The Herald-Dispatch |


Idol Chit-Chat
This is your place to discuss all things "American Idol." The performances, the judges, the past contestants — it’s all right here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Taking a break

Angela is taking a short break from her blogging duties and will return in 2008.

Thanks,
Andrea Copley-Smith
online editor
www.herald-dispatch.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How Did Blake Do?


Blake Lewis debuts at #10 on the Billboard 200 with "Audio DayDream," selling 98,000 copies.


That's lower than previous runners-up Clay, Bo and Katharine, but more than Justin and Diana.


I'm REALLY concerned that Arista will blow Blake off like they did Bo and Katharine and not push a second single after "Break Anotha." That would be a HUGE mistake, because the album is chock full of radio hits...

Phil Goes Into the Studio


AmericanIdol.com is reporting that Phil Stacey is in Nashville recording a country album.


"USA Today" is reporting that album will be for Lyric Street Records, the home of former "Idol" contestants Bucky Covington and Josh Gracin.


I'm waiting to hear back from my sources at Lyric Street for more on this, but you know I'm pretty excited since I've got nothing but love for Phil.


Phil, if you're reading this, I recommend a live version of "Blaze of Glory" for the CD...
UPDATE: The fine folks at Lyric Street have confirmed for me that yes, Phil is in the studio working on tracks for his debut CD. Kudos to them for recognizing yet another non-winning Idol talent...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

"Next Great Band": Is the Show "Doom"ed?

Tonight, “The Next Great American Band” reached its final four, who performed the music of Queen and one of their own songs.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Dot Dot Dot (if you can call that quick wave a real goodbye). When it came down to them and Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, I knew that the judges’ criticisms of Adam would eliminate them. Plus, I think that the story of DMHO struggling to pick songs last week gained them votes.

And let’s face it. If every DMHO member’s entire family voted, that would be enough to keep them in.

Here’s the rundown…

The Clark Brothers: “These Are the Days of Our Lives”
So, the brothers took Dicko’s advice and added two band members—a guitarist and a drummer. But I think maybe Ashley should’ve concentrated a little more on his vocal. However, I do agree with Dicko that the additional members did allow the brothers to have more stage presence. B

“Homestead”
I agree that the two additional members give the band a fuller sound, but that doesn’t give Ashley an excuse to slack off on his vocals. And kudos to Dicko for knocking them for their lyrics. I didn’t agree, but at least someone knocked them for something. B

Light of Doom: “We Will Rock You”
I really thought this was too obvious of a choice for them. The beginning was interesting with Erik and the three guitarists playing drums, but there was no real segue into the actual song. And for some bizarre reason, they chose to speed up the tempo. Erik’s vocal was pretty good, but the song was a mess. The judges absolutely trashed them, but I don’t think that’s enough to stop them. F

“A Matter of Time”
Did they have somewhere else to be tonight? This performance seemed incredibly rushed as well. I agree with John that the song didn’t have any kind of hook, but the performance was better than their first one. D

And what was up with John’s dig at professional songwriters? Why do I think there’s a story there?

Sixwire: “Fat Bottomed Girls”
It’s great to see these guys back to what they do best—sing. The harmonies on this one were GORGEOUS. A+

“Go On”
I smell crossover hit. I really want these guys to win so I can buy their album. A+

By the way, Sixwire’s Warner Bros. CD is now selling on the Internet for $65 and up…

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra: “Sleepin’ On the Sidewalk”
Listening to those fantastic horns, I just kept thinking, what if Melinda was their lead singer? But she isn’t and we’re still stuck with the stiff Denver. It was okay, but I’m pretty much over them. B+

“Big White House”
Did Denver actually show a little stage presence? I liked the chorus, but the song was a little loungy for me. B

If this show is going to gain any credibility or buzz in its final weeks, it’s time for America to do the right thing. It’s time for Light of Doom to go home. They were cute for a while, but now it’s time for the real competition to start.

And that means Sixwire and The Clark Brothers in a musical showdown.

But first, we have to get rid of that pesky Denver…

So what do you think? Can Light of Doom be stopped?

And while you're thinking about that, check out Sixwire's performances to see why I like them so much...

Blake Doesn't Translate

One of the consequences of the writers’ strike is that artists have very few outlets to promote their music. So they’re forced to debut music to much of the country on shows like “Live With Regis and Kelly,” which forces artists to reduce their songs to only two minutes in length, often restraining performances. And sometimes it just doesn’t translate.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Blake Lewis on Friday’s “Live”…

Blake gave an incredibly energetic performance of “Break Anotha” Friday morning as he jumped around the small “stage” rocking out with his guitar player and working all of his electronic equipment.

But with the heart of the song removed to fulfill the time requirement, no one quite knew how to take it, as the audience didn’t really muster much excitement. Ted McGinley, the guest co-host, said he was a Blake fan, but he seemed completely appalled. And Kelly could only muster a weak, “Well that was certainly an enthusiastic performance.”

Blake was totally charming during his short interview, but it was hard to show a lot of personality when he was getting such stupid questions. After Blake said he had this album in his head for years, Kelly asked if “American Idol” helped make that happen.

Uh, hello? Did he have a CD on a major label before “Idol”?

Blake closed the show with a little of the CD’s best track “How Many Words,” which I hope means it will be the next single.

If the “Live” performance was your first introduction to “Break Anotha,” please don’t judge it based on those two minutes. It is a good song and “Audio DayDream” is a great CD.

I just hope everyone gives it a chance...

You can see the performance here…

The Grammys Show Idols Some Love

Five Idols received Grammy nominations last week…

Fantasia was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal for “When I See U.” The song is nominated for Best R&B Song, which goes to the songwriter. Fantasia is also nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album for “Fantasia”…

Carrie Underwood was nominated for Best Female Country Vocal for “Before He Cheats.” She was also nominated for Best Country Collaboration with Brad Paisley for “Oh Love.” “Before He Cheats” is also nominated for Best Country Song and Song of the Year, which both go to the songwriter(s)…

Kelly Clarkson will go up against Carrie in the Best Country Collaboration category with “Because of You,” her duet with Reba McEntire…

Mandisa received a nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album for “True Beauty”…

But the most love went to Daughtry, with four nominations: Best Pop Duo or Group Vocal for “Home,” Best Rock Duo or Group Vocal for “It’s Not Over,” Best Rock Song by “It’s Not Over” and Best Rock Album for “Daughtry”…

Despite all that love, though, Daughtry did not get a nomination for Best New Artist. Chris and the guys shouldn’t get down, though. The Grammys often snub commercially successful artists in favor of lesser knowns (in this case, Feist and Paramore)…

The Grammys will air Sunday, February 10th at 8 p.m. on CBS…

Tina Disses Paula


In the new issue of “Playboy,” Tina Fey says that Paula Abdul “was awful” when she was on “Saturday Night Live” in 2005.

“I was pregnant at the time and probably a little moody, but I remember thinking, ‘She’s a disaster! I gotta prop this lady up and get her on TV. [She was] disastrous…in the way she generally appears to be. It was an ‘American Idol’ sketch and she wanted to change parts. So Amy Poehler had to play her”…

Since I don’t read “Playboy,” I can’t tell you how this came up in the interview. So if anyone out there reads “Playboy,” please let me know.

That way you can actually say you read it for the articles…

Bucky Joins the Christmas Fun


You can now add Bucky Covington to the list of Idols who have recorded Christmas music…

Bucky’s “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” is now available on iTunes and all other digital music outlets…

Jordin Knocks on the Top 10’s Door


Jordin Sparks is knocking on the door of the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Tattoo” sits at #11 this week…

Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood spends her third week at #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart with “So Small”…

Blake's Video: A Little Disappointing

As I feared, Blake Lewis went the Justin Timberlake route with his video for “Break Anotha,” complete with funky colors surrounding his funky dancing…

Now there is a small taste of a story in the video, but it’s not enough to keep the video from disappointing…

You can see it here…

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Melinda's "Next Great Band" Connection

Melinda Doolittle has a connection to one of the groups on “The Next Great American Band.”

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra are former college classmates of Melinda. In fact, Melinda used to perform with them.

Now she’s encouraging people to vote for them on her MySpace page.

