Friday, February 27, 2009

Quest For The ABDC Title

Quest Crew and Beat Freaks are battling it out for the America's Best Dance Crew title this week, and Quest Crew THREW DOWN with their performances tonight.

First, they escaped elimination with an absolutely sick routine in the Hip-Hop Decathlon Challenge (threading, tutting, krumping, housing and waving ... hmm, not sure how they came up with decathlon here with these 5 dance styles). You can watch their routine HERE. The tutting section, especially, is so dope. Hok slayed this. And then Dom did air flares on his elbows. Jesus.

Then in the final dance, they created a piece called "Or-QUEST-ra", with Ryan creating some music on piano. They actually had a piano out there for the dance, and Dom did some headspins on it. That's awesome enough as it is, but then he was speeding up and slowing down and then speeding back up his spins to match the music and choreography. SICK. And their routine wasn't all headspins and tricks. Their actual dancing was clean and tight and different. They totally brought it with both dances tonight.

By contrast, I felt like Beat Freaks didn't live up to what they had been doing in past episodes. They have been killing it the last couple of weeks, especially with the illusion challenge, but this week's routines seemed a bit uninspired to me (although nothing was as uninspired as Fly Khicks' decathlon routine. zzzzzzzz). I don't have issues with them possibly winning because they have been strong all season, but I just don't think they brought it when it counted this week.

You can vote by phone or internet at the MTV website until next Wednesday night. The number to call for Quest Crew is 1-877-752-7392. For Beat Freaks it's 7391.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Simon's Prayers Answered

After Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle performed Wednesday night, Simon Cowell said he prays that American won't vote him through. Well, Simon got his wish ... Nick did not advance to the Top 12. Although, it's not as if Simon couldn't have prevented it from coming to a vote by not advancing him to the Top 36 to begin with!

Advancing from Group 2 into the Top 12 were Allison Iraheta (no surprise), Adam Lambert (pimp spot + rabid fanbase = duh!) and Kris Allen (now THAT was a surprise). Huh. Now I can't complain too much about Kris Allen because he has a nice voice, but I thought he was a little too bland and boy-bandish to stand out. But he's also cute, so we can probably thank the fangirls for this one.

Before the results were announced, the group came out to sing "Closer" by Ne-Yo. It looked like quite a few people were forgetting the words, but it didn't seem as if the vocals were affected too much by it, so I'm wondering if it was all pre-recorded. Anyone else think they were lip-synching?

I think the judges will bring back to the wildcard from this group Megan Joy Corkrey, Matt Giraud and possibly Jesse Langseth, with Megan and Matt likely to make the Top 12. Anoop's chances of making it to the Top 12 are diminishing with each round, especially with Kris making it through today.

Best part of the night for me ... oh hell, the best part of both nights! ... was Brooke White's performance. Brooke, who was one of my favorites last season, sang her brand-new single "Hold Up My Heart", which just went on sale on iTunes. She is so genuine, you can't help but love her.

I do wish, though, that Brooke's first single was her duet with Michael Johns instead - "Life Is Okay" from the "Don't Look Down" soundtrack. I LOVE this song. Here's a YouTube video of it if you want to hear the full song:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

America's Funniest Idol?

If the American Idol contestants continue to keep picking songs that are just so wrong for them, the likes of Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle are going to start looking more and more desirable. Because at least HE brings it and does what he's good at. Unfortunately, what he's good at doesn't quite so much revolve around singing, but making everyone laugh in a way that bad auditions can. But somehow that has gotten him into the Top 36, and he's using the opportunity to bring out the schtick in his 15 minutes of fame.

Nick/Norman did the campiest "And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going" that was more like a Mad TV skit than anything else. It made me totally laugh out loud. But ... American Idol is not a comedy competition, and he probably should have gone on America's Got Talent (and I have a feeling I'm going to say the same thing next week with Scott McIntyre, but in a different, less insulting way).

