Posts Tagged Alanis Morissette

Idol Thoughts — 05.26.10

Was the American Idol finale last night a sign of the diminishing returns to come?

Everything about Season 9 had a feel of “lesser-ness” about it. So I guess it’s not surprising the finale would go the same way.

Instead of last season’s kick ass finale teaming of Adam Lambert and KISS, last night we got one of those 60s variety show group-sings of “School’s Out” featuring the Top 12 in school uniforms and a crusty Alice Cooper. Not as cool.

Instead of the brilliant pairing of Idol winner Kris Allen and country superstar Keith Urban, last night’s eventual winner Lee DeWyze got stuck singing with the band Chicago. Lee’s from the Chicago area. Get it? Lame.

Instead of putting some thought into booking the show, it seems like they backed a truck up to the rock ‘n’ roll old-folks home and said, “Get on! We’re taking you to bingo!”

Hall and Oates. Joe Cocker. Bee Gees. Michael McDonald. I guess you can’t spell I-D-O-L without O-L-D.

Alright, so if it were up to me, I’d get a better generational mix of guests. Adam Lambert was scheduled to appear. But producers nixed his appearance after he missed his rehearsal time. For some strange reason, producers (and censors) would like to see what he’s got planned before putting him on-the-air. The “for some strange reason” is knowing sarcasm, in case that wasn’t clear.

My favorite moments last night? Crystal Bowersox performing “Ironic” with Alanis Morissette, which felt legit and relevant. Also Casey James doing “Every Rose Has A Thorn” in an emotional performance with Bret Michaels, who despite his recent health scares seems determined to not go quietly. Good for him. It was also cool seeing Janet Jackson (who’s gone natural with her new short haircut), who, despite having two microphones at one point, didn’t appear to be doing much live singing.

The tributes to Simon Cowell were entertaining, too. I’m sure some will say they were a bit overdone. But the fact is, Simon is, and has been, the show. His departure is a game-changer.

There’s a big question that needs to be asked today: Is Idol on a irreversible slide, destined to never regain the luster and pop culture focus it once had? Or will the culmination of a lackluster season be the inspiration for a rebirth and return to glory?

Right now, it’s hard to see how the later choice above would occur. The problems seem tied to the dismantling of the dysfunction family that was the judging panel: first adding the unnecessary Kara DioGuardi; then letting Paula Abdul get away; and now with Simon Cowell‘s departure.

Only time will tell. The same can be said of Season 9, the real test of which will come in the months and years ahead. Can Lee and Crystal sell music in comparable amounts to other Idol winners and high-profile runners-up? What about third-placer Casey? And will any others from this season’s Top 12 emerge from the pack to become successful recording artists?

Now, for the thing I wanted to put in the first paragraph–but wisely decided to stick with analysis of the entertainment last night instead of the following statistics.

There are a lot of people this morning under the false impression that Lee beat Crystal by two percent of the vote. Here’s what Ryan Seacrest actually said: “Coming into the vote last night, less than 2 percent separated the finalists.” Read those words carefully. What they actually say is that number (two percent) are the votes from every week BUT the finale. The two percent has nothing to do with the finale votes.

My gut tells me Lee beat Crystal by a margin much larger than two percent.

Once again, things seem to work out in the Idol-verse. Lee has a very recordable voice and will benefit more than Crystal from being “The Idol.” As for Crystal, she’ll have an easier time staying true her artistic vision as the runner-up. Both are in good spots. As always, it’s about what they do next with the opportunity they have.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 02.23.10

It’s the first live show of the season. And just for the heck of it, I tried a little live blogging tonight.

It was a little more efficient than my usual mode. Thoughts shared as they’re spilling out. Less time writing after the show. But all the damn typing! It did feel like I wasn’t actually watching the show at times. Just listening. So I started to rewinding the DVR during the commercials and re-watching performances.

That worked pretty well. And on a night that started with Simon Cowell hyping the girls, referencing his recent comments that a girl will win this season, things hit a slick in the road and swerved into a ditch.

