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Review: William Elliot Whitmore - "Healing To Do"

William Elliot Whitmore in top form on brand new single...
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William Elliott Whitmore has been my musical obsession for about five years, now. He fell into my lap back in my Turntable.fm days, one listen of that gravelly, bluesy voice and I was hooked. While I cut my teeth on "Animals in the Dark" and "Field Songs" I was struck by the contrast between the two. One was aggressive, unapologetic, pissed off and rude, while "Field Songs" was more a reflective, introspective, resigned to its fate piece. This forced me to research back some to see which is more the "true" WEW and I have realized they both are. I

Review: Lee DeWyze - Frames

Lee DeWyze returns to his roots to relaunch his career with the excellent 'Frames'...
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Forget everything you think you know about American Idol Season Nine winner Lee Dewyze. Who? You ask. Exactly, well done. Lee was the recipient of the American Idol crown in what to date had been the lowest rated season, finale and the poorest album sales by a winner in the show's illustrious history. Chicago-native Lee DeWyze had a pre-Idol history that would be voted by some as marginally successful with two records with indie label WuLi records and groomed under the tutelage of former Ministry guitarist Louis Svitek. That gave the kid some street cred and a strong local following.

Randy Travis Top 5 Songs.... Vol. 2

A second helping of Randy Travis' best songs...
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Okay boys and girls, it's time for our next installment in the "Randy Travis is more than a footnote and cautionary tale" lesson we started last week. Let's take a look at his bread and butter: Heartbreakingly poignant, honest and accurate love songs. "I Told You So" - Much like in the last Randy Travis Top Five list, no list is worth a damn if this isn't listed as the Number One heart-wrencher in his repertoire. "Suppose I called you up tonight and told you that I loved you, And suppose I said "I wanna come back home". And suppose
Randy Travis is a country music legend whom burst onto the scene in 1986 leaving an indelible impression and helping change the face of country music at the time, ushering in what has been referred to as the neo-traditional style which was born as a reaction to the perceived blandness of mainstream country music and pop-country acts such as Anne Murray and Ronnie Milsap. Randy was born in Marshville, NC and after a tumultuous childhood fell into the right situation at the right time after he won a local talent contest and the owner let him cook there by day

Interview: Sebastian Bach Talks 'Abachalypse Now' Live CD/DVD

Sebastian Bach talks about his new live CD/DVD, Kicking & Screaming, and Skid Row...
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Monday March 20, 2013 means a lot of things to a lot of people, I'm sure babies were born this day, graduations happened, first steps were taken, weddings, engagements and all that crap. While that's all well and good 3/20/13 will forever be known as the The Day I Talked To Sebastian Bach. I win. I called Sebastian Bach to discuss his now released live CD/DVD ABachalypse Now and got more than I bargained for as we discussed Red Velvet Pancakes from IHOP, sobriety, being present in the moment, and being a cheerleader. After brief introductions and "How is your

'Idol' San Antonio, Long Beach Auditions: Papa Peachez, Sanni M'mairrura, Micah Johnson Among Standouts

Expect to see some of tonight's contestants make a serious run at being Season 12's 'American Idol'
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Last night's American Idol auditions took us to the fabulous city of San Antonio and then to the Queen Mary in the Long Beach, Cali area. I'm going to condense this down because the first hour in Alamo City was pretty much a waste and I think this season's winner will be from the second hour. So let's hurry and get there, shall we? For the record you didn't miss my Week Two recap, I did. This episode was a mixed bag of good, bad, and forgetable. I'm a little burned out on the trolls and forgettable ones so let's

American Idol: Chicago Auditions Follow Lowest Rated Premiere In Series History

Night 1 in the Big Apple failed to deliver big ratings... will Chicago fare better?
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Welcome back to American Idol’s second night of auditions, this evening we’re joining the gang in Chicago. And despite the bragging from Fox that season 12 of American Idol would be a season unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed, it seems fans were turned off by judging and format changes, bringing in 18% fewer viewers from last season making last night the lowest rated Idol premiere in the show’s history. What do you think of the changes and new judges Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey? Due to a minor technical glitch I missed about 15 minutes at the beginning

See Phillip Phillips Perform "Gone, Gone, Gone" on Jimmy Kimmel Live

When did they take the alcohol out of NyQuil?
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Do you want to know what it looks like when someone’s doing exactly what they were put on earth to do and enjoying every millisecond of it? Then you need to watch Phillip Phillips performing anything live. Yes, the same Phillips whose debut CD The World From The Side Of The Moon I reviewed yesterday and called a Dave Matthews copycat not once but three or four times, which he still is but, he’s a passionate one. Phillip is American Idol’s reigning crown prince and of all the recent winners I can think of he seems to be doing
Welcome back, American Idol! You were missed! Well not so much missed as a vague memory of something we used to do two nights a week from January to May. I’m less excited about any future music superstars we’re sure to uncover than I am about watching the weirdass dynamic of the four judges. Randy Jackson is returning as the elder statesman and he is joined by crazy as a loon living legend Mariah Carey, the Aussie country star Keith Urban and wig-tastic Nicki Minaj. Tonight’s auditions take us to New York which is often a wealth of as much

Review: Phillip Phillips - The World From The Side Of The Moon

American Idol's Season 11 winner has struck sales gold with debut and it's not (all) fool's gold...
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As we gear up for the 12th American Idol season here at BlindedBySound.com, I thought it was high time I get down to some long awaited and accidentally neglected Idol business: namely reviewing the debut album from last season winner's winner, Phillip Phillips. Propelled by the mega hit "Home," The World From The Side Side Of The Moon has soared beyond all expectations (well mine at least). It debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and has reached 596,000 in sales. It's not that I didn't find him to be a charming, talented young man; it's more that he won

Chris Rene Opens Up About 'I'm Right Here' EP, Future Tour, Album Plans

BlindedBySound gets another exclusive interview with X Factor finalist Chris Rene
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Chris Rene released his debut album I'm Right Here on October 2, making him the first of last season's The X Factor top 3 to do so. I spoke to him in July about the upcoming disc and future plans, this time we conducted the interview via email and he divulged touring plans and how the title I'm Right Here came about. I wanted to ask about the title I'm Right Here – is that a reference to when on The X Factor you told LA and Simon “I will always be right here”? Exactly, it was the 1st time

Review: James Durbin - Santa Claus Is Back In Town

Durbin channels Elvis to get you in the Christmas spirit...
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While I am typically morally opposed to any Christmas music pushing its way into my ears until Thanksgiving evening, I've made an exception for Elvis and James Durbin. Durbin was the beloved, metal-head fourth place finisher on Season 10 of American Idol who released his debut album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster last year on Wind-up Records. In the midst of recording tunes for his sophomore effort James and his band started riffing and came up with this version of Elvis' “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” which may be the most popular, if not certainly best selling Christmas song

The Soul Of John Black Returns With More 'Sunshine State Of Mind'

TSOJB releases two more songs for his digital EP...
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The second installment from The Soul Of John Black's A Sunshine State Of Mind EP came in the form of the bluesy bar song “Too Much Tequila” and a groovy love song “Lenny Love Cha Cha” that are both pleasing and satisfying as we head feet-first into Fall. JB took a little different approach with this project releasing two singles at a time so we could soak in the goodness just a little at a time and by the time we've had our fill of those two, we are gifted with another pairing. In a press release before the unveiling

Review: X Factor Finalist Chris Rene - I'm Right Here EP

Chris adds a few new songs to the familiar "Trouble" and "Young Homie"
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October 2, 2012 will go down in history as the day the collective squeal of Renelians over the release of the long anticipated Chris Rene EP I'm Right Here annoyed neighbors, friends and spouses worldwide. Chris Rene was the third place finisher on last season's X Factor and America collectively and immediately fell in love with his strength, courage and faith having only just completed a rehab program before trying out for the Simon Cowell vehicle that launched his career and changed his life in one fell swoop. The CD starts off with “Chains” which is super beat driven, almost

Former 'Idol' Contestant Michael "Big Mike" Lynche Fails To Dazzle On Debut...

Too many big misses sink this first effort from Big Mike...
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Michael Lynche is known to millions as “Big Mike” the teddy bear with the sweet, velvet voice who garnered the judges “save” on Season Nine of American Idol where he ultimately finished fourth. Big Mike released his self-titled debut in August on the back of two singles that charted and are currently moving on Adult Contemporary and Urban charts, respectively.I watched the entire Idol season with Mike and was never especially bowled over or impressed by him, he was a Central Florida boy so that added some love into his column for me but, vocally he wasn't special or a

Review: Etta James: Live At Montreux

A collection of great live performances from one of the most treasured voices of all time...
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To say Etta James was one of the most prolific jazz, soul and blues singers on the planet is a fact, to say her voice will never be matched by another is a fact, to say Etta James:Live At Montreux is the best compilation and showcase of her work is also a fact. It's a great album and has been on repeat in my car for weeks, even the omission of some of my faves couldn't put a damper on the sheer joy this album produces. Live At Montreux is a different sort of live album as it's Ms. James'

Chris Rene Premieres Video For Single "Trouble"

A little on the safe side as videos go, but anticipation for Rene's Epic Records debut is growing...
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Chris Rene's video for his latest single “Trouble” is finally here and I have one question: Am I watching a music video, SONY ad, or both? “Trouble” was Rene's follow-up to his star making hit “Young Homie” and we receive this video just two months before his highly anticipated major label debut for Epic records. By the way, Sony owns Epic records... so the product placement isn't surprising as it is annoying, it was distracting and took me out of the moment watching the video all five times it happened (and I wasn't even trying to notice or count). Enough
Chris Rene famously finished third on last season's The X Factor and with his back story, good looks, talent and guts to perform original material on the singing competition, he was the easy, early fan favorite. Before the season was even over his audition clip of “Young Homie” had garnered over 12 million views. BlindedBySound is proud to bring you an exclusive interview with him as he talks about his experience on the show and updates us on what's been happening since. After many mishaps, missed chances, and mis-communications, my interview with Chris Rene that was scheduled back in

The Killer's Messy New Single "Runaways"

Have they lost their magic touch?
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The Killers were arguably the biggest band in the world in the mid-2000's following the success of their new wave-y, post punk revival effort Hot Fuss. Then Sam's Town happened and failed to live up to the hype, it charted well but sold significantly less, the same can be said for their third studio release Day & Age. Hoping to re-claim the Hot Fuss glory, the boys from Vegas are releasing Battle Born in September, which is an homage to their home state, much like they did for Vegas with Sam's Town (same name as a famous Vegas casino). “Runaways”

Band of Horses Release First Single "Knock Knock" from Forthcoming CD 'Mirage Rock,' Due Sept. 18

