Saturday, April 30, 2011

And the April Giveaway Winner is....

Odds were REALLY good for the April giveaway as there were only a handful of entrants.

Due to some health issues I opted not to do a live drawing. Instead I assigned each entrant a number and asked my best friend, who does not know anyone involved nor the order of the names pertaining to their number, to pick a number. That was how we chose this month's winner.

Congratulations to LINNEA!!! :)

Send me your information via Facebook and we'll organize a time frame to get you your goodies.

Thanks everyone for playing!

BIG BIG BIG giveaway coming. Stay tuned. ;)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Six Perform Songs from Carole King...

Or how we can take a perfectly decent season thus far and make it annoy and frustrate Geevie in one short episode with one of her LEAST favorite themes. Of all time.

I was SO unenthusiastic about this particular episode I didn't even bother doing a wish list. Out of the scores (?) of songs in Carole King songbook I like maybe three or four tunes, and none of those are actually performed by her. The earth does NOT move under my feet when I hear songs from "Tapestry," and in fact I wish it would go so far away.

It's just not my cup of tea. I don't listen to James Taylor or Carly Simon or any other of this genre.

So there was really no point in giving out a wish list when the deck is so stacked against me on a show that will no doubt bore me, frustrate me and otherwise have me with a quicker FF trigger finger than my ballad-hatin' hubby, Mr. Geevie.

Having said that, this review is based on maybe a couple of bars of different songs - most of which I sailed right on by. It may be unfair but there's really nothing you can make me do to go back and try to watch most of the performances in their entirety.

So nyah.

Jacob went first and sang "Oh No Not My Baby." I don't know who was styling Lusk this week, and I'm not sure whether to like it or mock it. On one hand it was quite shrewd to stand out, and with this bunch that is rather necessary. He's in the curse of first, with a long ass show (thanks to the premature finalist duet performances this season) it was necessary for him to do everything he could to stick into the audience's memory.

On the other hand he looked like got lost on his way to Let's Make a Deal. Or Clown College.

Apparently he did really well. I don't know because even though I love Jacob I had to FF right on to the next performance, which was Lauren and her version of "Where You Lead." I noted that with this group, taking on an individual artist can be a positive because everyone has their own individual stamp on things. We can get gospel/soul, blues, rock and country all from the same songwriter just based on how the songs are arranged.

That's one of the few positives to this particular episode, and although Lauren is cute and talented, I'm concerned where her own insecurities will end up cutting her off at the knees.

She's sixteen, and this is a lot of pressure. Her downfall will be that she's not really sure who she is as an artist yet.

The same criticism does not apply to Scotty, who decided to go with "You've Got A Friend." I hear that he toned it way back and had one of his best, non-hokey performances. Sadly I couldn't tolerate much more than the opening note because I hate, hate, hate this song. I'm not going to add insult to injury by country-fying it Scotty-style. I'm sure he did well, and it wouldn't even matter if he didn't. The boy is finale bound. We'll get to that in a minute.

Speaking of finale bound, the judges loved how Durbin changed things up a bit with his own version of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." This is one of the few songs on my "like" list. I also wouldn't have minded Pleasant Valley Sunday - which sadly didn't make an appearance from anyone... I guess there's always the group number. (Which, frankly, scares me more than it excites me.)

I loved what James did with it and as usual he managed to save the night for me entirely. Truth be told, his unpredictability and his showmanship is the only reason I didn't skip this episode entirely. Which thanks to a couple of the contestants, I was actually glad I tuned in.

The Old Casey was back in his bluesy form with "Hi De Ho." Like I said it was the versatility of these contestants that saved this from being a one-note kind of night (and not the note I usually like.) This performance proved he was well worth the save. Like Durbin he takes risks - and we're (usually) the better for it, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" not withstanding.

Haley sang "Beautiful," and like Durbin and Casey she really brought her A-game to the show last night. Of all the performers left I think she's grown the most, tied probably with Scotty (who, btw, would grow MORE if he was given more criticism like last week.) Her performance I sat all the way through and thought she could bring it to the top of the night, but given three of these folks are bound to hit the bottom of the pile I think Scotty will skate right into the top three performances of the night based on his fan base alone.

This doesn't bode well for Haley, who has ended up in the bottom three several times, most recently last week.

For me the top three were Durbin, Casey and Haley - which leaves the bottom three the contestants I couldn't even be bothered to sit through. (This says something in and of itself.)

I'm not sure if the duets were set to do anyone any favors. Fan/judge favorites were paired with those who might be the most in trouble, and I think Jacob being most oddly paired will be the thing that finally kicks him free of the competition.

Having said that I think the bottom three will be Haley, Lauren and Jacob, with Jacob going home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Seven Perform Songs of 21st Century

Since showtime is in about an hour and fifteen minutes we're going to make this short and sweet, kids:

We started off the show with an Idol first: The performance show showcased the castoffs in a rare, but grating, pre-finale musical number that made it all too clear why they were no longer in the running.

And this continual pimping of Pia is really starting to wear on my nerves. In fact, it's making me kinda start to hate her when I was content just to not like her before.

If the audience still wanted her to wail her way through songs, she'd still be there.

I don't care who she is dating, she really kind of needs to go away now.


