Posts Tagged Kara Dioguardi

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
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 05.18.10

Hallelujah! Someone finally answered Idol fans’ prayers for an “Oh, Wow!” moment, something that had been sorely missing this season.

That all changed last night on American Idol when Lee DeWyze took Leonard Cohen‘s song “Hallelujah” to the promised land. Lee’s epic performance solidified him as the front-runner going into next week’s finale.

Last night was crucial. I think the week before the finale is just as important as the finale (maybe more), and here’s why. When people watch next week, they want to know who they’re rooting for. So most people’s minds will already be made up. So last night was the last chance to really change some minds or win over new fans. Lee picked the best time of all to be peaking!

The Top 3 finalists performed two songs each last night: one they picked themselves; the other picked by one of the judges. I say each finalist did better on the song picked for them, which is telling. Even at this late stage, this year’s finalists still have some things to learn about how best to position themselves as artists.

Lee took a moment after his season-stealing performance to thank Simon Cowell for choosing “Hallelujah.” It seemed Lee may have had some initial reluctance about the song. Ironically, the thanks should be mutual. Simon owns the rights to the song. One U.K. news outlet even calls the song “Cowellelujah.” The song’s already put boatloads of cash in Simon’s bank account. Finalists on Simon’s U.K. show, The X Factor, have performed and recorded it. And Lee’s version will undoubtedly add to Simon’s “cha-ching.”

So “Hallelujah” for both of them: win-win.

It’s interesting. “Hallelujah” is one of those songs that has a larger-than-life reputation, but surprisingly little airplay on the radio in America. I’m not sure if I’ve even heard Leonard Cohen’s 1984 original of the song. There’s been notable cover versions by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and k.d. lang. Yet, for the most part, radio silence. Maybe, this is the moment for that to change. If I was running a radio station, you’d be hearing Lee DeWyze’s version today.

So here we go, last night’s performances ranked:

1) Lee DeWyze – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen – Reviewing what I wrote above, it seems I’ve already said quite a lot about this. Let me add that Lee got a ton of help from the Idol crew. The arrangement, the choir, the strings and the horn-section, were all spot-on. With the buzz trending toward the negative about this season, I’m guessing it was just important for the show to have this moment as it was for Lee.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney – I was glad Ellen DeGeneres picked this for Crystal. I remember singling out this song after the Lennon-McCartney Songbook Night a few weeks ago as being a song that should’ve been performed. Crystal, performing without her guitar, used this opportunity to demonstrate her full range, hitting big notes, raspy notes, and soft and sweet notes. Bonus points for not changing the gender references in the song. For starters, the word “man” needs to hit a single beat for the best emphasis. If she’d sang “woman” instead, the extra syllable would’ve made a mess of things.

3) Casey James – “Daughters” by John MayerRandy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi chose this one. Give Kara some credit; if she were Simon, she would’ve picked a song she wrote herself and earned some extra royalties! Casey turned in a solid, nice’n’soft version that featured more piano than guitar. As a song choice for Top 3 Week, Randy and Kara were able to insure Casey focused on his sensitive side at this crucial moment. The downside was the song’s not designed for a big vocal moment. So instead, Casey had a big “quiet” moment.

4) Lee DeWyze – “Simple Man” by Lynyrd  Skynyrd – When I went to bed last night, I actually had this ranked above Casey’s version of “Daughters.” When I listened again this morning, I revised my rankings. But it’s a close one. Lee picked this one himself, and I think it was smart move. The idea that Lee himself is a “simple kinda man” doesn’t hurt his case with Idol voters, who I suspect approve of his no ego, nice guy persona, much in the way the audience responded to Kris Allen last season.

5) Crystal Bowersox – “Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge – So all through this song Crystal had one of those harmonica holder/harness things around her neck. She blew a few notes at the beginning. And a couple at the end. Seemed like a long way to go for the little use it got. Meanwhile, I’m guessing Idol cameramen were running around trying to find an angle to shoot Crystal’s whole face. Ultimately, Crystal might’ve had a more transcendent performance with this song if she’d gone even more acoustic with it (even used that harmonica more) instead of staying close to the original. Crystal sounded better on the quieter beginning of the song. By the chorus, Crystal was, as the judges pointed out, “fighting the arrangement.”

