Tuesday, March 30, 2010

r and b

Okay, not a really big surprise night on Idol...the ones who usually do well, did, and the ones who don't, didn't.  How's that for a recap?  ;o)

Here's my take:

Siobhan...they were too hard on her, but, she was off pitch in her upper register, which is truly the first time I can say she's been off pitch, to me.  She seemed uncomfortable and I think this was her worst week.  She still, however, kicks ass compared to everyone else, so I think she was just due for a crummy week.

Casey...here are my notes:  'nanny goat vibrato, confident tonight, probably his best night so far.'  "That being said,"... (haha) I still don't really buy his performances and am not a huge fan of his singing.  Still love him on the guitar, though.  (Pssst, Casey...go play guitar in a band and sing backup....)

Michael...Nice soft stuff, cool song, great voice, great control.  He is really an awesome singer.  I didn't know that song, either, but now I think I'll have to get to know it.

Didi...Off pitch...a lot, and I didn't believe anything she sang tonight.  She had bad endings in her phrases, turned her little vocal "thing" on and off all throughout the song...I wrote down, "Blech", which pretty much summed this performance up for me.

Katie...Aretha?!?!  Really?!?!  Don't buy it!  The fake swagger didn't work for me, and I actually wrote this question down:  "Was she a pageant girl?"  She walked like she was one.  She is always trying to "cutesy things up" and use her smile/half smile/looks to try to charm her way through...which is too bad, because under all that fluff there is a voice there.  It's just too hard to sift through all the sugar to get to it.  Again, if she had only waited five-8 years to audition, and lived a little in that time.  Aretha?!

Lee...Seemed more confident tonight, and it worked, 'cause I believe him.  This was my fave night for him so far.  He is better than he's been showing us, for sure.  Hopefully he'll hang on to the confidence and keep getting stronger.

Crystal...I was glad when she stood up and stopped playing the piano...she was thinking about it too much and it detracted from her singing.  I liked her up in the high range, and though I totally understood what Simon was saying about her identity as an artist, I also thought this was a nice performance.  

Aaron...Too big of a song for him, the vibrato was bad, the pitch was off, there was no excitement...for me.  The judges seemed keyed up by it, but through the tv I did not get it.

Tim...The low register was off pitch, the voice sucks, this was worse than watching a high schooler...it was boring, he has a smart-aleck attitude and is cocky without the goods to back it up.  Unless he is a 'vote for the worst' contender, I suspect he will be going home.

Andrew...I like his voice less and less, and I didn't believe this performance or get it.  I thought his voice was very thin, and 'off' tonight.  

So, maybe I was just too tired to focus, but this night didn't really wow me, except for a few performances.

In 'my world', I would be sending Tim or Didi home tomorrow night, with Andrew or Katie as backup possibilities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Miley Cyrus????

Okay, I skipped a week...just not a Stones fan to begin with, and after hearing "Angie" butchered even more than the original last week, (which is sayin' sumthin') I decided to wait until this week, and hopefully be inspired.

Well...imagine my surprise when I see Miley Cyrus. On the TV screen. Giving advice to people. About singing. What is going on with Idol this year? I think Simon is jumping ship right before the bow gets sucked under the waves. (I hear the string quartet in the background...."It was a pleasure playing with you all tonight....") Okay, here's my two cents.

Aaron Kelly....didn't want to miss a thing...tried to do a song that only Steven Tyler could pull off. I didn't get it, although I get the country pull he's leaning toward. He reminds me of Randy Travis, but not necessarily in the good ways. I also find him immensely annoying to watch...not sure what it is but I just can't get past it. The "aw shucks" attitude and the "up with people" smiling are getting old. For me, at least.

Andrew Garcia...sang without his guitar...and still stunk up the stage. Sad, because I also liked the Straight Up rendition he did in Hollywood week. He is so deer-in-the-headlights that it's hard to watch him. He's uncomfortable, out of tune, reaching, trying, and not succeeding in any area. I suspect his days are numbered.

Casey James...should go play guitar in a band and sing backup. He would look good in videos, could work with an image consultant on that horrible joker-y smile of his, and just plug in and play to his hearts' content. Gotta hand it to him, though, it is amazing he is singing as well as he is while he is playing...and I mean "Playing," as opposed to most contestants who bring a guitar up there and just play rhythm.

