Archive for the ‘American Idol’ Category

Hump Day Report: Snow Be Gone

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Hump Day LogoRants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.

Although the South Jersey shore region never really got a massive, crippling snowstorm this winter, the constant bombardment of 1-6” storms has been even worse. As a lifelong local, the years when we had big storms always seemed to have breaks with warmer temperatures and we normally only had one big storm a season. Snow is usually rare by the ocean (since the water cools slowly) but I feel like I’m living in Buffalo, NY this winter and it sucks.

I hate being a curmudgeon, bitching about how bad my arthritis has been for three months, but damn it, all this damp weather and constant chill has made me feel awful.

Throw in the normal course of moviegoing this time of year, when we are bombarded by the mediocre movies that follow the Oscar season and I’ve been feeling like Oscar the Grouch.


*******

Caleb Johnson.

Caleb Johnson.

Maybe I’m just in a grouchy mood but despite liking the judges this year on American Idol — Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and newcomer Harry Connick, Jr. — this is without question the worst group of contestants in the history of the show. It is so bad that this group might finally kill off American Idol and at this point I don’t think it will be missed.

Certainly I have to give the judges, who seem excited about the performers they selected, a healthy hunk of the blame for this debacle.

Look, we know that the producers were forcing the judges into selecting weak male contestants last year because they wanted a girl to win and she did. I loved Candice Glover but have you thought about her at all since the last season’s finale?

Me either.

This year is seems like they don’t want anybody to win, except maybe blues rocker Caleb Johnson who does have talent. The rest of the Idols are consistently mediocre and none of them are strikingly attractive either. Being good looking has nothing to do with talent, but it does have a lot to do with being a musical star down the road, and this show is supposed to be about finding someone who has the potential to be a star.

I will check in on the show occasionally, but my weekly blogs on the series are finished. They just aren’t worth the time and effort.

Gee, I wonder if the weather has contributed to my rant against the 2014 Idols?

I don’t think so because the audience comments on the Entertainment Weekly recaps have reflected a similar point of view.

American Idol: Candice Glover Wins

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Candice Glover walked off with the title last night as expected. Kree Harrison will have a career in country music so it was all good.

Only Candice was shocked that she won.

Only Candice was shocked that she won.

It was also a night to say goodbye to Randy Jackson, who is walking away from Idol after 12 seasons. From all accounts, all three other judges, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey will also be gone, with a fresh group next season.

I loved the conspiracy theory sequence about why the ladies dominated this year, and the Nicki Minaj wig tribute.

It might not have been a great season but the winner is a terrific singer. Will that translate into a successful singing career? Who knows, but I also expect Janelle Arthur and Angie Miller to have some success as recording artists.

American Idol: Diva Showdown

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

WEB_American_Idol_LogoI will be happy with whomever America chooses as their next American Idol since my two favorites have made it to the finale, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison.

However, I must gripe about the song choices. Both Simon Cowell choices were terrible and got the evening off to a bad start and even “Sleepy” as Randy Jackson noted. Kree was stuck with Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” which works well as the background for the American Humane Society commercial but not so much when a country singer is trying to win a singing competition. Kree did what she could with the high notes but you could tell she wasn’t as emotionally connected as she usually is.

Candice did a little bit better with Adele’s “Chasing Pavements,” which was better suited to her vocal style.

We don’t expect the upcoming “next singles” to be great (with the exception of Phil Phillips hit “Home”) and they weren’t, but they weren’t horrible. Kree’s song was “All Cried Out” which had some emotional weight, but Kree sounded a bit screechy on the high notes. Candice did better with her song “I Am Beautiful.”

However, considering how well the ladies themselves delivered when they could choose the song, the contestants should be given more choice in song selections. I’m dreaming, I know, but maybe it will happen in the alternative universe of my imagination.

Selecting their own favorite performances of the season, Kree went with Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain.” It was a great choice and really showcased her made-for-traditional-country vocal style. Kree is getting a Nashville record contract no matter what happens tonight.

Candice brought the house down and won American Idol with her choice, Shirley Bassey’s “I (Who Have Nothing),” The a capella start was sensational and when Candice went for her money notes at the end, it was the damn lottery. Game. Set. Match.

American Idol: Final Three

Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Candice Glover

Candice Glover

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the weakest vocalist of the three finalists, Angie Miller, is going to win the Idol crown over Candice Glover and Kree Harrison. Now Miller is an excellent singer, but she just isn’t quite as good — especially in emotionally connecting with a song — as Glover and Harrison. However, she is likely connecting more with teen voters since she is the youngest of the three. Harrison and Glover are only 22 and 23, respectively, but their vibe is older.

