Friday, May 27, 2011

More on the Final Results Show

This was a very entertaining show, chock full of stars and variety in styles. It was great to see all 13 of the Idol finalists again, and remember how talented this year's contestants were. I enjoyed how they were paired up with the stars in duets and group numbers to show their strength in their genre. My favorite performance was the duet between Tony Bennett and Haley Reinhart. Jazz is really her forte and she looked so comfortable singing with one of the greats. James Durbin with Judas Priest was also a hoot. Rob Halford could still rock.
Watching Scotty win was exciting, even though he was not my pick, he's just a humble, polite young man and you can't help but like him. Hearing Pia sing again reminded me of how talented the rest of the bunch were, and how I disagreed with her elimination. It's been a fun season 10. We'll see what season 11 brings.

Here is my blow by blow account of last night's show below:

A fun group opening number by Lady Gaga-Baby I Was Born This Way. Good to see all the finalists back.
James Durbin and Judas Priest-That was a lot of fun! James looked like he was having the time of his life.
Kurt Franklin, Gladys Knight and Jacob Lusk did a very upbeat Gospel number. Jacob looked like he was in Heaven. Very entertaining.
Casey Abrams and Jack Black-Fat Bottom Girls was a wild rendition of the song. Both guys were hamming it up and it was a lot of fun.
Group Girl sing was fun to see all the talent from the season, and Beyonce certainly shook her thing. She's shy? Not.
Tony Bennett and Haley Reinhart-Steppin' Out with My Baby, this was a perfect song for Haley, this is her genre, she seemed so comfortable with Tony. Impressive.
Tim McGraw and Scotty McReery-Live Like you Were Dying, nice to watch the two of them singing this well written song.
Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez-Wow, that was wild! Jennfier is quite the dancer! And Shelia E. on percussion. Very hot number.
Tom Jones and the guys-Tom looks good, but his voice sounds a bit tired.
Lady Gaga-Well that was a dramatic performance-interesting, and entertaining and the song wasn't too bad either.
Lauren Alaina and Carrie Underwood-Looked like Lauren was having a great time with her musical idol. Her voice sounded a bit weak, but she did a good job singing.
Beyonce-Make Love to Me- a passionate performance but I thought it was a pretty lame song.
Bono-eh.........Spiderman, didn't really do much for me either.
And Scotty wins! His reaction was sweet, but his song "Love You This Big" doesn't really do much for me either.

See you again!
Vickie Russell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Finale Results Show

So Scotty is the winner. I knew that would happen. I'm sure he will have a very successful country music career. Good luck to you Scotty. More on tonight's show tomorrow.

The Finale

This was a rather disappointing show, but maybe that's because the 2 finalists are very predictable in their styles. I have been saying for the whole contest that Lauren Alaina was pushing her voice and could do some serious damage and that's exactly what happened during the rehearsal for the show, she blew out a vocal cord. And to make matters worse, the doctor gave her medicine (probably steroids) so she could sing through it, which could make the damage worse. She should have complete vocal rest for a few weeks after that kind of an injury. I guess she couldn't have dropped out at this point because there would have been no final show and what would the sponsors do, sue her? Probably. Well, she made it through and I hope it's worth it for her. To strain such a young voice is so dangerous; it could ruin her voice for the rest of her life. I hope not. Lauren's vocals were quite soft and there was much reverb on her voice so it would appear louder and the background singers were very loud up in the mix, so it gave the impression she was singing powerfully. But she was being very cautious and I could hear there wasn't much voice there at all. She did push her voice on the bridge of Maybe It was Memphis and it sounded very hoarse. Well, hopefully, now she can rest it for awhile, although if she wins, she probably has to go on every talk show and sing. Maybe she won't be allowed to sing if someone is managing her career right. So if I had to choose who should win of the 2, I'd say Lauren because she is a little more interesting. But I think Scotty has his country schtick and he does it well and consistently, so maybe he will win. We'll see.
I just want to thank the Poughkeepsie Journal for another year of publishing my American Idol blogging. It's been fun sharing my thoughts with you all. Thanks for all of your comments. And keep on singing. If you need vocal coaching, you can contact me at And I'll be playing in the Hudson Valley Area this summer. You can get on my e-mail newsletter through my website as well. I'll be performing at the Rosendale Street Festival and at various other local venues. Hope to see you there.

Who do you think will win tonight?

Here's my take on the songs:

Scotty McReery
Pick of the Season: Gone
He did put everything he had into that song. Best performance of the night.
Idol's Idol picks: Yes Or No
Boring, edited version of the song. Didn't do anything for me.
Idol's Hits-I Love You This Big
What a lousy song for his hit song. It's so contrived and boring. the range of the song was so small and he couldn't really do much with it. He did the best he could.

Lauren Alaina
Pick of the Season: Flat on the Floor
That was a lot of background singing, I could really hear how easy she was taking it-she couldn't push her voice at all.
Idol picks: Maybe It Was Memphis
She sang it well, she's definitely holding back, and the background singers were up really loud.
Idol Hits:Like My Mother Does
She sang that beautifully, but again, quite a contrived song. It was sweet at the end when Lauren was crying because her mother was so emotional.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Results Show 5/19/11

So Haley's going home, as I thought she'd be. The finals are next week. I still think Scotty's going to win. What else can I say? It's all so disappointing since James is gone. Did America get it right?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Semi Finals night: Beyonce as Mentor

What a boring show. Without James, there was nothing special happening. Everything just seemed ordinary and predictable. The song choices were mundane. Beyonce's mentoring seemed absurd, because her style had nothing to do with these singers. I liked her advice to Lauren however about psyching herself up before going out on stage. That was useful, otherwise, what was the point? Oh, I know what the point was! So that Beyonce could promote her new video, which seemed to have nothing to do with singing. It was all auto-tune vocals and there was no melody whatsoever. Very disillusioning.
My favorite performance of the night was Haley's rendition of Zeppelin's What Is and What Should Never Be. Especially with her father playing lead guitar with her. That was unpredictable, interesting and fun. Besides that, nothing thrilled me. Who should be voted off? Does it really matter anymore? They are all equally talented I think. If I had to guess who will be, I'd say Haley. Who do you think should go home tomorrow?