6) Casey James – “OK, It’s Alright With Me” by Eric Hutchinson – Song choice. Always so crucial. Especially on the week before the finals. I don’t see any benefit to picking this song. Strike that. No benefit to Casey. I’m sure Eric Hutchinson couldn’t be having a better day today! The judges said Casey was “playing it safe,” probably because this was similar to a lot of songs Casey’s done this season. I think “safe” is the wrong word. “Risky” is more like it. The week before the finals is not the best time to give the audience a song that manages to be both unfamiliar and more of the same. That said, no complaints on the vocal. I’m a fan.

Casey James goes home tonight. Lee DeWyze vs. Crystal Bowersox in next week’s Idol finale.

Those are my thoughts. Yours? Let me know!

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 05.11.10

I’m surprised by this. But as a theme week on American Idol, “movie songs” doesn’t hold up very well for me.

Sure, it’s a way to put some limits on what song the contestants sing. But genre-wise, movie songs can be every and any genre. So musically, it really isn’t a “theme” at all.

On top of that, I never feel any connection between the performance on the Idol stage to the films the songs are from. Maybe they could show some footage from the movie on the screen behind the singers as they perform? Just thinking out loud. I’m sure that costs money Idol producers would rather not spend.

For that matter, it’d be somewhat dubious to resurrect some of last night’s movies. Helping a giant killer whale find freedom? The second worst Batman movie? A 40-year old AFI Top 100 classic–that 80% of Idol‘s audience has never seen?

Jamie Foxx returned last night. With success in both the films and music, you couldn’t book a guest mentor that makes more sense. Even so, there was a tinge of “been there, done that” seeing that Foxx was on just last season. Foxx got in the finalists faces (literally) and pushed them to be “artists,” not “contestants,” even bestowing tee shirts to the singers with those words on them at the end of his time with them. Big Mike seemed a little put off when Foxx tried to hand him the “contestant” tee. Mike said no, he wouldn’t take it. Foxx didn’t argue. Hey, it’s “Big” Mike…probably wasn’t the right size, anyway!

In addition, the duets were back last night. To save the night, I should say. They turned out to be the highlights. I guess I’m not surprised. On a season where there’s been a shortage of personality, there’s a better chance of getting some when you double these finalists up. Here’s everything ranked, individual and duet performances all together:

1) Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox – “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (from the film Once) – Probably my favorite performance of the entire season. This really worked. Lee and Crystal sang as if something really mattered. Not that they don’t on their own. They do. But the passion was stronger here than ever before. I’ve always felt the best duets allow the individuals to spotlight their vocal strengths while finding some shared, harmonic area. Lee and Crystal nailed that. They made a strong argument for a Lee-Crystal finale.

2) Casey James and Michael Lynche – “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” by Bryan Adams (from the film Don Juan DeMarco) – Another solid duet with some tight harmonies and skillful guitar-work from Casey. Although after singing the opening verse, it seemed to me Casey became Mike’s back-up singer; Casey sounded lower in the vocal mix. That said, “Big Mike” was clearly better suited vocally for the song. And Mike made the most of it, getting more mileage out of his singing here than on his solo song.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins (from the film Caddyshack) – Hey, at least it wasn’t “Footloose.” Can you imagine someone doing that? I can. He name is Tim Urban, and he got voted off weeks ago. So, this was kind of a cheesy song choice for Crystal. I’m guessing Crystal loves the comedy goldmine that is Caddyshack (as should everybody!!). As such, Crystal probably has fonder thoughts about this song than are really deserved. On a night where the other finalists’ solo efforts came up short, Crystal made the most of this one, giving it an energetic, bluesy-rock, Janis Joplin vocal.

4) Casey James – “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (from the film The Graduate) – Oh, c’mon! You know Casey was talked into performing this song by someone behind-the-scenes, right? So the show could play up the whole “Kara DioGuardi is Mrs. Robinson” storyline. Hey, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But outside of that particular  storyline on AI9 (like in, you know, the real world), I’m not sure how Casey doing this song is relevant. At least that’s what I was saying as I was tapping my toes and diggin’ this sit-down, ukulele version. It all came together and worked.