Last night each performer sang three songs, one selected by Jimmy Iovine, one by the judges and one by the producers. The two best performances of the night ranked with some of the best in the show’s history, with the judges selecting Rascal Flatt’s “Here Comes Goodbye” for Kree, which allowed her to ignite this emotional bombshell.

However, the top performance of the night was selected for Candice by the producers. Somehow Candice was not familiar with “Somewhere” from West Side Story, but she provided an amazing vocal on a song that allowed her to explode with fire and passion. Finally, here was what we expect the week before the finale.

Angie Miller was solid and steady all night, but none of her vocals knocked it out of the park.
Here is my top three:
Candice
Kree
Angie

American Idol: Final Three

Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Angie Miller

Angie Miller

After watching the results show last night which sent Amber home, I have a sneaking suspicion that Angie Miller is going to win ahead of the two best singers in the competition, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison.

The notion is that the 18-year-old Miller has a better chance of making it in today’s Twitter/iTunes universe than R&B/blues artist Candice (the best singer) and country/blues artist Kree. She also appears to have earned the teen votes since their are no cute guys.

American Idol has always been a popularity contest more than a singing competition, but in the current state of pop music and with competition from The Voice eroding the ratings, we might be seeing the end.

But I liked what the judges were saying, especially when Keith Urban noted that having a single hit song can give you fame for a moment in time, but having talent gives you a career.

I can see both Kree and Candice finding a niche for themselves. Certainly Kree will be offered a contract by Nashville and Candice should find an audience and a record contract. I’d buy both their albums.

By the way, the American Idol tour comes to the Trump Taj Mahal on Friday, Aug. 16. Tickets are on sale now and are $42.80, $56.30 and $78.

American Idol: Goodbye Janelle

Friday, April 19th, 2013

janelle arthurWEBThere’s not much to say since I predicted this outcome in yesterday’s blog. The judges put on a good show, pretending to be in serious discussion about giving Janelle the save, but we all knew it was not going to happen.

My gut feeling is that Kree might be in trouble next week; I feel a bit of anti-country brewing in the voting ranks since Kree was in the bottom two. And if Kelly Pickler can do it, so can this “Dumb Blonde,” ie., get a Nashville recording contract off her AI appearance.

Good luck Janelle.

American Idol: Divas

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Amber Holcomb

Amber Holcomb

Last evening’s night of AI divas on display reiterated what we’ve known for a long time, if going strictly by vocal talent, the crown belongs to either Candice or Kree. I’m saying this but both of them were coasting just a little bit last night compared to previous performances.

Candice went for a light touch to begin the night with a terrific, all-that-jazz cover or Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” With this slowed down tempo we get to hear the words of the dance hit and they are much better than I remembered. Candice’s second song, the double diva hit version of  “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston was solid but not one of her best vocals, which is still better than most of the contestants in the last few years.

Kree Harrison surprised me with her song choices but perhaps she was trying to show that she is more than a country superstar in the making. Her “birth year” song was “She Talks to Angels” by the Black Crowes and it was very good but a bit shy of excellent. Her diva choice was Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been in Love?” and considering how polarizing Dion can be (I’m more on the hate side than the love side), it was not a great choice. I’d have preferred something by Aretha or Janis Joplin. I mean nobody did Aretha on diva night? What’s up with that?

Since the judges were overdoing the applause/standing O bit last night, it made me go the other way. Even giving Angie Miller some slack for dedicating her Pretenders’ cover of “I’ll Stand By You” to her fellow Bostonians, I thought it was rough in spots and a little screechy at times. I will agree that her cover of “Halo” by Beyoncé was surprisingly good.

So that brings us to the two singers in trouble, Janelle Arthur and Amber Holcomb. Janelle is getting a country contract anyway (although I enjoyed Skylar Laine more from last season), but her take on Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name” was not good. Maybe I just kept hearing the heartbreak in the Gill version and that clouded my judgment. Her second song was a somewhat obscure Dolly Parton song “Dumb Blonde,” and it was mediocre. My vote of goodbye goes to Janelle.

That said I wouldn’t be shocked if Amber is voted off. Of course if she is the choice then the judges will use the save. In fact if it is anybody but Janelle they will use the save. Amber’s “Without You,” Mariah Carey’s cover of the Badfinger classic started out very rough with terrible low notes and when she hit her high note wheelhouse it was a bit screamish. I thought it was one of her weaker vocals of the season. She bounced back with Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life” which was in her wheelhouse all the way.

