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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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bucky Covington's New Single: You "Gotta Be" Kidding Me

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to actually say what I think on this blog. I may not like a song or an album, but I like the person behind it, and I don’t want to tear them down…

But sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. And this is one of those times…

Bucky Covington has just released the new single from his upcoming sophomore album (which has now been postponed until Spring 2010) and as I listen to it right now, I just can’t help but shake my head…

It’s a cover of the Nickelback smash, “Gotta Be Somebody.”

I ADORE this song more than I can say, so it absolutely pains me to hear what Bucky has done to it. It’s not that he has a bad voice or anything—because he doesn’t—it’s just that this song should not be countrified. And Bucky is no Chad Kroeger when it comes to singing.

Plus, Bucky tries to change it up with subtle lyric changes and rhythm changes with some of the words and they don’t work. Especially when he takes the curse word out of the second verse.

I really like Bucky and I really like the people at his label, Lyric Street, but I just don’t know what they’re thinking with this one. Do I think it’s a hit? Yeah, probably. But by covering such a familiar song that is still getting lots of pop airplay, what is that going to do for his credibility?

Not to mention what it’s going to do to my ears. I don’t think I can ever hear the Nickelback version the same way again…

Photo Credit: David McClister

Friday, September 25, 2009

Carrie Underwood's New Single...

This week, Carrie Underwood released her first single from her upcoming third album, “Play On,” which will hit stores November 3rd…

The song is called “Cowboy Casanova” and you can hear it here.

Personally, I’m just not sure. I mean it’s good, but…

What do you guys think?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blake Lewis: "I'm learning from my mistakes"

In my opinion, Blake Lewis is still the most original contestant in “Idol” history. Blake took chances that no other contestant ever had before. And without him opening the door, there would’ve been no David Cook, and possibly no Adam Lambert…

But sadly the powers-that-be didn’t embrace that originality and tried to shove Blake into their usual mold. The result was that Blake’s CD, “Audio Day Dream”—which I still consider to be among the best “Idol” albums ever—did not get the promotion that it deserved.

Thankfully, though, Blake has not let that experience stop him and he’s now found a home at Tommy Boy Entertainment, which is much more suited to his style. “Heartbreak on Vinyl,” Blake’s sophomore album, will hit stores October 6th…

Monday, I had the chance to chat with Blake about the CD and what he learned from his “ADD” experience…

For those who haven’t heard it, Blake described “Heartbreak” as “kind of an indie pop dance record with a nostalgic 80s feel.” He hopes that it will make people “lose their inhibitions and just rock out. I’m really proud of this record.”

Blake co-wrote almost every track on this “very personal record.” He told me, “It’s about my last love.” When Blake mentioned that some of the songs were very personal, I asked him which ones in particular and he ended up naming almost all of them. “It was very cathartic,” he said.

A trip to New York’s Union Square Virgin Megastore, which was getting ready to close, inspired one of the catchiest tracks on the CD, the title track “Heartbreak on Vinyl.” Blake described it as “a sentimental song about indie record stores closing down. I’m a huge advocate for shopping at record stores.” But Blake knows that sadly, those opportunities are becoming few and far between as the music industry continues to change.

And speaking of the industry, what did Blake learn from his “ADD” experience that is helping him today? “So much. I learned about the jaded music industry. How it’s eating itself. I learned money talks…It’s too much to explain. But I’m learning from my mistakes. It was a great learning year.”

I had to ask if “Heartbreak” is more like what he wanted to do the first time around. “Yeah definitely. But Clive Davis and the powers-that-be would not let me.”

Of course, I had to turn our conversation eventually to “American Idol,” so I asked Blake if he gets tired of people still asking him about it. “Yes and no. It depends on if I’ve had 300 questions about it in a row. It’s part of my life and I embrace it. A lot of people care about this amazing show…And I made it pretty d--n far.”

And the number one question people still ask him about the show? No surprise, it’s “Is Simon really mean?” For the record, Blake says the answer is no.

I then turned to asking some of your questions. He didn’t answer whether or not he was single, but he did tell me which former Idol he would most like to work with. “I would love to take Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood and produce them in a totally different way. I like to take people out of their comfort zone.”

As for this season’s contestants, Blake said he’s a fan of Adam Lambert and Matt Giraud, but he said he “could find something fun to do with all of them.”

Blake said he is hoping to go on tour in November and December. He’s looking forward to sharing his music with his fans, but he admits that being on the road can be difficult. “The last tour was definitely hectic. It’s different being on the road. It’s mentally stressful.”

And not to worry “ADD” fans, Blake will be doing songs from that one on tour as well. “I’m very proud of that record. There are songs I love to sing from that record. Those are songs that will be in the mix.”

Since Blake has learned so much in such a short time, I asked him what advice he would give to someone just starting out. “Learn as much as you can about the music business. All the stuff that I didn’t know that would’ve helped me out.”

The good news is that it sounds like Blake is getting it figured out now…

I’ll have a complete review of “Heartbreak” next week. In the meantime, you can get more information on Blake on Blake’s website, or on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace

Photo Credit: Myriam Santos

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kris Allen’s Debut Single: SERIOUSLY Awesome!

My partner in abnormality, Kris Allen —I’m sorry, but you know I am never going to let that one go. It was such an awesome moment.— has released his first single, “Live Like We're Dying.”

How is it? You can judge for yourself, but I judge it as SERIOUSLY awesome. Now, I will warn you that Kris is getting some flak for releasing a cover as his first single (It was originally recorded by The Script.), but when it’s this good and well suited to his voice, does it really matter? Now if he had released “Unchained Melody,” or something like that, I would have a problem with it…

I mean, seriously, could this be any catchier?

