Thursday, December 23, 2010

Paramore Split

I don't know how I missed this, but The Tennessean revealed this week that Zac Farro and Josh Farro, founding members of Franklin, Tenn. band Paramore, have officially split from frontwoman Hayley Williams and the two other band members.

Josh and Zac posted a statement on Josh's blog and they posted a video on YouTube, but it has since been taken down. Josh promises to repost it soon on his blog.

Hayley, Jeremy and Taylor will continue on as Paramore. They also released an announcement on their band blog.

There seems to be so much conflict and debate surrounding this split. The Farro brothers gave ample notice of their decision to leave the band, but apparently Hayley has called Josh's blog post a fake, saying that they would never release official information in a personal blog. However, Josh and Zac aren't in the band anymore, so all they have left is this personal blog. Josh's wife, Jenna, also posted on her blog regarding the split, verifying that Josh's blog is no fake.

I don't know what was in that video that is causing so much trouble, but I think it shows major class to be real and honest with their fans about everything that has happened.
This is such a sad day for me. Paramore has been one of my favorite bands for five or six years now. I've seen them in concert four times, and I'm so glad I saw them on this past tour. One last time. I will continue to support them all in their new ventures.

UPDATE: Josh reposted the video on his blog. It's simply him stating that he and Zac did write the previous blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Music Essentials

Happy December! It's time to bust out the Christmas music. Here are some of my favorite Christmas albums, new and old.

1. *NSYNC: Home for Christmas
2. Straight No Chaser: 
     Christmas Cheers
3. Straight No Chaser: 
     Holiday Spirits
4. Josh Groban: Noel
5. David Archuleta:
     Christmas from the Heart

I also really enjoy all of the "Now That's What I Call Christmas" collection. It blends classic artists and contemporary artists to make everyone in the family happy while you're decorating the tree and baking cookies.

I love buying at least one new Christmas album each year.
Here's my list for this year:
1. Lady Antebellum: A Merry Little Christmas
2. Dave Barnes: Very Merry Christmas
3. Glee: The Music - The Christmas Album

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

P!nk's "Greatest Hits...So Far!!!"

P!nk released her first greatest hits album yesterday. It is a two-disc CD/DVD compilation with 19 tracks and four music videos. I've always loved P!nk's singles, but I never bought any of her albums, so I jumped at the chance to buy this one. If you've ever read my blog, you know I love angsty female rockers just as much as a I love cute boys with guitars.

"Greatest Hits...So Far!!!" features three previously unreleased songs, including P!nk's newest single, "Raise Your Glass," in addition to the 16 hits from the past ten years.

1. Get the Party Started
2. There You Go
3. Don't Let Me Get Me
4. Just Like a Pill
5. Family Portrait
6. Trouble
7. Stupid Girls
8. Who Knew
9. U + Ur Hand
10. Dear Mr. President
11. So What
12. Sober
13. Please Don't Leave Me
14. Funhouse
15. I Don't Believe You
16. Glitter In the Air
17. Raise Your Glass
18. F**kin' Perfect
19. Heartbreak Down

It's been a crazy year for P!nk. She and her husband of four years reunited after nearly two years of separation back in February.

This summer she embarked on her Summer Funhouse Carnival Tour, where she fell during one of her aerial tricks.

Today P!nk appeared on Ellen to promote her greatest hits album, but she announced another surprise as well (with a little motivation from Ellen):
P!nk and husband, Carey Hart, are expecting their first child.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Last week I saw Parachute at Stubb's in Austin. This was my third Parachute concert, but it was the first time I've seen them headline. (They opened for both Secondhand Serenade and Kelly Clarkson last year.)
Parachute played all of the fan favorites from their first album, "Losing Sleep", as well as some new songs from their upcoming album. The guys were in the studio all summer working on their second album. Now that the tour has wrapped up, they're putting the finishing touches on it and should announce a release date soon.

Until then, here are some new songs Parachute performed last week from the upcoming album.

Parchute was amazing. I would like to say this was my favorite show, but they have been fantastic every time I've seen them live. They never disappoint. It has been incredible to watch them grow in fame and talent over the past year. I was grinning ear to ear the whole show, but I must say my highlight of the evening was when frontman Will Anderson jumped off the stage and danced between my friend and me. Cue fan-girl freak-out.

Brendan James and Hot Chelle Rae opened the show. I was less than impressed by Hot Chelle Rae. They're pretty much just a typical pop-punk band with mediocre lyrics and annoying guitar riffs. Brendan James, however, is the new love of my life. He's charming, honest, and oh-so-talented. I bought his album after the show, so I'll be posting an album review soon!

For more Parachute videos from past shows, check out my Parachute page on my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taylor Swift: "Speak Now"

After much anticipation, Taylor Swift released her third studio album on October 25, 2010. The record, appropriately titled "Speak Now," has created quite a buzz. Swift is now being heard louder than ever.

