Archive for April, 2011

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Thoughts On American Idol Top 6: Elimination

April 28, 2011

What the fuck is on the front of Randy’s shirt? I can’t tell if it’s a big red bandage or a car door. Steven Tyler’s look is part trashy romance novel and part bad pimp costume. J.Lo is lovely in her red dress. Say what you will about J. Lo, for the most part she has got great style.

British Consulate Interlude: Was that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers giving the toast re: the Royal Wedding?

There’s a group performance….

It’s a Carole King medley!

Jacob and Lauren can sing on key. The others sing kind of flat and shouty like they’re in a musical number on The Simpsons. Later Scotty is crooning surrounded by about 7 teenage girls who are supposed to be enthralled but look like they’re trying their best not to laugh. The group sing-off at the end was nice and relaxed.

Ford Music Video – “Our House”

Wow! The director sure loves midcentury furniture and Harold and the Purple Crayon!

Crystal Bowersox – “Ridin’ With The Radio”

I see the season 9 runner-up onstage, I recall Lee DeWyze’s performance from a few weeks ago, and I am reminded how Crystal Bowersox got robbed last season. She performs a nice, earnest, breezy country song. Her band is tight. Her Joplin-esque twang is on point like a laser-guided missile. Most of all, she comes off tough, warm and genuinely likable. I want to hang out with her.

Question Time Interlude: Casey name drops Oscar Peterson. Lauren mentions the difficulty of being away from people she knows down south when the tornadoes struck. Scotty used to work in a grocery store and a tanning salon. He seems a little more human. James mentions the “band” he had with Casey, Paul, and Stefano to little fanfare. Haley’s favorite past Idol contestants were Adam Lambert, Siobhan Magnus, Kelly Clarkson (Hey! Mine too!) and Lee DeWyze (I don’t care if he’s fromChicago, he still sucks).

Bruno Mars– “[I didn’t catch the song title]”

The set is done up like a shitty apartment or band practice space, with crummy rugs, old couches, and a live (and very cute) dog. The song is some catchy reggae-pop, like a better version of that “Price Tag” song by British Katy Perry. Mars has an 11-piece Hooligan Orchestra backing him up. He sings well and the song is really catchy. I look forward to when it hits the radio.

Bottom 3 (Announced in 5 rounds, 6 inane criticisms from Jimmy Iovine, and 1 beeping of Haley’s reaction to said criticism)

  1. Jacob Lusk (and just as he was starting to push the tempo)
  2. Scotty McCreery (and just as he was starting to cut the crap and show some emotion)
  3. Casey Abrams (and just as he…kept growling? Going through the motions?)

Casey is out! That judges’ save sure lasted him awhile! After they picked the Top 13, I was rooting for Casey to go all the way because he seemed to be the most interesting and talented contestant on the show. A few weeks later he kind of dashed my expectations with a few phoned in performances. It was a roller coaster from there. He goes out with a bang, reprising “I Put A Spell On You.” He nails the song while managing to do a lap around the whole theater, kissing Steven Tyler on the cheek and getting some amusing kowtowing from James (actually one of James’s more likeable moments on the entire run of the show.) You had a good run, Casey. I hope you continue to find success.

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Thoughts On American Idol Top 6: Carole King

April 27, 2011

Tonight’s theme features songs written or performed by Carole King. Boomer singer-songwriter types like Ms. King are as outside of my music radar as most country musicians, so I can’t really ding anyone on song choice tonight. Maybe my ignorance of Carole King’s music will help me focus on the contestant’s performances.

Randy, ever the square, is dressed in some faux-prep letter sweater. Meanwhile Steven is once again the disco grandma. J.Lo just looks nice.

Jacob Lusk – “Oh No Not My Baby”

Jacob gets things off to a fairly upbeat start performing a bouncy number while dressed like The Love Below-era Andre 3000. He’s even dancing around like a dork, which is a good move for the mostly-serious Jacob. He seems stuck in his higher range, but overall he has good control. This was a good recovery from last week. Steven was right to give him points for having fun but it may be too little, too late.

