2010 American Idol – Top 7

Oh, yeah, Idol Gives Back week has returned. I guess the AI team feels that the economy has recovered enough that they don’t feel bad about asking people to donate. Of course, with Haiti and all the other earthquakes which have happened already this year, this money could do some good. With an Idol Gives Back week also comes “inspirational” musical selections. Hopefully I’m inspired, as well…to write really snarky reviews!

Alicia Keys is this week’s mentor. I do’t know any of her music, but she has 12 Grammys, I guess she must have some talent. That hasn’t helped Idol contestants in the past, though, so why would that change now?

Casey James, performing “Don’t Stop (Believing About Tomorrow)” – This is a typical song that the FM radio stations play because it’s so generic. So far, Casey’s performance doesn’t seem much different. He’s not bad, but there’s nothing that I’m going to remember about this performance, especially since Casey’s up first. I’m worried for Casey.

Lee DeWyze, performing “The Boxer” – So, Lee’s a former paint salesmen, which means watching Lee really is like watching paint dry. Apparently, Lee didn’t get the memo that this song is about as inspirational as, well, an earthquake hitting Haiti. Lee’s voice also doesn’t match this song at all. Neither does the contemporary arrangement that Lee used to try and make the song his own. If the judges like this, they are all idiots.  And they are.

Tim Urban, performing “Better Days” – Not sure why Tim starts so low. His voice doesn’t have that range. What’s scary is that he sounded better when he was too low. Tim’s out of tune and shouts when he gets to the main part of the song. This hurts my ears. Color me not inspired expect in hoping that Tim goes home. I can’t see Tim surviving after that performance unless Casey really is forgotten.

Aaron Kelly, performing “I Believe I Can Fly” – Remember a couple weeks ago when I was mad about Andrew singing a Chris Brown song? R. Kelly’s on my list, too. Unfortunately, A. Kelly joined that list with that performance. Wow, his voice is all over the place like a race car on a slick track. Really, people, all you’re inspiring me to do is cry, not fly.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “If You Believe” – I guess if you’re performing a song done by both Whitney and Mariah, you HAVE to go over the top. Siobhan, even in the low register, is just pouring out the emotion like molasses. This, however, was a very good performance, maybe the only truly good performance of the night so far. Siobhan only had a moment where she overdid it, but, for the most part, that was the strongest technical performance from Siobhan since the beginning of the season. The judges, however, made it very clear that they’re done with Siobhan, once again proving they have no musical talent whatsoever.

Michael Lynche, performing “Hero” – This is a song better suited for Casey James, with that grunge gravelly voice vocal.  Michael’s performance is good, but this really isn’t the best song for him. You need that Nickelback/Dave Mathews growl to really get the point across, especially since this song is really about not waiting for a hero to save you. I consider this the second best performance of the night, which means that the judges, yet again, are idiots.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “People Get Ready” – I have Eva Cassidy’s rendition of this song and love it. I get the feeling Crystal’s heard it, too, because this has the same soul. I’m a little surprised at how overwhelmed she got at the end, but, once again, Crystal hits one out of the park.

Top Performers:
Crystal Bowersox
Siobhan Magnus
Michael Lynche

Bottom Three:
Aaron Kelly
Tim Urban
Casey James/Lee DeWyze

2010 WGI World Percussion Finals Results

Percussion Scholastic World:
15. Center Grove High School – 86.125
14. Fishers High School – 86.588
13. Long Lake High School – 86.825
12. King Philip Regional High School – 87.588
11. Forsyth Central High School – 88.325
10. Centerville High School – 89.163
9. Los Alimedos High School – 89.538
8. North Glenn High School – 91.650
7. Arcadia High School – 92.000
6. Chino High School – 93.363
5. Avon High School – 94.275
4. Mission Viejavo High School – 94.625
3. Dartmouth High School – 95.500
2. Chino Hills High School – 96.750
1. Ayala High School – 97.175

Percussion Independent World:
15. Tyler Junior College – 82.775
14. Infinity – 83.275
13. Timber Creek Independent – 84.550
12. Gateway Indoor – 85.988
11. North Coast Academy – 86.625
10. Blue Knights – 86.888
9. East Side Fury – 87.913
8. Matrix – 88.175
7. Aimachi – 91.725
6. United Percussion – 91.975
5. Redline – 92.500
4. Riverside Community College – 94.100
3. Music City Mystique – 95.513
2. Rhythm X – 96.250
1. Pulse Percussion – 96.375

Fan Favorite
North Glenn High School

2010 American Idol – Top 9 (AGAIN!)

Yep, that’s right. We’re still on the Top 9.  Apparently, Michael was the odd man out last week, forcing the judges to use their one save of the season to keep him around. I would have gone home, though, since this week is Elvis week, the one “musician” I blame for destroying rock and roll more than anybody else. Yes, even more than Madonna, whom I also despise.