"Speak Now" sold more than one million albums during its first week, accounting for 18% of all albums sold. That percentage share surpassed 'N Sync's "No Strings Attached" as the fastest selling album of all time. (Read the article here.)

Yesterday Swift snagged BMI's Songwriter of the Year, the youngest artist ever to do so.

Taylor Swift has taken her songwriting talent to another level with "Speak Now," proving that she is here to stay. Swift once wrote about characters like Drew and Abigail, but now that her subjects are a little more famous, a slew of theories about Swift's personal life have sparked since the release of "Speak Now."

"Back To December" is reportedly about Swift's relationship with her Valentine's Day co-star and Twilight heartthrob, Taylor Lautner. It is also the first song in which Swift seems to be on the dumper side full of remorse and apologies.

"Dear John" is rumored to be about John Mayer. Swift and Mayer collaborated on Mayer's newest album, "Battle Studies" back in 2009. This track is the most scandalous and revealing track on the album. There are many theories floating around, but one thing is certain: Swift felt used by "John." Listen to it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. ("The Story Of Us" is also assumed to be about Mayer.)

"Better Than Revenge" is supposedly written about Camilla Belle, the girl who came between Swift and ex-beau Joe Jonas. Swift holds nothing back in her strong, bold lyrics. (That's why we love her, right?)

On a happier note, Swift wrote "Long Live" as a tribute to her band and all that they've been through together during the past several years.

1. Mine
2. Sparks Fly
3. Back To December
4. Speak Now
5. Dear John
6. Mean
7. The Story Of Us
8. Never Grow Up
9. Enchanted
10. Better Than Revenge
11. Innocent
12. Haunted
13. Last Kiss
14. Long Live

The Target Deluxe Edition features a second disc with six bonus tracks:
1. Ours
2. If This Was A Movie
3. Superman
4. Back To December (Acoustic)
5. Haunted (Acoustic)
6. Mine (POP Mix)

I have not stopped listening to "Speak Now" since I bought it. I think I memorized every word in less than one week. My favorite tracks are "Mean" and "Better Than Revenge." (What can I say? I like the angsty ones.)

Taylor Swift may not be the best singer, but she is an incredible songwriter who isn't afraid to let us in on some secrets. She's bold, beautiful, and a wonderful role model for young girls today.

"Speak Now" is the must-have album of 2010.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sara Bareilles

I haven't had time to write another post this week, so I'll leave you with some videos from the Sara Bareilles concert back in October.

Keep checking back this week for a review of Taylor Swift's new album, "Speak Now."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jason Reeves

If you've never heard of Jason Reeves, what are you waiting for? He sets brilliant poetry to heartfelt music. If nothing else, you know his songwriting skills. He writes with Colbie Caillat and Kara Dioguardi.

First of all, I could not have asked for a better show. Momo's was the perfect venue. It is small and intimate. There are tables in the front. My friend and I snagged one front and center, giving us the best seat in the house to swoon over Jason.

British singer/songwriter Joe Brooks opened up for Jason Reeves. He was fantastic as well. I used to listen to him on Myspace back in the day, so this was a treat for me.

Jason played an incredible set, but I was slightly disappointed when he didn't play my favorite song, his first single, "Someone Somewhere." I was also secretly hoping that he would play the song he wrote with Kara Dioguardi, "Terrified."

As Jason was walking off the stage after his final encore, a few people started shouting out more requests, including the two songs I had been hoping to hear. Momo's agreed to give Jason more time, and I was ecstatic with the result.

Jason Reeves played a medley of "Someone Somewhere," "Terrified," and another one of my favorite songs, "Reaching."

Here's Jason Reeves performing his newest single, "Helium Hearts." All of Jason's music is available to purchase on iTunes. Buy "Helium Hearts" here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates this semester. Life has been a little crazy, but I'm back, so don't worry.

Here's what I've been up to the past couple of months.

On September 4, I went to see Justin Nozuka at Antone's in Austin.
On September 10, I saw Paramore at Verizon Theater (formerly Nokia) in Grand Prairie.
On September 18, I saw Jason Reeves at Momo's in Austin.
On October 3, I saw Sara Bareilles at La Zona Rosa in Austin.

I'll post videos and pictures from these shows over the next few days to get this blog rolling again and catch you up.

I've also been enjoying some new music over the past few months. Here are my most recent purchases/discoveries:

Secondhand Serenade: Hear Me Now
Sara Bareilles: Kaleidoscope Hearts
Wakey! Wakey!: Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You...
Joe Brooks: Constellation Me
Easton Corbin: self-titled
Taylor Swift: Speak Now

I'll try to get some reviews out as soon as possible and get this blog going again.

P.S. What do you think of the redesign?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back in Action!

