Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lakoda Rayne Moves On, While Astro Just Loses It on The X Factor

Last week was "ROCK" week on The X Factor which meant that each contestant had to sing a rock song, not necessarily sing it in a rock style. L.A. Reid, I just wanted to clear that up for you since you seemed to question how everyone chose to sing their rock song with the exception of your boys, two of whom rapped.

LeRoy Bell sang "Why Don't You Stay" by Bob Seger-- He was up first last week, which I initially thought would be the kiss of death; however, it actually turned out to be good for him. This was one of his strongest performances ever; I think it was because it sat in that comfy zone of his voice. It utilized that Michael Bolton like rasp that I just find to be irresistible. With the exception of Nicole, the judges thought that LeRoy needed to find more connection with the audience, and "be" more like a star.

Rachel Crowe sang "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones-- While all the judges seemed to think this was a great performance and gave Rachel a standing ovation, I think it has been the weakest of all her performances thus far. I appreciate Rachel's effort always, but this was not the right song for her.

Chris Rene sang "No Woman No Cry" by Bob Marley-- It wasn't my favorite but I hated the fact that the judges debated whether or not this was a rock song because it was one of the best rock songs ever written. I wish Chris would try to be a little more consistent in staying true to his hip hop roots.

Stacy Francis sang "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Meatloaf-- For me, this was the weakest performance of the night which is why I think Stacy ultimately went home. After her first audition, everything started to feel overdone.

Melanie Amaro sang "Everybody Hurts" by REM-- I felt like this was a brilliant choice of song for Melanie. It showed a vulnerable side of her but a part of her remains guarded. I hope that in the coming weeks, she lets her guard down as Paula noted and that she opens herself to her fans.

Josh Krajcik sang "The Pretenders" by The Foo Fighters-- Josh has a unique voice, so much so that it will carry him far beyond this competition. He's so special, so low key, yet when he hits the stage it's unparalleled. I liked several performances on this night, but this was the only true rock performance.

Astro rapped to "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, and 112-- I have to say that it's impressive for this 14 year old kid come on every week, and to be doing an original rap with samples of popular singles. He has loads of creativity, but he struggled personally and emotionally when he was in the bottom two with Stacy Francis. Simon exchanged words with Astro after he felt it was unnecessary to come out and sing for his survival. Simon told him that he didn't like his attitude and that he was being disrespectful to his mom and the show.

Lakoda Rayne sang "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac-- It would have been great if they would have come out a little bit stronger than the breadth of this performance but these girls come out and improve every week. If they continue growing like this, they may stay in this competition longer than expected. This was a bit mediocre with harmonies that could have been stronger.

Drew sang "With or Without You" by U2-- Drew always turns in a stunning performance and this particular one was no exception. I do agree with the comment that several judges gave which was that it would be great if Drew could sing an uptempo song just to show some versatility.

Marcus Canty sang "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin-- Marcus is the ultimate performer in this competition, it's clear that he belongs on a stage. However, I don't think that this was the right song for him, and I didn't like how they sexed up the song. Simon recognized it and said it was him pretending to be someone else.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poor Paula, She's down to her final group on The X Factor

Maybe it's the fact that groups are just harder to embrace than a solo singer, but Paula Abdul is down to one group left to mentor on The X Factor. At least one thing is for certain, if Lakoda Rayne falls into the bottom two, she will not be the only judge with an act in jeopardy. Last week, The Stereo Hogzz were eliminated in a suspenseful results show in which Abdul initially refused to vote, saying she did not want to be responsible for sending another one of her acts home, she said it was just too hard.

I believe with the proper management, both groups that have been voted off so far, InTENsity and The Stereo Hoggz could flourish and have successful careers.

Last week was songs from the movies, which proved to be a difficult category for some who just couldn't find their groove.

My vote for the weakest performance of the night went to Stacy Francis who failed to impress me with her Whitney Houston impression. Francis sang "Queen of the Night" from The Bodyguard, and it had nothing to do with her song selection, I actually like that song. I just felt that her performance was weak at best.

