Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Top 5 "Fly to the Moon" and Back on Rat Pack Night on American Idol Season 8

Jamie Foxx was the mentor and I was entertained listening to Big Band classics sung originally by the Rat Pack....

01 Kris Allen sang "The Way You Look Tonight"-- Kara called Kris a true darkhorse in this competition, and Paula called him a sophisticated gentleman and a contemporary crooner. Simon liked it but doesn't think he can win. I liked it a lot but I don't know that I loved it. I think this time I was expecting more.
Score: 4.8

02 Allison Iraheta sang "Someone to Watch Over Me"-- Allison did it her own way with this performance and she really impressed me tonight. Her performance was so mature and so beyond her years, and she took a classic song and made it her own; no easy feat!
Score: 5

03 Matt Giraud sang "My Funny Valentine"-- I think that tonight and in most cases, Simon and Paula are the only two judges of real reason on the panel. Matt sang a very difficult song and sang it very well. As Simon said, it was an authentic performance, and it was one that stood up in the real world, brilliant. The key change that Jamie suggested was not only a great change but it made the song even more difficult.
Score: 4.9

04 Danny Gokey sang "Come Rain or Come Shine"-- This was my favorite Danny Gokey performance ever on American Idol. Danny's vocals were great, and I love where he took the song. Kara said his ending was very creative, especially what he did with the melody, and I totally agree. Paula called the performance stellar. Simon said it was his best vocal in weeks and said Jamie Foxx brought something amazing out of him.
Score: 5

05 Adam Lambert sang "Feeling Good"-- I did not love the way that Adam ended this, and I do agree with Randy; it was too theatrical, too drama filled, and too Broadway.
Score: 4.79 (enough said!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Truth about "State of Play"

This past weekend I went to the movies for the first time in a long time. I had heard lots of positive reaction about the movie State of Play so I went into it having high expectations; I was not disappointed. The movie was well acted with lots of great dialogue, well directed, and unpredictable from start to finish. I don't want to give too much away because I think you should go see this movie.
Russell Crowe gives a convincing performance as Washington Globe Reporter Cal McAffrey. Rachel McAdams is well matched as young rookie colleaugue. blog reporter Della Frye. Ben Affleck gives a surprisingly good performance as Congressman Stephen Collins who ends up being tangled in a web of lies. Helen Mirren and Robin Wright Penn both play supporting roles in which they sometimes end up stealing the scene. Even more impressive than the movie itself is the message that the movie sends.
It's a movie about truth; the importance of telling the truth and the importance of exposing the truth to those who do not know it themselves. So important is truth in this movie that some risk their lives to keep it from people while some risk their lives to expose it.
The movie made me remember why I wanted to be a journalist in the first place. Cal decides near the beginning of this movie that he is on this quest for the truth and will not stop until he finds it. Della Frye is so hungry for the truth that sometimes she even makes rash decisions. The thing about truth is that sometimes in order to find it we have to admit to ourselves that we may not like what we find. Any bias we may have about what we believe the truth is has to be put aside. The truth can hurt sometimes but ultimately it's worth it because truth helps us to see things for how or what they really are. Seeing things for how they really are, the discovery of truth, means we can move forward and not be at this false reality or standstill in life. The truth sometimes means healing and it always eventually leads to progress.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

American Idol Update

It's been a while, I thought I would let you know what some of the most successful Idol alums are up to.....

