Archive for March 2009

 
 

AI8 – Round of 9 – Downloadable Week

This week’s theme had something to do with downloadable iTunes songs.  I’m afraid I was only half paying attention to it, but it seemed like this was the producers’ way to get the contestants to sing more “current” songs.

Three did.  I recognized none of them. Thanks, Idol, for reminding me why I don’t listen to the radio. Ick.  Is THAT was Top 40 has come down to?

Anoop did his best Usher impression.  And while his vocals weren’t bad, I’m still not sure there was a song underneath all that screaming and preening for the audience. I’m sure it’s good karaoke, if you’re a fan of that kind of thing.  Going first won’t help him, either.

Megan Joy is, to put it mildly, in trouble.  I think she’ll be everyone’s guess to go home this week.  She’s just not working out the way we had all hoped.  She has a decent voice with a unique sound.  She’s squandered that sound, and even goes off-key during hideously boring songs.  This is also another great example of the trouble contestants get into when they choose a song because they “really really like” it.  UGH

And is this the first time she’s worn pants on stage? Danny Gokey did well.  He went with Idol favorites, Rascal Flatts, who will now have to show up on the Finale Night again to sing this song with him. The judges loved him.  I didn’t like the song, but thought he sang it well. He did smart by going country, the week after potential country favorite Michael Sarver left the show.  He pulled a bold political move to go after Sarver’s fans there, and it paid off.

Allison went with No Doubt.  Can you believe that song is more than ten years old now.  Probably closer to 15, eh?  The judges focused on what she was wearing — which was ridiculous — but the girl still has pipes.  She did what she could with that song and with that arrangement.  Not showing great range, but strong and memorable enough (again, if only for the outfit) to carry through.

Scott did a Billy Joel song.  If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know how big a Billy Joel fan I am.  However, I’m also sick to death of this song.  (As is Billy Joel, by the way.)  For me, Scott didn’t do much, but I’m an ardent Billy Joel fan.  Just doing up your hair to look like Joel did in 1978 isn’t enough for me.  He did some things with the song, particularly in the second half, to make it different, but the overall impression wasn’t strong for me.  I caught pitch problems the judges ignored while slobbering over how “brilliant” he was.  So, yeah, not my thing, dawg.  But the judges loved him.

The question is, will that coax his faithful fans to vote for him, or make them rest on Simon’s laurels, costing him the competition?

Matt Giraud picked some annoying modern song I’ve never heard before.  Eh.  I think the best comment was the comparison his Cold Play performance, which was similarly awful.  There are other better singer who can play the piano, Matt.  You’re in deep trouble.

Lil Rounds didn’t go with “All By Myself,” which might have been cool. She did “I Surrender,” another song I’d love to hear LaToya London sing.  Lil works best when she can shout through a song, and this is another example of that.  I hate to say it, but I think her stock is falling week to week, even when she shows a strong vocal like this.  After last week’s “Heat Wave,” it all starts sounding alike.

Adam Lambert is on this show for a reason.  You just never know what you’re going to get from him next, and the look of befuddlement on Simon’s face afterwards is worth the price of admission.  No matter what he does, it’s going to be different.  And crazy.  And bad.  And awesome.  Sometimes, that all happens in the same verse. “Play That Funky Music?”  Really?!?

This week, I finally realized who he should duet with:Sam Harris. Hey, Harris has roots in “Star Search,” so it all makes perfect sense.

Kris Allen didn’t have an Idol Moment, per se, but did a very good job with his mix on “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  He did a good job on the synthesizer — when did that become a recurring instrument on Idol? — and riffed around the song perfectly.  If we’re charting contestant progress along a line chart, Kris’ line is heading up at a very steep angle.  He’s coming on strong when it counts.

I think the bottom three will be Megan, Matt, and Anoop.  Anoop gets saved first, though I’m happy that someone else other than me pointed out the frat boy part tonight.

I’m going to guess Megan goes home.

Update: Two other things:

Contendor for Favorite Moment of the Night: Simon mouthing a correction to Kara after she referenced “Studio 57.” Kara’s not old enough to have ever been there.  Perhaps she shouldn’t reference it?

And who is Paula’s script writer?  I know they were pressed for time last night — after all, they did two singers between commercial breaks at one point — but many of her comments were clearly pre-planned and memorized or read from notes.  

Recently, on AugieShoots.com

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That URL again is AugieShoots.com

This week’s American Idol writeup will be out later tonight. . .

Bad move, Amazon – One Click Shopping UI

I love Amazon.  Honestly, I do.  But at some point in the past week, they turned on One Click shopping for my account.  I don’t have Amazon Prime, so I don’t want to use it.

But here’s where they really get you.

First step:

Add to cart to see price

Second step:

One Click or Add to Cart?

Two big orange-ish buttons.  If you just want to SEE THE PRICE of an item, you have to add it to the shopping cart.  That’s bad enough.  But then trying to confuse a customer into accidentally purchase it?  That’s reprehensible.

What if you successfully added it to your shopping cart, you’ve seen the price, and now you’re ready to take it back out? There is no One Click Don’t Buy It option:

One Click Deux

Edit Shopping Cart and Proceed to Checkout do roughly the same thing, but they put the big yellow-orange button next to the same shaped orange button that does something different again. Seriously, I don’t think Amazon is trying to trick people.  I think their UI people need a firm slap on the wrist for putting two very similar buttons with wildly different outcomes next to each other, particularly on a page where you need to add the item to a shopping cart just to see its price.

Yes, I made this mistake the other night.  Dang near cost me $369.  I was able to cancel the order right away and no damage done.

Be warned: Read those buttons carefully on Amazon.

Dear Internet – Buy a Dictionary

TwitScoop provides a lovely word cloud of hot topics of the moment on Twitter. Tonight, some wild storms buzzed through the East Coast.  Lots of bright flashes of lights and loud booms came with it.  Spring has sprung! This gave the internet a chance to show its ignorance once again.  Here’s a segment of that word cloud:

Lightening?!?

At first, I thought perhaps that there was a new Photoshop tutorial that taught people how to better lighten up a particular part of a picture.  I clicked through to see what everyone was talking about:

People are stupid Shame on you all.

Spell it with me: “Thunder and lightning.”  Thanks.

AI8 – Round of 10 – Results

Is it time to rethink the classic rules of American Idol voting?  There was a time when an appearance in the Bottom 2 or 3 would guarantee your safety the following week.  The contestant’s fans would ramp it up and vote double time the next week to save their favorite.  This went triple if the judges hammered on you.

Yet Michael went home this week.  So either the old rules are changing, or he had so small a fanbase that it didn’t matter.

Personally, I think it’s the latter.  He couldn’t capture the country fans.  He couldn’t capture the tween/teen vote (and their parents) that propel the contestants on this show. . .  He was lost in a middle ground, and then had a couple of Not Great weeks in a row.

Matt Giraud landed in the Bottom 3 because he went first on a TWO HOUR show and wasn’t as memorable as I think the judges initially thought he would be.  There were too many better — and flat out great — performances that came after him.  He didn’t stand much of a chance.  I think with a better position in the “run order” next week and a strong song choice, he’ll do OK for another couple of weeks.

Megan Joy needs to pick a good song this week, or she might be toast next.  If she doesn’t show off her unique vocals, she’s not worth keeping around.  Picking songs like she picked this week will not help her.

And, really, why would you disfigure your arm like that?!?

AI8 – Round of 10 – Motown Week

Matt Giraud – I’ll be forgetting this performance in ten minutes.  He didn’t do badly.  He moved around the stage very well, but not great.

Kris Allen - I really like this one. Did a good job in changing it without overdoing it.  Looks comfortable.  And he worked the guitar.  He didn’t just stand behind him.

Scott MacIntyre – He’s no Phil Collins.  But having the backup singers as his Supremes at the piano is cool.  But he’s done.  He tried.  Did he forget the lyrics early on there?  Last half was better, but it’s like his voice got into this one register, never budged, and started to bore me.  Maybe if he had redone the whole song as a ballad, it might have work.   And he seemed out of whack with the backup singers at times.

And bad pants.

Then Paula whips out the crayons and the coloring book for Simon. Hunh. The Simon/Paula interplay this season is a little awkward, isn’t it? Megan Joy – Back to clothes that will help accentuate her awkward movements.  Looks and sounds awful in front of Smokey.   Stares at him while singing.  Odd.  She has a tattoo on top of her left foot, too?  Weird.  Reminds me of Nellie McKay.

Her performance sounds all pitchy.  Did better once she got up on stage behind judges, but the pitches were all over the place.  If she stood still and tried to work it vocally, it might have worked.  And maybe Randy is right — too fast. Musically overdone.

Paula compliments her beauty and tells he how much the camera loves her. In other words, YOU SUCK.

Simon says she’s in trouble.  Maybe that’s his ploy to get her more votes.

Anoop Desai – Loses it a little on the falsetto in “Ooooh baby baby,” but sounds clean and clear in the verses. Not sure this is going to be a song nor a performance to excite people to vote for him, though.

Is his father’s “My Idol Anoop” button in Comic Sans?  That’s it; I can’t vote for him now.

Michael Sarver –  Needs to take the mic another couple inches away from his mouth.  Sounds like he’s gasping for air to keep up with the song when he’s not hitting all the plosives wrong.  He’s spitting out lyrics, instead of singing them with any meaning.  Disappointing.  He’s in trouble again.

