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Just posted this on Rolling Country about the Alaina-Scotty final on AI:

To my surprise, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina are the last two standing on American Idol. I was sure that James Durbin would win it, he being a mediocre rocker with enthusiastic performing, just what's won the last few years. Think Lauren sings with vastly more life, subtlety, and passion than Scotty; but I also think I mischaracterized her a little upthread when I said she had a big blustery voice. I think she has a big blustery talent, but the voice isn't big enough yet for all the bluster, and she often goes for wallop she can't reach. Scotty's got a strong love-man demeanor and wants richness that his tonsils lack, though he's nice to listen to on a talent show. The out-of-character "Candle In The Wind" is still the best thing Lauren did. A weak field, so the overreaching sexpot Hayley Reinhart reached third and to my surprise occasionally grabbed what she was grasping for, "House Of The Rising Sun" in particular being a song to reward all that stretching.

I also posted a country singles 2011 top 10, which unfortunately included Aaron Lewis.

Idol Talk

Apr. 8th, 2011 12:28 am
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Wanted to let you know that [livejournal.com profile] justfanoe is back talking about American Idol, after taking last year off. SO I GOT TO BE THE ONE TO INTRODUCE HIM TO DIDI BENAMI!

And I assume it's [livejournal.com profile] andthatisthat chatting in italics with monkseal over on monkseal's wordpress. Excellent commentary from all.

Lauren Alaina's "Candle In The Wind" changed her in my mind from someone with a lot of potential to someone who matters. She found a way to let loose without losing the song's sensitivity. Now I'll be following her all season to see if she can match this.

While in Connecticut I watched an entire episode of the show, the first time I ever had; must say it was hard to get through. Now I'm back TV-less and I'll only dip in, mainly to stay with Lauren, though Jacob Lusk'll always be interesting (all his skill and the sweetness of his voice has a tendency to dull his impact, even as he shoots off sparks; but when the sweetness and sparks connect there are thrills), and I'll keep my fingers crossed in the hopes that Scotty McCreery's country trad semi-baritone can grow in emotional richness before he's given the boot.

You all will have to point me to other notable moments.
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Erika brings up Didi's "Play With Fire" over on the Didi-Rhiannon thread, and I talk about it on the Freaky Trigger canon thread. Here's what I say:

Saw Crystal Bowersox and Didi Benami from Stones night on American Idol, and for the second week in a row I thought that, although Bowersox' vocals were stonger and richer and more self-assured, it was flighty quirk-and-curlicue girl Benami who managed to burrow deeper into the music, even while flubbing and flying around it too. It helps Didi that I way prefer "Play With Fire" to "You Can't Always Get What You Want." On the latter, Crystal didn't really communicate much beyond "good voice" and "jazz-soul command," nothing about wanting and getting; she has done and will do a lot better, whereas Didi is unsure and unformed but she's already given three gripping performances, this and "Rhiannon" last week (which you'd think would have been a suicide choice) and "Terrified" during Hollywood week.

The thing about the Stones' best material, which sold big because it meant a lot of different things to different people, is that, paradoxically, for me the material isn't open to a lot of interpretations, and I rarely like to hear it covered. If you can't do Jagger's tensions - e.g., "Heart Of Stone," which is the Stones' real can't-always-get-what-you-want song - can't totally deliver strength and menace while writing lyrics that expose the strength and menace as a fraud, with the singing and playing forcefully counteracting the lyrics and being as convincing as the supposed unmasking... if you can't prance along that balance beam, then what's the point?

Since this time it's Didi's voice, you get the sense that, though as the singer she's the narrator, she as much as the person she's singing about can be menaced and played with, but nonetheless she'll display bits of vocal strength that make the "don't mess with me" credible; and because the song's lyrics own the weakness a lot less than "Heart Of Stone"'s do, Didi's actually brought something to the song, walks along her own borderline between not getting what you say you can, and getting what you say you can't, and not knowing what you need.

