Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Idol recap

Today’s American Idol featured downloadable songs from I-Tunes and 9 contestants performed. Only 3 girls remain, and sadly, none performed at their best. I'm afraid that one may be going home.

In order of performance:

01 — Anoop Desai — Caught Up — 2 Stars

Each time Desai stopped singing, he lowered the mike. When he finally remembered to raise it back up to sing, his timing ending up a bit off. This song requires *snap* and is not very forgiving. Next time, keep the mike up high the whole time, Desai! 

Being first is always the absolute worst spot and unfortunately for Desai, he had to go on in the cold spot. Although Desai's rendition lacked the intense emotions of the later performances, I actually felt that this song really showed off his incredibly smooth and mellow vocal tone, somewhat reminiscent of Lionel Richie.

02 — Megan Joy — Turn Your Lights Down Low — 0 stars

Ugh! Beautiful girl. Not a beautiful voice. I've never liked it. (So sorry! I hate my own voice, too, really!)

03 — Danny Gokey — What Hurts the Most — 5 stars

Wow!  He's a Stah!!! 

04 — Allison Iraheta — Don't Speak — 4 stars

The judges were wrong to criticize Iraheta's killer outfit! Really. When I first saw her, I thought "Pebbles Flintstone." Retro '40s fashion designer, Kenley Collins (2008 Project Runway), could design a whole line for her. Cute, cute, cute. 

But, back to singing. This was actually one of my favorite Iraheta performances. My only criticism is that she built up the intensity too soon, then left the pot on the stove so it overboiled. (aka overdone). Take a cue from Gokey and Macintyre: soft - loud - really loud - climax - soft.

05 — Scott Macintyre — Just the Way You Are — 5 stars

Extremely impressive. Not only did Macintyre's beautiful voice make me melt, his arrangement actually made Billy Joel's 1977 song sound contemporary by adding minor keys and a jazz rhythm. This song was more than a performance. It was an artistic composition -- a painting made of sound. Wow!

06 — Matt Giraud — You Found Me — 5 stars

This is a great example of why performers should sing the songs they want to sing, not what they think will win them "the big prize" at the end.  Giraud picked this particular song by the Fray because he believed in the spiritual lyrics and could sing them with conviction and emotion. It was fabulous. I loved it!

Sadly, the judges didn't appreciate Giraud picking what Simon Cowell called, "not a good commercial song." Randy Jackson criticized Giraud for not singing his usual R&B and felt he wasn't as good at "rockin' out."  Judge Kara Dioguardi said it well, "At some point, you're going to have to commit." 

Well, maybe Giraud should commit to contemporary Christian rock music. Hey, I'd buy it!

07 — Lil Rounds — I Surrender — 2 stars

This song is a good example of why contestants should ignore the judges when picking their song each week. Rounds tried so hard to please the judges and the result was a bit of a train wreck. She can sing, yes, but the song didn't fit her powerhouse vocals very well. (Plus, it sounded a bit pitchy).

08 — Adam Lambert — Play That Funky Music — 4 stars

Lambert gets points for cool. Not only does he look like Elvis (especially with his hair up), he's just as cocky. The boys' got guts.

09 — Kris Allen — Ain't No Sunshine — 5 stars

Absolutely incredible. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Sylar's Inside Joke --
An Homage to Star Trek

Quinto as Spock at left. Quinto as Sylar at right.

If you happened to catch last night's episode of NBC's hit TV show, Heroes, "Into Asylum," you would have seen an homage to the upcoming Star Trek movie where the actor who plays Sylar, Zachary Quinto, will play Spock.

How do you give Quinto some time off to film the new Star Trek movie while continuing the incremental Sylar story line? You give him the ability to shape shift. This allows Sylar to be played by a whole slew of different actors. So, last night, Sylar learned a new trick -- shape shifting -- by stealing the ability in a very un-Sylar-istic manner: cutting out the microscopic power-giving brain tissue with a knife. (I still wonder, does he just touch the brain, eat it, absorb it, or what?) Since the shape shifter was impersonating Sylar at the time of his death, everyone now thinks that Sylar himself is dead.

At the end of the episode, we find federal officer Danko and Sylar leaving in a car together with plans to team up to eradicate more Heroes.

Danko asks, "So, how did that feel, zipping up that body bag?"

"Cathartic," says Sylar, "Poetic."

The camera closes in on Sylar's face as he looks in the passenger mirror. His eyes darken, his skin takes on an alien pallor, and with his fingers, he pushes up his eyebrow.

"And tactically fortunate."


The new Star Trek movie is set to hit theaters on May 8, 2009. I, for one, cannot wait.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Idol's Sarver on Regis and Kelly

Last week, Michael Sarver was voted off American Idol after not cutting the mustard during "Motown" week. He is now strutting his stuff all over tarnation on all the big, national talk shows, performing to his best, so noone will forget him.

Big surprise! Not good at Motown? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

So, whyyyye...would this rugged, oil-rigger, red neck country boy from Jasper, TX perform a Josh Groban-esque ballad, "You're not alone," or something, on the Regis and Kelly show today?

Who picked out this song for him? What a big honkin' disaster!

Does this look like the face of a ballad singer? Heck, no. Sarver, you need to lean on your shovel a bit to figure out what you're gonna be. Then, git off the hog and go sing country! Woo hoo!

On a side note -- Don't the 'Final 10' American Idol contestants have the absolute best harmonies of any of the other Final 10 in Idol history? I might actually have to buy a ticket to see them when they make their "after the season" rounds. Usually, they sound like a bunch of prima donnas competing to be heard, clashing, and running over eachother like a Mac truck! What a great group!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Cool Is It to See Heroes 3 Times a Week?

When I first began to watch NBC’s Heroes, I thought, “Oh, great! Now, I have another ‘soap opera’ to schedule my life around.”  I began to watch the show because I love science fiction and fantasy. I was not disappointed by the story line, where ordinary, everyday people across the globe discover by accident that they have superpowers. The first season featured their moments of discovery, but added in the thrill and danger of a superpower hunter, Sylar, who seeks out these people to kill them and steal their powers. Each season brings a new dynamic of mystery to the show.  With all the problems we are currently suffering in the real world, TV shows like Heroes are a wonderful retreat from reality. 

Although I love the show, I am still finding myself rearranging my schedule in real life to accommodate my TV watching life. What ever happened to the good ol’ days when TV shows were ‘self-contained?’ You know, when you could watch an episode one week, skip three weeks, and watch another episode a month later and not feel you’ve missed anything.

Fortunately, with Heroes, I have three time slot choices where I can watch each week’s show on TV. First, I can watch it at it’s regularly scheduled time on Monday night at 9:00 PM on NBC. If I miss it, I can watch it on G4 at 10 PM on Tuesday or 5:30 PM on Wednesday. The schedule is on G4’s Web site.

If I miss it on TV, I can still catch the latest episode on NBC’s official Heroes website, possible through the magic of the Internet and a high speed DSL cable hookup. In addition, I can also watch animated episodes, learn more about different aspects of the show on Heroes Evolutions, and even join in on the conspiracy theory discussions.

(By the way, speaking of theories: I think Tracey Strauss will reassemble herself with the help of another Hero. She blinked, so she’s not dead, after all. Perhaps Danko will put her in a jar on his desk, proudly on display, and a Hero will add a drop of Claire’s blood to the jar to help her reassemble herself. We also have yet to meet Barbara, Tracey's twin.

I also think Danko may actually have superpowers of some sort which he’s hiding and will reveal only when he feels all the other heroes have safely been put away. Doesn’t he remind you of someone, Adam (Kansai), perhaps? Of course, if he was Adam, he would have to have somehow lost his powers of time travel over the many hundreds of years which have passed since he first appeared in feudal Japan.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Ugly Betty Getting Less “Ugly?”

On last night’s new episode of Ugly Betty on abc, Betty dressed in a tea-length ruffled black dinner dress in order to entice her boyfriend, Matt, to spend the night. Other than the obvious shock, “Is Betty really doing this?” I wondered, “Doesn’t she seem a lot thinner?

(Photo at left from an episode which aired Nov. 20, 2008 doesn't really show how thin “Betty” has become under her bulky layers.)

When actress America Ferrera filmed the pilot as “Ugly Betty Suarez,” she was a normal looking twenty-one year old. The camera added the necessary twenty pounds to make her look pleasantly plump on film. I assume she also must be wearing some padding. (Doesn’t she?) I mean, it doesn’t jiggle like natural cushioning (I should know). Of course, her bizarrely tacky wardrobe adds a great deal of bulk: thick sweaters and oversized quilted polyester coats, part of Betty’s normal work attire.