Crystal Bowersox...well of course she should be singing Janis Joplin! Why did it take so long? She seemed, to us at least, to finally be trying up there, instead of phoning it in. We haved loved her from the beginning, but she almost has been acting like she's too cool to be there. I think lastnight she finally tried to rope more people in and didn't seem embarrassed to be on their stage.

Didi Benami...yes, she has improved over the weeks, but she is just not a star presence, to me....lastnight's song was odd and confusing and she was totally doing what they said; acting like she was playing a part in a musical. I love the little "cool quality" in her voice, but it is so sporadic and not reliable that you just can't count on hearing it all the time. I guess I can see where people are attracted to certain aspects of her voice, but I just don't believe it when she sings.

Katie Stevens...I still believe she should have waited a few years. Yes, she tried to act younger, but I didn't buy the Fergie vibe...Kara did, (and I used to agree with her more last year) but I didn't buy it. I agree with Simon, at least as far as Katie is not cut out for pop/rock. I wouldn't pay to buy that or sit and listen to it...I still don't buy that she could sell country, either. She needs to live a little and grow up and pay some dues and try out later, when she knows who she is. That little sideways smile thing is way past annoying now and it just makes me sad to see them sell their gimmicks like that. Just stand up and sing, man!

Lee Dewyze...needs a girl/boyfriend who tells him he is the bomb. Then he needs to believe that. Then he needs to go out and get bombed, and then go on stage and sing like he doesn't care. I believe that is where he would shine. For now, though, he is lacking confidence and is trying to please everyone, which will not work for this venue. He should ignore all of the advice and just pick his own music and sing the way he wants to. He's better than "The Letter" showed lastnight.

Tim Urban...I just do not get it. I guess he could be considered cute, maybe by the 13 and under crowd, but the boy "just can't saaang", folks! Come on! It was sad. Then, to tackle a Freddie Mercury song???? What? That song only worked the first time because Freddie did it. I just think Tim is not meant for this competition. He really sounded like a high schooler at a talent show whose mom begged him to sing that song. Ugh. Hard to sit through.

Paige Miles...LOVE HER, but think her days are numbered. Her voice is obviously raspy and hoarse, and if she has any smart friends or vocal coaches or judges, they would tell her to bow out now before she develops nodes on her vocal chords and ruins her chances of singing for life. It's even uncomfortable to hear her speak, she is so hoarse. She is absolutely stunning, though, and should be able to find a great gig modeling or acting. I think she can sing circles around most of this years' contestants, but we aren't going to get evidence of that as long as she remains hoarse. Too bad.

Michael Lynche...well, he proved again how great he sings...probably one of only two contestants who I can listen to throughout their song and not hear any pitch issues...or, at least, very few. He is smooth and on-pitch and cool...he is also usually safe in his song choice and delivery, which has sometimes worked well in the past for some contestants. We'll see how many risks he takes in the weeks ahead.

Siobhan Magnus...Well, an Idol contestant finally tackled Stevie Wonder...and did not fall flat on their face. She is a pure, raw talent, and talk about spot-on pitch...I think she is overusing the high register, BUT, if you can sing that well up in that range, it's hard for anyone to fault you. I suppose she may annoy some naysayers, but there's no way anyone with any musical background can hear that and try to dismiss her. Hello! It was also awesome because I just love Stevie songs, and that's one of the best for me. I agree that Siobhan is only comfortable on stage, which is how it usually is for big stars.

Prediction: In my world, here is the order, from the best to the worst:

Siobhan Magnus
Crystal Bowersox
Michael Lynche

skip a few hundred feet, and then:

Lee Dewyze
Paige Miles

skip about 50 feet, and then:

the rest of them. Seriously, that's how huge I think the gaps are this year. It's like, high school talent contest-ers all the way up to real singers. Hmmm. A confusing year, to be sure.

In a perfect world, they would be sending Tim or Andrew home tonight. Another possibility would be Didi. There...that's my two cents! Now, bring on the "judges pick the music" night! Can't wait for that! Also, American Idol producers, PLEASE use better judgement in making your "very-talented-successful-musically minded-mentor" phone calls...come on! Miley Cyrus? We are still not past that in our house. Miley Cyrus?!?!?!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

im proooooove ment

Okay, the men definitely made a major improvement, for me, tonight on Idol. Not that I'm saying they were fantastic across the board, but I think all of them sang their personal best tonight.

