Thursday, December 18, 2008
Don't you just love lists? It's a commonly-shared trait among homo sapiens, for some reason. We're drawn to lists. Do you ever not read a list, when you notice it in a magazine or newspaper, no matter how inane it might be?
I don't think a list would even need a category for people to read it. It could be something like:
1. French Toast
2. Magazine Subscription Inserts
3. Running Water
4. Candle Wicks
5. Snow Tires
And people would read it and argue aloud with the choices. "Well, number five for sure, but definitely not number 3!"
So, not to be left out of the list-making extravaganza, here's my list of my top five video discoveries of 2008:
1. Pop Video - Sixties Edition - Groups - TIE!
THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL - DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC
This isn't the original video that I posted earlier this year. That one, alas, has been removed. I love watching the Lovin' Spoonful perform, chiefly because of the raw enthusiasm of the late Zal Yanovsky. Watch his interaction here with John Sebastian. Infectious!
THE HONEYCOMBS - HAVE I THE RIGHT
I don't know what it is about this song, but I love it. And they hardly ever play it on oldies stations, for some reason. The Honeycombs were a British Invasion band who, as far as I know, had just this one hit. And a girl drummer! The most amazing part, of course, is that they were able to play their electric guitars without plugging them in! Ingenious!
2. Pop Video - Sixties Edition - Solo
DEL SHANNON - RUNAWAY
Here is the late Del Shannon, shooting the breeze with the thinner version of Burton Cummings, talking about the creation of his most famous song. And then! The video morphs into one great performance! Amazing what one can do with an A minor and a G and one killer organ solo!
3. Bluegrass VideoRICKY SKAGGS WITH THE DEL MCCOURY BAND - RAWHIDE
I found this video by accident when I was searching for Ricky Skaggs. And I started watching it, and I said, "Hey!" This is cool! So then I watched it again!
4. Country Duet
DAN SEALS & MARIE OSMOND - MEET ME IN MONTANA
I'd forgotten how much I like Dan Seals. And this duet with Marie Osmond is just pretty. I love watching and listening to this song.
5. Pop Culture - American Idol Edition
JASON CASTRO - DAYDREAM
Let's face it. Pretty much everyone gets sucked in by American Idol every season, so why deny it? Jason Castro was my sentimental favorite of the past season, and I still maintain, if he plays his cards right, he can have a nice career in music. I liked this performance a lot, and no, I'm not biased toward John Sebastian.
So, there you go. Argue among yourselves. But this category is so broad, it's basically argument-proof.
And no, there is no new music here, but 2008 was kind of a bummer for new music. When in doubt, therefore, go with something old and something good.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
I thought it would be fun to just choose the first 10 songs (okay, I went with 12) that came up on my player, and list them here.
I think the music that is on one's mp3 player can reveal a lot about someone's musical tastes (especially is they use the "shuffle" option). So, here's what came up on mine:
CROSBY, STILLS & NASH - TEACH YOUR CHILDREN
MEL CARTER - HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME
JOHN DENVER - TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS
ROSANNE CASH - MY BABY THINKS HE'S A TRAIN
JASON CASTRO (FILLING IN FOR JOHN SEBASTIAN) - DAYDREAM
SHEENA EASTON - 9 TO 5 (MORNING TRAIN)
JOURNEY - OPEN ARMS
THE DOORS - ROADHOUSE BLUES
RAY STEVENS - MISTY
JERRY LEE LEWIS - YOU WIN AGAIN
THE BEACH BOYS - SAIL ON, SAILOR
KEVIN FOWLER - THE LORD LOVES THE DRINKIN' MAN
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Jason has been my "quirky favorite" all season. Not my actual favorite (as readers know), but I was still kind of pulling for him to go far. As far as memorable performances, only David Cook was his equal. I've already pretty much forgotten everyone else.
And then last week, there was all the hype about him "wanting to go home". When I read that article, I was torn between feeling sorry for him and being mad at him for not seeing it through.
Then, when he messed up on both songs Tuesday night, I really began to wonder if he wasn't deliberately sabotaging himself. I actually was so embarrassed for him when he forgot the lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man that I pushed the mute button on my TV.
