Friday, March 31, 2006

The Final Four!

I'm in Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four, and it's March Madness here downtown. The streets are filled with coaches, athletes, fans. It's almost like Las Vegas at night, there are so many people milling about. Last night, I saw Peyton Manning walking around downtown outside the Palamino, where we also saw a few coaches, like Lute Olson and John Calipari walking by there. Oscar Robertson checked into my hotel while I was at the front desk. I shared an elevator with Adam Morrison, and no, I did not offer him any kleenex.

Today was open practices, and the Bruin team ended theirs by practicing half-court shots. Hopefully Saturday's game won't be decided by one of those because most of them weren't going in, although Coach Howland and Coach Keating both came close. When the final buzzer sounded, the entire team chucked all the balls from halfcourt towards the basket, so it was a flurry of basketballs. It was pretty cool.

Saw Big Baby from LSU leaving his press conference. He's a big dude. Heard later that he was asked in the press conference about UCLA's tradition and mystique. His response? "Last time I checked the roster, Bill Walton wasn't playing. Kareem wasn't playing. Reggie Miller wasn't playing." Whatever, Baby Shaq.

Joakim Noah of Florida made lots of friends with the media with this doozy in the press conference: "If we worried about the things that you guys worried about, worried about who has the most hype. You guys are usually wrong when it comes to things like that. Like you guys only seen us play maybe three, four times in the year and you guys think you have it all figured out. But we know -- we know what we have to do. We're not really worried about all the stories, everything that's going on. Our job is just to play basketball. You guys write stories. We can't worry about what you guys say, otherwise our heads would explode. "

There's a big free concert downtown on Sunday night. John Cougar Mellencamp (or whatever he is going by nowadays) is headlining it. Chris Brown and Collective Soul are also in it. And there's an American Idol performing as well. How appropriate for me, right? And then I found out who it was, and just my luck, it's Carrie Underwood. Woohoo? Now honestly ... what is the connection between Carrie Underwood and basketball? I'll almost guarantee she is not a basketball fan, yet she keeps getting these gigs at high-profile basketball events - the anthem at the NBA finals, the NBA All-Star game, this NCAA Basketball CokeFest thingy. And I don't automatically think country music when I think of the kind of music basketball fans listen to. I hope she wears her Wonder Woman outfit from the All-Star game again. That was hilarious.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stick to 20th Century, Fox!

Tonight on American Idol, we're "treated" to songs from the 21st century. So, theoretically, we're going to get a chance to see how these singers will stack up to their contemporaries in the "real world". In this case, though, it's more like how they WON'T stack up.

After this set of performances, it seems as if only one person has the chops to record a Top 40 hit, and that's Paris Bennett. She sang Beyonce's "Work It Out" and, simply, worked it out. She not only has the vocal prowess but the stage presence as well. Girlfriend can dance! (Although it kind of creeped me out when she said "thank you" to Paula's suggestion that she could join the Pussycat Dolls right now).

Chris Daughtry can have a hit in the music world - if this were still the 90's, when Kurt Cobain was still alive and Scott Stapp was successful and not getting arrested or being a total bitch. Chris sang "What If" by Creed, and I think he took things just a little too far. The screaming and especially the scary looks into the camera probably lost him a good chunk of votes. He may as well have sung Marilyn Manson the way he was scaring the old folks at home. Yikes.

Ace Young is another one who could have had a hit back in the late 90's. He is boy band material all the way with that wispy voice of his. When he walked out on stage, I snickered because he so did not look the part of hearthrob. The ugly shirt half tucked in and the flat hair ... it was akin to Justin walking out in those ugly-ass clown pants on 70's night in season 1. Funny thing is, as bad as Ace looked tonight, I thought he sounded much better than usual. But it's crazy how nervous the boy is. He doesn't have the Camile Velasco deer in the headlights look, but he shakes!

Other than Paris, the ones I thought fared best tonight were Taylor Hicks and Mandisa. Taylor is so much more tolerable when he isn't spazzing, and he was wise to pick a song that people couldn't make comparisons to. Mandisa joined Paris in the great stage presence department, and while her vocals weren't perfect, they were still one of the best.

