Wednesday, March 31, 2010

American Idol Results

Ruben Studdard, winner of season two, performed. He's going on tour with season two runner-up Clay Aiken this summer.

Usher performed his new single "OMG" with Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas.

Diddy also performed.

Katie, Didi, and Tim are in the bottom three. Katie and Tim are safe. Didi sang "Rhiannon" again for a shot at the judges' save. However, it wasn't good enough. Didi went home.

I'm disappointed. Tim definitely should have gone home. Enough is enough. He can smile, but he cannot compare to the other talented artists that are still remaining in the competition.

The theme next week is Lennon/McCartney.

Tours/Concerts Galore!

Atlantic Records released details today regarding Jason Castro's first headlining tour. To read the full press release, click here.

Tour Dates

4/17 Dallas, TX The Loft
4/22 Phoenix, AZ Chasers
4/23 San Diego, CA House of Blues
4/25 Los Angeles, CA The Troubadour
4/27 Kansas City, MO Bottleneck Blues Bar
4/28 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
4/30 Detroit, MI Pike Room
5/1 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
5/2 Columbus, OH The Basement
5/3 Orlando, FL Walt Disney World
5/4 Atlanta, GA Vinyl
5/6 Nashville, TN Rocketown
5/8 Clearwater, FL Capitol Theatre
5/12 New York, NY Joe's Pub
5/13 Vienna, VA Jammin Java
5/15 Boston, MA Café 939
5/16 Philadelphia, PA The Note

Also, Paramore is heading back out on tour again this summer. As I mentioned before, they're doing a short spring tour with Relient K and fun. Unfortunately, this tour is not coming anywhere near Texas.

However, last week Paramore announced that they will be headlining the Honda Civic Tour with Tegan and Sara this summer and fall.

Click here for tour dates.

Last but not least, for those of you in the San Marcos, TX area. Shwayze and Cisco Adler are headlining River Fest 2010 on April 22 at Sewell Park. The Couch and Zlam Dunk will also be performing.

Then, the very next weekend (April 30 - May 1)is MR. Fest (My Radio Fest), brought to you by KTSW 89.9, Texas State University's campus radio station. For more information regarding MR. Fest, please follow our blog.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

American Idol Top 10

The them this week is Soul/R&B.  Usher is the mentor.

Siobahn Magnus sang “Through the Fire” by Chaka Kahn. I had banked on Siobahn nailing this week, but it was terrible. She sounded whiny and out of control. She missed the same set of notes in the chorus every time, and the ending run was awful. Randy said it was all over the place and never caught on pitch wise, but he still loves Siobahn's courage and conviction. Ellen said Siobahn sounded lost and freaked out. Kara said Siobahn's lower register is not strong enough, but every great singer is entitled to an off night. Simon said this was Siobahn's weakest performance and he's bored of her screaming at the end of her performances.

Casey James sang “Hold On, I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave. Casey showed off his bluesy side. He was grinning ear to ear, clearly enjoying himself. It was a great performance, but I'm still waiting for Casey to blow me away. Randy said Casey stayed in his element, showed his vocal range, and selected the perfect song. Ellen said Casey is consistently good, but she thought it was a bit safe. Kara said she believes Casey has more range in him and he's limiting his vocal skills with his song choices. She wants him to go back to his acoustic guitar and show everything he's got. Simon said it was Casey's strongest performance so far. He said Casey showed a completely different side of himself, and he was really impressed.

Michael Lynche sang “Ready for Love” by India Arie. I loved this performance. Mike kept it simple with tender vocals and acoustic guitar. He was so completely in his element, and he connected with the song. Randy said Mike is in the zone and he's loving every performance. He said it wasn't an exciting performance, but it's good to pull it back every now and then. Ellen said it was beautiful and she loved it. Kara said Mike did an incredible job mastering the intention behind the song. Simon said this was the first time he's taken Mike seriously in this competition. He called Mike's performance terrific and believable.

Didi Benami sang “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” by Jimmy Ruffin. This was an emotional song for Didi, but I thought she did well. We saw more power in her vocals, and it showed off her tone well. However, there were (yet again) pitch problems, and it just sounded heavy and dramatic. Randy said he waited for that "moment," but the performance fell flat. Ellen said the performance was too dramatic and not Didi's best. Kara said the song was overdone and that Didi seems to have lost her way in this competition. Simon called it over the top and old fashioned.

