Saturday, May 31, 2008

Attention SNL Producers!

Seeing as how some of the best Saturday Night Live guest hosts have been musicians (Justin Timberlake and Dick In A Box and Omeletteville, anyone?), they need to book David Cook ASAP for the fall season. The man is comedy gold.

Check this out on Best Week Ever:


(that sideways kick during the Sizzler intro reminds me of Constantine Maroulis, except Cookie actually stayed on his feet)

Cook even sold that Love Guru thing in the AI finale as well:


You know who else is really funny? Brooke White. Check out her Best Week Ever skit, Brooke White Starts And Stops The Classics:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Idol Tour Possibilities

Based on several interviews over the week, including the last part of David Cook's Entertainment Weekly's Idolatry, which was just posted today, here's a list of songs the Idols have talked about possibly doing on tour:

David Cook - The Time Of My Life (aka the "Magic Rainbow" song), Billie Jean, Hello, Always Be My Baby
David Archuleta - Angels
Syesha Mercado - If I Ain't Got You
Jason Castro - Over The Rainbow
Brooke White - Let It Be
Carly Smithson - Bring Me To Life
Kristy Lee Cook - God Bless The USA
Michael Johns - ???
Ramiele Malubay - I Want You Back
Chikezie - I Believe To My Soul

Cook also mentioned that they were talking about doing "Barracuda" with Carly on vocals, himself on guitar and Jason on drums. (!!!!!) Michael Johns, soon after his boot, said he'd like to do "Leather and Lace" with Brooke.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SYTYCD - The Music (Episode 3)

Episode 3 of So You Think You Can Dance had a strong collection of dancers, from Charleston and Washington DC. The judges got into some serious pissing matches with a couple of famewhores, including Dancing D, who auditioned last year and needed oxygen afterwards, and some hot tranny mess named Jason Looney who they got particularly angry with for being "disrespectful". It's so stupid because Nigel, especially, has the power to keep these kind of people from a) making it to the callback in front of the judges and b) showing them on television. They do the same thing with Sex every year, and they encourage him to keep coming back by continually showing his auditions on air.

Anyway, the songs ...

Charleston
Sheila Kaiser (the girl whose daddy disapproves) - "Wonderful" by Annie Lennox
Erin Mansour/John Tabakian (bad ballroom) - "Move It Like This"
Jeremiah Hughes (contemporary) - "Acoustic #3" by Goo Goo Dolls
Syiddah King (Shirley Temple) - "Get Up" by Ciara
Anthony Hart (twin 1) - "Give It Up" by Twista
Antwain Hart (twin 2) - "Icebox" by Omarion
Abigail Thurman (swim instructor) - "The City Is At War" by Cobra Starship
BJ Harris (breaker/trickster) - "Stronger" by Kanye West
Courtney Galiano (Mary screamer) - "Lost" by Anouk
Jason Looney (hot tranny mess) - "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul
Claire Callaway (the girl who got injured in Vegas during Season 2) - "Because I Love It" by Amerie

DC
Megan Campbell (the one with the Aunt) - "No One" by Alicia Keys
Derrick Bradley (Dancing D) - "You Should Be Dancing" by Bee Gees
Markus Shields (Mom tribute) - "Wait For You" by Elliott Yamin
Markus Smith/Deonna Ball (DC Swing) - "Money (That's What I Want)"
Brandon Bryant (season 1 auditioner) - "Lux Aeterna" from Requiem for a Dream soundtrack

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SYTYCD - The Music (Episode 2)

The So You Think You Can Dance auditions moved to Salt Lake City and Dallas for tonight's episode. Some good music tonight.

I'm still trying to figure out the song John Dix and Arielle Coker auditioned to. If anyone knows, please comment below. It has the lyrics

Try to forget that I might be leaving tomorrow
Try to return the courage that you had to borrow
Nightingale sing a song to remind us we tried
It's hard to reach out when both of your hands have been tied


(ETA: Thanks to Sk8inglioness in the comments section, the song has been identified as "California" by Craig Lyons.)

Some of the identified music:

Salt Lake City
Chelsie Hightower (Latin ballroom) - "Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child
Brett Banford (Down's Syndrome dancer) - "Shake" by Ying Yang Twins
Richard Castaneda (Breaker) - "Break Anotha" by Blake Lewis
Gev Manoukian (Breaker/Ice Skater) - "Hello/Goodbye" by Lupe Fiasco
Lindsey Judkins (jazz) - "This Thing Called Love" by Michael Buble
Nicole Downer (mom of 4) - "Gotta Get Thru This" by Daniel Bedingfield
Kelli Baker (High School Musical girl) - "Dancing" by Elisa
Ryann Race (strip club DJ) - "Suffocate" by J. Holiday
Kortney Pearson (best friend 1) - "Love" by Keyshia Cole
Michelle Stringham (best friend 2) - "24" by Jem

Dallas
Chad Agnor (hamstring injury guy) - "Bury the Shovel" by Clay Walker
Paige Jones (pageant girl) - "No Man" by Nina Storey
Joshua Allen (hip-hop) - "I Can Make You Dance" by Zapp & Roger
Cassidy Corder (hip-hop) - "He Said She Said" by Ashley Tisdale
Brianna Gardner ("very bored stripper") - "Make It Work" by Ne-Yo
Kayleigh Darling - "Mony Mony"

Keeping Up With The Idols

If you're like me and having American Idol withdrawal, here are some links to appease you:

David Cook sings "The World I Know" on Ellen:


David Cook sings (and smirks, I think) about the magic rainbow on Live with Regis and Kelly:


Michael Johns sings the Star-Spangled Banner at the Chicago Cubs game May 27:


Michael Johns sings St. Elmo's Fire at Foster & Friends concert in Las Vegas May 23:


David Archuleta sings "Angels" on Regis & Kelly (better than on Idol, IMO):


Archie talks with Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly.