In danger of elimination are Lisa Tucker, who foolishly picked Kelly Clarkson's most emotionally personal song and then chopped it up to weird and misfit pieces, and Bucky Covington, who went for straight-up mumbling country. Kellie Pickler was really boring with her "gimmicky" (tm Simon) country song, but she has a huge fanbase, so I don't think she's even close to being in any danger. Lisa went first, so unless the kids voted for her just because she sang a really popular Kelly song, she's most likely gone.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

10 Embarrassing Songs On My iPod

As promised, here's a list of 10 embarrassing songs on my iPod. And yeah, I'm ashamed to admit some of these, but oh well! haha

1. Never Had A Dream Come True - S Club 7
Shut up. And I loved it when Danielle White sang it on American Juniors. Yeah, shut up again.

2. Wannabe - Spice Girls
I think I have this one just to make fun of it. Or so I am telling myself.

3. Give It To You - Jordan Knight
This one has a good beat, yo! It's a good aerobics song. And I still kind of remember the dance from the video. hehe

4. Get Over Yourself - Eden's Crush
Hey, it's relevant. The lead singer is the Pussycat Dolls' singer now. And Stickwitu would be on this list too if I actually had it. I like that song, believe it or not.

5. I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me - Expose
Cheesy title, cheesy song, but I like it.

6. Come Clean - Hilary Duff
If it wasn't the Duffinator singing this song, it might not be so embarrassing. As songs go, it's not a bad one. She's just a bad singer.

7. Pieces of Me - Ashlee Simpson
Ditto. This is a good song that would be better served with a real singer.

8. I'm A Slave 4U - Britney Spears
Ditto again. But the song is more about the beat and the use of "Nasty Girl" in the song.

(Does anyone see a trend here? I seem to have a closet affinity to teen pop crap. Gah! How embarrassing!!!)

9. I Honestly Love You - Olivia Newton-John
It's one thing to be a cheesy song, but this one's a simple cheesy song. But, hey, ONJ was my favorite when I was a kid, so I always liked this song. On The Wedding Planner, Jennifer Lopez's character said that if any couple had this song as their wedding song, their marriage was doomed.

10. Keep On Loving You - REO Speedwagon
There's a scene in the movie Drive Me Crazy (and yes, while we're being embarrassed about my iPod songs, I might as well throw in the fact that I watched this crappy movie) where the two lead characters are cruising the streets at night in a convertible, and the guy, Adrian Grenier, who's now in Entourage, starts singing this song at the top of his lungs. I've been known to do that once or twice. Hahaha

Friday, March 24, 2006

10 Songs You Haven't Heard In Ages

While perusing my iPod during a workout today, I thought of a new thing to blog about - songs you hear that make you go "AWWWW! I haven't heard this song in ages! I love this song!"

So here are 10, in no particular order, straight out of my iPod (and if anyone has any good songs that fall into this category, I'm always looking for new things to add to the iPod!):

1. Hands To Heaven - Breathe
"So raise your hands to heaven and pray/That we'll be back together some day
Tonight I need your sweet embrace/Hold me in the darkness"

This one is just beautiful. Those Brits sure put out some great songs in the 80's.

2. Two Occasions - The Deele
"'Cause everytime I close my eyes I think of you/No matter what the season is I still love you
With all my heart/I want to be with you wherever you are
I only think of you on two occasions/That's day and night"

This is Babyface before he became Babyface. Great slow-jam, just like ...

3. Tender Love - Force MDs
"Here I lay all alone/Tossing, turning
Longing for some of your/Tender love"

Didn't someone sample this recently? I was thinking it was Frankie J.'s "Don't Wanna Try", but it's just that the piano opening sounds really similar.

4. One Sweet Day - Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men
"And I know you're shining down on me from heaven/Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together/One sweet day"

After they overplayed this song to death in 1995 (it was No. 1 for an all-time record 16 weeks straight) I think enough time has passed for it to be ok to listen to again. This song is so weepy and overwrought (between Mariah and Wanya, is that a surprise?), but it never fails to move me.

5. Purple Rain - Prince
"I never meant to cause you any sorrow/I never meant to cause you any pain
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain"

I think this is another one that you loved but just got sick of and didn't want to hear anymore back in the day. Nothing beats hearing Prince sing this song live, though! I think it turned into a 12 minute song in concert.

