Posted tagged ‘Brandy Neelly’

Idol’s Best Auditions

January 23, 2016

In the aftermath of The Final Auditions Forever, I thought about putting together a list of my favorite Idol auditions. However, Yahoo Music’s fabulous Lyndsey Parker, an Idol fanatic of epic proportions, i.e. like me, beat me to it. So rather than reinvent a very nicely working wheel, I’ll share hers with you.

I do, of course, have my own musings on Lyndsey’s very fine list. I would have had Lauren Alaina much higher. Back on January 27, 2011 I wrote:

Alright, they finally did it. They finally found somebody to make me break my Don’t Get Excited Until Hollywood Rule: 15-year old Lauren Alaina, the last singer of the night. She’s got the look, the charisma, some chutzpah – asking Aero to sing along with her! –  and most importantly, a smoky, soulful, edgy vocal quality that I am a real sucker for. I am really hating myself for getting emotionally involved already. But of all the good people I’ve seen so far – and there are plenty I could get excited about eventually – she’s my top pre-Idolist to this point. Not to get too far ahead of myself or lead you with me but after the Nashville auditions Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe had tweeted about a 15-year old that he thought could win. Some insiders believe he was referring to her.

Lauren did go on to become a My Girl and finish second to Scotty McCreery. More importantly, she’s had continuing success in the business post-Idol. Check out her new songs Next Boyfriend and History, the latter of which was on constant repeat on ESPN this college football season.

While I have no problem with Lyndsey’s #2 choice – no I’m not going to tell you – I was surprised by who she had at the top of the list. No, I’m not going to tell you that one, either. But I will say I’m not one for the tug-at-your-heartstrings auditions, so I would have never gone there for #1.

It may surprise you to know that I would have bumped up Phillip Philllps higher – I did really like his “offbeat style” at the beginning; and the same for Scotty McCreery with his I-didn’t-see-that-coming bass voice.

I’m very happy to see that Lyndsey included Todrick Hall, whose unjustifiably too-early send-off by the voters was one Idol’s biggest mistakes. About Todrick’s last performance I said :

Todrick, in particular, has a great voice which the judges have pointed out each week. And he is an engaging stage performer. His potential is great and tonight we finally got a glimpse of it.

Since Todrick has his own show now on MTV, I can say that I had that one.

And who didn’t love Pants on the Ground?

So here’s Lyndsey Parker’s list. She includes all the videos for her choices but I didn’t watch them. It was enough fun to read her reasons and reminisce about what I remembered.[1]

The 25 Greatest ‘American Idol’ Auditions

But I do want to include three videos that are mandatory viewing.[2] So you know how some contestants ask if they can sing another song when the first one didn’t go well? That second song wouldn’t come out of thin air. They are told to prepare two songs. If the judges are on the fence, they’ll get to sing that second song and on a few occasions the Evil Genius Producers showed us that. Sometimes the second song was better and the EGPs will show us that one and edit the whole audition as if the Idolist sang only one song. Sometimes they tape both songs and choose which one they want to air. The point here is that the wanna-be pop stars come prepared with two songs.

So we all now know that Adam Lambert famously sang Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody for his audition, impressing all the judges but Simon who thought he was “theatrical.” What isn’t as widely known is that Adam taped another song, Michael Jackson’s Rock With You. When you watch – yes, it’s mandatory – you’ll notice obvious signs of editing as some of the same material in the beginning of Rock With You appears in the beginning of the Bohemian Rhapsody audition that aired on TV. Oh yeah, that means you’ll have to watch the video of Bohemian Rhapsody. I’ll just go ahead and put it here first for you because I’m nice like that.

And then you’ll also notice that Rock With You was fabulous.

One other audition video needs to be noted. An omission from Lyndsey’s list was Never Got to Be My Girl Brandy Neelly’s audition in Chicago from Season XII. On January 18, 2013 I wrote this:

My star of the night – and she’s got serious My Girl potential – was Brandy Neelly. Yes, she’s another country singer, which is starting to get tiresome. She even went old school country Hank Williams on me That’s really trying my objectivity. But she’s really, really good and cute as a button.

To this day I remain blown away at Brandy’s audition which is one of my all-time favorites. And I’m mystified at how she didn’t get to the voting rounds that or the next season. The good news is that I became friends with her mom; and Brandy is busy working on her career the old-fashioned way from the ground up.

So yeah, this video is mandatory, too.