And in big news today, Cookie officially signed with RCA and set a Billboard record by having 11 debut entries in Billboard's Hot 100 and a whopping 14 songs on the Hot Digital Songs list. The 11 songs on the Hot 100 are the most by any artist since the BEATLES in 1964. Holy wow.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SYTYCD - The Music (LA Auditions)

More than almost any other show on TV these days, So You Think You Can Dance is on the pulse of what is hot in music, so I thought I'd try to track what songs people dance to this year.

From what I could gather, here's what we heard on Episode 1 - The Los Angeles Auditions:

Devin Oshiro (contemporary dancer) - "Where I Stood" by Missy Higgins (Amazon.com)
Twitch (breaker) - "Haunting Me" by Oona Garthwaite (MySpace)
Hamilton Moreno (overweight Asian hip-hopper) - "The Anthem" by Pitbull/Lil Jon (Amazon.com)
Rijiy Ames (underwear dancer) - "The Wheel Of The World" by Carrie Underwood (Amazon.com)
Choreography Round - "Shut Up And Drive" by Rihanna
Erika Gee (contemporary) - "The Time Is Now" by Moloko (MySpace)
Leonidas Proskurov/Aliona Vetrenko (Latin ballroom) - "Cantaloop" by US3 (Amazon.com)
Randy Lewis (bad hip-hopper) - "Shawty Get Loose" by Lil Mama/Chris Brown/T-Pain (Amazon.com)
Victor Kim (breaker) - "Juice (Know The Ledge)" by Eric B & Rakim (Amazon.com)
Gold Inferno (famewhore) - "Rock That Beat" by Highstreet Allstars (Amazon.com)
Ricky Sun/Asuka Kondoh (Latin ballroom) - generic version of "Let's Get Loud" by Jennifer Lopez
Kherington Payne (contemporary) - "Stop And Stare" by One Republic (Amazon.com)
Robert Muraine (popper) - "It's Me Snitches" by Swizz Beatz (Amazon.com)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top 10 American Idol Season 7 Performances

With another season of American Idol now in the books, it's time to give my list of Top 10 performances of the season. I tried not to turn this into the David Cook show, but I honestly believe that he gave so many top-notch performances throughout the season that it was impossible to deny him six of the Top 10 slots on this list.

Future Idol contestants, take heed: 7 of the Top 10 songs and a few of the honorable mentions were totally re-arranged songs. I hope the days of karaoke hell are over!

1. Always Be My Baby - David Cook
This is where David Cook became the American Idol. With his own original arrangement, David turned this song on its ear in more ways than one. He turned this sunny, pop love song into a haunting, bittersweet rock ballad. The musical nuances he put into the song were genius, from the strings, to the dramatic build-up to the bridge, to the minor note he ended in. When you add in all that was going on with David that night (his ailing brother being in the audience for the first time) and the emotions that spilled out, this performance was the big, memorable moment of the season.



2. Let It Be - Brooke White
One of the best things about music is how it can strike an emotional chord. This performance gets me every time. Brooke just totally sang it from the heart and was so moved by the song and by the experience of singing it on that stage. David Cook said it best on American Idol Extra - it was such an real, organic moment, and it wasn't for the cameras, the judges or anyone but her. As he said, it was "what this show should be about".



3. The World I Know - David Cook
When I first watched this performance, my initial reaction was somewhat similiar to Simon's - that David didn't really pick the right type of song to close on. But then when I went back and rewatched and really listened to this performance, I was totally moved by it. Like Brooke's "Let It Be", this one was for him, and he really connected with the song on an emotional level and just laid it all out there while delivering one of his best vocal performances of the season. He didn't change up the arrangement of the song, but the minor vocal changes he made in the song totally pwned Collective Soul's version. His falsetto on the line "love is gathering" and at the very end of the song was divine.



4. It's All Wrong But It's All Right - Michael Johns
I still find it hard to believe that Michael was eliminated a week after this performance. This was the most soulful, sexy performance of the season (maybe even the entire series), and his vocals were straight-up amazing here. And Michael proved here that David Cook wasn't the only one who could re-arrange songs.



5. Hello - David Cook
David really made a name for himself with this performance, turning this cheesy Lionel Richie ballad into a cool rock song. When I first heard he was going to do this song, I was like WHAT?! And when he finished, I was like WOW WHAT?!?!?! It wouldn't be the last time he blew me away.



6. Here You Come Again - Carly Smithson
For all the big notes that Carly liked to sing (and sometimes screech) throughout the show, her best moment came when she was singing simply, as she did on this slowed-down version of this song. This was just purely lovely.



7. Billie Jean - David Cook
This wasn't the first time he sang an alternative arrangement of an 80's song, nor was it an original arrangement, but the sheer chutzpah of doing this kind of thing on American Idol definitely warrants a spot in the Top 10. What was always so impressive about David was his fearlessness. When he did "Hello" and "Billie Jean", it was on nights when the themes were loose. He could have chosen from a ton of rock songs, but instead he chose to re-invent songs that had no business being rock songs. But it's not just the guts that made this a stand-out; David's vocals were SO strong on this song.



8. We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions - Michael Johns
The week before this performance, Michael made a comment on the result show that "apparently I peaked in Hollywood." Nothing like a little Queen to get your mojo back. Michael, who became a front-runner with an amazing performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in Hollywood but seemed to struggle a little during the semifinal rounds, made a huge comeback with this ROCKSTAR performance. This is a very hard song to sing (just ask JD Fortune), but Michael nailed it.



9. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - David Cook
I can't imagine what was going through David's mind when he heard that Simon chose this for him to sing. The original version of this song is SO plodding and slow. But with this, David proved that he really could sing anything. Simon's applauding mid-song says it all.



10. Eleanor Rigby - David Cook
This was a total ROCKSTAR moment, with the light show and the confidence and Rock God swagger he exuded during the song. It made me forget that I was watching Idol. And that's something that David did consistently throughout the competition. When he was on stage, it was like watching a David Cook concert, not a cheesy karaoke show.



