Category Archives: Music Reviews
American Idol, Season 10: Top 11 Performances: REDUX – “It’s a little different than runnin’ around shuckin’ it.”
Tonight was our second chance to have the top 11 American Idol Contestants perform in the appropriately titled “Top 11: Redux” (I supposed “Top 11: Part Deux” was too much Charlie Sheen for the show…) A quick recap of the “Best. Results. Show. Ever” led off the show. As the judges and Ryan took the stage, a quick pan of the audience revealed a sign saying – “Thank you for saving Casey”. I agreed wholeheartedly, and by the end of the night, the judges’ decision to save Casey had borne fruit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This week’s theme was the music of Elton John. It was a great catalog of songs, having provided some memorable Idol moments in the past. I wish they had given Bernie Taupin a little more love on the show – but that’s the breaks. As they worked through the montage of Elton’s career I was struck by a thought – evidently Elton John had the funky glasses thing going on far before Clint Jun Gamboa. Who knew?
With a photo-shoot for EW and a rehearsal with Jimmy Iovine serving as the intro to each of the songs, it was time to get started. Who would shine and who would sink? Let’s see…
This week saw the American Idol contestants take on the songs of Motown. It’s become a popular theme week over the years, showing up in 4 out of the first 9 seasons (in fact it was the theme used for the very first top 10 show in season 1.) With the deep and impressive catalogue that Motown brings to the table, it was set up to be an entertaining night – and it didn’t disappoint. Ryan chatted with the judges a bit, gave a quick shout out to Liv Tyler in the audience, and then brought the contestants out on to the stage. Casey was up first. Let’s see what happened.
After a performance show packed with Motown hits, it was time to whittle the top 11 down to the top 10 – and set the roster for this summer’s American Idol tour. The show started with a quick video intro (and I have to say – the intro videos have been noticeably better this year), with the tag included – “Expect the Unexpected”. For a moment I thought I had tuned in to “Big Brother”, then I wondered – would tonight be the first “shocking” elimination of the season? Ryan certainly teased us with shocking results – but the last time he did that this season, it wasn’t shocking at all. Would tonight be different? Let’s see what happened.
American Idol, Season 10: Top 12 Results – “The pitchy is if it’s underneath the actual tone, or above it.”
Time for the top 12 to become the top 11. The show opened with a quick look at what the Idol wanted to be as kids, when they grew up. (The theme this week was “songs from the year you were born”. Get it?). James wanted to be a professional wrestler, Scotty wanted to be an astronaut (“My brains weren’t astronaut material, though”), Jacob wanted to be a journalist, Naima wanted to be a veterinarian, Paul wanted to be a comedian (I can totally see that…), Thia, of course, wanted to be a singer – as did Pia. Evidently Lauren, Stefano, Karen, Casey, and Hailey all wanted to be things too mind-numbingly boring to be shown on TV.
Ripley’s announcer guy ushered the judges and Ryan on to the stage to great applause. Ryan thanked everyone for their support of the Red Cross last night, and gave out a number that when texted to, donated $10 to the Red Cross (the number – 90999). And with that, the show kicked in to gear:
First and foremost, I have to give American Idol props for opening the show last night with an acknowledgment of the tragedy unfolding in Japan. The American people are the most generous and giving people in the world. I urge you to find a way to donate to the disaster relief efforts in Japan – whether you purchase one of the Idol songs from iTunes, or make a direct donation (you can click here to donate to the Salvation Army’s Japan relief efforts).
Now, on to the show. The theme last night was “Songs from the year you were born”. The good news was – it meant we got a good dose of songs from the ‘80s. The bad news was – we also got songs from the ‘90s. Man, I’m getting old…
Ripley’s guy introduced the judges and Jennifer came out sporting what might best be described as the “Ashthon Jones Memorial Hairdo” – that was some big hair. As they took the table, my wife remarked that Jennifer and Steven appear to have the same hair; hers was just bigger (you’ll be hearing a lot from my wife today…)
Before I dive into the performances, I have a few observations. First, it appears that the contestants were all wearing ear monitors last night. I wonder if that is because of the issues last week with people not being able to hear? Usually the ear monitors don’t show up until much later in the season. Second, while Ryan chatted with Tamara Grey and Mary Murphy in the audience – he completely ignored season seven’s Carly Smithson, who was seated next to Mary. Fail.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s see how the contestants did:
Thursday night must mean its time to crush someone dreams on American Idol and send them home. It’s another three weeks until you make the summer tour, so there was a lot on the line with the first elimination show for the top 13. Over 30 million votes were cast – a pretty good number for this early in the competition. Looks like the level of talent and new judges are working well for the public so far.
Unlike the last time they had a top 13 (season 8), only one person was in danger of going home, instead of two. In danger, because the “Judge’s Save” was announced again for this year. At some point between now and the top 4, the judges can save someone from elimination. It makes for a great moment, but I’m not sure it will change the course of the show. (You may recall that Michael Lynche was saved last year. Last time I checked, he still didn’t win.)
With a helpful introduction from the Ripley’s announcer, the judges took to the stage and the show was off and running. Is it just me, or did Steven look like he had a little bit of a hitch in his step coming out? We got to see a little of the contestants in their house for the first time in many seasons (Ashthon decided to jump on the bed like a 4 year-old), and then the action started. Who got eliminated? Read on and see…
Before I start, let me say one thing to the contestants. If you haven’t been following them this year, all of the top 13 contestants have official Twitter accounts. Here are three observations for you after following them all for a week.
1. Scotty McCreery is a very funny guy.
2. Ashthon Jones feels the need to retweet far too many things written by her followers.
3. Paul McDonald is the only contestant who seems to really understand how to use Twitter. Maybe that’s why he has so many followers.
This week was the top 13 performances. The show opened with the crowd doing the wave and the Ripley’s announcer (again) introducing the judges. The contestants got to choose a song from their own personal Idols this week, and each worked with a producer to arrange and record the songs. Enough of the chit chat – let’s dive right in to the performances.
One of the things I love most about this blog is the opportunity to meet new authors and artists – to discover new music and literature I might not otherwise be exposed to. A few months ago I was contacted by Deer Park Avenue, asking if I would review their debut E.P. Not knowing much about them, I went over to their website and quickly previewed their music. It didn’t grab me right away – but there was something there that stuck with me. It kept tickling the back of my mind, like that person’s name you just can’t remember, but keep coming back to over and over again. There was something in the music demanding to be listened to again. So, I wrote the girls back and agreed to review the E.P. They sent me the tracks, I added them to my iPhone, and started listening. I’m glad I did.
Time for top 12 girls to take the stage and perform. After a brief intro, Ryan brought out the judges (again with the “Ripley’s” announcer – that’s going to get old pretty quickly). Here’s a question for eveyone, did Jennifer raid Ace Frehley’s closet for her dress? Just curious. Ryan and the judges chatted for a bit, but the night was really about the girl’s performances. So, in the interest of time and efficiency, let just dive right in:
After weeks and weeks of audition, it’s finally time for the live shows to start. Well, I guess live on Thursday – the performance shows this week were both taped earlier. But why quibble – the live performances are here. Along with them come a few changes to the Idol stage and the Idol format. Gone is the small studio stage for the semi-finals. Gone are the three weeks of semi-finals themselves. Gone are Kara, Ellen, and Simon. It’s a year of change for Idol – and so far it’s going well.
Ryan introduced us to the new stage – the stage that will be used all the way until the finals. It’s far more open, the band is off to the left side (glad they aren’t above the stage anymore), and there are seats both beside and behind the stage for the audience. The biggest change is the semi-final format. The contestants get one shot to perform, then America votes for the top 5 guys and top 5 girls, and then the judges get to choose a few wildcards. It makes this round much more high pressure, but also lessens the chance that one of the lesser shown contestants could make a splash over the course of three weeks (remember Kris Allen? Didn’t hear much from him until the semi-finals. You may recall that he won.) They’ve got one shot to state their case. They better make it count.
Before the singing got started, the judges were introduced. Steven got the largest applause, by far. (I will say though – do we really need the “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” announcer to intro the judges??) . Ryan helpfully provided Steven with a self-censorship aid – after dropping the F-bomb himself. Nice. A little build up, a little talking, and it was time for the singers. How did they do? Let’s find out.