But, hindsight is a good thing. In his Idol exit interview on EW, he cleared up the "wanting to go home" statement:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jason, I hear you're upset that I printed the quote you gave to me about wanting to go home. Do we need to make peace?
JASON CASTRO: I'm not upset about it. It's cool. I said it.
I'm glad you're standing by what you said. We got a lot of angry mail about that piece.
The fact of the matter that day was I was in a bad mood. I was frustrated with a lot of things. Then I got on the phone with you. I was just not in a good mood. I couldn't find a quiet place to talk to you and I kept walking around. I couldn't focus while we were talking. I don't even remember much of what I said. There are some days that are just like that. You just don't want to do what you are doing.
And he also dispelled my "sabotage" theory:
So, set the record straight. You weren't sabotaging yourself? You didn't want to go home?
I did not want to go home. But at the same time, now that it happened, I'm kind of glad. It all worked out like it was supposed to. I was reaching the point where I couldn't do it anymore. I wasn't able to keep up and it all caught up with me.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what happened with ''Mr. Tambourine Man''? How on earth do you forget the lyrics to that song?
JASON CASTRO: You know, that day I was just scattered. Right before I went on I was just sitting down and adjusting the microphone. I wasn't even settled in when I started. I just forgot where I was. I couldn't believe I forgot those words. Those words are so written on your heart. But I just laughed it off. I don't ever take myself too seriously. I'm still just human. I do wish I hadn't done that, but whatever. It happened for a reason. I think I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
Did you perhaps not want to win so you didn't have to be known as an American Idol winner?
Totally not. I really wanted to make the top three. I just really think the inexperience caught up to me.
To be fair (which the judges generally were not), Jason had to contend with one judge who obviously didn't like him (RJ), one judge who was so eager to criticize him that she had to do it before he actually sang (NB - "Nut Bag"), and one judge who, thankfully, generally gave an honest critique, good or bad.
So, one of the two interesting remaining contestants is now gone. And look what
we're stuck with. Obviously, there is only one person who deserves to win.
And before we leave the Jason topic, a lot was made of his "goofiness", and some of the vague statements he made throughout the season.
However, isn't this a double standard?
Here, in a nutshell is how David Archuleta answers every question:
RYAN: David, what did you think of the judges' statements?
ARCHIE: Well, gee, I don't know.....I just........well, I just don't know. Aw shucks.
(sounds of girls screaming)
RYAN: Okay, great. What do you think has been your biggest challenge thus far in the competition?
ARCHIE: Well, gee, I don't know.....I just........well, I just don't know. Aw shucks.
(sounds of girls screaming)
I guess girls nowadays like their "men" inarticulate.
And I don't want to keep bashing little Archie (okay, I really kinda do), but he could choose any of the 500 songs that shaped rock & roll, and he chose "Love Me Tender"? Oh, I bet David Cook took his song choice, "Hungry Like The Wolf" - ha ha!
And I've said it before, but I will say it again: STOP changing the melody of the songs! Is he incapable of following a simple melody? What the.....?
I really think that the remaining two weeks (is it?) of the season would have been much more interesting with a different top three lineup. Say, for example, David Cook, Jason Castro, Brooke White. Or David Cook, Jason Castro, Michael Johns. Or David Cook, a lamp, and a potholder.
So, we await next week, when Syesha will go home. Then on to the BIG FINALE, when, if there is any justice, David Cook will win. But I'm not betting on it.
I leave you with a Jason Castro performance. It was kind of hard to choose, but I thought it might be good to feature one that I haven't already included in my blog:
JASON CASTRO - HALLELUJAH - "Absolutely Brilliant" ~ Simon Cowell
Okay, just one more. I happened to really enjoy this one:
JASON CASTRO - FOREVER IN BLUE JEANS
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
And let me just get a couple of things off my chest, before I move on....
1. By far, the worst performances (yes, two) of the week were from David Archuleta. Horrible. Especially "America". He couldn't even stay on key. And what's the deal with him always changing the melody to songs? Stop it! It's time for him to just go home. Not that he will.