Honorable mention: Papa Was A Rolling Stone - David Hernandez, Over The Rainbow - Jason Castro, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me - David Archuleta, Love Is A Battlefield - Brooke White, All I Really Need Is You - David Cook

Thursday, May 22, 2008

David Cook Wins Idol - The Media Links

Here is a collection of some of the good media links in the Idol aftermath. Will continue to add more as they come.

Entertainment Tonight - Mocking Randy Jackson by having the Davids literally sing the phonebook

Access Hollywood - Cook says he heard Archuleta in his head when Ryan made the announcement

Access Hollywood - Archie can't believe Paula's gift is real diamonds and slips that his mom wears Cubic Zirconia

Entertainment Weekly - But is it really good quality? The bracelet gives him a rash!

Fox Tampa Bay - Cook talks to the father of the little girl he is wearing the orange bracelet for

Good Day LA - Cook wishes he hadn't let the makeup girls put the guy-liner on him. (I wish I could find the interview they did later in the morning, where the reporter told Archie he shouldn't have sang "I need you boo/Gotta see you boo", and Archie started to sing along "And there's hearts all over the world tonight" and then said "Awww, I love that song." It was really cute!)

On-Air With Ryan Seacrest - Simon Cowell claims he didn't know Cook won before apologizing (yeah right!)

On-Air With Ryan Seacrest - Archie says Cookie couldn't have deserved it more, admits he has wheezy breathing and says he wouldn't mind if Seacrest got his father a new hat (hee!)

Disney World - Cookie's going to Disney World!

Guitar Hero Commercial - Extended Version

Access Hollywood - Hot legs? It's all in the spray tanning

Jimmy Kimmel Show - Guillermo talks with the Davids (Archie's "dry wit" comes out)

Idol Red Carpet Pictures

This is the first year since season 1 that I haven't been able to get into the American Idol finale, so when I had the chance to get red carpet arrival passes for tonight, I jumped at it. My friend and I sat in the bleachers right behind the TV Guide Channel stage, so apparently we were on the show the entire time. Ha.

The celebrities mostly consisted of Idol and So You Think You Can Dance alumni, plus a few real celebs. Well, one real celeb (Teri Hatcher) and a bunch of C-Listers (Marissa Jaret Winokur, Jerry Springer, Camryn Manheim, Lori Loughlin, Jeri Ryan, Janice Dickinson). A ton of Idol alums were there, naturally. Season 6 was the best-represented - everyone in the Top 12 except Phil Stacey, Chris Richardson and Stephanie Edwards. The dancers were Lacey, Hok, Anya, Pasha, Lauren, Sara, Dominic, Dmitry, Ryan, Melody and some of the SickStep Crew.

So what I learned from sitting at these red carpet things is that there are some serious crazies out there who act like total 'tards when a celebrity is within breathing distance. When some of the bigger names like Teri Hatcher, Paula Abdul, Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood came by to sign autographs, people started shoving and knocking into people to get over there. It was ridiculous. People act as if they're entitled to get a photo or autograph, and I saw someone kind of pull at Jordin Sparks to get her to pose for a pic. And then some really rude lady reached out to grab Justin Guarini's hair, and he visibly pulled back. I would never want to be a celebrity. I can't even comprehend how crazy it must be for them.

And some of these people were acting like fools even over people who aren't even celebrities. Remember that guy who auditioned and just wanted to do the red carpet stuff at the finale? Yeah, barely. Well, he actually did get to do that, and he was hanging around with a camera crew in tow. Someone in the bleachers recognized him, I guess, and maybe they were just being nice, but they asked for an autograph, and he got all cutely excited. And then some broad (seriously - she was one of those older-ish, obnoxious, loud types) asked him to sign her chest. OMFG. I need to find out what this was being taped for because I think you could probably see my friend and I just look at each other with jaws dropped. She probably doesn't even know his name (I still can't remember his name), and she wanted him to sign across her boobs? WTFever.

Anyway, photos!


Idol Tonight hosts Kim Caldwell, Justin Guarini and Rosanna Tavarez (Rosanna was best-dressed today. Her dress was GORGEOUS!)













Fantasia
















Lacey Schwimmer
















Bo Bice and his (expectant) wife Caroline


SYTYCD dancers Lauren, Anya, Pasha, Sara and Melody.


SYTYCD dancers Lacey, Hok, Dmitry and Dominic



Michael Johns



Jason Castro


Justin Guarini and Paula Abdul


The Davids arrive


David Cook macks on Kim Caldwell during the live segment while Archie looks adorable


Kim and David hug after Cookie gives her a flower


A spray-tanned Constantine Maroulis (who arrived with one of the Sunset Tan girls)


You can kind of see a lot of people here


Haley Scarnato and Melinda Doolittle


Jerry Springer


Paris Bennett and Jasmine Trias


Ace Young


Kevin Covais


Hot (Dmitry from SYTYCD2) and Not (Chris Sligh)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

David Cook Is Our New American Idol

Simon Cowell's harsh words to David Cook last night seemed to serve as the impetus for David's fans to really rock the vote, and the majority of the 97.5 million votes went David's way, leading to a 56-44% victory for the Cookie man.

Even without Simon's possible reverse psychology, I think Cook would have won, but I think it would have been closer. I know that I personally voted longer and harder than I normally would have had Simon not thrown him under the bus Tuesday night. I venture to say that a lot of non-voters got motivated to vote as well. But I think Cook has been winning the vote ever since "Always Be My Baby".

I couldn't be happier. Cook is the first AI winner I have ever fully backed. And I think Idol needs to have a true musician and viable recording artist win this thing. I think he legitimizes the show in the same way Kelly Clarkson did. For all the "Well, Daughtry just shows it's ok if you don't win" talk, it's really all a load of crap because Daughtry and Kellie Pickler are the only non-winners in six seasons to legitimately have a good music career. All the runners-up got a record deal but promptly lost it. David Cook will sell records - he's been selling like a fiend on iTunes - and it's good for the show that he is the winner.