4th album from BoH, first single available at iTunes...
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If you've never heard of Band Of Horses or been graced by their music, I implore you to do so immediately. Following their mega-successful 2010 release of Infinite Arms we've been gifted with a new single off their fourth studio album Mirage Rock, artwork, and track listing. Oh happy day! “Knock-Knock” was released Tuesday (July 10, 2012), the as the first single off the album coming at us on September 18, 2012 and just after three or four listens I was hooked and more in love with nutty Ben Bridwell and the boys. Legendary Glyn Johns (Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The

Stone Temple Pilots Return, Come 'Alive In The Windy City'

What's here is good but there's something missing...
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Hearing the band name Stone Temple Pilots conjures up some immediate and vivid imagery for children of the '90s, especially the ones into the Alternative and Grunge scenes. You immediately think of the quirky, self-centered, front man Scott Weiland who battled demons and drugs for the better part of 20 years. But you also just as immediately think of songs like “Dead And Bloated” “Plush” “Sour Girl” and “Creep” with a fondness and a bit of warmth and maybe a shudder upon recalling some of their videos. Through break ups, make-ups, and bands with Slash, this foursome somehow is

Scotty McCreery Premieres Video For "Water Tower Town"

'American Idol' Season 10 winner continues run of success...
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Things have been quiet on the Scotty McCreery front these days, not because he's not busy but because, I have been. When I read today that our Scotty is debuting a video on GAC's (Great American Country TV) chart at number 1 I had to change all that and come update you as soon as I heard. “Water Tower Town” is the third single off Scotty's debut record Clear As Day and with a strong showing on GAC looks like it will follow “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble With Girls” and could be another Top 20 radio

X Factor Contestant Rachel Crow Still America's Sweetheart On New EP

She may have gotten jobbed on The X-Factor, but Rachel has landed on her feet with TV and now this EP...
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You may remember Rachel Crow as the cherubic, sassy 14 year-old from last season's The X Factor where she finished fifth amid tears and controversy. An early favorite, Rachel won the hearts of America with her dynamic personality, and sweet yet fierce delivery of songs by the greats such as Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and Etta James. Her ouster was one of if not the most talked about eliminations of the season as it ended with the judges panel in tears, Rachel collapsing to her knees, and Simon Cowell giving America his very best “I hate all of you ninnies”

Chris Rene Delivers The Expected On New Single "Trouble"

A feel-good summertime hit...
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Chris Rene finished third on the inaugural season of The X Factor and won our hearts over from his very first audition. The hotly anticipated followup to his mega-popular, star-making song “Young Homie” is finally here, and titled “Trouble.” The song, written by Alex Lambert (Season Nine Semi-Finalist on American Idol), Busbee (Songwriter/Producer Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson, Haley Reinhart), and Jason Bonilla and has been shopped around for several months and even performed by Lambert before being picked up by Rene and Epic Records under the working title “That Girl Is Trouble.”  This is the perfect followup to “Young Homie”

The Soul Of John Black Turns Up The Heat On 'A Sunshine State Of Mind' EP

The first two songs from TSOJB's new EP turn up the heat on a hot summer night...
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If I was late to the party on The Soul Of John Black before I'd say I'm a little early to the party this time or at least fashionably right on time. John “JB” Bigham gained notoriety with Miles Davis and Fishbone and is doing a hell of a job carving out a niche for himself with his TSOJB alter ego. In February I reviewed his third album Good Thang (second with Yellow Dog Records which “My Brother” was awarded Best Blues Song Of 2011 at the 11th Annual Independent Music Awards) and I was thrilled with it from essentially
Here we are, folks, the American Idol finale pitting vocal powerhouse Jessica Sanchez against growly, face-contorting Phillip Phillips. In an action packed 60-minute show we get three songs from them both (Simon Fuller’s choice, Contestant’s favorite song from over the course of the season, and Winner’s Song). Jessica starts us off with “I Have Nothing” by the great Whitney Houston which has the judges visibly salivating but leaves me cold as she often does. It was clearly not the right song fit for her. Phillip gets “Stand By Me” and while the judges didn’t say anything about his performance, they
Here we are kids, the time we find out who will be duking out in the American Idol finale next Tuesday, and while any matchup is almost unbearable to think of with these three I greatly prefer any scenario involving Joshua Ledet. Is that happening tonight? Not a snowball’s chance in hell, kids. Now we get to the part of the show where mentor Jimmy Iovine tells us what he really thought of last night’s performances. Joshua Ledet is called down first and Jimmy says Joshua had a good night last night but wouldn’t have given him a standing ovation

American Idol Season 11 Gives 100% Blandness Guarantee As Finalists Set To Be Unveiled

Forget The X-Factor, the winner of this season will be a non-factor
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We’re finally down to our Top 3 finalists vying for that American Idol title and new Ford car not to mention recording contract. None of that guarantees any modicum of success (just ask Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen, Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard). Now, now I know they all (except LDW) have had success “in their own way” but they are usually relegated to flash in the pan status. Not winning seems to be where the real prize is with these shows. In the last two weeks we’ve said goodbye to Skylar Laine and Hollie Cavanagh who both overstayed their welcomes

Beastie Boys' Founding Member Adam Yauch Dies At Age 47

Make some noise if you're with me!
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Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch is dead at 47. As I sit here to write this “tribute” of sorts up, I still am in disbelief. Everyone has their “where were you when you heard” moment in their lives regarding national disasters, death of great people and tragic world events. For this one I was walking in my front door when I got the TMZ alert on my BlackBerry that said simply ‘’Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch dead at 47.” I sat down in my big armchair and haven’t moved for nearly an hour. Not MCA, not my favorite Beastie, not the

American Idol Top 5: Who Came Up Big, Who Should Be Packing Their Bags?

It hasn't been Idol's most exciting season but the drama is ratcheting up as we get near the end...
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So here we are, American Idol watchers, with only five left vying to be your next American Idol, boy how time flies when you’re having fun. I know it seems I’ve been MIA since Erika Van Pelt left us at Top Ten elimination but, no my friends, alas, I was there! I cried when Heejun Han left, laughed like a maniac when Deandre Brackensick finally left us and felt a little angry and elated when Colton Dixon left two weeks ago and nothing but angry with no elation when Elise Testone was the bottom vote getter last week. Tonight’s theme
It’s time again for the American Idol Top 10 results show but, never fear – no matter who gets eliminated this group will tour all summer to support the American Idols Live! Tour. Tonight we get performances by “Indie-pop sensation” Lana Del Rey as Ryan Seacrest calls her, and last season’s third place finisher, The Growler herself Haley Reinhart. The finalists kick off the show with Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” (for those of you who missed it, Billy Joel songs were the theme for last night's performances) in the almost-always-unnecessary group number. Two bonuses tonight were it appeared they

Still Rock & Roll To Me: Phillip, Elise, Colton Win Night With Songs Of Billy Joel On 'Idol'

Tough night for Deandre, Erika, and Joshua. Who will go home tonight?
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Tonight on American Idol the Top 10 finalists celebrate the songs of Billy Joe,l which I feel might be a bit of a disaster with such a young contestant pool but there could also be a few pleasant surprises; let’s hope for more of the latter. Deandre Brackensick kicks off the show with “Only The Good Die Young” and while it’s a good song for him because it allows a lot of movement which Deandre proved is a strength of his during the “Stevie Wonder” theme, this was just campy and like a karaoke performance. Randy Jackson said it didn’t

Chris Rene Official "Young Homie" Video Unveiled

'X Factor' finalist issues debut video...
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Chris Rene was the third place finisher on The X Factor last season and the unequivocal “fan favorite” since his very first audition where he performed an original song, “Young Homie.” That’s not only a risky move but, relatively unheard of in these singing competition shows, a risky move that garnered his audition clip 13 million views on YouTube and a loyal following of people from all walks of life, age groups, and backgrounds. Some have an addiction story similar to Rene’s, or know someone who does, if that doesn’t connect you to this young father of two then his
American Idol finally found a way to drum up some ratings for their lackluster season so far and booted a contestant who had hidden a criminal past. Jermaine Jones was confronted and asked to leave on camera, which was so trashy and sensational, obviously meant to be titillating and get us talking. It worked. Tonight they’re pressing forward with eliminations as planned. The ten (or eleven like last season) who make it tonight will be guaranteed a spot on the American Idol Summer Tour (barring a hidden criminal past of course). After a hideous Ford commercial and Tommy Hilfiger
Tonight on The Voice judges Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine must choose between twelve more acts vying for a spot on the live shows. This will comprise six duos from the same team and after a duel in a boxing ring stage their mentor must select who goes home and whom moves on to the loves shows to sing for your votes. Christina Aguilera’s first group -- Sera Hill and Geoff McBride -- will battle on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain Of Fools.” Sera is clearly a favorite of Xtina’s after she joined her onstage during her audition, then at

American Idol Evens The Score; Top 12 Revealed as One Contestant Departs

Who didn't see this one coming?
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American Idol’s final 13 lose a member tonight, but not before we’re tortured with the first of many Ford commercials featuring all the contestants. I already speculated that this season is skewed toward a girl to win or at least a strong girl in the finale and the way we’re doing the vote off with the judges having the final say ( I predict a guy will go home regardless of the girl being weaker) all signs are pointing to yes. Then Jimmy starts off the show by saying essentially to lay off the girls because no one can

Jessica Sanchez Shines, Hollie, Skylar Soar; Colton Dixon, Elise Testone, Shannon Falter On 'Idol'

The songs of Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder got the 'Idol' treatment...
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Tonight on American Idol is the Top 13 contestants will sing the songs of Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston for your votes, but not really. In another “we stole this from The X Factor” move, judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, and JLo will be the final say in who is first to leave by selecting from the lowest vote-getter of the guys and the girls and selecting between the two who will stay. Up first we have Joshua Ledet who is singing “I Wish,” which is what I selected for him when choosing which song each contestant should sing. Jimmy

American Idol Top 13 Tackle Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston: What Should They Sing?