[1] And in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t come to Idol until Season V, so I missed a few in Lyndsey’s list, including the epic William Hung.

[2] Yes, I’ve got the NSA watching you. If I find out that you didn’t watch the mandatory videos, bad things will happen to you.


Anybody In America Can Win

January 6, 2016

In the premiere of The Final Season of American Idol (FSAI for short), the Evil Genius Producers went overboard reminding us that anybody – literally anybody – could be the next American Idol. To that end, we were inundated with, uh, Americans of every demographic. We had Indian-Americans, Police-Americans, Off-the-Grid-Americans, overweight[1]-Americans, over-sharing-yodeling-Americans, new-parent-Americans, hairdresser-Americans, arguing-husband-and-wife-Americans – and a very small demographic – world-famous-rapper-with-famous-gazillionaire-wife-Americans. Unfortunately no militia-Americans were available during the months of auditions. Can any of these Americans become The Last Winner of American Idol (LWAI for short)?

Well, I really liked that last guy, the rapper from Chicago. But America will never vote for him. I wish him well, though. Maybe something will work out for him.

I had two favorites tonight. Sonika was the cute Indian-American girl with a lovely soft voice. Not a lot of stage presence, though, or provocative personality. But who am I to argue with Carrie Underwood who tweeted that Sonika may be her favorite to win already[2]. I also liked Shelbie Z, the hairdresser with a cool name and sassy attitude. And I’ll give a little nod to Lindita the personal trainer who’s got a lot of soul in her voice but way too much Christina Aguilera-on-steroids with the vocal runs.

Having said that, none of them are of the OMG I think they can win variety. I recall too many knock-my-socks-off auditions like Chris Daughtry’s and Adam Lambert’s both of whom did eventually go on to win.

Uh, what? Really? They didn’t? Well, how the %$^# did that NOT happen?

OK, how about My Girl Jax’s audition last year? Or Should Have Been My Girl Brandy Neelly a few years ago[3]. These, likewise, were examples of this-person-can-win auditions more so than Sonika or Shelbie Z. But it’s early and I am quite willing to change my mind when they get to Hollywood.

As to Kanye’s appearance – yes, it was superfluous and gratuitous and unnecessary – and way out of context. Golden Tickets, acceptance and rejection, and tug at your heart backstories[4] are what Idol’s auditions have always been about. Sure, a little – and I do mean a little Harry! – hijinx with the judges is alright. But the reason for the show’s success in putting Idolists into successful music careers is that the focus was always on the contestants. Not the judges. And certainly not on celebrities who have zero connection to the show; or on Ryan’s friendship with Kim Kardashian. I’m fine with Kanye. I just would have preferred a killer audition to end the show – someone who would have left me with the feeling that this person can be the LWAI.

I’m so happy to be musing again. 🙂 See you tomorrow!

P.S. For some reason, Clay Aiken felt the need to go on a Twitter rant against Idol. I understand and am OK with people who want to hate Idol. But I don’t understand and am not OK with someone hating Idol when the show made you, dude. Seriously, what’s your deal?


[1] Not throwing shade. He called himself that.

[2] Carrie, please don’t do anything to, say, the headlights, seats or tires of my car.

[3] It’s the last season of Idol blogs. Prepare yourselves to hear the names of Adam and Brandy early and often.

[4] They did a great job tonight with flashbacks of some of the memorable backstories including Kellie Pickler’s.