Here's my thoughts:

Lee DeWyze...was off pitch tonight...maybe 'cause it's just such an exposed melody? I don't know, but it was off-putting for me. This wasn't my favorite of his, and I didn't think it seemed like he was digging it, either.

Alex Lambert...sang a song I love tonight. I think it got better as it went along, and it did seem more in line with his style, but there's still something about his voice that I just can't embrace yet. Hearing the playback at the end while I was in another room made me hear the pitch issues at first, too, and that soured it for me.

Tim Urban...should leave that song well enough alone. It's kind of like trying to do Sinatra's 'My Way'...you just don't do it. I think Jeff Buckley did the supreme version of that song and it will always stand as the gold standard of a beautiful song, beginning to end. I do think, though, that it was the best he's done so far, and he seemed less like a train wreck to me tonight than he has in the past.

Andrew Garcia...sang a peculiar song, but as far as the arrangement of it went, I kind of liked it. The singing was still strange to me, and I agree he was trying maybe a bit too hard to sell it. He was playing in his ballpark tonight, though, and I could see that songwriting and arranging are definitely in his future, if he would choose that.

Casey James...fought off the stylists a bit tonight, for which I am grateful. I think he was much better than last week, and this was the most I've liked him so far, but he just kinda seems like a wet noodle. I don't get the spark factor, or the looks factor, or anything from him. He seems sweet, and nice, but I don't see him on the big stage singing his heart out to a captive audience. I think he either doesn't feel the songs when he's singing, or is afraid to feel them. Not sure which.

Aaron Kelly...sang another song that should have been left well enough alone. I agreed that he was not old/wise enough for this song, and I didn't buy the 'storytelling/narrative' theme that he was trying to sell the judges. There's something about him....I kept saying while he was singing, "he's reaching, he's reaching...." I don't know how to put it into words, but again, I wish he had waited a few years to try out for this. He is the Katie Stevens of the guys...just young and doe-eyed and swimming in a tank of sharks.

Todrick Hall...best he's done so far. Love his look, and I think his stage presence is definitely in place. Not sure he had all the notes placed correctly, and it didn't help that most people love Freddie's version of that song. I didn't think it was as good as Todrick thought it was. I agree that Broadway is his area.

Michael Lynche...Yeah, baby! He owned it, he shared it, he loved it. I love his voice, and I do agree that he is the man to beat, followed closely by Lee Dewyze.

I think Ellen should host next year...she would be so much more enjoyable than Ryan, and I just don't really get all of her comments as a judge. I like her talk show, and I think she's very talented and funny, but she acts like she's sitting on a tack most of the time. Maybe she's afraid to cross swords with Simon? I don't know the answer, but it seems she would be great up front.

Stevie and Carole and Patsy...Oh, My!

Big night on Idol, with the women trying to emulate/channel/imitate/aspire to a lot of big names in the biz.

Katie Stevens...tacked Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway. Argh. Katie's low register was not good at all, and needs work with a vocal coach if she is going to attempt Kelly. Another thing that screamed out at me tonight was the way Katie completely ignores beginnings, endings, and "in-between" notes...she needs to listen to herself sing. She was off pitch often and I thought she pretty much butchered the song. Kelly Clarkson may be young, but the girl has pipes and her singing is solid. If you're going to try to sing her, you have to be ready for it. Katie was not.

Siobhan Magnus...I loved the a capella start to this and thought she rocked that...no drop in pitch whatsoever when the band joined in, which is rare. She needed to be a bit more careful on the big notes, I thought, but overall she blew me away with this. Yea!

Lacey Brown...I think this was the best she's done so far, and it was kind of intriguing tonight. I do think the notes at the end were too big for her, and that her charm lies in singing the quiet and simple lines.

Katelyn Epperly...Did nothing new with this Carole King song, and Kara was right in saying that Carole is a very present artist when she's performing. I also thought if Katelyn was going to play the keys, then she should actually play something. This was blah and boring to me, and maybe something I wouldn't even eat peanuts to.