Having said that, you know it was a bad night when Nick/Norman was one of the better performances of the night. What the hell were these people thinking with their song choices?! "Hey - let's pick some songs that we would never sing and try to advance to the Top 12 with these!" I mean, seriously?! You've got Rihanna type of singer doing Sara Bareilles. You've got a blue-eyed soul piano guy doing Coldplay. You've got a singer-songwriter type doing Michael Jackson. Uh, whaaaat??

Jasmine Murray was the first singer on the night and one of the biggest WTF song choices. She picked "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles and totally butchered it. She was way out of tune. I found it highly amusing that Kara DioGuardi kept harping on people to pick songs like this, and when someone finally does, it's JASMINE, and it's totally not her genre. She probably came into the night as a favorite to advance, and I think she totally blew it.

Another favorite who blew it was dueling piano Matt (Matt Giraud), who wowed everyone in Hollywood with a Ray Charles song and then un-wowed them tonight with "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. Matt was a hot mess on the chorus, gasping for air and screwing up the phrasing and then not hitting the higher range. Going early and sucking = not advancing.

Jeanine Vailes followed their trend and picked the wrong song - "This Love" by Maroon 5. It was so bad that the only positive thing the judges had to say was that she has great legs. And that girl knew she had to show those off because she had ZERO airtime prior to tonight.

After Nick/Norman did his comedy thing, we finally got a legitimate performance from Allison Iraheta, who took on "Alone" by Heart. We first got a painfully awkward live Seacrest interview with her before she went on stage, but once she started singing, it was like WOW. She has an interesting voice and tone, and she kicked that song's ass. She was great.

Kris Allen reverted back to the weird song choices with "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson, but, unlike the first three, he sang it well. He has a nice, pleasant voice. That, however, is the problem ... it's just pleasant. Not WOW. But it was one of the better vocal performances of the night. But if that wasn't good enough for Ricky Braddy, I don't think that will be good enough for Kris.

Megan Joy Corkrey picked a great song for her voice with "Put Your Records On" by Corrine Bailey Rae. I was a little disappointed with this, however. She has an unusual timbre to her voice that stands out, but I don't think it quite gelled with that particular song. And her performance style is AWWWWWWKWARD! But she's quirky and unique, and she has a rare likeable beauty that I think will take her far.

Speaking of awkward performances, big welder Matt Breitzke served up a Tonic song ("If You Could Only See") that looked and felt more like an Air Supply song the way he performed it. For someone that burly, he's awfully soft. He gave that song absolutely no rock.

Jesse Langseth has more rock in her than Matt Breitzke, but she picked one of my least favorite songs in the whole world - "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes. I loathe that song. I think I would have liked Jesse a lot if she had sung something else because she has a unique voice. But that song did her no favors - it doesn't have much melody or range.

Hottie Kai Kalama also picked a song that didn't do him many favors - "What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted" by Jimmy Ruffin. As the judges said, it was too safe and too old-fashioned. It might be listening with my eyes here, but I thought he sounded pretty good, although the first part of the song was a bore. But I thought he brought it at the end and showed some grit and passion, unlike some others, MATT!

Mishavonna Henson continued the trend of curious song choices, doing "Drops of Jupiter" by Train. SHE should have done "Love Song" or something by Colbie Caillat. Mishavonna has a nice tone, but again with the wrong song.

And finally Mr. Broadway, Adam Lambert. He picked "Satisfaction" by Rolling Stones. I wasn't expecting that at all, and he put on a show, both performance-wise and vocally. It's not my cup of tea, however, and he reminds me too much of Constantine Maroulis with the screeching and scraaaaaaagh. Actually, he makes Constantine seem almost reserved. And I know he will be just as polarizing as Constantine, so I don't expect him to win this competition. He will, however, advance to the Top 12. Especially in THIS group. I think Allison and Megan will join him, with Nick/Norman being a possibile spoiler just by being memorable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

From Hero To Zero

Judging from what I've been reading in the Blogosphere, newly-minted AI8 finalist Danny Gokey may have dipped from "Hero" to Zero in about 10 seconds flat. It can't be good if you can make Tatiana Del Toro a sympathetic character, but that's pretty much what Danny did with his self-congratulatory celebration at Tatiana's expense.

