Thursday, May 17, 2007

Welcome Home Emme Lu!

SBird and her hubby R. brought The Bee home from China yesterday and I just wanted to wish them a happy homecoming. She's an absolutely lovely, charming little girl. It was so gracious of them to allow us to follow along as they became a family. I can't wait to watch them grow together, as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Idol Talk: Every Little Thing

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I came home from work very late tonight and in an extremely cranky, frustrated mood. We have a database that seems to be doing its best to explode and not being an IT type, I have no idea why or how to fix it. By 8pm tonight, I no longer cared. I just wanted to come home, see G. and the pups, eat something and watch me some Idol. So the contestants and you will have to forgive me if I seem overly grouchy.

Tonight's guest mentor was Gwen Stefani, which I thought was an interesting choice since Gwen doesn't sing so much as chant her way through most songs. I wasn't really sure how much she could contribute to the kids' vocal education and thankfully, she didn't really try. She limited her comments to "stay on the beat and sing the melody" which would be good advice coming from anyone. Hey, maybe I could be a mentor! She did look awfully cute though. Oh, and the theme this evening was songs by Gwen Stefani and the singers/bands that inspired her. Otherwise known as "sing anything you want" night.

LaKisha - "Last Dance" (Donna Summer) - The last couple of weeks I've been less than over the moon for LaKisha's vocal performances. There's nothing wrong with them per se, it just feels like she has fallen into the predictability rut. She's got a great voice, but so do lots of people (outside of this competition) and she's doing nothing we haven't heard before. In her defense however, she really worked the song and the audience responded well. Note to LaKisha: Way to rock the outfit. Killer sexy dress and boots. You go, girl!

Chris S. - "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (The Police) - Something felt just a little not right about this and I couldn't put my finger on what it was until the judges started commenting. Oddly, they were exactly right. Chris was about 1/4 of a note behind the band for most of the song. It was just off enough to make the whole song sound slightly weird. The vocals though, were great. This song was just exactly in his register.

Gina - "I'll Stand By You" (The Pretenders) - Very impressive. Very. She had great control, a pretty tone, and lots of emotion in her voice tonight. Her best performance so far, and the best of the night. Note to Gina: Keep the funky boots, lose the shiny, horizontally striped mini-dress. It made you look squarer (is that a word? no?) than you are.

Sanjaya - "Bathwater" (No Doubt) - What in the hell was that? I'm not even sure the teeny-boppers can forgive the train wreck that was Sanjaya this week. The horrible song wasn't that bad compared to the hugely out of tune vocal, the forgotten words or OH. MY. GOD. 7 ponytailed faux-hawk. It had to be seen to be believed and really, I wish I hadn't.

Haley - "True Colors" (Cyndi Lauper) - She was a little pitchy in spots, but overall, it was a nice performance. She played with the melody a little but not enough to screw up the song. It wasn't exciting, but it wasn't bad either.
Phil - "Every Breath You Take" (The Police) - Phil really sounded great tonight. It was a little bit copycat, but the original is great and there really isn't a need to mess with it. Strong vocals and a solid performance. Note to Phil: I'm not sure which is better, crazy hat or not. No advice. I just had to say it.

Melinda - "Heaven Knows" (Donna Summer) - Surprisingly, I wasn't wild about her tonight. I mean I know she out sang everyone except possibly Gina, but I thought this song was a really safe choice for her and I would have liked her to sing something unexpected. Something NOT R&B or disco. Note to Melinda: Yeah for the color! Boo for the cut of the blouse. But keep trying. You'll get there.

Blake - "I Will Always Love You" (The Cure) - I though this was a little boring too. Wow, I must be cranky tonight because I never think Blake is boring! The vocal was simple and kinda sweet, but blah. I'm not familiar with this choice, was it the song?

Jordin - "Hey Baby" (No Doubt) - When they announced this song, I thought it was going to be great. Fun and peppy and adorable, just like Jordin. But I thought it fell really flat. It sounded as if she slowed it down just so she could keep up. And the beginning of the song was too low for her voice. I love her, but this just didn't work. Note to Jordin: When I come to raid your closet, I will not be taking this outfit. I can't imagine those proportions looking right on anyone.

Chris R. - "Don't Speak" (No Doubt) - This one's so obvious I can't even bring myself to make the joke. Flat, as usual. Nasal, as usual. Blech, as usual.

Bottom three: Sanjaya, Chris R. and Haley
Going home: Sanjaya (oh please, oh please, oh please....)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

American Idol Talk: Top 11 Results

And Stephanie is gone. Which is hardly the most interesting part of this show. In fact, pretty much every other part of this show was more interesting:

--Peter Noone seemed to be having a great time during his song, which was fun to watch.

--Lulu looks pretty freaking fabulous and she doesn't sound half bad, either.

--The Ford commercial cracked me up. I have no idea why, but Melinda doing back handsprings down a row of commercial washers was hysterical.