Didi Benami...Stevie?!?! I thought this was a snore, but I agree this was a vast improvement for her. Still, Stevie?!

Paige Miles... :o( I was sad for her, since it was obvious she was hoarse, either from sickness or emotion, and she really butchered this song. That song is a classic, and is really probably far too large of a song for anyone on Idol. She had a shaky start and never seemed to really lock anything in. I was bummed for her, but she did not have a good night.

Crystal Bowersox... :o) Hello! Yeah.

Lilly Scott...Unfortunate placement for her at the end of the show with this type of song. yes, it was quirky and odd, but it was also forgettable and weird. I think she should sign up to get on a Grey's Anatomy soundtrack, asap.

I definitely think Crystal won this tonight in a walk, with Siobhan a close second. The rest were pretty dismal in their showing. Hopefully the men will bring it tonight!

so there

Tale from Mason's experience yesterday at school, while attending opening with the higher-functioning class....(told by Mason's speech therapist, who was across the room at the time)

The teach has everyone do a job. When they got to Mason, they asked him what the weather was like today. He navigated to the weather page and pushed, "Rainy." It was rainy.

Thank you, Lord.

The Little Man is making a Big Impression.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

stops, pauses, and idles....

Well, we had to kind of admit defeat and scale back our large aspirations for the iPod touch w/ the Proloquo2go program at this time. Even though we love the program and the delivery system of it, we had to admit that Mas cannot handle the scrolling consistently enough to make it a choice communication device for him. His speech therapist reported the iPod was only responding 30% of the time for him, due to the scrolling issue. That just won't cut it! Especially after finally giving him a real voice; it seems doubly harsh to then take that device away and replace it with one that only responds for him some of the time. Again, it's no malfunction as far as the device is concerned, just a little above where Mas is right now with the scrolling. The most unfortunate part is, when he pushes a button and it scrolls instead of responding, he just gives up and won't try again. We decided the best move for now would be to use the iPod/Proloquo2go as our "after hours/nights/weekends/holidays device" and try to help him along with the scrolling the best we can. We'll see how it ends up.

A few people have asked why I'm not commenting on Idol this year...well, this year, it just seems rather...idle. I have not been very impressed with Idol for the most part. For what it's worth, though, I'll throw my two cents into the ring and try to summarize this year's field of contestants.

First, the guys....

Aaron Kelly...I wish he had waited a few years to audition. I don't think he has a brilliant voice, and for some reason, the 'smilyness' factor while he sings seems off-putting to me. I don't know how to pin it down, but I just don't buy it.

Alex Lambert...Call me horrible, but I cannot get past the mullet. I know, I know, it's an aesthetics issue, but it DID color the way I thought he was singing. When I closed my eyes, I found him more palatable than when I watched him sing. I don't know; he is an odd duck. He will certainly never become a video star, but if you could listen to him on the radio without watching him, I think it could work alright. Not a stellar performer, but a decent voice.

Andrew Garcia...Loved the Straight Up remake he did in Hollywood week, but I agree that he's never revisited that vibe since that happened. His voice is almost a caricature of itself...I like it sometimes, but sometimes I find it too thought-out and grating. I don't know where to file him yet.

Casey James...Should have fought off the image consultants with his bare fists. He is getting more and more effeminate and less impressive in his singing. I think his singing ability has steadily decreased since the first time they heard him, and there is absolutely zero spark there for me. I guess I don't get him.

Lee DeWyze...Probably one of the two guys to beat this year, as far as I'm concerned. I like his voice, I like his unpretentiousness, I like his vibe. I hope he stays true to his own image and doesn't listen too much to the image consultants or to the judges, for that matter. I do think he needs to have a great week soon to really solidify his spot. I think his vibe is stronger than his voice, though.

Michael Lynche...Probably the other part of the two guys to beat this year. His voice is probably unequalled in the men. Great attitude, likable, nice beginnings and endings, great tone quality, pretty great pitch most of the time, someone I would listen to on the radio, but would also like to watch perform. I think he's one of the few this year who has "it." Not "IT", like last year's Adam Lambert, but "it."

