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!

My Full Blog

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!

My Full Blog

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?

My Full Blog

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!

My Full Blog

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

My Full Blog