Lauren Alaina – “Where You Lead”

Iovine surprises Lauren with a surprise pep talk from Miley Cyrus. It was “pretty cool.” Lauren’s performance is clean and solid. She seemed to work well with the backup singers and she didn’t go out of control on the harder parts. Did she really need to pull a (19 year old?) guy on stage from the audience? On one hand I appreciate a little surprise spectacle. On the other hand it felt unnecessary, especially when she moved to sing behind the judges’ desk and left the guy all by himself onstage looking like a tool (she did eventually come back around and sang all up next to him – yeah, creepy) This felt a little safe for her, but she did it well.

Haley and Casey – “I Feel The Earth Move”

That’s right. The contestants have to sing duets to pad this thing out to 90 minutes. These two were a good pair a few weeks back and while tonight’s performance is a case of diminishing returns, the duo is still solid. They share the time pretty well but neither really rocks nor crashes. Their style and arrangement are good and when the pair harmonizes they make each other sing better. Alone Casey is inappropriately growly and Haley stretches her voice too thin. It was phoned in, but it was good.

Scotty McCreery – “You’ve Got A Friend”

Scotty starts things off right by holding his mic like he’s supposed to and using his low range against a single acoustic guitar. It was all kind of Chris Isaak in a way. Scotty picked up more emotion in his voice and face as the string section came in. While he fell flat towards the really heavy moments in the song, it still felt like kind of a growth moment for him. Yet just like Jacob, I wonder if it’s too little too late. I wish he pulled this kind of thing earlier in the show.

James Durbin – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”

Apparently James picked this song from forum requests. They can do that? James also announces that he wants to distance himself from the poorly-executed gimmicks of his past performances. He makes good on his promise by also doing the sparsely arranged vocal intro before kicking into the main song (and playing guitar). I see where James is going here with the doo wop-lite thing, but it all felt like he was kind of going through the motions. He was still too wail-y in the song’s bigger moments and he didn’t sound like he was connecting to the song’s material. Like some of Casey’s weaker performances, James started out strong and the awkwardness just seeped in like an I.V. drip. Randy gave him a hug at the end and it was as uncomfortable to watch as you probably think.

Lauren and Scotty – “What? Again?” “Up On The Roof”

Seacrest tries to imply romance between the two, what with all their duets. Lauren kind of plays along, but Scotty has zero tolerance for this forced bullshit and wastes no time in shutting it down. As for the performance itself, they initially try to sell it by looking at each other as they sing, but it quickly devolves into an oversinging contest as the kids try to one up each other while mouthing false platitudes of love. Stefano couldn’t have written a more muggy melodramatic farce. Based on J.Lo’s compliments and Lauren’s devilish facial expression, it appears that she won the round.

Casey Abrams – “Hi De Ho”

Rocking a hat that is way too small for his head (and as a large cranium-ed gentlemen I feel his pain, as hats in our sizes are hard to come by) Casey leads us around the bluesy backing band one instrument at a time as if he was presenting an animatronics exhibit at a Disney park. Performance-wise he is in pretty good shape. This bluesy stuff is totally in his comfort zone and is maybe a little too conservative, but he makes it count with a gradual display of vocal power. Here his growls make sense and the fun he had “jamming” transferred to my viewing experience.

Haley Reinhart – “Beautiful”

Initially Haley sounds like she’s found the right range for her voice and it isn’t until maybe 2/3rds into the song where she starts oversinging, though she quickly recovers. I’m reluctant to give her too much credit since she still sings way too thinly, though I feel like she’s been working harder to cut the crap. I felt like this was one of her better performances. The only other knocks I have were for her dress and mugging pageant moves.

James and Jacob – “I’m Into Something Good”

Il Divo and Mr. Histrionic team up! The matching suit jackets and jeans the pair is wearing make them look like Glee’s The Warblers. At times they were stiff and other times they were too awkward. It was only the inherently upbeat nature of the song that forced the guys to be more fun than they were for their individual performances, albeit some of that fun came from the unintentional comedy that occurred whenever they had to look at each other.

Okay so no one had a real shit show tonight, but no one really blew me away either. The contestants who took “risks” (Jacob, Scotty, James) did so too late in the competition to really count. Everyone else just kept doing their thing, but they felt more like skilled pretenders than genuine pros. Tonight was kind of boring, and it wasn’t Carole King’s fault.

Top 3 Performances

  1. Casey Abrams
  2. Lauren Alaina (until the end)
  3. Jacob Lusk

Bottom 3 Performances

  1. Haley Reinhart
  2. Lauren and Scotty
  3. James and Jacob
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Thoughts On The Voice: Premier

April 26, 2011

Image from Wikipedia

I never know what to do about audition episodes, so I’ll condense my thoughts on NBC’s new show into a quick list.

–        I loved the opening coaches’ performance of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Though I was kind of disappointed that Danger Mouse was nowhere to be found, the judges did a great job sharing mic time. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton both played instruments, while Cee-Lo Green and Christina Aguilera both ably moved to the forefront of the vocals. They just all looked so happy to be there.

–        There was a lot of auditioning using more current music, at least music from the past ten years. It felt like a breath of fresh air from Idol’s retro fetishism. A few older songs got in as well, but they still sounded good performed with the fairly solid house band.

–        There’s probably heavy producer coaching for the panel’s banter (which was still funny), but I felt like Adam Levine’s little air drumming motions were pretty genuine.

–        The Voice is clearly trying to distance itself from the Idol tradition of keeping contestants in the closet – nice step forward. No one should feel obligated to reveal their sexual orientation if he or she doesn’t want to, but it’s cool that there’s no unspoken, yet clearly present gag rule (or big deal reveal) that way. It’s presented as an aspect of the performer’s “getting to know you” personal life, just as it should be.

–        Standout audition: Frenchie Davis, who made the top 24 on Idol Season 2 but was kicked off because of nude pics from earlier on in her career, even though the same shit happened with Antonella Barba later on down the line and she (Antonella) was allowed to continue without incident. Meanwhile Frenchie has been working on Broadway and now she’s ready to give the reality competition thing another go.

–        There were interesting power dynamics at play during the auditions: the blind auditions forced the coaches to put themselves on the line. There’s accountability there, especially for coaches taking risks on contestants who seem to be outside their genre. It also seems to reduce the number of heartstring, tearjerker, clap-trap bullshit contestants that often seem to pass through other reality shows with ease. In a way, these judges/coaches actually have something to lose if they pick performers on “awww-factor” alone. We’ll see how this will play out in future competitions. I’m concerned if coaches will try to impose genre conventions on their teams. Nonetheless, it has to be a good feeling for contestants when multiple coaches who they love and respect are pleading their cases.

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Internet Roundup

April 25, 2011

First, RCRD LBL has a trio of barn burning dance numbers up for free download. Former Daft Punk emulators Digitalism push the tempo with the new-wavey rock piece “2 Hearts.” Meanwhile Herve and Adam F remix the Missy/Ginuwine/Timbaland tune “Get Involved 2011.” They commit the remix sin of using virtually no elements of the original song, but they still get by on the sheer hard electronic catchiness of their “stadium kaos” music. Finally the site has “Wait And See,” yet another new song by New York’s Holy Ghost!, who must have at least an EP’s worth of material for the taking. They’re good stuff: the sweet synth leads, the sincere vocals, the 80s disco rhythm section, Holy Ghost! are one of my artists to watch this year.

Meanwhile, The Awl has a very in-depth piece by Willy Staley about the ups and downs of reading rapping as poetry. While Staley touches on the obvious performative aspects of rap that separate it from plain ol’ poetry, he also covers the aspects of the medium that murk up authorship like ghostwriting and flat out rhyme-stealing (such as the evidence that Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the “Rock Around The Clock” of hip-hop was partially plagiarized). The best part of the piece is the profile on the business Rap Rebirth, where you can pay a guy to write rhymes in the styles of certain rappers. It seems part Aries Spears attention to detail, part Wayne Brady versatility, and part Ark Music Factory commercialism.

Finally, NBC’s new music competition show The Voice premiers tomorrow. The show’s big features appear to be the “blind audition,” and the four coach/judges, three of whom (Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) have made albums I have spent money on. I don’t know much about the fourth, Blake Shelton, but he seems nice enough and I recall seeing him getting visibly irate with Larry King’s inane and nonsensical questions when he was a guest on his show. Finally, the whole thing is hosted by Carson Daly, a man whom I had pegged to be the next Dick Clark before Ryan Seacrest took that crown. I plan to catch the premier tomorrow and if the talent and formatting is tight enough, I will recap it with the same idealism and hostility I bring to my Idol recaps. Popdust has an extended trailer.

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Thoughts On American Idol Top 7: Elimination

April 21, 2011

OK, Steven is still on the show despite being bleeped for 5 solid minutes (and calling out the editor to boot) and J.Lo still pulls for the ladies (good for her).