500 Words for My 500th Blog

December 13, 2014

Adam Lambert. Alexis Grace was The Cutest My Girl Ever. Melinda Doolittle was one of the best singers Idol’s ever seen. I really wanted My Girl Jessica Sanchez to win. I cannot believe Crystal Bowersox lost to Off-Key Lee Dewyze. Siobhan Magnus was kinda strange, kinda cute and kinda good. Who was more fun than Kellie Pickler? Season Seven: David and David, My Girl Syesha, Jason Castro, Brooke White, Carly Smithson, Michael Johns. #WhatASeason. The telephone ringing during or immediately after the show was always My Mom. I really wanted Lauren Alaina to win. Adam Lambert. How the heck did Daughtry not win? I wasn’t an Idol watcher the first four seasons so I missed Kelly, Carrie, Jennifer Hudson – and William Hung. I was never much of a Fantasia fan. Didn’t care much for Pia, Scotty or Phillip Phillps, either. Paris Bennett and Allison Iraheta were impossibly talented young teens. Caleb’s Dazed and Confused was so epic. My Girl Jena’s Creep was pretty awesome, too. I’m still bitterly disappointed that Brandy Neelly never got to the finals. The first My Girl Sabrina Sloane didn’t make the finals, either. It’s a Mad World. Adam Lambert. Elliot Yamin singing A Song For You. Crystal Bowersox singing Up to the Mountain. Joshua Ledet singing It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World and sounding like he is speaking in tongues. Melinda Doolittle singing Have a Nice Day. Blake Lewis taking a risk beat-boxing on Livin’ On a Prayer. Candice just flat killin’ Lovesong. What the &^%#$ is Paula saying? Simon’s strange metaphors. Evil Eye Jimmy Iovine and Evil Genius Producers. The necessary seven-second delays for Steven Tyler and Nicki Minaj. Kara DioGuardi stripping down to outdo the annoying Bikini Girl. Ellen Degeneres was a disappointment wasn’t she? The hour results shows were so boring and too full of false drama. Adam Lambert. And how many bad theme weeks did we have to endure? Way too many fails on Motown Week. Simon jumps to X Factor. Melanie Amaro sings spectacularly but never makes a record. Carly Rose Sonnenclar was too good to be only 13 years old so I’m sure she was an alien. Alex and Sierra were fabulous, weren’t they? Too bad the show was a disaster even if I liked Demi Lovato and LOVED My Miss Kelly Rowland. I started a love-hate relationship with The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing. I started to hate it just as everybody else was starting to love it. But I want Adam Levine’s wardrobe. Adam Lambert. My Girl Dia Frampton singing Heartless. Jamar Rogers and Juliet Simms were amazing. Nobody will ever sing Dream On like Amanda Brown. Melanie Martinez was so cute with her two-tone hair and gap-toothed smile. The Sing-Off was fun, too. Who didn’t love Ben Folds? I loved seeing Jerry Lawson and The Talk of The Town going old school. Pentatonix was fantastic. Idol has made stars. X Factor has made stars. The Sing-Off has made stars. The Voice has not. Adam Lambert. 🙂

Nothing to Say “Amen!” to on Testify

August 18, 2014

testifyIn an otherwise desultory season of Idol, Caleb Johnson was a worthy winner[1]. He consistently delivered strong performances week after week and some of them, like Dazed and Confused, could easily be considered among Idol’s all-time best.

If only his debut album Testify could have lived up to the level of those performances. But what else could have been expected? It was hastily put together in less than two months while Caleb was rehearsing and touring with the other Idolists. This album was dead on arrival.

I get it. Reality singing show winners have become a commodity and there is tremendous pressure to get product in front of the viewers before the viewers move on to the next season of whatever show is in the queue. But Caleb’s conundrum is that he’s a 70s throwback rocker who won on a show whose 50-plus year-old demographic wasn’t exactly going to beat down a path to Best Buy or Target to get his album.[2]

But in this case, there is no reason to buy the album since the material on Testify is inexcusably weak. With almost each song I was reminded of the classic movie This Is Spinal Tap, i.e. a parody of bad 70s rock songs. I had to keep telling myself that somebody actually was serious about this project, as if it was a good idea to package together a group of refried, lukewarm 40-year old rock music.

The shame of it is that Caleb can really sing and his vocal prowess can clearly be heard on the album. I refuse to accept the excuse that Caleb’s just a throwback rock and roller and nothing more. I recently listened to an up-and-coming British singer-songwriter named Jamie N Commons, whose “raspy street-corner voice . . . delivers a kind of modern gothic, 21st century version of the blues[3]. Rock music may not be as popular as it used to be but that’s no excuse to make uninteresting music. A voice as powerful as Caleb’s deserved material far less tepid than what’s on Testify.

Again, I understand the need to rush something to market. But it’s a shame. Testify’s first day sales projected it to be the lowest selling for any American Idol winner’s post-win album. It’s on track to only sell between 9k and 11k copies nationwide in its first week. With time, Caleb could have been given better material suited to the times and his talent. Instead, we got a hurried album that sounds like rejected Foghat B-sides.

Grade D


[1] Said desultory season could have been easily improved by the presence of better singers like My Girl Brandy Neelly. Or anybody else (besides My Girl Jena Irene who would have been a deserving winner, also) who could actually sing.

