Wednesday, May 21, 2008

David Cook Wins

What a show tonight, a real SPECTACLE; very enjoyable to watch. Donna Summer, Graham Nash, Brayn Adams, Seal, the finalists. It really was fun.

So David Cook won. Well, I am a little disappointed; I was rooting for David A. as you all know. I love the purity of his voice and his sincerity in his performances. I'm sure he will be around for a long time, with a great recording career. Cook definitely did a good job this season: original, consistent and he seems like a good guy. No doubt, this win is a blessing for him in the midst of his brother's illness. I wish he and David A. the best of luck in their careers.

Thanks to John Nelson for asking me to blog for the Poughkeepsie Journal this year and hope to see you next year! And thanks to 97.7 Morning Mix Bob Miller and WPDH Coop & Tobin for having me on their radio shows.

Come visit my website to find out where I'll be playing this summer and say hi if you are at a show nearby so I can meet my readers. You can sign up on my e-mail list and I'll send you a newsletter to let you know when I am playing near you.
Enjoy the summer!

Vickie Russell

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I predict David A. will win. Great performances, he gave it his all.

David Cook
1.I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For-I liked it, different than Bono, original. Could have put more physical energy into it. Sounded great, nice note at the end.
2.Dream Big-The song seemed a little contrived to me, maybe not angry enough for him, but he did well with it. Nice to hear him sing something we haven't heard before. Again I felt his energy wasn't all there.I felt he had more physical energy than that, that he was holding back a bit. Maybe he is trying to pace himself, or maybe he's exhausted from it all. He just feels a bit laid back tonight.
3.The World I Know-Nice singing, I didn't know the song, but his performance didn't pull me in. I felt him much more after he sang, than when he was singing. For me, there was a bit of a wall between him and the audience tonight.

David Archuleta
1.Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me-Good job. Why that song though? I am a huge Elton John fan, but not that song, hard to do anything different with it. That said, he was very passionate, really put his heart and soul in it. His voice sounded great!
2.In This Moment-Again the song felt so contrived. But I loved his energy, and his voice was flawless, he has such amazing technical control. He was so focused, connected and fully present. Great performance.
3.Imagine-Beautiful singing, emotionally accessible, free. What more can I say?

The winner for me tonight is David Archuleta.

Who do you think should win and why?

Monday, May 19, 2008

the final week

Looking forward to tomorrow night's show: the 2 Davids. Either way, I'll be happy. They both are very talented and I'm sure they'll have amazingly successful careers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Results- And Then There Were 2

Syesha was voted off tonight. I know she will have a great career. She looked happy at the end when she was singing, like she was going to enjoy every single moment she was still up there. Great attitude: she'll go far. I have a lot of respect for her. But she was the weakest singer of the 3 and it was time for her to leave.

This is the second week in a row I agreed with (and predicted correctly) who got voted off. I think the 2 Davids have been the best performers consistently. I'm so glad they are still on the show.

Watching the singers return to their hometowns tonight was fun. I was most touched by David Archuleta's innocence, sweetness and genuine awe at the welcoming crowds. He really is still a kid and it was so satisfying to watch his reaction to his fans. He just took it all in, even though he was overwhelmed. It warmed my heart, what can I say?

I feel very content with tonight's results (like a ate a piece of good chocolate) and look forward to next week's final show.

Did America get it right?

(I say..............YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

3 Contestants Left!

Okay, well, it's really getting down to the wire now. I wasn't totally blown away by any one performance tonight. When I watched the replays at the end of the show, I thought they were all solid performances. This is a tough competition at this point. Of the 3 singers left, I still think David A. has the most consistent, solid voice and is the most emotionally connected to the songs and to the audience. David Cook has his own style, is also a solid singer and puts out a lot of rockin' energy in his performances. Syesha has been having a lot of fun lately, and I've been enjoying her very much, but I think she is the weakest singer left. She will have a great career as an actress, model, Broadway star and recording artist. I think she will be voted off, although truly anyone could go tonight, because they all are really good at this point. I still vote for David A. to win. He is by far the best singer on the show and has been since the beginning of the season. I'll be on the morning mix on mix97.7 FM with Bob Miller again tomorrow from 6:30-8:00 AM talking about tonight's show. Tune in! (Check out the photo of Bob and me at the radio station last week on my website scrapbook page).

Who do you think will get voted off?

My take on the performances:

David Archuletta: Beautiful singing consistently all night.
1.And So It Goes - (One of my favorite songs). Beautiful singing, I liked when he sang a capella in the beginning; he has amazing pitch; he hadn't wavered off key the slightest bit when the instruments came back in. A beautiful performance. The pure quality of his voice slays me.
2.With You-Nice pop song, it seemed that this would probably be the kind of songs he should record as a teen idol, but the song didn't do much for me-trite. His voice sounded great though.
3.Longer-Beautiful singing again. They keep giving him these kinds of songs, that he can't really let loose on, but, he did great for what he was given.