What makes up for the pain a little bit is the mentorship of Adam Lambert, but only a little. He’s shown more personality in five minutes talking to Ryan than the Top 12 has shown in the past five weeks.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Saved” – Do the judges no longer like her? I guess it’s fair to have each contestant go first, but Crystal’s too good to go home this week.  She’s also lighting up the stage and setting the bar high right out the door. If anybody is going to answer the pressure of going on first, it’s going to be Crystal, and she does so with flying colors. The crowd goes wild and Randy babbles in excitement.

Andrew Garcia, performing “Hound Dog” – For the first time, a mentor straight up told a contestant that he sucked. Unfortunately, Andrew still sucks, despite trying to “groove” the song. For a Latino, this is a pretty white bread performance. Andrew just bought himself a return to the bottom three.

Tim Urban, performing “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” – This may be in Tim’s wheelhouse. This actually may be the first performance I really enjoy from Tim. Tim didn’t go to his head voice like Adam Lambert suggested, but that wasn’t a bad thing.  That was a very honest performance from Tim and did not sound like high school talent show, like he has for the previous four weeks.

Lee DeWyze, performing “A Little Less Conversation” – Wow, I don’t remember Lee sounding this raw before. I really like it. Great song choice and he’s just ripping it up, changed up just enough to make it his own song.  He could still use more stage presence, which, again, Adam called right on. So far, though, tonight’s performances are above average, except for Andrew.

Aaron Kelly, performing “Blue Suede Shoes” – Uh oh, I don’t like this song choice, especially if he’s going to perform it straight.  And, boy, does he perform it straight. You could switch between his and Elvis’ vocal tracks and you would think it’s the same performance. It’s not bad, but Aaron’s doing nothing to help him stand out from the crowd, and this is the worst night to have that kind of performance.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “Suspicious Minds” – I can’t stand this song. There’s just so little to it and is a song well below what the other singers chose. I also don’t get why she feels the need to look like somebody else on the stage. Wow, didn’t realize how much I hate this song until she started singing it. I don’t even care how well Siobhan does, I just want the song to end. Once again, though, Siobhan swallows her voice until she cranks the volume. I also don’t get the total change in the song midway through. I am over Siobhan Magnus.

Michael Lynche, performing “In The Ghetto” – I like Michael’s voice, but I’m not sure this is the performance you want to follow up getting saved with. Voters are going to forget this performance, which is too bad, because Michael’s got a good voice. I think Siobhan just stabbed Michael in the back by suggesting this song.

Katie Stevens, performing “Baby, What You Want Me To Do?” – I’m also over Katie. she just doesn’t have the energy that I’m looking for. It probably doesn’t help that she’s kind of country, which isn’t my style. I just don’t get any contrast in her performance, no emotion. Again, Adam pushed for her to get that frustration which the song is all about in her voice and she’s just not doing it. I’m just not a fan.

Casey James, performing “Laudy, Miss Claudy” – Forgive the spelling, but the performance starts off strong. Once again, Casey picks a song that matches his voice. He kicks into high gear at the right time, although backs it down again, so I’m still waiting for him to really bring it home. It’s a good performance, but I could use more Joe Cocker gravel in Casey’s voice for this one. Not really a good Pimp slot performance.

Top Performers:
Crystal Bowersox
Lee DeWyze
Tim Urban

Bottom Three:
Andrew Garcia (Gone)
Siobhan Magnus
Katie Stevens (Gone)

2010 American Idol – Top 9

Really?  They’re doing Lennon/McCartney night AGAIN??? That was great the first time they did it in Season 7. The second time they did it, one week after the first time, it plain sucked. What’s more, we don’t have nearly the talent level we had two years ago. I’m not looking forward to this night.

Aaron Kelly, performing “Long and Winding Road” – Aaron sounds very nervous.  He’s searching for the pitch at the beginning. His goat vibrato makes him sound even more tense. Aaron’s starting to find it about halfway through, but still is struggling to stay on course. Overall, it was subpar, and being in the Graveyard Slot won’t help matters, either.