[2] Unlike when there was actually a line of people at Best Buy (including your friendly neighborhood Idol Muser) asking for Adam Lambert’s post-Idol release For Your Entertainment.

[3] Spotify

She Got Better but Not Good Enough

April 11, 2014

IMG_20130918_210344_015So while I was otherwise occupied in other non-Idol related endeavors tonight, my Crack Research Staff texted me that Malaya was voted off. This comes as a surprise to nobody – and by nobody I mean me (and my faithful blog readers) since I believe I had that.

And what were those non-Idol related endeavors that kept me from Idol tonight? I was catching some all-the-way live Blues at Blue Chicago, a well-known Chicago Blues bar.

I loved Malaya’s larger-than-life personality. I can see how the Evil Genius Producers felt she made for good TV.[1] And I love how much she improved as a singer. But her improvement still didn’t put her in the group of probable frontrunners. And Season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina aside, teen girls generally don’t go far on Idol. Whether or not a career in music is in her future remains to be seen. Eighth-place on Idol isn’t much of a launching pad.

CJ is probably the next to go and then Sam. After that it gets interesting mostly because of the wild card that is Dexter. Will he rightfully go home at the right time or will his voters send someone home at the wrong time? My fingers are crossed for the former.

Next Wednesday’s blog status is up in the air as I will be literally up in the air returning from New York City[2]. And on Thursday night I will be catching more live music – Leigh Nash[3] with my daughters. However, I will muse as time allows.


[1] This is somewhat irksome, though, because if it’s a singing competition, then a better singer – ahem, My Gone Too Soon Girl Brandy Neelly – should have been there, instead.

[2] New York City. Just as I pictured it. Skyscrapers and everything. Oh, sorry. I started thinking about the spoken part of Stevie Wonder’s Livin’ for the City. Everything reminds me of song lyrics. I can’t help myself.

[3] Lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer who were popular in the late 90s.

The End of Karaoke

April 2, 2014

With so much to write about tonight’s amazing show, I guess it’s simply best to begin at the beginning. Tonight’s theme may have been my favorite ever: full-up versions of the songs the Idolists first auditioned with. This one seemingly obvious yet brilliant idea puts the genius back in Evil Genius Producers. Why didn’t Nigel think of this?

It made me think back to Adam Lambert’s audition – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. And why is that important? Because he’s singing that song now as a member of – hello – Queen, on their second international tour together.

And let me give credit where credit is due. There were eight strong solo performances (I’ll get to the duets next) tonight – yes, even Dexter. This group is getting better and better each week and we must give a sincere thanks to the judges for their constant feedback and criticism.[1] FINALLY, we have a show where seasoned superstar performers treat the contestants like apprentices learning their craft rather than proclaim them as already superstars.

As for the duets, I know the judges don’t judge them but I do. Duets require a completely different skill set vocally and performance-wise and I like to see who has those skills. My Girl Jena[2] and Alex were wonderful together, which isn’t easy given how different their voices are. Jessica and Caleb were quite good, too, but without the challenge to blend as seamlessly as My Girl and Alex. Sam seemed overmatched once Malaya started singing. Dexter and CJ were a disaster.

Something else new and improved happened tonight. The World’s Greatest Karaoke Contest became a showcase for singer-songwriters (Jessica and Alex) and risky song re-interpretations (My Girl Jena and Caleb). All four of them were hugely successful in my book.

Finally, I’m beginning to realize I have a problem that I’ve never had in any season of Idol. I can legitimately see four people winning – My Girl Jena, Caleb, Alex and Malaya – and I will be upset each and every week that one of them goes home. And I don’t have Jessica in that group and I will be upset when she goes home!

The Grades

Jessica (Blue Eyed Lie, original): This is a great song with great lyrics. She transformed herself with a game-changing vocal performance although I agree she needs to do more on the stage than move her shoulder. But the chick can sing. A

CJ (Soul Shine, Allman Brothers): This was his best performance. Why? Because a certain blogger has been saying that the Allman Brothers – not country – is his wheelhouse. B+

Sam (Lego House, Ed Sheeran): He also gave his best performance of the season. I agree with HCJ that making eye contact and smiling at somebody ever so briefly will make a huge difference performance-wise.[3] B+

Malaya (Ain’t No Way, Aretha): Malaya did the one thing you MUST do if you’re going to sing Aretha – not try to sing like Aretha. I’m not a fan of little girls singing big girl songs but when you sing like she did tonight, I just sat back and enjoyed it. She picked the right key that played to her strengths (strong lower register) and avoided her weakness and Aretha’s strengths (upper register) A

Dexter (One Mississippi, Brett Eldredge): My daughter “as someone who listens to country radio[4]” thought it was horrible. I think he finally showed us that he does have a nice voice and like CJ and Sam, gave his best performance of the season. B

My Girl Jena (Rolling In the Deep, Adele): I love to hear Jessica and Malaya sing. But My Girl Jena gives me full body goosebumps. Week after week she takes on BIG singers (Amy Lee, Hayley Williams, Adele) and BIG songs and sings them Jena’s way. I agree with K-Urbs that her complete remake of an immensely popular song was amazing. And her vocal tone and phrasing is EXQUISITE. She’s Jena and nobody sounds like her. And she’s beginning to look like a starlet, too. A

Caleb (Chain of Fools, Aretha): A blues-rock version of an uptempo R&B classic? I’ll have a second helping of that, please. And HCJ – it was wrong of you to criticize the song choice. He had no choice! The theme was to sing their audition songs. Furthermore, he did a quiet ballad when he did Skyfall[5] so remarkably a few weeks ago. But your point is taken that he needs to come down off the bombast he does so well and change it up a bit. How about Journey’s Faithfully? A

Alex (Fairy Tales, original): Not as good as Jessica’s but still another excellent original song. He is someone I could easily hear on the radio. A

I have a lot of thoughts about the commercial potential for the remaining Idolists, which is how I am always thinking about each performer. But this blog is already pretty long so that will come another day. However, let me return to My Girl Jena for a moment. I’ve liked her from the start but I was – and continue to be enamored with My Girl Unjustly Sent Home Early Brandy Neelly. What I needed to get from Jena – as if she answers to me LOL – was consistency and a sense of her creativity. This she has done beyond my expectations. Hence, the field promotion to My Girl Status.

The Bottom Three should be Dexter, Sam and CJ. I fear that we may have a shocker in store, though. I hope not. And I won’t be surprised if the judges use their save at this point no matter whom it would be for.


[1] You really didn’t think I was talking about Randy, did you? His contribution this week seemed to be to encourage Jessica to move her shoulder even more than usual.

[2] You see how I subtly snuck that in?

[3] Yes, it’s the second time I’ve used performance-wise which probably isn’t even a word. But it’s not in my thesaurus so you’re stuck with me using it in a repeat-wise fashion.

[4] It is inexplicable to me how I have progeny that listen to country music. What horrible sin did I commit in a past life that karma is making me atone for now?

[5] I stand firm that this isn’t close to the best season ever (but maybe getting closer?). But we’ve had an amazing number of great performances of songs by Adele and Aretha. That’s saying something.

She Never Got to Be a My Girl

March 27, 2014

I should have known better than to get excited by the arrival of the long-awaited shorter results show or the appearance of the fabulous Janelle Monae[1] in said results show. America has spoken and they have decided they would rather listen to a cute, bland teenage guy and another Idolist whose performance one blogger referred to as, “I’ve had glasses of tap water that were more unpredictable and complex in flavor.”[2]

While I was clearly disappointed in tonight’s result that sent Sam and Dexter once again to safety and No Longer My Girl In Waiting Majesty to sing for a save that was not granted, I’m not looking for sharp objects or a roof too jump from, either. At some point in every Idol season: 1) the really weak Idolists have gone home; 2) the clear favorites have emerged; 3) the rest go home in some order that really doesn’t matter. Option #3 was Majesty’s fate and I expect it to befall Sam, CJ and Dexter over the next three weeks, although once again, bad performances seems to slide off Dexter like oil on teflon. And the history of Idol tells us that guys do better with the voters than girls. I’ll save my shock for if Caleb, Jena or Alex gets voted off before Sam, CJ and Mr. Teflon.

As far as the judges’ non-save, I wasn’t too surprised by that, either. It’s clear that Majesty had not connected with voters as evidenced by three straight weeks in the Dreaded Bottom Three, so she was probably going to be voted off next week, anyway. It’s better for the judges’ save to correct a serious error such as the week Jessica Sanchez had to sing for a save.

Beyond saying a fond farewell to She Who Never Quite Became My Girl, I have a couple of other musings. First, I need to correct a minor error from last night. After watching Caleb’s spectacular Dazed and Confused again and again and . . . well, you get the picture, I’ve upgraded his grade from an A to an A+. While no definitive list of my all-time favorite Idol performances exists, should that ever happen, this will be in it.[3]

It also occurred to me that this season does have a particular appeal to it. It is not, as HCJ ridiculously keeps saying, the most talented group of Idolists ever.[4] What this season is about is the diamonds in the rough becoming diamonds. While Caleb’s big voice grabbed me from the beginning, his subtle Skyfall and audacious Dazed and Confused performances show a maturing style. Likewise, Jena has grown from talented teenager to someone who can put her own spin on rock goddesses such as My Girl Hayley Williams and My Girl of Girls Amy Lee. Alex has grown into a clearly defined brand of his own. And Malaya is a far cry from the little girl who had no idea how to restrain her big voice. Each of them has improved tremendously and are looking increasingly Idol-like. Jessica, likewise, is growing, too. These Idolists are on an upward trajectory that could lead to some exciting weeks as we reach the end.

This awareness is lending a charm to this season for me that it didn’t have in the beginning when I was grousing about the lack of talent and seeing My Girl Brandy leave prematurely. And it actually – finally! – has me eagerly anticipating what we’ll see each week.

Maybe, just maybe, this season won’t turn out so badly after all.[5]


[1] I saw many live shows last year and hers was my favorite.

[2] Michael Slezak of

[3] You can rest assured that Adam Lambert’s Mad World will be on it. As well as Melinda Doolittle’s Have a Nice Day. And My Girl Brandy Neelly’s Up to the Mountain. Oh that’s right, they never let her sing that did they? 😦

[4] Please Harry, go back and watch Season 5.

[5] I’ll still always be mad about My Girl Brandy, though.

Finally – A Fabulous Idol!

March 12, 2014

First let me say how disappointed I am. There was a video of people auditioning for the role of Ray Linder but representatives for Denzell Washington, Pharrell Williams and the guy in the Old Spice commercials made the Idol producers take it down from their website[1].

HCJ said the competition began tonight. While he steadfastly clings to the utterly ridiculous notion that this is the best group of Idolists ever, I agree with him about tonight. Finally, we got the kind of riveting performances that made us – and by us, I mean me – stand up and pay attention.

I will deal with the best performances first. Idolists who chose songs that were perfect for them as artists was a common theme[2].

Jena – (Decode, Paramore) I don’t let people sing My Girl Hayley Williams. And that is exactly why Jena’s performance was so great – she didn’t try to be like Hayley. What Jena did is how you do it – you take a very popular song by a very popular band/singer but do that song your way so that you can’t be compared to the original. A brilliant performance. A

MK (or is it mk?) – (Make You Feel My Love, Adele[3]) I don’t let people sing Adele. Adele is the rare artist who can just stand in from of a mic and sing – and make you feel something. That’s what MK/mk did. She simply sang in that beautiful tone of hers and made the audience – and me – feel something. This week, I’m not mad at her for taking a spot that I thought belonged to My Girl Brandy Neelly. A-

CJ – (Can’t You See, Marshall Tucker Band) Ever since he sang the Allman Brothers’ Whipping Post for survival back in Hollywood, I’ve been waiting for him to figure out that bluesy, Southern Rock is what he does best. A-

Caleb – (Skyfall, Adele) Again, I don’t let people sing Adele. But the second he said he was singing Skyfall, I said, “Perfect.” He needed a ballad to show he’s not all 70’s-rock Meatloaf-ish bombast and I knew he would slay a dark, moody ballad like this.[4] A-

Malaya – (I Am Changing, Jennifer Hudson) She’s still an unfinished product. This performance has some rough spots. But when she’s good, she’s really good. I still say rewind her life 50 years and Berry Gordy is turning this precocious young girl into a star at Motown. B+

Alex – (Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova[5]) – It was technically flawless. He is truly an artist with a strong sense of his style aesthetically and vocally. The audience and the judges loved him. But there was something missing for me that I can’t put my finger on. It’s not fair to give him a grade because I have no objective way to do so. He was good and I’ll leave it at that. ???

The rest:

Sam – (Come Together, The Beatles) – As HCJ said,[6] this is a song with strange lyrics and no melody. It needs personality when you sing it or it sounds loungy, pageanty or karoke. Sam apparently chose loungy. C+

Jessica (Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel) To me, she is the most interesting Idolist this season. She’s a country singer who has sung songs by Shinedown (rock), Dido (trip-hop), and now Simon and Garfunkel (folk/pop). She has an amazing Stevie Nicks quality to her voice. But I think her years of small venue experience are working against her. She doesn’t look comfortable on a big stage and I thought at one moment when she realized that she had the entire audience completely mesmerized, she froze. Yes, something happened with the band that threw her off, too, but I bet that she would have brushed that off like nothing back in the bar at Slapout. There are so many distractions in a bar that a singer is competing with, I don’t think she’s used to having an audience’s full and undivided attention. I’m hoping she figures this out soon because artistically, she is so fascinating. B

Dexter (Sweet Home Alabama, Lynryd Skynyrd) – Yawn. No personality. Karaoke. And for the record, I know this is a popular song but I detest it.  D

Ben (Bennie and the Jets, Elton John) – When I heard that he was going to sing this, my first thought was an unprintable and unchristian-like version of “really?” Buh-buh-buh bad song choice, buh-buh-buh bad piano playing, buh-buh-buh bad vocal. Seriously, this was one of the worst performances I’ve ever heard on this show. F

Majesty – (Let It Go, Idina Menzel) When Majesty said that this song could have been written for her, it made me expect a lot. But unfortunately, she failed to deliver. The song was just too big for her. The range was too wide – you could barely hear her lower register and she was pitchy on the high notes. And the dynamics were too big – she was screechy when she needed to sing loud. This was a bad song choice and she paid for it. C

Tomorrow night’s result is a big one in that the person who is cut won’t go on tour. I won’t see that result, as I will be traveling. But I will still comment on what I find out and I do have some alternate musings prepared that I hope you find interesting. So don’t move that dial!


[1] If you didn’t see the show, you won’t know why this is funny. If you saw the show, you still probably don’t think it’s funny. Rather, you’re thinking I’m delusional.

[2] The overall theme was songs from movies.

[3] Originally by Bob Dylan, this is a song most people don’t associate with Adele because she’s had so many hits from her album 21. This is on her first album 19.

[4] I would have been very happy with another Bond theme, Chris Cornell’s Know My Name from Casino Royale. I’d love to hear him sing that.

[5] I confess. I had to look this up. I also found out that Kris Allen sang it on the show. I probably forgot because I was getting CPR after Adam sang Born to Be Wild three songs before.

[6] It is amazing how many times he says what I’ve written in my notes. How does he know what I’m thinking?

The Judges Get an A. The Idolists Are Failing.

March 5, 2014

After several years of trying, Idol has finally found a judges panel with both credibility and chemistry. And finally after twelve seasons, Idol has found a judge  – thank you HCJ – that sounds like, uh, me.[1]

Tonight the star of Idol was criticism. It wasn’t harsh and sometimes convoluted like the old days of Simon Cowell. It was kinder and gentler (J-Lo and K-Urbs) and more forthright (HCJ) than in the Age of Simon. And for this Muser, the judges’ persistent critiques were more spot on – and more necessary – than ever.

I don’t know whom to blame: the Evil Producers,[2] the judges, or Randy’s alleged “coaching”. But somebody needs to take responsibility for the most lackluster final Idolists since the word lackluster became a word. And somehow, the weekly themes that give the Idolists greater freedom of song choice aren’t working either. It’s practically making me long for a week of the songs of Motown or Barry Manilow.[3]

The best performance of the night – and nothing else was close – was Rocker Dude Caleb’s Lucky Man (Rush). I don’t even like Rush. But I do agree with the judges that he is predictable and if he wins, so what? Old school rock music – or even new school rock music – isn’t exactly tearing up the airwaves these days. I would love to hear him sing a rock ballad soon[4]; something dark and introspective and more current than the classic rock stuff he’s so good at.

I know the judges fawned over Malaya  (Take Me to the King, Tamela Mann) but I wasn’t impressed. I thought her tone was uneven, her pitch intonation flat and the end was just a shriek. He personality is so endearing, though.

Even My Girl In Waiting Majesty Rose was a disappointment tonight. Her stylized version of Coldplay’s Fix You started out mesmerizing – she is so mesmerizing – but I agreed with the judges that it needed to stay in the “quiet zone” rather than the big ending she gave to it. I give her credit for trying, though. At least she took an artistic risk, which is more than I can say for most of the yawn-inducing Idolists tonight.

Here is a brief summary of the other performances:

  • Jena (Suddenly I See, KT Tunstall) – not horrible but not great, either. B-
  • Alex (I Don’t Wanna Be, Gavin DeGraw) – I thought this would be a good song for him but I was wrong. His performance was very sleepy. C
  • Jessica (White Flag, Dido) – She’s so interesting for a supposedly country artist. I love her voice and musicality but she has no stage presence and the out-of-the-ordinary song choice[5] just didn’t work for her. D
  • Dexter (Lucky Man by some country guy I don’t know) – Pretty good. B+
  • Emily – Really? She tried to sing an iconic J-Lo song (Get Loud) in front of J-Lo? J-Lo couldn’t criticize her but I won’t hesitate to say that both her singing and dancing were amateurish and bad beyond words. Oh, I just used some words, didn’t I? F
  • MK (or is it mk? Drops of Jupiter, Train) – why this girl was chosen by supposedly competent and responsible adults over My Girl Brandy Neelly is a mystery I will take into eternity. D
  • CJ (Waitin’ for the World To Change, John Mayer) – meh. C
  • Sam (Just One, Blind Pilot) – nice vocal tone but he does nothing artistic with his songs. C+
  • Ben (Turning Home, David Nail) – he just didn’t know what to do: it started to slow and ended too loud and shouty. C

Yeah, I’m as harsh as Harsh Harry tonight. But even J-Lo and K-Urbs were imploring the Idolists to do better next week. But is it possible that it’s not possible because the result of their nationwide search is a group of Idolists who just aren’t very good? I hope somebody does something to make this show worth getting excited about. Soon.


[1] And when they added Keith Urban a few years ago, they got a judge that was good-looking like me. 🙂

[2] I have decided to drop the Genius title because they passed over My Girl Brandy Neelly.

[3] Only one of those is true.

[4] As long as it isn’t Beth by Kiss. I’m sorry I even brought that thought into my consciousness.

[5] Both my daughter Cassandra and I excitedly said, “ooh”, when we heard her song choice.

Results and Five Facts About Your Idol Muser

February 27, 2014
  1. I have won several small poker tournaments.
  2. My favorite thing in the world to do is shoot baskets in an empty gym.
  3. I love bow ties, scarves and colorful socks.
  4. I believe that old-school banana pudding with vanilla wafers and topped with meringue is the single greatest food ever invented.
  5. The alarm clock sound on my iPad is the song Cuckoo by Adam Lambert.

I hope you were watching tonight’s results show carefully because this format is an endangered species. At some point in the very near future, the results shows will FINALLY be reduced to 30 minutes.[1]

But tonight’s show did move along quickly in spite of starting with a new low for Cheesy Idol Sing-A-Longs. I think the Idolists sang current songs by One Republic and Imagine Dragons but all I remember was my daughter saying, “I’m so embarrassed for them.”

The results themselves were no surprise except for the speed with which Ryan told Kristen that she was in the bottom three. My grade sheet from last night gave Malaya, M.K. and Kristen failing grades. Any one of them could have gone home tonight and it wouldn’t have bothered me in the least. They were all weak links coming into the Top Thirteen. Having said that, I think Malaya has great potential but she is so young and inexperienced. I have been worried all along what would happen when the proceedings got to the big time. As far as M.K. and Kristen, yes, I am still quite angry at whoever is responsible for passing over My Girl Brandy Neelly in favor of them.[2]

I was happy to hear the wondrous voice of Candice Glover tonight. But to be honest, I have already heard her album – which opened nicely at #14 on the Billboard 200 – and was underwhelmed by the material. Likewise, I was underwhelmed by her performance tonight.

Five bonus musical fast facts:

  1. My favorite piece of music is Scheherazade, the symphonic poem by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
  2. I used to play the clarinet.
  3. I’m not much of a crier but I did cry several times at the Adele concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
  4. I was in the pit with the kids at an MTV Halloween music festival several years ago.[3]
  5. I’m a guy who loves Journey and Coldplay. Deal with it.

See you next week.


[1] And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths, and carp and anchovies, and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit-bats and . . . [great line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail]

[2] Are you going to rant about this all season, Ray? Most likely, yes. Will this ever stop? Most likely, no.

[3] AFI, Dead by Sunrise and Paramore. My daughter dressed up like Slash. I dressed up as I always do for concerts – like an old guy who still loves to rock.