Syesha Mercado:
1.If I Ain't Got You-Best song of hers tonight. Nice job. She changed it a bit from Alicia Key's version.
2.Fever-That was quite original for that song. I enjoyed it, good technique. performance and vocal control, interesting improvisation. Very enjoyable for me.
3.Come Pick Me Up-It was good, but not great. The song didn't really suit her, but she didn't pick it, so that's not her fault. Her voice was a little pitchy at times. Hard song to sing I think.

David Cook
1.The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face-Interesting song choice for David the rocker. I knew he'd kick it up at the end. He did a good job. Simon, why did you pick that song???????
2.Dare You to Move-He did a good job. His voice was a little out of control at the end. Passionate performance. The song didn't do that much for me.
3.I Don't Want to Miss A Thing-It was predictable. But that's the kind of song it was. It was an energetic performance. Good singing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Well, Jason got voted off. It seemed he was ready to go and relieved. I think America got it right. The 3 best singers are still left.
Thanks for all your comments. I enjoy reading them every week. It's fun being part of this AI community with you all, and I like your different takes on the show.
So we have a Jason fan among us. I agree that he is sincere and genuine as was Brooke. I read in an interview that Jason had only performed as a singer 5 times in public before he auditioned for American Idol, although he was already a drummer. I think his inexperience as a singer was showing a bit. Considering all that, he did a good job. Everyone else seemed much more seasoned. I don't really know what this contest is about anymore. If it's about great singing technique, performance and heart, then I think David A. is the champion, but Carly was great and so was Michael Johns. If it's about sincerity, Brooke and Jason. If it's about making your song original, David Cook. So, I guess the fans will decide what type of contest it is. For me, as a singer and vocal coach, the best singing is by David A. I was watching his videos on you tube from when he was 9 or 10 and I was totally blown away. He is a prodigy like a young Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder or Quincy Jones. You should check these videos out: You Tube or here more on you tube
Tune in tomorrow morning on 97.7 FM Morning mix in Poughkeepsie to listen to Bob Miller and me chat about AI, and other music related things. If you are in the area this weekend, I am playing in Woodstock, NY at the Colony Cafe Sunday at 7 PM along with Marc Von Em and Dana LaCroix.

Did America get it right?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

R&R Hall of Fame Week

Better songs tonight, more variety, thank goodness. It kept the show much more interesting for me.
Okay, Jason Castro has to be voted off tonight. Please! He just doesn't compare to the other singers.
I thought David Archuleta did a fantastic job singing, as always. Passionate and from his heart in both performances, connected to his feelings; creative with his interpretations and he made the songs feel fresh. He is the most consistent of them all.

For more Idol chat, I'll be on 97.7 FM morning mix on Thursday morning 6:30-8:00 AM EST to share my thoughts on this week's results.

Best performances:
David Archuleta
Syesha Mercado

Who should be voted off:
Jason Castro

Who do you think?????

My take on the performances:
David Cook
1.Hungry like the Wolves
It sounded like the original recording to me, and David seemed a bit low energy, like he's had enough of the pressure or something. But, his voice sounded good. His performance was okay.
2.Baba O'Reilly
Much better performance than the first song, but it was so short! Why don't they give these guys a little more time to sing their songs to build up a performance? He made it more his own and I liked that he played guitar; it seemed to connect him more to his energy and freed him up.

Syesha Mercado
1.Proud Mary
She did a good job. I think it's always trouble to do a song in the style of someone who is a huge star (like Tina Turner). It was a little too much like that version, so then one ends up comparing Syesha with Tina, and Tina wins. But, she sang great and performed really well, it just didn't feel original, and I'm thinking that is what this show is really about, taking a song and making it your own, (and hopefully you can sing well and are a good performer to boot).
2.Change is Gonna Come
Good performance. Great singing. Nice job.

Jason Castro
1.I Shot the Sheriff
Ehhhh. He sang fine, but his performance didn't do much.
2.Mr. Tambourine
Oops, poor Jason, forgot the lyrics. Nervous I guess. Not a great performance. Oh well. I think Jason is going home tonight.

David Archuleta
1.Stand By Me
Great singing, great improvisation, and a passionate performance. He made this song fresh and original. Best performance of round 1.
2.Love Me Tender
Great singing again, great performance. I keep saying this, but, he is this year's American Idol as far as I'm concerned.

I've been enjoying reading Ken Barnes take on the performances. Check out his blog on American Idol, Idol Chatter.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


So Brooke is out and Jason is still in. I don't agree with that choice, but okay, he's got to be next to be voted off, otherwise this is not a singing contest after all, but a "cuteness" contest. I guess it's called American Idol, not America's Best Singer for a reason. Ooh, I am getting really jaded watching this show. I guess I just want to see the best singer/performer win. Is that asking so much?

Well the 2 Davids are still on, so that's hopeful.

Poor Brooke, I feel for these singers, having to perform after they've been told they are going home. That's hard to do. Ahhh, the show must go on.

Next week could be better; the songs will be from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yeah! Something a little more lively and upbeat perhaps, and a wider selection of great songs! I am looking forward to that.

Did America get it right?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Neil Diamond week

Best performances tonight:

David Cook-2nd song
David Archuleta-2nd song
Brooke White-2nd song

Who do I think should get kicked off?
Jason Castro

Who do you think should get kicked off?