I'm back from my summer working at Camp Eagle. I'm moving into my new apartment this weekend, so things are still crazy, but I'll get this blog back up and running in the next week or two. Here's some topics I'm brewing:

American Idol Judge Controversy

Secondhand Serenade's new album, "Hear Me Now"

Glee News

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Idol Results

Season Three winner, Fantasia, performed her new single, "Bittersweet." How did that woman ever win Idol? Her voice is super annoying.

Season Five finalist, Daughtry, performed "September." How did this man not win Idol?

Bon Jovi also performed.

Casey, Lee and Crystal are in the top three. They will all return to their respective homes next week for local concerts and radio appearances.

Mike went home. However, at this point, it's almost not sad because he's got a great future in the recording industry.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

American Idol Top 4

The theme tonight is "Songs of the Cinema," and Jamie Foxx is the mentor. Each contestant will perform a solo and a duet (with another contestant).

Lee Dewyze sang “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal (from Batman Forever). This is a great song, but it wasn't one of my favorites from Lee. The verses were rough. He didn't quite hit the high notes, and the words seemed rushed. The chorus was good, but Lee still isn't a performer. He needs to interact more. Randy said Lee didn't do anything with the song, and didn't think it was the right choice for him. Ellen said Lee could have done more, but it was still good, and he sang it well. Kara said this was a difficult song, and Lee got lost in it. She said parts were out of tune, but it was still great. Simon said Lee's performance was verging on karaoke, and he tried too hard to sound like the original.

Michael Lynche sang “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (from Free Willy). I thought it was a great song choice for Mike. However, his performance was just alright. He didn't blow me away, but it was a good performance. Randy said Mike should have chosen an R&B song. Ellen said Mike is consistently good, but this song was predictable. Kara said she wanted to feel goosebumps, but Mike played it safe tonight. Simon said Mike could have chosen a better song, but he gave it 100 percent.

Crystal and Lee sang “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard (from Once) as a duet. They were both playing guitar and facing each other the whole time, which was a brilliant idea. It was the perfect song choice for them. It suited both of their voices, and they sounded great together. Randy said it was a great song by two great singers. He called it amazing and said it could be a hit. Ellen said the performance was great. Kara said this performance was one of her favorite moments of the season. She said she loved the chemistry and interaction between Crystal and Lee, and they brought out the best in each other. Simon said it was fantastic (with a huge grin).

Casey James sang “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel (from The Graduate). Casey played the mandolin for this song. He did a good job, but it wasn't great. Randy said Casey's performance was laid back and cool, but he wasn't jumping up and down about it. Ellen said Casey did something different with the song, but he could have gone further. Kara said it seems like Casey is fighting to stay in the competition. She thought this song was a good choice for Casey because it was upfront and vulnerable. Simon said neither the song nor Casey's performance had the substance required for tonight. He said it was lazy and a strange song choice.

Crystal Bowersox sang “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins (from Caddyshack). This is the Crystal we all love. I thought the beginning was great, and she definitely made the song her own. However, she screamed a little too much toward the end. Randy said Crystal is a true artist, and she made the song fit her. Ellen said Crystal took the song and made it better. Kara agreed with both Randy and Ellen. Simon said Crystal is back in the game.

Mike and Casey sang “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” by Bryan Adams (from Don Juan DeMarco) as a duet. They both played guitar as well, with Casey taking the solo riffs. Casey and Mike and completely different artists, but somehow they made it work. It was cool to see the two crooners team up. Randy said the song started rough vocally, but Mike and Casey sounded good together. Ellen said, "as a matter of fact, I have loved a woman." Kara said the duets tonight were incredible and better than all of the solo performances. Simon agreed with Kara and said the duets were one million times better than the solo performances. He said Mike and Casey were really good.

My favorites of the night were the duets. I think Crystal and Lee will be the top two, but I'm not sure which order Casey and Mike will fall.

Tomorrow night Bon Jovi, Daughtry, and Fantasia will all perform.

Unfortunately this is my last week blogging for Idol. I work at a summer camp, and I'm leaving this weekend, so it's adieu to TV until August for me. I will definitely watch the final two episodes though later this summer.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tyler Hilton

Last night I saw Tyler Hilton play at the White Rabbit in San Antonio. (By the way, this is a fantastic venue to see up-and-coming artists at a small and personal show.)

The show was great. The New Politics and AM Taxi opened for Tyler, who was then followed by The Spill Canvas. The first two bands were alright. The New Politics was really high energy pop/rap, and AM Taxi was just really loud rock.

However, I decided not to stay for The Spill Canvas. I only know a couple of their songs, and it got crowded. Plus, I was just there for Tyler.

If you've never heard of Tyler Hilton the musician, chances are you've seen Tyler Hilton the actor (who are one in the same). Hilton is probably most famous for his role as Chris Keller in season two of One Tree Hill. He also played Elvis in Walk the Line, Murphy Bivens in Charlie Bartlet, and Drew in Taylor Swift's music video for "Teardrops on My Guitar."

Hilton was also featured on all three of the One Tree Hill soundtracks.

It's been six years since Hilton has released an album, but his new EP "Ladies and Gentlemen" is better than ever. My favorite tracks are "Sunset Blvd." and "This World Will Turn Your Way." It's a great singer/songwriter album that proves Tyler Hilton is not going anywhere but up. I'll admit, it took me a while to see him as Tyler Hilton instead of the rude and cocky Chris Keller, but I'm in love with his music (and his million dollar smile). This EP is available on iTunes for only $2.99 now.

1. Sunset Blvd.
2. I Believe in You
3. This World Will Turn Your Way
4. Keep On
5. June

At the show last night, Hilton seemed truly grateful to be living his dream. Every now and then he would look at the crowd and smile in a way that said, "I can't believe this is my life." His charm and humility is endearing. He interacted with the crowd and played all of the fan favorites.

After the show, I got the chance to meet Tyler. He was hanging out at the merch booth signing autographs and taking pictures. He was kind and genuinely happy to be meeting his fans. I've met a lot of famous musicians, and I would say that Tyler is one of the nicest for sure.

Tyler Hilton is also in the process of creating a music video for "I Believe in You," by stringing along clips from his tour. Each night he has the crowd sing a line from the song. We sang the first line of the second verse: "It's so hard to give you up, but too easy to pretend." So be on the lookout for the San Antonio crowd in the video. My roommate and I were front and center.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

American Idol Results

Lady Gaga performed her new song, "Alejandro." This week's mentor, Harry Connick Jr., also performed.

The top five performed two separate medleys.  The first medley was Sinatra songs, and the second medley was Harry Connick Jr. songs.  He joined the top five on stage to sing and play piano as well.

Mike and Aaron were in the bottom two. Aaron went home.

The theme next week is "Songs of the Cinema." Jamie Foxx will return as a mentor.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

American Idol Top 5

The theme this week is Frank Sinatra. Harry Connick Jr. is the both the mentor and composer of the special arrangements for each contestant. He is also accompanying them all on piano. (Idol, take note. This is a true mentor.)

Aaron Kelly sang “Fly Me to the Moon.” I thought his vocals were a bit shaky, but he did a decent job with the song. Randy said Aaron did a good job with a classic sound despite being so young. Ellen said Aaron pulled it off with beautiful vocals. Kara said Aaron's performance was good but not as strong as last week. She said he needs to learn charisma and fill the stage more. Simon said Aaron didn't have Frank's swagger. However, he said Aaron is likable and he tries hard.

Casey James sang “Blue Skies.” He tried to put some soul into this song, but it was awkward. He didn't quite hit the high notes until the end. Randy said it was Casey's worst performance, "pitchy until the last note." Ellen agreed with Randy and called his performance stiff. Kara said it took Casey a long time to warm up and relax, and he needs to work on his vibrato. Simon said Casey's performance was not fantastic. He said Casey seemed awkward and embarrassed.

Crystal Bowersox sang “Summer Wind.” I thought this style suited her voice. She was classy and gorgeous and had a gentle confidence about her. I enjoyed the song, though it was more mild than her usual forte. Randy said the arrangement was great, but the performance was subdued and sleepy. Ellen said Crystal needed to loosen up more, but this performance showed a different side of Crystal. She said it was impressive. Kara said Crystal was out of her element with this song, but she liked it. She also complemented Crystal on her phrasing. Simon said Crystal's performance felt indulgent. He said the second half was better than the first, but this was not her strongest performance.

Michael Lynche sang “The Way You Look Tonight.” Mike was completely in his element tonight. This was one of his best performances. He could have sang any Sinatra song well, but he chose a popular song, which was very smart. Randy said Mike's vocals were unbelievable. Ellen said Mike looked the part and sounded the part. She called his performance smooth and said he had charisma. Kara said Mike found the drama in the song and took us on a journey, but he didn't lose himself in the song. Simon said Mike turned around this night for everyone. He said Mike put himself back in the game with this one.

Lee Dewyze sang “That’s Life.” Now that is swagger. I loved this performance. It was a great vocal, and Lee made it his own. Randy said Lee stayed his own rocker self, and he loved it. Ellen said, "If this were the last night, [Lee] would have just won this whole thing." Kara said Lee can win this competition, but he needs to believe he can. Simon said Harry Connick Jr. brought out Lee's personality and confidence tonight. He said Lee gave it 110% and called it the best performance of the night.

My favorites were Mike, Crystal and Lee.

I think Casey and Aaron are in trouble. I want Casey to stick around for a couple more weeks though, so I'm hoping Aaron's time is up.

Lady Gaga and this week's mentor, Harry Connick Jr., will perform tomorrow night. The Idol contestants will also perform multiple group songs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

American Idol Results

Rascall Flatts performed "Unstoppable" and also debuted their duet with Shakira, "Gypsy."

Sons of Sylvia performed. Carrie Underwood even stopped by to introduce her longtime friends.

Lady Antebellum also performed "Need You Now."

Casey, Mike and Siobahn were in the bottom three. Siobahn went home.

The theme next week is Frank Sinatra. Harry Connick Jr. will be the mentor.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

American Idol Top 6

The theme this week is music by tonight's mentor, Shania Twain. I loved Shania Twain when I was younger (before she went completely pop with "Up"). I'm excited to see what the contestants (especially the guys) will do tonight.

Lee Dewyze sang “You’re Still the One.” I love this song. Lee had a few awkward moments, but he made some great melodic changes as well. Randy said Lee started out pitchy, but he found his sweet spot and made it his own. Ellen said that Lee makes every song his own. Kara complemented Lee on how far he's come in this competition. Simon said Lee seemed hesitant, but it was the perfect song choice.

Michael Lynche sang “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing.” I'm not familiar with this song, so it's hard to critique. I thought Mike used too much vibrato in the first verse, and the melody was strange. However, Mike really connected to the song and sang it well. Randy said Mike has found his zone in R&B ballads. Ellen compared Mike's performance to Luther Vandross. She said Mike felt the emotion of the song and called it a beautiful performance. Kara said Mike connected to the song and changed the melody enough to put his mark on the song while still staying true to the song. Simon called Mike's performance wet and girly, but he agreed with Ellen about the Luther reference.

Casey James sang “Don’t.” Casey said this is a singing song. "I don't think I've sung yet." He's finally taking the judges' advice. This was a simple song, and Casey just sang it. This was my absolute favorite performance of his. It was heartfelt and beautiful. Randy said this side of Casey provides a nice contrast to his rocking guitar songs. Ellen said Casey sang this song like it's where he belongs and called it his best performance. Kara said that true artists don't hide. She said Casey showed everything tonight; he was vulnerable and raw, and that will take him to the top. Simon said last week was a wake-up call for Casey. He also said this was Casey's best performance.

Crystal Bowersox sang “No One Needs Know.” She said this song was to drop hints to her boyfriend. She said he'll man up someday. I thought it was the perfect Shania song for Crystal. I loved it. She didn't quite hit the high notes in the bridge, but she got them in the end. Randy said he loved the arrangement, but it wasn't his favorite performance of Crystal's. Ellen said there's nothing Crystal can't do. She said, "It wasn't my favorite either, but that's like saying, 'What's your least favorite color of the rainbow?'" Kara said it's impossible for Crystal to not be good because she's so honest. She said it wasn't Crystal's best, but it was still an amazing performance. Simon said Crystal's performance was limp and compared it to a coffee shop performance. He said it was forgettable, and he didn't feel the conviction from her.

Aaron Kelly sang “You‘ve Got a Way.” This is Aaron's week, so I had high hopes. He didn't disappoint. This song suited his range, and he sang it really well. It was a sweet and tender vocal, possibly my favorite performance of his. Randy said Aaron did a really good job with the song. Ellen said she's impressed by Aaron's talent and emotion at just 17 years old. She said he really embraced the lyrics. Kara agreed with Ellen about Aaron feeling the words. She complimented Aaron on his decision to change the line about making love. (Aaron said he sang the song for his mom.) Simon said Aaron has struggled the past two weeks, but he was a different artist tonight. He said this is the kind of record Aaron should make because it felt sincere and believable.

Siobahn Magnus sang “Any Man of Mine.” I'm sad that she didn't do the line dance in the middle of the song. The judges loved it, but I didn't like it at all. I will say it was one of Siobahn's better performances, but I'm just not a fan. She sang the song too legato (long and drawn out) which made her fall behind. The whole thing was awkward for me, and then Siobahn went back to her ridiculous screaming. Go home, Siobahn. Randy said he loved Siobahn's punk country version. Ellen said it was fantastic and a good way to end the show. Kara said Siobahn's back in the competition. Simon said it was the perfect song choice, but Siobahn's screaming at the end was too much.

I loved everyone except Siobahn tonight. My absolute favorites were Lee and Casey though (with Crystal and Aaron following closely behind.)

I think Mike and (hopefully) Siobahn may be in trouble this week, and Mike's time may be up.

Lady Antebellum is performing tomorrow night on the results show.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jason Castro (finally)

If you know me at all, you know how long I've been waiting for Jason Castro's debut album. It was originally set to release back in November 2009, but Jason and his team wanted the album to be perfect for the fans, so they decided to delay the release until January 2010. Well, then that didn't happen either. Instead of releasing a full-length album, Jason released a five-track EP to tide us over until the real release, April 13, 2010.

The full-length 14-track album is available on iTunes (digital copy) or Amazon (hard copy). You can also buy an 8-track version in stores (or the digital copy online as well).

This long awaited debut album features all five tracks found on Jason Castro's Love Uncompromised EP as well as two favorites from Jason's time on American Idol, "Hallelujah" and "Over the Rainbow."

My favorite new tracks are "That's What I'm Here For" and "Heart of Stone." Last month Jason Castro sang "That's What I'm Here For" (and "Over the Rainbow") at Bachelor star Jason Mesnick's wedding. He also performed it on Ellen this week, so I assume it's his next single. This track is Jason Castro at his best. While his first single, "Let's Just Fall In Love Again," is quirky and fun, this song is genuine, heartfelt songwriting. ("When you need a little less or you want a little more, when you need someone to find you when you're hiding from it all, that's what I'm here for.") I also really love the strings featured on this track.

"This Heart of Stone" is a happy medium between the two singles. It's upbeat and fun, but it tells the story of a girl breaking down the walls around his heart. "It was a sucker-punch that took me down. She took a sledgehammer and went to town...She took her best swing and broke into this heart of stone." I love this song because I think many people will relate to it (no matter which side of the story they happen to be on). Everyone is looking for that one person who they can trust and be vulnerable with, but sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to get to that vulnerable state.

1. Let's Just Fall In Love Again
2. This Heart of Mine
3. That's What I'm Here For
4. Heart of Stone
5. If I Were You
6. You Can Always Come Home
7. Love Uncompromised
8. Closer
9. All Wrapped Up
10. It Matters To Me
11. Hallelujah
12. Let's Just Fall In Love Again (Acoustic)
13. Sweet Medicine
14. Over the Rainbow

It's been a huge year for Jason Castro. He's been working hard on this album since he signed with Atlantic Records exactly one year ago (April 2009). He completed his first club tour, he got married, he saw his dream come true (finally), and he is now on his first headlining tour.

It's been an incredible journey watching this talented singer-songwriter grow from a shy kid playing at The Door in Dallas to an American Idol star and now a talented musician living his dream.

Be sure to buy Jason's album and catch him on tour if you can!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I won't recap the whole evening of Idol Gives Back, but I will say that I bawled my eyes out. Carrie Underwood's performance was powerful, and Sir Elton John's performance was amazing.

Casey, Aaron, and Tim were in the bottom three.

Tim went home.

Shania Twain will serve as both the mentor and theme for next week.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

American Idol Top 7

The theme tonight is Inspirational Songs qith Alicia Keys serving as the mentor. This week is Idol Gives Back, so all of your votes go to help save lives. Also, all proceeds from this week's iTunes performances go towards Idol Gives Back beneficiaries. Tomorrow night will be the two-hour Idol Gives Back star-studded show.

Casey James sang “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac. Casey was in his blues-rock element, but it wasn't an inspirational song or performance. However, it was still a good performance, and Casey is still a rock star. Randy said Casey's performance was good but not his best. He's looking for something special and wants Casey to step out of his comfort zone. Ellen said that people won't be talking about Casey's performance tomorrow. Kara said Casey made himself like everyone else tonight and she misses the vulnerability of his "Jealous Guy" performance. Simon said the song was not inspiring and Casey lacked emotion and originality in his performance.

Lee Dewyze sang “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. The beginning was awkward for me, and Lee didn't always hit the high notes. However, he was connected to the song and very emotional. Randy said Lee is a great artist ready to go make great music. He predicted that Lee will have a big career. Ellen said it was a beautiful song choice. She said Lee has soul and depth and called this his best performance. Kara said that Lee had his "moment" tonight. She said connection makes all the difference. Simon said Lee made the song current and called it sincere, emotional, inspirational, and brilliant.

Tim Urban sang “Better Days” by the Goo Goo Dolls. I thought it was a good song choice. Tim has really grown in this competition. His higher register has improved, and he's hitting his stride. Randy said it was just an okay karaoke version of the original. Ellen compared Tim to the soup of the day--sometimes you like it, and sometimes you don't--and she didn't like it today. Kara said Tim's performance was not the best execution, but she still believes that he's on the right track. Simon said Tim has improved over the weeks, but tonight was a little bit of a letdown.

Aaron Kelly sang “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly. (A. Kelly singing R. Kelly!) I had high hopes for this performance. Aaron started pretty shaky, but he settled into the chorus and really belted at the key change. I also noticed that he was putting more rasp into his voice, and I liked it. Randy said Aaron did a good job with a giant song. Ellen said Aaron has a big voice and he's on his way. Kara said Aaron's performance was like taking off on a flight--rough at the start, but soaring in the end. Simon said Aaron's vocals were not very good but his personality made the performance better.

Siobahn Magnus sang “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. She had too much vibrato in the beginning, but her vocals were tender (and not screaming). I thought she had some good moments and some not so good moments. Randy said Siobahn's performance was just okay. Ellen disagreed with Randy and said Siobahn showed that she deserves to be in this competition. Kara said Siobahn technically sang the song well, but she still doesn't know who Siobahn is as an artist. Simon said the arrangement was old fashioned, odd, and all over the place. He also said she progressed through the song too quickly; too much happened too soon.

Michael Lynche sang “Hero” by Nickelback. Big Mike was out of his comfort zone on this one. It wasn't my favorite, but it was okay. The chorus was rough. The verses were good. The ending was better. Randy said Mike held his own with this song and it worked out. Ellen said Mike did a great job. Kara said this wasn't her favorite performance of Mike's because he doesn't have the tone for this song. She said he made the song unrecognizable. Simon said Mike sang the song pretty well but it felt artificial. He also said the theme is inspirational songs and that song is about Spiderman. (Yes. He said that.)

Crystal Bowersox sang “People Get Ready” by The Chambers Brothers. Crystal performed without an instrument for the first time on this show, but she still looked comfortable on stage. She even used her own personal antique mic stand. Crystal's performance was fantastic. I loved the acapella introduction, and this was clearly an emotional song for Crystal. She saw her dad in the audience and started to cry at the end of her performance. Randy said Crystal's performance was unbelievable and gave her a standing ovation. Ellen said Crystal is evolving and growing, and getting better and better, and said her performance was beautiful. Kara said Crystal took a risk and she schooled all the other contestants. Simon said Crystal's performance was truly inspirational and called it fantastic. He said he was happy to see emotion from her and that she's in a completely different class from the other performances tonight.

My favorites of the night were Crystal, Lee, and Aaron.

I think Siobahn, Tim and Casey will be in the bottom three. Aaron might be in the bottom three, but I say Casey because he played first and bored us all.

Tim will probably go home, though I'd rather see Siobahn go home.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

5 New Tracks

These five new tracks are on heavy rotation on my iTunes right now, so I thought I would share some new music with you.

Michael McEachern: "What's Inside"
I can't take the credit for finding this artist because he found me. A few weeks ago I noticed I had gained a new follower on Twitter (@michaelmceach). I checked out his profile, as I do with all new followers, to find that he is a musician. I fell in love with this song after the first line. McEachern has such a tender and refined voice, and the lyrics of this song are simply beautiful. At just 19 years old, McEachern has a very bright future ahead of him if he keeps writing songs like this. Rumor has it, he's touring a bit! Make sure to give this guy a listen and try to catch him on tour. Listen to this song here.

B.o.B. ft Hayley Williams: "Airplanes"
If you haven't heard this song yet, what are you waiting for? This is my absolute favorite song right now. I'm usually not a big fan of rap, but B.o.B. is fantastic. Combine his storytelling capabilities with Hayley Williams' (of Paramore) incredible vocals, and you're bound to have a hit. B.o.B., also known as Bobby Ray, is currently on tour, and his new album comes out next week (April 27). Listen to this track here.

Tyler Hilton: "I Believe In You"
Though Tyler Hilton hasn't released a full-length album since 2004, his newest EP, "Ladies and Gentlemen," though not yet released, is already gaining popularity with both this track and "Sunset Blvd." You can buy it on iTunes this Tuesday. Tyler Hilton is better known for his acting than his career as a musician. He played the role of Elvis in Walk the Line and Chris Keller in One Tree Hill. He was also featured in Taylor Swift's music video for "Teardrops on My Guitar." However, Tyler Hilton has evolved as a musician, and I feel that he is finally hitting his stride. Be on the lookout for this one. Listen to this track here.

Zach Berkman: "All That I Know"
This song was recently featured on ABC Family's Make It Or Break It. I searched the lyrics because I had to find out who this guy was. Zach Berkman is such a talented songwriter. He has spent many years chasing his dream across the both the U.S. and Europe. In 2008 he released a full length album and an EP. Last year he wrote a song called "Drop in the Ocean" for Ron Pope that was fairly popular. However, Berkman's newest single, "All That I Know," is looking to be his biggest success yet. Listen to this song here.

Neon Trees: "Animal"
My roommate recently introduced me to Neon Trees. Their debut album, Habits, was released in March, and I think this band has huge potential. Neon Trees' great alternative sound is similar to The Killers, via Hot Fuss. "Animal" is a fantastic track that just makes you want to dance in the car with the windows down. However, you must be wearing shades and swaying to the beat with both hands on the steering wheel. It's definitely not a Miley Cyrus song. You can watch the video for this song here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

American Idol Results

Brooke White and Justin Gaston performed "If I Can Dream" together. Adam Lambert performed "Whataya Want From Me."

Remember, since the judges saved Mike last week, there is a double elimination tonight.

Andrew was the first to leave the competition.