Granted, Tatiana is batshit crazy and a huge drama queen and annoying as hell and all about her, but she was a good enough singer to have made the Top 12 from this group, and it came down to her and Danny for the last spot tonight. The proper thing to do for the one advancing in this situation is to hug or console the other person. It's just human decency, right? Especially when you're in a situation such as Danny's, where it was pretty obvious who was going to be advancing. Being gracious should not have been difficult in this case. HOWEVER ... Danny instead whooped and hollered and clapped for himself with Tatiana right by his side. He did eventually hug her, but not quickly enough, IMO, and he had acted cold towards her the entire time they were waiting for the results. His behavior just rubbed me the wrong way, especially coming someone who is being portrayed as sympathetic Saint Danny, the church choir director.

And to make matters worse, one of his "family and friend" in the red room pandered for more votes by holding up a photo of Danny and his dead wife to the cameras. Ugh. As if the show hasn't been shoving Danny's storyline down our throats all season. Couple all of that with 3 of the 4 judges going way overboard with the praise, and, well, let's just say that he better sing his ass off if he wants my vote anytime soon.

Now, let's contrast Danny's behavior with David Cook's last year. David refused to talk about his brother Adam, who was battling a brain tumor. He did not want people to vote for him because of that. I had so much respect for Cook for that. Danny? Er, I get that it wasn't that long ago that your wife died, but it's starting to feel all so exploitative and manipulative right now, so dial it down a notch or two (or 100!), mmkay?

As for the other two finalists, Alexis Grace nabbed the top female spot, and Michael Sarver edged out Anoop Desai for the third spot, in a bit of a surprise. I wonder if Michael got some of Brent Keith's votes. I kept getting those two confused everytime one of them was on the screen.

Next week looks to be a dogfight (on paper, at least) with Adam Lambert, Jasmine Murray, Megan Corkrey, dueling piano Matt, welder Matt (who is only being mentioned as a contender here after Michael Sarver made it through) and hottie Kai Kalama. Argh.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Amazing Grace

The first 12 of American Idol Season 8's Top 36 sang Tuesday night for America's votes, and with some WTF song choices and some WTF singing, you'd never think some of them actually want to make the Top 12.

I'd say exactly one person totally threw down the gauntlet tonight, and that was Alexis Grace, who sang the hell out of Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved A Man". That was the full package right there. Loved the vocals, loved the look, loved the passion and the performance. That was pimp-spot worthy.

But noooo ... they had to (unsurprisingly) give that to Danny Gokey, aka "Dead Wife Danny". Danny apparently already has a huge fanbase. He's probably the favorite to win right now, but if the judges keep up this OTT praise, people are gonna resent him and eventually hate the guy. It might be too much too soon. Just ask David Archuleta and Justin Guarini about that. Danny sang "Hero" by Mariah Carey (GROAN) and sang it well, but it wasn't anything earth-shattering, and he sang better in his audition, so I don't really understand the screaming and all that, KARA. I mean, it wasn't like totally original or anything. Thank god for Simon keeping it real, like usual. Because "sold-out arenas" is NOT in Danny's future, PAULA. First of all, Danny doesn't have the charisma or singing style for that kind of thing. Second of all, is that even happening for Kelly Clarkson?

I'm not sure which personality is real, but this (relatively) subdued version of Tatiana Del Toro kind of sang her butt off with "Saving All My Love For You". If she were only half as irritating as she is, she'd probably get some legitimate, non-VFTW votes.

But you know it's bad when Tatiana is one of the Top 3 or 4 singers on the night. Also up there with her was Ricky Braddy, who did "A Song For You". He can sang, but I kind of found his singing style to be a little overwrought and a little too drawn out. I was again in agreeance with Simon here.