Scotty decided to go with "Swinging" - which wasn't all that contemporary when it was originally released in the early 1980s. The judges used rare critique, even Steven, to let Scotty know that while he's a solid contestant time was short for him to have his "big moment." Given this rather ho-hum performance, unusual judge critique and the fact he went first, if this doesn't land our good ol boy in the bottom three, I'll know for sure he's finale-bound. He's got the fan base to carry him through no matter what he does (or doesn't do.)

Durbin had a much earlier slot this week than he normally has enjoyed in the past, and he opted for Muse's "Uprising" for his song choice. I was good with it - I don't know much more about Muse than what I learned playing Guitar Hero... but what I have heard I liked. I would even go so far that his vocal (before the octave challenge change in the latter part of the song) was smoother and more melodic than the original singer. (No disrespect to any Muse people out there.)

That he made it much more of a performance means he'll most likely be safe, and it was definitely one of my favorites of the night. The hubby liked it so much he watched it three times in a row before he allowed the rest of the show to run.

Haley chose an Adele number, and while I'm not familiar with her music I really liked Haley more this week than pretty much any other. She wasn't relying on kitsch and actually performed like she meant it. She connected to the song in such a way that I believed it entirely and felt bad about suggesting something more low-brow and one dimensional.

This was Favorite Performance #2.

Jacob had a rough start but pulled it together to sing "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross. It was probably too easy to call, but he did well enough with it that even I welled up with tears on the sentiment of the song. I really think he's going to have to dig much deeper to make it more exciting - because he hasn't been able to match the moment he had during Motown week. This could land him in the bottom three.

Casey opted for Maroon 5, which wasn't half as much fun as the Blue Man Group song would have been. This is the drawback of trying to handicap what songs would work out best for them - if they go off the beaten track the disappointment can overshadow the performance, even when it's pretty good.

Problem was, it wasn't anything *special* - even with the stolen smooch at the end.

He was also wearing plaid.. which is the Geevie Kiss of Death.

S-Teflon-o sang a Neo song that was upbeat and contemporary, but I still would have liked to see him do Justin Timberlake. I don't see the whole flirty/woman's man thing but apparently enough women do - Twitter was aflutter last night after his performance.

Lauren brought up the rear of the show in the much coveted pimp spot and chose to sing a country song... sadly it wasn't the kind of fun one that I wanted and I thought the judges and Jimmy actually had a lot of insight as to why the performances have lost some of their luster. She feels intimidated, and understandably so. She's very young so she may equate those big voices as better than her... and it can't have escaped her notice that as one of the few girls left in the competition she really has to bring it.

Personally I don't think she's as compromised as she thinks she is. I can totally see the top three coming down to Lauren, Scotty and James.

At least it better.

As for the bottom three I think this is where we break down between the top three and the bottom three and have the unenviable choice given to one contestant to choose between the groups.

I predict it'll come down something like this:

James, Lauren and Scotty in one group...

Stefano, Haley and Casey in the other...

Jacob gets to choose but it doesn't matter where he goes (though it's pretty obvious he'll try to go to he first group)... because he'll be the one going home.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Seven Last Minute Songs of 21st Century Wish List

When I first learned the new theme for the week was Songs from the 21st Century, I thought I'd skip this part of the proceedings altogether. I'm not that familiar with a wealth of music from the 21st Century - or so I thought - and so I felt woefully and unusually ambivalent.

By about Sunday I perused through several "Top 100" song lists through the new century and feel at least somewhat qualified to make a few recommendations and interject my overweening ego into song choices that were probably picked two weeks ago.

But when has that ever stopped me?

It would tickle me silly for Jacob to pick something more upbeat and playful:

But that's a bit risque and he's already made it plain he prefers more inspirational stuff. So he could add a little gospel the following, which - as sung originally by a female - could actually be bent a little more interestingly to fit his particular style.

Another who may pick that song would include Lauren, even though I think she'd play to her strengths (and her audience) by revving up the fun again with:

(Or is that too obvious?)

(Still be fun though...)

Speaking of country, I'm not too familiar with the new songs and acts from today's country megastars, but I wouldn't mind seeing Scotty singing something along the lines of:

He could also pick something a little more mainstream like:

I don't know much about current heavy metal but my sons would absolutely flip out in metalhead glee if Durbin picks the likes of Bullet for My Valentine. I wouldn't mind something like Velvet Revolver. Again, with James I'm pretty content to let him pick whatever he thinks would be best. My only request? Don't sing this:

As for Casey and his Bassy, he could bring out something a little harder with:

Or stay eclectic with the likes of:

Which would pretty make both the hubby and me freak out in BMG fanboy and fangirl glee.

I think S-Teflon-o should stay true to his boy band roots by bringing sexy back with a lil JT:

This would give him the opportunity to scratch all the jazz hands and Broadway arms with an actual contemporary pop performance.

Somehow, though, I fear he'll pick something more obvious like:

Haley can also benefit from something more contemporary, and since she has that whole sex kitten thing going on some of the more risque music would play to her strengths. These are half-joking, half-serious suggestions:

But she could also add a lil sauce to:


Or all seven can do songs I've never heard before - and the odds of that happening this week are fairly high.

In fact... finding that one nugget of a song I'm familiar with may indeed be the treasure hunt of tonight's show.

I think I'm ready....

