American Idol 2009 – Jason’s Episode 25 Recap

March 31, 2009

I haven’t read Gordon’s post yet, because I did not want to risk tainting my opinions.  And without further ado, here is my recap of tonight’s performances.

Anoop Desai – If I could have given Anoop any advice last week (which I did, but he apparently can’t hear me shouting at the television), it would have been this: “Never listen to Randy Jackson’s advice!  Ever!”  Anoop unwisely listens to Randy and tries another upbeat R&B song after two weeks of strong ballad performances, and he completely blows it.  Performing Usher’s “Caught Up,” Anoop mangles every second of this song.  When Usher sings it, the song has a recognizable groove and melody.  When Anoop sings it, it becomes the aural equivalent of chocolate pudding, a sloppy, formless mess of unpleasant goo.

Megan Joy – Megan takes a shot at Lauryn Hill’s cover of Bob Marley tune “Turn The Light Down Low.”  And forgive me, but it is actually her most accomplished vocal by a mile.  Take that with a grain of salt, though, because it was still pretty bad.  Megan looks awkward on stage, her forced vibrato and vowel-stretching pronunciation are difficult to stomach, and she sounds a little like Gwen Stefani.  That’s not a compliment, because Gwen Stefani can’t sing either.  I agree with the judges that her personality is disappearing, and, as a result, what was one of her better vocals ends up being flat and boring.

Danny Gokey – I did not think it was possible to sing in a more nasally fashion than the lead singer of Rascal Flatts, but Danny does so in his interpretation of “What Hurts The Most.”  The verses are particularly nasally, but when Gokey hits the chorus and really belts it out, he sounds decent.  This seems to be a pattern for Danny: mediocre verse followed by powerhouse chorus.  Meh.

Allison Iraheta – Oh, Allison!  Why?  You were on such a great streak with all of your previous performances, but you really tied a heavy weight around your neck with this song choice and proceeded to sink to the bottom.  Allison’s voice has excellent tone, but this was an awful song for her particular voice, and she could be in big trouble.  The judges ripped on her for her fashion choice and had little else to say.  Hey, douchebags, this is not “America’s Next Top Model,” it’s “America’s Next Top Karaoke Singer!”  Get it straight!

Scott MacIntyre – “Just The Way You Are” sung by Scott sounds awful on paper, and before the performance began, I thought I was about to see Scott’s final bow on the Idol stage.  But, holy shit, this really worked for him!  He’s still not a great singer, but he pulled off some fairly nuanced vocal work here, and the song did nothing but highlight his greatest strengths.  A surprise from Scott!

Matt Giraud – Desperate to avoid the bottom three after last week’s shocker, Matt decides to sing “You Found Me” by The Fray.  From the first hurried note, Matt imbues the entire song with a really unpleasant whiny growl, his attempt at “rock,” apparently.  He’s flat for the whole performance, and he was only able to pull it together for the brief falsetto note.  Trip home for Matt?  Maybe so.

Lil Rounds – “I Surrender” by Celine Dion.  I’ll start with the second half of the song and repeat what I’ve always said about Lil: nothing but tuneless shouting/screaming.  Now, the first half of the song is where Lil really proves something.  She proves that when she’s actually trying to sing softly without screaming at the top of her lungs, she in absolutely no way compares to the “diva” contestants of seasons past, like Melinda Doolittle or Jennifer Hudson.  She has no bottom end (well, okay, she’s definitely got one of those), and it showed tonight.

Adam Lambert – Adam sings “Play That Funky Music,” and he brings his special brand of crazy to it.  I’m not wild about his vocals this week, but what makes Adam stand apart from the crowd is his absolute fearlessness.  Sure, it was over the top, theatrical, and corny, but dammit, it was entertaining as hell!  Adam is going far.

Kris Allen – Look, I don’t like Kris Allen.  He has never been anything but boring, and his weird monkey mouth faces that he makes while singing are really hard to watch.  However, Kris blew it out of the water tonight with the Bill Withers classic “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  This is an unimpeachably cool song, and Kris actually brought a new and interesting flavor to it.  This is the first time that he has appeared as anything other than a whiny boy band imitator, and although I hate to say it, Kris was the best of the night.