Scotty McReery

Baby I'm Amazed By You
He sang that well, but his style gets a little tiresome to me. Every line he starts low and slides up to the note. It's an annoying habit that gets on my nerves. But he sang it well for the most part.

Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not
That was a good performance-good song choice for him.

She Believes In Me
Such a corny pop song, hard to enjoy even Scotty singing it, but he did a good job wiht what he was given b the judges.

Lauren Alaina

She's a Wild One
She sang that very well, with confidence. Good job.

If I Die Young
Oops, poor Lauren, got lost at the modulation, but she recovered quickly. It definitely threw her and she missed a few notes at the end because of it, but the first half was beautiful. What depressing lyrics! I didn't think the song matched her youthful age.

I Hope You Dance
Nice singing. What more can I say?

Haley Reinhart

What Is and What Should Never Be
She really sang that song from the bottom of her soul. I've never heard a woman sing this song before. It was so cool having her father up there playing guitar with her. It was a great performance. She tore up the house! And she even tripped in those ridiculously high heels and didn't miss a beat. That's got to count for something too.

She sang it well; kind of slow at the beginning, but it picked up at the end. The wind machine added a lot. I think everyone should always have wind when they're singing. It puts you in the mood for the song. I'm going out to buy one right now!

You Ought To Know
This wasn't a very convincing rendition of the song, although she did nail the choruses. She didn't have the right attitude for the lyrics, not angry enough. It all seemed contrived.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog Blip

Wow! I don't know where my blog went. Blogspot was having difficulties and seems to have wiped it away. So I'll summarize:
My favorite performance of the night was James and now he's been voted off the show. That's very disappointing. He's got to become successful with that voice and his performing skills. He really has star power, and I don't think that the other 3 are up to that level. But we'll go with who we have left now, which would be Scotty, Haley and Lauren. I think Haley is the weakest of the three. Scotty is a consummate country singer and will be well on his way to country success when this show is over. Since old school country is not my favorite of styles, I wouldn't be voting for him, but he sings it really well. Lauren sings well too but she and Haley are both straining their voices as you can hear in their hoarse speaking voices. Did America get it right this week? I don't think so.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Inspirational Songs and Lieber and Stoller / Lady Gag Mentors

It was a fun show again tonight: entertaining and engaging. My all around favorite performer of the evening was James Durbin. He's at a higher level of professionalism than the rest; he's consistent, confident, knows how to work an audience, and knows how to sing without hurting himself (hopefully). But these qualities do not a winner make, judging from past Idol years, example: Adam Lambert.
Lady Gaga was intriguing to watch and she had some good coaching points, but I found her quite annoying. But I think that's her gimmick- annoying and shocking. Whatever works, I guess. I like good singing, songs, performing, leave the shock factor at home, it's just distracting. The music should be enough by itself.
There was an article today in the Poughkeepsie Journal about one of my students, Ashley Flow, who made it all the way to Hollywood week this year. Check it out. And come out to hear me perform my original songs in New Paltz if you're free on Sat. night. No gimmicks, just some straight out singing and entertaining. My husband, David Michael Peters will be performing on guitar and bass with me and one of my former students, Fiona Robins who is only 17, will be singing back-up and opening up the night with a couple of songs. Details below:

Vickie Russell in concert

Sat. May 14 @ 8:00 PM

Cliffside Concert Series @ Simply Create

238 Main St. (next to Burger King and Midas) New Paltz, NY 12561 845-255-5056 $10 suggested donation

Okay, back to the blog:

Who should go home? I think Haley. Who do you think?

Here's my take on the evening:

James Durbin

Don't Stop Believing
He's the guy! He sang that as well as my favorite male rock singer: Steven Perry from Journey. James is really an amazing rock singer-he's the American Idol for me.

Love Potion #9
What a fantastic performer! Very exciting and,amazing vocals to boot. He knows how to yell the right way. I don't think he is hurting his voice, and he just has so much confidence.

Haley Reinhart

What About Us
Ouch, I can't listen to Haley tearing her voice up! She's just screaming, her cords must be so swollen from all of this. I don't know if she will make it through the rest of the contest, vocally speaking. I liked the song choice; I like to hear people sing songs that I don't know, it's interesting to me, I don't know why they keep telling people to sing well known songs. As I said last week, doesn't America have any imagination? Except for the screaming, I thought she did alright. I enjoyed the choir behind her.

I Who Have Nothing
Powerful song, She did a good job from a performance point of view but I'll be surprised if she has any speaking voice tomorrow. Again, she really pushed her voice to the max. Is it worth it to win this contest with a chance of rupturing a vocal cord and having permanent damage. I don't know what I would do if I could never sing again; it would devastate me because that is my main creative expression. I once lost my voice for a year so I am talking from experience here. Luckily with lots of re-training and rest, I got it back; but never again will I push my voice or oversing, not for anything or anyone. Listen to the original recording of this song; Shirley Bassey is singing it, wow can she sing! If I were Haley's coach, I'd put her on vocal rest for a month (no talking, singing or whispering).

Scotty McReery

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning
He did a good job singing that song. I'm not crazy about the song, but it certainly suited him and he is the consummate country boy.

Young Blood
That showed a different side of Scotty; he was goofy and fun. I enjoyed it. I guess Lady Gaga scared him a little bit; I don't blame him.

Lauren Alaina

Do It Anyway
She sang that really well, beautifully performed. Her voice still sounds so hoarse when she speaks, a bad sign of vocal strain. She really does push her voice way too much for a young woman of her age.