My favorite performances of the night came from the oldest performer and the two youngest performers, Leroy Bell, Astro, and Rachel Crowe respectively. Bell performed "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2 and his voice just really sat well in that song. It was clearly his best performance since he started. Astro sang a mixed version of Eminem's inspirational "Lose Yourself"; he changed some of the lyrics to his own; Eminem must be a real Astro fan! Rachel Crowe sang a soulful and touching rendition of Etta Jame's "I'd Rather Go Blind". She just really pulled this off, and I think this makes her a contender once again. Truthfully, after almost a week, I can say those are the three performances that stuck out for me.

Will the other contestants step up and level themselves up to these three standouts?
Will Lakoda Rayne be eliminated leaving Paula with no one?
Will Stacy Francis finally get voted off as she should have last week?
Which judges will have contestants in the bottom two?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The X Factor Continues a Steady Course, But When Will it Dazzle Us?

The Top 12 performed this past week on The X Factor and once again I was left wanting more. Am I expecting too much from this show? Did I want it to be better than American Idol, and now I'm left disappointed?

Of course, there were some solid performances, but the majority left me wanting more. These contestants are without a doubt talented, but no one blew me away.


I love Rachel Crowe but I didn't love this performance. Although Rachel has more charisma than money can buy, the cheesiness of the song choice negated all that.

Lakoda Rayne's rendition of "Landslide" reminded me of girl's night out at a karaoke bar. I didn't think the harmonies worked in this, despite different thoughts by some of the judges. The outfits, which did look like prom dresses, were too mature for such young women.

I am not being a hater, but I have heard many other singers sing this song better than Stacy. She needs to keep her eye on the prize, and not act like she has won already. There is plenty more work to be done as far as I'm concerned.


For a singer who is one of the best natural talents in the competition, Nicole has really made it difficult for LeRoy Bell to do well. The only reason he hasn't been eliminated is really a testament to his voice and how well loved he is by the public. Nicole, if you're listening, please, a decent song for the man this week.

Astro needs to watch his back or he may find himself being the first boy to be eliminated from this competition. "Hip Hop Hooray" was just not the right jam for him to be taking on.

InTENsity was not the worst this round, but yet, they found themselves eliminated on Thursday night after their performance of "Kids In America" and Party Rock" fell short for America. I believe these kids actually did work hard, and I think they could do well in a setting like The Disney Company.


Stereo Hoggz are probably the strongest group left, "Rhythm Nation" was the best group performance this week, but they need to step it up or they will find themselves in the bottom two again!

Chris Rene was the most improved contestant from last week. His rendition of Superstar was solid considering that this is such a difficult song to pull off. What didn't work was the "fire" background, and I agreed with Simon saying, L.A. really sent you to hell Chris. He will have to continue to work hard because Marcus Canty is building a real fan base.

As cheesy as the song choice was, Melanie Amaro is destined for stardom. She displayed great poise and maturity for someone who hasn't had musical experience.


Josh Krajcik's version of "Jar of Hearts" was a big risk that paid off big time; it was soul stirring and Josh is so good that when he sings a song well, no one can beat him.

Probably the most interesting song choice of the week, Drew took on "Just a Dream" by Nelly. This girl is a natural born star, and I think she may be the surprise winner of this competition. She just reminds me of that singer with the great voice, and the very free spirit. Simon said, “I’m seeing a star emerge in front of me…she’s my mentor now. I shouldn’t be telling you what to do. You are doing an incredible job.”

Marcus Canty, as many say, could just be a dark horse in this competition. He is, as I said last week, the complete package who can sing, dance, and act. His vocals on "Every Little Step" were spot on, and I applaud L.A. for choosing this song for Marcus. He does have a natural charm about him that makes fans relate to him.