My only real request with any of the contestants, aside from the Darkness prohibition I mentioned above, is that none of these folks should even THINK about doing songs released by prior Idols.

Instant Zeros for any JHud, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry or a host of others who launched their claim to fame on the Idol Stage.

Trust your Idol Mama... and just say no.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Eight Perform Music from the Movies

Like I predicted in my Wish List blog, the music for last night's movie theme was wide open with songs no one could really fully accurately anticipate (except for Scotty doing country... that was pretty much a given.) Despite that, except for a couple of notable exceptions, the night was rather ho-hum.

Paul went first and selected "Old Time Rock and Roll" - which I had kinda really wanted Casey to do. Instead of doing something more acoustic and songwritery like "Everybody's Talkin' at Me," he opted for something that would get his feet moving.

With Paul, this is not always a good thing.

The performance in and of itself wasn't bad, and for the most part his crazy, spastic Paul dance wasn't as awkward as I remember it being. The problem as I see it is that it wasn't anything spectacular and he had the misfortune of going first. As we learned from Jacob last week even someone solid can make it into the bottom three just by bad placement.

Lauren went next and sang, almost predictably, a Miley Cyrus song. I've never seen a Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana movie (aside maybe from Bolt) so I would never would have been able to make this call. Having said that, this MC song doesn't make me involuntarily gag, especially when someone OTHER than Miley sings it. And Lauren has more talent in her little finger than Miley does in her entire body, so it was a shrewd move to actually take a song from a lesser singer and sing the heck out of it.

Better than that, at least for me, was the way she connected with the song. I believed every single word that came out of her mouth - something I wasn't quite sure she could pull off before last night. Everything worked, her look, her sound, her song choice... it was just a win all the way around. Girls may be a dying breed in American Idol Season 10, but I think she cemented her spot in the Top Seven with that performance.

Stefano/S-Teflon-o came out and predictably sang another ballad. It was a boy band cheese fest with Boys II Men's "End of the Road," and it pretty much illustrated why Stefano will not win American Idol. He was meant to be part of a group - not a solo performer. After last week's near miss, he might escape the bottom three tonight by sheer bounce-back alone... but the performance, while not necessarily bad, wasn't as stellar as the judges would have you believe.

In fact, it almost felt like the judges were using reverse psychology by overly gushing on *everyone.*

The lovefest continued with Scotty, who returned to his country roots with a George Strait song. Personally I never knew that he left them, this boy could perform a rap hit and it come out more Hank Williams than 50 Cent. The judges all crowed about his staying true to himself as an artist and never really encourage him to branch out and do more.

Some may think that this is unfair since these are the same judges who clamored for Pia to try something other than her successful ballads. I don't know how valid a criticism that is for the judges because I kinda see what they were going for. Despite her vocal prowess she was pretty one dimensional as far as a performer. It may all be country what Scotty does but it isn't all the same type of song. He can do something upbeat, he can do ballads... he's at least trying to own the stage in a way I'm not so sure Pia ever could.

Pop is a mix of ballads and of upbeat, peppy stuff. Just like Barry Manilow can do "Mandy," "Weekend in New England," and "I Write the Songs" he also pulled off "American Bandstand," and "Copacabana."

Keep it interesting. Mix it up.

The fact is according to producer Nigel Pia was never in the top no matter how much acclaim she got from the judges... so there's the huge possibility that the criticism she got wasn't just from the kind of song she was singing. The judges couldn't put their finger on why the performances, while technically good, left them cold.

Therefore it was as warranted as some of the criticism pseudo-judges like me level on the likes of Stefano that basically says, "Give me more than what you're giving me."

Note even when she sang that upbeat song Pia still got criticism from JLo. It wasn't just the ballad thing.

Although that certainly didn't help.

Casey brought his bass and a jazzy rendition of Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" to the stage. It immediately had me wishing he would have stayed with Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" or a variety of other songs I picked for him in my Wish List blog. I had a sneaking suspicion that he would pull something relatively obscure out of his arse for the occasion and he most certainly did. The crowd loved it, the judges gave him a standing-O but frankly the whole thing left me absolutely cold. I'm not a jazz fan to begin with; it sounds a bit like they're making it up as they go along and I never could fit it in my head. I think this was a risky move for him in that his fans will no doubt love what he did with it but those he has yet to win over might opt for something a little more mainstream. That his fans may think he's safe from the positive reaction he got from the crowd and the judges, he needs every last one of their votes.

If they didn't bother because they thought he was safe, this could be Casey's swan song.

Haley tried to get funky with a Blondie tune, the sexy anthem from "American Gigolo." It just really couldn't get more perfect as far as a song choice goes. It suited her sex siren style, although last night it was more Debbie Harry than Marilyn Monroe (and that's a good thing.) Not to mention she looked sensational in her purple go-go boots I immediately coveted, though I could never look as good in them as she did.

Unfortunately for Haley those boots may have been made for walking because her off-key rendition of a rock classic was almost painful to grit my way through as a listener. I've come to grudgingly like Haley over the last few weeks but last night was not good - so not good it earned her the rare judge criticism heard through last night's praise-o-rama. It also no doubt earned her a spot in the bottom three, although it will depend on Paul's and Casey's fan base to decide whether she stays or goes home.

