American Idol, 2009 – Episode 34 (4/29/09)

April 29, 2009

Idol LogoGreetings all, and welcome to tonight’s results show. Spoilers will be live-blogged below the fold once the show begins.

A couple of quick announcements before I log my predictions.

MJ, of MJ’s Big Blog, was the subject of a nice profile in the Boston Globe this week. MJ is apparently very modest, because she didn’t even highlight it on her site, sticking it below the fold in one of her Idol Headlines posts.

For those of you not familiar, MJ’s Big Blog has the most complete Idol coverage that I’ve seen on the Web. If she doesn’t cover it herself, she links to it. I try to avoid spoilers, so it’s verboten to me Monday and Tuesday, but I read it religiously from Tuesday after the show all the way through the weekend. If you’re looking for Idol coverage beyond show recaps, this is your starting place. Check it out. Congratulations to MJ for the much-deserved recognition.

Meanwhile, the folks at Vote for the Worst have launched their second annual charity auction, benefiting the American Cancer Society. See here for details on the items for auction (some great stuff) and information on how to bid or donate.

With all of that out of the way:

Who Should be in the Bottom Two

  1. Danny Gokey. Yet another phoned-in performance. He’s taking this for granted. Don’t let him get away with it.
  2. Matt Giraud. Long past his sell-by date.

Who Will be in the Bottom Two

  1. Matt Giraud. I think everyone recognizes that it’s time for him to go.
  2. Kris Allen. Doesn’t deserve it, but an opening slot and vote-splitting with Matt will put him here anyway.

I think they’ll only do a bottom two with just five contestants, but on the off chance they do a bottom three, throw Kris in the should-be category and Allison in the will-be category.

Poll results, live-blogging, and spoilers below the fold once the show starts at 8:00 Central.

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American Idol Power Rankings: 4/28/09

April 29, 2009

Idol LogoThe top three remain firmly entrenched, and while an Adam versus Allison final seems too much to ask for at this point, an Adam versus Kris final may be possible.

At the bottom–Matt or Danny? Danny or Matt? Tough one there. I didn’t like either of them last night but disliked Matt’s ultra-boring “My Funny Valentine” slightly more than Gokey’s needlessly bombastic “Come Rain or Come Shine,” but not enough to drop him below the lazy Gokey, who hasn’t developed since the contest began and who does not appear to be trying.

  1. Adam Lambert. Last night’s performance was probably his worst to date, but he’s so good, his worst isn’t very bad.
  2. Allison Iraheta. A big, big comeback right when she needed it the most. A superb performance, possibly her best of the year, will hopefully keep her in this thing for one more week.
  3. Kris Allen. If it can’t be Allison in the final, it should be Kris. He’s been remarkably consistent and, unlike Matt or Danny, understands the value of subtlety.
  4. Matt Giraud. At least he’s trying.
  5. Danny Gokey. While he may possess the raw talent to be a better singer than Matt or Kris, he is making no effort to develop that talent. Taking plays off got Randy Moss sent to the Hell that is the Oakland Raiders. It ought to get Gokey sent home.

Former Housemate Mike sends his reflections and rankings.

  1. Allison Iraheta. Best of the night. She showed something really strong tonight that made me seriously doubt Simon’s comments, which rarely happens. Great arrangement, great vocals. I’m still not entirely sure why she’s not considered more of a contender.
  2. Adam Lambert. Really good moments in this performance, but I was only occasionally blown away. I think he has set a different standard for himself, which, though awesome, might be a deterrent in the long run. He was like a musical James Bond villain tonight which is a compliment and insult at the same time. I really want him to do Skid Row. I’ll leave it at that.
  3. Danny Gokey. I really liked him tonight. I think this is the second time with him that I have gone against my general rule of being annoyed by those who only do good in the second half. But his second half was SO good. I saw a roughness in his voice I’ve never heard, and I’m still cool with Gokey.
  4. Kris Allen. This part was tough for me. I thought Kris was the worst of the night. That being said, I thought he was VERY good. I still don’t see anything but hollowness in him, and tonight was the case in point. He was good and sweet and had a GREAT song choice. I thought he was very bland tonight. He’s fortunate I have a vendetta against number 5.
  5. Matt Giraud. I really liked Matt tonight. I ranked him number two of the night after Allison. I really liked his phrasing and dedication to the theme of the night. That all being said, I still don’t think it’s good enough to cover the eggs he’s laid recently. He actually made me like Kris. And, this week, Matt was way better than Kris. But Matt wasted too much time. He still, to me, squandered being saved. Matt will lose this week, and it’s a shame. I think both he and Anoop should have outlasted Kris. Call me crazy, I appreciate substance. But I also appreciate consistent execution.