Corny Song Choices: Nicole choosing "I'm Already There" for LeRoy Bell, woah, way cheesy!.... Simon changing Rachel Crowe's lyrics from "I'm Walkin' on Sunshine" to "You're My Sunshine". I don't really understand what the lyric change was supposed to do.... "Landslide" was a real landslide by Lakoda Rayne who would have done better with a more contemporary country song. Paula, quit trying to turn each girl into a season, no one gets it.... "Desperado" for Melanie Amaro was a desperate attempt to make her look non Celine or Whitney when the soul part of her voice should be what's played up.... "Up to The Mountain" for Stacy Francis was just a tad too gimmicky, there are so many other people who have sang this better than her.

Bottom two who sang for survival were TheStereo Hoggz and InTENsity; InTENsity was eliminated.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Favorite Things: November 2011 Edition

I cannot get Jason Derulo out of my head, he has produced hit after hit since his debut at the end of 2009: Whatcha Say, In My Head, Ridin' Solo, Don't Wanna Go Home, What If, and It Girl (which I cannot help but hit the replay button for). At just 22 years of age, Derulo has written hits for major artists like Danity Kane, Cassie, Sean Kingston, Pitbull, and Lil Wayne just to name a few. He has established himself as a triple threat dancing, singing, and acting. I think he's the more talented, more mature version of someone like say, Chris Brown. Derulo has class, drive, and he wants to make a good cross section of music that everyone can listen to, and frankly, he has succeeded.

He really embodies the title of his new album, Future History!

I'm in love with the new Oval Paperweights from Felix Doolittle; these would be a perfect holiday gift for just about anyone. The $35 price is more than reasonable, especially considering that it's high quality. In fact, I almost guarantee that your only issue will be deciding which image most inspires you. I am currently deciding between Blue Bird, Jolly Tortoise, Mountain Lion, and Raven of Truth.

The CMA's! Country music's biggest night is live on Wednesday November 9th at 8pm on ABC with hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley once again doing the honors. Check out the nominees, make your predictions, and maybe I will even share mine.


Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year

Sara Evans
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

New Artist

The Band Perry
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Thompson Square
Chris Young

Vocal Group

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo

The Civil Wars
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia
Thompson Square

Album of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer)

'All About Tonight'
Blake Shelton
Produced by Scott Hendricks

'My Kinda Party'
Jason Aldean
Produced by Michael Knox

'Speak Now'
Taylor Swift
Produced by Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift

'This Is Country Music'
Brad Paisley
Produced by Frank Rogers

'You Get What You Give'
Zac Brown Band
Produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown

Single of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer)

'A Little Bit Stronger'
Sara Evans
Produced by Tony Brown

'Colder Weather'
Zac Brown Band
Produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown

'Don't You Wanna Stay'
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
Produced by Michael Knox

'Honey Bee'
Blake Shelton
Produced by Scott Hendricks

'If I Die Young'
The Band Perry
Produced by Paul Worley

Song of the Year
(Award goes to songwriters)

'Colder Weather'
Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, and Coy Bowles

'Dirt Road Anthem'
Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford

'If I Die Young'
Kimberly Perry

Taylor Swift

'You and Tequila'
Matraca Berg and Deana Carter

Musical Event of the Year

'As She's Walking Away'
Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson

'Coal Miner's Daughter'
Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and Miranda Lambert

'Don't You Wanna Stay'
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson

'Old Alabama'
Brad Paisley featuring Alabama

'You and Tequila'
Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

Music Video
(Award goes to artist and director)

'Honey Bee'
Blake Shelton
Directed by Trey Fanjoy

'If I Die Young'
The Band Perry
Directed by David McClister

Taylor Swift
Directed by Declan Whitebloom

'Old Alabama'
Brad Paisley featuring Alabama
Directed by Jim Shea

'You and Tequila'
Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter
Directed by Shaun Silva


Sam Bush - Mandolin
Jerry Douglas - Dobro
Paul Franklin - Steel Guitar
Dann Huff - Guitar
Mac McAnally - Guitar

Ladies, I discovered a fun, new clothing website, and I love their unusual selection of clothing and accessories. Based out of Brighton, the site started when the owner was looking for something special to wear for a social event, and couldn't find anything unique. She describes herself as independent, fun, fearless, and creative, and that really comes across as I browse through her site. If one or more of those words describe you as well, head over to Lace Affair!