5) Lee DeWyze – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal (from the film Batman Forever) – This is a complicated song to sing. If you don’t believe me, you try and sing it! The vocal range needed is huge. Bigger than what Lee has. So he did what he could. I happen to love his voice. So I enjoy even a lesser Lee performance. This was a lesser Lee performance. Good thing for Lee he had the duet tonight.

6) Michael Lynche – “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (from the film Free Willy) – My problem with Big Mike is this. He usually sounds good. Just fine. Nothing really wrong. And yet, I’m just not excited by it. Ever. Well, maybe not ever; “Woman’s Work” was great. So my problem with Big Mike seems to be…I’m not a fan. And it’s beginning to look like that’s not gonna happen. But there’s absolutely nothing about what he’s doing that offends my musical senses. Odd moment: we learned that Big Mike’s goal is to make the Top 3. Really? Not…to win this?

Here’s some predictions. Yep, I continue to make them, even after three consecutive misses! Hey, Shaq doesn’t stop shooting free throws, does he? The Bottom Two tonight seems clear: Casey James and Michael Lynche. Not making the Top 3: Michael Lynche.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 03.30.10

It was Soul and R&B night on American Idol. Yep, “timing” can be a cruel jokester; The season’s last remaining black female contestant was sent home last week. So it was up to “Big Mike” and a bunch of white folk to bring the Soul.

R&B singer Usher mentored this week, promising the contestants tough love. And he was in the audience last night to watch his students’ efforts. How’d they do? Here are the performances ranked:

1) Lee DeWyze – “Treat Her Like A Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – When you add all the crucial elements up, Lee takes the top spot this week. And what are those crucial elements again? Vocals, performance, song choice, and what I call “The iPod Factor” (would I put this on my iPod?). Lee gave a strong rock vocal and is stepping up his game on the performance side of things. He makes better song choices than most of the others this season. And he did Soul last night his way–which is the artist test of all these theme weeks on Idol.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips – Crystal promised a surprise this week, and made good by starting this song singing and playing the piano, then getting up and singing with just the mic, no guitar to hide behind. So how’d that work out for her? Pretty good. But not perfect. She’s far less confident, and proficient, on the piano. The attention required to actually play the right notes distracted from singing, and selling, the song. But Crystal made a good move mixing things up. Viewers want to see the contestants grow and stretch. Despite marking her down a tad on performance, this was the best pure vocal of the night.

3) Casey James – “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam & Dave – This was the most joyful effort of the night. Great song choice for him. Both Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi felt it was too similar to his recent song choices. But here’s the only thing that matters: Casey did this song much better than those others! This one I’ll put on my iPod. Casey’s best performance yet.

4) Michael Lynche – “Ready For Love” by India.Aire – A solid effort that worked its way higher on this list as other contestants last night dropped the ball. I was a little bored by the song and sit down performance. But “Big Mike” got the message of last week’s critique: less can be more. So he scaled back on the riffing, turned in a sweet soulful vocal, and did a much better job of connecting with the song and audience.

5) Andrew Garcia – “Forever” by Chris Brown – Okay. What a difference a week makes. The fact is this is what this guy does: intimate, acoustic new interpretations of songs. Andrew should have never gotten away from that. I’ve written honestly about how awkward he’s been without his guitar. But with it…it’s a night and day difference. Does that mean Andrew’s a one-trick pony? Personally, I think so. But it’s a nice trick.

6) Aaron Kelly – “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers – Not his best. Just OK. I wouldn’t have picked this song for him. For starters, Kris Allen did it (much more) memorably in last season’s finale. Still, one of my fave voices this season.

7) Katie Stevens – “Chain Of Fools” by Aretha Franklin – Katie ranked higher than Siobhan Magnus? Yep. And quite simply, being able to stay in key for the whole song is the reason. It’s a nice step forward for Katie, who up until now, hasn’t made it through an entire song without hitting a number of off notes. The performance suffered a little from her trying to mimic Aretha’s sass. Katie should watch for that–and make sure her on-stage persona is more organic to the 16-year old she is.