Tim Urban sang “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker. I thought Tim sounded like a lounge singer. His stage presence is awkward, and he doesn't know how to connect with the camera. It was a good vocal but not impressive. Randy said Tim sounded like a singing waiter, but at least he sang in tune. Again, Randy called it a flat performance and wants Tim to really connect. Ellen said it was a tough song choice and she just didn't get it. Kara called it was Broadway and Vegas rolled into one and said that Tim took the soul out of the song. Simon didn't even critique Tim. He said "You're not going to win, but you’re going to smile, the audience is going to vote for you, and you’ll be here next week."

Andrew Garcia sang “Forever” by Chris Brown. Finally, someone chose a current song. Ladies and gentlemen, Andrew is back! This is the Andrew we all fell in love with. Tonight he was back in his element, and I loved it. It was my favorite of the night. Randy said Andrew made the song his own and called it his best performance. Ellen said it was an amazing, strong performance. Kara said this was one giant leap in the right direction for Andrew. Simon said Andrew's performance was miles better than the past few weeks, but he still needs to show more personality and drive.

Katie Stevens sang “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. Katie has such a big voice, but I wish she had more vocal training. It was a good performance, but Katie could have done more with the song. Randy said it was one of the best vocal performances and it showed off her pipes, but she needs to find a way to connect. Ellen said Katie has great vocals, but she needs to pick a current song. Kara said Katie has found where she belongs in Pop/R&B, but she needs to make it young and commercial. Simon called Katie's performance robotic and cold, and he still doesn't believe she's an R&B artist.

Lee Dewyze sang “Treat Her Like a Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. I absolutely loved this performance. Lee made it his own. This sounded like it could be a current record. Lee could be a dark horse in this competition. He may sneak up on the other contestants. Randy said it was unbelievable. Ellen called it the best of the night. Kara said Lee brought the song into his world and it could have been on his record. Simon said, "This is the night your life may have changed forever."

Crystal Bowersox sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight. Last week Crystal said she had a surprise for this week, so she played piano in the beginning and stood up and walked around during the chorus. As usual, this was a fantastic performance. Crystal even hit some high notes that I didn't know she could hit. She also showed more personality, but I still love her with her guitar. Randy said it was another great performance by Crystal. Ellen said Crystal showed another side of her, and she's in it to win it. Kara said she was glad that Crystal took a risk and can't wait to see what she'll do next. Simon said it was a sensational song choice with incredible vocals, but he's worried that Crystal will let this process suck the identity out of her. He said she's real and should not change.

Aaron Kelly sang “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. His vocals were shaky in the beginning, but Aaron settled into it. It was a good performance, but it was boring and lacked dynamics. Randy said Aaron has more soul and flavor than he showed tonight. Ellen said it was a good song choice and Aaron did a good job. Kara said she liked it but it needed more energy. Simon said it was an okay performance, but it's been done so well on the show before that it didn't compare. However, Simon believes Aaron is safe for another week.

My favorites of the night were Andrew, Lee, and Crystal (with Casey and Mike following closely).

I think Tim, Didi, and Katie will be in the bottom three.

Tomorrow night Usher will perform, as well as Diddy and season two winner, Ruben Studdard.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Top 11 Results

Group performance returned this week with "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" by Wham!

Miley Cyrus sang "When I Look At You" from her new movie, The Last Song. The judges should have critiqued her. It was terrible as expected. Why does she feel the need to headbang to a ballad? She did the same thing last year with "The Climb."

Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato sang their new duet, "Make a Wave."

Paige, Tim, and Katie are the bottom three.

Paige Miles went home. Simon told her that singing for her life wouldn't help because it's the end of the road for her tonight.

Next week the theme is R&B/Soul, featuring Usher as the mentor.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

American Idol Top 11

The theme this week is Billboard Hot 100 No. 1's, and Miley Cyrus is the mentor.

Lee Dewyze sang “The Letter” by the Box Tops. This was a new sound for Lee with a big band jazz sound. I love his voice, and it was a good performance, but the song is forgettable. Randy said Lee knocked it out of the box. Ellen compared Lee to her favorite pen. Kara said she's never heard Lee sound better or look more comfortable on stage. Simon said he was surprised by the song choice because it was a bit corny and didn't define Lee as a contemporary recording artist.

Paige Miles sang “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins (the Mariah Carey version). It was pitchy from the start and didn't get much better. When Paige gets into her higher register and belts, she sounds so much better; unfortunately, her soft voice was terrible tonight. Randy said it was pitchy all over the place and nothing came together at all. Ellen stuck to the positives: Paige didn't fall in her tall heels and she looked beautiful. Kara said she feels like Paige has stopped competing and said it was the worst vocal of the season. Simon said Paige's performance was all over the place, and he could tell that she knew it was bad too. He said she has stopped believing in herself, and he believes she's in serious trouble.