There was much to be ambivalent about tonight. And the judges were hard on the hopefuls. Here’s how things went down.

Paige Miles – “All Right Now” by Free – Surprising song choice. Simon is right. This is one of those Wedding Singer-type of songs that can be hard to distinguish yourself singing. Wanted to like it more than I did. She’s got pipes. Pick a better song next time.

Ashley Rodriguez — “Happy” by Leona Lewis. Ashley’s a great looking woman. The singing got a little pitchy at times. I’ve been a big fan…up to now. This was a step backwards.

Janell Wheeler – “What About Love” by Heart – Hmmm. This is not very good. The singing’s flat and the performance feels nervous–awkward and too “mannered.” I’d suggest going back to chalkboard and rethinking song choice for next week. More like the Estelle song she did at Hollywood Week.

Lilly Scott – “Fixing A Hole” by The Beatles – One of the most unexpected song choices on Idol ever. This is a classic, to be certain. But it’s far from the Beatles best known song. Jazzy take on it. She’s doing her own thing. And it’s good! Nice job.

Katelyn Epperly – “Oh Darling” by The Beatles – Hard not to love a girl sportin’ Madonna‘s hair from the Like A Virgin album cover. This girl can sing. At moments, her voice reminds me (just a little) of Kelly Clarkson. My fave so far.

Haeley Vaughn – “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles – Looks like those CD reissues and their Rock Band edition has this group of singers all over the Beatles catalog tonight. I like Haeley’s re-arrangement. In theory. Some notes were quite nice. But some others not so much. She’s got much potential. She just needs to be more consistent and pull it all together. Ellen nut-shelled this performance: “If it was a mess, it was a hot mess.”

Lacey Brown – “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac – I wonder if sitting down on a stool for your song on the first live show is a good idea. I say get up and let people see you. But maybe she’ll stick out by being different. First note wasn’t good. Thought maybe she’d turn it around. But she kept going back to some odd notes. Not my fave tonight. My guess is Lacey could be in trouble.

Michelle Delamor – “Fallen” by Alicia Keys – Wow. Sounds great and looks very comfortable on stage. She’s operating on a higher level than the others we’ve seen so far. I agree with Kara DioGuardi. She needs to develop more uniqueness and believability. Take risks, as Randy Jackson told her.

Didi Benami – “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson – Wondering how this will go. Didi’s known for the waterworks. Hope she’s ready for the judges comments, either way they go. She’s got some skills. But Simon’s got a point. There’s several singers in the competition going for the same sound. Simon and Randy riffing about tonight’s show, basically saying, “Where’s the star power?” Agreed. Some of these performances have been pretty sleepy.

Siobhan Magnus – “Wicked Game” by Chris Issak – Great Song. When Chris Issak sings it. Siobhan’s version is not working for me. A little too “formal” sounding for my taste. My friend Phil Stacey (Idol, Season 6) is making a good point on Facebook. The band is mixed very, very low behind her voice. He says that means they “are NOT helping her.” I hope he doesn’t mean that they’re doing that intentionally. I hope she sticks around. I’d like to hear more from her. She feels genuine.

Crystal Bowersox – “Hand In My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette – She gets a cheer for playing the harmonica. That might be an Idol first. Good stuff–but I was expecting to be blown away a little more. Like Randy and Ellen, I’m a fan. I suspect Crystal could make some music I’d want to listen to. Agree with Simon. She needs to expand beyond her “coffee house” sound.

Katie Stevens – “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé – Good voice. But not doing her best tonight. A little of that “high school talent show” vibe goin’ on in the performance. Getting roasted by the judges for picking such an “old” sounding song. Adam Lambert sang this one last season. Of course, his version was based on the remake by the band Muse. Katie will be fine. This happens every season. Young singer does a song that makes them sound “old.” Gets spanked by the judges. “Youngs it up” next time around.

What did you think?

Greg Valentine
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