Kelly Clarkson's new single "I Do Not Hook Up", cowritten by Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, is doing great on radio and climbing the charts. Her new album has sold 400,000+ albums and counting.
As reported on her myspace page, Tamyra Gray is about half way through her sophomore album, (www.myspace.com/tamyragray)
Season 2 winner, Ruben Studdard is starring in the traveling tour of the Tony Award winning musical, "Ain't No Misbehavin".
Joshua Gracin is touring this summer and you can see the schedule be going to his official website, www.joshuagracin.com and click on the "tours" section.
Miss Fanstasia Barrino, Season 3 winner, will star in the Oprah Winfrey produced film adaptation of "The Color Purple" musical. She will also reportedly release her third album this summer entitled Him vs. Them. As a side note, she is set to appear at this year's 42nd Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton, Virginia (June 25-28).
George Huff (remember him?) released his second album, the self titled gospel influenced CD can be bought on his myspace page (www.myspace.com/georgehuff).
Jennifer Hudson is currently on tour with R&B phenom Robin Thicke. She will also appear on the Today Show summer concert series on May 15th.
The lovely miss Carrie Underwood has lots to celebrate, two new singles, "I Told You So" and "Home Sweet Home". She took home two huge awards from the Academy of Country Music for Top Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year. Carrie is the first woman to achieve the Entertainer of the Year honor since 2000 when The Dixie Chicks won the award. Overall, she is only the 7th woman to win this honor in the 42 year history of the award show. Carrie has also indirectly confirmed that she is dating Ottawa Senators Hockey player Mike Fisher. Check out Carrie's acceptance speech at the ACM's... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEjPbDepI5M
Bo Bice has a few tour dates for this summer, especially in the New England states, check out his website for details www.bobice.com
Elliott Yamin's new album Fight For Love drops on May 5th; the album boasts music from producers Dave Tozer, StarGate, and Jermaine Dupri.
Kellie Pickler is spending the whole summer and part of the fall touring with gal pal Taylor Swift; check to see if she is coming to a location near you.... http://www.kelliepickler.com/?content=tour.
Bucky Covington has a new single on radio, "I Want My Life Back", and he releases his new album on September 8th, keep checking his myspace page for updates, www.myspace.com/buckycovington
Freedom is the title of Mandisa's new gospel album from Sparrow Records; it is the follow up to her Grammy nominated album True Beauty. The first single off Freedom, "My Deliverer" is inspired by Mandisa's desire to lose weight; she has lost 75 pounds and counting.
Jordin Sparks, Season 6 winner, is hard at work in the studio working on her second album which is expected to be released in the second half of 2009. She is scheduled to perform the lead single off that album, "Battlefield" on the May 13th results show on Idol; the song is written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
LaKisha Jones is expanding her family, she and husband Larry Davis are expecting a child in August; LaKisha has a 6 year old daughter Brionne from a previous relationship. She is also releasing her debut album on May 19th, So Glad I'm Me.
Chris Sligh has found his way into the gospel genre of music; he is currently nominated at the Dove Awards for New Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for "Empty Me". Chris also co-wrote Rascal Flatts' current single, "Here Comes Goodbye".
David Archuleta is touring this summer with Disney artist Demi Lovato, check out his website for tour dates.... http://davidarchuletanetwork.ning.com/profiles/blogs/david-to-tour-with-demi-lovato.
The unforgettable Jason Castro has signed a record deal with Atlantic Records! He is working with writer and Idol judge Kara DioGuardi and producer Jon Fields. Castro has rerecorded the song that got him noticed on Idol, "Hallelujah", and it will be on the movie soundtrack for the film Amar a Morir, currently filming in Mexico.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Simpsons Turn 20!

I was thinking about favorite TV shows, their influence on pop culture and society. I own almost all 11 seasons of "The Simpsons" that are on DVD; I still need Season 1 and Season 11, and I am waiting for Season 11 to go on sale because you know what, the economy is tough, but sooner or later I am confident I will complete my collection. I have also decided, totally unrelated to this blog entry, that I will own every season of "ER" as well. So last night, I decided that I absolutely needed to blog about "The Simpsons" and this is what I came up with---

--“The Simpsons” will celebrate its 20th Anniversary this year. On February 9,
1997 the series surpassed “The Flintstones” as the longest running primetime
animated series in the United States.

--“The Simpsons” has won numerous TV awards and honors-- 24 Primetime
Emmy Awards, 26 Annie Awards (Annie Awards are awards for animated TV
shows), and a coveted Peabody Award. Time Magazine named “The Simpsons”
the best television series of the century.

--The TV Show was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
--Many pieces of media have been created to honor the show, there are
“Simpsons” comic books (there is even a series of comics on Bart Simpson’s
Treehouse of Horror, these are related to the Halloween episodes) , “Simpsons”
music (songs that were made for the show or played on the show), there are
“Simpsons” video games and board games like “Simpsons” monopoly. In the
early 1990s, merchandise sales generated $2 billion of revenue in 14 months.

--Universal Studios in Florida even went so far as to open a “Simpsons” ride, a
simulator ride in which patrons are introduced to a cartoon theme park called
Krustyland and built by Krusty the Clown. The real drama begins when Sideshow Bob breaks out of prison trying to wreak havoc on the Simpsons family.

--The show became so popular that creator Matt Groening decided to make a
feature film starring America’s favorite family; the film was released on July 27,
2007. The anticipation of the film being released caused quite the celebration,
12 7-Eleven stores across the country were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts (the
7-Eleven of “The Simpsons). The stores sold “Simpsons” related merchandise
like “Buzz Cola“, doughnuts with pink frosting and sprinkles, “Krusty O” cereal,
and “Squishees”. Springfield towns across the country competed to host the
movie premiere.