My top five:
1) Candice Glover
2) Kree Harrison
3) Angie Miller
4) Amber Holcomb
5) Janelle Arthur

American Idol: Candyland

Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Candice Glover

Candice Glover

For once, Randy Jackson’s effusive praise for an American Idol contestant was richly deserved. As fellow judge Keith Urban did a series of bows, Jackson declared Candice Glover’s take on Adele’s version of The Cure’s “Lovesong” one of the best vocals in the 12 year history of American Idol.

My Mom, who hasn’t watched a minute of American Idol this year, heard the first few notes and declared that Candice was a blend of Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn. I can’t say it better than that.

As much as I love Kree Harrison who was also terrific last night, Candice declared herself ready for stardom if there is a place in the internet-driven music world for a jazz/R & B powerhouse. Her first tune was also excellent, a powerful take on the Dionne Warwick/Bacharach & David hit, “Don’t Make Me Over.”

This night featured Bacharach & David tunes for the contestants’ first song, and a song “they wished they had written” for their second tune.

Kreedom delivered two outstanding performances to come in second for the night, with a solid take on “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and an even better, heartfelt version of the beautiful Kris Kristofferson song “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

Before we get to the other ladies, there is the continuing Lazaro problem. He absolutely butchered the Bacharach/David/Carpenters’ hit “(They Long to Be) Close To You,” one of my all time favorite songs from my high school years.

I did Sanjaya a disservice when I compared Lazaro to him in last week’s blog. Sanjaya was never this bad.

Now back to the other ladies. Angie Miller delivered one mediocre performance with “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” and successfully returned to her piano wheelhouse with Kari Jobe’s “Love Came Down.”

I thought this was not a good night for Amber Holcomb but the judges disagreed, as they seemed to enjoy both “I Say A Little Prayer” and Beyonce’s “Love On Top.” The Beyonce take was screechy at times, yet Nicki M was saying that Beyonce better watch out. Seriously?

We know Janelle Arthur is not winning this competition, but I think she will find a recording contract in Nashville. She had fun with “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and did a lovely job with Garth Brooks’ superb “The Dance.”

My top six:
1)    Candice Glover
2)    Kree Harrison
3)    Janelle Arthur
4)    Angie Miller
5)    Amber Holcomb
6)    Lazaro Arbos

American Idol: Subdued Rock Night

Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Angie Miller.

Angie Miller.

Was it just me, or did this group of Idol contestants seem out of their element taking on rock night? Sure, Kree and Candice provided dynamic vocals, with Kree doing Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and Candice rocking it with the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” but they didn’t seem to have the passion of previous performances. Of course a pinched nerve and broken toe, respectively, could have been a factor, as judge Urban recognized when he asked Kree if something was going on and she ’fessed up about the nerve issue.

Oddly enough, the most unexpected development last night was a solid performance from Lazaro, whose take on Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” was his best performance of the season. He still deserves to go, but he made a major improvement from the week before. Still, you have to wonder about his botching lyrics, once again, during his duet with Angie.
Burnell Taylor still managed to be dull and forgettable, performing Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Since Lazaro improved and this is the “Year of the Ladies,” Burnell will likely get the boot tonight.

Janelle Arthur seemed more connected with the song as she delivered a solid version of Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right,” giving just a dash of her natural country spin.

Amber Holcomb, with Heart’s “What About Love” was clever enough to pick a song that allowed her to get into her ballad wheelhouse before she was forced to go into rock diva mode which does not suit her at all.

Angie Miller ended the evening with Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.” She started at the piano, which is always a great idea because she doesn’t worry about the pageant pose close-ups when she’s at the ivories. She then got up to rock it up with the wind machine sending her hair flying and her blouse. She was holding on for dear life to make sure she didn’t flash the judges with her bra. That problem aside, it was one of the more engaging performances of the night without her usual artifice.
My Top 7:
1)    Candice
2)    Angie
3)    Kree
4)    Janelle
5)    Lazaro
6)    Amber
7)    Burnell

American Idol Results: Devin Says Goodbye

Friday, March 29th, 2013
Devin Velez

Devin Velez

The results on Thursday for American Idol were pretty much as expected with all five ladies safe and the three gentlemen as the bottom three.

As much as it would have been nice to have Lazaro go home, Devin was the proper second choice. He could very well get a contract from a Latin recording company.

I liked that the judges didn’t even bother to pretend that they were discussing the use of their save for Devin.