The reaction to Cook's win was so sweet all the way around. David Archuleta is the sweetest thing ever (and I've done a real turnaround on this kid in the last 24 hours; he's precious, and he really sang his ass off yesterday and especially today on "Apologize"), and his smile never left his face the whole night, least of all when his buddy David Cook won. Even scary Dad-chuleta applauded. David Cook's first words were "Give it up for David Archuleta!". And then he cried. A lot. I don't think any winner outside of Fantasia has cried as much. And Cook's got such a manly exterior that you don't expect it, and when he cries, you cry with him. He pulled it together briefly until his mom came on stage, and then he lost it again. And he sang his winner's single (which I want ... now!) with tears in his eyes. Simon wanted a "moment" from David Cook yesterday, well he got it a day late because that was truly a magical moment.

Even before the big announcement, this finale was probably the best ever, with non-stop musical numbers (save for the Mike Meyers promo, which at least was funny and involved the finalists, one of whom - Cook - totally showed some serious acting chops) and the show's best-ever Top 12 as a whole.

The highlights (beside the obvious):
*Best Idol Moment Ever (surpassing Simon's Fantasia face) - Ryan Seacrest trying to breakdance with the Sick Step crew during Donna Summer's solo
*Second-Best Idol Moment Ever - David Hernandez singing the "to be warm and NAKED" line in "Father Figure" like he was having phone sex
*Andrew Cook mouthing to the camera as the credits roll, "That's my brother!"
*Jason Castro, who was already making me laugh and laugh by not even trying to sing "Get Ready" even though there was a teleprompter, jumping 10 feet in the air after getting too close to the pyro at the end of the song
*Michael Johns stealing the show in every group number, especially on "Heaven", when he was not even singing lead!
*Brooke White sounding amazing every time she opened her mouth (even on Donna Summer!). Her duet with Graham Nash was terrific.
*David Archuleta proving that he can actually sing a contemporary song. He was awesome on "Apologize".
*Archie and Cookie harmonizing with each other on "Hero", making me actually enjoy a Nickelcrap song.
*Michael Johns and Carly Smithson ... they should sing together all the time!
*Blake Lewis singing along to Jordin's new single (OMG BLORDIN!!!!1111)
*David Cook's Guitar Hero commercial homage to Risky Business
*Paula Abdul dancing to "I Am Your Brother" and Renaldo not stopping even when the band stopped
*Realizing that we may never have to hear "Dream Big" or "In This Moment" ever again because there's a different winner's song!

The lowlights:
*Amanda Overmeyer acting like she wanted to crawl in a hole and die during every group number. I'm sure Asia'h Epperson is really pissed off right about now.
*Jordin Sparks' ugly gold dress
*Randy's Captain Kangaroo red jacket
*The rumored Mariah Carey-David Cook duet that never happened.
*Anya and Danny not coming out and dancing on "Apologize"
*The unnecessary, albeit funny, Gladys Knight and the Ben Stiller-Jack Black-Robert Downey Jr. "Pips" video that had nothing to do with Idol
*George Michael as the "biggest star in the world" (although he sounded amazing on "Praying for Time" towards the end)
*The Jonas Brothers. They're "big" because why?

I'm so pissed that of all the finales I've been to, this wasn't one of them. I'd have gladly traded last year's to be in the Nokia tonight, even in the nose-bleeds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Problem With American Idol Finales

Last night, I had a problem with the system of the Dancing with the Stars finale, which placed so much emphasis on things they don't normally do on the show (lifts, hip-hop). Now, it's American Idol's turn to get my ire.

Based on Simon Cowell's comments, it appears as if the AI finale is all about singing a sappy coronation song that has that fireworks/confetti moment and all about what you do that one night. Months of ass-kicking and originality and consistency means nothing if you don't outsing your competitor in the finale. And when I say outsing, I mean out-glory note, out-key change, out-vocal gymnastics a ballad. "You can sing the phone book" apparently means that you can sing lots of schlocky ballads, as David Archuleta has done all year. It's not showing that you can sing any genre, any style, any tempo, as David Cook has shown all season.

So I guess Archie got that memo, and Cookie did not, because Archie came out with an arsenal of three ballads, two of which were written over 30 years ago and one which sounded like a dreary mess written in 1930 (and WTF were all those eye-yai-yai-yai-Is in the chorus?!), while Cook did an iconic rock song (U2! OH MY GOD!), the first-ever up-tempo American Idol coronation song and a contemporary, partially acoustic mid-tempo song sung beautifully.

Oh, and apparently, it's also bad to NOT reprise a song you've done in the competition for your final song. Because giving your audience something new and showing progression is wrong! And doing a song you did in week 2 (and not even as well as back then) is the way to win.

So why even have such a drawn-out competition then? Just pick 12 singers, have them all do one song, and have the winner be decided right then and there? Why the journey if the journey isn't rewarded?

Sigh. I just don't understand this show anymore. Bah.

Oh - but this post cannot go without mentioning the two highlights of the night:
*Jason Castro yawning in the audience
*The montage of past Idol winner superstars Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and DAUGHTRY! (who didn't win!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Problem With Dancing With The Stars

With a pair of 30s, Kristi Yamaguchi is in the lead based on the judges' scores after the final performance show of Dancing with the Stars. She likely will become the first female celebrity to win the show since Kelly Monaco in season 1, and she deserves to win since she has been the strongest dancer, doing the most difficult dancing, since week one.

She outshined the two men on the group cha-cha. Her freestyle, on the other hand, wasn't that enjoyable for me, even if it was loaded with difficulty. It was just too frenetic and not all that believable with the hip-hop. And herein lies the problem with the show.

Half of the finale is based on the freestyle, which, based on the judges' comments, is all about lifts. And also hip-hop. None of which you can do (with a few exceptions) throughout the show. Everytime someone put some hip-hop into their Latin dances, Len would pitch a fit and say how much he hates all that "hip-hop boogaloo" while docking them at least a point. Only one of the finalists - Cristian - did not do hip-hop and did not stack his freestyle with lifts. Obviously, part of that was based on his injury, but I think that judging someone lower than others just because they did less lifts is ridiculous.

That being said, Kristi should absolutely win, and Cristian should be the runner-up. Fine as he is, Jason was plodding throughout the show tonight and should be third. Kristi's cha-cha sealed the deal for me. She came out there like Cha-Cha DeGregorio, the best dancer at St. Bernadette's. (with the worst reputation), and just lit the dance floor (and Bruno!) on fire. A lot of times this season, I've thought she was better than her partner Mark, who can kind of drive me bonkers with his frenetic and hard-hitting choreography and fish faces. I almost died when he told her not to make that face during practice because hello? That's like what he does all the time!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

David Vs. David Week To Week

Since I think a whole season's worth of performances should be taken into consideration when choosing an American Idol, I thought I'd look back and see from week to week how they stacked up, based on my comments here and scores at It's Destiny.

I think David Cook has been one of the most consistently good competitors on this show, with just one horrible misfire (Innocent) and only a small handful of "meh" performances (rock and roll week). David Archuleta started off huge (Imagine) and has peppered some good performances (Stand By Me, And So It Goes) with some big mis-steps (We Can Work It Out, You're The Voice, With You).

Semifinals Week One:
Cook - Happy Together, Archuleta - Shop Around
What I said then:
Cook - He was the first one to make any good impression on me, turning a total pop song into a modern-sounding rock song. He comes across as a smug bastard, though, so he needs to watch that. But if he keeps on performing like that, I can't really hate.
Archuleta - This kid comes across as such a 12-year-old dork with his constant giggling. I really want to hate the kid because he seems like such a precocious little monster, but there's something about him that just wins you over. I think it's his unbridled joy at performing. That, and he can really sing. He had a little Peter Brady vocal moment towards the end, though.
Round One - Cook

Semifinals Week Two:
Cook - All Right Now, Archuleta - Imagine
What I said then:
Cook - Again, another performance I liked (he really showed Robbie Carrico how to rock), but he continued to come across as a total prick, and one that Simon now HATES. Which means he won't be long for this competition. (hehe got that one totally wrong!)
Archuleta - This was a pimpage level I have never before seen. Getting the pimp spot, Paula crying, Simon already saying the kid was going to win, filling the audience with the David Archuleta Tween Fan Club. It was good, but I've seen similarly good performances in the semifinals - three in particular last year from Melinda and Lakisha. And the kid really needs to fix his breathing when he's singing, and he especially needs stop that distracting lip-licking.
Round Two - Archuleta

Semifinals Week Three:
Cook - Hello, Archuleta - Another Day In Paradise
What I said then:
Cook - HELLO, David Cook! Now THIS is called making it your own. To even think about turning a Lionel Richie syrupy ballad into a rock ballad takes serious balls, not to mention originality. This was really, really cool. I agree with the judges - it could be a hit today. Oh, and if they thought Blake's "You Give Love A Bad Name" was a risk ... this totally surpassed that in the risk department.
Archuleta - If he hadn't given his Mr. Junior America speech about picking this song because it would raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, I'd have liked this better. He gave a good vocal with a cool (but familiar) arrangement, and he played the piano. He really knows how to work this game.
Round Three - Cook

Top 12 - Beatles 1:
Cook - Eleanor Rigby, Archuleta - We Can Work It Out
What I said then:
Cook - My favorite of the night. David is very NOW, and it seems like he can turn any song into something prevelant and current. And he can sing! He is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Score: 9.25 (Whoah, I scored that better than Brooke's Let It Be, which may be my favorite performance of the season?! That surprises me!)
Archuleta - No, he couldn't work it out after forgetting his lyrics early on. And I think he improvised the ending as well. Even without those mistakes, this certainly wasn't pimp-spot worthy. It was very "junior high talent show" -esque. Score: 6.0
Round Four - Cook in a landslide

Top 11 - Beatles 2:
Cook - Day Tripper, Archuleta - The Long And Winding Road
What I said then:
Cook - It wasn't as good as "Eleanor Rigby", but I don't think there's anything he could have done this week that would have been better. (BTW - check out the studio version on sale at iTunes. WOW!). I hate how Simon said it was predictable when I know that if David had sung a ballad, Simon would have taken him to task for not changing the arrangement like he did "Hello". Score: 8.75
Archuleta - I knew the judges would play up the "David is BACK!" thing. His vocals were pretty flawless, but he still comes across as a singing child robot who doesn't really quite understand just what he is singing about. Score: 8.75
Round Five - Draw

Top 10 - Your Birth Year:
Cook - Billie Jean, Archuleta - You're The Voice
What I said then:
Cook - What I love about David Cook is that not only does he do rock versions of songs that have no business being rock songs ... but he does them on nights when he doesn't have to! He could have easily just picked a rock song from 1983, but he takes chances on non-rock songs and sings them as if they're completely different songs. I don't care if it's not his arrangement, and I don't see why some people are getting their panties all in a bunch because he's doing other people's arrangements. Ryan introduced it as Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean. What makes David "original" is that he's doing something that in the context of Idol is totally unheard of. Score: 9.5
Archuleta - Another "message" song from the singing child robot. Gah. I'm really tired of it. Save it for Idol Gives Back! I have no idea what this particular song is; all I know is that is possibly the cheesiest song I've ever heard. Everything about the whole performance was Up With People-esque. Score: 7.0
Round Six- Cook in another landslide