6. Stay - Lisa Loeb
"You say I only hear what I want to/You say I talk so all the time"

I guess if you haven't been watching Lisa Loeb's reality show on E! or if you haven't watched Reality Bites recently, you may not have heard this song in a while. I actually have heard it quite a few times on some Hot AC stations, but it's the kind of song that you squee over anytime you hear it.

7. Full Of Grace - Sarah McLachlan
"I'm pulled down by the undertow/I never thought I could feel so low
And, oh, darkness, I feel like letting go
If all of the strength and all of the courage/Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this/Full of grace"

Strange as this may sound, this song I always associate with Dawson's Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, back when the WB first started playing all this cool new music on their shows. I believe this song was played in the first season of Dawson's and the second of Buffy's, when she was leaving town after she killed Angel. It's a very haunting, sad and wistful song.

8. Goodbye To You - Michelle Branch
"I've been searching deep down in my soul/Words that I'm hearing are starting to get old
Feels like I'm starting all over again/The last 3 years were just pretend
And I said goodbye to you/Goodbye to everything that I knew
You were the one I loved/The one thing that I tried to hold on to"


Speaking of songs heard on Buffy, here's another one that I associate with that show. I think it was played at the end of "Tabula Rasa" when Willow and Tara broke up and Buffy and Spike first hooked up. Great episode, by the way. Funny as hell when they all opened the door to the Magic Shop, saw the sharks and screamed.

9. Why - Annie Lennox
"How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I'm sorry for the things I've done"

I love, love, love this song. And Kelly Clarkson sings an absolutely gorgeous cover of it in concert. If you can find a download of it, it's so worth it.

10. Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
"I was born long ago/I am the chosen, I'm the one
I have come to save the day/And I won't leave until I'm done"

This song kicks ass. It makes me want to learn guitar just to play the riffs in this song.

Next blog: 10 embarrassing songs I'm not afraid to admit I have in my iPod

Championship a Bruin?

Down and just about out in the Sweet Sixteen, the UCLA Bruins erased a 17-point deficit and miraculously defeated Gonzaga, 73-71. (And it all happened while I was on a plane. Sigh.)

UCLA took its first lead after Cedric Bozeman and Jordan Farmar stole the ball from a Gonzaga player. Farmar passed to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who scored on the layup with 10 seconds left. On the inbounds, a Moute dove in to force a held ball, giving UCLA possession again. After a Bruin free throw, Gonzaga got one last chance to tie or win the game but missed, setting off a monstrous celebration.

And also bringing Gonzaga superstar Adam Morrison to tears. Morrison pulled his jersey over his head and collapsed on the floor in devastation. In the midst of the celebration, UCLA's Arron Afflalo and Ryan Hollins came up to Morrison to console him. At a time when a lot of athletes are so in your face and in a sport where trash talking is the norm, to see this classy act from Afflalo and Hollins was terrific.

So the Bruins are in the Elite Eight and need just one win to make it to the Final Four for the first time since winning the NCAA Championship in 1995. After tonight's game, I think another NCAA title could be in store for the Bruins. There are some similarities I'm seeing between this team and the '95 team in the Tournament. The miracle victory here is similar to the 95 team's miracle 2nd round win when Tyus Edney drove the full length of the court in 4.8 seconds for the game-winning layup. Both teams played in the Regionals at Oakland. I smell a national championship. We'll see on Saturday if the Bruins will have a chance for it when they play Memphis. Go Bruins!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Chris Daughtry: Not as original as you think

For two straight weeks, the American Idol judges have lavished praise on Chris Daughtry for turning old standards into current-sounding songs. Last week, it was Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" that Randy Jackson said Chris "made it your own". This week, his "originality" and creative genius was lauded by the judges after his modern version of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line".

Hogwash.

Chris is not making songs his own. He's doing covers of covers. His "Higher Ground" was a copy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' version done in the late 80's. His oh-so-original "I Walk The Line" was previously arranged, performed and recorded by Live on their Awake: The Best of Live CD.