--So far eleven seasons of the show have been released on DVD with the rest to
follow, for some time the first season, released in 2001 was the best selling
television DVD in history. The record, unfortunately was later broken by non other than "Chappelle Show".

--In April of this year, the U.S. Postal Service announced that Homer, Marge,
Bart, Lisa, and Maggie would each be featured individually on a set of five, 44
cent stamps. This makes “The Simpsons” the first TV series to receive this honor
while still in production. I, for one, cannot wait to go out and my Simpsons stamps.

--Homer’s famous phrase D’oh is now listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

-- Wikipedia has a list of all the celebs who have done voices or appeared in cartoon form as themselves, I was amazed with the list, and so, you must check it out yourself-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_guest_stars_on_The_Simpsons

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Top 7 Try To "Stay Alive" on Disco Night on American Idol Season 8

There was no disco night introduction tonight, the contestants got right into it belting out songs from the disco era, some would prove their true worth in the competition while others would prove it is their time time to go home.

01 Lil Rounds sang "I'm Every Woman" made famous by Chaka Kahn (1978)-- It was good, but as Simon would say, was it good enough? I am not quite sure that at this stage of the competition that it was. I, like many other people who watch this show, have been waiting for Lil to come out and sing a song like this for quite sometime now, and for some reason it just fell short. Kara's right, she has been just about every woman on that Idol stage except for herself. The vocal arrangement was a big mess and to be honest, it was just all over the place; I have to agree with Simon.
Score: 3.9

02 Kris Allen sang "She Works Hard for the Money" made famous by Donna Summer (1983)-- Totally not what I expected to hear from Kris, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. Paula said his performance showed that he is not only a contender in the competition but an original as well. I thought his performance was fantastic, and to me, it reminded me of that classy, laid back Rob Thomas/ Santana "Smooth" style; I loved it!
Score: 5

03 Danny Gokey sang "September" made famous by Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)-- The arrangement was interesting; he made lots of changes in the melody that kept it sounding new and fresh. As a performance though, I have to agree with Simon, it did lack some star quality. I do not doubt Danny's vocal abilities but he is going to need to step it up in the performance area.
Score: 4.5

04 Allison Iraheta sang "Hot Stuff" made famous by Donna Summer (1979)-- I loved, loved, loved the arrangement; I totally disagree with Kara and Randy. Her vocals were just off the charts; I admire the fact that Allison was able to keep her rock edge even during disco week. She made the smartest choice possible for herself choosing a Donna Summer song.
Score: 4.6

05 Adam Lambert sang "If I Can't Have You" made famous by Yvonna Elliman (1977)-- I agree with Simon; I never would have guessed that Adam would have picked this song. I praise him for his originality, and I love that he took an uptempo disco song and slowed it down and put real heart, soul, and emotion into it. That being said, I was not as impressed at the judges were, even Simon was a little too enthusiastic.
Score: 4.8

06 Matt Giraud sang "Stayin Alive" made famous by the Bee Gees (1977)-- I did not love the arrangement on this song, but I did approve of Matt's vocals. I disagree with Simon saying this performance was desperate; I am happy the judges saved Matt because he proved he deserves to be in the competition more than at least two other people. So I hope that based on sheer vocal ability and performance quality that Matt will stay.
Score: 4.6

07 Anoop Desai sang "Dim All The Lights" made famous by Donna Summer (1979)-- Anoop continues to impress me with his vocals; he grows as a performer every week and and improves not only on his vocals but his stage presence as well. I agree with Kara, he has hit a stride, but let's hope he improves so he can stay in the competition. The judges were split on this, Paula called it his best performance while Simon called it his worst.
Score: 4.7

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Top 7 Go To The Movies on American Idol Season 8

Tonight Quentin Tarantino was the mentor, and the judges promised to keep it short and sweet so the show wouldn't run overtime last week causing millions of fans to miss Adam Lambert's rendition of "Mad World".