--Neither Gina nor Phil were in the bottom of the pack. Gina was terrible and should have been, while I get the distinct impression that Phil is just starting to get on people's nerves.

--Sanjaya didn't seem to be anywhere remotely close to the bottom tier this round. Lots of theories surround this phenomenon. 1) VFTW, 2) The asshole of all media telling listeners to go to VFTW, or 3)the call center in India is diverting other votes to Sanjaya. My personal opinion differs. I say never underestimate the power of raging teeny-bopper hormones.

--Chris R., despite the overly lavish praise of the judges, ended up in the bottom two. Now that was a surprise!

Stephanie being voted out - not so much.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

American Idol Talk: I'm So Excited!

Didja hear? American Idol is actually a competition, not a spectacular one woman concert with some other people singing too? Tonight it seems, most of the rest of the cast figured this out (with the exceptions of La Doolittle and Sanjaya, neither of whom should be there, for vastly different reasons.)

It was British invasion/60's week, with guest mentors Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits fame) and Lulu (To Sir With Love). In direct contrast to Miss Ross, both provided constructive comments that were actually useful to the contestants and were quite funny. I take that back, Miss Ross was funny, but not in a good way.

On with the show!

Haley - "Tell Him" (?) - God help me, this was adorable. She was in tune and having fun. Sassy and flirty without being totally over the top about it. The song fit and this was easily her best performance yet. Note to Haley: I'm with the Fug girls on this. I don't care how great your legs are, stop with the formal shorts.

Chris R. - "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" (Gerry and the Pacemakers) A couple of weeks ago, Chris slowed down and sang a Keith Urban song all nasally and out of tune. He tried the same thing this time and it was better. At least it was in tune. If his voice appeals to you, this was probably a great performance. He works the song, the audience, and the arrangement. Ah, if only he could sing...

Stephanie - "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" (Dusty Springfield) - Stephanie confuses me. Generally, I think she sings well but I don't seem to connect with either her or the songs she chooses. Tonight was just the opposite. Loved the song and thought her vocals were really shaky and weak. Huh??

Blake - "Time of the Season" (Zombies) - Now, aside from the weird dancing, this modernization of a classic really worked. Good vocals, great arrangement, and the minimal beat boxing fit right in seamlessly. Very nice.

LaKisha - "Diamonds Are Forever" (Shirley Bassey) - Don't get me wrong, it was good. It just wasn't LaKisha good. It wasn't outstanding, and since that is what everyone has come to expect, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Phil - "Tobacco Road"(The Nashville Teens) - I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I don't know the song, but it seemed a good fit for him. He certainly looked like he was having fun singing it. His range is much better than expected, who knew? I guess I liked it, but I may need to watch it again to be sure. Note to Phil: Dry cleaners can generally get stains out of shirts before national television appearances. Look into it.

Jordin - "I, Who Have Nothing" (Shirley Bassey) - Absolutely, the performance of the night. Pretty damn close to perfect vocals. Emotional delivery. Wistful and tender where called for with a great big finish. Amazing. Note to Jordin: That may have been the most perfect of all the perfect little black dresses ever. I will be over to raid your closet soon.

Sanjaya - "You Really Got Me" (The Kinks). This was the most wrong anything has ever been. And I mean ever in the history of history. I'm too traumatized to talk about the specifics of the performance. Dolly Parton once said "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." I don't think this was what she had in mind. G. summed it up even better. He said "I will eat shit out of the ass of your choice if Sanjaya makes it to the finals." Can't get much clearer than that.

Gina - "Paint It Black (Rolling Stones) - I wanted to like this. It's a great song and seemed like it would be a good fit for Gina. But apparently she suffers from Philitis, which now that I've said that out loud, sounds a little dirty. The softer parts of the song were horribly out of tune. Towards the end she improved, but it was still a quite shouty. Not good at all.

Chris S. - "She's Not There" (Zombies) - I wasn't as impressed with his voice as I usually am. It wasn't bad, but I would have liked it better if he had sung it a little lower. We've already got a couple of guys in this with thin, reedy voices and he really needs to distinguish himself from them. Also, I really think he ran out of air towards the end. Great song choice, though and overall a pretty good job.

Melinda - "As Long As He Needs Me" (from Oliver) - Gorgeous, flawless performance. There really isn't much else to say. Note to Melinda: More gray? Really? I thought we discussed this.

Bottom three: Phil, Stephanie, Gina
Going home: Stephanie
Should be going home but won't due to power voting by 12 year old girls much in need of therapy: Sanjaya

Friday, March 16, 2007

American Idol Talk: Top 12 Results

I almost forgot to post that Brandon got the boot last night. I think that says it all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

American Idol Talk: D(iva) Day

All right now. We're at that point of the competition where things usually start to heat up. The singing begins to dramatically improve, we get to know the contestants a little better and we get a chance to see who really has what it takes and who does not. The differences between the haves and the have nots was quite clear tonight, sometimes painfully so.

The "mentor" for this week was none other than one of the original Divas, Miss Diana Ross. While I'm sure it was a thrill for some of the kids to meet her, I didn't think that she offered much to them. Lots of the typical touchy-feely sort of advice like "feel the song", "connect with the audience" blah, blah, blah. She's a great singer and a great performer and I would have loved to hear her give more concrete, specific advice. God knows they could have used it.

Brandon - "Can't Hurry Love" - Wimpy and cliched about sums it up. Typical arrangement, typical performance and typical Brandon vocal with no oomph at all. Also, fewer words than generally necessary. But who's counting?

Melinda - "Home" - It wasn't the song I wanted to hear her sing, but since I don't know what I would have chosen for her instead, I'll just shut up about that. I don't think it really matters anyway, since she seems to be fantastic every time she opens her mouth. Note to Melinda: Please stop wearing grey and black. You are perfectly adorable and have every right to enjoy color as much as the rest of the world.

Chris S. - "Endless Love" - Apparently, he heard my plea for a ballad and then decided to play with my head. They announced his song choice and I went "Squeeee!". Then he ruined it. The vocal was good, but the song was almost unrecognizable. I hate it when people do that to perfectly beautiful melodies.

Gina - "Love Child" - Probably the most forgettable performance of the evening. The whole thing just lacked energy. However, she did "pronouciate" it well, per Miss Ross' instructions.

Sanjaya - "Ain't' No Mountain" - If this performance wasn't enough to take him out of the competition, I don't know what will be. It was so unbelievably like a high school talent show. I'm pretty sure he was mostly in tune, but I can't be positive because I couldn't hear him through most of it. He has so little power and presence that he just sort of faded into the background vocals and the band. Note to Sanjaya: Stop with the hair already. You've got lots. We get it.

Haley - "Missing You" - Poor kid was forced to sing a Diva song this week. Surprisingly, she managed to pick one she could handle. When she wasn't busy forgetting the words, she sounded quite nice. Also, I though she handled herself quite well in front of the judges, given the reaming she assumed they would give her. Note to Haley: Lose that dress. Why would you ever put your ass in a bubble on national television?

Phil - "I'm Going To Make You Love Me" - It's nice to be noticed. Phil seems to have read my humble advice from last week and taken it to heart. What do you know...the beginning of this song didn't suck. The rest sounded pretty OK as well. Still not terribly distinctive, but otherwise strong.

LaKisha - "God Bless the Child" - I wasn't as enthused about this performance as I though I would be. It didn't sound bad at all, but I think she over sang it a bit. I have fond memories of Bailey on Grey's Anatomy singing a very soft, tender version into the phone in an effort to comfort her baby from afar. She may have ruined me for any other interpretation.

Stephanie - "Love Hangover" - This week was one of her better, more engaging performances as far as I'm concerned. The judges blasted her for not singing the "good part" of the song, but since I don't know the song, to hell with them. She sounded good, as always, but the biggest difference was her stage presence. She was flirty and powerful and fun. Note to Stephanie: You looked awesome. Your dress was very flattering and a great nod to the disco era without going over the top.

Blake - "Keep Me Hangin' On" - Very disappointing. He, like Chris S., tried to make this classic more modern and it just ended up a big ol' mess. I applaud the effort, but not the outcome. The vocals were also uncharacteristically weak. On the more positive side, he sold the hell out of it. So much so, that I wasn't even sure I didn't like it at first. I had to go back and listen without watching to confirm.

Chris R. - "The Boss" - This performance did not improve my opinion of his talent in any way. Nasal and bobbleheaded, again. Still. His ability to schmooze with the audience can't distract me from the fact that he doesn't sing very well.

Jordan - "If We Hold On Together" - Everything about this performance was just lovely. The tone, the tender parts, the power vocals, everything. I love her more each week. Note to Jordan: Can I have that dress?

Should go home: Sanjaya. Two different contestants FORGOT THEIR WORDS, and he was still worse than they were.

Will go home: Haley. With Brandon and either Sanjaya or Chris S. filling out the bottom three.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

American Idol Talk: 2/4 Again...Whatever

Since I'm quite late in posting this, you probably already know that Antonella, Sabrina, Jarred and Sundance got the boot this week.

Oddly, I'm neither terribly surprised or terribly dismayed. Of course, I'm wildly happy to see Antonella go, and reasonably pleased about Jarred's departure. Both were out of their respective leagues.

While I do think Haley is in over her head, Simon was awfully mean to the kid and that's always good for some sympathy votes. Oooh, there's a plan. Maybe the judges will be super sticky sweet to Sanjaya next week and America will take the bait and STOP VOTING FOR HIM ALREADY!

And although I'm not overly disappointed that Sundance is gone, I'm a little surprised at how much I don't really care. I started off really liking him, but he never delivered the goods in a consistent manner.