I’m actually starting to feel a little better about Kris’ chances now…

Be sure to let me know what you think…

My 15 Minutes With Blake Lewis: Throwing Objectivity Out the Window

One of the main rules about being a journalist is to be objective, but let’s face it. Sometimes it’s hard…

Over the last few years I’ve been doing this, I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of cool people and I usually try pretty hard not to gush. But sometimes, I just can’t help it.

And yesterday was one of those times, as I got to talk to one of my all-time favorite Idols, Blake Lewis…

I just couldn’t help it, because I will always feel a personal connection to Blake. Not just because I texted my fingers off for him when he was on the show. And not just because I screamed my head off for him when he came to Huntington as part of the Idols tour. No, it’s more personal than that. See, it was Blake’s CD, “Audio Day Dream,” that got me through the worst time in my life—the eight weeks my mother was sick before she passed away.

I live an hour away from home, so when I got the phone call that she was at the hospital, I had to make that long drive all the while having no idea what was going to happen when I got there. “ADD” was in my CD player. I hit play and listened to the entire CD from beginning to end. Without it, I think I would have gone insane. And during those numerous trips to the hospital, it was songs like “1000 Miles” and “I Got U” that kept me together…

I promised myself that if I ever got the chance, I would find a way to tell Blake thank you. And yesterday, I got the chance. I admit, I debated it, but I threw objectivity out the window and told Blake that it was his music that got me through a rough time in my life and I just wanted to tell him that. And he very graciously thanked me in return.

It was the most unjournalistic thing I’ve done in my journalism career, and I’m sure that if any of my journalism professors are reading this, they’re raking me over the coals as we speak. But it made me feel better…

Probably freaked out Blake, but it made me feel better…

Tomorrow I’ll have more from my interview with Blake, including the personal story behind his new album and some thoughts on what went wrong with the first one…

So Stay Tuned…

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blake Lewis Is Back Baby!

I had the opportunity to listen to Blake Lewis' new CD, "Heartbreak on Vinyl" over the weekend and it is awesome. It comes out October 6th and I'll have a full review closer to that date...

But that's not the big news. The big news is that I am scheduled to interview him tomorrow and I'll post that interview just as soon as I can...

If you have any burning questions you'd like me to ask him, be sure and post a comment and let me know...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Daughtry Tickets Reminder

Just a reminder that tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. for the Daughtry concert at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington...

If you are lucky enough to have a pre-sale password, those tickets go on sale tomorrow...


Daughtry will be in Huntington November 14th...
Photo Credit: David Clinch/RCA

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Idol "Divas" Unite

When “VH1 Divas” returns this week after a five-year absence, it will have a decidedly “Idol” flavor…

Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks and Jennifer Hudson will all perform during the live special, hosted by Paula Abdul.

The Idol ladies will be joined by Adele, Leona Lewis and Miley Cyrus.

If that’s not enough to make you watch, there will also be special appearances throughout the night, including an appearance by Kathy Griffin, which I can’t believe makes Paula any too comfortable…

“VH1 Divas” airs Thursday, September 17th at 9 p.m. on VH1…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is "Idol" About to Jump the Shark?

I have to admit that I’m still in kind of a haze today…

I keep thinking this whole Ellen thing is just one big joke. But it isn’t. It’s absolutely, 100 percent real…

And in my opinion, it could mean the end of “American Idol” as we know it. Seriously…

Again, let me say that I think Ellen is a wonderful talk show host and a very funny comedian. I’ve applauded every single Emmy win she has. And I think her American Express commercials are first rate…

But as a judge on “American Idol”?

I didn’t see her stint as a guest judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” a few months ago, but everything I’ve heard about it confirms my worst fears about this whole thing…

I’m afraid that she will try so hard to be funny that the actual point of the show will get lost. Because you know that Ryan isn’t going to just stand back and watch someone else get all of the best jokes…

So, he’ll have to try and be funnier. And then Simon will have to outdo him. And then Kara will have to outdo Simon and then it will be all about the judges instead of who it should be about—the contestants.

And Ellen is the queen of nice. So if someone botches a performance is she really going to be able to tell the truth or will she just crack some unnecessary joke instead?

There’s an old expression in the TV business that when a show reaches the point where it’s no longer watchable, it is said to have jumped the shark. It comes from a “Happy Days” episode where Fonzie, on water skis, literally jumped a shark.

Well, I believe that Simon Fuller, Mike Darnell and all of the people at “Idol” and FOX are starting up that boat and Ellen is readying her skis. And that makes me sadder than I can even tell you…

I guess the phenomenon had to end sometime…

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breaking News: Paula’s Replacement is Ellen?

When I saw this headline, I thought it was a 9/9/09 joke, but it isn’t…

Especially since I just found the press release in my inbox…

FOX has announced that Ellen DeGeneres will replace Paula as the fourth “Idol” judge.

WHAT?!

In the press release, Ellen said, “I’m thrilled to be the new judge on ‘American Idol.’ I’ve watched since the beginning, and I’ve always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I’ll save from not having to text in my vote.”

Ellen will join the panel after the auditions.

Now, let me say that I love Ellen, but as a judge? We know she isn’t going to be mean to these people, so we won’t get actual critiques. So does that mean she’ll fire one-liners at the contestants instead?

I can’t believe that Simon is going to like this. And how can you take the show seriously as the search for the next superstar if one of the judges is a comedian?

What are your thoughts? Is this a good choice?