Tim Urban...is skating by on looks alone. Too bad, because he's cute and marketable, but doesn't know who he is yet and his lack of voice doesn't help that. Not sure how he made it this far, actually.

Todrick Hall...has the look, for sure. Is mesmerizing to watch. Not convinced on the voice yet, though.

And now for the girls...

Crystal Bowersox...Love the fact that she does not appear to care too much what people say about her hair/clothes/etc., but have noticed things have been getting tamed on her by the image consultants, and am watching closely to see how far she'll let that go. As far as musicality goes, she's one of the ones I believe when I'm watching. She seems mostly on pitch, I like her delivery, and she does seem to slip into the songs instead of singing them note for note. I would hope she is one of the girls to beat this year.

Didi Benami...is she still here?

Katelyn Epperly...the dot between her eyes is all-consuming for me...cannot concentrate when she sings because I keep looking at that dot. I don't know; it's just tough to get used to. I think she has an instrument, but she is renting rather than owning, you know? I just don't buy it. She doesn't get into her songs and she seems to be trying to sell her look rather than her voice. You can see her thinking while she sings, too, which was a curse of last year's contestants.

Katie Stevens...was one of my early faves, but is now becoming increasingly grating in an up-with-people-sort-of-way. I wish she had tried out about 5 years from now, after having lived on the streets or at least traveled or dated or something. I just think she's too young. Does she have a voice? Yes, but I don't hear a polished voice, and there hasn't been enough living and dues paying there for me to believe that she's singing to me. I am on the fence with her. Less smiling, more musicality would serve her well.

Lacey Brown...I want her to do well. I love her look, her story, all of it. I just don't see her making it much further. I think she could definitely be a great backup singer or something, but she does not strike me as a lead singer...of anything. She has a cool voice, but has not honed that cool quality and because of that, it is as sporadic as lightning.

Lilly Scott...quirky, odd, interesting. A cd I might actually buy. I don't know that she has the greatest strength in her singing voice, but as a package it's buyable. She does, however, know her strengths and therefore gets points from me.

Paige Miles...doesn't know how good she is. I agree with Kara's comments that singing Kelly Clarkson's tune with a smile did not work, but you had to agree that Paige can sing. She can really sing. She needs to work with someone who is clearly focused on just her, and start making better choices. She kind of had a deer-in-the-headlights look last week, and it was noticeable, but she needn't have. She has a great voice and once she channels it and stands by it, she will be a force.

Siobhan Magnus...my fave this year for the girls, and probably out of all of them. We refer to her as the 'autistic-y' one, not in a negative way, (believe me, with a kid with autistic tendencies, we would never do that) but in a 'she reminds me of Mel Tillis in that she only seems comfortable singing' way. I love her complete disregard for image, (YEA!) and her completely SPOT-ON pitch last week. That Aretha song is no small feat; for her to not just sing it, but to nail it, was amazing. I love how she is only really "on" when she has the mic up to her mouth to sing...forget the interviews and the fashion sense, this is a real artist here. I am rooting for her because I know I would buy that cd at the store. One of a very, very few I would shell money out for this year.

As far as Ellen for the judge, I don't really know that she has made much of an impact either way. No, she's not a singer, but neither was Paula Abdul. She is way less faky than Paula, which I appreciate, and my finger is not as tired this year because I'm not constantly forwarding through Paula's "you look great" rants. Ellen does appear a bit apologetic at times, and she shouldn't be, because as far as a stage presence, Ellen has it.

I doubt Idol will even survive without Simon, and I doubt I would watch it even if it did, but here's hoping they at least attempt to find someone of equal musical mettle. You may not agree with his delivery, but it's usually directly accurate and helpful.

I think Idol decided this year to get more "Indie Singers"...in fact, I can almost hear the board meeting in which this was discussed...but I think they kind of overdid that. Even though I tire of the "Star-Search" singers who (wait for it!) go for the big, 'signature' notes and kind of fluff through the rest of their performances, I do think an entire slate of mostly Indie singers is kind of exhausting. I feel like their hearts aren't in it, and I think it would have been nice to send Simon out in a stronger way. Here's hoping things perk up, and soon! (I do find it rather odd that most of the girls this year should really be trying their hand at modeling, rather than singing...have we ever had such model-y looking girls on Idol before?)