I'm not saying that Chris is taking credit for these arrangements. For all we know, he mentioned that in his interview, but it ended up on the cutting room floor. But I think the producers and judges are definitely trying to make it appear as if Chris is a musical genius who can make any song his own. He is undeniably The Chosen One. He is the one who gets the light shows, the fog, the pimp spots. He is the one they showed playing his guitar in the pimp-mercial last week. And as much as I understand that it's good that Chris is sticking to what he does because in the real world, he's never going to have to sing a Broadway tune or a 50's tune, he is taking the fun out of the theme nights by doing the same style every week. It's getting boring. If they have another Broadway night (which they probably won't because there really aren't any 90's band rock covers of Broadway tunes that Chris can borrow), don't be surprised to see Chris doing something like "We Will Rock You" from the similarly-titled musical. Meanwhile, the Un-Chosen One, Bo Bice, had to sing "Corner of the Sky" from Pippin last year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chicken Little Freed!

Chicken Little, aka Kevin Covais, has flown the coop, thanks to America's votes. Finally, the butt of all jokes is free of American Idol and all the jokes at his expense. Thank goodness, because the longer that kid stayed on the show, the worse the jokes were going to get and the worse the vitriol he was going to get for outlasting better singers. The John Stevens death threats from season 3 would have paled in comparison, I think.

So since I just got back in town at 2 in the morning yesterday, I'm going to comment late on Tuesday's Top 11 performance show, which I found to be one of the best ever on Idol. There seems to be something about the Top 11 show that brings out terrific performances. Season 2's Top 11 show produced Ruben Studdard's "A Whole New World", Clay Aiken's "Somewhere Out There" and Trenyce's "I Have Nothing". Season 3's show was not really that good, but with country as a theme, that's not surprising. It did give us Amy Adams' "Sin Wagon", however. Season 4's show was phenomenal, with Carrie's "Alone", Bo Bice's "Time in a Bottle", Nikko Smith's "Incomplete", Jessica Sierra's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and Vonzell Solomon's "Best of My Love", among others. For Season 5's Top 11 show, just about everyone was really good, particularly Mandisa, who was channeling Angela Bassett in looks and with whom I think Ryan Seacrest wants to be BFF, and Paris Bennett, who continues to perform like a seasoned veteran. Even Chicken Little, who is just so out of his league, was good. I'm glad the kid got to leave on a good note, and he went out with class as well.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ace Worth 1, Not 11 This Week

It could be argued that Ace Young hit the bottom 3 on AI tonight because he went first. In three of the last four seasons, the first person on the Top 12 show hit the bottom 3 that night, with only LaToya London in season 4 escaping the seal. Personally, I think Ace was bottom 3 because his performance was worth more of a 1 than an 11. He was out of tune, he danced like an O-Town reject, and has had three straight weeks now of horrible to meh performances. Now if only America can use the judgment they used on Ace to get that dimwit Kellie Calamari out of the competition, all will be good in the world.

Lisa in the bottom 3 does not surprise me so much because she hasn't shown the voting audience who she is. I know nothing about her except that she can play a little bit of Jimi Hendrix and that she's been a stage brat for years. And her mom's gorgeous. That's about it. If that's all you let people know about you, there's no connectivity with the audience, and that will get you nowhere. I know nothing about Melissa either, although her most compelling story is that, like Kellie Calamari, her folks have been in and out of jail for years. Funny how that story hasn't been shoved in our faces, huh?

I was disappointed that we were denied a Stevie Wonder group medley with pointy poses but was thrilled to hear one of my favorite songs in the world, "All I Want", sung wonderfully by Chris on the pimpmercial. And then Bucky and Chicken Little piped in and just ruined the moment.

Wonderful Idol Performances?

Stevie Wonder night on American Idol tonight. Weird, because sometimes it seems like every night is Stevie Wonder night the way they've been overusing the poor man's songs. We saw some wretched performances from Kevin Covais (an almost comically bad Part-Time Lover), Kellie Pickler (Blame It On The Sun ... I think. The way she sang it, I didn't recognize it), Melissa McGhee (Lately with butchered lyrics) and Ace Young (an out-of-tune Do I Do) and some brilliant performances from Paris Bennett (All I Do) and Taylor Hicks (Livin' For The City). Chris Daughtry was great, but the tongue-bath he got for being so modern and making it his own was ridiculous since he was just copying the Red Hot Chili Peppers' version of "Higher Ground".