Let's play our guessing game, kids...
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Welcome to this season of American Idol’s first installment of “What Should They Sing?” something I will try to do all season long, where I pick what song I think each contestant will or should sing, based on that week’s theme. Now that we’re down to our Final 13 we get our first official theme which is Whitney Houston songs for the girls, and Stevie Wonder songs for the guys. I think both genders got a little screwed with this, none of these chicks can hang with Whitney and while it’s true for Stevie as well the guys at least

The Voice: The Battle Begins, Round 1

The Voice 'Battles' sequence begins...
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Tonight on The Voice we will watch as the show’s four superstar mentors Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine pare their teams down from twelve to only six. Adam makes the first battle pairings of the night after delivering the news to his twelve acts. First to go head-to-head are former Mousketeer Tony Lucca and Atlantan Chris Cauley who will be vocally sparring on U2’s “Beautiful Day.” This is an interesting matchup because they’re not just similar but just about carbon copies of each other. Chris admits he’s nervous to be up against Tony with all
Tonight begins the process on The Voice where we watch the four mentors Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine whittle their teams down from twelve to six. This is probably the most intriguing semi-final type set up of any of these music competition shows as the artists from the same teams are pitted against each other, going head to head in a boxing ring on the stage. Their coaches pick the song and then mentor them to prepare them for the performance that will either get them into the next round, or send them home earlier
The ink had barely dried on X Factor winner Melanie Amaro’s contract before rumors of firings, hirings, other contestant contracts and overall dissatisfaction started swirling around regarding the show. In a conference call last week with The X Factor creator (and mentor to Melanie Amaro), Simon Cowell and the only other mentor who retained their job L.A. Reid, a lot of these rumors were laid to rest and a few exacerbated. March 1st begins the online audition process for the show (rules and regulations can be found here) When asked what they were looking for this season, Simon mentioned they

American Idol: Meet Your Top 13

The crowd has been thinned out. How does the field look to you now?
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Tonight’s American Idol narrows the field from 25 to the final Top 13 who will sing for your votes every week hoping to be crowned the next American Idol in May. The Top 13 will be comprised of the top five guys and the top five girls voted in by America with three wildcard spots chosen by judges Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and JLo who get to choose one contestant each to save with this coveted second chance. Host Ryan Seacrest tells us repeatedly that over two nights of voting they received more than 33 million votes for these

Sisters Weren't Doing Much For Themselves as American Idol's Ladies Take Center Stage

Does this year's crop of female talent have a lot of upside or are they really this bad?
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Tonight on American Idol it was the girl’s turn as the Top 12 Girls tried to wow the judges and America for votes and a shot at the final Top 10 voted in by the viewers or even one of the three Wildcard spots chosen by judges Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, and Jennifer Lopez. Ryan also reminds us that a girl hasn’t won the competition in the last five seasons. Kicking things off is Chelsea Sorrell, who takes a stab at Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” and it’s a good thing she’s a pretty girl because she did nothing for this song.

Phillip Phillips, Heejun Han, Colton Dixon Stand Out As Idol's Top 13 Males Compete

The competition kicks off: is there anyone out there watching?
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Tonight’s the night approximately 20 percent less of you than last year actually care about– the start of American Idol’s live performances, which to me is the official start of the season. There’s very little lead-in or nonsense for a change and we get right to our first performer, so let’s get started and see how they did. I know everyone’s big on comparing Reed Grimm to last season’s jazzy, multi-instrumental Casey Abrams but he reminds me more of Paul McDonald from the same season. He’s slick, has natural showmanship, always vocally solid and a bit of a lovable weirdo.

The Voice 2: Last Of The Blind Auditions; Let The Game Begin!

The teams are set...
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Tonight’s the night on The Voice that we finally get to put these Blind Auditions behind us, as mentors Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, and Adam Levine complete their teams of 12. Whitney Myer kicks things off with “No One” and gets the attention of all four mentors, with Adam turning first and that wins her over, she’s Team Adam.  The Shields Brothers have two things that set them apart from the pack: They’re a brothers duo, they’re rockin’ and they annoyed me more than anyone else this season. That’s quite a feat on a show with Cee-Lo and

Get To Know Your 2012 American Idol Top 24; Learn How To Vote For Your Favorite

Everything you need to know to get dialed in for the season's remaining episodes...
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Now that American Idol has set its Top 24 (to be changed to a Top 25 on Wednesday’s live show) semi-finalists we can finally get down to business and set this train in motion.  Top 13 Guys compete for your votes on Tuesday, February 28; Top 12 Girls compete Wednesday, February 29; with the Finalists announced Thursday, March 1, on FOX.  Things finally start chugging along nicely and we can likely expect another week of two nights for performances and a drawn out elimination show. I hope they have ramped up the spectacle this year and give us some

American Idol Has Its Top '24' And I'm Trying Hard To Care About Any Of Them

The Top 24 means 24 contestants, right? Stop me when you've heard this one before...
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The American Idol judges brought this season’s hopefuls to the Vegas show Le Rêve: The Dream before offing the remainders to get to the Top 24, which by now you’ve heard will be a (short-lived) Top 25 in a “we stole this from The X Factor” move. Yes, you heard me correctly: in what may be the proverbial final nail in American Idol’s coffin or perhaps just the latest “jumping the shark” moment, Idol has decided to give us a Top 25 instead of a Top 24 this season. After the Top 12 Girls and Top 12 Guys were
Tonight’s episode of American Idol will be the most meaningful and productive yet as judges Randy Jackson, JLo, and Steven Tyler begin whittling 42 contestants down to 24. The Top 24 (comprosed of 12 Boys and 12 Girls) will be finalized tomorrow (Thursday) night and next week is the start of the live performances. The contestants have to perform solo in front of the judges one last time, then the judges deliberate and assess each contestant’s journey and performances thus far. First to learn their fate is Jen Hirsch who has had a solid run so far and flown

'The Voice' Dark Horse Alert: Keep An Ear On Naia Kete

The blind led the blind for most of these two hours of blind auditions...
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This week's episode of The Voice finds megastar mentors Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton, and last year’s winner Adam Levine vying for the most distinct voice and standout talent as their build their teams of 12. I’ve watched this episode three times in its entirety and it just never felt cohesive or fluid to me at any moment in time. So instead of my usual step-by-step recap, we’re doing a broader overview. While the judges seem to have been downing Hooch between takes and are giddy and ridiculous (albeit infinitely entertaining), flirting with each other, and loving median

American Idol: For Some, What Happened In Vegas Ended In Vegas

Down to 42 contestants...
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Tonight’s American Idol takes us to Las Vegas where the remaining 70 contestants sing and dance for Steven Tyler, JLo and Randy Jackson in hopes of not being instantly cut. They will be singing music from the ‘50s, after they perform with a group and costumes they will find out then and there if they make it forward. The first group up has Skylar Raine, Colton Dixon, Cari Quoyeser and Chase Likens and they’re dressed as if they’re going to a prom in 1955. Their song is “Dedicated To The One I Love” and while it wasn’t bad at all,

'American Idol' Hollywood Week Group And Solo Rounds: Next Stop, Vegas!

The field is winnowed down further as 'AI' preps for The Elvis Experience
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It’s Group Night again on American Idol and we’re in for crying, fainting, pleading, shattered dreams and belching. After zero singing last week, I’m looking forward to seeing some (good) singing and some of my favorites that haven’t been nearly enough screen time, like Colton Dixon. Groove Sauce is comprised of early favorites Reed Grimm, Creighton Fraker, Nick Boddington, Aaron Marcellus and Jen Hirsch and they kill it on “Hold On I’m Coming” with harmonies, memorable solos, capable backing vocals and even some clean choreography. I have a feeling all five are making it through and after accolades and

Chris Rene Streams 'New' Single "Young Homie," Digital Release Feb. 28

"Young Homie" is presented in its finished form and a new record is on the way...
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Chris Rene was the third-place finisher on the inaugural season of the USA version of Simon Cowell’s new pet project The X Factor and while he didn’t get the $5 million Sony contract or high-profile Pepsi commercial, he has fared quite well securing a deal with the Epic division of Sony records, under his former X Factor mentor, LA Reid. There has been speculation and rumors regarding Chris releasing a “new song of original material, written by Chris himself” on Valentine’s Day, February 14. For those paying attention you already know today is Valentine’s Day and alas…no new release; it

Jordis Unga Stands Out On 'The Voice 2' Blind Auditions: Eat Your Heart Out, INXS:

From 'Rockstar:INXS' to 'The Voice'... could 'AI' or 'X Factor' be next if Unga doesn't win here?
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Tonight’s edition of The Voice once-again pits super star judges Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton against each other as they compile teams of 12 of the best acts they’ve heard to take with them to the next round. The Blind Auditions begin with folk singer Sarah Golden, who is presented to us as a bit of a mystery. Viewers don't even get to see Sarah's face until the mentors start to turn around. She chose "You and I,"  and she gives it a country "twang" as Christina calls it. Cee-Lo and Blake both hit their buttons

More Barfing Than Singing On Night Two of 'American Idol' Hollywood Week

'Idol' a snoozefest on Night 2 of Hollywood Week...
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Tonight’s American Idol begins the most train wreck part of Hollywood Week: Group round! Where dreams are shattered, egos bruised, and stars are born. Tonight’s episode was high on drama and low on immunity and singing. Let’s recap, shall we? Symone Black ended the show last night with a bang, literally and leave it to good ol’ American Idol to turn that into a product placement dream for Coke….anyone have a Coke? Coke? Coke! She appears to be okay and is whisked to the hospital to be checked. While she’s away the judges decide she’s safe along with Jeremy
American Idol Season 11’s Hollywood Week kicks off tonight and over the course of three shows we will see the over 300 contestants whittled down to 70 for the semi-finals. Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, and the lovely JLo take some time to give the large group a pep talk and a brief rundown of what they expect in this first round of “Hell Week.” Let the games begin! Ft. Lauderdale’s Johnny Keyser chooses Amos Lee’s “Dreamin” for his first time in front of the judges since the initial audition, he bored the tears out of me and the judges

Jamar Rogers Shows Winner Potential On Night 2 Of 'The Voice 2'

Lindsey Pavao and Angie Johnson also make strong cases as the competition gets under way...
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We continue with Blind Auditions Night 2 (here's what happened on Night 1) on The Voice with our judges/mentors Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Christina Aguilera (who is now Xtina from here on out) looking to pick up additional talent for each of their respective teams. After the four judges give us a jarring performance of a Prince’s greatest hits, we get not-a-couple Haley/Leland – (The Line) who perform as a duo and Blake Shelton is the only one to hit his “I Want You” button until the very end and the other three joined in. Blake yells, “Noooo!”

The Soul Of John Black's 'Good Thang' Is My New Favorite Thang

A fun ride from start to finish...
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I’m a little late to The Soul Of John Black appreciation party, but let me tell you, since discovering TSOJB’s latest studio release Good Thang, I am not only a convert but a fanatical, practicing member of this faction. John Bigham is perhaps best known for work with Fishbone or as Miles Davis’ sideman but his resume also includes work on Everlast, Nikka Costa, and Eminem projects. Adding his alter-ego The Soul Of John Black to the mix shows he’s the consummate musician and artist with lyrics and silky vocals to match his sharp guitar and keyboard abilities. Good Thang is

Jesse Campbell, Tony Lucca, RaeLynn Emerge As 'The Voice 2' Premieres

Javier Colon won last season; did we see Season 2 winner on the post-Super Bowl premiere?
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The second season of The Voice premiered tonight directly after the most boring Super Bowl I’ve ever seen, with Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine returning as mentors/judges and the ever-irritating Carson Daly as host. For those not familiar with The Voice, it’s definitely as if American Idol and The X Factor had a baby and threw in a bit of a twist. The “twist” being that the judges don’t see who they’re picking, just going on instincts based on what they hear. They call this the Blind Audition. They each sit in highback chairs with

Melanie Amaro Shows Little "Respect" For Aretha Franklin Classic

Amateurish, cartoonish rendition of an eternal classic from Melanie Amaro...
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Melanie Amaro has done many things in her mere 19 years on earth: she’s survived a neglectful childhood which sent her to the Caribbean to be raised by her grandmother, persevered over bullies who mocked her Virgin Islands accent when she moved back to the States. Life spun even faster this past year with her appearance on the first season of the U.S. edition of Simon Cowell's X Factor competition. She got sent home during the Judge’s House round on The X Factor and after Cowell went back to fetch her, she eventually won the entire competition over Chris Rene and Josh
American Idol auditions keep on truckin’ , this tme out to the Gateway To The West, St. Louis, Missouri which gave us Season Four’s mega-superstar winner, Carrie Underwood. Johnny Keiser is up first and hails from Pompano Beach, FL, goes to school in Orlando, and sings “A Change Is Gonna Come” and I’d say with that audition, he changed his life. He even riffed with Steven a little and JLo kept cutting him off to talk then said “keep singing!” He has the sun kissed, all-American look and the voice to more than back it up. I predict Top

American Idol Portland: Jermaine Jones, Britnee Kellogg, Naomi Gillies Win Night; Jessica Phillips Wins Hearts

Strong performances in City Of Roses as 'Idol' preps for Hollywood Week...
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Tonight the American Idol crew headed to the City of Roses- Portland, Oregon; this is the first time Idol has ventured up to this particular, beautiful Pacific Northwest city which is very close to the birthplace of HippyGirlHeather. Before I continue speaking in third person, let’s carry on and see what PDX had in store for us, shall we? We all know JLo loves Luther and so does Jermaine Jones, who performs a splendid rendition of “Superstar” in Luther’s style. It was a bit of a mess in spots but the potential in his lower, softer notes is really

American Idol Goes Deep In The Heart Of Texas: Skylar Laine, Baylie Brown, Kristine Osario Delight

A bad night in Aspen is quickly forgotten as some real talents stand out in Houston...
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American Idol auditions move to Houston, Texas and if everything’s bigger in Texas, I hope it’s the talent and not the amount of crap like we had in Aspen last night. Skylar Laine is a firecracker who sang a spot on rendition of “Hell On Heels” by the mega-talented Pistol Annies and it took less than five seconds for all the judges to give her a Texas-sized yes. We will see her in Hollywood; I predict her to be a Top 12 Girl contender. Baylie Brown is another re-do that is auditioning for a second time (seems to be a trend

'American Idol' Gag Reel: Magic Cyclops Headlines Forgettable, Regrettable Night In Aspen

Haley Smith, Shelby Meredith, and Jairon Jackson stand out on a bad night of auditions...
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American Idol auditions keep on rollin’ and tonight they rolled into the land of pretty people wearing UGGs year round; Aspen, Colorado. Lest you think it’s just all puppies in purses and furry boots, we also were “treated” to ugly yellow jumpers, a Magic Cyclops, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. After three talent-laden episodes, it was only a matter of time before we got to the gag reel of auditions. We were told 31 Golden Tickets were given out however only nine of those were featured on camera and of those nine, only three made any sense to me whatsoever,

James Durbin Takes Second Bite At Bad Apple "Love Me Bad," Offers Free Download

"Love Me Bad" gets unplugged: can stripping the song save it?
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James Durbin just can’t leave well enough alone and has released an acoustic version of his first single “Love Me Bad” off his post-Idol debut album, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster. My first go ‘round reviewing this song, I was really rough on it, but not unjustly so. It’s a bit of a mess, his voice sounds like anyone doing Adult Contemporary Rock for any band, which is a shame for someone who possess as much raw vocal talent as Durbin does. If I thought the vocals were disappointing, the lyrics were actually far and away the worst part of

James Durbin Releases 2 Videos For "Stand Up," Including Sports-Theme For Super Bowl

Durbin's contribution to NFL compilation gets two videos, and neither of them are going to beat the spread...
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Just when you thought it was safe, James Durbin is back with another generic video for one of his over-produced, generic songs off his debut album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster,“Stand Up.” The single was originally released as part of an NFL compilation and while it’s a pretty hideous radio-rock song, it fits more in that environment than on the debut effort of a young man imploring us to “Give Metal A Chance” during his Idol run where he finished in fourth place. I’ve exhaustively covered my thoughts on James from his entire Idol journey, even writing a hate

The Cure 'Bestival Live 2011': A Tale of 2 Sisters

A nearly perfect live album from a classic band brings sisters together...
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Bestival Live 2011 by The Cure was released in early December, 2011 and while I have been listening religiously since the moment I got it, even starting and scrapping multiple reviews, it took my sister’s visit last week to kick me into gear and get it done. The clincher was when driving around town with her listening to the discs, sharing lip gloss and laughing continuously (just like when we were 15 and 19), she asked if I’d finished my review; when I answered I had not she suggested we review it together. Genius, I tell you! So here you

American Idol San Diego Auditions: Beautiful City, Weak Contestants

You will all pay dearly if one of these contestants wins Season 11...
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Sunny and beautiful San Diego, California is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the nation and the American Idol judges are hoping it’s also offering up talent that’s even half as inspiring as they take in both aboard the USS Midway.  Right out of the gate we get the “average looking girl with a hot body wearing way too little clothing” while singing in a key not invented, or accepted by human ears. She was creepily ogled by all and sent on her tacky little way, sans Golden Ticket.  Single mom Ashley Robles is next and she

Eban Frankewitz, Hallie Day, Heejun Han Standout on 'American Idol' Season 11 Auditions, Pittsburgh

Another audition and a few more candidates for the crown emerge...
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Night two of American Idol auditions took us to Pittsburgh, PA for the first time in the show’s history which is really hard to believe; after such a long wait the city did not disappoint as 38 golden tickets to Hollywood were handed out. I find that number a little staggering because in the entire hour long episode, only two really stood out to me (for the right reasons, at least. I’ll get to the “planker” here in a minute). We had a charming little sweetheart named Eben Franckewitz who apparently gets Justin Bieber comparisons a lot for his floppy

Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon, Shannon McGrane Dazzles On 'American Idol' Season 11 Debut

The opening night gives us some contestants likely to be with us all season long...
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Welcome to the 11th season of American Idol. We have one episode already in the books and if the talent pool from Savannah, Georgia is any indicator, this will be a season chock full of talent and big, trainwreck-ish personalities. I’m a huge fan of both but we all know I can’t resist a good awkward silence and the sweet sound of contestants imploding under all the Idol pressure. Steven Tyler, JLo, and Randy Jackson all return as judges with the ever-annoying and never-aging Ryan Seacrest back on hosting duties. First up is 17 year-old David Leathers from North Carolina who

Melanie Amaro Wins 'X Factor' Votes, Less Impressive Next Day WIth Reporters

Will The Real Melanie Amaro Please Stand Up?
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Melanie Amaro is The X Factor’s first winner stateside and I was honored to be given the opportunity to once again sit in on a conference call with her on Friday, less than 24 hours after her big win. Right off the blocks Melanie shows what I believe to be her true personality: smug, ungracious, and robotic. The first question to Melanie was asking who she felt was her biggest competition and not surprisingly, she says she considered Chris Rene to be her biggest threat because (and I quote), “everyone thought he was talented and an original artist... well

Melanie Amaro Wins 'X Factor' Season 1; Blandness Triumphs

Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene come in second, third...
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Tonight the first winner of The X Factor (USA) was crowned and America has spoken and chosen Simon Cowell’s act Melanie Amaro as its champion. If you think I’m gracious or even partly excited for her, you’re mistaken. It smacks of deceit and a fixed ending when the contestant Simon originally sent home and went back in a very dramatic fashion to fetch from her home in South Florida wins the entire competition. Since I already let the cat out of the bag and you know the winner, let’s traipse through the entire two-hour finale and see how we

X Factor Finale: Chris Rene Steals The Show, The Season On Star-Studded Finale

The voting is ongoing, winner announced tomorrow night...
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Here we are, kids! This is the moment we’ve been waiting for: the final performance night for season one of The X Factor (USA), Simon Cowell’s baby he brilliantly brought over to America. The winner will receive a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music and an “iconic” Pepsi commercial. Down from 100,000 auditions- we’re looking at the final three: Josh Krajcik (Over 30s), Chris Rene (Boys), Melanie Amaro (Girls). First up is Nicole Scherzinger’s act, Josh Krajcik doing “Uninvited” with Alanis Morissette which starts off low, slow, and really rocky. The best part is when Alanis comes out

X Factor Season 1: And The Winner is...?

Predicting 'The X Factor' Season 1 winner...
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Tonight we will watch the Top Three X Factor contestants perform for our votes for the final time before America votes on who will be the first US winner of the $5 million Sony deal and “iconic” Pepsi commercial. The lucky souls are Chris Rene (LA Reid’s “Boys” team), Josh Krajcik (Nicole Scherzinger’s “Over 30s” team), and Melanie Amaro (Simon Cowell’s “Girls” Team) which is a nice, diverse group and that makes me happy.  Now we get to the portion where I tell you who will win, who won’t win and why either of those are possible. Let’s start

Marcus Canty's Luck Finally Runs Out; Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik Advance To 'X Factor' Season 1 Finals

The final three have one more chance to impress you and win your vote before the winner is announced...
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We’re one week away from finding out which contestant will be crowned the champion of The X Factor USA’s inaugural season garnering a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music and an “iconic” Pepsi commercial. The final four kicked off the show with a “No Diggity” and “Shout” mashup and it looked like a Chris Rene show with his three friends as backup singers. He started it off and commanded the attention and spotlight the entire time. Josh looked so uncomfortable and was even reading lyrics off his hand! Now we go through last night’s performances and we’re reminded that

Sebastian Bach "TunnelVision" Video Forgettable Fun

Just go with it...
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Sebastian Bach has a new video for “TunnelVision” off his recent release, Kicking And Screaming and an international tour slated for early 2012- how this man stays so busy will forever escape me. I have reviewed the previous video, “Kicking And Screaming” as well as his entire recent album by the same name and I have had mixed feelings on each new piece that transpires along the way; As a long-time Sebastian Bach fan I’m genuinely happy he has put his name on a piece of work that doesn’t make me cringe in embarrassment, right out of the box. Then

X Factor Final 4: Melanie Kills It, Josh Surprises, Chris Rene Owns The Night; End Of The Road For Marcus

Marcus has been on the verge of elimination for weeks... is it finally his time to go?
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After reminding us of last week’s Rachel Crow nightmare (hear what Rachel had to say about it the day after), The X Factor gets quickly down to business with contestants doing their Pepsi Challenge songs picked by the fans. The voting for the three contestants who'll make it to the Finals is completely up to America -- no survival song, deadlocks, or judges -- votes have never been more vital. Marcus Canty does “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men and it was a great song for him. It was like Bobby Brown doing Boyz II Men

Rachel Crow: Nicole Scherzinger Cried For 90 Minutes Following Elimination

Dynamic little Rachel Crow reflects on her 'X Factor' experience after being eliminated...
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Last night’s X Factor sent home an early favorite and for the second straight week it was one of Simon Cowell’s girl contestants, Rachel Crow. Rachel had a very strong night with her live performances, her save me song after being in the Bottom Two was wrought with emotion and as a result, very powerful and moving. It was not enough to save her from the deadlock that put her fate in the hands of America who somehow gave Marcus more votes. I have a theory on that, which I’ll get to in a bit. I got to sit in

Did LA Reid Sabotage 'X Factor' Semifinals?

Rachel Crow is sent home...
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Lenny Kravitz opens tonight’s The X Factor with a song off his upcoming album Black and White America, quickly followed by “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” Nice way to kick things off, we got less talking by Worthless Host Steve Jones, and more music. When asked about the highlights of last night’s show, all the judges picked Chris Rene’s original song with Paula Abdul insisting they all had highlights. With only five contestants still battling for the $5 million dollar prize, the show moves along pretty quickly; Nicole Scherzinger’s final act Josh Krajcik is first announced to be safe

Chris Rene And Rachel Crow Shine As 'The X Factor' Top 5 Dance To The Music

The Top 5 sing a pair of songs and one will go home tonight. Who will it be?
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This week’s X Factor is down to the final five contestants vying for a place in the semi-finals and one of them is two weeks away from being crowned the winner of a $5 million dollar contract with Sony Records. Tonight they are tackling two songs a piece and the first round is supposed to be “the best dance songs” we’ve ever heard. Simon Cowell’s new show pony, Melanie Amaro, does the abominable remix ofAdele’s “Someone Like You.” Her tempo barely picked up while the music sped on and the dancers ran crazy. I hated it. I love that song and

James Durbin's "Love Me Bad" Video As Cliche As The Single

"Love Me Bad," album bad, video bad... at least he's consistent
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James Durbin recently unleashed his first post-American Idol album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster and today we get to see the full video from his single “Love Me Bad.” I was not too kind to James, the single or the album as a whole in my previous reviews of them but the video is a different animal and can sometimes expand the appeal of a song. Not this time. We start much the same way many edgy, pseudo-metal videos are starting these days…angry singer, in a hot muscle car he can’t afford, driving to the desert. James is replete with all the

Astro, Drew Ryniewicz Chart Course For Recording Future As 'X Factor' Run Comes To End

Neither thought they should have been sent home nor do they see it as a setback as they look to continue their music pursuits...
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Last night's double elimination X Factor episode narrowed the field down to our Top 5 who are still in the running for $5 million and a record deal. Astro and Drew Ryniewicz didn't make the cut but both discussed plans to pursue careers in music even though their run has come to an end. As anyone who reads my X Factor reviews know, I was definitely newly on TeamAstro and was ecstatic to see one-note, whiny Drew leave us at last. Astro is first up on the two-part confernce call and for the first time since I’ve been doing these, I actually felt a little

Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, Rachel Crow, Josh Krajcik Join 'X Factor' Top 5; Drew Ryniewicz And Marcus Canty Sing For Final Slot

Effervescent hip hop kid Astro goes home; who went with him?
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Two more contestants went home tonight, leaving us with our X Factor Top 5 who are vying the $5 million prize and Sony Music recording contract. Last night I predicted we’d see the end of Drew, Astro or Marcus, let’s see how it all plays out, shall we? We open the show with seven performers and they follow last night's Michael Jackson theme with what may be the best group number I’ve seen on one of these “singing” competitions, with a fairly cohesive rendition of Michael Jackson’s ”Man In The Mirror.” They each had a great solo moment and the performance

'X Factor' Pays Tribute To Michael Jackson; Astro, Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro Deliver Highlights

The X Factor Top 7 Can't Dethrone Michael Jackson As The King Of Pop
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Tonight’s installment of The X Factor has the remaining seven contestants not only performing the songs of the legendary Michael Jackson; they’ll also be in front of three of his sisters, mother and children. No pressure! Nicole Scherzinger’s final act in Over-30s, Josh Krajcik kicks off the show with “Dirty Diana” and promises some guitar playing. He starts off with it over his shoulders but I’m not sure when he’ll be playing it. He sounds great, he obviously has a great raspy voice that’s big and perfect for rock tunes but it’s just not the style we’re used to

'X Factor' Parting Shots: LeRoy Bell A Class Act, Lakoda Rayne Needs Some Schooling

Eliminated contestants discuss future after 'X Factor'
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I got the chance to sit in on another X Factor conference call this week, this time with most recent castoffs Lakoda Rayne and LeRoy Bell. The exit of Lakoda Rayne marks the third and final of Paula Abdul’s groups and LeRoy is Nicole Scherzinger’s second act to be eliminated. I’ve been a part of these weekly calls ever since the first elimination but, quite honestly, with the exception of the LA Reid conference call, there hasn’t been a lot of substance or interesting information to pass on to you guys. Here’s a quick rundown: InTENsity says “like” and “oh
Now that the turkey coma has sufficiently subsided and moving is a little more comfortable, it’s time to catch up with those wacky American Idol kids. It may be X Factor season, but our AI friends James Durbin, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina were all busy this Thanksgiving Day. For some, Thanksgiving means eating more quantities of turkey than is absolutely necessary, ever, and football. For others, it's parades and American Idol. I multitasked, just for you. Here are the highlights of my sacrifices from this past weekend! Thank God Nickelback didn't come up through the American Idol ranks or

The X Factor Lucky 7: Lakoda Rayne, LeRoy Bell Eliminated; Kelly Clarkson and Bruno Mars Perform

Home for the holidays for Lakonda Rayne and LeRoy Bell
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Last night The X Factor contestants gave thanks and dedicated their performances to loved ones; tonight two will get to go home and spend Thanksgiving with them. Kelly Clarkson kicks off the show with her latest single, “Stronger” off her latest album of the same name. As much as I didn’t love this single, I do like listening to her live, her voice is pretty impressive. After the obligatory group number, Worthless Host Steve Jones asks Drew and Lakoda Rayne to join him and reveals one of them is going straight home tonight for receiving the lowest overall votes. Paula

Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene, and Rachel Crow Shine Brightest As X Factor Top 9 Give Thanks

Giving thanks was last night's theme but two contestants will be a little less grateful when they go home tonight...
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This week’s theme on The X Factor is "giving thanks," allowing the remaining nine contestants dedicate their performances to the special people in their lives. This has a lot of potential to be syrupy and predictable butactually finally gave us a few standout performances while proving contestants should always choose their own material. As a whole everyone was far more connected and engaging than in previous weeks. Simon Cowell finally got Rachel Crow off her pedestal and she was swingin’ it on the stage in a cute leggings/half dress combo. Rachel dedicated “I Believe” by Yolanda Adams to her adoptive

Watch Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams Duet On "Baby It's Cold Outside"

It's a 'Very Idol Christmas,' Love Haley & Casey
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Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams are often linked together after appearing on last season’s American Idol. They had a couple amazing duets on the show (“Moanin’” and  “I Feel The Earth Move”) and rumors of a romance ran rampant over the internet, during which the makings of a true friendship blossomed between this quirky, bluesy, jazzy, twosome. While fellow contestants (winner and runner up, respectively) Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, have tried hard to forge separate, solo country careers, Haley and Casey seemed to have embraced the fact that while they’re remembered by many separately, they’re perhaps remembered more for

James Durbin's Post-'Idol' Debut More Disappointing 'Disaster' Than 'Beautiful'

A promising talent (largely) fails and is failed on his post-'Idol' debut
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James Durbin famously finished fourth on last season’s American Idol; garnering him instant comparisons to Chris Daughtry, and on his highly anticipated debut album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster the comparisons seem to go much deeper than just their finishes. MOABD hit stores and download venues today. All the excitement I’d had over this album was unceremoniously sucked from my lungs when I heard the first two singles -- "Love Me Bad" and "Stand Up" -- but I’m soldiering on and reviewing it for you good people, anyway. James had a slew of help on this album, which judging by
Tonight’s X Factor sees this eclectic group of contestants whittled down from ten to nine. In last night’s recap and review I predicted Lakoda Rayne and Stacy Francis would be in the bottom two with Stacy Francis going home. Let’s get started and see how it plays out, shall we? Worthless Host Steve Jones -- yes you must say the whole thing, yes every time -- asks Paula if she’s nervous for tonight because Lakoda Rayne is the only act left in her category, and when she says she’s not nervous but is grateful and feeling blessed, he says “well,

The X Factor Top 10 "Rock" Out... Sort Of... Almost

Rock was redefined on The X Factor last night, but not in the way you'd hope...
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It's Rock Night on 'The X Factor,' a theme so broad and vague I couldn't get a "What Should They Sing" prediction column written despite four separate attempts. As it turned out, I wasn't the only one who had trouble pitting artists with rock songs. Let's take a look at what the mentors came up with for their proteges. LeRoy Bell kicks off the show with Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” which is an excellent choice. We learn his tattoo sleeve is symbolic for his never intending to work a “regular” job again, and that LA Reid finds LeRoy

X Factor Elimination Night: Another of Paula Abdul's Groups Goes Home; Top 10 Set

Another of Paula's groups makes early exit
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Tonight’s X Factor begins with the eleven contestants performing a useless, lip synched number with Matrix-like green numbers scrolling behind them. Next we get the perfunctory rundown of everything we saw last night. Ah the monotony of Results Night! Willow “I whip my hair back and forth” Smith gives a squeakily annoying performance of her single, “Fireball.” She’s no Astro, that’s for sure. I can’t even watch this Rhianna-lite performance; it makes me embarrassed for the entire Smith family. Well, more than I already was. Jessie J is our next performer of the night and she is resplendent in a

Josh Krajcik, Rachel Crow, Astro Shine Bright As 'X Factor' Goes To The Movies

Still waiting for a "wow" moment, but there were some bright spots in last night's performances...
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The X Factor’s Top 11 perform songs from movies in hopes of making it to the Top 10. The entire first segment is basically a commercial for Adam Sandler’s ridiculous looking new movie Jack and Jill. Stacy Francis is up first and before she even starts they show a clip of LA Reid saying “I co-wrote it; it’s a bad song choice.” And from the very beginning I see he’s right. Stacy is way out-matched on Whitney Houston’s “Queen Of The Night” (Bodyguard) because she’s forcing it and trying too hard, resulting in less powerful, hard to listen to vocals.

'X Factor' Goes Hollywood - What Should Top 11 Sing On 'Movie' Theme Night?

'X Factor' decides to show its individuality by being just like 'American Idol' but we'll play along: what song from the movies should the Top 11 sing?
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Tonight on The X Factor, the show further distances itself from comparisons to American Idol by doing lame themes, just like American Idol! Tonight’s remaining 11 acts will tackle the songs of the movies. I’m assuming this is like the way Idol does it and it’s not just songs that made the soundtrack but also songs that were actually played in the movie, as well. So, since X Factor is copying Idol, I’ll copy myself and do what I did last season for Idol and pick songs I think the contestants should sing and/or stay away from. Melanie Amaro –

InTENsity Leaves 'X Factor' With 11

The X Factor eliminates another contestant...
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It's Elmination Night on The X Factor, the first results show the season where we say goodbye to one of the Top 12 acts. This is uncharted territory so I’ll admit I’m curious to see how it plays out; I don’t know if it will be a similar process to the way Idol does it or something wacky and different altogether. They immediately waste about 20 minutes on a lame group number, reviewing nearly everything we covered last night, and senseless interviews with contestants regarding what they would do on their Pepsi Commercial if they were to win. Who cares? Like

'X Factor' Top 12: Astro And Amaro Shine, Rene Falters Slightly On Night Of Strong Performances

The voting has begun... how will they decide who gets voted off? Who do you want to see go?
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The X Factor’s final 12 contestants are singing for our votes and most importantly to see who gets the $5 million recording contract with Sony and an “Iconic Pepsi Commercial.” Things must be going well for Fox and the show because we found out today that The X Factor has been picked up for a second season…good job, Simon! Thursday we get the results and one act will be going home. I’m wondering how they’re going to do it. Do we end up with one from each group at the end? Does the lowest vote-getter go home no matter

'X Factor' Voting Begins Tonight: Phone, Text, Tweet, Or "Like"

'The X Factor' using social media for fan votes...
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Starting tonight, The X Factor continues to distance itself from comparisons to Simon Cowell’s old job, American Idol. For the first time in television fans can vote for their favorite contestant(s) via Twitter. For the non-Twitter loving folk (are their even such people alive?!), voting can also be completed on Facebook, via text for Verizon customers, toll-free phone calls, or their official website: TheXFactorUSA.com. After signing up for your Twitter account you must be sure to follow: @TheXFactorUSA and the votes will be tallied through Direct Messaging, not tweets, Direct Messaging is a private way to communicate on Twitter. Votes will

'X Factor' Goes Live Minus Five: 5 Contestants Eliminated In First Live Show Of Season

Were there any surprises in tonight's departures?
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Tonight was the first live night of The X Factor and 17 acts will quickly be whittled down to 12, as chosen soley by the judges. I made predictions prior to the show airing; let’s see how many, if any, I get right. Each full category will perform, then their mentor will send one of them home right there on the spot after the entire category finishes. Astro comes up first and holy hell, he’s doing “Jump” by Kriss Kross! That’s wiggedy wiggedy wiggedy whack! This kid is annoying as crap but he’s got stage presence. The audience went

LA Reid Offers Shocking Revelation For X Factor's First Live Show

The X Factor should shake things up big on their first live broadcast...
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I was lucky enough to sit in on a conference call with The X Factor’s mentor and judge, LA Reid, which was both interesting and eye-opening. Reid gave us some inside information, new perspective and a lot of promises of an exciting and different music competition “reality show.” I was waiting for the best time to write it up for you all when I received word today that in what seems to be a sudden and certainly shocking decision; FIVE contestants are going home tonight taking us immediately down from 17 to 12.  Wow! No official word on how this

Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' Not Strong Enough

'Stronger' is schizophrenic and static at the same time, adding up to a mediocre effort...
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Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger is less strong and more “Fair To Middlin’” as she takes us on a 13-track rollercoaster ride that feels bumpy at best, disconnected and amateurish at its worst. I got my hands on the deluxe version which has four more songs, including the mega-hit duet with Jason Aldean, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” and sadly it’s one of the strongest songs on her album, if not the strongest song. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; we have a lot of tunes to cover. Stronger begins with “Mr. Know It All” and “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” which

Scotty McCreery Unveils "The Trouble With Girls" Video, Announces Tour Dates With Brad Paisley

He'll also be performing on the CMAs on Nov. 9
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The Scotty McCreery train just keeps on rolling with no sign of slowing down. His debut album Clear As Day broke records when it debuted atop the Billboard 200 charts earlier this month, he sang the National Anthem at a World Series game, his singles and videos are being received well, he’s touring with Brad Paisley and The Band Perry in early 2012 (see dates below) and he’ll be performing at the CMA’s on November 9th. Today he officially debuts the video on CMT for “The Trouble With Girls” shot by director Roman White, who is responsible for videos for Taylor
You may remember Casey James from American Idol’s ninth season as the guy who finished third behind Crystal Bowersox and winner, Lee DeWyze. Or as the doofus who took his shirt off in his initial audition because cougar-on-a-mission judge Kara DioGuardi told him to, or maybe as the surprise of “Lennon/McCartney” night who rendered many speechless with his perfect rendition of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” The point here is that you remember him; and if you don’t it’s time to get re-acquainted with the guy CMT is calling the “Next Big Thing” and recently debuted the video for his first

Scotty McCreery "The Trouble With Girls" video sneak peek.

Official video goes online Monday; here's a behind-the-scenes look...
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Scotty McCreery’s new video for his current single “The Trouble With Girls” off his chart-topping debut album Clear As Day is premiering at special times all weekend on CMT (aired today on CMT at 8:45AM ET and will be shown again tomorrow (Sunday) at 8AM ET). We have a behind the scenes clip for you, while we await the video’s official release on Monday October 24. Roman White is the director for “The Trouble With Girls” video and Scotty mentions having a blast doing this video with him and how exciting it is that White also directed videos for Taylor

Scotty McCreery Sings National Anthem At World Series, Makes Chart History

Is anyone in music hotter than Scotty McCreery right now?
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Scotty McCreery has the Midas touch and is making history as his debut album, Clear as Day, enters the Billboard 200 chart at No. 1 with 197,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This makes him the first country artist to debut at number one for their first studio album, as well as the youngest man to top Billboard their first time out. Further adding to the accolades; Scotty is the first Idol winner since Ruben Studdard in 2003 to start their career with a No. 1 album, and scored a No. 1 spot on iTunes and Billboard’s Country charts. Clear
Is it just me or is putting the word "disaster" in the title of your album just begging for trouble? James Durbin is on the verge of learning that lesson the hard way as he releases a second single from his upcoming album as well as unveiling the complete tracklisting and artwork for the record. He might have thought finishing fourth on American Idol was the worst thing to have happened to him. I think his debut album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster will take that title. On Idol, James was heralded as the first person to sing a

X Factor Final "16" Includes Chris Rene, Drew Ryniewicz, Rachel Crow, So Who Got The Ax?

The X Factor judges choose their final 16... or do they?
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Tonight’s X Factor is the third and final installment at the judge’s houses, and we finally find out which 16 of the 32 acts will move on to the live shows. In case you’ve been asleep for Nights One and Two, Paula Abdul will mentor the Groups, Nicole Scherzinger has Over 30s, LA Reid has Boys and Simon Cowell is mentoring the Girls. Right off the bat we see Simon chose Simone Battle over Tora Woloshin and my jaw has literally dropped because he has chosen looks and “potential” over a dynamite voice and solid stage presence. Simon blamed it

Five Finger Death Punch's 'American Capitalist' Not For Feint Of Heart

Not groundbreaking in style or substance, but enjoyable moments to be found on latest from 5FDP...
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Five Finger Death Punch has released their third studio album and one thing is clear right of the bat: American Capitalist is not for the feint of heart. The rapid-fire delivery feels like what I imagine sticking my face under a moving lawnmower would feel like. The title track starts things off and with about five swear words out of the first ten, letting you know exactly what you’re in for. Not one to be off put by swearing in the least, I sit back with an open mind and enjoy the ride to see where this takes me. There are heavy,

The X Factor "Judges House, Night 2"|Rachel Crow, Chris Rene, Josh Krajcik Standout

Some of these acts need to go, and they will on Tuesday.
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Tonight’s X Factor takes us back to the Judge’s houses where the remaining members of the Top 32 sing their faces off for a shot at the Top 16 who will go on to the live shows and be one step closer to realizing their dream. Each judge has a partner to help them make their decision about cuts. LA Reid brought on Rhianna to help him pick his final four for the Boy category, Paula has Pharrell helping her on Groups, Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Iglesias are critiquing the Over 30s and Simon is solo with the Girls

Jason Aldean and Zac Brown Lead 2nd American Country Awards; Scotty McCreery, Pistol Annies, Brad Paisley Also Receive Nods

Fans can have their say in the ACAs; Voting Runs Through Dec. 2
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Country fans will once again have the chance to help hand out the hardware to their favorites when the 2nd Annual American Country Awards are handed out at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Dec. 5. The awards are decided strictly on the basis of the fans' vote and this year Jason Aldean and Zac Brown lead the way with eight nominations. It’s clear this these awards aim for a younger country audience with nominees that extend beyond the traditional, expected superstars and basing the awards solely on the vote of the fans. It's The People's Choice Awards,

The X Factor Contestants Meet Their Mentors

...and some surprise assistants.
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We finally got our X Factor fix! Neither rain nor the Detroit Tigers could keep us away this time! Tonight’s episodes features the 32 remaining acts being officially in their category (Boys, Girls, Over 30s, Group) and flying to all parts of the U.S. and even France to stay at their mentor’s mansions before being cut down one final time to 16 acts, before the live shows. While the judges know who they are mentoring, the contestants don’t yet know and mysteriously arrive at these mansions to eagerly await who will be walking through the door to greet them
Lauren Alaina’s debut album could have easily been called Coming Out From The Shadows Of Scotty McCreery as Lauren is making her own mark on the country world with her debut of Wildflower and setting herself up as a wholly separate and legitimate country artist. Wildflower is currently sitting pretty at No. 3 on itunes albums chart while Scotty has slipped a little, down to No. 9. Lauren’s making the rounds promoting Wildflower and her upcoming second single “Georgia Peaches” (“Like My Mother Does” was released before her album was complete). Lauren stopped by Good Morning America and chatted with

LA Guns Lineup Change: Jizzy Pearl Out, 'Rock Star: Supernova' Dilana Robichaux In

Yet another lineup change for LA Guns...
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Tracii Guns announced Jizzy Pearl would be leaving LA Guns after two years fronting the band a mere two days before releasing an abysmal live album -- Acoustic Gypsy Live -- featuring Pearl. But wait! You don’t have time to let the shock reverberate through your body or mourn a Jizzy-less LA Guns (the Tracii Guns version, mind you), because Tracii has already announced his new lead singer... You may remember the highly obnoxious Dilana Robichaux from the bad idea reality “rock” singing competition Rock Star:Supernova which was preceded by Rock Star:INXS. Dilana was an early favorite of mine but her entitled

The B-52s With The Wild Crowd! - Live In Athens, GA

A grooving, killer soundtrack to the 2012 DVD release...
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For the first time in their three decades together, the B-52s have released a live album, and With The Wild Crowd! – Live In Athens, GA is a party I’m sorry I wasn’t invited to. To commemorate their 34th anniversary, the B-52s performed a Valentine’s Day show for their most rabid fans who came resplendent in glitter, boas, and sunglasses. Hold on to that image for a moment, won’t you? And don’t worry; you won’t need your imagination for much longer as a DVD version of the show will be available in 2012. The B-52s formed in Athens, Georgia in

Lauren Alaina Blossoms On Debut 'Wildflower'

Still a work in progress, there's a lot to like on Alaina's debut
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Lauren Alaina may have come in second to fellow country singer Scotty McCreery on American Idol’s season 10 but her debut release Wildflower might just put her at the top of the heap. I was never a huge fan of Lauren during her Idol run; she was too immature and not ready for the grueling schedule winning the American Idol title would entail. I also grew tired of her cutesy personality, along with her inconsistent performances. I never disputed her singing ability; she has a huge voice but needed to learn what to do with it and how to control it.
As Scotty McCreery’s star ascends, so does his debut album Clear As Day; released this week it’s sitting pretty at the No. 1 spot on iTunes, Amazon, and projected to make it a perfect trifecta with a No. 1 on the Billboard  200 album chart as well. This would make young Scotty the first American Idol winner since Ruben Studdard to have their debut album come in at the top spot during its first week (Ruben’s debut album, Soulful, entered the top 200 at No. 1 in 2003). I reviewed Clear As Day earlier this week and even though I

X Factor Top 32|Chris Rene, Tora Woloshin, Skyelor Anderson, Drew Ryniewicz, Rachel Crow, Leroy Bell Survive

From 100 acts down to 32, The X Factor competition is heating up!
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Tonight’s X Factor promises more drama and cuts than last night as Boot Camp continues and 100 acts are reduced to 64, then finally to the 32 who will be split into four categories -- Boys, Girls, Over 30s, Groups -- and subsequently moved into the house of one of the four judges who will be mentoring the respective category. Before we get down to what we’re all really here for, we have a couple more ensembles to get through. The first group has my favorite, Chris Rene and his sister Gina Rene, early favorite Marcus Canty, country hopeful

Kelly Clarkson Releases 'Stronger' New Single "What Doesn't Kill You"

Second single from Clarkson's Oct. 24 album a vast improvement over its predecessor...
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Kelly Clarkson is a hot commodity among American Idol and pop music fans alike- so hot, in fact, she and her label decided to release "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" early because of the proliferation of online leaks of inferior versions of the track. Her new album, Stronger, is due October 24 and "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger") seems to be the de facto title track from the album. Clarkson feels strongly about it, having proclaimed it’s a bit of an anthem, meant to empower listeners.   There is a strong "love yourself and screw the world feeling to it," much

The X Factor Begins Boot Camp

An exhausting 90 minutes of mixed bag performances...
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Things are getting exciting on this week’s The X Factor now that the grueling audition process is over! Tonight we start Boot Camp, which consists of first axing contestants down to 100 from 162 and then placing those 100 into ensembles that receive help from vocal coaches, choreographers, and stylists. Part of the process of cutting the fat is dancing then singing solo again for the judges. Brian Bradley (“Stop Lookin’ At My Moms”) refuses to participate in the dancing portion because “MCs don’t dance, you don’t see Jay-Z dancing.” I’d bet if he was a snot-nosed, 14-year old

Scotty McCreery - Clear As Day: American Idol Winner Exceeds Expectations on Debut

Even a few missteps can't derail a fine debut from a rising country star...
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Most recent American Idol champion, Scotty McCreery is turning 18-years old in about a week and what better way to kick off the symbolic passing into adulthood than to release your debut album? Clear As Day is the first of what is sure to be many solo albums for young Scotty and for a jumping off point, Clear As Day is a solid introduction into the country music world. We’ve gotten glimpses of what the album was going to be like in the form of leaked demos, and two singles – “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble

The X Factor Final Auditions|Cari Fletcher, Jazzlyn Little, Tora Woloshin Prepare For 'Boot Camp'

Auditions are over and the competition is ready to begin...
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Tonight’s episode of The X Factor opens in Newark, NJ which LA Reid says encompasses New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut – he’s sure we’ll find a star. Simon’s just excited because he’s a Jersey Shore fan and loves the people, their sense of humor and personalities, he’s sure it’s going to be a blast. Brian Bradley is 14 and tells Simon he hasn’t had a record deal yet because of politics, which makes Simon smile. He’s a charming and well-spoken kid. Suddenly Brian goes into an ill-advised rant of “Yo, Simon what you lookin’ at?” to segue into his

X Factor Audition Night 3| Joshua Krajcik, Skyelor Anderson, Drew Ryniewicz Introduce Themselves

The talent improves over last week's season premiere...
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It's the second and final week of The X Factor auditions Cheryl Cole gets more face time, we get a little more talent than we did last week (especially compared to Night 2), and we realize that host Steve Smith is utterly worthless. Pretty, but worthless. While this episode had considerably more talent than Night 1 or Night 2 from last week, there were the inevitable clunkers and shriekers and annoying contestants that I’m not even going to feature today. I’m focusing on the positive and interesting. Don’t worry" this stance won’t last. The first hour of the audition

James Durbin 'Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster' Due Nov. 21, New Song "Stand Up" On NFL CD

American Idol 4th place finisher records song Nickelback (probably) wouldn't...
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James Durbin famously (and unforgivably) finished fourth on Season 10 of American Idol and while we've gotten plenty of news from winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina, Durbin fans have been waiting with baited breath for any kind of information. Where will he sign: major or indie label? When will we hear something from him? When will we get some kind of leak about his debut album? Well kids, I’m about to give you answers to all three of those questions. Who loves ya, baby? Let's begin with James' new label home. The day the American Idol Summer Tour

L.A. Guns - Acoustic Gypsy Live: When Good Ideas (And Bands) Go Wrong

This could have worked but it didn't
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Glam rockers and Sunset Strip veterans LA Guns have a new record out of all acoustic material called, cleverly enough, Acoustic Gypsy and recorded fittingly at Hotel Café in Hollywood, California. After nearly 30 years and a history as sordid as its door is revolving, the Tracii Guns version (we’ll get more into this later) has recorded its first and hopefully last acoustic record. To have a successful acoustic or unplugged album -- I’m judging success by overall and finished product, not album sales -- you need a few components. Paramount to all of these is a pleasant singing voice.

Sebastian Bach Delivers Best Solo Album To Date With 'Kicking And Screaming'

It's not perfect but Bach is the best he's been since going solo...
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Happy 'Sebastian Bach Has A New Solo Album Day,' kids! That’s right! Kicking And Screaming is finally available to the masses (if you live outside North America you undoubtedly picked yours up a few days ago. If not- do it now!). Anyone who has ever had a conversation with me knows Skid Row/Sebastian Bach is in my top 10 of favorite bands/artists, ever. While the songs and many of the artists on the list rotate in and out on any given day, the fact that Sebastian Bach is firmly in the top 10 never wavers. The title track kicks off

The X Factor Loses Mojo in Miami and Dallas; Nick Voss and Dexter Haygood Evening's Standouts

A dropoff from the premiere but I'm not abandoning ship yet...
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Night two of X Factor auditions take us to Miami this time, which should prove to be full of equal parts talent and flava. Ashley Sansone says she already looks like a pop star, so much so all her friends assume she is one, which means her audition will be horrible. She even called herself a poptart. She’s a frenetic weird chatterbox and the judges were begging her to stop talking and just sing.  She took off her ugly boot heels and started strutting around the stage and wailing, and the actual singing (“Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart”)

The X Factor Premiere

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Tonight’s premiere of The X Factor on FOX reunites Simon Cowell with Paula Abdul and starts things off with 20,000 hopefuls in Los Angeles. Right out of the gate this looks and feels different—bigger—than American Idol to whom Cowell certainly has a lot to prove. As he has said, he walked away from the biggest show in America to see this venture through. We’re introduced to X Factor’s host; Steve Jones, and judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, LA Reid, and Cheryl Cole (but, don’t get used to her pretty face, just yet). Auditions are not only in front of the

The X Factor Premieres And We Are Hooked!

The X Factor opens with a bang...
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Tonight’s premiere of The X Factor on FOX reunites Simon Cowell with Paula Abdul and starts things off with 20,000 hopefuls in Los Angeles. Right out of the gate this looks and feels different—bigger—than American Idol to whom Cowell certainly has a lot to prove. As he has said, he walked away from the biggest show in America to see this venture through. We’re introduced to X Factor’s host; Steve Jones, and judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, LA Reid, and Cheryl Cole (but, don’t get used to her pretty face, just yet). Auditions are not only in front of the

Stream Daughtry's Generic, Subpar "Drown In You" From 'Batman - Arkham City' Soundtrack

New video game soundtrack has at least one song that can easily be described as filler...
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Chris Daughtry -- the original “shocking elimination” on American Idol -- has contributed a song to the new Batman video game and you can stream it here. Daughtry is one of 11 artists contributing songs (full tracklisting below) to the accompanying soundtrack  Batman: Arkham City—The Album. The album is available for download October 4, while Batman: Arkham City (the game) is available two weeks later on October 18. Daughtry's contribution to the soundtrack is "Drown In You," which starts well enough with generic, soft rock riffs and raspy vocals which I guess is Daughtry’s “thing.” I listened through three

Lauren Alaina Reveals Tracklisting For 'Wildflower'; Due Oct. 11

Just like fellow Idol finalist Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina's record features some of Nashville's hottest songwriters...
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Lauren Alaina’s debut album Wildflower is set to be released October 11, she recently revealed the cover art, and today she released the track listing to further pique our interest. Lauren has assembled (or had assembled for her, rather) some of the heaviest hitters in Nashville, snagged one co-writing credit, and had a song penned for her by her own idol, (and former American Idol winner) Carrie Underwood. As the runner up to Scotty McCreery on American  Idol’s tenth season, Lauren has been used to doing everything second to Scotty and going head to head with him with coronation singles

Simon Cowell Unveils 'The X Factor' Preview; Show Premieres Sept. 21

I was already in but this eight-minute teaser has completely hooked me on 'The X Factor'
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What goes better with Sunday Football on FOX than Simon Cowell and The X Factor? Lots of things probably but last night FOX used the rapt football audience to their advantage and showed us an eight-minute sneak preview of the newest incarnation of The X Factor, set to debut September 21. I’ll give you a brief synopsis to catch you up if you're not familiar with this destined-to-be-behemoth of reality TV singing competitions. The X Factor is like a hybrid of American Idol and The Voice: it has no age limits, is a singing competition, and has celebrity judges in