Play With Fire video )

EDIT: I say favorable things about Crystal Bowersox' appearance over on Martin's lj.
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Strangely lilting version of "Rhiannon" by Didi Benami on American Idol, like she's dancing carefree on icicles, very audacious to give it a different mood. Then in the last ten seconds she finds her way to what was haunting in the original.

Then she is the darkness; FM live )
Only dipped a little into American Idol this week, just this and the Bowersox and the Magnus. (Bowersox was masterful, striding through a Tracy Chapman blues while giving the impression of having wind held in reserve, totally at her command; don't see how she doesn't win it all unless she gets sick again, but me, getting a little restless... well, Kara gave us the usual platitude, "this is what we talk about when people know who they are," and I was wishing I was sitting in Simon's spot so I could say, "Yeah, well, Kelly Clarkson doesn't know who she is, and Elvis Presley never knew who he was, and Kara here doesn't have a clue who she is and wouldn't be as interesting if she did, but yes, it was a beautiful performance, always a pleasure etc.")

So, anything else of note on this week's AI?

h/t Jimmy Draper.
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Here's a long response I wrote in response to Tom's brief sketch of a schema of music history and the relation between content and context. He gives us three eras:

The Pre-Recording Era
The Recording Era
The ???? Era (Now, Basically)

And I played with that:

The Conversation Era )
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Relapse jumps to number one in the albums, "Boom Boom Pow" plops onto its sofa and settles in for its eighth week atop the singles, and Linkin Park performs a song that wasn't heard on Fox TV during the last couple of months.

Glee Cast )

Linkin Park )

Kris Allen )

Kris Allen )

Adam Lambert )

Keith Urban )

David Cook )

Kris Allen )
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Thought that Adam was decisively better than Kris last night, but most voters probably had made their decision on whom to vote for long since, and dialidol has it too close to call. Neither performer came to grips with "No Boundaries," both did fine on their reprise songs ("Mad World" for Adam and "Ain't No Sunshine" for Kris), though Adam's performance was richer, and Adam actually - and surprisingly - nailed "A Change Is Gonna Come" while Kris was respectable but weak on "What's Going On." On "No Boundaries" I may have slightly preferred Kris, who muffed a few of the words and strained at the high notes but seemed steadier with his mood. But "A Change Is Gonna Come" floored me, Adam powerful but restrained most of the way, and then when he let loose with the schmaltz at the end it really was a release and a resolution - as well as by subtext helping to use a black empowerment song as a gay empowerment song. ("A Change Is Gonna Come" and "What's Going On" were picked by the producer, not the performers, but even if the men had chosen the songs themselves and there were no gay overtones with Adam, I have no trouble with the idea of white guys singing those songs in this context; it's not like they're doing it on behalf of the Republican National Committee. But for the other view, see Leonard.) I liked "Mad World" even more, but we'd heard it before.

Allison still the true talent )

Idol Baby

May. 6th, 2009 04:04 pm
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Alison did a good job on "Cry Baby" by burnishing it in her throat rather than trying to out-shout Janis. Thought she was the only one who belonged up there. I don't know if this'll save her from going home, however. Adam proved he could sing loud and hit the notes on a "Whole Lotta Love," but he wasn't thrilling and if you're not thrilling you can't do that song. Together on "Slow Ride" they were so what, Allison more forceful and natural than Adam. Kris and Danny on "Renegade" were a pleasant surprise, Kris's boybandishness mitigating Danny's roughness, and I discover that I like the song. Who knew? Not enough to listen to it a third time, however. Kris was weak on "Come Together" but trying to be anything but weak on it would have been worse, and there was a nice part where his voice went deep and up like Michael Jackson. I wish the band had been quieter so that he wouldn't have had to pretend to rock, and he should have picked another song. Danny was bearable on "Dream On" and deserves points for assaying the high notes at the end. Disappointing week, though, since I was expecting more creativity from Kris and more dominance from Adam.