Top 9 - Dolly Parton:
Cook - Little Sparrow, Archuleta - Smoky Mountain Memories
What I said then:
Cook - David Cook rocks. He delivers standout performances week after week. The arrangement was good, and the vocals were outstanding. Who knew he had such range?! Score: 9.0
Archuleta - I actually really liked it up until the end when he cracked on the high note and totally oversang the song. He sings the same song every week. It's getting very tiring. Score: 8.0
Round Seven - Cook

Top 8 - Inspirational Songs:
Cook - Innocent, Archuleta - Angels
What I said then:
Cook - Um, where did that voice come from? That low voice thing was kind of scary. While I appreciate that he did not stick us with all ballads this week, WTF was that song, and WTF was that cheesy "give back" thing on his hand? But "pompous", Simon? Huh?? Score: 6.25 (points deducted for the hand thing) (hahaha!)
Archuleta - I really like this song when Robbie William sings it, but I really didn't like the ways in which David changed up the melody. I'm really not getting Randy tonight because the runs being the hottest moment on this show? WTF?! I thought he oversang it a bit. Score: 7.25
Round Eight - Archuleta

Top 7 - Mariah Carey:
Cook - Always Be My Baby, Archuleta - When You Believe
What I said then:
Cook - This sunny-sounding song got turned into a haunting rock song. I was unsure of this at first, but then the strings kicked in and then the drums, and then the glory notes, and I was really kind of blown away. And wow, Paula's dead-on (who knew such words could be spoken? HA!) - that COULD be in a movie soundtrack. Score: 9.5
Archuleta - I thought he was trying to do too much with it and kind of made it a bit overwrought and overcooked. The kid has a nice, pure voice, and he did make one run in the middle of the song that was pretty cool, but it was by no means a perfect vocal. The gasping for air was very noticeable in the beginning, the high notes were a bit shaky, and the low note he tried at the end didn't work. The clothes didn't work with this song either. Leather pants and spiky do while singing THIS song? HEH?! Score: 8.25
Round Nine - Cook

Top 6 - Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Cook - Music Of The Night, Archuleta - Think Of Me
What I said then:
Um, nothing. I was traveling that week. But I would have said that David Cook singing Music of the Night straight and hitting those high notes was a revelation, and David Archuleta singing Think of Me with a boy band arrangement (and while mumbling a missed lyric) was an abomination.
Round 10 - Cook in another landslide

Top 5 - Neil Diamond:
Cook - I'm Alive, All I Really Need Is You; Archuleta - Sweet Caroline, America
What I said then:
Cook - David brought back the David Cook concert series to the stage. I liked the first performance, but I loved the second one. The acoustic to rock band to acoustic was brilliant. Scores: 8.75, 9.25
Archuleta - Sweet Caroline is, by nature, a cheesy song, and a song that you pretty much associate with drunken people singing in a bar or stadium. David Archuleta made it a different kind of cheesy, and I like my cheese a certain way, and certainly not HIS way! He boybanded it, and I hated it. Give me back my drunken bar singing! America was better (albeit repetitive as hell), but for Paula to say that his voice couldn't be more on point is totally ridiculous (and she was obviously going off the dress rehearsal) because David's voice was about to go Peter Brady "Time To Change" on us. Totally agree with Simon about the "clever" song choice. Simon says clever, I say pandering. And you know Kristy Lee would have been all over this one! (Ha! She said in an interview that she would have picked this song if she were still on the show that week) Scores: 4.0, 7.75
Round 11 - Cook

Top 4 - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Cook - Hungry Like The Wolf, Baba O'Riley; Archuleta - Stand By Me, Love Me Tender
What I said then:
Cook - David Cook should have owned tonight, but something was off. Could it have been the weight of the high expectations? Perhaps. I think he definitely suffered from my high expectations, especially after I heard he was going to do two of my most favorite songs - "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Baba O'Riley". I was so excited that he was going to sing these songs on the Idol stage that I was slightly worried he wouldn't measure up to my expectations, and he didn't. "Hungry Like The Wolf" wasn't energetic or fun enough for me (and he flubbed a lyric at the end), and "Baba O'Riley" was sang well but was WAY too short and WAY too slow. I kept waiting for him to rip it up and rock out, and he never did. Scores: 7.75, 8.25
Archuleta - Archuleta pulled out all the stops tonight, crooning a love song ("Love Me Tender") to the tweens and singing a song right up his alley - "Stand By Me". I actually really liked "Stand By Me", and I thought "Love Me Tender" was pleasing on the ear (except for the end of that falsetto). I just could not watch the little kid trying to be romantic with his squinty gaze and constipated look into the camera. It was just wrong. Scores: 8.5, 8.25
Round 12 - Archuleta

Top 3:
Cook - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Dare You To Move, I Don't Want To Miss A Thing; Archuleta - And So It Goes, With You, Longer
What I said then:
Cook - Oy too much text for something just two entries down. I'll just give the scores: 9.25, 7.75, 9.0
Archuleta - Scores: 8.0, 6.0, 7.75
Round 13 - Cook

So in 13 rounds, the total goes:
Cook - 9
Archuleta - 3
Tie - 1

In my eyes, David Cook has consistently beaten David Archuleta head-to-head nearly every week. With a track record and consistency like this, I can't fathom the thought of Cook losing. DCFTW!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

David Cook vs. Team Archuleta

So it's David vs. David next week for the American Idol crown, and Team Archuleta already is out for the kill (And when I say Team Archuleta, I don't mean little David, who doesn't seem to be in any way involved in all this and who has exuded class throughout the entire thing).