You know I’ve been critical of Denver as a frontman. Can you imagine what that great band would sound like with Melinda fronting it?
By the way, a Google search of Denver and the boys shows you they've recorded several CDs, including a Greatest Hits collection...

Don’t forget that “Band” will air at 9 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) on FOX…

Has Melinda Fallen Off the Planet?


There was an interesting post this week on the “Entertainment Weekly” Pop Watch blog.

It was expressing surprise that Melinda Doolittle had not yet signed a record deal. Basically, it made it sound like Melinda had fallen off the planet…

But if you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you know that’s not the case at all.

Melinda is currently on tour with Michael W. Smith in support of his new Christmas CD. She has also signed on to perform on Smitty’s annual cruise in July.

Melinda writes on her MySpace page that she’ll be going into the studio soon, but she doesn’t give any details. I still wouldn’t be surprised if she signs with Rocketown Records, Smitty’s label…

Are Ruben and Frenchie "Misbehavin'"?

Ruben Studdard has joined the ranks of Idols appearing on the stage…

Currently, he’s touring with Robin Givens in the play, “Heaven, I Need a Hug.” But next year, he’ll reportedly team up with Frenchie Davis for a revival of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

You may remember Frenchie as the season two contestant who was booted from the competition after her appearance on an adult website. She just finished a four-year run in “Rent” on Broadway…

Blake Goes "Live"

You guys know that I have sworn to never watch “Live With Regis and Kelly” again in protest over Kelly’s treatment of Clay Aiken. But I’m about to make an exception…

Blake Lewis will be on “Live” tomorrow (Friday, December 7th).

Now, I know that I didn’t even watch “Live” when Kiefer was on there, but I am so anxious to see how Blake performs “Break Anotha” (which I presume he’ll be performing)—especially with the two-minute time limit “Live” gives performers—that I have to tape it.

All of you Claymates out there are free to yell at me now…

“Live With Regis and Kelly” airs in the Huntington area at 10 a.m. on WSAZ. Check your local listings for the time and channel in your area…

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Playing Catch-Up

I'm playing a little catch-up tonight so you'll find all kinds of news, so be sure to scroll down...

Also, make sure you scroll down for my review of Blake's CD, "Audio DayDream," which hit stores today...

Simon: "Strongest 12 we've ever had..."


Simon Cowell is saying that this season of “American Idol” “will be the strongest 12 we’ve ever had, and I’ve never, ever said that before.”

One of those 12 will not be Fantasia’s older brother, Ricco Barrino. According to reports, he made it to Hollywood Week (which is being filmed this week), but was cut early…

Remember that “Idol” premieres Tuesday, January 15th at 8 p.m. on FOX…

Randy Looks for the Moves


Randy Jackson’s new MTV reality show is beginning open casting calls for hip-hop dance teams this week. Auditions will visit Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Since this is Hollywood week for “Idol,” I’m guessing Randy is not participating.

“Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew” will premiere next year…

An Idol Hits Bottom

Remember Jessica Sierra? The Season Four finalist that went further than she should thanks to her “assets”?

These days you can follow her life in the police blotter…

Jessica was arrested Saturday and charged with disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest and violating the conditions of her parole. Saturday’s arrest came just two weeks after she pleaded no contest to charges of battery and possession of cocaine.

It also comes one week after VH1 announced Jessica would take part in “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” its newest reality show. There’s no word on how this arrest will affect the show—if at all…

"The Hills Are Alive" with Carrie


Carrie Underwood will perform “The Sound of Music” on the CBS special, “Movies Rock! A Celebration of Music and Film.”

“Movies” airs Friday, December 7th at 9 p.m. on CBS…

The "Fascinating" J-Hud Gets Ready to "Rock"


Jennifer Hudson makes two TV appearances this week…

First, she makes the list of “Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2007.” The special airs Thursday, December 6th at 10:02 p.m. on ABC…

Friday, Jennifer will perform on “Movies Rock! A Celebration of Music and Film.” She’ll sing “Goldfinger.”