My Wedding Dance Song

April 29, 2009

So it’s done.  Over.  Finito.  I am officially a married man (sorry, ladies!), and the wedding was a pretty darned good time, if I do say so myself.  One thing that was very difficult for me was picking out a song for the dreaded first dance with my new bride in front of family and friends.  I even wrote a post several months back looking for suggestions for a good song.  Gordon was the only one who responded with a good but not very danceable Johnny Cash song, so I was forced to continue the search on my own.

I was looking for something unconventional and different.  Basically, I didn’t want to dance to a crappy country song or a tired old standard that we’ve all heard a thousand times before.  The toughest part is that I hate cheese, and my music collection is largely devoid of love songs.  I combed through some of my favorite Motown hits (Stevie, Smokey, Marvin), the Beach Boys, Ray Lamontagne, Jack Johnson, and nothing seemed to fit.  Too cheesy.

Then I stumbled upon a song by Ben Folds, whom I have never been a big fan of, and it really seemed to work for me.  Yes, it’s absolutely cheesy, but the lyrics really related to some strong feelings that my new bride and I share about each other, so after much arguing, deliberating, more arguing, wine, beer, and yet more arguing, we settled on this one.  It’s a pretty, simple, and meaningful pop tune, and it communicates one simple truth:  she makes me feel like the luckiest man on earth.   And she doesn’t even read this blog, so I’m not just kissing her ass!

Ben Folds – “The Luckiest”

P.S.  One song I really love is “This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies, and that one was considered, but it was a little bouncier than what I was looking for.  I did use the song for a slide show at the rehearsal dinner though.  God, what a great song!

The Zombies – “This Will Be Our Year”


American Idol 2009: Jason’s Episode 33 Recap

April 28, 2009

So I’m finally back from the Caribbean, and I’m a bit sad about that.  As of last night, I got all caught up on the last two weeks of Idol thanks to the magic of DVR.  First of all, why the hell would the judges waste their one save of Matt Giraud, a consistently underwhelming performer?  Second, thank god Lil Rounds is finally gone!  She was the only one more deserving to go home than Matt.  Third, sorry to see Anoop go so soon, but his exit was inevitable due to his miring himself down in the cheesy ballad category.

Now, on to this week’s episode!

The theme this week was songs of the Rat Pack era.  I find it incredibly irritating that the judges always rail on people for not being current, but they consistently have these theme weeks that force contestants to dip into the past.  I would like to see Idol abandon the theme weeks and let these contestants pick whatever they want.  Really, how are you going to know what kind of artist someone is going to be if you force feed them the same tired old crap every week?

Also, before getting to the performances, Jamie Foxx has zero to do with the Rat Pack.  He has never played Sammy Davis, Jr. (or Sinatra or Martin or Lewis, or Bishop), and the closest thing that qualifies him is his overrated impression of Ray Charles that inexplicably won him an Oscar.  That said, he actually seemed to give the Idols real musical advice, unlike any of the other musicians that have mentored this season, so hats off to him for that.

Kris Allen:  Kris sings “The Way You Look Tonight,” and he gives it a fairly straightforward interpretation.  He sings it pretty well, but something about the performance was boring for me.  When you bear in mind that the song has been recorded by Sinatra and Tony Bennett, Kris’s version pales in comparison and comes off instead as a whiny, white bread, boy band take.  I kind of kept hoping that Zombie Sinatra would rise from the grave and smack him upside the head, grab the mic, say, “You gotta love livin’, baby, ’cause dyin’ is a pain in the ass,” and then show this little pipsqueak how the pros do this number.  Long live Zombie Sinatra!

Allison Iraheta:  Singing “Someone To Watch Over Me,” Allison actually takes a big risk by stepping out of her rock comfort zone.  The risk pays off, and Allison nails the song with a sensitivity, vulnerability, and even a little sultry smokiness that a girl of seventeen should be mentally and emotionally incapable of pulling off.  Compare this performance to anything by Jordin Sparks or David Archuleta, and Allison absolutely freaking blows away both of those teenagers from Idol’s past.  What does this mean?  She’s probably going home.