Good that they had 2 songs to sing. The second ones were better.

So, it's Neil Diamond as mentor and songwriter for the evening. I am disappointed with the songwriters/mentors they have picked this season. It's obvious they were chosen because of new releases and this is a vehicle for them to get more exposure. As an audience member, I feel insulted by that. Please, can they pick themes where there is more variety in the styles? I am not a Neil Diamond fan, although I always liked "I'm a Believer". An hour of his songs kept the show one dimensional. I think that the singers were having a hard time doing much with them. I know I'd have difficulty interpreting his songs myself. The judges (especially Simon) were harsh, but it's the fault of the show for picking this theme. Okay, I've said it. Many people like Neil Diamond; he's had a lot of hits and has many fans. Sorry to offend if you are one. It's just my opinion. He's certainly a prolific songwriter. And seems like a really nice guy.

Jason Castro:
1.Forever in Blue Jeans-pleasant, nice singing, nothing special.
2.September Morn-not a whole lot of energy there, he looked bored, and I don't blame him, that's a boring song.

David Cook:
1.I'm Alive-Corny song choice, it just wasn't rockin' enough for David. It didn't do much for me.
2.All I Really Need Is You-He made it his own. This song was a bit more interesting than the other Diamond songs. I liked what David did with this. Good performance; he made it sound contemporary.

Brooke White
1.I'm A Believer-Brooke looked and sang a bit nervous and tentative. I think she picked a really low key because her range is so small, and I think her voice sounded pretty hoarse and tired so she couldn't hit high notes. So, she had to improvise a lot because she couldn't sing the low notes in such a low key. It actually made the song more interesting than it would have been. It was an okay performance.
2.I Am I Said-I liked that performance a lot. It was charming, contemporary, she sang it well. Nice arrangement, nice piano playing.

David Archuleta
1.Sweet Caroline-Refreshing rendition of a corny song. Great singing as always.
2.America-I never listened to those words before tonight. He did a good job. Passionate performance that had depth and made me think as an audience member. That's what I like about David, he always picks songs that have a deep meaning, and that makes him connect to the song and to the audience; and he has a great voice and knows what to do with it.

Syesha Mercado
1.Hello Again-Nice singing, refreshing to hear a woman singing this song. Still corny as all. Pitchy.
2.I Thank the Lord for the Night Time-Good job, high energy, good performance. A little pitchy.

Ready for the new mentor?

Tonight we have Neil Diamond as mentor and 1 hour of Neil Diamond songs. Don't know how that is gonna be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


So Carly got voted off. I am really surprised. I thought she sang well last night. I guess it's not all about good singing. I thought Brooke's and Jason's singing were the weakest last night, but it also has to do with a strong stage presence, genuineness and charm. Jason and Brooke definitely have those traits. They were both very human and vulnerable. Maybe Carly isn't as charming. But she will go far. She has a powerful voice. I look forward to hearing what type of music she records.

Next week's mentor: Neil Diamond. I don't know about that. We'll see. Have a great week.

Did America get it right this week?
(I don't think so).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Andrew Lloyd Weber week

Just back from Hawaii and I was out celebrating my birthday with friends tonight, so my entry is a little late.

Andrew Lloyd Weber week

I personally am not fond of Sir Weber's schmaltzy songs; maybe that's because I had to sing them year after year early on in my career at weddings and country club dances.
However, I was impressed with the suggestions he gave to the singers tonight. He is a good performance coach and I feel that his tips really made a difference in the performances. I give the same advice to my students about making the song real for them. If the singer means what she is singing about, the audience will be pulled right in.

My take on the evening:

The 3 best performances of the night were:
David Archuleta
David Cook
Carly Smithson

I think either Brooke or Jason will get voted off tomorrow night. It's not really their fault. Their voices are just not made for these songs. This is a singing contest, after all.

Syesha Mercado-One Rock and Roll Too Many
Good performance. She looked great. A bit pitchy a usual.

Jason Castro-Memory
Boring. Not his style, he doesn't have the vocal range for this kind of music. It didn’t really do anything for me. I felt for him. He shouldn't have to sing this kind of stuff. I think his days are limited on the show.

Brooke White-You Must Love Me
Andrew gave her some good performance coaching. Weber’s songs are really written for big voices, and Brooke just doesn’t have that big voice. But she did a good job, considering that she had to start again. It happens sometimes, you forget the words and have no choice but to start again. I saw Robert Goulet start over again once singing Memory on Johnny Carson. It happens.

David Archuleta-Think of Me
Wow!!!!!! That was a great performance! He took a theatrical sang and made it into a pop hit. He made it his own. Simon was wrong. He did a great job.

Carly Smithson-Jesus Christ Superstar
Great song choice for her. Andrew Lloyd weber gave her some good advice to sing this song instead of the ballad. Good singing but a little pitchy. Good performance. I still think that she holds back her energy a bit. The key seemed too high for her. She pushes her voice harder than she should.

David Cook-Music of the Night
That was a powerful performance. I was really surprised at his vocal control, vulnerability and accessibility. He really can sing anything and seems to gets better every week. Again, great advice from Andrew.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tonight's Results 4/16/08

Well, they finally voted Kristy Lee off. Although she definitely improved over time, she was still the weakest singer for weeks. I am glad to see that the remaining contestants are good singers and performers. Of course, the 2 Davids are still the leaders in this competition in my opinion.