“Movies” airs Friday, December 7th at 9 p.m. on CBS…

Jordin, Kat and Kelly Celebrate Thanksgiving

Idols were everywhere on Thanksgiving…

Jordin Sparks “performed” in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She did a good lip synch of “Tattoo” (For the record, everyone lip synchs in the parade.)…

Katharine McPhee sang the National Anthem at the Lions-Packers game. She was doing pretty well, until she forgot the cardinal rule of singing the anthem. Don’t start on such a high note that you can’t reach the higher notes that come later…

Kelly Clarkson performed at halftime of the Cowboys-Jets in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s kickoff of the red kettle campaign. She did a medley of “Walk Away,” “Never Again” and “Since U Been Gone”—or at least that’s what I heard before my mom turned the channel because she couldn’t handle Kelly’s screaming. In Kelly’s defense, her sound mix was WAY off since you couldn’t hear her backup singers at all. But she REALLY needs to give up on “Never Again.” There are at least two tracks from “My December” that would be radio hits, but I guess everyone’s just dropped it all together—including Kelly...

You can see part of her performance here.

Kelly Hits the Road with Reba

Kelly Clarkson is teaming up with Reba McEntire for the “2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour.”

The tour will kick off January 17th in Dayton and visit 15 cities through February 16th. Unfortunately, Dayton and Morgantown are as close as the tour will get to the Tri-State.

Speaking of Kelly and Reba, Reba told “Billboard” that “Because of You” was not what the duo originally planned to record. They recorded it after Reba’s husband/manager (and now Kelly’s manager) Narvel noticed “a spark” between them on the song when they were rehearsing for their “Crossroads” special…

Kat Celebrates "Christmas in Washington"


Katharine McPhee will be one of the performers for “Christmas in Washington.”

The concert will be taped December 9th at the National Building Museum and will air December 12th at 10 p.m. on TNT…

Are You Kidding Me?

So did anyone watch Kellie Pickler on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” last month?

Holy cow…

I have just one question. Is Kellie really that ditzy or is she that good of an actress?

The best part to me was when she was asked what European country Budapest was the capital of. You can see it for yourself here.



By the way, Katharine McPhee helped her prepare for the show by playing the home game with her…

If Kellie is just acting, she deserves an Emmy. But if she isn’t, that doesn’t really say much for the Ablemarle, NC school system…

Blake CD Review: A Familiar Ring

There’s no doubt that Blake Lewis is the most original “Idol” contestant ever. However, I can’t really say that his album, “Audio DayDream” is all that original.

When compared to other Idols, it is absolutely completely different, but when compared to today’s music, it does have a bit of a familiar ring to it. I guess that’s what happens when your main collaborator is a Timbaland collaborator (Ryan Tedder of One Republic).

But in this case, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing…

Reaching into the Justin Timberlake playbook, Blake gives us interludes between some of the songs, which personally I would have preferred he leave off. However, the first one, “Silence Is Golden…(Intro)” is a perfect setup for the first single, “Break Anotha.” I know that “Break” is not everyone’s cup of tea and I can see how it would drive some people crazy, but I love it…

“Gots to Get Her” actually borrows from “Puttin’ On the Ritz.” How does that work, you might ask? Quite well, actually, as it makes for a very catchy tune. I could do without the vocoded ADD as the interlude, though, because it kind of takes away from the song…

The chorus of “Know My Name” is a little weak, but the beat is so catchy, you hardly notice. In fact it’s those infectious beats that save most of the songs on the CD. The guest rap on this one is completely unnecessary…

“How Many Words” is a great song with a real late-80s feel. One reviewer compared some of the tracks to Erasure, and that’s a great comparison. I would say this song is Erasure meets Breathe, if you remember them…

“Surrender” starts out pretty weak, and all of the verses are weak, but it has a good chorus. “Hate 2 Love Her” sounds a little similar to “Surrender,” but it’s still a good song…

A bad interlude leads us into the CD’s only real ballad, “Without You.” It’s pretty, but it’s a little out of Blake’s range…

“Here’s My Hello” sounds like it came straight from a late 80s/early 90s Erasure CD. And since I love Erasure, I love this…