Anoop Desai has a really good voice too, but he was a bit pitchy, and he picked a WTF song in "Angel of Mine" and let the backup vocalists carry too much of the song. In his intro video, he said he wanted to pick songs that he wished people would sing whenever he watched the show. And then he picked THAT. Ooookay. I think he will take the 3rd spot on the night, but it might be close between him and, scarily, Tatiana.

Everyone else falls in the meh to bad category. From mediocre to worst:

Ann Marie Boskovich pageanted her way through "Natural Woman". She sang on pitch, but she doesn't have the chops or the soul to do that song. Her voice is too generic for it.

Michael Sarver did the way overdone "I Don't Want To Be" by Gavin DeGraw. He's likeable and has a cute smile, but there was nothing really special about that performance. And the dancing must go.

Brent Keith did some country song called "Hick Town". His voice is pretty generic and non-descript. To borrow from Paula, he needs to add more colors to his voice.

Stephen Fowler picked a song that has never done anyone any favors - "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson. That did him no favors. At least he didn't forget the words.

Jackie Tohn WTF'd her way through "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley. Everything about that was wrong, from her song choice, to her atrocious outfit, to her screaming. "Personality" and energy do NOT equal good, lady!

Another WTF song choice from Casey Carlson, who did "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police. She's a beautiful girl, but she sure makes some ugly faces when she sings. She was pulling some porn faces. It was creepy as hell.

Worst of the night, however, belongs to Stevie Wright, who sang Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me". I've mentioned on occasion how bad Taylor Swift is when she sings live. Well, I guess Stevie was really trying to imitate Taylor here because that singing was AWFUL. Out of tune ... a total mess.

Overall, a disappointing night for a group the judges have been claiming as the best yet (although they do seem to say this EVERY year). I thought they STACKED this group, but after tonight, I'm thinking maybe not so much ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

DwtS Season 8 Pairings

The pairings for the upcoming Dancing with the Stars season were announced. The big news is the addition of two more So You Think You Can Dance alumni - Dmitry Chaplin (the season 2 shirtless wonder) and youngster Chelsie Hightower (Top 6 in season 4) - who join last year's DwtS finalist Lacey Schwimmer, who was a Top 4 SYTYCD finalist in season 3.

Here are the celeb/pro pairings, per TV Guide:

Belinda Carlisle & Jonathan Roberts
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson
Jewel & Dmitry Chaplin
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas (Figures. But they probably didn't have much choice because of Shawn's lack of height)
Lil' Kim & Derek Hough (lol)
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower
Nancy O'Dell & Tony Dovolani (who's next for Tony - Mary Hart?)
Denise Richards & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer (another non-shocker)
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff

Joanna Pacitti DQ'd from Idol

The oak tree of plants - former A&M recording artist Joanna Pacitti - has been disqualified from American Idol, just one day after the Top 36 was announced.

From the Associated Press:
American Idol contestant disqualified

LOS ANGELES – One of the contestants on "American Idol" who made the top 36 has been disqualified.

"American Idol" has issued a statement saying Joanna Pacitti of Philadelphia is ineligible to continue, but without saying why. Felicia Barton of Virginia Beach, Va., has replaced Pacitti in the top 36.

Pacitti could not immediately be reached for comment.

The LA Times suggests that Joanna was disqualified "to avoid the appearance of impropriety". Tabloids have been saying she has a private relationship with executives of 19 Management.

This never should have happened for a number of reasons. You could make an argument that Joanna should or should not have been in the competition based on her prior record deals and all that, but the fact of the matter is that she flat-out SUCKED in Hollywood and shouldn't have been chosen to be in the Top 36 to begin with. Idol could have saved themselves a lot of headaches by just not choosing her to begin with.