Jacob went next and was immediately reprimanded for the cocky statements he made last week by the love'im or hate'im Jimmy Iovine. He was also cautioned away from the cheesy songs he had chosen to sing. Duly chastised he gave in and decided to sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - which is a very difficult song for me to hear on a good day, due to some intensely personal memories I have with it.

For that reason alone I can't really say whether I liked it or not. He did very well, and made it his own - but it still felt like an emotional kick in the gut. In fact the better its sung the worse it hurts, which makes the entire thing bittersweet. I do think he earned his way out of the bottom three, though.

Durbin (which I've decided to call him now because he's just too badass to call just "James" anymore) closed the show - again - with a song I wasn't all that familiar with: Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal" from the movie of the same name. I was EXTREMELY pleased by the promise of such a title, though, and quite annoyed when Jimmy tried to talk him down from the choice that he made.

Again I wanted to shout at the TV to let the man do his thing. I've come to trust him over these past many weeks, you'd think that some of these folks who work with him week in and week out would do the same.

Lucky for us Durbin stuck to his guns and made it happen no matter what opposition he faced. He was determined to continue on with his crusade for America to "Give Metal a Chance!"

Nothing could have prepared us for how this show would end, or who would help Durbin in his noble quest.

None other than guitar god Zakk Wylde graced the Idol stage with a WICKED guitar solo in a pre-finale Idol FIRST that nearly had me come out of the seat, horns thrown and head banging away. It was the most exciting thing we've seen on Idol thus far this season without a doubt:

Now there are those who might say the producers are pimping Durbin with this unexpected boost to his performance, and in fact many people may have been so blown away by Zakk's solo that the vocal - which is supposedly what Idol is based upon - got lost in the mix. Maybe there were some folks who thought that they were voting for Zakk when they called in on Durbin's number.

Either way, it WORKED. This is what being an Idol is about IMO and it saved an otherwise lackluster Idol from being just another ordinary episode. I immediately went on Twitter and tracked Durbin down to follow him, whereupon I learned that he would love to do a Journey song (squee!) but unfortunately Steve Perry won't release any for the show. (Really, Steve? Don't force me to watch Glee to see people perform my favorite band's material... I beg of you.) He also said that Perry was one of his vocal influences, which endured me to him even more.

So if this is what it takes to make Idol exciting and bring about a finale that rivals - if not beats - Adam Lambert's season... COUNT ME IN.

That performance right there just sold a ticket for the summer tour.

For me the top three: Durbin, Lauren and Jacob.

I predict the bottom three will be shared among Paul (curse of first,) Casey (and his Bassy) and Haley.

It's not looking good for a girl to be in the bottom three this season, but it also could be the night that the lights went out in Nashville - or at least Paul McDonald's smile.

Personally I think Casey may have the highest probability to go, given the more obscure nature of his performance and song choice.

(Granted heavy metal can be equally as off-putting, but Durbin's performance was way more grab you by the throat and throttle you into rocking out than Casey's more subtle choice... and by sheer excitement alone will win over an audience it may not ordinarily have had.)

I really don't want *anyone* to go necessarily, as I kind of like most of them enough to want to see what they do next week.

But that is the yin and yang of Idol... and we're all just kinda along for the ride.

Thanks to Durbin (and no doubt Steven Tyler,) this year I can hear a lot of music that I wouldn't normally hear courtesy of American Idol.

For that I say...



Monday, April 11, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Eight Perform Music from the Movies

If I thought predicting *last* week's show was difficult, I really can't even begin to guess what the remaining top eight will choose for their song this week. With Pia gone, we can probably safely avoid:


and maybe even...

But then again... Jacob is still in the mix, so there's just no tellin' what he's going to sing.

As long as it's not:

I guess I can't complain much.

In fact, this week's theme is so wide open that I could almost narrow it down to songs I *don't* want to hear.

So here are a few of my soundtrack faves.

For James just about anything on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack could qualify. He could also do:


With his pipes I'd even let him take on Journey.

I really hope that Lauren doesn't do a repeat performance of:

I think I'd rather see her take on:

Or she could make my husband happy and sing something more upbeat like...

Haley could play to her strengths and do something suitably sex-kittenish with:

Paul could put his own unique spin on...

But somehow I suspect he might do something like...

Or he invoke the spirit of his doppleganger Kenny Loggins with:

(But for our sake let's hope he doesn't. I'm quite wary of what a Footloose Paul might actually look like.)

As a film student Casey probably knows all those obscure tunes we couldn't even think of. I can't even venture to GUESS what he might pull out of his hat this week. He could appeal to his Cougar base with:

There's a part of me that wants someone, anyone, to do my all time favorite soundtrack tune:

He could have fun with:

I can also see him doing something more old school:

Since Scotty already played his Elvis card, he can go back to his country roots with:

Or he could make my 80s country loving heart happy with...

As for Teflon Stefano (Steflano?), it really doesn't matter what he sings. He'll probably get the pimp spot (because I don't think he's been there yet.) And he'll get voted through yet another week because it appears he has a following that may put him in the bottom spot but can save him week after week.

At this point he's kind of earned:


So essentially anything goes. For that reason we should all be a little excited... but a little afraid as well.

It's like answering a call from an unfamiliar number.

It's either going to be the person you could only dream would be calling you, or it's going to be a bill collector.