So since there have been so many Stevie Wonder performances over the years, I thought I'd try to pick the best and worst ones on Idol.

Top 10 Stevie Wonder Idol performances
1. For Once In My Life - Justin Guarini
The best way to describe it is electric. It was a great performance all the way around.

2. All I Do - Paris Bennett
She commanded the stage in much of the same way Justin did.

3. If You Really Love Me - Elliott Yamin
The best Stevie Wonder vocals I've heard on Idol.

4. Livin' For The City - Taylor Hicks
More Michael McDonald than Stevie Wonder, but terrific vocals and passion nonetheless.

5. Overjoyed - Charles Grigsby
Went from unknown to finalist with this one performance.

6. Lately - RJ Helton
Won the lone wildcard position in season 1 with this. His recorded version of the song was one of the best on the season 1 CD.

7. Part-Time Lover - Nikko Smith
Opened the semifinals in season 4 with this song and brought the necessary soul and smoothness. His performance of this song on the tour was fantastic.

8. Higher Ground - Chris Daughtry
Points taken off for not doing it Stevie style and just copying the Red Hot Chili Peppers' version.

9. Ribbon in the Sky - Gil Sinuet
Outsung Justin Guarini on the same night in the semifinals

10. Until You Come Back To Me - Katharine McPhee
One of the best female vocalists in five seasons of American Idol

Top 5 Worst Stevie Wonder Idol performances
1. Lately - John Stevens
Embarrasingly bad from Teen Martin

2. Part-Time Lover - Kevin Covais
A nerdy little 16 year old Chicken Little look-alike is not going to know how to interpret this song, and when you couple that with the soul-less singing and embarrassingly bad "dance" moves ... YIKES.

3. Lately - Melissa McGhee
She forgot the words at least 3 times, and couldn't even cover well. She knew she totally blew it

4. Blame It On The Sun - Kellie Pickler
Boring in so many ways, and she countrified it with a bad twang.

5. For Once In My Life - Camile Velasco
Deer. Headlights. That is all.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Movie Sequels

For some inexplicable reason, I watched The Cutting Edge 2 last night on Fox Family. Total waste of 2 hours. That movie was horrible. It was supposed to be Doug and Kate's kid as the lead, and she was the champion ice skater looking for a new partner and finding romance eventually with her non-skater turned skater partner (instead of a hockey player, he was an inline skater). It was basically a recreation of the original with a slightly modern twist. It sucked.

I don't know why I even bothered. The first red flag should have been the fact that it was on Fox Family. The second red flag should have been the fact that it was a sequel since I've seen a small handfull of good sequels in my life.

Sequels close to or better than the original:
1. Superman II - I enjoyed this one better than the original. Kneel before Zod!
2. Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Skip Episodes I and II; they were pretty dreadful.
3. Shrek 2 - Just as funny as the first, with the added bonus of a hysterical Puss in Boots

And one that's so bad that it's good:
Grease 2

It's crazy how this movie turned into a near-cult classic, seeing as how it's so ... awful. Haha. But it's campy and hilarious and totally cheesy. I love it! And Michelle Pfeiffer probably wishes the movie would fall off the face of the earth. Too bad, Miss "I want a cool rider"!

I will freely admit that I own the DVD and that I used to own the album when I was a kid. And knew all the lyrics to all the songs, including "Reproduction". Hell, I could probably still sing it now. I found this fansite for it. Yeah. Seriously.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Being Blunt

The hottest artist in music today is probably James Blunt. He was just on Oprah this week, singing his two singles, "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover".



This lyric in "Goodbye My Lover" kills me:
And I still hold your hand in mine
In mine when I'm asleep.

The first time I heard "You're Beautiful" was when I saw the video on Vh1. The song itself seems pretty literal to me - he sees his ex in a subway with another man and realizes they can never be together again; the video is definitely more abstract. It's just him with a stark background, and all he does in the video is sing to the camera while stripping his clothes and then carefully and neatly laying them down on the ground. At the very end of the song, he jumps off a cliff into the water. It has been interpreted as being about suicide, but I don't think that is the case. I'd be interested to hear what other people think about it. Maybe it's symbolic of baptism or maybe the video means nothing more than James Blunt has a cheap video budget. :P

Friday, March 10, 2006

I Demand A Recount!