Katie Stevens, performing “Let It Be” – Two slow songs in a row won’t improve Simon’s mood. Katie’s doing better than Aaron, though, from a vocal standpoint, but she’s not really doing anything with the song to make it her own, a criticism Aaron just received. If the judges gush over her performance, it’ll purely be because they want her to move on. Sure enough, the judges gush all over Katie. So much for being a “singing competition”.

Andrew Garcia, performing “Can’t Buy Me Love” – Now THIS is how you take a song and make it your own. Right out of the gate, Andrew puts a new twist on a classic early Beatles song. Andrew doesn’t have the best voice of the group, which will probably keep him out of the finals, but this is the best thing Andrew’s done since he put his own spin on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” during Hollywood Week.  Randy makes it clear that he’s going to find anything he can wrong with Andrew, which proves why he has no musical prowess. Only Ellen got how fun this performance was, so props to her for understanding entertainment.

Michael Lynche, performing “Elanor Rigby” – Second performer in a row to mix up his song in a good way. This is a very R&B take on Elanor Rigby, but Michael was smart to keep the strings. It’s a great, energetic performance which I’d be happy to buy and listen to again. Michael’s on a hot streak with his second straight strong performance. This time, the judges are very positive about the performance. I guess we can agree now and then, as long as they agree with me. I don’t know what musical Simon’s thinking of, though.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “”Come Together”. The digeridoo is an interesting touch, as is the Joe Cocker take on the song, which is right in Crystal’s wheel house. Crystal has been the most consistent performer this season and I don’t see her anywhere but the Finals. Interesting that they put three of the strongest performers in the middle of the show, as opposed to spreading them out throughout the night.

Tim Urban, performing “All My Lovin’ ” – Ladies and gentlemen, this kid is all about the cheese. The judges tear him up about it week after week, yet he keeps smiling and pouring the Velveeta. Tim’s not a bad singer, but he always sounds like a high school talent show. Tim has yet to break out of this mold and, to be honest, I’m not sure he could, nor that he wants to. Nothing special about this performance, so the judges must be licking their chops, getting ready to feast on his soul.

Casey James, performing “Jealous Guy” – I’m not familiar with Lennon’s solo works, but, from what I’m hearing so far, this is a very good song choice for Casey. A very introspective performance with just Casey, his six string, and a cello, but it really works.  For a moment, I heard a little Bob Segar in Casey’s voice, which is good because I can handle Bob Segar’s voice, just not his music. The arrangement showcased Casey’s range, both vocally and on guitar, and is a definite top performance for tonight.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “Across the Universe” – Siobhan can’t shriek in this song, can she? Unfortunately, when Siobhan sings softly, she swallows all her words. I think I’m over Siobhan. It doesn’t help that I despise this song. It’s by no means a bottom three performance, and I find it very likely that the judges will applaud this performance because “it shows her softer side” and because “she didn’t shriek”. I don’t care. This song did nothing for me except make me wait for the end.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Hey Jude” – Whoa, Lee, what key are you in??? He’s all over the place.  C’mon, you’re in the Pimp slot, but this is just painful to listen to! What’s more, the editing of the arrangement makes no sense. Wait, what the HELL is a bagpipes player doing in this song??? OK, Lee, you may have just earned your ticket home. There was NOTHING good about that performance.

Top performers:
Michael Lynche
Crystal Bowersox
Casey James

Bottom three:
Aaron Kelly
Lee DeWyze
Siobhan Magnus or Tim Urban

Weight Loss Update – Week 14

This week’s weigh-in: 196.2 lbs
Weight change since last week: +1.2 lbs
Total weight change: -2.2 lbs
Remaining weight loss: 31.2 lbs
Remaining time: 7 months, 3 weeks

The weekend was my downfall. Easter dinner was a part of my gain this pas week, but it didn’t help that I gorged myself on potato sticks on Saturday. They may be made from natural ingredients, but half a bag is still half a bag.

On the flip side, I began exercising last week. I am using three exercise plans I found on the web: 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, and 200 squats. I’ve already reached 100 sit-ups and am improving with each session of doing squat exercises. My push-ups, however, actually went down with each session. I may have to repeat the first week of that program and see if I do better this week. Keep watch on my Twitter and Facebook accounts as I’ll post my totals for each exercise session in both places.