Tim Urban sang “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen. He used the stage and seemed to be letting loose and having fun, but it was boring. Tim's vocals were decent, but there was nothing outstanding about his performance. Randy said Tim's vocals were boring and karaoke. Ellen said she felt like he was auditioning for High School Musical. She said it was corny and he pushed too hard. Kara compared Tim's performance to Zac Efron in Hairspray (not a bad thing, but not appropriate for this competition). She said he didn't do much with the song and didn't like that he was acting like a star because he hasn't established himself as a star yet. Simon said Tim's dancing around the stage distracted from the song, which was pointless and silly.

Aaron Kelly sang “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. Aaron has both laryngitis and tonsilities; bless his heart. It was evident that his voice wasn't all there, but it was still a good performance and a perfect song choice. Aaron is the youngest contestant, but he knows his voice, and he knows how to play this game. Randy said Aaron had a few pitch problems, but he redeemed the night in spite of his sickness. Ellen said it was the perfect song choice and she can see his career already. Kara said Aaron knows how to pick songs that accentuate his voice. She complimented his consistency, but said she wants to see more stage presence from him. Simon said Aaron is brave, but old fashioned for his age. However, he said Aaron has zero chance of going home this week.

Crystal Bowersox sang “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. This is my girl. I'll say it again and again: she's fantastic, and I love her voice. This was a perfect song choice and she rocked it. Randy called Crystal a star and a dope singer. He said she is was this competition is about. Ellen said Crystal has an amazing voice and she's consistently great, but she's still missing a full connection. She said Crystal is too shy and stoic on stage. Kara said she is seeing more personality in Crystal's performances, but she wants to see Crystal let go completely. (Crystal hinted that she might leave her guitar behind next week.) Simon said he wouldn't change anything. He said Crystal is doing her own thing and still progressing week by week.

Michael Lynche sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Michael Bolton. I knew I was going to love this performance the minute I heard the first note. Mike is so good at connecting to romantic ballads. It was a beautiful performance that had me melting. Randy said that Mike knows who he is and uses that to his advantage. Ellen said that it was a safe song choice, but she loved it. Kara said Mike's performance was technically good, but boring and overindulgent. She said she lost her connection with him. Simon said the song was almost too much. He said Mike was trying to make an old school song sound relevant, but he has tons of charisma and a very good voice.

Andrew Garcia sang “Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye. Miley made Andrew put the guitar down for this one, which I think was a good choice. However, the song was too low for Andrew. It sounded like he was talking instead of singing. Andrew is this season's greatest disappointment. He peaked too soon and doesn't know what to do now. Randy said it was the wrong song choice and just not a good performance. Ellen said Andrew's performance wasn't enough to gain voters. Kara said Andrew is just chasing that moment he had in Hollywood with his Paula Abdul cover and it's playing with his head. Simon said they may have overrated Andrew's "moment." He said Andrew sucked the soul out of this song and called it corny.

Katie Stevens sang “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. I hate this song, but I like Katie's voice (most of the time). The chorus was all over the place vocally, so this song just didn't do much for me. I still agree with Simon that she needs to go country instead. Randy commended Katie (once again) for listening to the judges' advice in choosing a younger song. Ellen said this was Katie's best performance. Kara said Katie still has some pitch issues, but she believes this Pop/R&B genre is the right choice for Katie. Simon thinks that Katie could find a more loyal market in country music, and he said meeting Miley was the best thing that could happen for Katie because they're the same age and Miley has been so successful.

Casey James sang “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. Casey is such a rock star. He had me smiling at the first note. It was a great performance, and Casey looked like he was having fun, but I still want to see him move around more. Randy said he wasn't crazy about the song, but it was a good performance. He also said Casey is the best musician (guitar player) they've had on Idol so far. Ellen also wasn't a fan of the song choice, but she said it was the best vocal of the night. Kara said Casey is on another level. She said he's in the zone and ready to make an album. Simon disagreed by calling the performance old fashioned and comparing it to an 80s cover band. He said there was no effort or originality in it.

Didi Benami sang “You’re No Good” by Linda Rondstadt. I thought it was a good song choice. She missed some notes in the beginning, but I liked her attitude and swagger. Randy said Didi's performance didn't translate and was pitchy all over the place. Ellen said she didn't understand the song choice. Kara said it felt dramatic- like Didi was playing a character and trying to be something she's not. Simon said Didi's performance was ironically "no good" because she didn't sound like herself.