I'm crossing everything that will cross and just hoping for the best.

Friday, April 8, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Nine Results: The Emancipation of Pia

After Wednesday's show it was hard to pin down who would be going home, so it comes as no surprise that it would have been a surprise to discover who that unlucky individual might be. However none of us saw it coming that a contestant considered a frontrunner, a fan favorite AND judge darling would be sent a'packing.

I was actually okay with the bottom three, even though it contained one of my personal favorites (Jacob.) I felt that of the performances the night before, these results were on target.

Stefano failed to really "bring it" the way I had hoped. I keep thinking that he hasn't fully defined his brand yet but I'm coming to the conclusion that his overblown, overdone style *is* - indeed - his brand.

Pia, though extremely talented, continued to bore me even with an uptempo number. To be fair I'm not really a big fan of big song divas anyway - and aside from a few choice songs have nothing much to do with the Mariahs and the Whitneys of the world.

So even if that piece of cheesecake is the best cheesecake on the planet, if you're lactose intolerant you're not going to order it.

(I do like Celine, but Pia is no Celine. She simply doesn't have the charisma, and I generally don't care for people who take themselves *too* seriously. Celine is a goof and a ham, which is what makes her fun to watch.)

I figured Jacob would end up in the bottom three for three very distinct reasons:

1. He went first. The curse of first has felled many a contestant, especially on nights where other finalists stepped it up and made their performance count.

2. There was nothing really special about his performance to make it overcome the curse of first.

3. His snarky, "If I end up in the bottom three," comment was unnecessary and off-putting. It's a little too early in the game to get that cocky, honey.

In fact when he rounded out the bottom three I grew concerned that his comment had been the kiss of death.

Instead he was sent to safety which left Pia standing alone with Stefano - which, of course, was writing on the wall for any long-time viewer of Idol. A dramatic TV moment was about to occur.

While I didn't personally care for Pia's style, I definitely didn't think it was time for her to go home. I figured she'd go all the way to the end like the equally talented but equally boring Carrie Underwood from Season 4. I was never a fan of Carrie because she, like Pia, had all the steak without the sizzle. Yeah she was good but there was nothing there to whet my appetite, and if you're going to earn a title like "Idol," you need that lil' sumthin-sumthin'.

Everyone likes to drive home that American Idol is a singing competition, but the show is not called American Singer. It's called American Idol.

It takes more than a great voice to be an Idol. Sure there are Idol type folks like Elvis, Prince, Freddie Mercury, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder or Mariah Carey who had or have great voices. But there are also those like - oh I dunno, spitballing here - Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, James Brown and Lady Gaga that all had *distinctive* voices with rock star swagger and marketing savvy to make up for the rest. There are also the Madonnas, Britney Spears and Justin Biebers of the world who make up for any vocal shortcomings with nifty marketing.

It takes star quality that sets one apart, and that is many times independent of the quality of the voice. A great voice in the style of someone else doesn't make you a star. I was lurking around the Idol message boards last night and someone made a comment that really kind of nailed it: Everyone can compare Pia to Celine all they want to, but there's already a Celine.

But I held out hope that if Pia had been open to the idea of stretching her wings and learning from the experience she could have grown like Carrie did and gone on to be quite successful in her own right.

It wasn't abandoning the ballads that did her in. Ballads were a safety zone for her that would have inevitably got her booted anyway for not bringing anything special to the table. Like I've said before, having a great voice and hitting those glory notes lose their effectiveness if that's all you're going to do week after week.

Personally I don't know how or why she went from front runner to castoff so quickly. It ultimately happens year after year, and there's really no rhyme or reason for it other than other folks - for whatever reason - are getting the votes to keep them in the game.

Which, by the way, I've decided to change Stefano's name to Teflon, because absolutely nothing sticks to this guy. He's not reaching or connecting with me the way I had hoped he would but he's definitely got a campaign to keep him in the game when some other folks who seemed to have more fans/judge support (Casey, Pia) get led to the chopping block. I almost felt sorry for him, he looked as though he was suffering through survivor's guilt.

Maybe her fans thought she was safe because the judges always heap loads of praise on her. Maybe by their assumption she'd be around a while it lulled her fans into a false sense of security.

Either way, what's done is done. Many are outraged the "save" was used on Casey but let's face it folks. This is the way Idol has always worked. Even if a save was employed she may not have made it to the finale anyway, it may have only saved her skin for a few more weeks at best. I'm still not convinced Casey will win after his fortuitous save, and I *like* Casey.

The good news is that these kids don't have to win. As Tony nominated Constantine proved last night, you can find your niche in the world even without the top title.

Which, btw... I liked his controversial version of "Unchained Melody" even though I know somewhere Simon Cowell was jabbing his eardrums out with an ice pick. And I know it makes some of you folks feel all dirty the way he "leers" at the camera but I have about six years worth of Constantine "leering," "smirking" and otherwise "mugging" to catch up on after I feel prey to it in Season 4.

I like it... I like him... and I thought it brought some "rock" to an otherwise Rock-Lite Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week. The only problem I had was his over-styled hair. I like the dirty rocker boy look as much as the next gal, but I want silky locks to run my fingers through.

Is this really so much to ask?