Archie's vocal coach, Dean Kaelin, did an interview with a Utah Fox affiliate and claimed that Archie had an up-tempo arrangement of "Longer" that got pulled last-minute by the producers, that he had wanted to sing "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" but that they took it away from him and gave it to David Cook, and that Syesha had wanted strings but they told her no but let Cook have strings. Hold up, dude. First of all, an up-tempo arrangement of LONGER? HA! Secondly, there's no way in hell Archuleta could pull off the Aerosmith song. And lastly, none of Syesha's songs really warranted a string section, and how is that the vocal coach's business anyway? This vocal coach apparently did another interview in which he said David Cook was the worst of the night and that Syesha was better than him. (source: TWoP)

There was another interview with another person in the Archuleta camp - someone who works on his arrangments. This guy did a radio interview (you can download it here) where he said:

"And again I was a little bit frustrated. We had put a lot of time into making sure the arrangement for that was absolutely amazing, I didn't want to see him do a straight cover. And so we put together kind of a hip hop ballad feel behind that lyric and melody, and the producers taking that song overrode what we did and just wanted to have him sing a straight cover. I'll tell you what, the whole world would be talking this morning about what we did cause it was cool." (bolding mine)

We? First of all, isn't it a bit of an unfair advantage to have people do his arrangements for him? And secondly, what "WE" did? Wow, leech much?

Meanwhile, David Cook is staying classy (and I deeply apologize for calling him a smug bastard early in the season. Wow, I got that one totally wrong). His support of both Archie and Syesha during the Top 2 announcement was very nice to see. Contrast that with the reporting from several publications that Daddy Archuleta was the only person in the studio to not give David Cook a standing ovation after his Aerosmith performance on Tuesday. And that Dad-chuleta was the only one to not stand during Syesha's sing-out. Pfft. Guess the days of Justin's dad dancing in the audience and cheering during everyone's songs or Ruben and Clay's mom hugging after the announcement are over.

I can't believe that TPTB would want Daddy Archuleta to win. Because I'm sure Daddy sees it as Team Archuleta winning and not David Archuleta winning. Let the kid grow up and do what HE wants to do, and not what his DAD wants him to do. He seems like a genuinely sweet kid who doesn't deserve to have his dad's "team" act the way they are. So FREE DAVID ARCHULETA! (And vote for David Cook!)

Simon Says WTF?!

Last night's American Idol Top 3 result show was memorable not for the foregone-conclusion anointing of the David-David Top 2 but for probably the best reaction to anything on the Idol stage EVER.

As Season 3 winner Fantasia in her Kool-Aid man dyed hair was performing some crazy song like something out of a Grace Jones video in the 1980's, Simon's expression pretty much mirrored that of most of the people watching. Just one pure WTF?!



Unfortunately we didn't get to see a big WTF?! expression from Randy Jackson after his love child David Archuleta got the big shock boot because that didn't happen. Randy's head would have exploded if that happened. Archie's a nice kid, but I really would have liked to have seen Randy lose his shit. He's the most worthless judge ever. Damn you, voters!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Three Sing Three

Although it seems like a foregone conclusion that it will be a David-squared Idol finale, we still have a Top 3 show to do. David Archuleta gets praised to the high heavens by his "dawg" Randy despite messing up lyrics on his first two songs (that's at least four songs now that I know he messed up - or five if you count "Seasons of Love"), but even Archie can't escape the criticism when he ridiculously tries to sing a Chris Brown song. David Cook gets the Cowell seal of approval and inexplicably rocks out Roberta Flack. And Syesha gamely makes an effort despite the big bus coming right at her.

The Judges' Songs:

David Archuleta - And So It Goes (chosen by Paula Abdul) - If I were a contestant, I would be scared to get a song from Paula because she does not have a good track record with these things. "And So It Goes" is pretty, if not dull. And it's very slow. David makes a good choice to start it a capella (with assistance for the opening from the band) and does a very nice job with that part. However, he stumbled with the "and so you will soon I suppose" line and then cracked like Peter Brady again while doing his usual vocal gymnastics. But none of the judges outside of Simon care because apparently David can do no wrong.
Score: 8.0

Syesha Mercado - If I Ain't Got You (Randy Jackson) - I'll bet she already knows what she's going to do because she did it before on "The One"! At least she's not lounging on the piano like she did on that show. She sang this well, but it was nothing any of us hadn't seen before. I've seen a dozen performances of this song like this. There wasn't anything unique about it at all, and she didn't put her own stamp on it. I'm right there with Simon so far tonight.
Score: 7.75

David Cook - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Simon Cowell) - Simon's psychotically clever, choosing this song to contrast everyone else's unoriginality. Damn, Simon's a genius, as is David. That was terrific! His range continues to amaze me. Also genius? David (very sincerely and without any hint of pandering) saying Happy Mother's Day to his mom. On the other side of the coin, Randy is the dumbest dumb that ever dumbed. "I wanted more rock from you" ... I'm sorry, but you can't really rock that song, but David rocked it out as much as humanly possible while keeping the melody intact. Anyone notice Simon Cowell clapping mid-song? Wow! I don't recall ever seeing him do that before!
Score: 9.25

Personal Choice:

David Archuleta - With You - This is Sanjaya levels of comedy here, seeing little Mormon 12-year old David singing words like "I need you boo" and attempting to "dance". It just showed how irrelevant he is in the current music scene. Actually, it was kind of like watching those KidzBop commercials on TV. The vocals were there, but the ending was ridiculously out of place, and he messed up the words again, and yet no one calls him on it! They eviscerated Jason Castro for doing it, but they don't even mention it when David does it on the first two songs!
Score: 6.0

Syesha Mercado - Fever - Well she certainly brings out the theatrics here. I can't recall another Idol finalist outside of Nikko Smith who has used movement to enhance their performances as she has. The lighting, however, did her NO favors, casting shadows on her face while she was sitting on the chair. I don't quite agree with Paula in that this doesn't show who Syesha is as an artist because I think this was right up her alley. She's destined for Broadway, and I think she'll have a great career there.
Score: 8.5

David Cook - Dare You To Move - Like Baba O'Riley, that song was ridiculously short, and David didn't have enough time to really give that song some justice. I also don't think his vocals were as strong on this song as on other songs. The rehearsal clip sounded better.
Score: 7.75