(Photo at left from an episode which aired May 10, 2007.)

However, it’s not the padding that’s getting thinner. Before filming this season of Ugly Betty, Ferrera reported in an April 27, 2008 article in USA Today that she found herself losing weight due to much needed rest and relaxation during the writer’s strike. “I maybe attempted to exercise twice,” she says in the article.

USA Today Interviewer, William Keck added:

She acknowledges her appearance has changed since shooting Betty's pilot at age 21. "My face looks different. My body looks different. I definitely feel like I'm growing up, which … means Betty will have to grow up, too."

This season has Betty looking especially “un-ugly” in solid blacks and elegant whites. The addition of the wide belts on Betty look especially slimming.

What, am I a terrible person because I think “Betty” looks better thin than plump? Sometimes, Betty’s padding doesn’t move, looks bulky and hot as if two or three thick wool sweaters are trapped under her five inch belt, and is thickly undefined in all the wrong places. After all, “Real Women Have Curves,” just like the movie title says; the fabulous 2002 movie where Ferrera made her movie debut and won me over — natural and without padding.

Sadly, new episodes of Ugly Betty will not air until May 7, 2009 according to sitcomsonline.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

American Idol — I'll miss Alexis Grace

The Idol contestants are now down to ten who will not only compete next Tuesday, but also hit the road together in a pseudo-Broadway musical performance after the season ends.

Alexis Grace missed the cut by being eliminated tonight. In my opinion, it's her gain. Her beautiful clear vocals obviously lack the power of some of the other contestants, but I like the sound of her voice better because of it. Some of my favorite female vocalists: Dido, Bjork, Olivia Newton-John, to name a few, all have the same pleasant, light and airy tone in their voices that Grace has.

I look forward to see what interesting music tracks Grace will create for us in the coming months, now that she is completely free of all of her Idol obligations. Go get ’em, girl!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

American Idol

Today’s American Idol featured songs from the Grand Ole Opry and 11 contestants performed. As usual, I did not agree with the judges. I like to pick my favorites based on how they sound, since I might someday want to buy their CDs (and I do actually buy CDs).  

Of note, in order of performance:

01 — Michael Sarver — Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up5 Stars

For anyone who’s ever tried to sing a super fast song with dense lyrics, this was a rare feat.  For example, I’ve been practicing Reba McEntire’s version of “Fancy” for weeks now, but still don’t feel comfortable enough to sing it in public. Not only did Sarver remember all the words, he delivered them with a relaxed, pleasant manner, complete with an appropriate subtle country tone. 

I completely disagree with new judge, Kara DioGuardi, who didn’t like his performance. DioGuardi seems to prefer the “lookers” no matter how good they sound. However, looks don’t sell records to anyone but teeny boppers. Good vocals do.

Of all my favorites tonight, I feel Sarver has the largest chance of getting the axe. First, he had the “01” starting position. With 11 contestants, it’s easy to forget him by the end of the show. Second, the judges didn’t like him. If he’s voted off, he needn’t worry. Michael Sarver will easily have a successful career in country music.

05 — Adam Lambert — Ring of Fire — 4 stars

I usually don't like Lambert, but this time, he won me over. His eerie, controlled vocals on Ring of Fire reminded me Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Kudos, also, for letting us know that this Middle Eastern version wasn’t his idea, but he was borrowing it, unlike David Cook last year who seemed to take credit for unique versions he’d found on YouTube.

07 — Alexis Grace — Jolene — 3 stars

Grace’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolene was lovely, although rushed, as she attempted to sing as much of the song as possible in the incredibly short time frame. Sometimes, you have to edit. Perhaps Grace didn’t feel comfortable butchering the song. I give her credit for the slower version she sang in rehearsal, which I think was much better.

08 — Danny Gokey — Jesus Take the Wheel — 5 stars

Gokey is my favorite Idol contestant this season and his performance didn’t let me down. His raspy voice adds character to any song. His singing is completely effortless, whether he’s coming on strong or soft, high or low. Incredible!

09 — Anoop Desai — Always On My Mind — 5 stars

While other contestants sounded sappy, Desai’s voice sounded romantic and emotional. He gives Julio Iglesias, Jr., a run for his money!