Posts Tagged ‘Rihanna’

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Thoughts On American Idol Finale Part 2: The Decision

May 23, 2012

Image edited from the original by Bill McIntyre via Flickr, used under Creative Commons

Two surprisingly talented contestants have duked it out this season, but only one can win! I voted for Jessica. Let’s see if it made a difference. Buckle up!

Here’s most of this show’s padding, the musical performances in order of airing:
1. Top 10 who are out of the running – “Runaway Baby + So You Think You Can Dance Promo Breakdown” So Jermaine Jones really did get the hard boot from the cast. That said, I’m glad they reprised one of the more fun performances from this season. In a sea of bad harmonizing, Josh and Hollie’s voices stood out. The dance breakdown with the abrupt music changes was fun, but jarring. I will be watching So You Think You Can Dance tomorrow.

2. Phillip Phillips + John Fogerty – “Have You Ever Seen The Rain? + Bad Moon Rising” Fogerty has to be 2-3x Phillip’s age, but he is way more lively than the mellowed out finalist. He’s also doing a much better job at hitting the belt notes on “Rain.” Phillip can’t shake that cartoon dog singing style for this song. For the second song, Phillip woke up. He looked much happier to be up onstage and slowly began to match Fogerty’s energy as the performance went on.

3. Josh Ledet + Fantasia Barrino – “Take Me To The Pilot” Josh’s voice is in top form tonight. His vocal runs were cool, casual, and awesome. He should be one of the finalists tonight. I never saw Fantasia’s season 3 Idol run, but I thought her super high signing was unique and on point. This performance was just two talented singers jamming out, and I appreciated the relaxed tone.

4. Idol Ladies + Chaka Khan – “Ain’t Nobody + Through The Fire + I’m Every Woman” Erika and Elise have an ouch of a start, but quickly find the soul hook. Shannon sounds much more competent than I remember her. Skylar kicks ass. Hollie gets in two solid notes and Jessica gets one short ad libbed run before Chaka Khan enters the stage. She starts off buried in the mix, but she kicks out enough power notes to show that she’s doing it live. She had a few rough runs up there too, but she had more enthusiasm than at least a third of the ladies on that stage.

5. Ford Music Video – “I Was Here” At least the gimmicks were cute and silly from video to video. It’s just a shame that Phillip wasn’t in the last third.

6. Rihanna – “Where Have You Been?” This is much catchier than “We Found Love” and the bigger stage production allows for a bigger spectacle than when Ri-Ri performed this song on SNL. It still sounds like the hooks of three songs instead of one fully formed song, but I dig its driving beats and laser pyramid. Its production is emotionally devoid, but on a show like this it’s an oasis.

7. Skylar Laine + Reba McEntire – “Turn On The Radio” This rocks! Skylar and Reba sound tough and triumphant. Skylar has been my favorite country contestant this show has offered in a very long time, and that’s because of her transcendent talent and no-bullshit style. She also has way more chemistry with Reba than Lauren Alaina has during her duet with Carrie Underwood last year. That performance felt combative, whereas this performance felt like a passing of the torch. I had a lot of fun with this one.

8. Jessica Sanchez – “I Will Always Love You” This performance didn’t affect me to the same level that Jessica’s first go at the song did. There wasn’t the same emotional rawness that was there the first time, and maybe replicating that was an impossible task. Jessica’s delivery hit most of the notes but sounded a little flat. I felt like she was trying, but it just couldn’t live up to her earlier run. It’s too bad.

9. Idol Guys + Neil Diamond – “Coming To America + Rosy Child + I’m A Believer + Sweet Caroline” Colton sounds high and nasally. Heejun hits the notes but is digging way too low into his range. DeAndre actually did aim for the low end of his range and sounded good enough that the falsetto payoff was worth it. Jeremy had no memorable moments, but he didn’t choke. Josh’s vocal run 3/4ths in was a nice touch. When Neil Diamond came out for the last song, he got most of the spotlight. He didn’t exert any effort on his vocals, but like Chaka Khan he did it live. I just would have liked it if he didn’t perform like he found out he wasn’t getting paid after the show.

10. “Sing The Phone Book skit” The premise was silly enough, but the takeaway was that Shannon Magrane was a better singer than I ever gave her credit for. Where were these notes and this enthusiasm when she was actually a contestant?

11. Jennifer Lopez ft. Lil Jon, Flo Rida, and Wisin and Yandel – “Going In + Follow The Leader” I’m not a fan of the sequined pajamas that J.Lo is rocking, but “Going In” is moderately catchy. I like the ebb and flow of its bassline. Flo Rida’s bridge was abrupt and workmanlike. Then “Follow The Leader” came on and shit got real. That beat was so slinky and W&Y’s hip house flow sounded so freakin’ cool. Lopez also sounded quite on her game. I might have to seek out more from these guys.

12. Hollie Cavanagh and Jordin Sparks – “You’ll Never Walk Alone” The music is still plodding pageant fodder, but I have to hand it to Hollie for upping her emotional game. She made some subtle changes to her stage moves that she seemed to form more of a connection to the material than she would have earlier in the season. Jordin Sparks knocked her part out like it was nothing. Both ladies sounded spectacular. I just wish it was on a cooler song.

13. Idol Guys – “Robin Gibb Tribute – How Deep Is Your Love + How Can You Mend A Broken Heart + To Love Somebody” The guys (minus Phillip – where the hell has he been?) can actually harmonize together pretty well. Other than a botched falsetto run from DeAndre, they kept the vocal theatrics to a minimum. Jacob did a reprise of “To Love Somebody” and it was minimal, tasteful and classy. Given the limited amount of time the show had to prepare a tribute, I thought this was nice.

14. Jessica Sanchez + Jennifer Holliday – “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” When Holliday whipped out her vocal ion cannon 2/3rds of the way in, all Jessica could so is stand there and shake her head as if to say “yeah I can’t touch that.” It was actually kind of neat, because otherwise these two women matched each other pretty closely for most of the song, right down to the super-growly nightmare belt at the very end. It was like a bombastic guitar battle for singers and it was surprisingly cool.

15. Aerosmith – “Legendary Child + Walk This Way” This new song sounds like a slurry blend of “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion,” two Aerosmith songs that are actually good. This song, not so much. It’s basically a “here’s our crazy life story” that name checks their albums in the lyrics. Joe Perry can still shred like whoa, but really that’s all this performance has going for it. Steven Tyler’s vocals are flat and the harmonizing by Brad Whitford and Tom Hamilton is off-key. Not an Idol-worthy performance, that’s for sure. And then when the band did perform “Walk This Way” Tyler could barely hit the notes. The little jam-out at the end was cool.

16. Jessica and Phillip – “Up Where We Belong” This syrupy ballad is in Jessica’s wheelhouse. She sounds right at home. Phillip kept up with her for most of the song, but he ultimately gave up with a string of flubs on the last chorus. Still, these two crazy kids are nice and I hope they both find some success. Jessica just deserves to win this show more.

The Winner
I think we all saw this coming. I said as much back in Top 24 Week. One low-voiced white guy with an acoustic guitar passes the trophy to another low-voiced white guy with an acoustic guitar, as Phillip Phillips is the season 11 winner. I’m not as mad as I am with last year’s results, as Phillip actually turned in some top-ranking performances this season, but for shit’s sake how much longer is this going to go on? See if I tune in next year, Idol….

Thank you all for reading these recaps. I’m happy to bring this run to an end.

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Thoughts on The Voice: Audition Round 3

February 18, 2012

Image from Gwen Harlow on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

I apologize for the late posting. Thank heaven for Hulu. At the same time, I am itchy to start the real competition and get past this expanded audition round. It’s still less of a pain than Idol’s audition rounds, but the show would do well not to pad it out so much. Let’s lock this up!

Coaches’ Notes

-It’s interesting to see the coaches taking potshots at each other’s commercial success, track records on the show, and personal behaviors. I just like seeing these people in power come off their high horses and argue a little. It humanizes them. Props to Christina for telling Blake “fuck you.” By contrast, being an Idol judge seems like one of the cushiest in the world. All you need to succeed as a judge on that show is a catchphrase and a willingness to hit on underage contestants.

-Speaking of which, stop hitting on contestants, Cee Lo! It’s creepy when Steven Tyler does it and it’s icky when you do it as well. “You belong to me, don’t you agree?” What kind of pitch is that, Cee Lo?

Contestants’ Notes

-We open the show with no information on Sarah Golden. Her story is one of music industry conservatism – “we’ll sign you, but only if you completely change everything about yourself,” – and it’s one I can get behind (cry for The Muggs.) Unfortunately, she opens with a fairly anemic rendition of Lady Gaga’s “You and I.” She’s trying hard, but her voice is too thin and strained against the deceptively slow and rich backing track (the house band’s crummy rendition isn’t helping.) It’s a problem that can be fixed with voice coaching and better song choices, so it’s good that she gets turns from Cee Lo and Blake, who couldn’t be more different in terms of their appraoches to the show. She picks Cee Lo, who isn’t the best stylistic match for her, but is more likely to keep her past the favoritism-mined battle rounds than conservative ol’ Blake.

-Elley Duhe does well to sing Duffy’s “Mercy.” She sings kind of thinly with lots of yelping, which is actually a good match for the song. She has a good sense of the song’s space, knowing when to throw in the ad libs and when to try for vocal acrobatics. However she can’t quite execute yet, and her end product is unremarkable compared to some of the other auditioners, so she gets no turns. Eh, she’s 19. She has time to keep at it.

-“House of the Rising Sun” is one of those slow songs singers pick in order to show off vocal pyrotechnics. Mono-monikered Pip takes advantage of the sparse opener to show off a decent vibrato. His inner theater kid has the bluesy emotion in the song down pat, but it’s making him go off-key in the main part of the song. I don’t like rooting for the under-21 set, but I was impressed by his showmanship and willingness to really sell the performance (and lack of an instrument.) Too many reality competition singers are about control and technical execution. I just hope his theatrics won’t overshadow his singing a la Idol’s James Durbin. He gets four turns, and could do ok with Adam.

-There’s no argument that Erin Willett has the R&B blaster power. She does impressive runs all over “I Want You Back,” so much so that she forgets to sing some of the lyrics. However, if that’s her biggest problem, she’s going to be ok. I like the lively belters in the Frenchie Davis mold. I was surprised that she got only one turn, and from Blake no less. Also, Erin is from Gaithersburg, MD, and as a fellow Montgomery County resident I’m happy to see her represent.

-David Grace charges into red state rock territory with “Sweet Home Alabama,” which initially seems to be a good match for his swaggering twang, but is ultimately too dynamic for his held notes and ad libbed wailing. I hate to come across as too conservative, but I feel that if he dialed it back he might have earned a turn or two. It turned into one of those performances where the judges are trying to bait each other into turning their chairs, which is good for a little awkward comedy.

-Katrina Parker’s steady alto earns a turn from Adam early on, but he looks so ashamed when he does it, his head down in his arms like a high school student falling asleep in calculus class. Frankly Katrina’s performance failed to impress me. Her Joan Osborne song choice was a little interesting, but her singing style was a little too unpolished and green. She needed to turn up the fun.

-I dont like when competition show singers go to the Motown back catalog too early, but Geoff McBride is old enough that he could appreciate “Higher Ground” when it first came out. Geoff nails the song, doing what feels like a lower-key Stevie Wonder impression with holds and vibrato in all the right places. I also appreciated Geoff’s confidence – he sang with what seemed like an effortless perfection that comes with plying one’s craft. He sounded like a pro just doing his thing and having tons of fun with it. When a performance makes me want to go buy the song in Rock Band and play it myself, the singer did a damn good job! Hopefully Christina can channel his experience in the right direction.