I hated the way they made the contestants wait until the end tonight and stand in unknown groups. It's so painful to watch. Why must they torture these singers? I know I've said this before, but it's hard enough being in this business already, without more torture. Is this supposed to be entertaining to the viewers? I sure don't enjoy watching people being made uncomfortable. Just give them the results and get on with it. Does anyone else feel this way? I was glad David A. sat down on the floor and wouldn't say who he thought was safe and who was voted into the bottom 3. You go, David!

It seems that every week when there is a mentor on, their performances seem to pale compared to the contestants' performances. I thought Mariah's performance tonight wasn't nearly as good as David A.'s performance last night. Same goes for Dolly Parton last week and Diana Ross last year. I guess we are watching this show with judges' eyes and then judge the stars the same way. What's funny is that I don't know if viewers would vote for Dolly or Mariah if they were on the show as contestants. Maybe the stars feel a lot of pressure on the show for that reason; that they are singing in front of judges, not just adoring fans that bought a ticket to their show, and that might spook them a bit. It's always tough being a performer, so I have empathy for these seasoned pros. I don't know if I'd go on the show as a guest.

What do you think? Did America get it right?

Mariah Carey week

Aloha from Hawaii.

I am traveling this week but I'm still keeping up with the show which is on much later here, so I can't post until after 1 AM. I will be back next week to post right after the show.

First of all, why would American Idol choose Mariah Carey songs for their theme this week, when the judges are always criticizing the singers for trying to take on songs too big for their voices? Secondly, why Mariah Carey songs, when they are all one style and not especially memorable or strong songs? And, thirdly her songs don't really allow much variety of interpretation. Bad choice I think. What; does Mariah have a new album coming out and she needed to promote it? Probably. Anyway, I thought some of the suggestions she gave the singers might not have been so helpful. Okay, I've spoken my mind; now for my take on the performances.

Best performances tonight:
David Archuleta
Syesha Mercado
David Cook

I think the bottom 3 should be:
Jason Castro
Kristy Lee Cook
Brooke White

Who will be voted off?
Brooke White

David Archuleta-When You Believe
Nice performance-I loved when he went into his falsetto. His voice is always great, and although I felt the song itself was boring, his performance and passion were there.

Carly Smithson-Without You
I liked that she didn’t belt out the song from the beginning, It was a little low key, but she is such a solid singer, and so it's always a pleasure watching her. Good performance.

Syesha Mercado-Vanishing
Her voice was really powerful tonight. Difficult song choice. She seems to get better every week. A little pitchy, but a great job tonight.

Brooke White-Hero
That was a rough performance. I felt for her. I wouldn’t have played piano and sung. It was too hard a song to be multi-tasking on. She lost her confidence. These songs are way too big for her range. Not a great night for Brooke.

Kristy Lee Cook-The Only One
She is getting better every week, but I still think she is one of the weakest singers on the show. Also, a stiff performer. And yes, she looks beautiful, but I hope that's not why she is still on the show. Her performance tonight was good, she built up the song and although it was a bit pitchy as usual, her voice was very powerful at the end.

David Cook-Always Be My Baby
Very original take on the song, but I thought the song itself was boring and so I wasn't really taken in. He definitely had the best originality of all the performers. I can't seem to get past the mediocre songwriting tonight.

Jason Castro-I Don’t Want to Cry
Jason sounded good, as always. I liked what Mariah had to say coaching him about using his falsetto on the song. He was not exciting, just his usual relaxed self. Nothing thrilling, but solid.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tomorrow Night's Show

So it's Mariah Cary night. That should be interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Michael Johns got voted off tonight. What a surprise. I wasn't really inspired by anyone's performance on Tuesday night. Michael Johns did Dream On almost exactly like the original recording, so maybe that's why he got thrown off. He looked relieved to be leaving. I'm sure he will have a very successful career.
I'm still betting on David Archuleta to win this contest.

Bottom 3
Carly Smithson/Syesha Mercado/Michael Johns

Did America get it right this week?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Inspirational Song Week

For me, as a singer and as a vocal coach I feel the most important thing is to connect with the audience by conveying the lyrics passionately, making the song your own and by singing freely. When someone sings well technically, it doesn't move me. There has to be more to it than technique.

Tonight's performances were all good, but no one blew me away. Am I getting jaded? Is it just me?
Favorite performance for me: David Archuleta

Who will get voted off? I don't think it's gong to be Kristy anymore. She is doing much better.
Maybe Jason Castro or Syesha Mercado?

Who do you think???

My take on the performances:

Michael Johns-Dream On
Good performance-but it sounded a little too much like the original song; he didn't make it his own. His high voice was impressive with the high screams. I agree with Randy and Simon. I liked him best last week when he sang blues, that seems to suit his personality and his voice best of any style I've heard him do.

Syesha Mercado-I Believe
That was her best performance so far. I still think she takes on songs that are too big for her voice. But I felt her passion.