That was a strong performance for this 17 year old singer. We saw a confident, different side of her. Lady Gaga coached her well, but I felt sad for her, she seems like a fairly inoocent teenager and somehow it felt alarming to push her to "evil". But I guess she was just playing a character. At the end of the song, the last few high notes, she strained her voice pretty badly, nothing was coming out. Hope she will be okay.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Results Show 5/5/11

I called it last night- but I'm not happy to see him go. We love you Jacob Lusk. You are an incredible singer and you should have won this contest. But America thinks otherwise. Hope to hear your recordings soon! Onward to the last 4 contestants. James should win it, but if Jacob left tonight, there's no accounting for taste. We'll see.
Did America get it right? No!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Songs from Then and Now -Sheryl Crow Mentor-5/4/11

Once again, this was an entertaining night. High quality performances, more than any other season. I think having top producers coach week after week really helps everyone grow. The absence of Simon's nasty remarks and this year's judges' encouragement probably gives them more confidence.
I thought everyone had at least one outstanding performance tonight. It was interesting to see Sheryl Crow mentoring, although I don't know if she really gave any helpful advice. She is one of my favorite songwriters.
Speaking of songwriters, I am performing an evening of my original songs in an intimate setting next week, Sat. May 14th at 8:00 PM at the Cliffside Concert Series @ Simply Create , 238 Main St., New Paltz, NY. If you are in the area, please come out and support live music. But I digress......

Back to tonight's show:
I thought the judges overlooked some pitch problems in various performances. I felt disappointed in some of their advice: like when they told Haley to sing familiar songs. Most artists record songs that have never been heard. And another thing! I wish the music business didn't have to pigeon-hole musicians to have to perform in just one style, and allow them to be more creative, playing it less safe. Don't get me started....

I don't know who should go home. Everyone is just so talented. If I had to predict, I'd say it would be Jacob who will be voted off; not because of a lack of talent, but because he hasn't figured out exactly what to sing to reflect his true persona. If I had my choice of who should go, it would be Scotty. We all know he can sing country really well, and he is the least exciting of the ones who are left. James and Jacob are still my favorite vocalists. Haley surprised me tonight with 2 strong performances. Who do you think should be voted off?

James Durbin

Closer to the Edge
James was flat a lot tonight on this song. The judges didn't seem to notice. Maybe he couldn't hear himself, and maybe they couldn't hear him either. If you ask me, he paid too much attention to schmoozing the crowd, and not enough on singing.
Livin' Without You
Heartfelt, honestly sung. Very touching.

Jacob Lusk
No End
A little too pop for him. What an amazing range this man has. He sings higher than I can, and I'm a soprano. But it didn't feel right on him.
Love Hurts
He sang the ^*#! out of that. Incredible, what a singer! Unbelievable. A little out of control, but always amazing!

Lauren Alaina
Flat on the Floor
She did a good job singing that song. Tonight she seemed like she believed in herself. But I don't think that song was really age appropriate for her, too life weary for such a young woman.
Unchained Melody
Why are they editing all the songs tonight? What a song butchery! It's offensive to me as a songwriter. Wasn't the greatest performance, but it was okay.

Scotty McReery

Impressive for country Scotty. He really got the crowd going. that was the most lively I've ever seen him. But he was pushing his voice, and I hope that he doesn't do that often, or he could hurt that mellow voice forever.
You Were Always on My Mind
He did it straight country, nothing different, predictable, a little boring to me, but he did it well.

Haley Reinhart
You and I
Haley sang this well, soulful, rockin'! I thought she did a great job. What were the judges talking about, that they have to know the song. Why? Is America that dumb that they can't tell if she sings a song well they don't know??
House of the Rising Sun
She did a great job on that song too. She made it her own. Nice a capella at the beginning.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Results show 4/28/11

Casey's going home. I'll miss him, he's always fun to watch. Although I love Casey's great musicianship, quirkiness and creativity, I think he was probably the weakest vocalist last night, so I guess it was a sensible outcome for him to be voted off the show. Only five contestants left; we're getting close now. Who is going to win? James? Did America get it right tonight?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carole King Week

Carole King week; I couldn't be happier. Carole King was my first singer/songwriter inspiration. When I was 10 years old, after playing classical piano for 4 years, I heard her for the first time; she rocked my world. I realized that I could play something on the piano other than classical music, and sing at the same time. So I know her songs; it's a sign of a great song, when it will work in any style: country, pop, rock, blues. And that's what everyone did, made them their own. My favorite performance of the night: Casey Abrams. Who do I think should go home? I'm not sure anymore, everyone is so good. This is getting really tough now. James and Scotty are the most consistent week after week. Lauren sounded great. Jacob had a good night. Haley? Who do you think will be voted off?

Jacob Lusk-Oh No, Not My Baby
That's the Jacob we know and love, fun, wild, creative, going for it. Great energy, even though he was a bit sharp here and there. Loved the riffs at the end. Fun!

Lauren Alaina-Where You Lead
She did a good job with that song. The producers and judges are encouraging her to push herself through her fears (good) and push her voice (bad). Babyface was telling her this. Isn't he a singer? She's only 16, spare her voice, please before it's too late.

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams-I Feel the Earth Move
Okay, I'm not sure how I felt about that duet. I liked Casey's harmonies, but it didn't' thrill me. I'm not crazy about Haley's voice. It sounds so weary.

Scotty McReery-You've Got A Friend
He did a good country job, once again. I thought he was going to wreck it, but he did alright. He went a bit out of his comfort zone and made it interesting.

James Durbin-Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
I liked the a capella beginning. That takes a lot of courage. the rest of the song was a bit boring for me, the drum beat was dated, too much like the Shirelles' version in the 60's, but the beginning was worth it all. His singing seemed a little pitchy to me tonight.