Another bone of contention: As much as I like Skynyrd, "Sweet Home Alabama" is not a group number. It's a rock jam. They should have gone with this:

In fact, "Rock" week had a severe lack of the Rolling Stones... so you know what that means. Time for another Artist Theme Week.

Maybe then James will sing "Paint it Black." (A girl can dream.)

Speaking of rock, Iggy Pop brought his shirtless and... unique... style to the Idol stage for the first time on elimination night.

Which... I just... I don't... I can't... um... yeah.

And that's all I have to say about that.

So to sum up... I'm not brokenhearted about Pia's departure. Shocked, sure, but it was bound to happen with this crop of hopefuls. And it's going to keep happening as more and more fan/judge favorites hit the road one by one in the coming weeks. No one, with the exception maybe of Scotty, is safe.

Let's all just take a deep breath and put it in perspective. Without Idol we wouldn't have known who Pia was - and thanks to her placement in the top 11 she will get to tour across the country this summer so her fans can still enjoy her as part of the Idol family.

Beyond that, she's now free to pursue new opportunities.

It's all good.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

American Idol Season 10 Top Nine Perform Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

I came into tonight with much trepidation, and I somehow suspected that the rock and roll music used to introduce the theme of the night (things like, go figure... Sweet Emotion) were, at best, misleading. This group, aside from James and *maybe* Casey are not rockers. Like we discussed on my wish list blog, there were hundreds of inductees and thousands of songs that could have been chosen to fit this particular theme. Since song choice remains a point of contention with me for our Season Ten finalists, I wasn't especially optimistic.

Overall it was a good show. These were solid performances that make it hard to pick which finalists will actually make the bottom three. The problem is I didn't *love* it. There's only one performance I was really excited about, but those I was looking forward to disappointed me and those who I didn't expect much from surprised me.

It was a weird night.

Jacob started out the night with a song change from the sexy Get Busy anthem "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye to the more noble "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson. Smart move - he ran the risk of being hokey and inauthentic with the Marvin Gaye classic. He did well because he generally always does well. But unlike Motown night he didn't blow me away. Being in the first position meant he had to and he just didn't make the impression I feel he needed to make. This could mean the first trip to the bottom three for our favorite male diva.

Haley actually picked one of the songs I wanted to see her sing with "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin. For the most part she gave me chills with her more authentic performance that I felt was a definite window inside the artist she truly wants to be. It's a performance where she abandoned the sex kitteny stuff for legitimate emotion AND her growl added to rather than detracted from the vocal. It fit, it made sense... but she also fights the tide going early in this show where other girls (especially fan favorites) maybe made more of an impression. If she does end up in the bottom three, it won't be because her performance wasn't good enough to keep her out. If anything, it'd be bad timing.

Casey returned to his roots by bringing out his bassy to deliver a more mellow version of CCR's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain." The only thing this performance was missing was a set of steel drums, an ocean breeze and a nice margarita. I loved how it felt Casey-fied, and I hope that his fans didn't mistake the praise he got as a reason to get lazy with the voting push to keep him out of the bottom three. He's obviously got a legion of fans who forgave such missteps as "Smells Like Teen Spirit," so I think his placement in the bottom three and possible elimination had little to do with his not having support. Last week proved his fans weren't willing to let him go. But they have to keep the momentum going, and we won't know until tomorrow if has.

Lauren took on some Aretha Franklin, which was quite ballsy of her. I had wanted her to avoid anything that required any real depth or emotion because she's a bit of the cotton candy of this bunch. To my surprise she did fairly well given the material she chose, and dug deep to deliver a performance that I never would have expected from her given her Idol journey thus far. Having done so she may be fresher in the memory of the voters than Haley, who simply had the misfortune of performing early on.

Admittedly I gave James a blank check this week to pick whatever song he wanted to sing. I guess I never expected a ballad, or else I might have advised against it. It seemed like a wasted opportunity. When else this season is he going to have access to the gritty rock stuff we've never seen on Idol before? I wanted something a little dark and sinister, like "Paint it Black" or something more theatrical like Alice Cooper. Instead I got treated to yet ANOTHER Beatles tune from James. And a slow one. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. He was my one chance to actually see some ROCK on R&RHOF night, and I felt somewhat cheated.


It was shrewd of him to lay himself bare and show another side of himself as a performer. While it was slow, it was still authentic to who he is and better yet - he got to do a song that meant something to him. You could feel that by the tender vocal performance that was far deeper and richer than his normal "glory" note. This gave him one of his best vocal performances of the season so far, and even though it was a ballad my ballad-hating hubby did NOT fast forward through it and - even more miraculous - even liked it.

I think it just adds another color to his palette that proves he's in this thing for the long haul. I wasn't sold on him before they hit the finals, but now he's a contestant I look forward to seeing every week. No one is as surprised by this as me, and it really kind of maybe makes me like him more.

Like I had wanted, Scotty picked an Elvis song. Unlike the one I chose for him (a ballad) he decided to do something more uptempo and ran the very real risk of being hokey or corny by digging up some kind of half-baked Elvis imitation. He's still quite green as a performer and that manifests itself in awkward ticks, which he fell prey to as he attempted to bring a little rock to the stage. I thought it sounded great, but he has some work to do in order to refine his performance. Having said that, Scotty has a pretty staunch fan base that consistently keeps him in the top three over on the Dial Idol prediction site. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't make it to the top three, especially since he attempts to grow each week.