Jason Castro-Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Nice performance, nice voice. I liked that he played the ukulele. Again, it sounded too much like the recording in my opinion. His sweetness always comes through. He has a charm and relaxed way about him that makes everything he does seem simple and well....relaxing. It didn't blow me away, but i liked it. I have to say, no one said anything about the lyrics, but he totally changed them around, I wondered if he was forgetting them.

Kristy Lee Cook-Anyway
That was a good performance for her, and a good song choice. She has been choosing better songs for herself, and has been more passionate, more connected, committed and alive on stage. Her voice was strong, although she did have some pitch problems again.

David Cook-Innocent
I didn't get his performance tonight. I didn't feel his connection with the song so much. I agreed with Randy and Simon. He really has a great vocal range though.

Carly Smithson-The Show Must Go On
I didn't feel her connection with the song tonight. I also feel like she has been pushing her voice so much lately, and I think she lost control of it a bit tonight. I keep saying this about her, but I feel like she is actually damaging her voice the way she is pushing it. She needs to rest it, or stop singing beyond her capacity.

David Archuleta-Angels
Nice singing, especially the ending. Nice performance.

Brooke White-You've Got a Friend
I felt every word she was singing tonight.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Ramiele Malubay. AP Photo

I'm sorry to see Ramiele go, but i thought she might. She really is an excellent singer and very likable, but a little hesitant on stage. I'm sure she will have a good career, though. I think she just needs more performing experience to gain some confidence.
And Kristy is still in! Hanging by a thread. Over the weeks, she has gotten better and so has Jason, but I still think Ramiele has a better voice than either of them.
Did America get it right?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dolly Parton Night

It must have been very inspiring to have Dolly Parton mentor and for the singers to do her songs. What a huge catalog to choose from! Something for everyone. She is the real deal. She does it all: sings, plays guitar, writes songs, acts, great performer and personality, and she knows who she is. She is an awesome talent. She has been in show business for over 40 years. Yup, Dolly is qualified to mentor, more than any other star I've seen on the show. It seemed like a thrill for everyone.
I was impressed by what she had to say about why she was never on the show before: that she is a singer, therefore she can't judge other singers, because she knows how hard it is to be up there putting emotion into other people's songs. So she just encouraged them and harmonized.

Best performances tonight:
1.David Archuletta
2.David Cook
3.Carly Smithson

Whose performance did you like best?

Who will be voted off?
If it is because of their singing, and not their star appeal, it should be:
Jason Castro or Kristy Lee Cook

Who do you think should go now?

My take on tonight's performances:

Brooke White-Jolene
This was a nice song choice for her. It wasn't a very passionate performance, but the style suited her voice. I noticed she was sitting hunched over her guitar, and poor posture can really affect the support behind one's voice; maybe that's why she was singing a little sharp on the lower notes. Not my favorite performance of hers.

David Cook-Little Sparrow
Nice singing, wow. great range, great vocal control. I liked the arrangement, he knows how to make songs his own. I am impressed by performances, even though at times he has an overconfident air about him.

Ramiele Malubay-Do I Cross Your Mind
Nice style for her. Her performance lacked confidence. she seemed to go between moments of feeling free and scared. I can certainly relate to that phenomenon as a performer. It must be so overwhelming and intimidating to be up there, so much pressure. After watching Chikezie on Regis yesterday morning (see blog below) and what a good performer he was when the pressure of the voting and judges was off, I'd imagine everyone is a much better performer than how they appear on the show.

Jason Castro-Travelin' Thru
That was the most passionate I have seen him perform. Good song choice. He seemed like he really connected with the words and I really believed him.

Carly Smithson-Here You Come Again
One of the best performance of the night so. She is truly a great singer! So powerful.

David Archuletta-Smokey Mountain Memories
Dolly said that he is destined to be a great singer. Well, I think he already is! Wow, what a passionate, powerful performer, straight from the heart. He chose a perfect song for himself. His interpretation was fantastic. Best performance tonight.

Kristy Lee Cook-Coat of Many Colors
Country music is definitely her style. This was a good performance, but not her best. Good song for her, but she lacked emotion. Every week, I hear pitch problems. I'd would work on that and get her to let go emotionally more through some acting exercises if I were her voice coach. But alas, I am not

Syesha Mercado-I Will Always Love You
A little pitchy on the big note at the end- she shouldn't have taken on a Whitney song, her voice isn't big enough in comparison, and she did it in the style of Whitney towards the end. I agreed with the judges.

Michael Johns-It's All Wrong, But It's Alright
His best performance yet. Good song for him. He could have let loose even more I think. He is a strong singer and he was quite expressive this evening.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Everybody Wants to Sing!

I was channel surfing this morning and caught a performance by Chikezie on Regis and Kelly. He was so genuinely nice, humble and sang with amazing technique, control, heart, ease and confidence. I think he is one of the very best singers this year from Idol and I am sorry to see him go.