Lauren Alaina and Scotty McReery-Up on the Roof
Scotty's worked hard on his harmonies. He couldn't sing harmony during Hollywood week. That was a nice duet, I liked the country take on that song. It worked.

Casey Abrams-Hi De Ho
Casey's always a lot of original, unique and creative. You know you're in for something different every week from him. Great performer, that Casey.

Haley Reinhart-Beautiful
That was an interesting rendition of the song. She did a good job.

Jacob Lusk and James Durbin-I'm Into Something Good
Outta control, kind of loose. That was a fun sing off at the end. Weird song choice, not my favorite performance.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Results Show 4/21/11

Stefano is going home tonight. He's such a likable guy; talented, cute, with a great attitude to boot. I would think that being in a near fatal car accident puts things into perspective.
Tonight, he sang his farewell song "Lately" with more passion and abandon than ever on AI. I guess the pressure was off, so he could relax and enjoy the moment. I will miss watching him but I predict that he will have a very successful career and we will be hearing from him again soon.
I'm glad Jacob didn't get sent home. Did America get it right? Maybe. Anyone could have been sent home tonight; the performances were all top notch last night. I think Haley should go next, but I don't think that's going to happen. We'll see. Do you think America got it right?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Songs from this Decade 4/20/11

This was another great episode of American Idol. I believe it's been the most entertaining idol season since I've been watching for the last 4 seasons. Everyone is so talented, unique in their style and knows who they are. I guess they've been studying the show now for 10 years: AI university if you will, and they really have it down.
I enjoyed James' performance the most tonight. Scotty was my least favorite of the night, but now that Paul is gone, I think Haley should be the next one to leave. It's getting more difficult to decide now. Who do you think should go home?

Here's my take on the evening's performances:

Scotty McReery-Swingin'
Loved when he sang that octave lower in the last verse. What a range,the deep bass voice, wow! He did a good country job as usual. Nothing different, but he's good at what he does, especially for his young age!

James Durbin-Uprising
Go James! That was such a dramatic and rockin' performance; what a vocal range-superhuman! James always keeps me interested, involved, riveted. You never know what he's going to do next. I think he studied at the Adam Lambert school of Idol and got an A+. Best performance of the night.

Haley Reinhart-We Could Have Had It All
As I've said this before; her voice sounds so fatigued when she speaks. I wish she'd get voted off the show, so she can go home and have vocal rest. I fear she's headed for permanent damage. I agree with the judges: the song was a good choice for her, a good direction for her career. She sang it well.

Jacob Lusk-Dance With My Father
What happened there with his ear monitors; no music, just drums? That kind of problem can really throw someone off, but he kept going, which shows he is a pro.

This reminds me of a time a while back in my singing career when I was onstage as an opening act in front of 2000+ people in a large theater. I wasn't given a sound check beforehand due to an emergency with the headliner needing to rehearse a new bass player last minute on stage. So, with no sound check, I had to start my first song while the sound man adjusted the volume of my keyboard in the stage monitors. I was onstage solo, and for about 5 seconds in the middle of that song, no sound came out of the stage monitors, so I heard nothing from the keyboard at all. I just had to watch my fingers play and go by feel and hope I was playing the right notes while I continued singing as if nothing were wrong. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Guess I'm pretty strong by now. But I digress........

The end of Jacob's song really pulled me in, but the rest of it was a little too contained. I could relate to his dilemma and what the judges were referring to. As a singer/songwriter myself, it has been challenging at times when I've sung a song close to my heart. How to get through the song, and feel the truth of the song without breaking down is the challenge.
One more thing about the judges feedback tonight: Jacob was told so often at the beginning of the competition to hold back and not over sing at the beginning of songs, and now, they are telling him the opposite; let it rip from the beginning. Confusing double messages, judges. What should Jacob do?

Casey Abrams-Harder to Breathe
He plays guitar too? This guy is so talented! Charming ending when he kissed Jennifer, very funny. I love him; he's so original. He's always taking chances and knows who he is. I have an enormous amount of respect for him.

Stefano Langone-I Just Can't Stop
He did a great job, more confident, lively and and he connected with the audience. Great singing as usual.

Lauren Alaina-Born to Fly
She tore that song up. Great job! She could win this competition. Just be gentle with your voice Lauren.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Movie Week Results 4/14/11

Yayyyyyyy! Paul is finally voted off. I have to say, he was a real sport with the news, very professional in the way he left. He sang, and smiled all the way through, no tears, just grateful for the ride. I can tell he's been a pro for a long time and intends to continue singing for his living. It made me respect him more. The judges didn't seem too surprised by him being voted off as opposed to their shocked reaction to Pia's departure. Well, now I feel the contest is fair again. Did America get it right? Yesssssss. Who will be next?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Movie Week 4/13/11

Great show tonight, I totally enjoyed it again. I've been saying this week after week. The talent is just so good this year. The judges chose well. After reading all the press about Pia being voted off and the judges not giving the performers helpful criticism, I must defend them. The judges don't have many bad things to say because the singers are so good, not because the judges are "nice". Sure, Simon would be insulting, but I don't think he would have too much helpful criticism either. These contestants are savvy and sophisticated; they listen to the advice that is given to them and make the necessary changes week after week; they are being coached by the best producers in the industry, and they are extremely talented to begin with and all so interestingly different in their styles. Pia is a great singer, but not the most exciting performer, so I can understand why she might have been voted off. But I've read that she has already signed a recording contract and is off and running with her career. That's what this show is for, if you ask me. But why Paul is there, besides the fact that he is cute to look at, I really can't say. So please vote the guy off!!!!!! I think Haley might be going this week if Paul isn't voted off. My favorite performances of the evening were: Casey, Jacob, and James. Who do you think should get voted off?

My take on the performances:

Paul MacDonald-Old Time Rock and Roll
I don't agree with the judges. I think Paul is mediocre, he reminds me of a wedding singer. Wait, I was a wedding singer. But I digress. There is something about Paul that just rubs me the wrong way. Is it his irritating voice? I'm not sure. But he does look like he has fun on stage. I'll give him that.

Lauren Alaina-The Climb
She really sang that well. Much better than Miley. I enjoyed her performance.

Stefano Langone-End of the Road
Corny song. Great vocals though, totally passionate and committed, his best performance yet. He's so likable.

Scotty McReery-My Heart
Nice singing, he is a top country singer.What more can I say. If he got kicked off the show tomorrow, I believe he'd have a record contract the next day. Scotty will do okay no matter what.

Casey Abrams-Nature Boy
Best performance he's done yet! Casey is so COOL! Brilliant! His musicianship is just fantastic. It isn't easy to sing and play the upright bass at the same time, and then to improvise on glad he listened to his own artistic voice. I admire him for that, and he did a great job!

Haley Reinhart-Blondie
It wasn't a great song for her. Her voice sounds so fatigued when she speaks. She might be the next to go.

Jacob Lusk-Bridge Over Troubled Water
Goosebumps. Magnificent. Great build-up in the song. He's really learned how to pace himself in a song. Amen! Glad he didn't sing Impossible Dream... way too sappy! Good advice, Jimmy.

James Durbin-Heavy Metal
What an amazing performance. I'm not a metal fan, but wow, he tore that song up! I'm a huge James fan! Glad he didn't listen to the producers.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Results Show 4/7/11

Oh no! Now I'm losing faith in America's vote. What's going on here? 5 consecutive women voted off the show. I guess we know who's voting... young girls. They like the cute guys. That could be the only reason that Paul is still on and Pia is gone. Once again, it's American Idol, not America's Best Singer. But I'm sure we will see great things from Pia. Move over Celine. And as has happened over the last few years, cute guy AI winners have been quickly forgotten. Where are Chris Allen, and Lee DeWyze? Haven't heard much from them except on Idol. I can see Paul winning if this keeps up. Jacob and Stefano in the bottom 3? I'm losing faith. I'm going to drown my sorrows in some chocolate ice cream now. Did America get it right? I don't think so. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

R&R Hall of Fame Week

This was another entertaining night. Excellent performances. They must have heard me last editing songs tonight, the full versions, thank you!!!! As a songwriter and as a performer, it's great to hear these songs in their complete form. So, my favorite performances tonight were: Jacob, James and Pia. Who should go? Paul. Enough said. Who do you think should be voted off?

Jacob Lusk-Man In the Mirror
Wow, he did a great job singing that song! I got goose bumps! You go, Jacob! What passion, range and power! So cool to hear the writer of the song, Siedah Garrett, singing harmony with him. One of my favorite songs ever written.

Haley Reinhart-Piece of My Heart
Ouch, Haley is tearing her voice up, and for what? She is so hoarse when she speaks, I can't listen. She's on her way to destroying her vocal cords, just to please the judges. Her performance was powerful, confident, but she didn't have to yell and hurt herself to prove she can sing like Janice. Hope she doesn't do that again.

Casey Abrams-Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Nice rendition, relaxed, nice playing.

Lauren Alaina-Natural Woman
One of my favorite songs of all time. Another hoarse speaker, who knows how long her young voice will last? At least she didn't scream it though. She sang it well, but nothing that unique. Hard song to sing.

James Durbin-While My Guitar Gently Weeps
What a great singer, man! Really touching, and a great ending.

Scott McReery-That's Alright
He did a great job surprising us with some rockin' vocals. Who knew he had it in him? That was a lot of fun. Go Scotty!

Pia Toscano-River Deep and Mountain High
Wow, this woman can sing like nobody's business! Jeez! She's not a big mover when she sings, but then I couldn't move at all in those high heels. Give her some sneakers, and then she can jump all over the place like James Durbin. She's as good a singer as any Diva out there, if not better. Still my favorite female contender.

Stefano Langone-When a Man Loves a Woman
He was so much more present tonight, and as usual, great vocals. Passionate, and what a range! Incredible singing. Best performance that he has had.

Paul MacDonald-Folsom Prison Blues
He definitely got the audience riled up. My least favorite performance of the evening as usual.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Results Show 3/31/11

Well, Paul almost went home. Oh well, maybe next week. But it was time for Thia and Naima to go. There are just so many talented people this year, and they have been the weakest, besides Paul. Did America get it right? Almost. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 11 3/30/11 Elton John week

I remember the moment I first heard Elton John at age 12; it was then that I knew that I would be a singer/songwriter. By the time I was 14 I had all of his records and knew the chords, lyrics, and vocal inflections to every song he sang. So it was exciting for me to watch tonight's show and see what Elton songs the performers would choose to sing. It was a mediocre night of performances for me. My favorites tonight were James and Casey. Worst performance of the night......Paul. Will America get it right?

Scotty McReery-Country Comfort
Another country song from Scotty? What else can he do? Nothing, but he's so good at what he does. He's the country star of the show. Nice job, Scotty.

Naima Adedapo-I'm Still Standing
I liked her Reggae take on this song, very original. She is so true to herself on this show. Fun.

Paul MacDonald-Rocket Man
Why is this man still on???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Weird. A little pitchy tonight. Bad advice from the judges, push? Push his already injured voice? Not.

Pia Toscano-Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
Man, this woman can sing!!!!! Diva, diva.

Stefano Lsngone-Tiny Dancer
I just love his voice. He gave a much better performance tonight: more present, more emotional. Whoever decides how to edit the song for the time restraints, butchered that song. Why can't these poor people sing the whole song, and maybe we could have less commercials instead?????

Lauren Alaina-Candle in the Wind
She did a great job making this song her own. Another person who speaks with a raspy voice which is a sign of vocal strain. Watch out Lauren, don't blow out your voice, you're too young.

James Durbin-Saturday Night's Alright
Wow, he's such a great performer! Great song choice for him. He held that note too long at the end, like Steven Tyler said, which is dangerous. He could blow out his voice. Be careful James. Take Steven's advice, or you could rupture a vocal cord.

Thia Megia-Daniel
She's got such a beautiful voice, more emotionally present tonight.

Casey Abrams-Your Song
Tasteful, loved it! It was great to hear the tender side of Casey, trimmed beard and all.

Jacob Lusk-Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
Powerful, emotional, he's puts every ounce of himself into it as always. A little over the top tonight for me.

Hayley Reinhart-Bennie and the Jets
Her best performance so far. But as a vocal coach, ouch, I don't think she'll be able to utter one sound tomorrow, she really pushed her voice too far tonight. Be careful Haley.

Who do you think should go home tomorrow?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 11 Results Show 3/24/11

Wow, what a suspenseful and entertaining show this was! Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson sang. Stevie sounded great as usual, and Jennifer seemed rather angry in her new song "Where You At". My teachers always told me I couldn't end a sentence or a question with "at". Guess it's okay now.

Casey voted out? No, it can't be! It was a hard choice last night. Everyone was so good, and now we know why: Marc Antony helped them with their in-ear monitors so now everyone could actually hear themselves and sing on key. Why didn't someone do this the first week?????? Duh! Shouldn't that be someone's job over there at AI?
I'm glad Casey was saved tonight. Poor guy looked so shocked by the save; I think he was cursing non-stop, since they bleeped the last 2 minutes of the show about 10 times. He looked like he was going to pass out, or throw up right on Ryan. I'm happy they saved him, he really deserves it.
But next week, 2 people are going to have to go. It's going to be hard if the performances are as good as they were this week. Well, I'm satisfied.
Did America get it right? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top 11 3/23/11 Motown Night

This was another fun show tonight. Everyone's performance was such high quality-this year the talent is leagues better than it's ever been before. I am so impressed with everyone tonight, I wouldn't know who to vote off. Watching the review of everyone at the end, the all gave their best and you could feel it; and in their own unique styles, which makes the show so interesting and go by quickly. My favorite performances tonight were: Jacob, Pia, Naima and James. Paul is still my least favorite, but he did a great job tonight doing what he does. Tonight I recalled, that when I first heard Rod Stewart back in the day, I thought, "who told this guy he could sing", and he's still recording today, so it's really a matter of taste. I'm used to him now, but I still don't like his voice. Who do you think should go judging from tonight's performances?

Casey Abrams-Heard It Through the Grapevine
Casey's all cleaned up, I hardly recognize him. That was fun, the ending was original and loose. It reminded me of the versions by CCR and Motown combined.

Thia Megia-Heat Wave
I liked what she did with the melody, she played with it a bit, that was interesting, she made it her own. I think she messed up some lyrics, but she covered it well. Glad to see her sing something upbeat. Such a rich voice; beautiful tone. This was my audition song for Broadway auditions years ago, it got me a call back every time.

Jacob Lusk-You're All I Need to Get By
Great performance, wow! Jacob's back! He didn't go overboard, he sang on key, fantastic! I think he heard himself better tonight on stage too. He held back till the end. Saved the best for last. Yessssss!

Lauren Alaina-You Just Keep Me Hangin' On
I liked her vocals, there was a little country in there, and some attitude, strong performance. When she spoke, she sounded a bit hoarse, which is always a warning sign that she's pushing her voice too hard when she sings. Dangerous for a teenager! She could damage her voice for good if she isn't careful.

Stefano Langone-Hello
Amazing vocals, but I think he started riffing too early in the song, and then there was no where to go. He's one of my favorites for sure. The judges gave him good advice. Jennifer said the same things I say to my vocal students: " who are you singing to, what are you feeling in the song, what is your intention?" Singing is acting!

Haley Reinhart-You Really Got a Hold On Me
That was a wild and free performance. I liked her gospel, bluesy growls. She's a powerhouse. Great performance!

Scotty McReery-For Once in My Life
That was a unique version of the song-kind of a Glen Campbell version. He did a good job staying true to himself. He is SOOOO country, I didn't know how he'd do, but he did alright!

Pia Toscano-All In Love Is Fair
Wow, best vocal of the night. What a diva! She's up there with the best of them! Barbra, Celine, move over!

Paul MacDonald-Tracks of My Tears
That was very true to Paul, unique, and a throwback to Rod Stewart. He made it his own. He did a good job. I actually enjoyed him.

Naima Adedapo-Dancing in the Streets
Her voice was so rich, I like what she brought to the song. Her pitch was right on this time. Loved the African dancing at the end! Great performer!

James Durbin-Livin' for the City
Cool performance, he rocked the house. What a voice, what a performer! Exciting!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Results show 3/17/11

Why is Paul MacDonald still on this show? He's just not up to par with the rest of the singers. I am sorry to see Karen Rodriguez go; she is talented, but there are many talented people on the show this year and someone had to go (Paul, Paul, Paul). Oh well, Karen was a little boring in her performances and song choices so it's not a bad choice. Did America get it right? I don't think so. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top 12-Songs From Their Birth Year

Two hours flew by tonight watching Idol. I haven't experienced that until this season. The talent is diverse, and at a high enough level that it keeps me entertained and impressed. There were some excellent performances tonight and some disappointing moments as well. From a singer and vocal teacher's point of view, I watch these finalists push themselves harder than they ever have and worry about their voices holding out for the season. Paul MacDonald's voice concerns me. It sounds injured and although the judges like his unique sound and style, I think he needs vocal rest for awhile and to relearn how to sing. Haley is another one that should watch out for vocal strain; when she speaks, her voice is raspy. This is a sign of vocal stress and possible damage. Everyone seemed to have pitch problems tonight except Pia, Thia, and Stefano. The monitors that they wear in their ears to help them hear themselves can be confusing until they get used to them. And the acoustics in a big theater like that are very different from anything most of these performers have experienced. And then there are nerves,; so much pressure. It takes so much courage to be doing what they are doing! My hat goes off to all these performers!
My favorite all-around performance of the night was Stefano Langone. The weakest was Paul MacDonald. Here is my take on the show tonight. Who do you think should be voted off?

Naima Adedabo-What's Love Got to Do With It
Disappointing performance, her pitch was really shaky, maybe it has to do with her moving when she's singing. Try standing still next time, Naima, so you can concentrate on pitch. Maybe she can't hear herself, or is it nerves? She was so good at the auditions; what happened?

Paul McDonald-Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
I said it the first week I heard him, his voice is not going to last through this season. They said he has a cold, but I think he has a strained voice. My friend Barbara just said he sounded like Rod Stewart on Helium. I agree.

Thia Megia-The Colors of the Wind
Beautiful singing, lovely tone. She needs to pick some more contemporary songs, that are a little more upbeat. The judges are right about her song choice.

James Durbin-I'll Be There For You
Not a great night for him vocally, but I loved his performance. He has a great stage presence and energy. His pitch was shaky.

Haley Reinhart-I'm Your Baby Tonight
Her voice was strong tonight, she's good at many styles, and the judges are giving her a hard time for it. She's a versatile singer, but in this business, you have to fit into a genre or they can't market and sell you. Poor Haley, she's too talented for the business. How many singers do I know like that? Too many!

Stefano Langone-If You Don't Know Me By Now
What a natural singer, great range, passion, knows how to improvise. My favorite performance of the night.

Pia Toscano-Where Do Broken Hearts Go
Pia is one of the few singers who can take on any diva song and nail it. She is a great singer and could win this competition!

Scotty McCreery-Can I Trust You With My Heart
Country, country, country.....nice traditional country singing as usual. Scotty, don't push your voice like the producer told you, you'll wreck it!

Karen Rodriguez-Love Will Lead You Back
A little shaky, but basically a good performance.

Casey Abrams-Smells Like Teen Spirit
He's a great entertainer, quirky, fun,love him. Great performance, great musician! He takes a risk every time!

Lauren Alaina-I'm the Only One
I like the country twist, she made it her own, even with the flu. Good performance. Solid singing. She's only 16? Impressive!

Jacob Lusk-Alone
As usual, Jacob knocks it out of the park with his top notch vocal and passionate performance. He gives every ounce of himself, inspiring to watch him. A little pitchy, but so entertaining!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Top 13 Results show 3/10/11

Ashton Jones is voted off the show. Her low notes were weak. I think she picked too low of a key for that song; probably because the producer wanted her to sing such high notes, she had to start extra low. When you are pushing high notes out too often, you start to lose your lowest notes. It's best to work your entire range with vocal exercises everyday. Ashton has a bright singing future, though. She's a very good singer and just needs a little more work and experience. Did America get it right? I think so. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Top 13 3/9/11

This season has the best talent yet. So many great singers: the guys have the women beat. My favorites this evening: James Durbin, Stefano Langone and Haley Reinhart. Whose performances were the weakest? Ashton Jones and Paul MacDonald. The judges are so refreshing; no one is being hurtful and they do focus on the positive while delivering helpful criticism. They understand what it takes to be up there and respect each performer for that. It's so much easier to watch this year. Simon who? Here's my take on the singers:

Lauren Alaina-Any Man of Mine
Good performance. She's such a natural; singing comes so easy for her. But it didn't seem very unique or original.

Casey Abrams-With A Little Help from My Friends
That was fun! He's so musical, tasteful, unique and soulful. Love his voice, love his style, love his confidence. He's the real deal. It's surprising that such a talented yet quirky musician made it to Idol. One of my favorites.

Ashton Jones-When You Tell Me That You Love Me
Pitchy, shaky, she seemed a little unsure of herself tonight. I didn't really feel that much from her performance.

Paul McDonald-I Wish You Would
What was that? He's so strange, I don't like his voice, or his performance style. Pitchy, sorry I just don't get him. He does seem to have a happy vibe when he performs, I'll give him that. He's the weakest of all the singers.

Pia Toscano-All By Myself
She's got pipes, baby. Pia is an amazing singer, my favorite of the women.

James Durbin-Maybe I'm Amazed
I'm definitely amazed. He can sing tenderly, rock it, he is so versatile.He can do it all! Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Haley Reinhart-Blue
That yodeling is really hard to control-back and forth from head voice to chest voice. Very impressive. She has been my least favorite singer up until now, but tonight turned that around for me. One of the best performances tonight.

Jacob Lusk-I Believe I Can Fly
What a singer! He's so powerful, passionate, but tonight he lost a bit of his vocal control. I am so moved by his commitment when he sings. He puts every ounce of himself into it, nothing is held back. Really inspiring. Not his best performance vocally though.

Thia Megia-Smile
Beautiful tone, a little pitchy, but such an angelic sounding voice. What an odd arrangement of the song. It detracted from her performance. Not her best night.

Stefano Langone-Lately
Great vocals, he has such an amazing range, and wonderful control. He's one of my favorites. It takes a lot of talent and confidence to attack a Stevie Wonder tune. And he nailed it. Impressive! He's one of my favorites.

Karen Rodriguez- I Could Fall in Love with You
That didn't do much for me. She seemed unsure of her low notes, a little pitchy, sleepy. Eh...

Scotty McCreery-Till the River Runs Dry
He's got such a classic country voice. He did a great job. He was more present tonight and accessible to the audience. I don't think Scotty is American Idol material, because when other styles start getting thrown at him, he's going to have a hard time doing anything other than what he does, which is hardcore, old school country. I say kick him off the show soon, and get him into the studio right away to record his first country hit album. He's gonna be a star!

Naima Adedapo-Umbrella
Cool performance. Loved her style, her dancing, her rapping, she's so unique. I could tell she was having a hard time having enough breath to dance and sing. She was a little pitchy, but her unique character really stood out. Love her. Not her best singing tonight, but she is a strong performer!

Who were your favorites? Who should be voted off? I would love to hear from you!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Top 13 3/3/11

I definately agree with the majority of the singers who got voted in:
Naima Adedapo, Ashthon Jones, Stefano Langone grabbed wild card spots and joined Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, James Durbin, Jacob Lusk, Scotty McCreery, Paul McDonald, Thia Megia, Haley Reinhart, Karen Rodriguez and Pia Toscano.
I'm disappointed that Clint Jun Gamboa was voted out. I enjoyed his vocals and his energy.
My favorites this season are: Jacob Lusk, James Durban, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo. I look forward to the real competition starting next week. This is the most talented bunch of singers on any season so far and I'm truly excited!

Your thoughts on the Top 13?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Idol Begins 3/2/11 The Women

Well, watching the guys was much more exciting last night. I'm surprised how weak the women were. My 2 favorites performances tonight were by Naima and Pia. Exceptional singing! The rest didn't really stand out for me. It is impressive how well the 16 year olds can sing, but they lack a confidence that these 2 have. I'd say the weakest performances tonight were Ta-Tynisa and Rachel. Here's my take on the evening:

1.Ta-Tynisa Wilson-Only Girl
She was sharp, very pitchy. Didn't seem unique at all, I wasn't impressed.

2.Naima Adedapo-Summertime
Wow, what a voice, great jazz singer! One of my favorites!

3.Kendra Chantelle-Impossible
Good singer, I was pleasantly surprised. Soulful, powerful and nice riffs.

4.Rachel Zevita-Criminal
Hmmmm, not sure how I felt about that performance. Her voice seemed a bit muffled somehow. And her vocal control wasn't that great. Don't know.

5.Karen Rodriguez-Hero
Nice singing, beautiful voice, good performance.

6.Lauren Turner-Seven Day Fool
Good singing, soulful, she seemed like she was holding back a bit though. To me, it lacked something: confidence.

7.Ashton Jones-Love All Over Me
She had so much confidence, impressive. Her voice soars. Impressive. I wasn't crazy about the song for her though.

8.Julie Zorrilla-Break Away
Not a great song choice, it didn't really show off her voice, it didn't do much for me.

9.Haley Reinhart-Falling In Love
Big song to take on, not the right song to show her voice off. Only Alicia should sing that song. I didn't really get it.

10.Thia Megia-Out Here On My Own
Good singing, she had 3 notes were flat, but a very good singer, and only 15! So brave to start out a capella.

11.Lauren Alaina-You Can Hear Me on the Radio
She's 16? She was very good, but I didn't feel blown away like the judges did.

12.Pia Toscano-I'll Stand By You
Wow, that was an improvement over the original. What a stellar performance! Great range, great voice. She's got it!

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Idol Begins 3/1/11 The Guys

Tonight was pretty impressive. These guys are amazing; the best singers of all the seasons that I have seen. Inspiring! My favorite performances tonight were Clint Jun Gamboa, James Durbin, and Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk. I am looking forward to seeing what happens this season. So nice without the nastiness of Simon, just about the talent. As it should be. Judging only from the performances tonight, the weakest of the singers was Paul MacDonald. Jacob Lusk has the winning voice. I hope America appreciates what he's got!
Here's my take on the performances:

1.Clint Jun Gamboa-Superstition
This guy can sing! He's got a lot of soul, power and so much energy! One of my favorites this season. I enjoyed his performance!

2.Jovany Baretto-I'll Be
Nice voice, he didn't give an exciting performance but he has a great voice.

3.Jordan Dorsey-So Many Ways to Love Ya
That was a little weird, this guy can REALLY sing, but this song didn't suit him. Hope he stays in, because he could win this competition. He's that good!

4.Tim Halperin-Come On Over
That song didn't do much for me. Eh...

5.Brett Lowenstern-Light My Fire
He's another really talented singer, who didn't come across as strong as he is. These guys must be so nervous, because from what I saw at the auditions, they have so much talent.

6.James Durbin-You Got Another Thing Comin'
Wow, what energy! He's so free and natural, and those screams, so organic! He's got it! What a singer.

7.Robby Rosen-In the Arms of an Angel
Cool, how he did the song. He had some pitch issues with the high notes, but great artistry, and originality. What a range! I like how he changed the time signature for 3/4 to 4/4. He's got a lot of promise.

8.Scotty McReery-Letters From Home
Is this guy only 17? Impossible! He comes from the heart, he's the real thing. I totally enjoyed his performance, and I'm not a die hard country fan. What a voice; so authentic.

9.Stefano Langone-Just the Way You Are
Wow, what a voice, incredible! Love him. What a range! A little pitchy, I think it was nerves.

10.Paul MacDonald-Maggie May
Very unique, not sure how I feel about his voice. Sounds weak and damaged. Can he get through the season?

11.Jacob Lusk-A House is Not Home
This guy has a voice like no one I've ever heard! Indescribable, divine. What more can I say? Speechless. Give the guy the trophy and let's call it a day.

12.Casey Abrams-I Put a Spell On You
He's so free, and insanely musical. He's so talented, hope he goes far with this contest. He doesn't fit the mold, that's for sure.

So what do you think of these guys? Would love to hear your opinions.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A New Season for Idol

It's been awhile since I've written at this blog, although I have been watching the auditions and Hollywood week. How refreshing to have Simon gone! Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are like a breath of fresh air: honest, to the point, yet kind. I've been enjoying this season so much more than in the past. And the singers have been phenomenal so far. I am looking forward to tonight! How about you?