Pia came through on her promise to sing "River Deep, Mountain High." It was uptempo, it was a song I loved... but imagine my surprise when I was still *bored* by her... I guess it was a performance? I didn't buy it and it made me miss BOTH Celine and Tina Turner. Pia sings. She sings amazingly well. But when it comes to a performance she still has a lot to learn - which might be why she opts for the safer ballad route. She's safe, because her fans aren't going to let her go anywhere, but if she goes back to the ballads and stops pushing herself and following JLo's very astute and needed advice, she's not doing herself any favors to become the artist she wants to be.

American Idol is a turbo-charged training ground that she needs to utilize to the fullest, or else she'll fall the wayside just like the other wannabe divas who came before her.

When I heard that Stefano wanted to do a "romantic" song I immediately knew we were going to be "treated" to yet another ballad on a night when I wanted to see how people could rock. Or at least do pop. Then of course he does the almost hackneyed "When a Man Loves a Woman," so I immediately know he's going to make it all Broadway; overblown and overdone.

To my surprise he started out the performance the way I have been *begging* him to do. A spotlight... and just his voice tenderly singing a song to the millions of women just waiting for him to live up to the potential of his good looks. But of course he had to go and "Stefano" it and blew his chance to make it really, truly special. This performance lands him in my bottom three. He just doesn't have the "it" factor like some of the other performers, and I think that will be his undoing in the very near future... if not this week then at least before the top 7.

Paul took the pimp spot with a rousing version of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." I have long been on the fence with Paul. I love his voice, but watching him perform can be a bit of a train wreck. He's either spastic or inappropriately cheerful, and the best I could hope for was that he would put an instrument in front of him and otherwise occupy his nervous energy so I wouldn't be subjected to the discomfort of watching him flail about the stage.

I was even more concerned with Jimmy and Will.i.Am both advised him to sing the song like he was out of his mind - which I felt might have been like putting a match to a powder keg when it comes to the near manic style we've seen thus far from Paul.

Imagine my surprise when Paul gave me THE performance of the night. For the first time since we started I felt like I saw who he really was as a performer and I enjoyed everything about it. It was authentic and "right in his lane." He involved the crowd, which I love, and most important he had FUN. THIS is how you perform. This is what I want to pay money to see.

I can hear anyone sing on the radio... but when it comes to a concert I want to see a *show.* Thanks to Paul, I think this year's Idol tour could be just that - and it doesn't have to just rest on the shoulders of the more seasoned and interesting James and Casey.

So... picking the bottom three at this point is a coin toss. No one had a performance *worthy* of the bottom three (unless you count Stefano, and that was only by a hair.)

All I can hope is that my Jacob and Casey can escape the bottom three or going home altogether.

But I'm worried. I won't lie.

Only elimination night knows for sure... and I hear that Constantine will be making an appearance. That fangirly squee you hear resonating from Texas will be from me.

So get out your earplugs and wrap your crystal. That's the only warning you're going to get.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

American Idol Top Nine Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Wish List

I almost hesitantly do this blog given how badly things went awry during EJ night and how wide-the-EFF-open the next theme night happens to be.

Yes, I realize that I did kind of step into it by asking for a theme night not centered on any one artist. Lesson learned... be careful what you ask for.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame began inducting members as far back as 1986 and the choices are as varied as you can imagine. Good news for folks like Scotty there are some country icons available like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, and I wouldn't even *know* where to start with James given the wide range of actual rockers available.

Though Journey remains to be snubbed by the R&RHOF, other favorites of mine made the list. Bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Who, the Eagles, ABBA and Fleetwood Mac join folks like Rod Stewart, Prince and Bob Seger on this rather comprehensive list of available artists that span the past six decades.

This one is going to be fairly hard to call and I'd be lucky to hit the broad side of a barn picking a specific artist much less a song.

But I'm up to the challenge. So here we go.

First up is Pia... who sealed her fate by promising to do "River Deep, Mountain High." Since Ike & Tina were inductees I likely would have picked this singer's song with a trademark "wall of sound" for our balladeer anyway. After years of going to drag shows I have a preference for the Celine Dion version - which has the kind of impressive vocal performance Pia will be shooting for anyway.

Truthfully, this is the only song that she could sing that has even a remote chance of winning me back at this point.

The great thing about R&RHOF week is that for the Idols who have already demonstrated to us who they are it's a lil easier to pick the songs I would like them to sing... even if I'm not completely sold on them yet. Such is the case of Haley.

The two songs I wanted to give Lauren (one because of it being remade later into a country hit) I ended up having to give back to Haley because they just fit her better.

I mean... after the Janis comparison we've heard from Steven - how could we not give her a Janis tune? Although "Me & Bobby McGee" is my favorite, I can see Haley doing her gravely, growly thing through:

Another where she could strut her sexy stuff and it fit appropriately:

I ended up giving Lauren Bonnie Raitt. But not just ANY Bonnie Raitt. Just like "Candle in the Wind" was the deal-breaker last week, anyone who sings "I Can't Make You Love Me" this week - especially given the wealth of great songs they could have chosen - will get an automatic zero.