Siobahn Magnus sang "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder. This was such a weird song for her. I didn't like it. She's taking those "high notes" too far now. Screaming is not singing. Randy loved her performance and said Siobahn is fearless. Ellen said she wants to see more from Siobahn. Kara said Siobahn always expresses herself with her performances. She said it wasn't her best, but the end note was amazing. (False!) Simon said Siobahn didn't hit the high notes as well as she has before, and the screaming at the end is getting repetitive. He said everyone, except Crystal, needs to start pushing themselves and trying harder to be relevant because tonight was a disaster.

My favorites of the night are Crystal, Casey, and Mike.
The bottom three will be Paige, Tim, Katie. Paige is going home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Featured New Artist of the Month: Danny Gokey

Danny Gokey finished third on American Idol last year (Season 8). He was a favorite from the beginning of the season with his tender raspy vocals and heart-wrenching story. Danny's wife, Sophia, died after having routine heart surgery just a month before Danny's audition. Because of this, Danny was known as the contestant with the tragedy. With the release of his debut album, My Best Days, last week, Danny is letting the world know that his "best days are ahead."

On American Idol, Danny proved to be a versatile and creative artist, often taking risks with his song choices. His shining moment, however, was when he sang "What Hurts the Most" by Rascall Flatts during country music week. Randy Travis, the mentor for country week, suggested that Danny take the country route after Idol because of his storytelling capabilities. Danny always portrays great emotion and sincerity on stage, which is a valued quality in country singers. So, that's exactly what Danny did.

Danny's album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart last week. Many Idol albums fail from the start, but My Best Days is one of my favorite Idol albums. In fact, I'd rank it among debut albums by Carrie Underwood and Kris Allen as far as favorites go.

1. My Best Days Are Ahead of Me
2. Like That's a Bad Thing
3. I Still Believe
4. Tiny Life
5. Get Away
6. It's Only
7. Life On Ya
8. Crazy Not To
9. Be Somebody
10. I Will Not Say Goodbye

Danny's first single, "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me", has been climbing the charts for about two months now. He recently performed it on American Idol as well. I love this song because it's the message of Danny's life. He went through a terrible tragedy, but he's also living a great adventure. It's a beautiful message for everyone. "I don't get lost in the past or get stuck in some sad memory. My best days are ahead of me."

This is a pure contemporary country album. With that, there are several upbeat fun songs like "Life On Ya" and "Get Away." There are also some wonderful ballads like "Tiny Life" and "Crazy Not To."

My favorite song on the album is the final track, "I Will Not Say Goodbye." This song portrays the opposite end of Danny's life message from "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me." This song is about pain and loss. I think the contrast between the first and last tracks is beautiful. Danny is moving on in his life journey, but he will never forget Sophia and their journey together. "I don't want to feel better. I don't want to not remember. I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky, but I will not say goodbye."

It is evident that Danny worked very hard on this album, choosing the right songs for him and taking time for creativity. He's got a great future ahead of him. Be sure to pick up his album!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kris Allen and OneRepublic

On Friday I went to see Kris Allen and OneRepublic at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. We waited in line for four hours to get third row seats, and it was completely worth it. We got to hear Kris Allen's soundcheck. He sang a couple songs that he didn't perform at the concert including "Come Together" and "Red Guitar."

Kris Allen was amazing. My roommate and I were dancing and singing along the whole time. He performed several songs that he sang on American Idol last season including "Let It Be" and "Falling Slowly."

Kris opened with a mashup of "Heartless" and "Gangsta's Paradise." Video recording was not permitted at our concert, but you can watch an acoustic performance of this mashup here.

Kris also performed several songs from his debut album including "Can't Stay Away" and "Is It Over." During "Alright With Me," Kris brought a bunch of girls on the stage to dance and sing along. My roommate and I were really disappointed because they just stood there and most of them didn't even know the words to the song (even though they were all wearing homemade "I <3 Kris Allen" t-shirts). Finally, Kris closed with his first single, "Live Like We're Dying."

OneRepublic was also fantastic. I haven't bought their new album yet, but after seeing them live, I'm determined to get it as soon as possible. OneRepublic played a variety of songs from both of their albums. Of course they played their big hits, "Apologize" and "Stop and Stare." They also played "Tyrant" and their third single "Say (All I Need)" from their debut album, Dreaming Out Loud.