Good: Allison
Entertaining: Kris 'n' Danny duet
Mediocre if even that: Kris, Danny, Allison 'n' Adam duet, Adam

I really can't predict who'll be sent off. I'd assume that Adam is safe owing to his past glories (a couple of which really were excellent) and for being loud. Allison deserves to stay on the basis of her strong performances over the last two weeks, but I don't trust the voters. And not comprehending Danny's appeal, I can't guess how his performance played. So Kris, Allison, or Danny could go.
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Thought that Allison's "Someone To Watch Over Me" was her best performance of the competition; the strain in her voice helped her soulfulness. Adam was entertaining though not moving, Kris couldn't hold the mood on a song I'd expected to have been easy for him, Danny I still don't get.
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I'm sampling on YouTube. Kris did a song that Allison would have done better, Allison did a song Kris would have done better, which leaves us with Adam: sang a truly pretty version of a pretty song, didn't entirely keep his Mika tendencies in check, and I don't think he should (entirely, that is). I've played it four times already and I'm about to again.

I didn't listen to the other five, who've never been better than competent and usually not even that. I don't see how Adam doesn't win this unless he goes so over the top that he massacres everything he attempts from here on out - which he's quite capable of, actually, but even if he does, his only competition is going to be Kris, who's not interesting enough. (Well, maybe I'm underestimating Anoop's appeal, since it entirely escapes me.)
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From this thread:

Is there a way to care about Kris Allen? He's got taste and timing, and that's all I can think of to say.

So, given Allison's limitations, does this mean... that I'm rooting for Adam Lambert?


After this week's shambolic performance? I certainly hope not. :)

Subject: Vote for the one who keeps you awake

With Adam I'm reminded of that set of excerpts from "British Officer Evaluations" that was being batted around the Web a decade ago, the most memorable being:

"His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity."

Re: Vote for the one who keeps you awake

Hee. The thing about Adam is that I find him as predictable as everyone else (last week notwithstanding) - his predictability is just louder than everyone else's and has more lights shining behind it.
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Adam Lambert's "Ring Of Fire" on American Idol was indescribably terrible, but still was one of only two performances this week worth hearing more than twice. The guy has ideas, even if putting them together produces a misshapen mess. The other was Kris Allen doing "Make You Feel My Love" with a light step, turning it into gentle slush and ignoring the lyrics' buried aggression, which is fine with me.

Some blah blah blah about the rest )

If you haven't heard the original "Independence Day," you must.
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Preliminary technicalities )

The two I remotely care about:

Megan Corkrey: Her voice is stone hard without being cold; she's the only one with a solid vocal character, but also, given her voice, you don't know how she's going to use it or what to expect. Or, rather, you'd expect her to go boringly for jazz chops and singer-songwriter respectability, which she can do, but I actually felt more than that when she sang the KT Tunstall horse song.

Allison Iraheta: Rocker chick in nonrock contexts, emits a river of passion, "Give In To Me" a great choice on Michael Jackson night, but the voice actually is not powerful enough to bowl everything over with feeling, and she ends up straining for her payoffs.

All right, I'm feeling Adam too, and as a ham he'd be all right as Liberace or Vincent Price )

h/t to [livejournal.com profile] andthatisthat and [livejournal.com profile] justfanoe and [livejournal.com profile] ludickid for reporting more faithfully and knowledgeably than I.
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An Idol fan enthuses: "I suppose that was viable!" "bearable, I guess!" "competent!" But never twice for the same performer.

Commentary )
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Finally watched this week's Idol clips. Was this the worst Idol week ever? Last week's was almost as bad, and I recall Beatles 2 being lousy, but this was as disengaged as I've ever felt.

Brooke White: Unfortunately took Andrew's advice and overacted the dying-swan effect, but was bearable.

David Cook: Completely a fish out of water, would not even have been good enough for a third-rate dinner theater in Petaluma. (Nothing against Petaluma, mind you, where I've never been.) This was just wrong, totally wrong.

Jason Castro: Weak. Terribly weak. Pale and washed-away and left for dead weak. Should've accompanied himself on the ukulele and maybe his puniness would have muscled its way through. Have there ever been such bad performances as this and David C's this late in the tournament? This is only the second year I've paid much attention, so I don't know. I remember Sanjaya's final couple of performances last year actually being pretty reasonable.

Carly Smithson: OK. She's at home, rocks it and stomps it, but home is still average bar-band soul.

Syesha Mercado: Is right with the rhythm but she has zilch personality to give it, despite her alleged "animation" this evening. I always feel like I'm hearing a simulation.

David Archuleta: Sweet, nice, ok...zzz...zzz.

some more yawping )
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[livejournal.com profile] andthatisthat beat me to the punch, and we have near identical opinions, and we're equally losing our passion, but anyhow, in ascending order:

The show must go on? Really? )

Many and varied uncertainties )
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Crappy night on Idol. Of the five I care nothing about, Michael Johns couldn't decide whether to overpower or soft-pedal the blues, the results were painful, and he can't sing anyway. For Ramiele Malubay the drum thumped, the audience clapped, and the voice did diddly squat. Really bad. "Something you'd hear on a cruise ship," said Simon, but this underestimates cruise ships. Syesha Mercado tackled Mt. Everest, i.e. "I Will Always Love You," and was nice and quiet at the start, didn't force it in the middle (though at this point her so-so-ness was evident), the blowout at the end was stupid but not too long, but this was bearable. Kristy Lee Cook has got to stop singing over two-step beats. She didn't sound too bad, actually, but the rhythm pulled the music out from under her. Carly Smithson, by not trying to rock out, had a warmer tone than I'd expected, was rather pleasant.

Brooke, David, David, and Jason )
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Just to whet your appetite for "Dolly Parton week" on American Idol (if you haven't heard this, you HAVE to):

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Tagged by [livejournal.com profile] girlboymusic

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your LJ along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they're listening to.

All rightee, but I'm giving myself a theme this spring, which is American Idol. So here are Seven Songs I'd Sing On American Idol If I Could Sing:

--Big & Rich "The Bob Song" (Willie Nelson version)(country week)(Simon questions my song choice)
--Beatles "Not A Second Time" (Lennon-McCartney songbook week)
--Arthur Alexander "Anna" (Beatles version)(Beatles week)
--Arthur "Big Daddy" Crudup "That's Alright Mama" (Elvis Presley version)(year of birth week)(Simon calls my version "sleazy," but implies that that's a compliment)
--Judy Torres "Come Into My Arms" (Latin week)(I'll sing a line or two in Spanish even though the original was entirely in English)(Paula finds something positive say)
--Hoagy Carmichael "Hong Kong Blues" (bowdlerized version) (American songbook week)
--James Brown "I Can't Stand Myself" (Contortions version)('60s week)(this is where I get voted off)

I tag [livejournal.com profile] byebyepride, [livejournal.com profile] piratemoggy, [livejournal.com profile] martinskidmore, [livejournal.com profile] epicharmus, [livejournal.com profile] andthatisthat, [livejournal.com profile] umlauts, and [livejournal.com profile] xyzzzz__.
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Got home late, watched 'em all on YouTube, Brooke, David, and Jason are still the only three I care about, Syesha ran her voice 'round several ferris wheels and impressed the judges but not me, Ramiele lost her voice and the judges sympathized and I couldn't tell the difference, Michael Johns sang "We Are The Champions" with no swish but with volume, judges thought it was a breakthrough, Kristy Lee Cook actually found a way to be husky and OK on "God Bless The USA," though she's still a mediocrity, Chikezie went for smoke and lust but doesn't have the voice for it, Carly Smithson's pipes are just too rigid to make "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" sing, as it were, but I liked her for pulling out all the stops, and I'll be sad if this is her swan song but am afraid that the judges may have swayed voters to give Kristy and Michael one more chance. So:

Brooke, David, Jason, and the Baritone Bawler )


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