We’re on “group” songs, again….

There are no medleys!

Lauren, Stefano, Haley & Jacob – “Hey Soul Sister”

Jacob and Stefano both sing in kind of high ranges, so it’s better than their other elimination-night group performances, but they sound grating after 20 seconds. Those two just underwhelm me so aggressively. Would it kill them to put some bass in? Meanwhile Lauren and Haley (whose pink + green + orange ensemble surprisingly worked) continue to excel in this format. Ever notice how Haley’s growl doesn’t show up in the group numbers? Though everyone looks hokey (not their fault, they’re covering Train), it’s a win for the women.

Ford Music Video – “World”

The whole effort looks like a Skittles commercial. Taste the rainbow, assholes!

Casey, Scotty, and James – “Viva La Vida”

Casey forgot the words and he knows it. Initially he’s wrecking the performance with his horrific harmonizing, because James and Scotty sound halfway decent, but he quickly corrects. When each guy set his ego aside – no screaming from James, no Pied Piper crap from Scotty, no wannabe grunge menace from Casey – the performance really came together and for a moment I thought that these guys are decent performers within their bullshit exteriors. Damn the judges need to be meaner!

Interlude: Why are we displaying someone’s DeviantArt on the show? I don’t think poorly done fan-art needs more of a national stage than it already gets on the first couple of pages of GameStop’s Game Informer magazine. And what’s with the dog? I think we are treading dangerously close to American Idol/furry fan-art; and other than a very specific, very disturbed portion of the population, no one needs to see that.

David Cook – “The Last Goodbye”

My first impression is that the season 7 winner has had some “work” done, like all of his defining features got sanded down and smoothed over. At the very least he got a new nose and I’m pretty sure he had an eye-lift done. It makes him look weird. The song itself is meh middle of the road rock and either Cook or one of the other band members sounds a little off key. Eh, he seems nice enough and it’s not his fault that his victory was the harbinger for years of bland white male guitar players winning the prize.

Interlude: Well James, if you lose on the show you can fall back as a massage therapist!

Katy Perry – “E.T.”

(Note: I have never seen the video for this song.) Damn, KP, show a little energy! The music is facebashing electronica, you’re dressed like a Sailor Moon villain, your backup dancers are full-on Avatar luchadors and (spoiler alert?) Kanye fucking West is surprise backing you up. I give her points for singing live, but just like Rihanna last week she is just not a good live performer, and no amount of (admittedly pretty cool—strangely gynecological LED bodysuit, anyone?) spectacle will hide that.

Bottom 3 (Announced in 2.5 rounds)

  1. Jacob Lusk (Based on his explanation of the backing track fuckup, “I’m telling y’all it’s SABOTAGE!”)
  2. Stefano Langone (Get your ass off my TV and back to the secret government research bunker, clone trooper.)
  3. Haley Reinhart (Even Seacrest is surprised that Scotty is safe, so surprised that he quickly sends Haley back to the chairs.)

Ha ha! Meh-fano is out! His insincere, saccharine, needy, ballady bullshit oversinging shall infect my TV no more! He needed to go back in Top 24 week, so it’s about damn time. America, you got it right this time.

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Thoughts On American Idol Top 7: Music From The 21st Century

April 20, 2011

Never failing to impress, J.Lo rocks the most sequined set of pajamas I have ever seen. Let the butchering of fairly current music begin!

Asthon, Karen, Thia, Naima, Pia and Paul – “So What”

All the castoffs, right and wrong, get one surprise shoutalong number. Karen looks good with curly hair. So what if she stole it from Ashton? Anyways, Pia and Paul are the only ones who get decent camera time (though they did last the longest on the show), Naima’s opening note is a wasted opportunity, and I wish Thia (props for showing a little attitude btw) looked right at Steven during the line “and you’re a tool, so,” but I suppose….ah fuck it, this still sucks. Do you see who makes up that group? Imagine if that sing-off happened one week earlier!

Scotty McCreery – “Swingin’”

Again I concede I’m ignorant of most country music, but I did not know LeAnn Rimes had a music career after 2000. The way Scotty comes down the stage is especially smarmy and smug. At this point it’s beyond George W. At best he’s like a silent film actor who has to be extra expressive since sound recording wasn’t invented yet. At worst he’s like an inexperienced poser actor auditioning for a Fool part in a play by Shakespeare. Vocally Scotty is coasting and it shows in his face. He may have had fun with it but there was no challenge in that performance. He can do better.

James Durbin – “Uprising”

Why is James dressed like a priest or a bad Bond-style Communist? (Though he does quickly correct with a Mad Max-inspired military jacket.) Backed by a drumline and a surprisingly close facsimile of the original Muse arrangement, James initially comes on strong and shows control. Then by the second chorus James tries to do falsetto pyrotechnics and the whole thing falls apart. Otherwise I’m gonna borrow from my review of Haley’s performance last week:

–        “There’s a subtle, desperate passion in the [Muse] original that hits you hard and gets your heart racing. I just wasn’t feeling it in the performance.”

–        “I appreciate [James] trying something fun and risky (go fuck yourself, Randy), but you know what they say about good intentions….”

Seriously, whose idea was it to up the octave? All bleat and no punch – you disappoint me, James. There are thousands of Guitar Hero players who could do better.

Haley Reinhart – “Rolling In The Deep”

Rocking a gorgeous red polka-dot dress, Haley tries to get keep her soul train running and it kind of works until her growly mugging tendencies take over and her reach exceeds her grasp. She’d do a lot better if she didn’t sing from her throat so much like it’s the last 30 minutes of karaoke night at the bar. All the emotion goes out the window when she tries to “perform,” which is kind of sad both because you do not want to lose the emotion when covering Adele and because I was beginning to think that she was growing as a singer and a performer.

Jacob Lusk – “Dance With My Father”

How come no one dings Jacob for singing too many ballads? On the surface this performance sounds fine enough, but right underneath there’s a constellation of failure. Right off the bat Jacob forgets the words, he quavers like a bad Aaron Neville impersonator, and he comes across as dumpy as James can be at his worst. The emotion itself is fine and it’s a shame that the backing track fucked up on him, but I really wish the judges wouldn’t be so damn nice to everyone. Emotion is important in performance, but so is the ability to translate that emotion into a gripping performance.

Casey Abrams – “Harder To Breathe (“Please Don’t Put A Hit On Me, Marc Anthony Mix)”

I’m not a fan of the acoustic intro. It made no sense for Casey’s fast, growly vocal style. Once the main music kicked in the song rocked hard enough, but Casey was still a little too screechy and menacing (especially at the end). The power walking during the verses was also a little awkward. He should have stuck to rocking out with the axemen or dropped the guitar altogether and got his swagger on. The ending made me uncomfortable when he took the menace to the max and got uncomfortably close to J.Lo. I hoped he had a mint and I hoped she had pepper spray. She seemed to take it all in good stride and Steven Tyler dropped a shit ton of f-bombs (at least that’s what it seemed like) in praise of Casey’s performance style.

Stefano Langone – “Closer”

(Ah shit, Jimmy Iovine raided Michael Jackson’s estate; that is an awfully familiar red leather jacket)Wow! An uptempo number for Stefano! Stefano sang all the notes right and even tried to dance a little (and not enough to deserve praise for it), but he totally lost the meaning of the song. The snarls and arm pumping and attempted swagger – it came across as inappropriately cocksure. The thing I’ve gathered from Ne-Yo’s music, especially this song, is that his best work evokes a kind of vulnerability. Listen to the lyrics: the singer is powerless but he kind of likes it. He might be an alpha otherwise, but the attraction to the subject has knocked him off his game and it’s amazing. Stefano never picked up on the helplessness in the song, and I partially blame Jimmy Iovine’s ham-fisted interpretation during the mentor session for this failure. Fuck you, Jimmy Iovine. You’re nothing but a tool!

Lauren Alaina – “Born To Fly”

Lauren is well dressed tonight. Her outfit is very teenage country, and that’s cool because she’s a teen doing pop country. Her singing is solid, she came across as very earnest but still kinda professional, and it felt like she was connected to the material. Even her vocal run fit with the song, unlike a lot of the performances tonight. Good for her.

Tonight was very disappointing. Based on tonight’s performances, I can’t imagine commercial recordings from any of these assholes except Lauren and maybe Casey. I apologize for jacking a Cowellism, but too many of these performances were between bad karaoke and orgies of manic shouting.

Top 3 Performances

  1. Ryan Seacrest, because his off-the-cuff comments were hilarious tonight
  2. Lauren Alaina
  3. Um, Casey Abrams? Maybe? I dunno. It was good, I guess, Dawg.

Bottom 3 Performances

  1. Jacob Lusk
  2. Stefano Langone
  3. James Durbin
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Thoughts On American Idol Top 8: Elimination

April 14, 2011

Steven Tyler is actually dressed as a real, adult human. Meanwhile Seacrest is splitting the difference between his signature mussed up hairstyle and his bad “mommy dressed me” comb-forward from a few weeks ago.

We’re back to “group” songs….

There are no medleys!

Lauren & Scotty – “They Can Only Duet Together”

Scotty kicks things off in an off-key fashion. It’s not the monitors’ fault, because Lauren sounds fine. Hey Scotty, you see how Lauren holds the microphone? Like a regular person? Hand gripped around the cylindrical part, below the meshy bit? Try to do that instead of holding it like a piccolo, so delicate it might break apart in your vice-like grip. It’s probably your most annoying tick, even more annoying than the George W. Bushisms.

Ford Music Video – “Animal”

Jacob has a great yelp. Like a mildly startled puppy. I wish zombie James would take a bite out of Paul.

Haley & Casey – “Moanin’”

Holy shit! I think we found a style for Haley. Her growly voice has the potential to really nail the classic jazz even more than she when she worked that Janis Joplin song. She just has to practice scatting a little bit and she could burn the house down! Meanwhile I have no problem with Casey. He’s in his comfort zone here. This was a good performance. It was a little rough and their voices don’t really go together, but individually they’re hot! Yes, both of them!

Rob Reiner’s Advice about Songs from Movies

Though I doubt most of the contestants have seen his movies (other than James with This Is Spinal Tap), Rob Reiner did his best under the circumstances. He even namedropped From Justin To Kelly.

Jason Aldean ft. Kelly Clarkson – “Don’t You Wanna Stay?”

I don’t know much about country music, but I found this song to be pretty nice. Aldean and Clarkson sound great together. Clarkson still sounds crazy powerful after 10 years in the game and Aldean plays it casual with some emotion. The performance was genuine, but everyone involved exuded effortless excellence.

James, Jacob, Stefano, and Paul – “Sounds of Silence/Mrs. Robinson”

Once again, the guys can’t harmonize with each other, even though Jacob is in the mix now. Too many power singers, not enough team players. Things get a little better when the song shifts to “Mrs. Robinson,” but only because they take turns instead of trying to sing together.

Rihanna – “California King Bed”

Wow! What a big set! Like week 1 casualty Ashthon Jones, Rihanna has all the diva trappings (right down to the big hair) without the diva pipes. This is ostensibly a power ballad and power ballads require vocal pyrotechnics. This kind of song would be better served by Kelly Rowland or Fergie, both of whom have proven their vocal prowess. Rihanna is much better as a dance diva. Pair her up with Kanye West or Max Martin and back her attitude and stage presence up with a little vocal processing and she delivers pop magic! Kathy and I are still Team Ri-Ri, but she does not do live performance that well.

Bottom 3 (Announced in 2 rounds)

  1. Haley Reinhart (Yeah, her performance last night was a disaster. Too bad she didn’t sing what she just sang last night.)
  2. Stefano Langone (They should call him Meh-fano because I’m always underwhelmed.)
  3. Paul McDonald (This is what happens when you pregame before you sing. Friends don’t let friends sing drunk.)

And Paul is out! He went first and delivered one of his worst performances this season, so it’s fair that he gets the boot, but after Naima’s elimination he was one of the two most interesting contestants left on the show. After the announcement Seacrest calls him “the life of the party,” probably because he was the booze and weed hookup backstage. Paul just seemed more comfortable with a band and a beer. I hope he finds success with his band and free from Jimmy Iovine’s assholery. Stefano needs to go home. Who is voting for this guy? Clones of Stefano kept in a secret government bunker somewhere, strategically deployed only in times of need; those times of need being keeping an entirely underwhelming performer on a televised singing competition? I think so, no wonder we’re four trillion in debt; those little Stefanos don’t come cheap, let me tell you.

Note: If I go missing under suspicious circumstances within the next week you’ll know why: I’ve uncovered the great conspiracy and forces greater than me want to keep this hushed up.