OneRepublic's newest album, Waking Up, released back in November. They've brought a whole new sound to this album. I was glad to get a real taste of it at the concert. They played six songs off of their new album, including their new single, "All the Right Moves."

This was one of the best concerts I've attended. Both Kris Allen and OneRepublic are extremely talented and entertaining live performers. Be sure to support these incredible artists and pick up their albums on iTunes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top 12 Results

They're bringing the Judges' Save back again this year. This means that the judges can save any contestant from this point until the Top 4 as long as it is a unanimous vote. However, they can only save one person.

David Cook performed. Love him. He's working on his second album now.

No group song tonight. Strange.

Orianthi and Ke$ha also performed.

Bottom Three: Paige, Tim, and Lacey

Lacey Brown went home. However, she was able to choose her song from previous weeks. She sang "Love Song" from last week. That's new. Normally they just have to sing the one that got them in danger of being kicked off the show.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

American Idol Top 12

The theme this week is music from The Rolling Stones.

Michael Lynche sang “Miss You.” I wasn't captivated by his performance, but I wasn't bored either. Mike was dancing around the stage and clearly having a good time. It was a good performance. Randy said that Mike is a great performer. Ellen said Mike hasn't disappointed her yet. Kara said Mike had swagger and attitude like Mick Jagger. Simon said Mike is confident and sang well, but he thought his dancing was corny and desperate.

Didi Benami sang "Play with Fire." This was a new sound for Didi. She showed more power than we've heard. It was a great song choice for her, and she sang with emotion. Randy said Didi is on fire, and called this one of her best performances. Ellen said Didi has an amazing voice and is back in the competition. Kara liked the combination of Didi's sweet voice and the eeriness of the song. Simon said Didi is showing who she wants to be as an artist. He said it was a cool song choice and a solid performance.

Casey James sang “It’s All Over Now.” This performance was opposite from last week's performance, but Casey was still in his element. He picked the perfect song with a southern rock edge. I really enjoyed this performance. Randy said he loved it. Ellen said it was fantastic. Kara said Casey is a rock star and called it his best performance. She said the country/blues/soul vibe shows the best parts of his voice. Simon said Casey is a very good artist, but he hasn't done something incredible. He said Casey needs to push himself.

Lacey Brown sang “Ruby Tuesday.” I'm just not a fan of Lacey. There were some decent parts and some awful parts. I really just found the whole performance awkward. Randy said he was pleasantly surprised. He liked the string quartet arrangement as well. Ellen said it was sleepy. Kara said Lacey missed some notes, but she could have put more into it. Simon said Lacey performs like an actress. He said there's nothing wrong with her vocals, but she's over-thinking the performance.

Andrew Garcia sang “Gimme Shelter.” Once again, this wasn't a great performance but it wasn't bad either. It's almost like Andrew is trying too hard. Randy said it was pitchy everywhere. Ellen loved it and said this was Andrew's best performance yet. Kara said Andrew needed more passion because she didn't feel the intensity of the song. Simon said Andrew gave 100 percent, but something didn't quite connect.

Katie Stevens sang “Wild Horses.” I thought this was a good song choice; it showed off her vocals well. This was Katie's best performance. Randy said it was s strong performance. Ellen said Katie has a great voice. Kara said Katie made nice variations on the melody and is going in the right direction. Simon said this is the first time Katie has connected with a song.

Tim Urban sang “Under My Thumb.” I liked his performance, but it didn't blow me away. He put a Jason Mraz reggae spin on the song, but he sounded nervous. Randy didn't like the arrangement. Ellen said Tim sounded great, but he just didn't impress with that performance. Kara applauded Tim for making the song his own. Simon said it was a boring song to begin with and the arrangement just didn't work.

Siobahn Magnus sang “Paint It Black.” She's a great singer but just not my style. I'll say it again: She reminds me too much of Adam Lambert. However, she's got skills, and it was a good performance. Randy said Siobahn brought the drama to American Idol with her interpretation of the song. Ellen said Siobahn stands out. Kara said she had Adam Lambert flashbacks during that performance (told you so), and said it was the best interpretation of the night. Simon said it was the standout performance of the night.