Simon says, “You have no choice of winning this.”  Truer words hath ne’er been spoken.

Lil Rounds – The producers were very happy to see this song on the list for tonight.  It meant another excuse for the flame video background.  Her hair looks like she’s auditioning for a production of “DreamGirls.”

Just when the song was getting redundant and boring (the song doesn’t vary much, it’s all up loud), she turned it up, interacted with the singers, added a little more.  Too karaoke, but I think the second half will save it.

But Randy is right — wrong song choice.  Too many words, too fast. Paula is out of her mind to think Lil owned that song.  Simon’s right: she did shout it too much.

Have a feeling that the 6 second excerpt from this performance at the end of the show will sound much better than the overall performance. Adam Lambert – He almost pulls off the look, but those earrings blow it.  Point made: he has a falsetto.  But you know what?  I think it’s strong, its memorable, and the Standing Ovation is well deserved.  Best performance of the night.  After last week’s performance, this one shows great range.  Chills.  (“Solitaire” moment, a la Clay Aiken? Also, a little “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” with the drummer on stage and the “Unplugged” feel.)

Kara said: “Six words: One of the best performances of the night.” is more than six words, and not a great compliment.  There’ve only been eight songs, total. How many songs are the best?  And does she realize that “Best” indicates a singular?  Grammar is so passe, I know. Danny Gokey – He’s really starting to remind me of Taylor Hicks, but I liked Taylor.  And after all that back and forth with Smokey, he didn’t sing his own backup parts. But dancing with the singers was good.  I liked it.  Looked like he was having fun on the stage, and that’ll translate to votes.

When it comes to singing advice, I think Randy really gives the best advice.  Kara has it in her, but doesn’t get technical enough.

Allison Iraheta – Comes out singing and sounding like Kelly Clarkson.  Good attitude on stage. Wow.  That was amazing.  Made me involuntarily smile at the end of it.  Insane that she’s that good at 16.

Allison and Adam are tied up front.

Megan is a half step above the bottom level. At the bottom: Scott, Michael.

The question is, will Michael’s near-miss last week get his fans to vote for him more than Scott’s, who’ve never had to worry about an elimination?  Scott goes home.  Michael lands in the bottom two again.  And who’s in third?  I’ll go with either Matt (he went first) or Megan Joy. I say — Megan.

DVD Release of the Week for 25 March 2009

I know it isn’t as beloved as the previous one, but I still want to see it:

It’s also available for purchase for iTunes in High Def for $20.  Bit steep, but you can also rent it there for $4.99.

That box on the right is for the two-disc DVD set.  There’s a single disc release, as well, that’ll save you roughly $5.

Fountains of Wayne: Gone?

No, not the band — the store in Wayne, NJ that the band took its name from.  It might be closing.

Or it might not.  They closed for the day. Nobody knows what’s going on.  Sad.  That place is a local legend.

Some Linkage

AI8 – Round of 13 Results

Uh oh.

I hope Al Sharpton wasn’t watching tonight’s show. (C’mon, you knew I was going to point that one out. . .) Just to keep me honest: The 13th and 12th place finishers I had picked to finish #11 and #9. And I have a funny feeling Anoop won’t make it as far as I predicted either.  He’s painful to watch.

Also: Darn you, FOX, for selling only the musical performances on iTunes, and not the whole episodes of “American Idol.”  I wasn’t about to spend $1.49 a song.  I would have spent $1.99 or $2.99 or even $3.99 for the full episode last night, though.

As for this season’s new twist: Smart idea.  It allows the judges to make a correction to an anomolous week without lording over everything.  It also gives producers a chance to falsely add suspense to the show.  Did anyone thing the judges would unanimously bring Jorge or Jasmine back?  They’re saving that selection in case Lil or Danny or Allison get tossed early.  Everyone else is expendable right now, I think.

Also, those group numbers are getting more and more painful, though it is fascinating to watch how they choreograph around Scott.

Good to see Kelly Clarkson again. I know I shouldn’t point this out, but – did she gain a couple pounds?  Or is that just the hair that made her look a little plumper than usual?  I’m no saying she’s fat by any stretch, mind you.

AI8 – Round of 13

Danny did well. My DVR ran out of space about an hour in, so I’ll let you all do the writeup.  Who did you like?

I will say this, though: This is the week I became sick of Kara.  I liked her up until tonight.  Now, she grates on me. And why is the windscreen on her mic so much bigger than everyone else’s?  Is it because she always leans to far forward that it looks like she’s about to eat it whenever she talks?

And someone get Paula her medication.  One should not be near tears that often. . .