8 ) Siobhan Magnus – “Through The Fire” by Chaka Kahn – Because we like Siobhan, I wonder if many people today remember this one a little rosier than it really was. I listened to it again this morning and it was all kinds of wrong, starting with being a poor song choice for her. Her lower-register didn’t carry the parts of the song that needed it. Then she belted out some high notes that were painful (especially when you hear them again). At the moment, Siobhan’s trending down. She could use a home run next week to regain some mo’.

9) Tim Urban – “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker – Wow. There hasn’t been a soul-sapping, white bread R&B effort like this since…Pat Boone changed “Ain’t That A Shame” to “Isn’t That A Shame.” Yes, the “dot dot dot” back there was me Googling music history to come up with the Pat Boone reference. Like a Vegas lounge singer. Tim’s vocal tone was decent. But, yuck.

10) Didi Benami – “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin – The 1966 original of this song is on my iPod. And I love it! A total classic. That may be partly why this was the performance last night I’d least like to ever hear again. Her voice and this song–not a good match. And yes, Simon Cowell‘s right. Didi’s lost her singer-songwriter vibe. She’s diving into these theme nights entirely wrong. She’s trying on the various musical styles–and losing her own style. This would have never happened to Lilly Scott. I’m just saying. For that matter, somewhere last night, I’m thinking Paige Miles was watching Tim and Didi struggle with Soul and R&B. And I’m thinking that had to a rough night for Paige.

Here’s what I’m feeling for the Bottom Three tonight: Katie Stevens, Tim Urban and Didi Benami. But as a wild card, Michael Lynche‘s unfamiliar song choice could land him in there. Katie will be sent to safety. And between Tim and Didi, Tim dodges yet another bullet, and Didi Benami goes home tonight.

We’ll see what happens. Your thoughts today? Let’s hear them.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 03.23.10

I don’t have much to say about the night’s biggest story on American Idol. The “mentor” is Miley Cyrus? Just so you know, Crystal Bowersox, it’s not normally like this. I have to say that since Crystal apparently never watched the show in the past–and was a surprisingly good sport about the whole thing, even asking Miley to sign her guitar.

Hey, things could’ve been worse. The mentor could’ve been Miley’s dad!

So, once again I’ll attempt to rank the performances. Last night, they breakdown into two categories:

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX:

Crystal Bowersox – “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin – This performance had everything you’d want from a version of this song: vocal nuances ranging from the subtle to the explosive. Just fantastic, like she always is. It also had something I didn’t want: that guitar in her hands. This would’ve been the perfect song, with its quiet beginning and rocking end, to get out from behind that guitar, and open herself up to the audience, connecting even more. But it sounds like Crystal’s aware of the situation, and we can expect her to do that next week. Leave it to Kara DioGuardi to bring up ditching the guitar; it was really the only note I wrote down during Crystal’s performance.

EVERYBODY ELSE:

2) Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith – I’m using the iPod test again to rank the performances (“Do I want this song on my iPod?”). I mean, the search on Idol is for the next big recording artist, right? So what they do on the show should make me wanna buy and listen to their music. Aaron’s got a very recordable voice, and he sounds good live, too. Yes, I think this song was a little “bigger” than his voice (mainly in the second half of the song). But he made this work.

3) Lee DeWyze – “The Letter” by the Box Tops – Simon Cowell said he was surprised Lee chose this song. Yet nobody mentioned the singer of the original, Alex Chilton, a hero to some in the musician world, died in the last week. I can’t confirm that’s the reason Lee picked it; but my guess is that it is. The re-arrangement of Lee’s funky-swing hybrid version didn’t impress me much. It was all over the place. And I actually would not iPod this one for that reason (last week’s “Beast Of Burden” is on there). But vocally, he was on point. And his performance had more energy and personality. He’s stepping up his game in that department–which he needs to.

4) Siobhan Magnus – “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder – Not her best vocal. And the “funk” felt a little forced. Then there was that big, screaming note at the end (again). Fun to hear and watch. But also getting predictable. So I’m suggesting Siobhan gets back to chalkboard and looks for some new ways to wow us. That said, based of her look (tonight sporting Sheena Easton’s 80’s hair), attitude, and vocal daredevil antics, she’s the one I’m starting to like the most. I always look forward to seeing what she’s up to.

5) Michael Lynche – “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge – If this song ended at 1:18, it would’ve been one of the Top 3 of the night. But it went a full two minutes, and those last 45 seconds were full of the over-indulgent riffing that the judges were right to spank him for. (By the way, spank “Big Mike” at your own risk!)

6) Casey James – “The Power Of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News – Casey continues to define himself as an artist. At the moment, I’m going to say the definition appears to be: a great blues-rock guitarist who can sing pretty well. Vocally, I’d say Casey turned in a 7 on his own scale of 10 last night. Maybe it was the song, but Casey didn’t hold any notes; they mostly felt short and choppy. Even so, there was something fun about his performance.

7) Didi Benami – “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt – Didi’s having a hard time getting used to the big stage and performing in general. I sense that she’s searching for something to do out there on stage. But I’m worried for her she’s heading in the wrong direction. What she did last night felt…uncomfortable. Kind of “Broadway”–the whole “acting out the song” thing. And she lost some of her unique sound “trying on” whatever this new persona was.

8 ) Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie – Kudos for being the only one to pick a song from the last decade. But I’m feeling that there’s a ceiling for Katie. She just can’t seem to hit her notes. As likable as she is, without some sudden improvement, she’s on track to finish somewhere between 8th and 10th place.

9) Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen – I wish this song would stop popping up on Idol. There’s really nothing you can do with it–except look like the life of the party at karaoke night. Ironically, this was more in Tim’s vocal range and he sounded OK. But so what?

10) Andrew Garcia – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye – Not good. This guy has the judges all up inside his head so much he’s lost who he is. Also, having watched him sing without his guitar that last two weeks, I come to a conclusion. I don’t think he sings well without it. When he’s out there sans guitar, he does this odd thing with his vocals where he sings way too carefully, over-enunciating and “punching” certain words–never to the benefit of the performance, very unnatural sounding. He didn’t seem to have this problem with his guitar. Miley’s advice was to lose the guitar. I disagree.

11) Paige Miles – “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins – Great ballad. But she really screwed this one up. She was off-key and flat, and the judges roasted her. “Against All Odds” suddenly describes her situation!

So here’s what I’m thinking. The Bottom Three tonight will be: Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia and Paige Miles. Andrew gets sent to “safety.” And between Katie and Paige, Paige Miles is sent home.

Thoughts?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 03.17.10

It’s still early in  the game for American Idol‘s Top 12. Some viewers have picked their favorite; but many have not.

I have a theory that at this stage, the boys have an easier ride. The boys seem to build a following quicker. Maybe picking up support from female viewers? And not just viewers–but the “active” viewers, the ones most likely to vote.

So it seems to me on Top 12 results night, a female that’s not a front-runner has a “X” on her back. That’s why I predicted Lacey Brown would be sent home last night–even though I felt strongly that Tim Urban was awful this week.

Anyway, it’s just a theory. A guide I use when I watch the show. Unfortunately, it proved true for Lacey. And for Paige Miles, who ended up in the Bottom Two. And for that matter, proved true for Tim Urban, who landed in the Bottom Three–but was quickly sent to safety. Tim has a coalition of voters behind him. For now. He better get better. Or viewer patience won’t be on his side.

Last night’s results show was a winner, largely due to a hot lineup of music guests.

Idol producers dropped the “group sing” with the finalists, and brought on Season 7 winner David Cook, whose performance of the Rolling Stones‘ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” seemed almost like an “apology” for the non-rockingness of the previous night. Now, that’s how you do some Stones!

Later, Orianthi sang her song “According To You” and showed off her blistering guitar skills. We didn’t learn to much during the quickie interview with Ryan Seacrest. Instead of just acknowledging that she was set to go on tour with Michael Jackson, I wish Ryan would’ve asked what it was like rehearsing with Michael and get Orianthi to elaborate on some of the incredible footage we saw in the documentary, This Is It.