So there we have it.  Overall this was a pretty rough week for most of the Idols, with a few surprises thrown into the mix.  I believe that the bottom three tomorrow will be Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds, and Matt Giraud.  It’s a tough call between Anoop and Matt, but I’m going to say Matt goes home.

Good night!


American Idol, 2009 – Episode 25 (3/31/09)

March 31, 2009

Idol LogoDown to nine, but my favorites are still in the hunt. Adam seems to have a decent-sized fanbase, but I still suspect that Allison does not. Can either of them withstand the power of the Gokey machine long enough to make a real run at it? He’s consistently ranked high by Dial Idol but I don’t feel like he’s earned that yet. Maybe he will tonight. Or maybe the hype will fade. It certainly has for other contestants in the past.

Live blogging and spoilers below the fold once the show starts at 7:00 Central.

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“In the Year 2525,” Cleopatra 2525, and Jack of All Trades

March 30, 2009

For reasons that are awesome but that I can’t tell you about yet, I was reminded the other day of the short-lived but jaw-droppingly wonderful late-’90s TV show, Cleopatra 2525.

If the year in the title sounds familiar, it’s because it is taken from Zager & Evans’ dystopian, misanthropic, Luddite, environmental-apocalyptic sixties anthem, “In the Year 2525.” The song was a huge hit in 1969, endures on oldies radio, and has been covered several times, but not everyone loves it. In a column about bad music based around submissions from readers, David Barry notes “VIOLENT hatred for this song.”


That Zager & Evans allowed a variation on “In the Year 2525” to be used as the theme to Cleopatra 2525 is one of the most glorious sellouts in the history of music. The very-much tongue-in-cheek show was about a stripper from our time who is put into suspended animation following complications arising from a boob job and wakes up in the title year. Taking Zager & Evans’ “message” song and turning it into the theme for a science-fiction show about three hot chicks who kick ass was a stroke of trashy genius.

Cleopatra 2525 was paired with Bruce Campbell’s Jack of All Trades in a syndication package as the Back2Back Action Hour. Jack of All Trades has the most relentlessly catchy theme song in the history of TV–the Rembrandts’ song in Friends may come close, but you’ll feel a lot less guilty getting the Jack of All Trades theme stuck in your head all day since it’s based on the Marine Hymn and not some pussy ’90s easy-listening shit.

This song was nominated for an Emmy!

I should add that Campbell’s co-star, Angela Dotchin, is about the prettiest darned thing I’ve ever seen and she was charming as all get-out on the show. Pity she hasn’t had much of a career after Jack. Get on it, movie and TV making people!

Album Review: The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound (II)

March 29, 2009

The anchor of The Gaslight Anthem’s excellent album, The ’59 Sound, is its second and title track, wherein our narrator reflects upon the too-young death of a friend and wonders what the experience of dying is like:

Did you hear the ’59 sound coming through on Grandmama’s radio?

Did you hear the rattling chains in the hospital walls?

Did you hear the old gospel choir when they came to carry you over?

Did you hear your favorite song one last time?

It’s rousing, heartfelt, and heartbreaking, and captures in one cutting sentence the cruel injustice of this world we all live in:

Young boys/young girls–ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night.

If this was a just world, “The ’59 Sound” would already be considered a classic, and I have enough faith in flawed mankind to believe that someday it will be.

Like “The ’59 Sound,” the song, The ’59 Sound, the album, is bathed deeply in nostalgia. The obvious model is Bruce Springsteen, whose sound and songwriting are consciously mimicked and whose songs are referenced–it’s a concept album that takes place within “Spirit in the Night.” Here, Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger constantly play on the radio, with an anachronistic visit from August and Everything After-era Counting Crows:

Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand
I always kinda sorta wished I looked like Elvis.

(No, you don’t. That bitch is crazy.)

Also on the eternally-playing radio are Miles Davis, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding, although those references are less successful because the album doesn’t reflect their sound like it does its classic-rock touchstones.