01 Allison Iraheta sang "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" made famous by Aerosmith from the movie Armageddon-- I really enjoyed the way Allison sang and performed this song. Paula is correct in saying that Allison is authentic and she refuses to compromise that. Simon believes that she has a chance of going all the way through to the end of the competition.
Score: 4.75

02 Anoop Desai sang "Everything I Do I Do It For You" made famous by Bryan Adams from the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves-- The past couple of weeks, Anoop has really come through and found his niche in the competition. Kara said that the melody changes he made were good, and I agree. The vocals had great control and I thought it sounded strong.
Score: 4.75

03 Adam Lambert sang "Born To Be Wild" made famous by Steppenwolf from the movie Easy Rider-- I like Adam and I am even beginning to think he is our modern day Mick Jagger. My criticism would be that at times his vocals come across as a little bit too theatrical. Paula called him fantastic and Simon joked that he needs to learn how to express himself more.
Score: 4.5

04 Matt Giraud sang "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" made famous by Bryan Adams from the movie Don Juan DeMarco-- I look forward to every week when Matt sings, and I did appreciate what he was trying to do with this song. There were a lot of pitchy areas throughout the performance; he tried to change the melody and since there were some mistakes along the way, it didn't work. He needed a masterpiece, and unfortunately, it wasn't it.
Score: 4.2

05 Danny Gokey sang "Endless Love" made famous by Lionel Ritchie from the movie Endless Love-- I thought that the beginning was a little but rough; there were some pitchy spots. Mid way through the song, Danny kicked it up a notch, and I could tell that this song meant something to him on an emotional level. I loved the way he ended this song, the last 30-40 seconds sounded amazing, the way that the song built right up til the end was so clever.
Score: 4.8

06 Kris Allen sang "Falling Slowly" made famous by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the movie Once-- The judges were split on this and so was I. I love Kris, I love his unique vocal ability and what he brings to a performance on an emotional level. The problem is I did not love the song for him. Kris sang it well, and he sang it with great emotion, but the song itself was too obscure for the Idol stage.
Score: 4.5

07 Lil Rounds sang "The Rose" made famous by Bette Midler from the movie The Rose-- I agree once again with Simon; Lil lost me with this performance and not in a good way. I had high expectations for her with this song and it did not work out; I love that Lil tried to infuse this song with some gospel sound. There were issues beyond all that though, and I think Lil may find herself out of this competition.
Score: 3.9

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Top 8, Fairly Great, Singing Songs From The Year They Were Born on American Idol Season 8

01 Danny Gokey sang "Stand By Me" made famous by Mickey Gilley in 1980-- I did not like the arrangement at all, that being said, I like Danny, and I was still able to appreciate his voice. I agree with Simon, the beginning was good, the middle was lazy, and the end was terrific. It wasn't Danny's best performance but it was not terrible.
Score: 3.9

02 Kris Allen sang "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" made famous by Don Henley in 1985-- It sounded a lot like jazz funk which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing. Randy is right though, with all the background music, it took away from the audience hearing Kris. However, I do not agree with Simon's comment about Kris being self indulgent because Kris just does not have that quality inside of him. He is still an original and he had an off week, but I have no doubt that if he is back next week, he will bounce back.
Score: 4

03 Lil Rounds sang "What's Love Got To Do With It" made famous by Tina Turner in 1984-- I agree with Simon here, it was not original, in fact it was a second or third rate copy of Tina Turner. It is kind of like Lil has lost sight of who she is, and even we don't know right now, and if she doesn't find herself quick, she will find herself out of the competition.
Score: 3

04 Anoop Desai sang "True Colors" made famous by Cyndi Lauper in 1986-- What I really loved about this performance was that Anoop changed it enough to make it his own and his vocals were strong. I agree with Paula, the phrasing was beautiful and he took a main stream pop song and made it into a soul song.
Score: 4.9

05 Scott MacIntyre sang "The Search is Over" made famous by Suvivor in 1985-- I didn't really like the song that much; I actually thought it was kind of corny. I do commend him for stepping away from his comfort zone and the piano. The whole thing was kind of boring though and overall, it was just okay.
Score: 3

06 Allison Iraheta sang "I Can't Make You Love Me" made famous by Bonnie Raitt in 1992-- I love the way Allison changed up the phrasing a little bit and her voice in undeniably hers because she sounds unique. Randy compared her to Kelly Clarkson, and I agree; she absolutely can sing. Kara even wants her to go make a record right now.
Score: 4.8

07 Matt Giraud sang "Part Time Lover" made famous by Stevie Wonder in 1985--
Judges summary:
Randy: one of the best of the night vocally
Kara: incredible on all levels
Paula: two words; standing o
Simon: one million times better than last week; well done

My summary: I agree to all of the above
Score: 5

08 Adam Lambert sang "Mad World" made famous by Tears For Fears in 1982-- All the judges were on their feet, including Simon who gave a standing ovation. Adam's voice was haunting and mesmerizing and I was completely taken in by his performance.
Score: 5