Avocado Tree Baking Co.
is a new venture of mine, and I am certain you've never had some of the things being created by our chef. On the "to die for" list: Rum Cake, Tres Leches Cupcakes, Mocha Cupcakes, Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes, and a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Yum!

If you live in the Boston area please feel free to email us and place an order. Thanksgiving is just three weeks away and we're doing two seasonal cupcakes for the month of November:

The Vermonter-- our maple walnut cupcake made with real Vermont maple syrup and topped with walnuts $3.00
Sweet Potato Pie with Candied Pecans-- a.k.a the Thanksgiving special, our sweet potato cupcake with marshmallow frosting and topped with candied pecans $3.00

Avocado Tree Baking Co. is a boutique bakery with lots of heart; we use the finest ingredients in all of our baked goods. We look forward to bringing you cakes and cupcakes that you cannot and will not find or taste anywhere else. We look forward to serving you and although our Grand Opening is not until November 3rd, we hope you will place your orders now. Please email us at avocadotreebakingco@gmail.com for more information.



Choose a cake:
Chocolate-- please indicate if you would like us to add nuts to this cake $20.00
Yellow-- $20.00
Choose a frosting:
Chocolate Buttercream
Cream Cheese
Vanilla Buttercream
(color and additional flavors for your Buttercream frosting available upon request)

Bundt Cakes:
Angel-- Our angel cake is light and soft, dusted on top with confectioners’ sugar $10.00
Lemon-- Our lovely lemon bundt cake is moist and dense, dusted on top with confectioners’ sugar $10.00
Rum-- Our special rum cake, the recipe is such a secret that only we know it $15.00

Special Cakes:
Bislon-- An Italian teacake (round with a hole in the middle), so unusually delicious, we guarantee you’ve never had anything like it $20.00
Carrot-- Our moist carrot cake with some secret ingredients and our cream cheese frosting $21.00
Heart Shaped-- A vanilla sandwich cake with fresh cream and raspberries in the center, perfect for any special occasion or just because $20.00

Special Order Cakes:

Is this cake for a special occasion? Do you need something written on the cake? Please let us know. There is no additional cost for writing something on your cake. Do you need a theme cake? Theme cakes are special order and we are more than happy to hear your requests.

Please know that theme cakes do have additional costs and Avocado Tree Baking Co. reserves the right to refuse any special order.

CUPCAKES (n.b. prices below are per cupcake, please see specs. on ordering below)

Our 7 Core Cupcakes
The Bostonian-- Boston Cream Pie, our vanilla cupcake filled with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate ganache $2.50
The Dutchman-- Red Velvet, our Dutch cocoa cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting $2.50
The Evil One-- Devil’s Food, a chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream $2.50
The Latino-- Tres Leches, our cupcake based on the famous Latin dessert $3.00
Mocha-- Coffee lovers take note, our mocha cupcake comes packed with a shot of espresso and topped with mocha frosting $3.00
The Natural-- Vanilla cupcake with vanilla or chocolate buttercream $2.50
The Pick Me Up-- Tiramisu, our cupcake based on the famous Italian dessert $2.50

Our 2 Seasonal Cupcakes
Every month we will offer two seasonal cupcakes, please call or email us for information on them. We promise you will not be disappointed.

Our cupcakes aim to satisfy! ;-)
The way for us to assure that statement is to tell you that the early bird gets the worm.
Because we are a small private catering company just beginning, we can only make a maximum of 60 cupcakes in one day! We recommend placing your orders in advance.
Here are some specifics:
We require a minimum order of 4 cupcakes per flavor per person.
All orders of 24 (or 2 dozen) or more must be made five business days in advance due to the freshness and quality standards of our product.
The sooner you place your order the more likely we can guarantee your request.

Here is one of our special order cakes: