Sunday, February 28, 2010

State Lines

On Thursday, I saw Jason Castro, Matt Hires, and Caitlin Crosby at Stubb's in Austin. We got there about an hour and a half early to wait in line. Doors opened at 9pm. Surprisingly, some of the girls we met on the Bobby Bones Show last fall were in line ahead of us. We enjoyed hanging out with them again and met some new people as well. This was my first show at Stubb's, and I love the indoor portion of the venue. It was a small room, which made for a very personal show. We were literally right in front of the stage looking up at the artists.

Caitlin Crosby opened. She's got a great sound and is truly an inspiring person. She created a, inspired by her album, "Flawz." Caitin's music is very heartfelt and personal. You can watch her video for "Flawz" here.

Jason Castro performed next. Though he wasn't the real headliner, everyone was there for him. Jason performed his new music from his EP and upcoming album (due to release sometime this spring). You can read my review of his EP here. My favorite songs are "Love Uncompromised" and "You Can Always Come Home." He also performed a couple favorites from his Idol days, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Hallelujah," as well as his first single "Let's Just Fall in Love Again." You can watch my videos from the show here. To close the set, Jason played a tribute to Texas (his home state) with a Tom Petty cover, "Southern Accents."

Unfortunately, we were unable to see Jason after the show because of some drama with the venue. While Matt Hires was performing Jason tweeted, "I have never been treated so poorly by a venue. At least the crowd was with me! Love you Austin!" and left the venue. All I know is that before the show, Stubb's made Jason's family go to the end of the line. I heard that during Caitlin's set, Jason was outside waiting in line with his family.

Matt Hires headlined. I love Matt's album, "Take Us to the Start." He performed most of the songs off of his album as well as some covers. You can watch my videos from the show here. Fun fact for you: Matt is an insanely legit whistler. Just listen to "Out of the Dark" and imagine it live and twice as good. Matt's got a very chill sound, and you can tell that he really loves music. You can read my review of Matt's album here. Matt opened with his most popular song, "Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song" and closed, appropriately, with "State Lines," the title of the tour. We got to meet Matt after the show. He's a cutie.

Friday, February 26, 2010

American Idol Results

Last night Idol said goodbye to Janell, Ashley, Joe, and Tyler.

I was disappointed to see Joe leave.  No one really knew who he was before this week, so I think that contributed to his lack of votes.  I liked him though; I wanted to see more.

However, I think America was right on with Janell and Tyler.  Ashley was a bit of a surprise, but I'm not really disappointed to see her go at this point.

Alison Iraheta and Kris Allen both performed.  Kris Allen showed footage from his recent trip to Haiti.  All proceeds from his performance of "Let It Be" go to the Idol Gives Back Foundation for the United Nations Foundation's efforts for Haiti.

I just watched the results today because I went to Austin to see Jason Castro and Matt Hires.  I'll be updating later this weekend with photos, videos, and commentary on the concert.  Be looking out!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Idol Top 12 Guys

The top 12 guys performed tonight. It was a rough night overall, just like it was for the girls. However, I think the guys came out on top. They had the two extremes--bad and really good--whereas the girls just had a bunch of mediocre performances.

Also, here's the deal with rumors of a Top 24 guy being replaced. Chris Golightly made the top 24, but apparently had signed a record deal and was therefore not eligible for the competition. He is denying that his contract was in existence as of his acceptance on to the show, but for whatever reason, Chris was replaced by Tim Urban in the Top 24.

Todrick Hall sang “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson. He had a very interesting, funky take on the song. It didn't show off his voice very well, and the vocals were shaky. The second half of the song improved, but the arrangement was too risky. Ellen said Todrick is a great performer with good stage presence, and she liked that he took a chance, but the performance was rough. Randy said Todrick is talented, but he changed the song too much; it was a hit song for a reason. Kara agreed with Randy by saying that Todrick is a strong enough singer that he didn't need to change the song up so much, but she gave him props for creativity. Simon said Todrick looked like a dancer trying to sing, rather than a singer who can also dance. He said the arrangement didn't improve the song, and it was verging on stupid. (Harsh!)

Aaron Kelly sang “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascall Flatts. I thought it was a very smart song choice for him. His falsetto was a little weak, and he missed a few notes, but overall it was a good performance. Simon said Aaron lacks confidence and needs to take control of the song, but it was a good performance. Kara said she's excited to see Aaron improve throughout the show. She said he's a naturally good singer and the pop/country genre was a good choice for him. Randy said Aaron had a few pitchy moments, but he's a big fan. Ellen said she loves Aaron's humilty; he should gain confidence without changing who he is.

Jermaine Sellers sang “Get Here” by Oleta Adams. He has a very soft and sincere voice, but the vocals were all over the place. He was flat for most of the song, and the final note took forever to settle into the key. Ellen said Jermaine was performing instead of connecting. She thought he pushed his vocals and went off key. Randy said it was a weird song choice. He sees Jermaine doing more Maxwell or Ne-Yo. He said Jermaine tried to do too much vocally when he should have just sung the melody. Kara said the song was too old-fashioned, and Jermaine needs to make his runs meaningful. Simon said Jermaine oversang the song to the point of screaming. He said it was over the top and believes Jermaine blew his opportunity.

Tim Urban sang “Apologize” by OneRepublic. I was really rooting for Tim. Apparently someone left before the Top 24 was announced, so Tim made received a call from the producer asking him to join them. I love his voice, but tonight was not good. It was a terrible song choice. Tim doesn't have the falsetto to sing OneRepublic. Simon believes the judges made the right decision in not putting Tim through at first. He said the vocals were weak and just plain not good enough for this competition. Kara said the music overpowered him; he should have used his guitar. However, she thinks he's cute, likable, and current. Randy said it was the wrong song choice because Tim doesn't have the falsetto for it. Ellen said Tim is adorable and people will want to vote for him, but he's got to step it up.

Joe Munoz sang “You and I Both” by Jason Mraz. I didn't remember this guy, but I thought he did really well. I thought it was a good song choice, and he has a cute smile and a nice stage presence. Ellen said Joe looked comfortable on stage. Randy said it was not a perfect song choice, but he thinks Joe has a great voice. Kara said it was a surprising song choice and said it was the best performance thus far. Simon said the performance was okay, but it was safe, forgettable, and he believes Joe lacks star potential. (No photo available.)

Tyler Grady sang “American Woman” by The Guess Who. Of course. What else would he sing? I thought this was a terrible performance--the worst of the night. Tyler screamed the chorus, his voice cracked throughout the song, and his vocals were flat most of the time. Simon said people will remember Tyler's performance, but for the wrong reason. He said Tyler is trying to be a cliche rock star and called the performance unnatural and predictable. Kara said Tyler didn't add anything original to the song. Ellen said Tyler was lacking charisma and excitement. I would just like to point out that none of the judges ever said anything about his vocals. This is a singing competition. I expected them to tear him to pieces after they nearly made Tim cry. Tyler's performance was way worse, and all they talked about was his stupid 70's obsession. [rant over]

Lee Dewyze sang “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. Lee played guitar and kept things simple for the most part. He changed the chorus up to show off his range, but the ending notes of each line went flat. Overall I liked what he was trying to do, but "Chasing Cars" is such a simple and beautiful song on it's own; I'm not sure he needed to do much with it. I really liked the ending, however. Ellen said it was a good song choice except Lee sounded like he was screaming in parts. She loves his tone of voice and said he has a distinct sound. Randy didn't like the song choice. He would have preferred a Kings of Leon song (which I think would have been awesome). Kara said the song has a small range, but by changing the melody Lee made it almost unrecognizable. She would have preferred Bad Company. Simon said it was the best performance of the night. He thinks Lee is authentic and a naturally good singer who can find a song and turn it into his own.

John Park sang “God Bless the Child” by Chicago. His voice surprises me every time. He's a bass, which is interesting. Basses don't tend to do very well in this competition because the pop market is geared toward tenors. I could not understand any of the words in the first verse. The chorus improved though, so I think the verses were just a bit too low for John. Simon said that Joe doesn't have the voice for that song. He said the vocals were flat and the performance was pointless and lacked emotion. Kara said John has a big voice, but he made no connection with the audience or the song. She said he sounded like a lounge singer. Randy said the runs in the bridge were good, but it was a bad song choice. Ellen liked the performance but said the song didn't show America who John is as an artist.

Michael Lynche sang “This Love” by Maroon 5. I'm really glad "Big Mike" is still on the show despite the controversy with his dad and the confidentiality agreement. Mike played guitar for this one. I thought it was a little choppy during the verses. It's hard to hear anyone but Adam Levine sing this song. Overall I thought it was a decent vocal, but he's capable of better. Ellen loves Mike's personality. She said there were a few pitch problems but thought it was a great song choice. Randy said Mike brought the energy up in the room with a fun performance. Kara said the performance was good but not great. She thinks Mike chose a comfortable song. Simon said the performance sounded like an opening act. He said Mike has a big heart, but he delivered little tonight.

Alex Lambert sang “Wonderful World” by James Morrison. I really like his voice. Alex took a while to settle into the song, but the chorus was good. I definitely want to hear more from him. Simon said it was the most uncomfortable performance of the night. He said Alex has a good voice, but he was too nervous. Kara said she loves Alex's thick, rich tone and thinks he has great potential in this competition. Ellen gave Alex props for holding on to the mullet. [I really wanted to cut his hair for him.] She compared him to an unripe banana by saying he just need to ripen more and gain confidence in himself.

Casey James sang “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. Finally, a great song choice. I love Casey. He played guitar and kept things simple. Casey has a great voice; he doesn't need gimmicks. This was my favorite performance of the night. Kara said it was a little pitchy, but Casey has heart and soul. She also said, "You're eye candy, but you're also ear candy." Randy said it was a great song choice and that he likes Casey's swagger. Simon said Casey chose the right song and said Casey is sincere and likable. He said it was Casey's best performance so far.

Andrew Garcia sang “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy. This is definitely the first time anyone has sung FOB on American Idol. I thought it was a brave song choice and arrangement. I enjoyed it, but I think he should have taken it down a half step. I love Andrew's voice though, and I'm excited to see him grow as an artist. Simon said he was disappointed. He thought the performance was too serious and not original enough. Kara liked that Andrew took a risk, but she said the rendition was just strange. Randy agreed with Kara and said Andrew tried too hard. Ellen said she's a big fan of Andrew's, but she wants to see more personality.

My favorites of the night were Casey, Lee, and Joe.
I think Tyler and John are going home.

The results show is tomorrow night. I probably won't be able to watch the results until Friday morning because I'm going to see Jason Castro tomorrow night. However, Kris Allen will be on the show performing live and premiering footage from his trip to Haiti, and Alison Iraheta will also be performing on the show.

All photos from

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

American Idol Top 12 Girls

It's finally here. The Top 24 perform. The top 12 girls performed tonight, and the top 12 guys will perform tomorrow night. Results will be on Thursday.

For the next three weeks, the contestants will be singing songs from the Billboard charts (so basically, anything they want).

Paige Miles sang "It's Alright Now" by Bad Company. My initial reaction was that I was not impressed. The song was awkward and kind of all over the place vocally. She has a powerful voice, but I was confused by the whole performance. Simon said that Paige has the best voice out of all the girls, but she made a poor song choice tonight. Kara disagreed with Simon, saying Paige made a brilliant song choice. She said Paige put soul into a rock song with her impressive dynamics, but she struggled in the chorus a bit. Randy said it wasn't the right song, but it showed off her powerful voice.

Ashley Rodriguez sang “Happy” by Leona Lewis. I thought it was a good performance over all, possibly a little too low for her in the beginning, but good. That being said, I wasn't super impressed. Kara said there were great moments, but she wants to see Ashley do something different. Randy said diva songs will always be compared to the original, making it difficult to stand out. He said the song choice didn't define who Ashley is as an artist. Ellen said Ashley should take a risk. Simon said it was clumsy and lacked originality.

Janell Wheeler sang “What About Love” by Heart. She was really nervous, and it showed. Her hands were shaking, her voice was shaky, and the song only got worse as it went on. It wasn't a train wreck, but her nerves definitely got the best of her. Randy said the song choice didn't work, but he likes her voice. Ellen liked the song choice and said that Janell moved easily on the stage. Simon said Janell gave 100% effort, but only delivered 65%. Kara said the song was too big; it took away from the distinction of her voice.

Lilly Scott sang “Fix A Hole” by The Beatles. She played guitar. Lilly has such a unique voice. I'm definitely intrigued by her. I want to hear her do more. I thought the song choice was a bit strange, but fitting. Ellen said, "Now that's what we're talking about!" She thought it was a random song choice, but Lilly did a great job and has a very distinctive voice. Simon said it was the best performance thus far. He said the song portrayed Lilly as an artist, but he's not feeling much "star power" from her. Kara said that Lilly is believable; she sings from the heart. She thought Lilly looked at ease on stage and the performance was memorable. Randy said that Lilly is a real indie artist, and he likes her honesty.

Katelyn Epperly sang “Oh Darling” by The Beatles. This was my favorite performance of the night. She was genuine and caught my attention. Simon thought Katelyn screamed a bit and that it was a messy performance, but he likes her over all. He thinks she's quirky and interesting and made a brave song choice. Kara said that Katelyn knows her voice very well. She knows what she's doing, and she improved the song. Randy said that Katelyn paid attention to the tone and melody, instead of just trying to impress with runs. He believes she can go places. Ellen thought Katelyn has personality and made her want to pay attention.

Haeley Vaughn sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles. She also played guitar and put her own twist on the song. I liked it over all. I think she knows who she is as an artist, and she stayed true to that, but the dynamics were a little overwhelming. She's young, but she needs to learn better vocal control. Kara said there were technical issues, but Haeley had fun and everyone felt it. She said the performance was pure and from the heart. Randy said that Haeley made a bold song choice, but the high notes were "not pleasing." Ellen said that Haeley shines on stage, and she enjoyed the performance. Simon said it was verging on terrible and that she looked like "a wind up doll that never stopped smiling." He called her performance and "complete and utter mess."

Lacey Brown sang “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. It was a terrible song choice, an awful arrangement, and just a bad performance. I was really disappointed by Lacey because she's a Texas girl, so I was rooting for her. It was the worst of the night. Randy said it was terrible, pitchy, and the song didn't suit her voice. Ellen believes Lacy is better than that, and she's pulling for her. Simon said it was depressing, indulgent, and boring. He said she's trying to be an artist instead of just being an artist. Kara said she hopes America gives Lacey another shot because tonight was not an accurate portrayal of Lacey's talent. She thought Lacey should have sung Sixpence None The Richer's "Kiss Me."

Michelle Delamor sang “Falling” by Alicia Keys. She tried to make it her own and has a good voice, but the song didn't wow me. Ellen thought it was a fantastic performance, but believes Michelle played it safe tonight. Simon said the song was too close to the original (but not as good), but that it's enough to get her through to the next round. Kara said that Michelle is very commercial, but she needs to feel the song more. Randy said Michelle did a good job, but she has more in her and needs to take some risks.

Didi Benami sang “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. I thought it was a great song choice. It's a difficult song, but Didi pulled it off. She has great vocal control, and she tweaked the song just enough to make it her own. Simon said that Didi is a good singer, but there are too many people on the show trying to sound like the same person (Adele, Lily Allen, etc.). He thought the song was dreary, dull, and indulgent. He said he's missing a spark from Didi. Kara said it was a good song, and she thought the changes Didi made showed off her creativity. However, she said the song was a bit pitchy. Randy said he's looking for the star factor in Didi and thought the song was sleepy. Ellen thought the song choice was too low key for a first impression on the show.

Siobahn Magnus sang “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. I don't know what it is about this girl, but I'm not a fan. She has a weird tone and strikes me as overly dramatic. She kind of reminds me of Adam Lambert a little. But she does have a strong voice. Kara liked the song. She said Siobahn is quirky and nasally, but she sings in the moment and is real. Randy said Siobahn has a great voice, but she needs to reach for bigger things than this song. Ellen loved her performance. She thought it was entertaining and mysterious. Simon said tonight's performance was not as good as her Stevie Wonder audition from Hollywood and that it was a dark song. He didn't seem to know what to say.

Crystal Bowersox sang “Hand in my Pocket” by Alanis Morisette. She played guitar and harmonica. I thought it was a great song choice, but she should have showed her artistry more. I love Crystal. She knows who she is as an artist, and she stays true to herself. It was risky to take that harmonica solo when she could have been showing her vocal talent. Randy said Crystal is one of his favorites because she's original and honest. Ellen said Crystal adds something fresh to the show. Simon disagreed with Randy; he doesn't think Crystal is original at all. He said she performed a sound-alike song and suggested David Bowie instead, but he finds her refreshing. Kara said it was a good performance, but Crystal has the ability to be great.

Katie Stevens sang “Feeling Good” by Michael BublĂ©. Her voice still surprises me. She has such a full tonal quality at such a young age. She's a definite alto, so it will be interesting to see her compete with the divas of the show. I thought it was a good performance over all, and the ending was strong. Ellen said Katie has a powerful voice, but thought the song choice was too conservative for a 17-year-old. She wants to see Katie be young and current. Simon agreed with Ellen; he thinks Katie needs to become a young recording artist. He thought the performance was annoying and pageanty. Kara said the song was pitchy and all over the place, but Katie has a natural gift and "ridiculous chops." Randy said Katie was pushing so hard that the notes went sharp. He also agreed that the song was too old-fashioned for Katie.

My favorites of the night were Katelyn, Didi, and Crystal.
I think Lacey and Janell are going home.

Tune in tomorrow night to see the Top 12 guys perform!

All photos from

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Coming Soon!

I've had a bit of a concert attending dry spell lately, but starting this week I'm back in business. You can expect several concert reviews in the next couple of months.

This Thursday (2/25), I'm going to see Jason Castro and Matt Hires in Austin.

On March 19, I'm going to see Kris Allen and OneRepublic at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.

Then on March 26 I'm going to see Honor Society in San Antonio.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

American Idol Top 24 Finally!

This is where it gets exciting! The Top 24 contestants for Season 9 were finally announced tonight. From here on out I'll be blogging about the show each week with my thoughts on the performances, predictions, and results.

Top 24
  • Michael Lynche
  • Didi Benami
  • Katelyn Epperly
  • Casey James
  • Aaron Kelly
  • Lee Dewzye
  • Todrick Hall
  • Janell Wheeler
  • Tyler Grady
  • Lacey Brown
  • Ashley Rodriguez
  • Alex Lambert
  • Jose Munoz
  • Crystal Bowersox
  • Katie Stevens
  • Lilly Scott
  • Paige Miles
  • Siobahn Magnus
  • Michelle Delamor
  • Jermaine Sellers
  • John Park
  • Haeley Vaughn
  • Andrew Garcia
  • Tim Urban

Rumor on the Web is that Michael Lynche (aka "Big Mike") violated the confidentiality agreement and has been replaced in the Top 24. Based on tonight I'm guessing Thaddeus Johnson will make it after all, since he was one of the final two.

My favorites right now are Didi, Casey, Lee, Crystal, Haeley, and Tim.

I'd also like to point out that there are six Texans in the Top 24. Way to represent!

The Top 12 girls compete next Tuesday live, and then it's up to us to vote! Finally, let's get this show on the road!

You can find more information on the Top 24 here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Help Haiti

The video for "We Are the World 25" premiered tonight before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. You can download the song and the video for just $2.99 on iTunes.

Also, the Christian music recording industry is doing their part as well. Last week Michael W. Smith gathered recording artists to create Come Together Now for Haiti. You can download the track for $1.29 on iTunes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lady Antebellum: "Need You Now"

Lady Antebellum burst onto the country music scene in 2008 with the release of their self-titled debut album. With singles like "Love Don't Live Here" and "Lookin' for a Good Time," Lady Antebellum's popularity seemed to grow overnight.

2010 is already proving to be a big year for Lady Antebellum. Two weeks ago they released their second full-length album, "Need You Know," which is currently No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the second week in a row. They won a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by Duo or Group with Vocals for "I Run to You" off of their debut album. And the title track from their new album is holding strong at No. 3 on iTunes.

"Need You Now" is a great follow-up album for Lady Antebellum. They're branching out beyond country music with this one, which means the only direction this group is headed from here is up. The second single off of "Need You Now" is called "American Honey." It's an interesting choice for their second single, but it highlights Hillary Scott's vocals so well that I imagine they'll have no trouble climbing the charts with this one either. However, I would have gone with a faster song like "Our Kind of Love" or "Stars Tonight" after releasing one ballad already.

Of course ballads are a specialty for many country groups and artists, and Lady Antebellum is no exception to the rule. With tracks like "When You Got a Good Thing," "If I Knew Then," and "Ready to Love Again" you can be sure you'll get your fix of heart-wrenching lyrics filled with both sadness and hope.

1. Need You Now
2. Our Kind of Love
3. American Honey
4. Hello World
5. Perfect Day
6. Love This Pain
7. When You Got a Good Thing
8. Stars Tonight
9. If I Knew Then
10. Something 'Bout a Woman
11. Ready to Love Again
12. Need You Now (Bonus Track Video Version)

Lady A was on Ellen to promote their album release. You can watch them perform their newest single, "American Honey," below.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kris Allen: AOL Sessions

Kris Allen's AOL Sessions are online now!

Kris Allen has been doing very well since American Idol. Though many people remember Adam Lambert, Kris Allen was the winner of Season 8 (and rightfully so). Allen is a true artist with integrity and immense talent. His self-titled debut album is one of the best American Idol albums in my opinion. It came out almost three months ago, and I still have it playing on repeat in my car.

1. Live Like We're Dying

2. Can't Stay Away

3. Red Guitar

4. Is It Over

Apparently, this was supposed to be released before the holidays. So just for fun, here's "O Holy Night" for you as well.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Featured New Artist of the Month: Matt Hires

Though Matt Hires is certainly not new to the music scene, he is still relatively unknown. After signing with Atlantic Records back in 2008, Hires has since appeared at SXSW Music Festival and released both an EP and a full-length album.

The first single from Hires' full-length album, "Take Us to the Start," is "Honey Let Me Sing You a Song." It's a great song with catchy lyrics that highlights Hires' unique vocal quality.

Hires' sound is pure pop/acoustic, similar to Mat Kearney. The first two tracks are upbeat and catchy, but then Hires slows things down with sensitive ballads like "You In the End," "O Sunrise," and "You Are the One." Hires shows his true artistry with the last track, "Tangled Web," which has powerful imagery laced into every line. Hires even throws in a little bit of country influence with "Listen to Me Now."

1. Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song
2. State Lines
3. A Perfect Day
4. Listen to Me Now
5. You In the End
6. Turn the Page
7. O Sunrise
8. Pick Me Up
9. You Are the One
10. Out of the Dark
11. Tangled Web

Hires is re-releasing his album this Tuesday with three new bonus tracks and the music video for "Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song." Be sure to pick up your copy on iTunes!

Matt Hires just recently kicked off his first headlining club tour featuring Jason Castro and Caitlin Crosby. Since it's a club tour, tickets are being sold by each individual venue, but you can check Matt Hires' Myspace for tour dates here. Tickets are only $8, so be sure to get them quick before they sell out!