At this point of listening to the CD, I was pretty excited. I was already drafting in my head what I was going to say about the best “Idol” CD recorded. And then I heard the Chris Richardson collaboration, “What’cha Got 2 Lose.” Blake, I know he’s your friend, but let him record his own album. The song is bad with way too much vocoder (the computer that changes your voice, a la T-Pain). Even the beat can’t save this one because it’s lousy, and so is the chorus. Plus it drags on for WAY too long…

Blake doesn’t do himself any favors with the next song either as he does his worst Prince impersonation on “She’s Making Me Lose It.” The synthesizers are weird and it too drags on for what seems like an eternity…

Then, Blake feels the need to remind us what made him famous as he does a beatboxing interlude called “Bshorty Grabs the Mike.” I think Blake is a great beatboxer, but this is a little weak…

Thankfully, the CD does not go completely down the tubes as we get the most Erasure-like song, the beautiful “End of the World.” Blake wisely chooses to stay on that path with two more good ones, “1000 Miles” and “I Got U”…

The CD ends with “…I Choose Noise (Outro),” which is a little strange, but I guess you can’t really have an intro without an outro…

If you don’t like highly produced pop music, you will hate “Audio DayDream.” But if you don’t mind some synthesizers with well-placed beatboxing, then you’ll love it. If I were to give it a grade, I’d give it a very strong A-.

The minus is for those two lousy songs, but they shouldn’t be enough to scare you away from buying this one…

You can listen to the CD for yourself here. Be sure to post a comment or send an e-mail to hdstaytuned@hotmail.com after you listen to it. I’m anxious to hear what you think…

"Next Great Band": The Light is Still On

I wasn’t all that anxious to watch “The Next Great American Band” this week since I knew Thursday who was eliminated thanks to an Internet spoiler. But last night, I finally got around to watching the bands perform the music of Rod Stewart.

So who got eliminated? Unfortunately it was the most fun band on the show (and also the one with the best name), Tres Bien.

Here’s the rundown on the five remaining bands…

Dot Dot Dot: “Young Turks”
It was a little too tame for me since I prefer Adam without the guitar, so I almost agreed with the judges’ criticisms this time—although I think Sheila was too harsh on Adam. But John said it was their best performance ever, and I completely disagree with that. B+

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra: “Baby Jane”
In the opening, we saw these guys struggling to pick a song, because many Rod Stewart songs have lyrics too risqué for their faith. They chose this one I’m not familiar with, so I didn’t know what Dicko was talking about when he chastised them for taking out too much of it. Denver’s vocal was good, but he’s still too stiff. B-

Sixwire: “Hot Legs”
This one gave the guys the chance to rock a little, complete with guitar solos. I don’t really like the song, but it was a good performance—despite the heavily criticized bass solo. A

The Clark Brothers: “You’re In My Heart”
The guys tried to turn this one into a slow, heartfelt ballad, but it didn’t work. Ashley’s vocal was extremely weak and the arrangement was sluggish. But apparently the judges were listening to something else because they loved it and Sheila was brought to tears. C

Light of Doom: “Infatuation”
Tres Bien had to know they didn’t stand a chance against the crowd favorite. And Erik responded with his strongest vocal of the season (He’s apparently taking voice lessons.). I never really thought of this one as a possible hard rock song, but it somehow worked. A-

So who should go home? Even though I gave The Clark Brothers the worst grade, I think it’s time for Denver and the Mile High Orchestra to go home. Obviously, Light of Doom is the worst of the remaining bands, but based on the audience, they’re not going anywhere—especially after a good performance.

Again, I have to express my concern that Light of Doom is going to win this thing. And Vote for the Worst will take all the credit, but they have nothing to do with it. It’s all about the novelty—although I’m terribly concerned that Mitchell, the 12-year-old drummer is inspired by Tommy Lee…

It’s interesting to note that according to Dicko, the bands can hire and fire anyone they want at this stage (which surprised The Clark Brothers). Dicko encouraged The Clark Brothers to bring in a fourth member, but I hope they don’t. If I was Denver and the MHO, I’d fire Denver…

Next week, the four remaining bands take on the music of Queen one hour later (9 p.m.). I’m going to go out on a limb, and predict that Light of Doom will do “We Are the Champions”…