Katie also left tonight.

Next week the theme is "inspirational songs." Alicia Keys will mentor.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

American Idol Top 9 (Again)

Since the judges chose to save Michael Lynche last week, the top nine finalists will compete once again with a double elimination tomorrow night.

This week's theme is Elvis Presley, and Adam Lambert is the mentor. Don't get me started. Why did they pick Adam to mentor before any other previous Idol? He didn't even win. Team Kris.

Crystal Bowersox sang “Saved.” She busted out the electric guitar tonight. I wasn't so fond of this performance. It was less dynamic than what I've become accustomed to with Crystal. I felt like she was screaming at me. However, it was still a good performance, and I still love her. Randy said he loved Crystal's blues vibe and energy. Ellen said, once again, great job to Crystal. Kara said this was another solid performance for Crystal, and she loved the up tempo song choice. Simon said Crystal chose something that suited her and didn't fall into the karaoke trap.

Andrew Garcia sang “Hound Dog.” Andrew slowed down the tempo because Adam suggested he make more changes. However, it was still boring. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either. Randy said it sounded karaoke. Ellen said she wished Andrew had put more swagger in his performance, but she thought he pulled it off. Kara said Andrew needs to own the stage instead of letting the microphone be his crutch. She said he made some nice melodic changes but she wanted to feel more. Simon said Andrew's performance was lazy and didn't feel like a star performance.

Tim Urban sang “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” Tim is peaking at the right time. He kept the song simple with just an acoustic guitar and his tender heartfelt vocals. I really liked the falsetto melodic changes he made, but I'm curious why he didn't take Adam's advice to stay in the falsetto at the end. Randy said he liked it. (Eloquent, I know.) Ellen said she really enjoyed it and can't help falling in love with Tim. Kara said it was her favorite performance of Tim's. She called his performance authentic, real, meaningful, and current. Simon said Tim managed to go from zero to hero in two weeks.

Lee Dewyze sang “A Little Less Conversation.” This was a great song choice for Lee. It perfectly suited his raspy blues edge. I thought it was a fun performance. Randy said Lee is in the zone with another great performance. Ellen said Lee made the song current, engaged with the audience more, and showed more confidence. Kara said Lee went for it vocally with an intensity we haven't seen yet. She said the vocal was fire, but Lee needs to be more playful and less serious. Simon said Lee nailed the song.

Aaron Kelly sang “Blue Suede Shoes.” I was surprised and impressed by this performance. I didn't know Aaron could do the raspy voice. I thought he was adorable. It was a good, fun performance, and the breakdown was fantastic. Randy said the second half with the bluesy breakdown suited Aaron's voice better than the first half of the song. Ellen said it was a big song to take on, but she gave Aaron an "A" for effort and said he did a really good job. Kara said Aaron was out of his comfort zone and she liked it. She said this song pushed him and kept him on edge. Simon disagreed, calling Aaron's performance old-fashioned and karaoke.

Siobahn Magnus sang “Suspicious Minds.” She picked the whiniest song, so she whined along with it. I thought her performance was boring. The second half was better at the breakdown. She managed to hit the high notes without screaming. Randy said Siobahn took some risks, but she didn't come alive until the half time breakdown. Ellen said Siobahn has a beautiful voice and the second half was much better than the first half. Kara said she's confused by the Siobahn's "two voices," and she didn't like the performance. Simon said Siobahn is a completely different person, as if she lost herself. He said the first part was terrible and called her performance erratic and screechy.

Michael Lynche sang “In the Ghetto.” Thank you, judges! I loved Mike's performance. It was heartfelt, captivating, and beautiful. He told the story well. Randy said the song was sleepy but the vocals were hot. Ellen said she's glad they chose to save Mike. Kara said it is a beautiful song and Mike sang it well. Simon said Mike's performance was much better than last week. He said it was a terrific song choice and one of his favorite performances.

Katie Stevens sang “Baby, What Do You Want Me to Do." She chose this song because she's frustrated by the conflicting criticisms from the judges. I thought the beginning was boring, but the song picked up when the horns section came in. She missed some notes, but it was a good performance. Randy said it was sassy and entertaining. Ellen said Katie is a great singer. Kara said Katie showed the judges. Simon, however, said it was loud and annoying.

Casey James sang “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” I liked the cool acapella introduction. Casey was in his element with Elvis. He's such a rock star. I love him. Randy said it was another solid performance. Ellen said she loves Casey's voice, but this performance wasn't as exciting as she would have liked. Kara said Casey is a brilliant artist, but he fell short tonight. Simon said Casey wasted an opportunity with a forgettable song, but it was a good vocal.

My favorites of the night were Tim, Mike, and Lee.

I predict that Andrew, Katie, and Siobahn will be in the bottom three.  Aaron might be in the bottom three, but I think he's doing better than Siobahn as far as song choice goes.