Posts Tagged FOX

Before Lauren Alaina: Hear All Three Versions Of ‘Like My Mother Does’

Kristy Lee Cook, Jesse Lee, Lauren Alaina, Like My Mother Does

Kristy Lee Cook (left), Jesse Lee (center) and Lauren Alaina (right)

Third time’s a charm for the song “Like My Mother Does.”

For anyone who watched Season 10 of American Idol, the loving tribute to “mom” seems tailor-made for runner-up Lauren Alaina.

But “Like My Mother Does” has a history. Lauren’s not even the first Idol singer to record it! That would be Season 7’s Kristy Lee Cook, who sang it on her 2008 post-Idol album Why Wait. Country singer Jesse Lee released her version last year (2010).

Listen to all three versions and read the rest of this post HERE!

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 05.25.10

It was a night Crystal Bowersox did everything she needed to and a night Lee DeWyze did somewhat less than he could have.

It was the night American Idol‘s Top 2 went head-to-head at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

And it was a night that I give to Crystal Bowersox. But who’ll get the Idol crown tonight? For that prediction, stayed tuned until the end of this blog.

Each singer sang three songs last night: one of their favorite songs from earlier in the season; one picked by Idol producer Simon Fuller; and a song that’ll be their first single if they win.

I’m not sure who picked the third songs (probably also Simon Fuller). But this is where Idol producers diverted from their formula of past seasons. The single has always been an original, although often schlocky, song written for the winner to sing. The songs in the past have been fairly “cookie-cutter” and not necessarily the best jump-off point for a singer’s new career. So I’m glad to see the show trying something different. Even so, the idea of a “first single” has become less meaningful ever since the show started selling studio versions of all the Top 12 songs. The real excitement for Crystal and Lee comes in about six months when the first single from their first album gets released.

Here are my rankings of the last night’s finale performances

1) Lee DeWyze – “Beautiful Day” by U2 (Lee’s single if he wins) – Right from the get, I have to admit my bias. My pick here is heavily influenced by my work in the radio biz…and my personal taste. This was the performance last night that I’d most enjoying playing on the radio. For that matter, the song last night I’d most want my iPod to shuffle into. On Lee’s third song of the night, he finally got his nerves under control, which were noticeable and palpable up to this point, and things came together. Lee stayed true to the original while hitting some nuanced vocal differences that spotlighted both Lee’s unique sound and the gorgeous arrangement of the song. The only downside, I couldn’t feel Lee’s connection to the song.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Up To The Mountain” by Patty Griffin (Crystal’s single if she wins) – Okay, to be totally honest, my first reaction when this came on last night was, “Huh? Did someone die?” It seemed a little light on levity and heavy on gravitas–especially for a “single.” But with subsequent listens, this has become one of my favorite Crystal performances. She delivered a controlled yet nuanced vocal and seemed really connected to the song. Not to be Debbie Downer. But I still prefer Kelly Clarkson‘s version with Jeff Beck from Idol Gives Back in 2007.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “Black Velvet”  by Alannah Miles (picked by Simon Fuller) – I’m with Simon Cowell on this one. I kinda dread this song–for being so obvious, such a “bar band/audition” kinda song. But Crystal did something with it, made it her own and gave us her most confident guitar-less performance of the season. Yes, she looked a little uneasy at first as she attempted to descend the staircase in her L.B.D. as she sang. But by the end, she seemed to be having fun and interacting with the crowd, which is important because there’s been plenty of times this season when it’s been hard to tell if she’s been enjoying this whole process.

4) Crystal Bowersox – “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin (Crystal fave from earlier this season) – Crystal’s first song of the night showed that she was comfortable and confident in front of the 7,000 people at the Nokia (significantly larger than the usual Idol audience at Television City). This was solid, if, literally, something we’ve seen before. I gave the edge to her “Black Velvet” for showing us something different.

5) Lee DeWyze – “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel (Lee fave from earlier this season) – This was the first indication Lee might have an off night. Nothing wrong with this version. Except that it wasn’t as good as the first time he sang it on the show. I went back and “A/B-ed” both versions. Lee sang this with much more passion and purpose during “Inspirational Song Week.” This was a good song choice; the song’s kinda his “underdog” theme song. In a way, the song here should’ve been “Hallelujah,” if the idea is to go with a singer’s best effort of the season. But that would’ve meant ended last week’s show and starting this week’s show with the same song. I’m sure show producers either did or would’ve put the kibosh on that.