Instead I think Lauren should return to the fun with:

I also can see her being impish and young with something like:

James can pretty much do whatever he wants from this particular theme. Acts like AC/DC, Metallica, Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper alone open the possibilities up endlessly. I'm going to follow the advice I gave to Jimmy last week and let the man just do his thing with one caveat:

I think he should go out of his way to break away from the Adam Lambert comparison by avoiding songs that Adam did on Idol. This includes:


Other than that, I'm pretty well open. (And I'm actually pretty excited to see what he does next.)

For Jacob I think he needs to go back and dig out those old rock and roll roots with serious gospel ties. I know this one has been done before on Idol but I think Jacob is significantly signature in his style he can pull it off:

And my own personal favorite that just makes me happy whenever I hear it... which is why I want to hear Jacob put his own spin on it:

Paul is another very stylized performer this season, and I'd like to see him do something that sets him apart from the very obvious comparison to Rod Stewart. A song I think he could pull off:

In fact, I think I'd even give him:

As one of our more eclectic and unpredictable finalists, Casey could literally do *anything*. I may end up giving him the same carte blanche I gave James.

Although... wouldn't mind seeing him do something like...

This could be Scotty's week in that he can show us his stuff with an Elvis tune (which I've been waiting for since we learned he was an Elvis enthusiast.) The urge might be strong to allow him to "perform," but I think he should play to his strength - and his female fans - with a love song that fits his country vibe.

Another option, take the Dylan tune that has been made by artists like Adele and, most notably for this Idol, Garth Brooks:

We know it's been cleared for Idol in the past, but again I think Scotty is fairly stylized that he can put his own unique spin on it without making it a karaoke version of someone else.

Speaking of...

I have no idea what Stefano will sing because I really have no sense of him as an artist yet (which I think is what bugs me most.) This is probably where the rubber meets the road and gives him that final chance to show us what makes him stand apart, other than being just another good looking guy with a good voice.

(And can I say I thought his performance with the guys on elimination night was one of his better performances? Get that boy behind an instrument more often!)

Since he's got that kind of Broadway show tunes thing going for him I kinda want to see him do something like...

As you can see, the possibilities are endless - both to have a really great, exciting show, or yet another ballad heavy snoozefesty dud.

I'm going to try my best to stay optimistic and say I'm cautiously looking forward to Wednesday.

**fingers crossed**

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Giveaway! It's Hipster Cool for the Ustream Crew

This month's giveaway is dedicated to the faithful crew who attend Hal Sparks' Ustream broadcasts each week. It's hip, it's fun and it includes some of the things that make hanging out twice a week so great.

First, of course, is our host Hal Sparks. He's an actor. He's a comedian. He's a radio host. But he's also a pretty awesome musician/singer/songwriter. His band, Zero 1, came out with an independently produced self titled CD in 2007 that features such fan favorites as "Mad Season," "Pretty Parasite," "Indian Summer" and "She Waits."

You can download the tunes via Amazon and iTunes, but in this prize package you will receive the Zero 1 CD (which you can take to a show and have Hal sign,) valued at $7.99.

One of Hal's favorite companies is Threadless - a Chicago based company that pioneered the concept of "crowdsourcing". Threadless allows artists to submit their designs and the community votes on those to list for sale. Hal can regularly be seen sporting these hip, cool T-shirts during his Ustream broadcasts and always promotes their product as a company he can believe in.

A special about Threadless on MSNBC from on Vimeo.

This prize package contains a $25 Threadless gift certificate so you can have a hipster cool T-shirt for your very own.

Though it hasn't been released yet in paperback, my novel "Comic Squad" is a fun and adventurous romp that really is the baby conceived by Mr. Geevie and myself. It mixes our sometimes quirky humor along with a story I really feel means something, the theme being everyone can be their own hero. I wrote the story before I joined the Hal Sparks community all those years ago, but rewrote it with the inspiration to include a significant part for Hal himself that would take the character from a Zero to a Hero over the course of the book.

When this book becomes available for sale by the end of April it will be priced at $10.99, and you will get an autographed copy of "Comic Squad" by *both* Steven and me.

Don't let its being listed as a kids book throw you. It was written with the same kind of vibe of 80s kids movies I grew up watching (although, ironically, it was not based on Monster Squad, since I never saw that back in the day.) I tried to infuse the fun, the humor and the heart of the late, great John Hughes in a tale that could reach out to the kid in all of us. Anyone who has read a comprehensive list of my work will tell you "Comic Squad" is their favorite. (And probably a welcome reprieve if you've taken on the heavier task of reading the dark drama "Dirty Little Secrets.")

You can read a sample chapter here.

Exclusive to the paperback is the first chapter to the next book in the series, which gives you a little extra sumthin'sumthin. ;)

Rounding out this prize package is a $20 Barnes and Noble Gift eCard - where you can now buy my titles for your Nook.

This brings your total prize package to over $60.00. (Special thanks to Mary and to Linnea for their suggestions. :) )


For each comment below your name will be entered into the drawing. For additional entries, link this blog on your Twitter using the hashtag #geevietakeson #giveaway. For Facebook entries, become a fan on my official fan page and leave a comment on this wall posting.

Your name will be entered for each entry method, and you can enter as many times as you'd like all throughout the month. The entry cutoff date is April 29, 2011.

The drawing will be held live via my Ustream channel on April 30th.

Thanks for playing and good luck!