Matt Giraud:  Matt really needs to be gone already.  I’m still pissed about that save.  Tonight he sings “My Funny Valentine,” and he does the song no justice.  The performance has its good moments, but overall, it was flat, out of tune, and annoying.   If Allison gets kicked off before Matt, there is no justice in this world.

Danny Gokey:  Danny is another one who has worn out his welcome with me.  He is consistently lazy with his performances, sleepwalking through the verse of every song he sings and relying on the power choruses to bail him out every time.  Tonight we hear his rendition of “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” and Gokey makes a major misstep.  He strains extra hard to give the second part of the song extra emotion and soul, but he ends up just shouting and growling the whole thing.  The result?  He sounds like he ate Michael Bolton whole, and now he is trying to crap him out, with the combined pained screaming of Danny Gokey and a half-digested Michael Bolton culminating in a shitty mess.  Sorry, that was a bit overwrought, but Gokey sucks.  How the judges liked that is a mystery to me.

Adam Lambert:  Last up is Adam doing his take on “Feeling Good,” a song that has been done to death on Idol.  He starts out with what sounds like the arrangement by My Brightest Diamond from the recent Dark Was The Night compilation, but it morphs into something wholly Adam.  I remember the first time I heard Shara Worden’s version, I thought to myself, “The next Idol needs to listen to her version for an example of how to do this song right, then they need to pick another song, because they are not topping this.”  Lambert did his thing, and it was interesting to watch, but I don’t think it was better than the source material.  His last note was pretty amazing, though.  The kid’s got some vocal control, that’s for sure.

So who’s in the bottom three?  I think the bottom three will be Allison, Matt, and Danny, with Matt getting the boot if there is any justice left in this world.

Bonus - Here’s My Brightest Diamond’s version of “Feeling Good”:


American Idol, 2009 – Episode 33 (4/28/09)

April 28, 2009

Idol LogoA touch late on the “live” blog due to unforeseen circumstances, but I’m here now and I’ll beat the west coast feed, anyway.

After the deserved elimination of Lil Rounds and the undeserved elimination of Anoop Desai, we’re down to our top five.

The theme is “The Rat Pack,” which essentially just means jazz standards, as between the five members (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop) they’ve likely hit most of them. How will this go? I’m not going to lie–I think she can do it but I’m a bit nervous about Allison, who’s one of my favorites.

All of the remaining males, with the possible exception of Matt Giraud, are likely fine.

Let’s get on with it! Spoilers, plus our weekly best/worst poll, below the fold.

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An open letter to Universal Music Group

April 25, 2009

busted

Dear Universal Music Group:

I am the proprietor of a music blog (ondeafears.com). We have a small but (I hope) devoted following–in April 2009 we have averaged over 800 hits per day.

Yesterday I published a post entitled “The Best of Music of 1980,” which is exactly what it sounds like–I highlighted the very best albums of that year.

One of the albums I highlighted was by a band called Blue Angel. I was excited to be able to draw attention to this band, because their self-titled and only album is unknown except for to the most hardcore record collector. This is an unjust fate, not only because it is a terrific album, but also because it is at least somewhat historically important as the first appearance on record of future pop star Cyndi Lauper.

The album was out of print for twenty-five years before being brought back into print by Hip-O Select, a label for collectors, in a limited edition of 5,000 copies in early 2005. I bought one, but in the ensuing four years, they have failed to sell the remaining 4,999. The album deserves better.

The reason no one is buying the album is because almost nobody has heard a single thing off it. I wanted to change that, so I planned on highlighting a song from the album, “Fade.” I made an amateur video and uploaded it to YouTube, intending to embed it in my blog post.

When I went to embed the video, I found that YouTube had blocked it at your request.

It’s your content, and your right to block it. However, this strikes me as counterproductive. Almost no one has heard Blue Angel, and almost no one can hear Blue Angel. I can tell people all day long what a great album this is, but no one is going to buy it based upon my say-so. But I think many would if they could hear a song or two. Sites like YouTube and blogs like mine are the only places that could happen. No one is going to play Blue Angel on the radio. If a video even exists, MTV is not going to play it.