6) Lee DeWyze – “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. (picked by Simon Fuller) – Uggg. Terrible song choice for Lee by Simon Fuller. The result was an ill-fitting, low-energy effort that played into the general criticism that this season has been nothing spectacular. Lee seemed to be inside his own head as he performed this. I wouldn’t want to say I know what was going on inside. But on the outside, it seemed like Lee wasn’t enjoying the moment.

So, who wins tonight? One of my contentions (I have many, mind you) is that people watched the show last night already knowing who they’d be voting for. That’s a good thing for Lee, who definitely had an off-night, because his fans will remember “Hallelujah” and not “Everybody Hurts” when they vote. I also suspect Lee’s a bigger hit with Idol‘s notorious “power” voters and texters–people who vote hundreds of times compared to more casual viewers. The fact that the judges seemed to pummel Lee, while praising Crystal, will actually energize his supporters to vote hard. I’ve also said in this blog that going into last night, Lee was the actual front-runner. (That’s contrary to what most of the media has been reporting.)

Tonight, Lee DeWyze is crowned the new American Idol. It will not be an “upset,” as many will call it tomorrow. However, there will be a perception that Crystal Bowersox was the better “artist,” and with these people, a sense that she was “robbed.”

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 02.17.10

Okay. Some people prefer the other 24 on FOX. But this is my 24–the Top 24 on American Idol! Although, I’m not sure I’d put the fate of the world, or the president, in the hands of these Glee-ful singers.

Oh, wait! Forgot about “Big Mike.” World, I think we got ya covered.

Here’s the way it was tonight:

JANELL WHEELER – This Florida cowgirl was the first of eight consecutive yeses from the judges. She seems passionate about this. I’m not sold on her chance of making to Top 12.

TYLER GRADY – “That 70s Guy.” Tyler’s a student of the classic rock gods. We learned tonight he watches concert videos of Robert Plant and others, learning their moves and style. There are worse ways to spend your time. I see this guy having no problem finding fans and getting votes. And that makes getting to the Top 12 a lot easier.

LACEY BROWN – She should have made it last season–considering the judges picked the annoying Megan Joy over her in one of those two-sit-down-but-only-one’s-gonna-make-it showdowns. We saw some footage we hadn’t before of Lacey singing “What A Wonderful World” from earlier during Hollywood Week. It’s really quite nice. I officially want to hear more.

ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ, ALEX LAMBERT, and JOE MUNOZ – These three were quickly given the good news in a montage. I’ve said since the first episode this season I expect to see Ashley in the Top 12. And ever since, they’ve given her little screen time. Odd. Alex, umm, it’s a shame, and it will undoubted confuse people who follow the show closely, that your name’s so close to last year’s runner-up. And I can’t recall much about Joe’s singing. I do feel bad that I can’t figure out how to put the accent over the “n’ in his last name. Oh, hang on. Viola:  Muñoz! Gotta love cut’n’paste.

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX – “What is it? Three million people watch this show?” I love it. Oblivious. Authentic. Refreshing. I get the sense Crystal doesn’t even own a TV. And if she did, she be tempted to sell it for peyote money. She’s really, really good. Too good. The kind of good that makes you wonder if America can handle it.

KATIE STEVENS – This 16-year old from the Boston auditions was a lock to make Top 24. So she did. I’d say a lock for Top12, too.

Then they cut a bunch people in a row, quickly, like pulling off a Band-Aid. Idol producers didn’t even put their names on screen. I wasn’t really sure who they were. Guess that’s probably why they’re going home.

ANGELA MARTIN – I mentioned it before. Angela seems to have a cloud following her around. And the cloud strikes again. They answer was no. So for the third time, she’s leaves the show after making some initial noise.

LILLY SCOTT – But it’s a yes for this one. Her jazzy, but not in that annoying “I’m a jazzy show-off,” voice got her to the Top 24, where she’ll need to step it up to stick around. That version of “Rich Girl” wasn’t that good–she had no connection to the song.

PAIGE MILES – Who?? Well, she’s in the Top 24.

SIOBHAN MAGNUS – I haven’t been following this one closely. So, let’s see what you can do. The ladies perform next Tuesday.

MICHELLE DELAMOR – Made it through. Same comment here as directly above.

JERMAINE SELLERS –  We didn’t get much new footage on any of these during this stretch of the episode. We’ll be better able to judge his progress when the guys perform Wednesday.

JOHN PARK – “The Asian Soul Singer.” That’s what I said after his audition. Again, we haven’t seen or heard much from him since.