2010 American Idol – Top 10

This week’s mentor is Usher, which, while I’m not a big fan of his music, is still miles ahead of Miley Cyrus from last week.  Our Top 10 is set, which means that I’ll have another opportunity to ignore the American Idol tour this summer.  Soul/R&B is the theme tonight. Let’s hope that the contestants have some soul when they perform, since God knows most of them haven’t had any in the past two weeks.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “Through the Fire” – Uh, oh, Siobhan must have pissed somebody off to get stuck with the Graveyard Spot. A lot of singing through the nose to start, plus I’m not sure I like the key she’s in. I would have arranged it higher.  Siobhan sounds tight and, when she hits the upper register, she did not open up her throat, totally missing the first few notes.  This performance is way off for Siobhan, although it’s par for the course for the majority of contestants this season. Overall, it’s either too laid back or too forced, neither of which helps.  Siobhan, I’m worried you might be in trouble.

Casey James, performing “Hold On, I’m Coming” – Good start to the performance. Helps to have the backup singers on the chorus. I could use more soul in his performance, being that this is a Soul song. Coming after Siobhan helps, too, since the bar was set low to start. We get an honest to God guitar solo, too, so Casey gets to show his instrumental chops. Overall, a good song choice and a good performance.  The audience and Usher approve.

Michael Lynche, performing “Ready For Love” – I like Michael going solo with the guitar. I’m finding his voice a little thin, though, but not so much. Overall, I think the performance was good, but love ballads like this one rarely do well on Idol due to the lack of a power moment. I also like where Michael performed on the platform behind the judges. Sounds like the judges really liked the performance.  I would say that Michael was better than Casey.

Didi Benadi, performing “What Becomes Of the Broken Hearted?” – I only heard a few notes from the rehearsal footage and I’m already hating (again) Didi’s performance. I am not disappointed. Pitch is anywhere but in the center. She’s pushing too hard and missing all over the place. She also sounds like a bad attempt to cover Eva Cassidy covering Jimmy Ruffin. Didi may have just saved Siobhan from elimination. I hope she did because I’m tired of this hack. That was a definite train wreck. In fact, it was so bad that Randy actually identified which way the pitch was off (sharp).

Tim Urban, performing “Sweet Love” – Tim is putting the whitest spin on an Anita Baker song. No soul, no R&B, no good.  Tim doesn’t have a bad voice, but this is a voice that still hasn’t left the high school talent show/karaoke realm. This is two painful performances in a row. We may already have our bottom three for the night, in fact.

Andrew Garcia, performing “Forever” – Sorry, Andrew, you picked a song written by an asshole who beat his girlfriend. I don’t care how good it is or how good you are, I refuse to even comment further than that.

Katie Stevens, performing “Chain of Fools” – Katie is no Aretha.  Then again, who is? This performance isn’t hurting me so far, although that’s partly due to the mediocrity of the other performers. I’m waiting for Katie to let go, though.  She’s staying in her lower register too much for my taste. It was a good performance, but I wanted more.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Treat Her Like a Lady” – Lee has a very solid voice, and one well suited to this song.  Lee is into this song, which is a gift this season. I could even see myself downloading this performance. Lee just shot up to the front of the line and announced himself as a contender.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Midnight Train to Georgia” – Well, she put down the guitar like Kara asked, BUT she’s behind another instrument, so, really, this doesn’t solve anything regarding connecting with the audience. Crystal this week is channeling Gladys Knight in her voice. I’m liking the laid back start to the song, but she can bring the power when she wants to.  Ahh, got up from the piano to sing once the band came in. I think we’ve had back to back home runs with Lee and Crystal, although Crystal’s been more consistent so far this season.

Aaron Kelly, performing “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Aaron’s got the Pimp Spot. Can he fill it?  Not if he sounds that nervous through the whole song. He’s pushing sharp because of the nerves, and I think the combination of Lee/Crystal before him with performing last is taking it’s toll.  Aaron also didn’t do anything with the “I know” lyrics, even though Usher specifically worked with him on it. The crowd isn’t reacting to this performance at all.  Aaron’s safe, but he just didn’t bring it like he should have.

Top performers:
Crystal Bowersox
Lee DeWyze
Michael Lynche

Bottom three:
Didi Benadi
Siobhan Magnus
Tim Urban

American Idol 2010 – Top 11

You do NOT know how close I am to turning off the TV.  MILEY CYRUS???  AS A MENTOR???  If anybody had any doubts about this show, they should be erased now. I’m just going to get into the reviews.

Lee Dewyze, performing “The Letter” – Wow, that is a TERRIBLE arrangement of this song! I do like the horns on the stage. I can’t help but hear the Joe Cocker cover of this song, which was covered by Eva Cassidy. This Tin Pan Alley arrangement is a joke. Lee, I don’t care how well you sang, and, from what I’m hearing at the end, you didn’t, you are in my personal Bottom 3.