AI8 Predictions

Running out of time.  Let’s do this quickly:

Who goes out in what order:

  1. Kris Allen – how did he get here in the first place?
  2. Michael Sarver – Ditto, besides the Nice Guy story.
  3. Jasmine Murray – barely made it in in the first place.
  4. Matt Giraud – He WANTS to be that guy who sang that awful ColdPlay song.  He’s doomed.
  5. Jorge Nunez – The accent/lack-of-accent gets to America. Puerto Rico’s solid voting block only goes so far.
  6. Anoop – A novelty act. Simon cries.
  7. Alexis Grace – Likable, but not inspiring.
  8. Scott MacIntyre – Not inspiring, vocally.  Paula cries.
  9. Adam Lambert – Too much screaming.
  10. Allison Iraheta — officially becomes the token redhead to go the further in the competition, if you don’t count Nikki McKibbin’s dye job.
  11. Megan Joy – Probably made it much further (farther?) than she should have.
  12. Lil Rounds – Powerful voice, a bit old but otherwise a cookie cutter American Idol contestant.
  13. Danny Gokey – Not the most inspiring or skilled singer.  But people have loved him since Day One.

More guys, but more girls make it into the later rounds.  I’d count on that, if nothing else.  By the time we’re down to 5, you’ll see 3 girls/2 guys, I think.

Who I’m rooting for — nobody in particular this year.  Lots of “eh” this season.  Some good singers, some interesting personalities. I’m hoping someone separates themselves from the pack.  Otherwise, I’m in it for the spectacle.

Round of 13 begins in a matter of hours. . .

AI8 – Wildcard Round

I said to my wife at the start of the show, “And this year’s twist will be the 13th finalist.”

God, I’m good.

Plus, I went three for three.  The judges added Matt Giraud to my list.  Tatiana took the predictably dramatic exit, complete with the judges comforting her from over their vaulted judging desk.

It was a night of awkwardness. There was a missed high five. Ryan asked Tatiana to get down on her knees in front of him. Everything else Tatiana did qualifies, too.  Paula and Simon practically made out between mock fights.  And a poor cut to a camera shot showed a production assistant moving two contestants in the Red Room closer together for the upcoming throw to commercial.  (It was during Paula’s critique of Matt Giraud, if you want to watch it back.)

So let’s get to the performances, briefly:

Jesse Langseth – What the heck is that song?  Meh. (I know John Hodgman says we’re not supposed to use “meh” anymore, but it’s terribly appropriate here.) Matt Giraud - Made a good showing for himself, and is different enough to be “cast” for the Final 12, er, 13. But, reallty, we know Anoop is the “casting” choice.  More on that in a bit. Still, to me, Matt was self-indulgent with too many grunts and growls.

Megan Joy Corkrey – Was there ever any doubt the judges were going to pick her, after their comments to her in the first week?  No.  She still dances awkwardly, and her performance couldn’t live up to Katharine McPhee’s performance of it.  Remember when the producers were worried about contestants with tattoos?  Or kids?  I think half the Top 13 are parents now.  (I’m only slightly exaggerating, I think.) Von Smith – Toast.  Cannon fodder.  Although I finally realized who he looked like: Tintin combined with Rick Astley.  I hope he Rickrolls the Finale.

Jasmine Murray — All power throughout the whole song, but then nailed the falsetto at the end.  Impressive.

Ricky Braddy – He got through it.  Sounded karaoke to me.

Tatiana Del Toro – You want to point and laugh, but then she hits her stride and impresses the hell out of you with her voice.  Scary little thing, she was.

Anoop Desai – Gets bonus points for daring “My Prerogative.”  The whole thing is a complete mess and something you’d expect to see at your fraternity’s kegger.  But the crowd loves it, most of which is underage.  He’s the Sanjaya of this season – the kids love him, despite his abilities and awkwardness.

Next week: Kelly Clarkson has an album out.  Also: She’s appearing on Idol.  Coincidence?  Of course not, silly.

Also, I’m glad I taped “Hell’s Kitchen,” as the show ended a few minutes past the hour. Many watching this show on DVR tonight missed the announcement of the third and fourth additions to the finalists.  Whoops.

A preview of tonight’s IDOL post

Separated at birth: Von Smith, Tintin, and Rick Astley

See if you can tell them apart:

Von SmithTintinRick Astley

Uncanny.

AI8 – Wild Card Predictions

Really, IDOL, did anyone think the judges would put through the great Normal Gentle last night?

Why bother loading him into the Red Room? Tonight’s Wild Card winners will be at least 2/3rds female.

Idol loves to equalize the male/female dynamic. Every “Next Highest Votes” winner so far has been a guy, so there’s a big lack of balance going on here.

Megan Corkrey is a lock to go through. The judges love her.

I think Jasmine Murray will make it through, if she sings a decent song.

There’s a chance they’ll put Tatiana through, as much for the drama and the hilarity as her singing prowess.

Of the guys, I think only Anoop Dawg has a chance.

What are your predictions?