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Category Archives: american idol

The Demise of American Idol

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It’s official.

Paula Abdul has confirmed that she will not be returning to judge American Idol Season 9.  Just another nail in the coffin, folks.  As I have extolled over the last few years, AI has been jumping the shark since that magic season when the silver haired soul singer won.

I have been on record regarding idol madness and their obvious lack of creativity in keeping the franchise fresh and interesting.  The plethora of copy cat “talent shows” that have diluted Idol’s appeal, in combination with the producers’ hubris in maintaining the same old cheesy format have assisted in sounding the death knell of the reality show talisman.  It was fairly transparent that the addition of Kara Dioguardi as the “fourth” judge was but the first step in replacing the wacky, somewhat unreliable Paula Abdul.

However, what the producers fail to understand is that Paula is one of the things that makes Idol, Idol.  No more crying tirades, no more “just what is in the Coke cup”, no more Simon/Paula love/hate exchanges….definitely the ending of an era.  My prediction is that Idol will trudge through Season 9 with little of interest between the judges — much like the other three judge panels of American reality talent contests.  Ratings will continue to drop and limp into Season 10, which will be the last season. 

You heard it here, first, folks!

As for Paula, I’m figuring that she’ll continue to make money like she always has and is likely well set after her eight seasons on AI.  What I’m really hoping is that she’ll write a tell-all memoir of all the backstage shenanigins that we all know go on.  She just might be ditsy and pissed enough…

 

Here he comes….

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2009 in american idol, TV

 

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May Musings

Sorry for the lack of attention here over the last few weeks.  Our lives have been quite busy and something’s gotta give.  Hundred of post ideas pass me during the week, but I’m usually not in a position to post it.  Therefore, I thought I’d throw out the week in review (from my mind).

On the personal front, we’re starting to center life around the river and the boat.  We’re readying our house to sell in order to build our dream house, so there’s plenty of work to keep us busy.  More to come on the dream house, but here’s a preview….

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While this has been top of mind for us, other exciting things are also happening.  May is shaping up to be quite a nice month.  On Monday, Mini DD fulfilled a big goal (at least one of his Mom’s) in becoming an official member of the National Honor Society.

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Part of the induction ceremony is the new Junior members being “tapped” by a graduating Senior member.  5′ 6″ Mini DD was tapped by 6′ 8″ GM.  It received the biggest laugh of the night.

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Very nice way to start off the week and so proud of our progeny.

Cinco de Mayo — which seemingly lost it lustre this year because of Swine Flu — required travel starting at 3:00AM (that’s not a typo), with meetings/dinner until after 9:00PM.  I therefore, missed Idol, but was kept informed by  Shrew and KD. 

On Wednesday, John Mayer posted the second video chronicling the creation of his new CD, Battle Studies.

Johnny Boy’s been particularly busy on Twitter and on Wednesday twittered right before playing this…

Since I was traveling home on Wednesday, I once again missed Idol.  I was kept informed that the dudes were safe and Allison was going home, but an important detail was omitted.  No-one told me of the absurd Paula Abdul “first time on TV” performance.  This is wrong on so many levels, but SO telling regarding what the “judges” endorse as good music.

WARNING:  Viewing this video may be hazardous to your musical health.

Along  American Idol lines, Taylor “Tinks” Hicks released his country foray, Seven Mile Breakdown, complete with video.  Perhaps Taylor is reading?  From my March 15th, 2009 post on The Distance:

Along with Nineteen, Seven Mile Breakdown (co-penned with Hicks by Spoonful James’ guitarist and pre-Idol buddy, Wynn Christian) and the title-track, The Distance, Maybe You Should has serious Country potential, if appopriately brought to Nashville.  Even the blues number, Wedding Day Blues is oddly reminiscient of Garth Brooks’ Country anthem, Friends in Low Places.

I think that Country will be much kinder to Taylor and there are even better Country songs on the current CD to be released.  This might have legs.  (**clapping as hard as I can**)

Taylor is also a twitterer, recently tweeting that he LOVES FEIST!!!  See, all you Feist hatersTaylor thinks she’s the female Paul McCartney.  I might not go that far, but do still love me some Feist.

  Feel it All, Feist

Rather excited to find this morning that Janiva Magness was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2009 Blues Music Awards in Memphis last night.

….although she beat our Watermelon Slim….

Pretty cool, as the guy is left-handed — so he’s playing that dobro upside down and backwards.

All in all, a pretty solid week except for the fact that Dom Deluise died.  Sure miss the great comedy of Carson and Company.

R.I.P. Captain Chaos.

 

I will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon….just trying to catch my breath.

 

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Rat Pack Tuesday

 

 

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Martin.  Davis.  Sinatra.

In the early ’60s, every man wanted to be them and every woman wanted to be with them.  They epitomized the swingin’ sixties and reigned over the short, yet prolific time between 1959 and the Kennedy assasination when “The Summit” was the height of cool.

Tonight’s feature of Rat Pack songs on American Idol will likely fly way over the heads of the younger audiences and I’m thinking that even the performers will have a difficult time with the material.  Can’t help but wonder if Idol was influenced by John Mayer’s recent performance of Sinatra. 

In the spirit of the theme, here are some of Music Maven’s favorite Rat Pack performances…we’ll see if they make an appearance tonight.

  Memories Are Made of This, Dean Martin

  Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra

  What Kind of Fool Am I?, Sammy Davis, Jr.

  That’s Amore, Deano

  That’s Life, Ole Blue Eyes

  Mr. Bojangles, Sammy

  Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes (with banter), Deano

  The Tender Trap, The Chairman

  Candy Man, Sammy

  Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, Deano

  Three Coins in the Fountain, Sinatra

  Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow (Baretta’s Theme), Sammy Davis, Jr.

….I could go on and on and on….

 
 

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Funky Music? White Boy?

Ok.  There was a certain level of sacrilege on American Idol tonight.  This was wrong on so many levels. 

I cannot wait to hear Dave White’s take on this one.

How in the world could even attempt this classic Idol “moment”…has he not heard?   There is only ONE Boogie.

– now, THAT is some emotion.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2009 in american idol, Funny, taylor hicks

 

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A Tale of Redemption…Going “The Distance”

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First, let me say that Taylor Hicks owes me nothing.  Nada.  Not a thing.

I used to think that he did, but let me say here (clearly), that I was wrong.  You see, four years ago when I rabidly followed Taylor on the cheese fest that is American Idol, I was envigorated by a young man who appeared to beat the odds, defy “the man” and strike a blow for the every day music lover.  He was a refreshing throwback to good, “old” music that was pure, un-synthesized, and “real”.  He was the everyday musical hero who came to save the day.

After AI, I expected Taylor to remain “all about the music” and continue to defy the musical ogres who control content and dole out the uninspiring pablum derived from electronic manipulation.  It was evident from Taylor’s first post-AI release, Taylor Hicks, that there was more influence from those writing the checks than any of us would have preferred.  Through the whole time, Taylor seemed to be impersonating some character in a play and while fans largely supported the record, it rang hollow on the charts.  It seemed that the daring, soulful style and smokin’ harmonica accompniment was largely absent from the record, leaving listeners, including me, wondering just where Taylor Hicks went.

His live tour was very successful and likely garnished Taylor enough dough to break away from J Records (whether mutual or not), start his own label, and take time for the next record that, maybe…just maybe, would more closely represent what fans so desparately want to hear from the soul man.  There have been some detours along the way, including the Broadway role of Teen Angel, that I simply did not agree with because it’s not my vision for the dude.  But, really…what do I know?

Oddly enough, Grease appears to have been the catalyst that provided some public acceptance and a bit of a springboard for, perhaps, a redemption of “America’s pick”.   Even though I still cringe at the notion of Taylor crooning out Beauty School Dropout, I can’t deny that it’s been good for his career.  Hey, it’s a mean to an end, I guess.  I have said all along, if the music is good, people will listen and all of the other extra-cirricular activities won’t mean a thing. 

That brings us to the release of Taylor Hicks’ new CD, The Distance.  I’ve been listening to it for a few days along with some other new music that I’ve been recently turned on to.  I wanted to give it a few days to simmer before I commented.  First, let me quench your curiosity and say that overall, this CD is MUCH better than the first release.

There’s a definite ease on this record that was absent on Taylor Hicks.  While that effort was frenetic, disjointed and a bit out of control, The Distance is thoughtful, balanced and comfortable.  It is very reminiscient of his pre-Idol work and shows that Taylor seems to be going “back” to his core, which is exactly what most people loved about him in the first place.  This should have been his Idol release, had they been smart.  The arrogance of greedy people who believe their “formula” for making a record and maximizing its profit never ceases to amaze me, but we continually see these dinosaurs take unique and genuine talent and turn them into something that is the opposite of what actually makes them appealing, and then scratching their head at its failure.

But, I digress…back to the review.

As I previously detailed, the first single, What’s Right is Right, is a simple, pleasing tune with a great video.  It’s currently doing well on AC radio and seems to be a happy medium between what’s expected from fans and what’s accepted by the industry. 

But what about the rest of the record?   Well, I think I get Taylor.  He is not just one style or one genre.  Like me, he likes a lot of different types and styles of music and I think that’s what he wanted this record to be.  Recently, he did a guest DJ spot on “My Turn” on 100.3 (Newport Beach, CA), no doubt as part of his promotion of this release (which I have to say is 200% better than the crack PR team at J Records and The Firm).  Whoever is in charge of promotion this time is doing a fabulous job.  Anyway, Taylor’s playlist for the hour long DJ stint is very telling.

St. Dominic’s PreviewVan Morrison
Gasoline Alley -Rod Stewart
How Long – Ace
Rainy Night In Georgia – Brook Benton
You Belong To Me – Carly Simon 
Hurricane Water – Citizen Cope
Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
Where I’m From (Alabama Frame Of Mind)- Shelby Lynne
Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh
Lowdown in Lodi – Freddie King
Something So Right – Paul Simon
Arc Of A Diver – Steve Winwood
Don’t Think TwiceSusan Tedeschi
I’m In Love – Wilson Pickett

To hear Taylor’s DJ skillz, click on the following player.

Now, I have to say that this was one of the most redeeming things I’ve heard from Taylor in a while.  It validated that the dude still has great music taste and still true to it.  Many of the songs on the new CD incorporate “sounds” from Taylor influences like Steve Winwood, Keb ‘Mo, Delbert McClinton, Van Morrison, and The Meters.  He signed on a quality producer in Simon Climie, who has produced Eric Clapton and who is an accomplished keyboardist and song writer in his own right.  In addition, some of Clapton’s touring band performed on the record, including Doyle Brahmall II and bassist Nathan East and was joined by Paul McCartney’s drummer, Abe Laboriel, Jr.

This is a quality record, with quality songs, musicians, and mixing.  I like it.  I have to say that it’s very entertaining and there are a few really good tracks on it.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Maybe You Should.  Written by Taylor and Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson (who contributes on several songs), it is a great ballad that reminds me of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me.  That could be because songwriter Michael Reid co-wrote both of them.  While I love Taylor’s raspy blues feel to this song, I could also see Keith Urban doing this song.

Along with Nineteen, Seven Mile Breakdown (co-penned with Hicks by Spoonful James’ guitarist and pre-Idol buddy, Wynn Christian) and the title-track, The Distance, Maybe You Should has serious Country potential, if appopriately brought to Nashville.  Even the blues number, Wedding Day Blues is oddly reminiscient of Garth Brooks’ Country anthem, Friends in Low Places.

While there’s certainly some Country influence, this CD is not a one trick twang pony.  One of my favorites, Keeping It Real, is influenced by co-author Delbert McClinton’s wily humor along with a great strider piano, New Orleans sound.  It’s also the ONLY track on the CD with a harmonica accompniment.  A pity, as I really dig the harp.

There’s also plenty of “soul” in the Nick Lowe cover, I Live on a Battlefield, and one of my all-time favorite tunes, Woman’s Gotta Have It, where he is accompanied by AI buddy, Elliott Yamin.  Now, Woman’s Gotta Have It is one on my Music Maven “All-Time Favorite” list, but James Taylor’s 1976 version from his In the Pocket CD which is, in my opinion, one of the best albums ever made — but that’s a different subject for a different day.  I really love the meshing of voices between Elliott and Taylor and especially Taylor harmonizing background vocal (fulfilling Simon’s ambition for him), but the beginning of JT’s version is more to my liking.  Got me to wondering what a combined version would sound like.  Hmmmm….

Once Upon a Lover and New Found Freedom are my “throw away” tracks.  I didn’t like the Latino sound of West Texas Sky and I don’t care for it on Once Upon a Lover.  New Found Freedom is more of an Idol “coronation” song that just doesn’t measure up to the other songs on the CD.   

The marketing plan of three “special tracks” via different store exclusives are in play for The Distance.  Wal-Mart offers the Ray Charles’ cover Hide Nor Hair, Target provides Indiscriminate Act of Kindness, and iTunes has Yes We Can, Can.  While I haven’t been able to sample Hide Nor Hair, Indiscriminate Act of Kindness reminds me of Taylor’s much heralded performance of the Ray classic, Georgia.  It is indulgent and very non-descript.  While I know this won’t be popular with the “Soul Patrol”, Indiscriminate Act of Kindness is NOT a song that exhibits Taylor Hicks’ talent nor is it a very appealing cut.  However, if you’re looking for a theme song about drug addiction and recovery, this is likely as good as it gets.

On the other hand, the iTunes “special”, Yes We Can is a veritable who’s who of funk & boogie.  Written by Allen Toussaint and covered by the likes of soul man, Marc Broussard and The Pointer Sisters, Yes We Can pays homage to the soul/zydeco/funk of the Southern Gulf Coast.  While Taylor may be considered the “forgotten idol”, the fact that Ivan Neville, Delbert McClinton and Stax legend, Steve Cropper provide back-up, indicates that “real” musicians “get” Taylor.  Even Marc Broussard couldn’t pull that off.

Music Maven gives Taylor Hicks’ The Distance  4 of 5 stars.   Buy it.

Redemption attained.

 

Clapping As Hard As I Can…

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Today, the inaugural Taylor Hicks music video premieres. 

Click the picture to view.

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The link takes you to Jake Davis’ blog.  Davis is the director of the video and I must say that I like his style.  He’s managed to capture alot of what I think Taylor Hicks wants to portray.  He creates that “alone” James Dean feel, complete with the overcoat walk in the snow on deserted streets…even the diner scene. 

Photos by Dennis Stock

Photos by Dennis Stock

The video is good.  It’s just the right amount of highlighting the artist, storytelling and showcasing the song.  Well done, Mr. Davis.

I have to say that Taylor has never looked better.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, his new What’s Right Is Right is a pleasant-enough song that seems to be catching on a little with a #25 position on Billboard’s Hot Contemporary Chart.  It also looks like he’s embracing his inner Idol with last weekend’s appearance with the other six idols to christen Disney’s “American Idol Experience”.

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Taylor’s CD, The Distance, drops March 10th and again, I think we’ll see an Idol appearance around that time.  Could it be that Idol #5 will finally start to gain traction?

Yahoo Premiere of What’s Right Is Right

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2009 in american idol, new releases, taylor hicks, Videos

 

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The “You Geaux, Girl” Award

….goes to new American Idol judge, Kara Dioguardi.

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Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical of the new judge.  While I still think that idol is jumping the shark, I gotta give credit where credit is due.  Shamefully, I can’t help but watch the train wreck.  One of the blatant sexploitation stories of Season 8 is “Bikini Girl”, Katrina Darrell.  Judge for yourself why she was put through to Hollywood:

Now, newbie Dioguardi, who really seems to think that this is a TALENT competition was incensed that Katrina was given a golden ticket.  However, it appeared that she was ready to give her another chance on the big stage of the Kodak Theatre.  Legally Brunette, Katrina, however has no humility, nor pride of self and gladly exploits her looks for to move her along.  Kara was having nothing of it. 

After a very mediocre rendition of Faith Hill’s Breathe, Simon and Randy let their nether regions cast their vote and actually voted to keep this bimbo into the second round.  Both Paula and Kara were disgusted, but Kara executed the best line I think I may have ever heard on idol, when it was announced that everyone in Kara’s group was “through to the next round”.  And, I quote:

Leave your number backstage.  Bring your pole tomorrow.

Badow.   **snap**    **snap**    **snap**

Kara, for your steadfast opposition to bimbeaux’s everywhere and for your sharp, quick-wittedness and sarcasm….you are the first winner of the Music Maven “You Geaux, Girl” Award.

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Posted by on February 4, 2009 in american idol

 

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