2. Apparently, I am in the minority when it comes to Jason Castro. Because I thought both of his songs were fine, and "September Morn" was very, very good. I enjoyed it. I would watch it again. You know, the one that Paula didn't like before he even performed it.
I haven't actually watched the episodes yet, but I have found that YouTube is an excellent resource. I was able to watch all the performances, without the filler. I was also able to watch the elimination segment.
I even got to watch Paula being utterly confused.
I'm not sure how she or the producers have tried to talk their way out of that, but whatever they said, I don't believe it. Either:
(a) she's nuts; or
(b) she does her "critiques" prior to the performances. Or
(c) I guess ~ she watched the dress rehearsal. However, I don't think they are supposed to judge, based on a rehearsal. If so, geez, better not mess up in rehearsal, guys (and gals)!
So, in retribution, Jason's fans rallied to make sure that he got enough votes to remain in the competition.
But back to the songs.......
I found an interesting article on ew.com, that talks about how the contestants went about choosing their songs for Neil Diamond week.
Apparently, there is a lot of angst and arm-wrestling going on. And in an arm wrestling match between Brooke and Archie, I'm picking Brooke to win.
For Little Archie, "he initially wanted to perform ''I'm a Believer,'' only to see Brooke pull the song title out of the hat..." Of course, I had picked that song for Archie to perform, so it was unfortunate (for both of them) that Brooke "won".
It seems that Syesha agonizes over her song choices. "She's settled on ''Hello Again,'' a slow number for a big voice. (David Cook initially chose it but let it go when he found out Mercado wanted it.) But that second song? The ever-patient Orland (the band leader) asks if she's heard ''Love on the Rocks.'' ''I don't like the chorus,'' Mercado responds. What about ''Thank the Lord for the Night Time''? ''Kind of boring,'' she replies.
Kind of boring, indeed! Exactly what I thought as I was listening to it. Mind you, the song, when done by Neil himself is far from boring, but boy, did Syesha ever make it boring! She should have gone with, "Love On The Rocks", as I (and Orland) recommended.
As for Brooke, "'Here's the problem with Neil Diamond songs,'' Brooke White tells Byrd and associate musical director Matt Rohde Thursday afternoon. ''Every song is about a woman or alcohol. And I can't sing about either.''
"After debating ''Cracklin' Rosie'' and ''Cherry, Cherry,'' she settles on ''I Am...I Said'' and ''I'm a Believer,'' which she won in the hat pick (arm wrestling match)."
Okay, no "woman songs" and "no alcohol". Yet she debated "Cherry Cherry" and "Cracklin' Rosie". What does she think "Cracklin' Rosie" is about? It's about wine, Brooke. And maybe I'm goofy, but I always thought "Cherry Cherry" was about a woman. Maybe she thinks it's about fruit.
As for Cookie and Jason, I thought they had the best song selections of the evening. I knew that David Cook wouldn't take my (or anyone's) advice, but that's what makes him a STAR! And Jason knows what works for him.
Anyway, Brooke went home and it was a blessing, really. She was, it seemed, on the edge of a nervous breakdown, so she needs to have some R&R time. But, to be serious for a moment, how many people would dare to get up on that stage even once, much less week after week? I wouldn't. Neither would you, I bet. It's easy for us to sit home with some hot cocoa (ha!) on our sofa with our jammies on, and critique these guys, but they've got some courage! So, kudos!
Next week is Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Week. I have no idea what that means. You know, that kind of cuts a wide swath. Why don't they just call it, "Sing Whatever You Want Week"?
I hope the pace is a little bit slower next week, because this week was ridiculous.
And to save us all some time and trouble, let's ask Paula to critique next week's performances now; how about it?
I leave you with Jason's performance of "September Morn", just because I liked it, and because it's going to annoy the holier-than-thou people who apparently want a pack of wolves to rip Jason's dreadlocks to shreds.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Of course, since I'm so psyched about the show, it'll probably be horrible.
Face it, I didn't anticipate Andrew Lloyd Webber (Broadway) week at all, and it was the best episode of the season. So, that's what I get for anticipating (or not anticipating, as the case may be.)
Since I'm pretty (okay, very) familiar with Neil's songs, I thought, for once, I would be ahead of the game, rather than always writing a post mortem.
I thought it would be fun to try to pick songs of Neil's that each contestant could sing. In some cases, this will not be easy.
When appropriate, I'll list an obvious and a not-so-obvious choice.
Let's start with JASON CASTRO.
I have a few songs in mind that Jason could do well. Here's the first:
My second choice for Jason:
On to BROOKE WHITE....
Here's (to me) the obvious choice for Brooke:
SONG SUNG BLUE
Now, if Brooke would like to step outside the box, as they say, and maybe break loose from the trembly, anthem-y ballads she's done every week, I think she could succeed with this one, and wow! Wouldn't folks be surprised?
Oh my, DAVID ARCHULETA.......
I'm sorry. I did look for a video of Neil from The Jazz Singer, performing this song, but I could find neither that nor a live performance of Neil singing it, but you have to agree, this is exactly the type of sappy ballad that Little Archie will (most likely) perform:
Here's another thought. David could try to do something completely different......for once.
The only video I could find of Neil singing this song was sort of cheesy, so I'm going with the group that made it famous.
I'M A BELIEVER
I think Syesha could do a nice, R&B version of this:
LOVE ON THE ROCKS
I kind of hate to give one of my favorite Neil Diamond songs to one of my least favorite contestants, but granted, she could probably do it well.
Hmmm.......who does that leave? Who does that leave?
Oh, yes! DAVID COOK!
The fact that David Cook is constantly surprising everyone makes it difficult for me to pick a song (or two) for him to sing.
Whatever song he chooses, it will be great.
So, I'll just throw a couple out there........
GIRL, YOU'LL BE A WOMAN SOON
So, there you go. I think I made some pretty good picks, if I do say so myself.
Will the Idol contestants choose as wisely? Hmmm......I guess we will tune in and see.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Well, I never would have guessed that Broadway week would shake things up! To me, this was one of the best weeks of the season. And I enjoyed seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber. He's kind of funny; not just funny-odd, but funny.
(I'm writing this before the results show, so I really hope I'm not in for an unpleasant surprise).
Before I dig deeper into the performances this week, let me just say this: I'm not jumping on the "Jason was a disaster" bandwagon. I thought (and apparently, I'm in the minority) that his was one of the best performances this week.
If you're going to choose a song like "Memory" to sing in this competition, the last thing you want to do is sing it the way we've heard it one bazillion times. I thought Jason's rendition was sweet and heartfelt.
But don't just take my word for it. A notable writer at Entertainment Weekly, Michael Slezak, wrote this:
"Here's the crazy thing: I've spent four seasons covering American Idol for EW.com, and never before have I been more in agreement with Paula, and less in agreement with Simon, than with regard to their respective opinions of Jason's ''Memory.'' Granted, the guy probably should've Googled his song choice at some point in the last week — thereby robbing us of his ''I didn't know a cat was singing it'' sound bite — but his performance, well, I'm not even gonna try to pretend it didn't touch me in a way that never would've happened if it had been trotted out in the traditional Big Diva Number fashion. Paula's point that there was a Joe Cocker quality to the performance made perfect sense; Simon's ''miserable'' label left me aghast. I mean, there's a purity to the dreadlocked dude's voice, and an emotional connection so deep, it transcends the occasional wobble of pitch."
So, while it may be the popular thing to do to nod in agreement with everyone else, it might be the right thing to do to listen and make up one's own mind.
So, I am hoping that Jason's departure won't be the "unpleasant surprise" I mentioned earlier.
By far, the worst performance of the week was Little Archie's. OMG, it was so boring! Why do they (judges, producers) keep propping him up? They told him he did a good job! He didn't! He did a lackluster, Ambien-like performance. Good god, if someone held a gun to my head and demanded that I tell them what song he sang, I would say, "Just shoot me now" (which is sort of what I was thinking as I was watching him sing.)
I understand that, for economic reasons (keeping the tweenies calling and texting, and ensuring future viewers), AI kind of needs him to win, or at least place in the top two, but the judges could show a little integrity. Especially Simon, who is pretty much the only judge with any sense or lucidity.