Just when I thought things were working out fairly well on the American Idol results show, the rug gets thrown from under me. Last week's bootings were justified, with three of the worst singers getting the boot (Brenna, David and Heather). But this week? I thought Gedeon gave the best performance amongst the guys this week, and he got tossed. Will was one of my favorites since the early auditions, and he got the boot (although he probably deserved it after his poor song choices each week). Ayla was the best one two weeks ago and one of the best in the first week, and she's going home and going back to her basketball scholarship. Kinnik was no surprise, but at least she went out with a bang, knocking her sing-out out of the park.

The one thing I could agree with on the results show last night was Bo Bice, who entered and exited the stage to loud cheers. Although it was apparent that he was sick, Bo still put on a hell of a performance. He was so into it that he ended up with crazy rock hair at the end. Haha. Taylor Hicks could take some lessons from his fellow Alabaman on how to move on stage without looking like a clown.

So our Top 12 is Katharine, Kellie, Lisa, Mandisa, Melissa, Paris, Ace, Bucky, Chris, Elliott, Kevin and Taylor. Next week is Stevie Wonder night. Watching Kellie and Bucky do Stevie Wonder should be quite amusing. Kevin and Chris might have a challenge as well. I can't wait to see what Elliott pulls out after his fantastic "If You Really Love Me" performance from week one. Paris should shine next week as well.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Weird Ones Can Really Sing!

Can Gedeon McKinney's odd way of speaking (When I. Am. Not singing. I. Am. A painter) be overlooked enough to get him into the Top 12? Will Taylor Hicks' Elaine Benes dancing be found as endearing as some people seem to think Kellie Pickler's idiocy is? Coming from someone who has not really been a fan of those two in the American Idol competition, I would have to say yes, their vocal performances were good enough tonight to overlook those bizarre tendencies.

Gedeon's "When A Man Loves A Woman" was fantastic, and I really don't like that song at all. Until he turned into a total spaz and made Jon Peter Lewis look like Barishnikov near the end of the song, I was totally feeling Taylor's Michael McDonald impersonation. All it took was turning away from the TV at that point to continue to enjoy the song. Those two were the best of the night for me.

Close behind were Chris Daughtry and Elliott Yamin. They both sounded good, although song choice was not stellar for either. Chris' song, "Broken", was pretty similar to last week's song, and Simon is right about not remembering it later. Elliott picked "Heaven" by Bryan Adams, and it's not really his thing. He's much better at the more soulful songs, not the rock songs.

Bucky Covington was okay for what it is. I really can't stand country, so I wasn't into it at all, but I can acknowledge that he did pretty well with it. Will Makar and Kevin Covais, these two kids are adorable and quite funny, but they're too young for this and look like high school kids auditioning, which they are. For some reason, young guys just don't seem right in this competition, but it's ok for young girls. Will has the better voice of the two by a mile and is much more comfortable on stage than Chicken Little. If one has to go, I'd much rather keep Will.

And that leaves us with Ace Young. He's one of the favorites in the competition because of his looks. Which I don't find to be all that. And I don't find his voice to be all that. In fact, I find his voice to be quite mediocre and quite horrifying when he tries to do the falsetto. I can only tolerate so much male falsetto in a song, and he more than overdid it. Gah. It made me miss Sway. Ace's song choices are, um, interesting. A George Michael song, two Michael Jackson songs and a Daniel Bedingfield song? Huh.

As an aside, I'd like to point out something I just read about Gedeon. His father died four months ago, and he hasn't seen his mother and siblings since he got to Hollywood because they can't afford to make the trip. Gedeon almost didn't get a chance to audition because they cancelled his original audition city due to the hurricanes, and the closest one to him was Chicago. He had to raise the money to get him to Chicago. I find it interesting that Idol hasn't exploited this story. I think the producers know that this story could take votes away from their Chosen One, so they're keeping it under wraps while we get Pickler's sob story shoved down our throats.

Anyway, who's out tomorrow? Probably some sort of combo of Kevin, Will, Bucky and Gedeon. Ha. Way to go out on a limb, huh?

Can "Every Woman" Win American Idol?