There are no official Universal Music Group videos for Blue Angel at YouTube. However, if there were, I couldn’t showcase them at my blog anyway, because all Universal Music Group songs at YouTube have embedding disabled. This baffles me–how does it protect your copyright to force people to go to YouTube rather than viewing the exact same thing embedded in the context of a positive review on a site such as mine?

My suggestions are as follows:

  • Enable people like me to embed videos from Universal Music Group on blogs and other websites.
  • If an official Universal Music Group video for a song does not exist, create an easy way for people like me to request permission to create a fan video. Require that the video highlight that the music is copyright Universal Music Group so there will be no question who owns the rights.

I am a lover of music, and when something is unjustly obscure, I want to promote it. I want the whole world to run out and buy this wonderful album that has brought me such joy. There are thousands of people out there like me, who want to help deserving music, some of it owned by Universal Music Group, reach a larger audience.

If you will give us the tools to showcase your songs, artists, and albums, I believe it would be beneficial both for your business and for music lovers all over the world.

Please consider this. Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Gordon Winslow
On Deaf Ears
ondeafears.com
gordon@ondeafears.com


The Best Music of 1980

April 24, 2009

All Music Guide recently posted their retrospective on the music of 1980. The further back these retrospectives go, the more albums that I missed or just never got around to purchasing are brought to my attention (I don’t own The River, for the love of Mike!). You may find some music to explore in the article as well, so read the whole thing, definitely including the comments.

I’ve made my own list, as I did with their 1993 retrospective. This time I’ll make a few comments.

Classic or Near-classic

The Clash – London Calling. Technically released at the tail end of 1979, but generally considered an ’80s album. There are more classics on this album than most albums have songs. A strong contender for greatest album ever made.

Joy Division – Closer. A perfectly realized masterpiece.

Blue Angel – Blue Angel. It’s easy to understand why this album landed Cyndi Lauper a solo contract. It’s not easy to understand why so few people have heard this terrific album. I plan a write-up on this in the near future.

Prince – Dirty Mind. Worst cover art in history, but a great album that includes the masterful “When You Were Mine,” later covered memorably by Cyndi Lauper. Plus, dude nails his sister! How fucked up is that?

Gang of Four – Entertainment! Technically 1979, but Rolling Stone had it in its top albums of the ’80s, so I’m guessing it didn’t come to the Colonies until then.

X – Los Angeles. Fucked-up rockabilly that sounds like nothing before or since (except for a couple other X albums).

AC/DC – Back in Black. Yes, I’m sick of it, too, but are you going tell me it doesn’t belong here? Are you going to tell Angus?

The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms. Would someone please get this record back in print?

Public Image Ltd.Metal Box/Second Edition. Again, I think 1979, but again, I think it was releases Stateside in 1980 as it was, again, in Rolling Stone‘s best of the 80s list.

Pretty Damned Great

Dire Straits – Making Movies. Just short of classic, with some classic songs. “Skateaway” gives me goosebumps.

Barbra Streisand – Guilty. The album has only her name on it, but that’s Barry Gibb standing next to her on the cover, and it’s just as much his album–he wrote it, produced it, duets on three songs, and (with his brothers) sings backup throughout. The gorgeous “Woman in Love” is just one of the expertly-crafted pop songs that fill this album.

Motörhead – Ace of Spades. The thundering title classic would be enough to get this album remembered, but it’s got a lot more where that one came from.

Teena Marie – Irons in the Fire. She has never gotten the respect she deserves as critics have mostly ignored the oddity of a white singer who sold a large percentage of her records to a black audience. On her third album, she asserts herself by writing and producing the whole thing for the first, but not last, time.

Honorable Mention

Warren Zevon – Stand in the Fire. Including a live album in the above sections didn’t seem quite right, but this rowdy set needed to be mentioned somewhere.

The Clash – Sandinista! This three-record mess has too much great material to leave out entirely.

The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry. I haven’t heard it in ages, but I know a lot of the songs by heart.

David Bowie – Scary Monsters. My copy was stolen and I haven’t replaced it yet. I recall loving a lot of it, being iffy on some. I’d like to hear it again before ranking it properly.

Below the fold!

A 1980 YouTube mixtape including some of the above. Just for you! ♥♥♥!

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