Lee Dewyze sang “Beast of Burden.” I love his raspy voice. He is the one artist in this competition that has the potential to grow enough to knock the front-runners out of the lead. I loved his performance. He made a great song choice. Randy liked the singer-songwriter vibe and compared Lee to Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews. He said Lee's performance was "dope" and one of his better performances. Ellen said she was expecting more from Lee on Rolling Stones night, but it was still a great performance. Kara said the energy was a little low, but she believes that Lee is growing faster than anyone else in this competition. She complimented his confidence and ability to take risks. Simon said Lee doesn't shine and he picked a safe song. He said Lee has an incredibly good voice, but he still needs that "moment" to stamp his mark on the competition and to stop thinking others are better than him.

Paige Miles sang “Honky Tonk Woman.” This was Paige's best performance, and one of my favorites of the night. Why hasn't she done country before? She was dancing around and having fun, and she's been sick with laryngitis for the past week. Randy said he wanted more energy, but he liked Paige's performance. Ellen said Paige has great star quality, and commended her for using the stage. Kara said Paige hit some big notes in spite of her sickness. She said, "Paige is back." Simon said the song was generic and he thinks Paige can do better. He still thinks she hasn't quite connected yet, but he heard the big voice they loved back in Hollywood.

Aaron Kelly sang “Angie.” The one thing I can say is Aaron knows who he is an artist. He made a smart song choice by sticking to country. I thought it was a sweet and sincere vocal and much better than last week. Randy said Aaron was born to sing. He liked the tender moments in Aaron's voice. Ellen said Aaron made a great song choice. She ranked Aaron's performance second to Siobahn. Kara said Aaron connected to the song. Simon said Aaron chose the right song, and he sang the song within the limits of his vocals. He called is one of his strongest performances.

Crystal Bowersox sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” They saved the best for last. I thought this was the perfect song choice. Crystal was totally in her element with the southern blues vibe. I liked the arrangement. Crystal can sing. She definitely knows who she is. Randy said this wasn't Crystal's best performance, but he still loved it. He said Crystal is always great and he's always excited to see what she'll do. Ellen said Crystal sings with ease and she's born to be on stage. She said she finally saw Crystal's personality on stage this week. Kara agreed with Ellen. She said Crystal loosened up and was comfortable on stage. Simon said Crystal came out tonight as the clear favorite, but she was beat by Siobahn. He said she needs to stay on her toes and never think she's already won (which I don't think she does).

My favorites, once again, were Crystal, Casey, and surprisingly, Paige.

I think Lacey, Tim, and Katie will be the bottom three.

Monday, March 15, 2010


This past week I went to Nashville for Spring Break with my family, where we spent four days touring Music City and experiencing the history and pride of Nashville.

On Sunday we went downtown to Broadway Street, the heart of the Nashville music scene. We returned to Broadway several times throughout the week to explore the shops, music, and eateries.

On Monday we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B. The Hall of Fame was interesting. My favorite feature was the walls covered in gold and platinum records. RCA Studio B is where Elvis Presley recorded nearly 200 songs. Many other artists such as Dolly Parton, Eddie Arnold, Porter Wagoner, and the Everly Brothers recorded there as well.

Tuesday was the day for all things Opry. We started the day off by exploring the atrium and gardens at the Opryland Hotel, and then we went to the Grand Ole Opry Museum. The museum was very similar to the Hall of Fame, except it only featured Opry members. After that we killed some time across the street at Opry Mills, doing a bit of shopping until our backstage tour of the Opry House.

The Opry House is amazing. So many talented musicians have performed there; it's truly a piece of history. We got to go backstage and see all of the dressing rooms. We even got to go out on the stage. There is a circle in the center of the stage that is actually cut out from the stage at the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Every person who has ever performed at the Grand Ole Opry has stood on that circle.

Tuesday night we went to the Grand Ole Opry show. It was different from what I expected because it is a live radio show. There were eight bands/performers, and each had a 15 minute set. In between sets, the announcer read sponsors and commercials for the radio show. We saw Riders in the Sky, the Steep Canyon Rangers (who tour with Steve Martin), Jeannie Seely, Love and Theft (one of my favorite bands), John Conlee, Terri Clark, Little Jimmy Dickens (who is 89 years old and still performing), and Exile.

On Wednesday we toured the Ryman Auditorium, known as the Mother Church of Country Music. It's a beautiful venue. There's also a small recording studio housed at the Ryman which used to double as a studio and radio broadcasting booth. They have a list of songs that you can record. I sang "My Baby Loves Me" by Martina McBride. It's basically a well-produced karaoke track, but I had so much fun making it.

I also got to drive around Music Row, where all the record labels and publishing groups are centralized. There are literally streets lined with old houses that have been converted into music offices. Who knows? Someday I could be working in one of them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

American Idol Top 16 Recap

I was on Spring Break in Nashville this past week, so I just now caught up on American Idol.

On Tuesday night, the top 8 girls performed.

Katie Stevens sang “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. She finally picked a current song. Her vocals were shaky in the beginning, but the chorus was strong. Randy said Katie's performance paled in comparison to Kelly Clarkson, which made it sounf karaoke. Ellen commended Katie for choosing a young song, but said Katie didn't seem to feel connected to the lyrics. Ellen wants to see more of Katie's personality. Kara said Katie has a great radio voice and is very talented, but she doesn't know who she is as an artist and she needs more experience. Simon said that Katie has been taking the advice of the judges, but she needs more energy ons stage.

Siobahn Magnus sang “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. She sang the introduction acapella, and it was beautiful. Siobahn is winning me over. She had a great, strong vocal once again. Randy likes that Siobahn takes chances. He said she's not taking the judges' advice, but she seems to be doing well without their help. Ellen said it was a moving performance. She said Siobahn captivated the audience and made the song current. Kara loved the acapella vibe and said the song choice was surprising and brilliant. Simon said Siobahn's performance lacked that "moment" that she had last week and said the song was weird, boring, and dark.

Lacey Brown sang “The Story” by Brandy Carlisle. I thought this song suited Lacey, but I still am not a fan of her whiny and nasal voice. Randy said the song was kind of boring, but this was her best performance. Ellen agreed and said the song sounded like it was written for her. Kara said Lacey made a brilliant song choice, sang effortlessly, and is back on path in this competition. Simon didn't love the song but said that Lacey sang it really well. He still hasn't heard the right song connection from Lacey yet.

Katelyn Epperly sang “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King. I like Katelyn's voice, but this performance wasn't great. It was entertaining, but she seemed to pull back a bit. Randy didn't feel the right connection and said there was nothing special about Katelyn's performance. Ellen said Katelyn didn't choose the right song to make people vote. Kara said she felt like Katelyn was just going through the motions instead of competing. Simon said Katelyn sang the song well, but it was too simple.

Didi Benami sang “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. Didi brought her guitar back out this time. I thought this was a great song choice, and Didi sang it well. It was simple and sweet. Randy said he lacked that "wow" moment from Didi, but she's improving. Ellen liked what Didi did with such a tough song and commended Didi for bouncing back from last week's performance. Kara said Didi's performance was one of her favorite moments of the season thus far. She said this was the Didi everyone fell in love with back in Hollywood. Simon disagreed with Randy by declaring Didi's performance the best of the night so far. He said she made a brilliant song choice and proved her artistry with it.

Paige Miles sang “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin. This was my least favorite performance of the night. Paige's vocals were shaky, airy, and too soft during the verse. It was such a weird arrangement that Paige sounded off tempo in some parts. The chorus was flat and awkward. Randy just said the song didn't work at all, and Kara agreed. Ellen said the song is meant to be inspiring but Paige's interpretation was sad and heavy. She wants to see Paige's personality. Simon said Paige made a horrible song choice and the arrangement was awful. Paige blamed her mistakes on being emotional because Michael Jackson performed this song. Whatever. Go home.

Crystal Bowersox sang “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman. I love this girl. Crystal knows her talent. She rocked the electric guitar for this one. It was a great performance. Randy loved it. Ellen said Crystal's performance was amazing--the best performance of the night. Kara said Crystal knows who she is and she makes great song choices. She said Crystal made the song contemporary. Simon said Crystal is the most improved artist because of her confidence and called her the one to beat.

Lilly Scott sang “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline. She played the mandolin, which was cool, but I just wasn't intrigued by this performance. Randy said Lilly was in the zone. Ellen said she loves Lilly's voice and originality. Kara said Lilly made Patsy Cline feel current. Simon said Lilly made a brave choice with this song. He said it was cute and quirky, but risky.

My favorite girls this week were Crystal and Didi.

On Wednesday, the top 8 boys performed.

Lee Dewyze sang “Fireflies” by Owl City. I thought this was an interesting song choice. Lee made some variations in the melody and he rocked out the chorus. It was a bit shaky, but I liked it. Randy said there were a few pitch problems but Lee made the song his own. Ellen liked that Lee turned it into a rock song. Kara said Lee was confident and had fun. She said he made the song better with his interpretation. Simon said Lee's performance was nothing to rave about and he can do better, but Lee is improving each week.

Alex Lambert sang “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne. I love Alex's tone. I thought this was a great song choice, but he lacked a connection. Randy said it was a good song choice but there was no "wow" moment. Ellen said that Alex is consistently improving, and said he's innocent, sweet, and real. Kara said the only thing standing in the way of Alex winning this competition is himself. She said he's too stiff; he's not connecting and letting go. Simon agreed with Kara; he wants to see Alex relax and have a good time, but he said Alex has a good, distinct voice and a likable personality.

Tim Urban sang “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley. I love this song, but it’s tough to stand out when so many people have covered it. I thought it was a good vocal performance though, and Tim's best so far. Randy said that Tim walked in some big shoes and he did a good job. Ellen gave Tim a hug because she's been so hard on him and said he did fantastic. Kara said that Tim is finally in the competition. She said Tim's performance was an honest interpretation and she felt the emotion. Simon said it was a smart song choice. He said it wasn't the best version of the song, but it was Tim's strongest performance.

Andrew Garcia sang “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera. First of all, he messed up the lyrics in the first line. This song didn't show off Andrew's vocals. I was torn--didn't love it, didn't hate it. Randy said it was an interesting song choice, but it was pitchy and felt like the whole song had three notes. Ellen said it was a great song choice, but didn't get good until the end. Kara said Andrew peaked so early that he's now chasing that moment. She said he was fighting with the rhythm of the guitar during this performance, so she couldn't hear the melody. Simon agreed with Kara; he said that Andrew has a good voice, but he's still going backwards. He said the performance was desperate and uncomfortable.

Casey James sang “You’ll Think of Me” by Keith Urban. Casey played it simple with just an acoustic guitar and a sweet and simple vocal. He doesn't need to do much more though. Casey knows his strengths and how to connect to the song and the audience. I loved this performance. Randy said Casey played it safe and needs to go for more. Ellen thought Casey's performance was great. She said he looked comfortable sitting on a stool and playing guitar; she said it was a good vibe for him. Kara said Casey's performance was better than last week, but she's still missing that spark. Simon said Casey sounded sincere, but he thought the song choice was forgettable.

Aaron Kelly sang “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. I think the verses were too low for Aaron's voice. He had a weird vibratto and some breathing issues. The chorus was stronger, but there were still a few pitch problems. The bridge and the ending were much better. Randy said Aaron needs to work on his lower notes, but the higher parts of the song were good. Ellen said Aaron has a confident stage presence, but wasn't too impressed by the performance. Kara said Aaron gives his all every week, but the lyrics to this song are not relevant to his life, making it difficult to connect sincerely. Simon said this was the right type of song for Aaron. He said it wasn't a great vocal, but he had emotion.

Todrick Hall sang “Somebody to Love” by Queen. I was not a fan of this. I thought the beginning was terrible and too high for Todrick, then he made an awkward transition into the first verse and the lower part was too low for him. The judges liked it though. Randy said Todrick proved he can sing and said it was one of the best male vocals of the season. Ellen said it was a brave song choice. She liked the gospel vibe Todrick gave the song. Kara said it was a good vocal performance but it was dramatic. Simon said Todrick's performance was good in parts. He said it showed Todrick's talent as a Broadway singer.

Michael Lynche sang “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell. Big Mike stole the show. I loved his tone and the connection he made. It was a soft and tender, yet strong, vocal. Big Mike was definitely in his element, and it was a great performance. Randy couldn't even form sentences, but he loved it. Ellen said it was beautiful and called Big Mike the one to beat. She said it felt like the show had just begun. Kara cried and called Mike's performance amazing and relevant. Simon said this performance was needed tonight and called it the best performance of the season so far.

My favorite guys were Big Mike and Casey.

The results show was on Thursday. 

Katelyn, Todrick, Lilly, and Alex went home.

The group sang “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael BublĂ©. Seriously the group songs are too good this season. They must be prerecorded. Either that or these contestants are way better at blending than solo singing.

They did a close up on Casey, Didi, Crystal, and Big Mike. Top 4. Everyone else can go home in my opinion. Though I like Lee as well.

The top 12 theme next week is The Rolling Stones.

Scott McIntyre and Matt Giraud performed together. They both played piano, and it was so fun. I was never a fan of Scott, but I loved Matt.

I’m disappointed that Alex left. I feel like he had a lot of growing to do on the competition. I also liked Katelyn, but she wasn't at her best this week. Paige should have gone home instead. I’m not sure who I would have sent home in Alex’s place—Aaron probably. He’s good, but he’s so young, and he’s not going to grow enough to win it.