Producer's Choice:

David Archuleta - Longer - I felt like he barely got through this song without biffing the lyrics. You can tell when he's struggling to get the lyrics because the volume gets lower, and he just barely found them in time right before the bridge. The ending was pretty, but that song was just another typical boring, treacly AC ballad from him.
Score: 7.75

Syesha Mercado - Hit Me Up - This is a crazy song choice by the producers. While it's contemporary, it's also not a singer's song. If they wanted a Rihanna vibe, they should have given her a Rihanna song. I think she would have done better with a more well-known song like S.O.S. She sounded great when they did "Don't Stop The Music" on Idol Gives Back. However, on this song, she had some pitch problems throughout, and the song was very forgettable. The producers couldn't make it more obvious that they want her gone.
Score: 7.0

David Cook - I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - I love how David changes things up to put his own stamp on songs. The string section gave it a nice touch of class, if not some tempo to get enough out of the short amount of time he has to sing. And, wow, he got the total rock star lighting. Randy Jackson calling it predictable is a total joke considering he NEVER calls Archuleta out on being predictable.
Score: 9.0

As Simon said, David Cook wins the night, and I would put Syesha at second, just ahead of Archuleta. Archuleta's Chris Brown song was laughably bad at this stage of the game. But we all know that ain't gonna happen. David vs. David has been what the judges and producers have been all about for weeks, and they'll find a way to make it happen.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

We Will Not Rock You

It should have been a great night, with tonight's American Idol theme being Songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But when the most adult contemporary singer of the lot is the best of the night, something is seriously wrong.

David Cook should have owned tonight, but something was off. Could it have been the weight of the high expectations? Perhaps. I think he definitely suffered from my high expectations, especially after I heard he was going to do two of my most favorite songs - "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Baba O'Riley". I was so excited that he was going to sing these songs on the Idol stage that I was slightly worried he wouldn't measure up to my expectations, and he didn't. "Hungry Like The Wolf" wasn't energetic or fun enough for me (and he flubbed a lyric at the end), and "Baba O'Riley" was sang well but was WAY too short and WAY too slow. I kept waiting for him to rip it up and rock out, and he never did.

Jason Castro had potential to do well tonight also, but he picked two way-too-mellow songs - "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" - and forgot the words to Mr. Tambourine Man and mumbled along till he got the lyric. The judges totally slammed him. Simon told him to pack his bags, which may be Jason's only chance of staying in it. I think it's time to cut the kid loose, though. If I were a big Castro fan, I wouldn't want any more damage done than there already has been, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was Jason's way of saying he wants out.

The antithesis of Jason Castro is David Archuleta, who Randy said is the only contestant who is trying to win this thing. To which I say, STFU, asshole. WTF do you think David Cook and Syesha have been trying to do week after week?! That's total bullshit, and I hope that the overpimping of Archuleta backfires on your asses. Anyway, Archuleta pulled out all the stops tonight, crooning a love song ("Love Me Tender") to the tweens and singing a song right up his alley - "Stand By Me". I actually really liked "Stand By Me", and I thought "Love Me Tender" was pleasing on the ear (except for the end of that falsetto). I just could not watch the little kid trying to be romantic with his squinty gaze and constipated look into the camera. It was just wrong.

And speaking of things being just wrong, Syesha Mercado did not really equate the civil rights movement with her journey on Idol, did she? Oh hells no. And those tears? Damn. She just bought herself another week. Damn you, Paula Abdul, for making her cry.

So between Syesha's tears, the judges saying Archuleta CRUSHED the competition, and Jason in desperate need of votes, I'm seriously worried about David Cook. I voted non-stop during the last 20 minutes of voting and did not get a single busy signal. Gulp.

Duran Duran Concert

Back in the 80's, Duran Duran was pretty much the "it" band. Twenty-five or so years later, they still have it. The boys are pushing 60 (just kidding. Actually 50), but they can still sing and entertain like crazy, and they're still smoking hot. Hello, John Taylor! (even though I was a Roger Taylor girl back in the day ...)

I went to their sold-out concert at the Nokia Theatre in downtown LA on Sunday. It was seriously one of the best and most fun concerts I've ever been to (Although no one has been able to top Prince yet. And anyone would be hard-pressed to top THAT concert). Duran Duran played all their old hits, plus songs from the latest album, Red Carpet Massacre. The songs I remember off the top of my head:

Red Carpet Massacre (new song)
Nite Runner (new song)
Hungry Like The Wolf
Planet Earth
Falling Down (new song - the one w/ Justin Timberlake and Timbaland)
Come Undone
The Reflex
Save A Prayer
A View To A Kill
All She Wants Is
I Don't Want Your Love
Skin Trade
Notorious
Girls On Film
Ordinary World
Sunrise
Wild Boys
Rio (encore)

The older songs got the best reception, naturally. Some of the songs are just even more awesome live, particularly Wild Boys. I also liked Nite Runner A LOT more live than the recorded version. And it was a bit like having an out of body experience seeing Duran Duran sing The Reflex live in concert after watching that video, which is a concert video, so many times when I was a kid. I was also reminded of what a great song Ordinary World is. That's going to have to go back in my iPod rotation.

The only hit songs MIA were Is There Something I Should Know, Union of the Snake and New Moon On Monday (the latter two not being quite as popular as the other songs, so I'm not really too surprised, but I thought we'd get Is There Something I Should Know).

EVERYONE was singing along and dancing to all the classics. It was cool, but also a little unfortunate because sometimes the crowd drowned Simon out. haha.

Here's a little bit of Hungry Like The Wolf. I was up in the Mezzanine level, so I just tried to focus on the big screen:





And the full version of Save A Prayer:


Your Vegas, a new band from England, opened for Duran Duran. They had some pretty good songs. I especially liked this song - The Way The War Was Won: