Category Archives: American Idol

Just because I feel like it

Wow, I have not blogged in ages.

Not because life is not interesting – more because of laziness, or facebook…. oh  I really don’t have any suitable excuse.

But – I’m baaack…

The top 10 things since September – September?!

1) The screenplay is being read by 4 film production companies in Britain (one is bigtime). I have been on a query frenzy. A few people lit a fire under me – get that out there – now! My father being one of them. He so wants this movie made. Me too, dad!

2) I have been dieting. It is working, yay! I will get into my skinny jeans any day now. Anyone remember the old Scarsdale diet? I haven’t eaten this much grapefruit in my whole life.

3) Before the diet, we joined friends on a weekend eating frenzy in D.C.  Dim Sum at Mark’s Duck House. Peking Duck at Peking Gourmet in Falls Church. Yeah, a lot of duck – doesn’t it look good, though?

Oh, and there was the 9 course (9!) dinner at the chef’s table at Tosca. In the kitchen. Spectacular food. But way too much.

4) Got a museum fix. The Gaugin exhibit at the National Gallery. The new News Museum. Go there! You can read the news off a teleprompter, have it displayed on the TV monitor above, and cringe. It was fun – but none of us opted to buy it for 5 bucks.

5) We have been going to the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD at a local theater. It is fantastic. (Also it is fantastic to be the youngest person in the theater – but I digress.) What is cool is that during intermissions you see the backstage machinations – (one unaware stagehand guy said “fuck” – and this is live – oops). And Renee Fleming and Placido Domingo interviewed the stars backstage. You don’t get this at the opera house. Check it out – Met Opera Live in HD in theaters near you!

6) I have been way too invested in this year’s season of American Idol. So glad it is almost over, so now I can watch “The Voice” – which has better talent and better judges.  Because this season, AI voters got rid of the only good one – Haley Reinhart.  Despite my voting like a ninja. She was awesome doing Zep, and her father plays a mean guitar.

7) I bought 2  limited edition Murikami lithos on eBay. From Japan. Before the nuclear disaster. 

Takashi Murakami "Me and Mr. DOB"

 

8 )  We finally hung the Murikami’s last week. 

9) I am watching a deer munch on grass in my backyard.

10) I am so waiting to see the new Woody Allen film – “Midnight in Paris.” It is supposed to be his best film in 10 years.

Are zebra print jackets offensive?

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Casey James and Crystal Bowersox – American Idol tour stars

Okay, perhaps I am not objective going in, but I have watched virtually all of the American Idol tour on youtube this weekend, and the stars are….

Yeah, you read that title.

If you, like me, are not going to see the American Idols Live tour in person this year, here are some of the best performances from the tour that I have seen so far…

Casey James – “Don’t.” Watch for the guitar switch mid-song. USA Today reports that Casey used 6 guitars for 5 songs.

Casey James – “I Got Mine.” Bluesy rock guitar jam.

Crystal Bowersox singing one of my favorite songs – “What’s Going On?”

Tells you who really should have won American Idol, huh?

Did American Idol sabotage Casey James?

The answer is undeniably – Yes.

I have watched American Idol since season 2. Through the years, I have noticed that the producers and the judges have their favorites, and try to control the outcome of America’s votes by swaying the opinion of the audience in a variety of ways. The way the producers paint the contestants’ back stories and backstage (and hometown visit) footage. The questions Ryan asks the contestants. The judges’ pronouncements during various TV interviews of who will be in the finale – before America has voted. The dishonest, subjective, often meandering or nonsensical judgments of performances.

In the case of Casey James, often there was no judgment of his performance at all. From day one, the producers and judges have painted Casey James as “the pretty boy who cannot really sing but plays okay guitar.” The producers and the judges continued this story-line throughout the competition, reinforcing it every chance they got.

It started during his audition, when Kara – purported singing competition judge – asked him to unbutton his shirt. If Casey were a woman, there would have been cries of sexual harassment across the country.

When Casey did a quite good rendition of “Mrs. Robinson” in “movie song” week, there was no critique of his performance, there were jokes about an older woman, younger guy (Kara and Casey?) – ha ha.

When they showed the edited footage of the top three’s (Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox, and Casey James) hometown visits, pains were taken to show mostly shots of women cooing and screaming at Casey. The one TV or radio interview question they aired, out of all the questions he was asked, was “Do you have a girlfriend?”

There was absolutely no footage of his performances at home, the performances that show him to be the real entertainer that he is, a blues guitarist and singer with exceptional talent that could not be boiled down to 90 second performances of pre-selected pop music. [One can’t do a guitar riff if one has only 90 seconds and part of that has to be singing.] But. The producers showed footage of Crystal singing on her home visit. They upped the ante for Lee’s home visit (Lee is the new chosen one, after the producers have decided that Crystal, the resident “hippy,” is too polarizing and may not sell as many records.) Not only did they show Lee singing, they gave his footage a soundtrack – “The Boxer” – that is the American Idol story of a poor boy leaving home – leading into Lee’s actual performance of the song. If that’s not stacking the deck, I do not know what is.

If they had shown Casey’s performances in his hometown visit, safe from the judges’ critiques, not squashed into 90 seconds – just Casey at a hometown bar playing some awesome blues with a look of pure joy on his face…

America would have seen this.

And this.

American Idol did not want to show this to America. Because it would undermine their top-two decision and the story they have built about Casey James all season long.

Because the “pretty boy” plays a mean guitar and he can indeed sing.

Back

I have absolutely no excuse for not blogging in 2 months. None of interest anyway. But – I’m back.

And so is, after an indeterminable dry spell, Clay Aiken.

I had begun to lose interest until I found out about Clay’s one-night show scheduled for March 12. My interest slowly gained after tickets went on sale but I did not buy them until after experiencing an excruciating 20 minute “I Shot the Sheriff” guitar riff by Eric Clapton at Madison Square Garden. [I had gone with husband and a friend. ]

The next morning, I ordered Clay Aiken tickets. Payback? Perhaps.

Clay’s show highlighted “Tried and True”, his soon-to-be-released CD , which was taped by PBS for airing sometime this summer. And man, was this a production.

So, we get to the concert hall (nice place – Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh), and we wait in the packed lobby and I notice we are standing next to a cute guy talking to a middle-aged woman. Hmm, I have seen this guy’s picture before. He is thin, he has a head of curly black hair… I nudge husband, whisper “That’s Clay’s boyfriend!”  Husband says “No, that is some guy on a date with a cougar.”

Um. No. People start coming up to him to take pictures and get his autograph. It is the boyfriend, Reed, and the cougar is his mother. Ha. 

Anyway, we finally go upstairs to our top left corner balcony seats – Ticketmaster’s “best available” – and it does not take long to realize that we had been had. No way were these the best available, the balcony was virtually empty, and the sides downstairs were only half full. The usher that approached me to see if my binoculars were a not-allowed camera said he was surprised because he had heard the concert had been sold out.

Something went  awry with ticket sales to this show. I am still pondering – what. Unsold broker tickets? Clay fans throwing away balcony tickets for better seats? Whatever it was, the concert started late because the staff was trying to move people to fill the side seats.  We moved to the front center section of the balcony, where the TV camera crane no longer obscured our view. 

Finally, the stage lights up in an array of color. Purple, gold, pink.

The orchestra swelled.

And there is Clay, his back to us. The crowd cheers. And he turns to face the audience. And opens his mouth to sing. “Mack the Knife?”

He looked great. He was thin, his hair looked good. His suit was a tad too shiny, and a tad too baggy. [Not sure who dressed him, but velvet is just not right.] 

His voice was amazing. He used his lower register like it should be used – smooth and deep and chill-inducing. Now I knew why I came to this show, now I remembered what I did not know I was missing. Wow.

He sang the songs from his new CD, which has a Johnny Mathis vibe. Old songs from the 60’s era. Beautiful melodic songs I had not heard in forever. Moon River [which, by the way, Clapton did in his concert as well, what is this Moon River resurgency?]  It’s Impossible. [Yes, that is Perry Como, but I don’t care, he wrapped his voice around this one, it was amazingly good.] Unchained Melody [off the charts fantastic!] The Beatles’ “In My Life.” “Misty.”

There was a surprise guest …… Ruben Studdard!  Ruben sounded great, and looked great, he lost over 100 lbs. They will be performing together this summer.

The best thing about a concert that is being taped for TV? Do-overs! After the show ended, Clay was instructed by the music director to redo 4 songs. We got to hear them again, yay!

 It was a great night. I have only one nagging regret, that we did not wait outside for him after the show. I figured, there are no buses [this is in his hometown, this is not a “tour”], so we just left. I was wrong. He came out and shook hands, so I hear.

Oh well, I guess I am just gently dipping my toe back into the whole Clay scene.

It was well worth it.

Maybe next time…

[photo by Jim R. Bounds, AP]

Missing Clay

If there is one thing Clay Aiken sings best, it is Christmas.

I am SO missing those Clay Christmas concerts [that I dragged my husband to.] The one in Washington DC (where I won a meet and greet, yay!) The one in NYC. Another one in Morristown NJ.

I guess this will have to do.

[BTW, there are 2 Clay Aiken Christmas albums, one is “Merry Christmas with Love,” the other is a short EP “All is Well.” They are superb.]

Media overload

I have been watching a lot of movies and listening to a lot of music over the past few days.

Music first.

I am disappointed in the Adam Lambert album, For Your Entertainment.  [I am/was a huge Adam lambert fan, btw.]  And not because he acted like an immature a-hole at the AMA awards. [Smack. You are not Madonna yet, Adam, you need to earn your stripes before attempting shock-value.]  Many of the songs on the album have similar beats that blend into each other. Only 3 songs stand out as good to me – and that is because they showcase his voice.

This is the best song – in my opinion.  It showcases his voice and is reminiscent of Queen.

I received the Susan Boyle CD the same day Adam’s CD arrived. I really like it. Her voice is wonderful. And her album has sold more than double Adam’s in the first week – she’s up to 675,000 vs. his 250,000.

Remember her?

Then –

And now – from her new album. You go girl!

Also, today I tumbled upon a stream of Allison Iraheta’s new album – Just Like You.

You know what? It is way better than Adam’s.

So, all these albums from reality TV shows? They may be good, but none hold a candle to what we watched last night on HBO.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert. Man! This is a total must see.

I am not even going to name all the stars on this. Okay. Here are some – Jeff Beck Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Aretha Franklin, Metallica, Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, U2 and Stevie Wonder. Billy Joel. Sting. Jackson Browne. Many many more.

If you missed it, it will air again,  here is a link to the schedule.

Movies – next time. Tired.

American Idols Live

We drove 2 hours to see them.

Our seats were not the greatest, they were in the nose-bleed section, way high, but right in line with the side of the stage, so we brought binoculars.

Before the concert started, there was video, and each time Adam Lambert’s picture – yes, picture – came on screen, the crowd roared and screamed. Definitely an Adam crowd. The husband tried to shush me – it is only a picture, jeez – but I got caught up in the moment.

Right before the concert started, I was focusing the binoculars at the audience directly opposite us – hundreds of feet away across the stadium – and 2 girls started waving at me. Husband says “some people are waving at you?” LOL – they are friends from work who at the exact moment I focused on them – focused on me.  One of them is Tanya, and these are her pictures (below.)

The first set of performers were the top 6, in order of elimination, and I must say, Scott MacIntyre and Matt Giraud were really very good. They both played piano, and even did a piano duet.

Then, the rush for a smoke down 4 floors and out the door during intermission. We missed the first song of Allsion Iraheta’s set [ I  mistakenly thought Danny Gokey was next, and missing him would be fine with me. Oops.] Allison rocked the house. She did Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” and Heart’s “Barracuda.”

Had to sit through Gokey. Waiting, waiting, for Adam ….

The screams were deafening….

He comes out singing Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”….

Then, Muse’s “Starlight.”

adam 1

“Mad World.”

Duet with Allison – “Slow Ride.” 

Rips off his jacket. adam 3

 And prances and grinds to Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” “Fame,” and “Let’s Dance.”

Woa.

Kris Allen was pretty good too. His last song was “Hey Jude” and he got the whole audience singing along.

Then, the obligatory group song. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

IMG_0161

We rushed down to wait by the buses afterwards.

Tanya and Karin (the two girls from work), and another girl that was with them, met us at the barricades, and we waited for Adam to come out (the others too) to sign autographs.

For 90 minutes.

There was a 4 year old boy who started getting annoyed, he said “They are wasting my time!”

At 11:30, with 90 minutes in, and we know the garage closes at midnight and is blocks away, things began to get dicey.

And the girls with us – they had taken the metro, which closes at midnight.

Then a security guard announces that those taking the metro should leave, the midnight closing is to reach your destination, not to get on the train – and these girls took off like a bat outta hell, they did not even say good-bye. They were – gone.

We waited 10 more minutes, and had to go get the car.

We forgot exactly what street the garage was on. Ran around looking for the garage, and finally figured it out. 

Got the car with 5 minutes to spare – 11:55.

Decided to ride back  to see if Adam had come out yet.

And saw the bus leaving, the last remnants of the crowd waving.

Damn.

But, still – it was a good time.

Except for getting home at 2 am.