-Erin Martin’s voice falls somewhere on the Macy Gray-Bjork spectrum of rasp. I give her points for staking out a relatively unique position among the other contestants and for trying something different. For “Hey There Delilah,” she’s fully aware of the emotion in the song and seems just enough in control to stay in key. My only problem was that she sang certain words with a weird accent or pronunciation that put me off. Ultimately her singing was engaging, but sloppy, another problem that coaching can fix. Cee Lo’s voice is kind of thin too, and he would do well to take her reedy voice to new heights. He just needs to keep things a little more professional and not view her as some prize he deserves. Not cool, dude!

-One hazard of doing more recent pop songs in shows like this is that the original versions rely on vocal processing to make their singers sound good. Drake’s “Find Your Love” is no exception. James Massone finds a way around the problem by singing so high in his tenor range he’s almost an alto. The house bands punchy rendition helps too. James starts out strongly enough to earn three turns before his emotion gets the better of him and he totally falls apart. If he’s to have a future on the show, he will have to learn to finish what he starts.

-Winter Rae sings Rihanna’s “Take A Bow,” which in my opinion is kind of a boring song to begin with. She hits all the right notes, but lacked a wow factor. I hate to say it, but in a sparse, plodding song like this she really needed to pull off the diva moves like an early-2000s Idol success. ZZZZZZZZZZZ….

-Chris Cauley kicks out a toned down bluesy rendition of Bruno Mars’s “Grenade.” He sounded pleasant and I give him props for taking a belty, violent song into a more restrained territory. Chris is competent at best, but I hope that he will continue to take done-to-death songs in different directions.

-Nathan Parrett’s clip goes by fast, and maybe that’s because they 5 seconds I heard sounded like Chris Isaak-lite: deep but a little scratchy, like the awkward teen on The Simpsons. It still earns him a pick from Adam.

-The same thing happens to Brian Fuente, who seemed to have enough raw rocker power in him to earn a turn from Blake. I can’t help but feeling that if the show focused less on some of the contestants’ backstories and more on singing, these guys would have come across better. I predict that they’ll end up as cannon fodder in the battle rounds.

-I was wondering when shows like this would seriously consider rappers as contestants. Christina picks Moses Stone, who does an off-beat, out of breath rendition of the Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get It Started.” She makes a good point about his delivery, though, so maybe if he calms down a little he can combine delivery with flow to attack with Busta Rhymes-like precision. I give the show points for experimenting, but couldn’t they have found a better rapper?

-Jordis Unga does “Maybe I’m Amazed” and she sounds like she’s aiming for the cheap seats. I appreciate her enthusiasm, but I wish she would learn breath control. She came up short a little, but she pounded her way through another otherwise done-to-death song. She put some effort into the deal, and while she was bleaty I can hear her potential.

Let’s summarize today’s picks, in order of selection:
-Victim of conservatism and trying too hard
-A likeable theater kid?
-Another lively belter + MoCo represent!
-Not trying hard enough
-Soul power pro
-Reedy and raspy make a comeback
-Alto beats Autotune
-Originally bland
-Bass section cannon fodder
-Rock N Roll cannon fodder
-Finally, a rapper! or This is the best rapper they could come up with?
-So much Sound and Fury

Tune in next week for thoughts on…(looks at Voice site)…more auditions? Since each coach has picked only 6 or 7 contestants, we have a ways to go….

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Thoughts On The Voice: Sing-Off Part 3

May 25, 2011

We’re halfway through the battle rounds! Two singers enter, one singer leaves, and there is not much else to say that wasn’t said two weeks ago.

Team Xtina (guest coach Sia, who I forgot wrote 4 songs for Christina’s Bionic)

Raquel Castro vs. Julia Eason – “Only Girl In The World”

Seeing as how this song was probably written with so much vocal processing that not even Rihanna can sing it live, this will be a challenge. When I hear someone sing it live it just sounds weird, especially on the chorus. “Julia and Raquel have pitch problems,” says Christina, but that’s not entirely their fault. The challenge is making the best out of a bad situation.

Both women have very rough starts but pick things up by the chorus. Raquel uses her naturally fuller voice to barrel into the song head on. Julia takes a more cerebral approach by adding notes to the chorus’s flat progression to make it sound more natural. By the end of the song Raquel seems to still be having fun while Julia looks like someone is choking her.

Winner: Raquel (It kind of made sense. She sounded richer, though one could also make a case for Julia’s vocal acrobatics.)

 

Team Blake (guest coach Reba McEntire, who founded Starstruck Entertainment, which I think manages Blake Shelton)

Dia Frampton vs. Serabee – “You Can’t Hurry Love”

Blake is really on a Motown kick. He sets two of the more experienced singers against each other. Dia has a softer folksy style, whereas Serabee sounds like she aims for the cheap seats. I can’t call this one. It will depend on how their vocal styles overlap.

Except they don’t, not really. Dia sings the first half and her singing is like a muscle car that takes forever to reach top speed, but when it does it’s just cruisin’. Meanwhile Serabee goes full gospel, zipping all over the song like a Porsche 911 on a test course. When the song fades out Dia stays the course and sings straight on while Serabee does runs on top. They each play to their strengths, so victory will be a matter of which style Blake likes more.

Winner: Dia (She had to settle into the song, but once she found her groove she reduced Serabee’s runs and loud aesthetics to so much sound and fury.)

 

Team Adam (guest coach Adam Blackstone – seriously? A music director?)

Rebecca Loebe vs. Devon Barley – “Creep”

I never thought I’d hear a Radiohead song in an American singing competition. Adam is trying to pair the ominous song with shiny singers to see what results, though Rebecca might have an advantage given her Tori Amos-meets-Jewel performance style. Given how situations like this have worked out before on this show, pop-rocky Devon has a chance for a come-from-behind victory.

Early on it looks like the song is just too low for Devon, and he sounds flatter than Al Gore. Rebecca at least sounds on key, though her belting is like “what if Evanescence covered Radiohead?” By the song’s climax, it’s just an off-key mess. Devon was flat and Rebecca was oversinging.

Winner: Devon (Did I hear a different performance? That song would have mauled Devon’s ass in Rock Band. On Medium.)

 

Team Cee Lo (guest coach Monica, who I found out is married to pro basketball player and Michigan State alum Shannon Brown)

Kelsey Rey vs. Jonathan Taylor Thomas Tori and Taylor Thompson – “Unwritten”

Great. Now I’m flashing back to The Hills. Thanks Cee Lo! From the practice round it sounds like the danger might be in screaming this song during the loud parts, so control might come in handy. Despite her numbers disadvantage, Kelsey could still beat these cult siblings back like Jared beat the Elenowen couple last week.

Kelsey has trouble finding the key at the start of the song, but she settles into things nicely and she sings with control and style. She sounds like a pro. Meanwhile Tori and Taylor sing kind of flat when they solo and miss cues when they try to sing alternations. Together they still sing well, but will it be enough?

Winner: Tori and Taylor Thompson (This was a bad choice. Notice how when the judges were complementing them it was all on concept and “innocence” and not on singing ability. And what Cee Lo calls “innocence” I call “creepy.”)

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So tonight I agreed with half of the coaches’ picks. As with any reality competition, there are bound to be choices I disagree with. We’re still seeing a diversity of contestants come out of the battle rounds (and there’s still one more round to go), but the real test is who the audience votes for. Shit, Idol had a somewhat diverse field this past season and look how that turned out. I guess my thread of hope is that the viewership for this show will be younger and fresher; more open to new and exciting performers as opposed to Idol’s conservatism and blandness.

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Review: One Love

May 11, 2011

Image from Amazon

Summary: Fourth time’s a charm! The French super-producer’s fourth artist album is brimming with hedonism, positivity, guest stars, and the most unsubtle beats this side of Justice. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s his first big crossover record in the U.S.

Fun Facts

  • This album feels as though it’s been released in a bajillion different versions. It first came out as One Love, with 12-15 tracks depending on which country you bought the album in and whether you bought it on CD or digitally. It came out again as One Love 2010, which changed the track sequence, added some new songs, and increased the guest count. It came out yet again in 2011 as One More Love, which condensed the track listing but added one more new song, a collaboration with Rihanna titled “Who’s That Chick?” Somebody – Guetta, his managers, or the labels who distributed the album – is milking the hell out of this album. For this review I will be using the 2009 14-track version of One Love that came with a mix CD. It is not the most comprehensive version of the album, but it’s pretty decadent and covers a lot of the core tracks that are in all of the album’s versions.
  • One reason the album blew up like it did in America was that this was the first time Guetta began working heavily with American hip-hop and R&B artists. Kelly Rowland shows up on 3 songs. Will.I.Am appears on 2 songs. Akon, Ne-Yo, Kid Cudi, and Apl.de.Ap each appear on a song. And while she’s not American, English singer Estelle (who was popular in the States for “American Boy”), sings the title track (and does a damn fine job of it!)

Ups

  • Guetta’s production is incredibly accessible and catchy for hard club music. A key part of that is that he keeps his rhythm sections mostly simple. The big singles “When Love Takes Over,” “Sexy Bitch,” “Memories,” and “One Love,” all stick to very basic but heavy 4/4 beats and simple but hard basslines. That sounds like a criticism, but the simple rhythmic components give the songs appeal on a very visceral level. That allows Guetta the freedom to play with the synth lines or the vocalists some room to shine while everyone is dirty dancing.
  • For what’s pretty much a dance pop record, Guetta plays the keys pretty hard. The synths on songs like “I Wanna Go Crazy,” and “Choose” are bathed in distortion, like they’re dancefloor napalm. When he uses cleaner piano on “Memories,” and “When Love Takes Over,” he mixes it high and uses it to make melodies to make catchy hooks for the singers to ride on. Sometimes he goes for a little 90s throwback cheese like on “Missing You,” which feels like an Ace of Base outtake, but it’s all still really fun.
  • Several of the guests are good matches to Guetta’s unsubtle hedonism. Kelly Rowland uses her power pipes to cut through the darkness like a lighthouse beacon shining through a storm. She and Guetta should do a whole album together. Will.I.Am and Apl.De.Ap rap and shout on “On The Dancefloor” with the same reckless abandon that they showed on The E.N.D. (which Guetta helped produce.) Chris Willis, who has sung and produced with Guetta since 2000, is a fine showman on “Gettin’ Over” and “Sound Of Letting Go.”

Downs

  • The big stumble on the album is actually on a remix of one of Guetta’s biggest hits, The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.” The FMIF (which stands for “Fuck Me I’m Famous”) remix shares the same intro as the original, but then does a bait and switch. You would think that tonight’s gonna be a good night, but then everything drops out into this screechy, off-key trainwreck of failed dance pop. What’s more the “remix” part of the song barely counts, as it uses virtually no elements of the original song: almost no vocals (save for a brief cut-up of Will.I.Am), no bass line, no guitar, not even a “mazeltov!” It feels like false advertising. A good remix shouldn’t feel like a practical joke (unless it’s by Kid606.)
  • Guetta also makes a failed early attempt at dubstep (which is like uptempo rave music played at half time) at the end of the album. “If We Ever,” while well-sung by Makeba, feels like a big buildup to nothing.
  • Though it’ll go without saying, not a lot of material on this album is going to pass Alyx Vessey’s dance music test. 13 of the 14 songs are about partying, love, relationships, or objectification (the affirmation-themed title track is an exception). That’s not a unique failure, most of dance music is like that, but it’s indicative of the larger problem of the album which is….
  • Musically Guetta isn’t taking many risks (aside from working with a relatively unknown singer like Novel or Makeba). His consistency is often in danger of becoming homogenous, and if you’re not paying attention it just might become just that. It’s a good thing that when Guetta mixes everything together on disc 2, he throws in more songs and changes their arrangements because otherwise he would wear out his welcome very quickly.

Conclusion: One Love’s extravaganzas are efficient dance music delivery systems – incredibly catchy, visceral, and human. Lots of people want to cut loose, to get over bad breakups, and/or to dance really close with loved ones (or strangers) to pounding, pounding house music, and there are lots of songs here that can fill those needs. The songs on One Love are big and stupid and some are horrible noise blasts or bridges to nowhere. There’s star power, hot synths and pounding beats. With few exceptions there isn’t a whole lot to find beyond the bacchanalia but somehow it works, dammit!

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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.

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Internet Roundup

March 28, 2011

Popdust has a rundown of the Juno awards, which is the big music awards show in Canada. Drake was the host! Arcade Fire took home several of the big awards, including Album Of The Year, but lost the Artist Of The Year award to Neil Young. Justin Bieber won the Fan Choice award. Deadmau5 lost the Electronic Album Of The Year award to Caribou, but took home the Dance Recording Of The Year.

Meanwhile Hard Candy has posted a new DJ mix by Aeroplane. I don’t normally care for that “Balearic Beat,” but Aeroplane’s remixes of Chromeo’s “Don’t Turn The Lights On” and The Human League’s “Never Let Me Go” were pretty damn catchy. The 12-track mix features songs and remixes from French House vets Etienne De Crecy and Alex Gopher, up and coming power diva Clare Maguire, and remix band The Swiss (who are actually from Australia).

Finally in serious matters, I managed to track down an old essay by ESPN columnist and native Detroiter LZ Granderson. Granderson wrote the article in October 2009; about seven months after Chris Brown violently beat Rihanna. Ryan O’Connell expressed a similar sentiment in a piece on Thought Catalog written a few days ago. Read both articles back to back and see how much has changed in 2 years (answer: not a whole lot). Brown is still very violent and never really did any time for domestic assault and yet there’s still a big media push to “welcome him back.”

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33 Non-Rock Songs I’d Like To See In Rock Band 3: Part 2 + Peripherals

June 23, 2010

Image from Harmonix

Now we continue into my working list of hip-hop, R&B, funk, disco, electronic, dance, and pop songs that I would like to see in the Rock Band series.

Here’s part 1!

Before we get to the main list, I’d like to write a concern I have about Rock Band 3: peripherals. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m pumped about the keyboard. Because of that instrument expansion I feel like I can write these lists and have them not be mere pipe dreams. Plus it looks like the playing experience will be crazy fun. My concern is in the price and over-featuring of the new instruments. In the push to continuously up their game in the peripheral department and appease the series’ most vocal semi-serious musician fanbase, the new guitar and keyboard peripherals from Mad Catz and Fender appear capable of doing a lot, including doubling as real instruments and midi controllers. While this is cool if you’re into music production or if you are seriously convinced to pick up a real instrument, I feel like this isn’t going to appeal to the silent majority of more casual players, especially a majority with reduced disposable income. I like my instrument controllers to be responsive and last more than 12 months, but I doubt I’ll be getting into serious jamming, and I doubt that I’m the only one of that opinion. I’ll likely snap up RB3 pretty early into its release, but I’ll probably wait awhile until the keyboard drops in price before buying one. That being said, let’s get down to more of what I’d like to see in-game: a little trip-hop, a little g-funk, and of course, the legendary MJ.

The full list is after the jump:

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