TORI KELLY – She got frozen out by the judges, despite a sexy version the other night of Katy Perry‘s “Hot N Cold.”

HAELEY VAUGHN – Her mission to become the first black female pop country singer…continues. That’s despite some iffy singing during Hollywood Week. Judges see potential. Simon Cowell said she’s adaptable and a hard worker. Haeley’s going to need to become more consistent. And quickly.

THADDEUS JOHNSON – I think he strove to make his “Man In The Mirror” a massive performance. And I think he didn’t quite get there. But, Thaddeus almost ruined my prediction that no one from Neapolitan (Group Day) would make the Top 24. Thaddeus did…not make it. But wait! Paige Miles was in Neapolitan. Oh, that’s who she is. And as mentioned, Paige is a Top 24-er.

ANDREW GARCIA – Here’s another of my early picks to go far in this competition. And he’s on his way to the next level. Andrew told the judges he loves taking songs and messing with the arrangements. I’m a fan of what I’ve heard so far. Keep that up!

So there’s your Top 24. Umm, no. That’s 23. In the preview for next week, we learn that Tim Urban will be performing with the guys next week. We didn’t see Tim sing last night. Or Tonight. Nor did we see the judges tell him he made it. Hmmm. I say he didn’t make it, originally. Someone else must have, and Tim’s a last-minute replacement. Wonder what happened?

What do you think of the Top 24? Any that shouldn’t be there? Some that should? Lemme know.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 01.20.10

Rebound night. Coming off Tuesday’s lackluster episode, American Idol‘s was looking for a little redemption at the Orlando auditions. They found it.

Redemption in the form of reformed Matt Lawrence, who spent four years in the pokey after robbing a bank with a BB Gun at age 15. Let’s look past the stupidity of that for a second, and just acknowledge that you have to have some giant cajones to pull that off.

So with a bank heist as a backstory, it was fitting Matt chose to sing “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne. He owned it and had no trouble winning over the judges. There’s an authenticity to Matt’s vocals–soulful and effortless as he reaches for those power notes. Look for this laid-back country boy to stick around for a while.

The other big notable last night was Jermaine Purifory. This guy’s got a lot going for him. If he can put it all together, he could be the singer from the Orlando auditions that goes the farthest. Got the looks. Ladies will love that. Entered the audition room with personality and a big smile. And sang a sweet, natural and effortless version of “Smile” (Jermaina apparently knows the Tony Bennett version–but it’s the classic written by Charlie Chaplin).

But it wasn’t all smiles last night. Especially not for Jarrod Norrell, who was removed in handcuffs after he refused to leave the audition room. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” made us all feel like wretches! It sounded like a billy goat getting the Gitmo treatment. Actually, Gitmo’s probably the right place for this guy after the sonic terror he inflicted.

At this stage of the show, there’s something I’m going to call “The Free Pass.” Hollywood Week is a whole lot more interesting to watch if there are some underdogs, screw-ups and other reality TV character types in attendance. Watching the undeserving go home, the undisciplined waste their opportunity, and the dramatics of the various hot messes always makes for good television.

Yes, a few of these Free Passes who given out last night. Benefiting were the Disimone Sisters, who were seemingly advanced to Hollywood by FOX central casting who wouldn’t mind a little “Jersey Shore” on Idol. Big-haired Bernadette (blue dress) and Amanda (yellow dress) will be back at their jobs in mom’s salon soon enough. Very average voices. Yes, blue dress was a little more passable than yellow dress.

I’d almost put Shelby Dressel into the Free Pass category. She’s the 18-year old who can’t move the right side of her face due to a birth defect. Who doesn’t want to see this underdog do well? I know I do. And based on her audition, she deserves another shot to impress (Simon Cowell liked her, not her singing so much). I did some checking around, and it looks like Shelby’s pretty serious about making it in music. She already has a band, and you can hear some of her country-leaning tunes on her website.

That’s all I have time write about today. So apologies to Kristin Chenoweth, who only had enough free time to guest judge one of the two audition days? And Seth Rollins (dad of autistic son) who auditioned nicely with a soulful “Someone To Watch Over Me.” And Jay Stone, really? No one on Idol‘s ever sang and done beat box (as you tried to claim)? Umm…Blake Lewis ring a bell? Jay, I’m just sweatin’ ya. Good luck in Hollywood. (The disclaimer is in case I bump into Jay, who lives here in Miami.)

Those are my thoughts. Let me know yours!

Greg Valentine
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