And, the hot mess that is Ke$ha performed her latest single, “Blah Blah Blah,” with the guys from 3OH!3. Solid track–but no “Tic Tok.” There’s not a lot of singing goin’ on with this chick. Just those electro-vocals. But I say you gotta love her “doesn’t give a f*** about anything” attitude. I’m on board. Even if it means having to always hit the shift key in the middle of her name.

Finally, the Judges’ Save is back this season. One time, and one time only, between now and the Top 5, the judges have the option of saving someone who’s been voted off. (“Hey thanks for voting, America. Now, we’re just gonna do what we want.”)

This early in the game, the odds were about nil the judges would use the save. Nevertheless, we got to see the judges huddle and talk to each other while Lacey “sang for the save.” What were they saying? As Randy Jackson leaned into Simon Cowell, I’m guessing he was saying, “Yo, Dawg, where we goin’ to dinner?” Kara DioGuardi whispered into Ellen DeGeneres‘ ear: “We have to look like we’re really talking about this even though we know we’re not. Now you say something back to me.”

You got any thoughts today? Let me hear ’em!

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 03.10.10

Tonight, it’s the guys, fighting for a place in the Top 12 on American Idol. Here we go…

Lee Dewyze – “Fireflies” by Owl City – Great song. Lee sounds good singing it, doing an acoustic guitar-driven version with the raspy, rock vocal Lee’s clearly suited for. I’d say the song loses a little of its quirky charm in this version. But this guy is strong.

Alex Lambert – “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne – Funny how certain songs keep popping up this season. This is one of those. I’m not sure it felt that authentic coming from Alex. Nice vocal. But that song calls for some deep soul. And maybe some life experience to back it up. Alex does have a unique vocal sound that he’s developing. Props for improvement. But he needs to start enjoying the moment–relishing his time on stage.

Tim Urban – “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley version) – Tim’s strummin’ the acoustic guitar tonight. Adequate vocal, considering he’s tackling some difficult material. We keep wanting more from this guy. And it does seem clear that Tim’s working hard. Another guy showing improvement. Hard work + general “adorableness” (for the ladies) = Tim Urban in the Top 12.

Andrew Garcia – “Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera – Well, my fave cover of this song is still by the band Speedway. But the song’s definitely one that lends itself nicely to some re-imagining. Nothing about Andrew’s version tonight was effortless. He did kinda battle with rhythm of the song without finding the groove. But I’d say Andrew makes the Top 12 without having to use any of his three wishes.

Casey James – “You’ll Think Of Me” by Keith Urban – After last week’s loud “I Don’t Want To Be,” Casey returns to the quiet. Just him,  his guitar and a stool, and this song. Well, and a couple of subtle background singers. Seems to me he could’ve done even more with this. But it was solid–if maybe a little too simple and plain.

Aaron Kelly – “I’m Already There” by Lonestar – I thought Aaron started the song with too much “warble” in his voice. Too much vibrato. He got control of that pretty quickly and turned in a nice vocal. This guy can go as far as his continued improvement will take him. Nice touch by Simon Cowell telling Kara DioGuardi that her comment was “complete rubbish.” Although I thought Kara made a point worth bringing up: this song is about a dad calling home to his family, and really doesn’t relate to 16-year old Aaron’s life-experience in any way.

Todrick Hall – “Somebody To Love” by Queen – I always want to like this song–whoever’s singing it. It’s just a fantastic song. I’m finding the background singers distracting for some reason. Todrick is barely there for me. I didn’t hear a vocal that lived up to the song. For me. Judges seem to have enjoyed it more than I did. Todrick clearly has the vocal chops–for Broadway, at least. That’s not a bad thing, as Broadway is where his paychecks have been coming from. But is he the next American Idol?

Michael Lynche – “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush – Despite Big Mike’s attempts earlier in the competition to be the big teddy bear version of Jason Mraz, he’s doing much better as a soul crooner. I liked this. A lot! Not familiar with the song. At all. But wow. You had to take notice. Kudos from judges are much deserved. Best of the night, fo’ sho’!

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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