The ’59 Sound‘s proper listening environment is blaring from the eight-track of the old white Lincoln Continental parked twenty feet away from a late-night beach bonfire, where you listen as you drink a Schlitz. And then again twenty years later, as it plays on the stereo while you and your friends are sitting around the living room reminiscing about that night.

Four Stars

“The ’59 Sound”

(Jason’s review of The ’59 Sound is here. I consciously didn’t read it after he sold me on it so that I could formulate my own thoughts. I hope I haven’t subconsciously plagiarized it.)

American Idol, 2009 – Episode 24 (3/26/09)

March 26, 2009

Idol LogoGood evening and welcome to this week’s results show.  Do you think Paula will talk about what’s under her skirt again? We can only hope.

Below, I’ll live-blog what did happen. In this space, I’ll detail what should happen and what I think will happen.

Who Should Go Home

  1. Megan Joy. Please, please, stop the madness. I don’t think I fully understood the meaning of the judges when they said “cruise ship” until I saw Megan’s performance last night, which made me flash back to when I was a kid watching “The Love Boat.” The saddest part? It wasn’t even her worst performance! Please, America, send her home.
  2. Michael Sarver. An amateurish performance again highlights that there just isn’t any there there. Michael should give it up and make a few extra bucks singing for tips at the neighborhood beer joint on weekends.
  3. Scott MacIntyre. While he finally exhibited some taste this week, and it was an improved performance, the dude just can’t sing. I know I’ve written that a thousand times, but that’s the big issue with Scott and that’s why I keep writing it.

Who Will Go Home

  1. Michael Sarver. Although he’s no worse than Megan–probably better actually–the judges have been pimping Megan until this week. Sarver’s been getting banged on for two weeks, and I think that’s the difference. Tonight, he goes.
  2. Megan Joy. Her bizarre performance last night will put her in the bottom three for the first time.
  3. Scott MacIntyre. He will also make his debut in the bottom three, as the other guys (excluding Michael Sarver) gave good performances last night. I bet a lot of his one-time voters are defecting to other guys, and quickly.

Live nude blogging and spoilers below the fold after the show starts at 7:00 Central.

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Recommended Upcoming Show – Governours – 03.27.2009 & 03.28.2009

March 26, 2009

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Bill Bartholomew and his new band Governours, formed in late 2008 with drummer Tito Ladd and bassist John Phipps, will be rolling through Austin for a couple of dates this weekend.  As evidenced by his 2008 solo EP World On A Wire, Bartholomew’s mostly acoustic-fueled folk pop is driven by strong songwriting, wordy lyrical constructs, and an ear for hooks.

On the album-opening title track, the listener is greeted with thumping drums, high hat taps, simple piano stabs, and acoustic strums, followed by Bartholomew’s pleasant vocals.  It’s a deceptively simple sounding pop tune, but Bartholomew adds in a few well-placed vocal quirks and some unusual arrangement switch ups that help the song build in emotion and power without ever losing it’s defining sweetness.  He repeats many of these tricks with even greater success on standout track “Bright Eyed, Blurry, and Blue.”  The song is propelled by its bouncy rhythm and powerhouse chorus.  Mid-album track “Arsenal” finds Bartholomew in a Dylan-esque mood, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar.  The song is reminiscent of some of the leading indie folk troubadours of today, bringing to mind acts like Elvis Perkins and The Tallest Man On Earth. “There Are No More Numbers” and closer “American Anthem” (presumably not named for the awful 1986 Mitch Gaylord film) show Bartholomew’s rock ‘n’ roll side, the latter even ending with some blistering electric guitar work.  Overall, the short EP is a breezy walk through some seriously infectious pop, and by the close of the record, I found myself not wanting it to be over.

From what I’ve heard, Governours seem to embrace both Bartholomew’s softer acoustic side and the harder rock edge heard on a few of the EP tracks.   Governours will be playing at two different locations this weekend, so stop by and give them a listen if you’re looking for some good music to compliment what will hopefully be a beautiful and cool Austin springtime weekend.  Locations and times listed below.

Friday, 3/27/09
Clementine Coffee Bar
2200 Manor Road
Austin, TX 78722
9:30 pm

Saturday, 3/28/09
Thunderbird Coffee
1401 W. Koenig Lane
Austin, TX 78756
8:00 pm

American Idol 2009 – Jason’s Episode 23 Recap

March 26, 2009

Idol LogoWelcome to my recap of last night’s episode of AI.  I will avoid ranting about how much the judges suck, because it is quite obvious at this point.  I should also title this post “Jason Disagrees With Just About Everything That Gordon Wrote Last Night,” and you’ll soon see why.  Here we go!

Matt Giraud:  Singing “Let’s Get It On,” Matt does pretty well with it.  There’s nothing incredibly special about the performance, but it’s decent.  However, I couldn’t help but think through the whole thing, “Jack Black was more entertaining when he sang this at the end of ‘High Fidelity.'”

Kris Allen:  The faces this guy makes when singing make it incredibly hard to watch him.  What’s wrong with his mouth?  Kris’s vocals are the same white-bread, soulless snoozefest that we always see from him.  On a purely technical level, he sang the song well, but on an entertainment level, he put me right on the Bore Train to Snoozeville.

Scott MacIntyre:  Wow, this was a mess!  Scott has such a plain, unremarkable voice, and he was nowhere near able to do justice to “You Can’t Hurry Love.”  He sounded like an elementary school music teacher.  It was bad.  I like Scott, though.  I’m glad that he made a good joke about his clothes (“Vote for the pink pants!”), because whoever dressed him should be shot.

Megan Joy (what happened to Corkrey?):  I was disappointed to hear that Megan was singing Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In my Life.”  Anyone who has watched Idol in past seasons knows by now that the judges will destroy you if you even attempt a Stevie Wonder or Whitney Houston song.  That’s not to say Megan didn’t deserve what she got.  Megan sounds kind of like a retarded person trying to sing like Tony Bennett.  However, I still don’t think we’ve seen the last of her.

Anoop Desai:  Riding high off of last week’s near perfect performance, Anoop chooses to sing Smokey’s “Ooh Baby, Baby” with mixed results.  The majority of the song works pretty well for him, but there are specific parts where his voice sounds thin and reedy when he tries to hit some of the higher notes that the song requires.  He just doesn’t have the vocal range and power to pull it off.  It was good, but not great.  Still, it’s amazing that this is the same guy who brought us the howlingly awful “My Prerogative” a few weeks ago.

Michael Sarver:  Good lord, Michael Sarver’s performance of “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” has put even Megan to shame with its awfulness.  He can’t keep up with the rhythm, and he sounds exactly as bad as he did last week.  Back to the oil rigs!

Lil Rounds:  Gordon must have been listening to a completely different performance than me, because all I heard when Lil Rounds did “Heat Wave” was tuneless shouting.  Just making your voice loud is not singing.  In a category should have been a cake walk for Lil, she instead crashed and burned.

Adam Lambert:  This kid’s a genius.  He went all out crazy last week on Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire,” so everyone tuned in to see what kind of ridiculously weird interpretation of a Motown song he would do.  Instead, he cleans up his look into a classic Elvis style and plays it straight, singing an incredibly restrained version of “The Tracks Of My Tears.”  He knows how to work the competition, that’s for sure.  No one else came close to him last night.

Danny Gokey: So Smokey Robinson tells you to sing along with the backup singers on “Get Ready.”  Then, after the clip is over, Ryan says, “Let’s see if Danny took Smokey’s advice.”  No, he did not, basically giving Smokey Robinson a huge slap in the face on national television.  Good work, Danny!  Danny sang okay, had fun with it, but his goofy, awkward dancing took away from the performance for me.  Something tells me that Danny Gokey is David Archuleta’s creepy older brother.  Plus, he dissed Smokey!

Allison Iraheta: Allison’s choice of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” was a great one.  I still think that her performance of that Heart song was her shining moment, but she did really well with this one, earning some much-deserved praise from the judges and solidifying her place in the top 9 (hopefully).

So who’s going home this week?

The bottom three will be Scott MacIntyre, Michael Sarver, and Lil Rounds, with Michael getting the boot.

You know I’m right.