nice sound, good buildup, and a good stage presence. Money note was ok. Score=70.

12. Elise Testone

Smokey sound doing soul. Was somewhat off but had a good tonality. Score=55

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Feb 28 - Top Guys American Idol

13 Men

1. Reed Grimm

Geek from a family of singers. Not a great song choice for me, but he sounded good. His dancing is sort of Taylor Hicks, which is a touch goofy for me. They liked his song choice, but we didn't recognize it. I thought he was trying to make himself memorable already. Score=60

2. Adam Brock

Looks like a bearded accountant. He has a large black women inside him he said. White Chocolate? It's a nice sound, but fairly safe. Score=55.

3. Deandre Brackensick

Dreadlock Germanic kid. He's going falsetto. It's uneven. He didn't nail his money note. The judges are loving everyone. Score=30.

4. Colton Dixon

Shaggy haired kid whose sister lost out last week. Starts out on the piano and his voice seems reedy. Going for the rocker vote but seems light in the boots for that. Score = 50.

5. Jeremy Rosado

"Care bear" guy who's a bit light in the loafers. I did not like this safe performance. It was uneven to me as well. Score=45

6. Aaron Marcellus

Voice teacher with a retro fedora. His voice is okay but his performance is somewhat forced. Good money note. Score=55

7. Chase Likens

Good-looking Country singing student from Marshall University. Seemed pretty safe. Score=50

8. Creighton

I think he thinks he's on the fabulous side. Ok, he did Cynde Lauper's True Colors with a reasonable sound. Score=55

9. Philip Phillips

Handsome pawn shop guy. Doing Phil Collins with a very bluesy sound. A couple of odd notes but entertaining. Score=65

10. Evan Franckowitz

Young kid from Cincy with a Bieber vibe. Had an off note right at the start. Not a good song choice. He's flat and very tentative. Score=45

11. Heejun Han

Asian guy who's kinda funny. Seemed somewhat tentative but I like the sound of his voice. When he's singing Angel, it's hard for me to separate it from David Cook's awesome rendition. Score=52

12. Joshua Ledet

Southern guy who misses the crawfish. He's got a big gospel sort of voice. Nice money note.

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