However, when Regis asked how he was doing since he got voted off the show last week, he said he was relieved. He said that now he didn't have to prove himself to the 3 judges and didn't have to sweat through the Wed. night show waiting to see if he was voted on or off. And finally, he said that he was happy to be away from Simon, who enjoys being brutally honest a little too much. I was glad he was so candid with his opinions. Mostly, everyone seems too afraid to speak up against Simon's sadistic tendencies, because he is "the boss" of the show. I for one would never want to be judged by him. Show business is hard enough without someone trying to insult you for the fun of it. Although Simon has some good points, the way he says things is cruel and brutal. Does he think that's what America wants? Meanness is not appealing to me. That is why I haven't watched it for all these seasons. Due to my students constantly asking me what I think of the various singers, I decided to watch the whole season this year. It has been interesting and at times painful so far. I always cringe when Simon gives his critique. I do believe he gets pleasure from making the most cruel comparisons such as telling David A. the song sounded like "a theme park song with animated creatures". Is that necessary? Maybe he could say that the song didn't suit him as well as some of the others. Okay, I've made my point.

And one other thing. I was on the radio the other morning, I thought because I am a singer, performer and vocal coach, I could give some professional insight. Instead, I was asked questions like, "what do I think of David A.'s cruel stage father" and "did I like the new stage?" Why do people want to harp on the gossip and unimportant details? Isn't it more interesting to talk about what it takes to get up there and perform through stage fright and sickness, and cruel judges during this contest. At least I would find that more interesting. I think this show is such a hit because, as my grandmother always used to say, "everybody wants to sing". So don't we all want to know how to get up in front of people and express ourselves completely? I have so many students, young and old who yearn to feel free when they sing. There are great tricks to helping you get through the nerves. I have struggled with stage fright my whole life as so many performers do and have used these methods to help me through. I know I'm not the only performer who has dealt with it. Al Jolson used to throw up before every show. Barbra Streisand stopped performing live for 30 years because of it. I am very impressed with the singers on AI. They get up there and do it. Maybe someone will ask me about things pertaining to performing sometime. Do you have any questions out there? I'm glad to answer them if i can.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Results from 3/25/08

What a surprise that Chikezie got voted off the show tonight. After that amazing performance 2 weeks ago, I'll be sad to see him go. He's an impressive singer, better than most of the people remaining, and he's such a likable guy. He just didn't find the right songs to showcase his voice and amazing energy.

I know he will have a great career, now that he has had national TV exposure, and I'd buy his recordings. It should have been either Jason, or Kristy. They are the weakest singers, but they are appealing to look at. I would hope that's not what this contest is about. I think America got it wrong.

What do you think?

I have been asked to go on Mix 97.7 FM tomorrow to give my thoughts on the American Idol Results. Tune in at 7:30 AM online.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Theme-Songs from their Birth Years

Best performance tonight: David Cook
Runner up: Syesha Mercado
I really have no idea who will be thrown off: Maybe Ramiele or Kristy.
Who do you think?

My take on tonight's performances:

Ramiele Malubay-Alone
I think it was the wrong song choice for Ramiele. She doesn't have such a big voice to be singing a Heart song. No one should be singing a Heart song, or a Whitney or Celine song unless they can bring something new to it. You are always asking to be compared to divas and that's not a good position to be put in unless you can sing like last year's contestant Melinda Doolittle. Ramiele really pushed her voice, almost screaming and sang off key quite often. I don't think she has found a good song for herself yet. Hope she stays on to get that chance. I agree with Randy-bad song choice.

Jason Castro-Fragile
Nice, but he didn't bring anything new to the song. He needs to find a song and do it very different than it was recorded. Light, jazzy, pop. Nothing special. He's got potential, just needs to find that song.

Syesha Mercado-If I Were Your Woman
Wow, she really changed it up. Put her own twist into the song. That was the best I've seen her. Great pitch. She pushed her voice a bit towards the end. I agree with the judges.

Chikezie-If Only for One Night
He did a great job, good song choice for him. He's got a beautiful voice, lots of control, great range, very soulful. It wasn't that different from the original song, but he still sang it really well. Again, I agree with the judges. He needs to change things more than he does, and release that wild energy that he has.

Brooke White-Every Breath You Take
Good performance, nice piano arrangement. I like that she plays piano and guitar when she sings, being a pianist/guitarist myself. I know that it's comforting and relaxing to be with your instrument on stage. I'm so glad they let the singers play instruments this year. I agree with the judges that she should have just played the piano without the band joining in. It made it less unique and more like the Police's version. I thought it was great that she started over, it was brave, although I don't know why she started over, it sounded fine to me. I've done that before, it seems to make performers more endearing to an audience when they make mistakes, although it feels so embarrassing.

Michael Johns-We Will Rock You
Oh-oh, not a medley! He sounded like Queen, confident, but he did it too much like they do it for my taste. The judges and the audience thought it was great. I wasn't blown away. It just didn't sound like anything original but it was a powerful performance, his best yet.

Carly Smithson-Total Eclipse of the Heart
I felt like she was trying too hard, it sounded like she was pushing her voice especially at the end to try to impress. I agree with the judges, it didn't really stand out for me.

David Archuleta-You're the Voice
I love the songs he chooses, the meaning behind the words. He has something to say and he says it; always deep, always full of love and compassion for the world. I liked that he picked a song that was not well known, so he could make it his own without comparisons. He was a little pitchy tonight, but I still thought he did great. Whenever I sing, I want to make a difference with what I say, to touch people's hearts. I feel that same intention behind every song David sings. Keep on singing from your heart David, no matter what the judges tell you.

Kristy Lee Cook-God Bless the USA
Good performance, energetic, good song for her. Pitchy in the middle. I think she'll probably still be in the contest next week.

David Cook-Billy Jean
Wow, great song choice/arrangement. Really original! Great job!!!!!!!! Wow, wow, wow! I agree with the judges.

I wish I could hear these singers sing songs that have not been made famous by others. Then they'd have to be totally original. That's one reason why I write my own songs, it gives a chance to show my own personality, point of view, character, song style or how many different styles I can sing. I know some of them are songwriters as well. It would be great if they could sing their own songs if they do write.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mentors For This Season

I am looking forward to seeing the mentors do their coaching this season.
Ryan named them last week on the show:
Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Neil Diamond
That's an interesting group of mentors. I can see Dolly Parton and possibly Mariah Carey giving some helpful advice, but Andrew Lloyd Webber is a songwriter, not a performer. We'll see what they have in store for the singers. Looking forward to tomorrow's show.
What do you think of the mentors?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Results from 3/19/08

I knew it had to be either Amanda or Kristy. Amanda's style was just too one dimensional. This is a singing contest and she's a singer with a very limited range and style. I'm glad she got voted off because her voice really sounds shot and she had better rest it for awhile or it's going to be gone forever. Kristy is probably next to be thrown off unless she delivers the goods. She needs to really work on her performing skills for next week.
I still think David Archuleta is going to be the next American Idol.
I think America got it right tonight.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Beatles 3-18-08

David Archuleta. AP Photo

My take: David Archuleta definitely was the best performer of the evening, hands down. Glad he is back; confident and resilient!!!!!!! Carly Smithson was the second and Syesha the third.
I think that Kristy Lee Cook is probably going to get thrown off tonight. She has been in the bottom 3 for 2 weeks now and seems to be the least exciting performer of the remaining group.


Amanda Overmeyer-"Back in the USSR"
Amanda sounds like her voice is getting worn out from all the blues singing she's been doing. If I were her teacher, I'd tell her to take some time off and rest it. She's really pushing her voice, and is losing control of her pitch. Of course there is no rest when you are on American Idol.
Her performance: nothing special, no surprises. I agree with the judges, she is getting a bit predictable.

Kristy Lee Cook-"You've Got to Hide your Love Away"
She looked quite unexcited while singing. As a coach, I would work on her acting ability through some theater exercises. I don't think she really knew the melody of the chorus and changed it not knowing it. She needs to work on reading music a bit, I think. Not a great performance, I agree with the judges. Nice voice, though.

David Archuleta-"The Long and Winding Road"
Great performance! Flawless! Amazing voice! He's back. Pure, organic, natural, direct channel from Heaven. He is the 2008 American Idol.

Michael Johns-"A Day in the Life"
His performance didn't really move me. I'd work on acting technique a bit more, he needs more stage presence, less focus on his voice I think. He hasn't been choosing the right songs for his voice/style. Good voice, but not showing what he can do.

Brooke White-"Here Comes the Sun"
Okay performance. She really didn't do anything too interesting or different. Not as good as the original. She seemed uncomfortable with the song. She needs to work on performing without an instrument, using hand motions to express herself. Bad song choice.

David Cook-"Day Tripper"
Fun performance, he didn't blow me away. He could have let loose more. I'd get him to do some theatrical improv exercises to loosen him up a bit more. Good rocker.

Carly Smithson
- “Blackbird”
Beautiful performance; interesting arrangement. I loved that she used her whole vocal range; Changed keys to show her upper and lower range. great choice for her voice. Not a totally emotionally connected performance.

Jason Castro - “Michelle”
He looked bored with the song. He didn't connect with the song. He seemed to just stand there.
The girls really love him. He could really work the audience better and drive them wild by working on his emotional expression through his body. I'd give him some acting exercises using his whole body to free him up a bit more.

Syesha Mercado - “Yesterday”
Nice performance. she gave it some originality. Beautiful voice, range. She is very versatile in her styles and her vulnerabilty really came through in her performance. Good song choice for her.

Chikezie - “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
Strange arrangement. I was confused by the performance. I like when he sings upbeat, more soulful songs. He's got so much energy, he needs to be free like last week's fantastic performance. I agree with the judges. This wasn't a good song choice or arrangement for him.

Ramiele Malubay - “I Should Have Known Better”
Fun song, she was a bit freer this week. She still hasn't found the right song for herself.
What did you all think? Who will get kicked off this week?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tomorrow Night's Show

I am looking forward to tomorrow's show. I want to see David Archuleta redeem himself. I am convinced that he is the next American Idol. Great pipes, great performer and great personality, he's got it all. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Results from 3/11/08

David Hernandez. AP Photo

Syesha's performance tonight was so much more passionate and right on key. Wish she could have sung like that last night. She probably felt she had nothing left to lose, so she just let loose.
It's so cruel to make these guys sing when they have just been told they are in the bottom 3. But on the other hand, you really get to see them more relaxed, and they probably sing better.
Kristy also sang better, less riffs, more natural. David Hernandez actually sang worse.
Katherine McPhee is an amazing singer -- I loved her performance. People sing so much better when it is not a contest. They don't have to prove themselves to anyone.

I'm so glad that David Archuleta was given some slack by the voters. His was the weakest performance last night, but America remembers how great he has been.

I think America got it right tonight. David Hernandez was one of the weakest singers. He needs to work on his pitch and not try so hard. Hope he keeps on singing. Good luck to you David.

I'm excited to hear more Lennon/McCartney songs next week. There are so many more great songs in so many styles.

What do you think they should sing?

Did America get it right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Theme: Lennon and McCartney 3/11/08

Chikezie. AP photo.

Wow, tonight's show was really exciting. I'm so glad I now have a good excuse to watch TV. It's my assignment! You gotta love that!
I asked my 5 year old voice student tonight who her favorite singer was. She said David Archuleta. I asked her why, and she said "he's got a great voice and he's cute". I agree. But I wonder if she'll still say that after his shaky performance tonight. Well, for what it's worth, here is my take on the evening:

1) Sayesha Mercado - Gotta Get You Into My Life
Made the song her own-jazzy, (a little pitchy). Strong stage presence, confident, nice arrangement, great performance, beautiful to look at too. (Earth, Wind and Fire arrangement, sounded a bit too familiar).

2) Chikezie - She’s A Woman
Great vocal range/great arrangement/fantastic energy: Wow! Really original! I agree with the judges-Fantastic! My favorite performance of the evening. Blew me away.

3) Ramiele Malubay - In My Life
Beautiful, rich voice, the camera loves her, too old-fashioned, performance never went anywhere, didn’t take any chances, she was holding back. I hope she lets loose, she is a great singer and performer.

4) Jason Castro - If I Fell
Emotional, the ladies loved that, his heart is his draw, it’s right out there in every song. A little boring of a performance though, he is so beautiful to look at, mezmerising, I liked his improvising on the melody. The judges did not. Good performance, not great.

5) Carly Smithson - Come Together
She can sing- doesn’t push her voice and can really belt it out and high! She reminds me of Nancy Wilson of Heart. A true great rock voice. What a powerful set of pipes, soulful. Great singer/comfortable on stage, I enjoyed it.

6) David Cook - Eleanor Rigby
Energetic performance, he made it his own, he rocked out. I agree with the judges-loved it.

7) Brooke White - Let It Be
Reminds me of Amy Grant a bit; earthy, beautiful, warm. She is a little hoarse. I wonder if her voice will hold out for the rest of her time on AI. Sounds strained, she could use some technical help. Nice solid performance-calming energy- Authentic. The judges loved it. I liked it a lot.

8) David Hernandez - I Saw Her Standing There
Not a good song choice, this is a song of wild abandon, and he is a controlled type of singer. Wrong outfit. Wrong song, too complicated for such a simple song. I agree with the judges.

9) Amanda Overmyer - You Can’t Do That
Great energized performance, organic, authentic, she’s a natural rocker. Made the crowd go wild. She made it her own. Original.

10) Michael Johns - Across the Universe
Nice voice, not that exciting of a performance. The song/performance didn’t go anywhere. Still holding back I think.
I agreed with Simon and Randy.
Paul loved it, I didn’t.

11) Kristy Lee Cook - Eight Days a Week
I think she was trying a little too hard to impress, too many runs in her voice, out of control a bit. I liked that she did the song country style because she took a chance, but I didn’t like the arrangement of the song. Hoakey. Nice country voice. She reminded me of Dolly Parton too-I agreed with Simon. I wasn’t crazy about the whole performance.

12) David Archuleta - We Can Work It Out
Oh, I felt for him tonight. You could tell he was nervous, forgot the lyrics. It was his worst performance. He's so young, only 17, I hope America will cut him a break, I think he'll stay in, it was just a bad night. He should still be in the competition. I agreed with Simon on this performance.

Favorite performances of the night:
Best: Chikezie
2.Carly Smithson
3.David Cook
4.Amanda Overmyer
5.Brooke White

Who would be voted out? My guess is Kristy Lee Cook.

What did you think?

Welcome to the blog

I've been watching American Idol now for 3 seasons due to my voice students asking me every week what I thought of the performances. So when I got asked to do this blog, I thought it'd be fun, and I can get my students' input as well.

My students range in age from 5 to 75, and we usually agree on who we think is best. Well, we all agree so far that David Archuleta is the next American Idol. He has an amazing voice, a lovable, authentic, and humble personality, he's pleasing to the eye, and he's a great performer. He sings from his heart. I love that he chooses songs that have meaning, that he is using his moment of fame to say something important, like "Imagine" and "Another Day in Paradise."

I disagree with Simon, music should make people feel and think, and if it can make a positive change in the world, fantastic.

Ramiele Malubay comes in second for me so far. Her voice is strong, beautiful and she has a wonderful stage presence as well. My other favorites are Michael Johns, Syesha Mercado and Carly Smithson as far as great voices go.

I look forward to seeing tonight's performances.