Last night on American Idol, Mandisa tore up the stage with her rendition of "I'm Every Woman". She was vocally flawless and lively onstage and put so many of the other contestants to shame. Katharine McPhee dispelled a few rumors (No, she's not pulling out of the competition, and no, she's not pregnant) before performing a fun rendition of "Think". She is another contestant who has the pipes and the personality to go far in the competition.

Everyone else just proved to be average to mediocre. Kellie Pickler continued to bug by adding airhead idiot ("What's a mink?") to her schtick. The AI stylists did their annual "let's straighten the black girls' hair" thing to Lisa Tucker, who sucked the heart out of "Here's Where I Stand". Paris Bennett made the most bizarre song choice of the night, singing Conga on a night when Gloria Estefan was not the theme. Ayla Brown stepped out of her comfort zone and took a big risk by singing a current hit, "Unwritten". I thought she did pretty well with it, but it wasn't as impressive as her past performances. I think she'll end up in the bottom 3 on Thursday, along with Melissa McGhee, who sang "What About Love" in a higher key than she should have, and Kinnik Sky, who couldn't find the key on "If I Aint' Got You". Kinnik is a lock (heh) to go, and Melissa will probably join her unless she gets major sympathy votes from viewers who did not appreciate Simon's comments.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oscar Predictions

Full disclosure before we start here. I've only seen one movie amongst the nominated movies here.

BEST PICTURE
Nominees: "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "Munich."

Prediction: I think it's a two-horse race here with "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash". "Brokeback" won the Golden Globes, but "Crash" won the SAG Awards. I think the Brokeback buzz - it is easily the most talked about movie of the year - will propel it to victory. My preference is "Crash", which I found to be one of the movies I've seen in a long time.

BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"; Bennett Miller, "Capote"; Paul Haggis, "Crash"; George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck"; Steven Spielberg, "Munich."

Prediction: Ang Lee for making magic with a movie about gay cowboys.

BEST ACTOR
Nominees: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"; Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"; Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"; David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Prediction: Philip Seymour Hoffman. He has won every award show this year. It's hard to believe this will be different. Terrence Howard, however, is building some momentum and could be the dark horse surprise winner.

BEST ACTRESS
Nominees: Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"; Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"; Charlize Theron, "North Country"; Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"

Prediction: Another two-horse race, this time between Reese Witherspoon and Felicity Huffman. Reese has won the major awards in the category, but history shows that Oscar voters favor actresses who "ugly down", like Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry", Nicole Kidman with the nose in "The Hours" and Charlize Theron in "Monster". If the trend sticks, look for Felicity Huffman to win this one in her role as a transsexual.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Nominees:
George Clooney, "Syriana"; Matt Dillon, "Crash"; Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"; William Hurt, "A History of Violence"

Prediction: I think George Clooney and "Crash" are going to be honored in some way tonight and are not going to be shut out of the Oscars completely. If "Crash" does not get Best Picture or Screenplay, Matt Dillon will win here. If Clooney does not get Best Screenplay, he will win here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Nominees: Amy Adams, "Junebug"; Catherine Keener, "Capote"; Frances McDormand, "North Country"; Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"; Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain"

Prediction: Rachel Weisz has been winning all of the awards, but Oscar favors the young ingenue in this category, so I'm predicting a Michelle Williams victory, with Amy Adams possibly sneaking in there for the big surprise of the night.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Fuel For The Fire

Chris Daughtry's performance of "Hemorrhage" by Fuel on Wednesday's American Idol show didn't just knock the judges' and Idol fans' socks off - it caught the attention of the band Fuel as well. According to Randy Jackson on Access Hollywood, Fuel has put an offer out to Chris to front the band, who is currently looking for a new singer. Their former lead singer, Brett Scallions, just left the band last month.

Check out the Fuel website, where they have lead singer audition information.

If this rumor is true, Chris should take the offer and run far, far away from American Idol. There's no way in hell Chris will be able to sing his kind of music if he was tied in to Idol. You can bet the latest boot-ee, Sway Penala, is somewhere near the Idol hotel lobbying for Chris to take the offer right now. hahaha.

Paula Problems

Not only is Paula Abdul the talk of morning talk shows after her incoherent and insensitive babblings on Thursday's American Idol results show (I'm still trying to decipher what she was saying), but now there's word that she breached security at the Las Vegas airport that afternoon.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Paula was late trying to catch her Southwest Airlines flight to Burbank when a Southwest rep took her past security and onto the plane, bypassing security. When the plane landed, it was announced that security had been breached, so the passengers had to go through re-screening again.

Maybe Paula was mixing her medication with some alcohol there while wondering if she was going to get busted for this security violation. That might explain her bizarro comments to the contestants. First, when asked by Ryan Seacrest why Kinnik and Heather were up for elimination, she said, "Simon says because one of them ate pizza and the other one ate salad." Then, when it was Sway and Kevin up on stage, her advice to them was "Simon gave me advice, and he said on the X-Factor that he always refers to a fortune cookie and says the moth who finds the melon ... No, finds the cornflake, always finds the melon, and one of you didn’t get the right fortune cookie."

HUH?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hoop Dreams

Jason McElwain scored 20 points in four minutes at a high school basketball game in Rochester, NY. Why is this a big deal? Jason is the team manager of the Greece Athena team. And he's autistic. (Watch news clip here)

Jason drained six three-point shots in front of a delirious home crowd. He was carried off the court after the game by his fellow students.

Almost as inspiring as Jason himself is the fact that the student body embraced rather than mocked him. This wasn't a Lucas-type of acceptance where the kid was only accepted after the big game. The students brought J-MAC signs to the game and made cutouts of his face on popsicle sticks. He was loved even before he became a household name all over the nation.

Naturally, Disney, along with at least a dozen other studios, has been in contact with the family for movie rights.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Idol Guys Show More Spark

Taylor Hicks wears a "toboggan" on his head and turns into the male Diana DeGarmo. Gedeon McKinney perfects the pointy pose on a blues song. Will Makar makes everyone feel ancient. Kevin Covais is called a chicken, while Bucky just wants his biscuits. Someone sings a Fuel song. The AI5 Top 10 guys were definitely more interesting than the girls were the day before, but were they better? Tough call.

Best vocals of the night: Elliott Yamin
When Simon said last week that he could potentially have the best male voice from all five seasons, I was taken a bit aback. But after two straight weeks of excellence, he very well could. I think the fact that he's not conventionally attractive is going to help him more than it would hurt him, since Idol fans love the underdogs.

Best performance of the night: Chris Daughtry
He temporarily turned the competition into RockStar: American Idol by having the cajones to sing a Fuel song. His singing was a bit too screamy for me in the chrous, but it was overall a standout performance if nothing but for the fact that it was so different. It was no Whipping Post, but for this season, it was good enough.

Most bizarre: Taylor Hicks
He was talking about wearing a "toboggan" on his head in public. Maybe it's an Alabama thing, but where I come from, a toboggan is a sled. He opened his song by yelling at the audience to stand up. On a Commodores ballad. And then he "wooooooo!" at various random times in the song like he was Drew Lachey after a perfect dance and more often than Diana DeGarmo ever yelled "come on!" during a performance. And his movements are so spastic. He's lucky he has a good voice. That is all I have to say.

Future group medley standout: Gedeon McKinney
Gedeon is already practicing for those cheesy group medleys. That pointy pose at the end (of a bluesy song, of all things) would have made Danny Zuko proud.

Best resemblance to a movie star: Kevin Covais
Chicken Little. Poor kid.

The demoralizer: Will Makar
Will was 12 when the first season of American Idol aired. Way to make people feel ancient, Wilma!

Best hillbilly act: Bucky Covington
Unlike a certain cal-uh-MAR?-ee hater, Bucky's down-home southern-ness comes across as very genuine and real. He wants his biscuits but he's not going to pretend he's never heard of biscotti.

Worst calculated risk: Ace Young
Twice now he hasn't known the name of the songs he was singing. Both songs were Brit-pop songs - Swear It Again by Westlife, which he said was called "All Over Again", and "If You're Not the One", which he called "If I'm Not Made For You". Something tells me he was strongly encouraged by someone close to the show to sing all these Brit-pop songs that he wasn't all that familiar with. Hmmm ... Anyway, Ace blew it by trying to hit those high notes on the Daniel Bedingfield song. He sounded like cats screeching and looked terribly constipated while doing so.

Most likely to go this week: Bucky, David and Kevin