Paige Miles, performing “Against All Odds” – Sharp right out of the gate and her soft voice has no power. Paige sounds nervous and, to be honest, like a high school talent show performance. Paige also seems to think that every word starts with the letter H. A long letter hhhhhH.  This wasn’t the right song to perform for somebody who’s still most likely recovering from laryngitis. Randy can’t even sugarcoat the fact it was terrible.  What’s more, the audience doesn’t even boo him for it.

Tim Urban, performing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Well, the rehearsal footage sounds like high school show choir, so I’m already settling in for the carnage.  The voice is better than anything before him, which isn’t saying much, but the song has no, well, jive or personality. Freddie Mercury could perform the HELL out of this song.  Tim cannot. He may be safe, but he’s forgettable enough to be lost in the voting shuffle, so be prepared for a possible Bottom 3 appearance.  Thanks to Paige, though, Tim’s staying another week.

Aaron Kelly, performing “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – Aaron has laryngitis AND tonsillitis. How can I rip on him? Well, based on the song title, I’m afraid he’s going to miss EVERYTHING. So far so good, though. Aaron’s not pushing his voice too hard, which is too bad, but is probably a good thing in this case as he’s gonna make it through the song with a pretty good performance.  This is the first not bad performance of the night.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Me And Bobby McGee” – Crystal has a Janice Joplin vibe about her, so I expect good things from this song. Her biggest mistake with this song would be to hold back. Janice did NOT hold back, but Crystal has had a problem doing just that up to this point. I’m really liking what I’m hearing so far, but need her to let loose. She does in the 2nd half of the song, and actually loses herself in the performance, which is why she is a definite front runner this season. It’s going to be hard to top that performance.

Michael Lynche, performing “When a Man Loves a Woman” – If he can bring the soul of this song, this is going to be a very good performance. I really like the start of the song with just piano, strings, and Michael. We might have two strong performances in a row here.  Nice job holding out the big note, too. This is right in Michael’s wheelhouse and he’s taking it out of the park. Great falsetto at the end, too.  Heck, I might even want to buy that performance.

Andrew Garcia, performing “Heard It Through the Grapevine” – I hope Andrew sings this song in a higher key because it’s literally too low key from the rehearsal performance.  I’m just not feeling this performance. It’s pitched too low for his voice and he’s just singing it, not much expression in the performance. We’re back to performances that we just wait to end, it seems.  It was another forgettable performance which could get lost and get him off the show.

Katie Stevens, performing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – No, not The Four Seasons, although I would have expected that tonight. This is a Fergie song, which doesn’t bode well in my book. She’s going sharp early on and, when Katie gets to what sounds like the big moment of the song, it’s flat from an energy standpoint. This is a boring performance and, again, I’m waiting for the song to end. I love how Randy glosses over her pitch problems, but wasn’t afraid to point out this is a “singing competition” earlier in the show. No wonder your last CD tanked, dawg.  I’m not getting what the judges hear overall, in fact.

Casey James, performing “The Power of Love” – Yes, Huey Lewis and the News have made Idol. I’m not sure Casey has enough of a blues voice to carry this song. Actually, this is a strange song choice as it’s just too corny, much as I like my Huey. Heard a rare horn frack from the upper stage, too. This is a very vanilla performance and, dare I say it, almost a Las Vegas performance of this song. I don’t see the judges liking this performance. Judges in general think the vocals are good, but the song was wrong, except Simon calls the performance what it is – Not Good.

DiDi Benami , performing “You’re No Good” – Pitchy, dawg, pitchy, yo. Baby, you’re no good…at this song. I’m enjoying the bass player’s performance more than DiDi’s, although she’s finding her pitch better now. I’m just not sold on this arrangement. I don’t see DiDi leaving the show, but I’m not getting championship performance out of her, either. Judges aren’t fans at all. DiDi, I’d be worried about now.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “Superstition” – C’mon, girl, they’ve put you in the pimp spot, and I think this song could be exactly what you need to make everybody forget the second hour of tonight’s show. I don’t know how they got her that Pink look, which is nothing like what she looks like in normal life. She is nailing this song so far, and, again, I love the horns on the stage with her. I’m waiting her to kick this into overdrive, though. We’re getting close to the end of the song, which she does, in a very Adam Lambert style, at the very end.  Great performance, but I wish she had done more for the first 90% of the song.

Clear Winners:
Crystal Bowersox
Michael Lynche
Siobhan Magnus

Bottom Three:
Paige Miles
Andrew Garcia
Lee Dewyze or Didi Benami