But enough ranting for now.
Brooke. Well, what can I say? She does something like this every week. Either she's trembling uncontrollably, or she's messing up somehow. And she didn't disappoint this week!
Actually, her singing was fine (once she got going). But the start - stop - start was just too distracting. She owes her fans BIG TIME for allowing her to slip through this week.
Syesha did a really good job, and she's not one of my faves, by any means. Actually, her performance on the results show was even better than on performance night. But I think she figured she was going home, so she just threw caution to the wind. Funny what one can do when the pressure is off.
I'm not one bit surprised that Carly was sent home. And I thought her performance this week was rather good (better than her usual). It's just that Carly never developed a following. And I think that had a lot to do with the fact that she telegraphed her desperation every week. That just makes people uncomfortable.
I figured it would be either she or Syesha who went home, regardless of their performances. That's just the way it is. And yes, popularity does have a lot to do with it. It's only partially a singing competition.
Well, that leaves just one contestant to review.
I happened to catch only two performances live on Tuesday night, and since David Cook was last, I was lucky enough to see him.
I'll admit, I was a bit worried. I didn't know how he would handle a Broadway tune.
Can I just say he was AMAZING??
You know, he was going along fine. I thought, okay, he can pull this off. No damage done, even though this genre isn't (I thought) his element.
Then he hit that ONE NOTE in the middle of the song.
I raised an eyebrow and said, out loud, "Well!"
Then it just got BETTER.
Call me cuckoo, but I think this may have been my favorite David Cook performance of the season, and that's saying a lot.
I was flabbergasted.
Here it is, for posterity:
DAVID COOK - MUSIC OF THE NIGHT
Thursday, April 17, 2008
And honestly, based on this week's performance, she didn't deserve to go home. In fact, I thought hers was among the top performances of the week.
Whether one likes Kristy or not, one has to admit that she sure has a lot of poise. Yes, she shed a tear when her name was announced, but she pulled herself together and went out "on top". She will have a career in Nashville, no doubt.
As for Mariah Carey week, I'll admit, I don't know any Mariah songs (I don't think). And "Without You" doesn't count ~ that's a Harry Nilsson song.
So, the songs chosen were okay, I guess. But then, I don't have anything to compare them to. I will say, however, that these are not the most memorable songs I've ever heard. But that's today's pop for you. All the songs are kind of generic ~ it's more about vocal runs than actually saying something. But that's just me, maybe. Or maybe I just wasn't listening closely enough (?)
The standout performances were basically..........David Cook. Period.
I'm starting to become a little concerned for Brooke. Did you notice how much she was shaking while she was doing her number? It was kind of.....uncomfortable.
I think maybe she's getting thrown off by trying to multi-task. She could come out from behind the piano sometimes. I think there was only one week when she wasn't either playing piano or guitar. It's like trying to carry on a phone conversation and concentrate on work at the same time. Something's got to give.
But I'm wondering if we would be doing her a favor by voting her off. Her nerves are getting worse every week.
And we all know what it means when Brooke gets nervous..........She TALKS more! Eek!
And now to Carly. When I found that she was singing, "Without You", which is a great song, and requires some real vocal ability to sing, I thought, "Okay. She'll really hit this one." But the trouble is, she DIDN'T hit it. You know the part of the song where it goes, "Can't LIVE!" That's so cool when it's done right. Well, gee, what a letdown. I don't know what her problem is, but she turned the song into a snoozer. Simon was right. Again, I don't know if it's nerves or desperation. But she had better show something pretty soon, before it's too late.
At this point, with six contestants left, I'm starting to think about the final two. Barring anything odd happening (see Chris Daughtry), I'm pretty sure it'll be the two Davids.
And judging from the tweeny screams every week, I'm afraid that it'll be Little Archie who will win. Plus, I think the tweeners are more apt to vote, than, say, the people who actually have good taste in music.
So, for the final six, my thought is that it'll go this way (as long as the producers don't pull some "funny stuff", which I do have my suspicions about):
6. Brooke White
5. Syesha Mercado
4. Carly Smithson
3. Jason Castro
2, David Cook
1. David Archuleta
(I'm still hoping #2 and #1 are switched around, and that could definitely happen.)