Now if they could only find a way to DQ Tatiana, Nathaniel and Nick/"Norman" along with her ...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Grammy Award Highlights And Lowlights

Here's the lowdown on the award portion of the Grammy Awards: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won a bunch of awards, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year. Coldplay won three awards, including "Song of the Year". Jennifer Hudson won R&B Album of the Year. Adele won Best New Artist. John Mayer won best pop male performance for "Say", which is a total snore-fest of a song. Jason Mraz or Ne-Yo should have won. Sugarland and Lil' Wayne won awards on the telecast. And that's about all I remember as far as awards go. Because really ... the Grammy's aren't about awards. They are about the musical performances and unique collaborations.

Highlights:
- U2 AND Coldplay in the first hour
- Jennifer Hudson's emotional and stunning performance of "You Pulled Me Through" and her Grammy win
- Adele winning Best New Artist (and the Jonas Brothers not winning!)
- The "Rap Pack" and M.I.A., who apparently was trying to induce labor
- Paul McCartney rocking out to "I Saw Her Standing There" on stage and then rocking out to Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" in the audience
- The audience chanting "so good! so good! so good!" during "Sweet Caroline" like they were at Fenway Park
- The new Four Tops (OG and last Four Top standing, Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx)
- Sugarland singing "Stay" and then joining Adele on "Chasing Pavements". Those are two great voices right there.
- The white boy/rapper collaborations - first JT and TI and then Robin Thicke and Lil' Wayne
- Alison Krauss winning her 26th Grammy. Holy cow.

Best LOL moment:
While presenting the Best New Artist Award with Estelle, Kanye West said this award was given to people such as Bob Newhart (I totally thought he misspoke, but it's true. Random!) and John Legend, and then said "but somehow not to either one of us."

Lowlights:
- Miley Cyrus and her 40-year old chain smoker voice ruining Taylor Swift's "Fifteen". Those two do not mesh well together vocally. And way to dress for the occasion, Miley. On a positive note, Miley's singing made Taylor sound good live for a change.
- Seeing Stevie Wonder slum it with the Jonas Brothers. Why, Stevie?! Why?!?!?! And then it got worse when one of the JoBros totally fucked up his first solo line of "Superstition". Not only did his voice crack, but he started to sing the wrong line. Did the Grammy producers promise Stevie that solo act at the end of the show to get him to sing w/ those twerps?
- Chris Brown, who was arrested for an alleged domestic assault on his girlfriend Rihanna, had his Doublemint commercial played early in the TV broadcast. That should be the last time THAT commercial ever sees the light of day.
- Boyz II Men being relegated to backup singers (and barely being shown/heard) in the Al Green/Justin Timberlake collaboration. However, props to all of them for pulling that together last minute after Chris Brown and Rihanna pulled out of the broadcast.

Dancing With The Stars Season 8 Cast Announced

For proof that they do these shows WAY too frequently, look no further than this D-list cast they've drudged up for the next Dancing with the Stars ... (that, and the fact that the last time I've had an opportunity to blog was after the last season's finale)

The cast:
Belinda Carlisle - lead singer of 80's band The Go-Go's
David Alan Grier - comedian, actor (In Living Color)
Jewel - singer/yodeler
Shawn Johnson - gymnast, Olympic gold medalist
Lil' Kim - singer/rapper/convicted criminal
Gilles Marini - naked guy in Sex and the City
Ty Murray - rodeo competitor, Mr. Jewel
Nancy O'Dell - Access Hollywood host
Denise Richards - actress/tabloid staple
Steve-O - Jackass "actor"
Lawrence Taylor - obligatory former football player
Chuck Wicks - country singer, boyfriend of Julianne Hough
Steve Wozniak - Apple co-founder

Seriously? That's the best they could get? I guess I should just be glad the Donny Osmond rumors were false.

Unfortunately, it's looking set up to be the Julianne Hough show once again. People.com says she and her boyfriend Chuck are partners. Ugh. They'll probably pair Maksim with Jewel and Karina with Jewel's husband to have three couples go up against each other. Yuck.

Shawn Johnson FTW! Unless she's paired with Mark Ballas. To which I will call total shenanigans because he already had Kristi Yamaguchi as a partner!