One last note. I was surprised to find that (apparently) Mariah Carey is actually a nice person. At least that's how she was portrayed on the show. So now I don't hate her as much as I did before.
Okay, I posted this video once before. It's a bad-quality video, but this is how this song should be sung:
HARRY NILSSON - WITHOUT YOU
Friday, April 11, 2008
I do feel bad for Michael Johns, though. It wasn't his turn to leave. And the fact that Ryan tortured him didn't help. I think what happened to Michael is that he drew the short straw, and had to sing first. (Not that they actually draw straws; the whole setup is a bit more diabolical than that.)
The first slot in the show is a killer, because it's really easy to forget. In fact, about halfway through watching the show (even knowing that Michael would be sent home, since I did see the results episode first), I started to wonder what song he actually sang. Then it hit me - "Dream On".
Now, I'm no Aerosmith aficionado, I'll admit. Therefore, I didn't realize that "Dream On" is an inspirational song. I thought he was saying, "dream on"; like "yea right, dream on". Duh. Well, with all the falsetto stuff going on, I couldn't ever really make out the words.
So, Michael got sent home, cruelly.
But, really, anyone could have, and should have, gone home this week. This was probably the worst performance week ever.
Even my favorite, Cookie, did a really lousy job. I am not familiar with the song, but I thought it sucked. He started off singing really low and sort of non-melodically, and, while the song did improve from there, it didn't improve enough to save it. I thought it was just awful.
I also didn't find anything to get excited about in Little Archie's performance. It was just boring.
And my pick for most desperate contestant this week goes to - ta DA! - Brooke. It's a really tough one to call, since Carly has been consistently desperate. But, to be honest, Brooke is really starting to get on my nerves. She's a good enough singer, albeit not very exciting, but her manner is getting to me.
I used to work with someone like her. Someone who could never STOP TALKING. It's nervous energy or low self-esteem or a combination of both. And they're always bobbing and weaving, unable to stand still. Give them an inch, and they'll talk on and on and on and on, until you just want to swallow some cyanide capsules.
It sort of goes like this:
RYAN: Thank you, Brooke.
BROOKE: You're welcome, Ryan.
RYAN: Nice job.
BROOKE: Do you really think so? Because I really thought I could have done better. I really looked kind of dorky, and I messed up that one line, and if I could just do it over again, I promise I'd do it way better. You know the line in the second verse? Well, I should have said, "the", but I said "a". I'm so embarrassed. What do you think of my dress? I'm not sure if it was the right dress to wear. I had two dresses picked out, but I went with the pink one. Do you think the yellow one would have been better?
RYAN: We need to go to a break now.
BROOKE: Can I just say one more thing? I really want to apologize to everyone in the audience, and in fact, to everyone in the whole world, for messing up that song so badly. If I could just sing it over again.........
RYAN: And we're out of time. Goodnight, everyone!
Our second runner-up, Carly, always looks so INTENSE when she's singing. It's really kinda scary. I think the reason she ended up in the bottom three is because everyone was so worn out from her INTENSITY that they were too tired to dial the phone. And, c'mon, they really want her to go. She's just spooky.
As for the other bottom-three dweller, well, I never saw anything in Syesha from day one. She completely bores me.
The only two that I semi-enjoyed this week were Jason Castro and, surprise! Kristy Lee Cook. I'm kind of starting to feel sorry for Kristy, so it was nice for her that she didn't end up in the bottom three this week.
And one more note about "inspirational week". Yes, I know that this was tied into "Idol Gives Back", but one has to admit, it's all kind of fakey. I don't doubt that Little Archie and Babbling Brooke really felt their songs. They're kind of the soft-hearted type. But the others.....They were just looking for "big" performances. I don't think being "inspirational" was upper-most in their minds. Unless by "inspirational", we mean, "hanging on for at least one more week".
It's virtually impossible for me, in good conscience, to include a video from this week.
Therefore, despite the fact that Michael Johns bugged me with his imitation of "Jim Morrison grasping the mic", I will leave you with Michael's performance from Dolly Parton week. This was the one of his that I enjoyed the most.