Scotty McCreery 'Clear As Day' Tracklisting Announced, Album Due Oct. 4

The wait for American Idol Season 10 winner's debut is almost over!
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Scotty McCreery's solo debut Clear As Day now has a release date and complete tracklisting, featuring 12 songs written by some of the hottest songwriters in Nashville's country music scene. It's hard to believe it's only been four months since young Scotty won the Season 10 American Idol crown but he has been busy in that brief time touring, recording, and giving his large fan base just enough to keep their appetites whetted. We've heard two of the album's 12 songs so far: “I Love You This Big”was his so-called coronation single after winning on AI and he followed

It's All Connected At Turntable FM: Sharing My Favorites & Discovering New Ones (Playlist)

TurntableFM Connects Gary Clark Jr, Mark Lanegan, Karen Lovely, Anders Osborne, and more
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So we (meaning Josh) have covered Turntable.fm a bit in the last few days, and I thought I’d add my two cents but, in a different way. Anyone who reads the stuff I write knows, I’m a bit all over the place, musically. I like it all…it’s more on the sound and feeling I get over the genre or artist. Although I’m fiercely loyal to and protective of the bands I love. I’ve fiddled around on Turntable a bit; been in ‘80s, ‘90s, Indie, folk, new wave, hair metal rooms and even created my own room (to be unveiled at

Kelly Clarkson Plays It Safe On New Single "Mr. Know It All"

This may be a huge hit but Clarkson is playing it safe...
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To the passive bystander, things have been quiet on the Kelly Clarkson front. The Kelly faithful know she’s been writing, recording, getting songs leaked, and even went country for a duet with Jason Aldean. Clarkson’s fifth studio album Stronger is slated for an October 25 release and today on her website she officially released the first single “Mr. Know It All.” Ten years after her American Idol win, Kelly seems to still be struggling to find her figurative voice. Some call this evolving, maturity, experimenting, while others call it floundering. “Mr. Know It All” starts off beat-driven, instantly recognizable as

Review: Scotty McCreery - "The Trouble With Girls"

It's not a home run but it could still be a smash...
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The pressure is on for Scotty McCreery with his new single "The Trouble With Girls," the second from his October 4 album Clear As Day. "The Trouble With Girls" premiered on WQDR-FM in Raleigh, N.C., McCreery's hometown country radio station and will soon be heading to digital outlets like iTunes and Amazon. "The Trouble With Girls" comes at a critical time for McCreery. His American Idol single "I Love You This Big" did well at iTunes and the video hit #1 at CMT. He has huge momentum with his fan base, who continue to buy his American Idol EP

Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'I'm With You' A Polished, Mature Affair

'I’m With You' is their smoothest, most polished record to date...
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The more things change, the more they remain the same- this is the case with Red Hot Chili Peppers latest effort, I’m With You released in CD and digital format today. The album was produced by longtime Chili Peppers collaborator Rick Rubin and is the first album with departed guitarist John Frusciante’s replacement, Josh Klinghoffer. The Peppers took a bit of a hiatus for a multitude of reasons between the abysmal Stadium Arcadium and I’m With You and it appears the break brought the Peppers back down to earth- well, as much as these guys can be brought to earth.

Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso - "I Remember You" (Live) | Together Again

Hello 1990, nice to see you.
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Sebastian Bach’s latest solo project “Kicking And Screaming” comes out next month, and that fact has been fairly well covered by us at Blinded By Sound and the extreme excitement it’s causing for me has been very thinly veiled, or maybe not veiled at all. As I was scouring the interwebs for more Sebastian Bach goodness to satiate my appetite and addiction, I came across this picture and caption on his Facebook page (don’t judge me):    “Just had dinner with Rob Affuso the Original Drummer of Skid Row! Great times catching up with my long time buddy! Could there

Sebastian Bach|"Kicking And Screaming"|Single Review

Review of first single from former Skid Row frontman's latest solo effort...
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It’s getting closer, kids! Today marks the day Sebastian Bach’s single “Kicking And Screaming” is available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon.com, in anticipation of the September 27 release of his new solo album by the same name. I reviewed the “Kicking And Screaming” video but wanted to do the song separately once I'd listened more and it was officially available. Joining Bach this time around is mega-talented guitarist Nick Sterling and veteran drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Iced Earth, Halford, Riot) who has been with him since 2005 and also played on 2007’s Angel Down. “Kicking” starts off loud, hard,

Miranda Lambert's Pistol Annies Bring Harmony, Heartbreak, and Hellraising On Debut

A great debut record filled with heartbreak and hell-raising and some great harmonies (and don't you dare call it a side project)!
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Miranda Lambert has a new girl band called the Pistol Annies and don’t you dare call it a “side project.” Lambert says it is “the main project” and totally separate from her solo career. Miranda Lambert isn't approaching Pistol Annies' (original name idea “Calamity Janes” was taken by a stripper) as a side project and you can hear how seriously she's taking this collaboration with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley on Hell On Heels. Angaleena and Miranda share songwriting credits and vocals with Lambert and also have sole writing credits on a couple songs while Lambert’s husband country singer Blake Shelton

Lambert, Pistol Annies Debut Video "Hell On Heels," CD Due Aug. 23

Title track and debut single from Lambert's new female country trio...
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Miranda Lambert has a new girl group called the Pistol Annies which also includes singer/songwriters Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe. The Annies have officially released the single “Hell On Heels” (available now for digital download) from their album of the same name which is available August 23 on CD and at digital retailers. They’re currently streaming many of their songs through an online scavenger hunt, details are on their website. In case you’re wondering how this slipped under your radar, don’t worry – they’re a fairly new act and they only had their first public performance as a group at
Just yesterday I reviewed the single for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” (which has become the band’s record holding 12th number one single on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart) and today the video has premiered; so much Peppers goodness in such little time. I loved the single, it wasn’t the best thing I have ever heard butwas consistent with what we expect from the boys and it certainly made me happy. The video continues in the same vein as the song and has an ‘80s feel which has always been the vibe of the band, it
The Red Hot Chili Peppers single “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” off their upcoming tenth studio album I’m With You is here and there’s cowbell. The single was released July 18, and the album is available August 30. I don’t know about you but I’m very excited. I’m With You is the Peppers first album since Stadium Arcadium in 2006 and since once again losing guitarist John Frusciante in 2009. The Frusciante void has been capably filled by friend of the band and touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (The Bicycle Thief, Ataxia) who leaves his distinctive mark on “The Adventures

Review: David Cook - This Loud Morning

David Cook's 'Morning' may be loud, but that doesn't make it interesting...
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David Cook’s second post-Idol album This Loud Morning was released at the end of June and there has just been so much musical goodness out there, I haven’t had time to put my thoughts to paper until now. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Let me preface this review by saying that while I have bashed David Cook in the past, both privately and publicly, I am approaching this with the most open mind imaginable. As most of you know, I review Idol for the site and I probably mentioned not being a Cook supporter, I was pretty

'American Idol' Finalists Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina Reveal Album Dates

McCreery's 'Clear As Day' drops Oct. 4, Alaina's 'Wildflower' drops Oct. 11
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The wait is almost over, kids! Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina have announced release dates for their debut, full-length albums and they are a week apart. Have I mentioned these two seem to do everything in tandem? Scotty’s album is titled Clear As Day and will be out October 4, just shy of his 18th birthday. Lauren’s debut effort Wildflower will be out the following week, October 11. Scotty is working with mega-Producer Mark Bright, who has produced music for Carrie Underwood, Reba, and Rascal Flatts, just to name a few. Bright also produced Scotty’s post-Idol coronation single “I Love

Warrant Frontman Jani Lane, Dead at 47

"The memories are gray but man they're really coming back"
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Jani Lane – former lead singer of the glam/hair metal band Warrant, is dead at 47 according to reports from TMZ. Wow, just wow. Apparently he was found in a Southern California Comfort Inn, cause not immediately known although I’m sure we’re all speculating the same thing or close to it. I'll leave the nasty gossip and speculation to others. Jani’s run-ins with the law, struggles with substance abuse, and a myriad of failures and disappointments along with a high profile-marriage have been documented well and often. I don’t want to rehash all that. I want to remember. To quote

Pia Toscano Unveils Video For "This Time"

The debut single from former AI contestant now has a video...
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Pia Toscano is the third Season 10 American Idol contestant to release a video for their debut single; in Pia's case for her song "This Time" (winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina released vids ahead of her). They say good things come in three’s; they also say third time’s a charm and three strikes you’re out. In the case of American Idol alumni Pia Toscano’s video for her debut single “This Time” it’s more like three’s a crowd. I was never bashful of my feelings for Pia during her run on last season’s American Idol (she finished in ninth place),

Lauren Alaina Releases Video For "Like My Mother Does"

Season 10 runner-up outduels her competition when it comes to first videos...
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I was Team Scotty throughout Season 10 of American Idol and had mixed feelings about runner-up Lauren Alaina but I might be changing horses in the Battle Of The Debut Videos. My mixed feelings about Alaina continued with her debut single, "Like My Mother Does" but my feelings aren't mixed at all when it comes to the video: I love it. Lauren Alaina’s video for “Like My Mother Does” was released the day before Scotty McCreery’s debut on CMT and she enjoyed being #1 for a while before “I Love You This Big” premiered and snatched the spot right

Scotty McCreery Debuts Video For "I Love You This Big"

Season 10 winner issues new video in advance of new album...
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At long last! American Idol Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery has released a video for his post-Idol single “I Love You This Big” on CMT and no surprise to anyone it’s currently the #1 video of the day. Lauren Alaina released hers a day prior and like the itunes charts, they’re #1 and #2. These two do everything in tandem; finals together, singles released at same time, videos out a day apart with the same result – Scotty for the win. Scotty’s been busy making his new album (release date not yet confirmed), touring as part of the American Idol Summer

Sebastian Bach Debuts Video For "Kicking And Screaming"

He's Bach, Mother Truckers!
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Screw Christmas In July, kids, it came for me in August as I casually came across this video for Sebastian Bach’s new single “Kicking And Screaming” from his upcoming album of the same name. It’s reportedly the first of three videos shot for this single. This might seem random or out of left field for many of you since 'Bas fell off America’s collective radar around 1991, after Slave To The Grind was released and he was fired from Skid Row in 1996. He’s been anything but off the radar however; touring, making music, touring, doing various reality and competition

Review: Incubus - If Not Now, When?

A solid, if predictable effort from Incubus...
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If Not Now, When? Is the seventh studio album by So Cal alt-rock darlings Incubus. The band has been on a bit of a hiatus. the longest in their history due to marriages, starting families, lead singer Brandon Boyd’s solo project, and the unanimous agreement that they all could use a bit of a break from each other.  Having been a fan of theirs since nearly the beginning (I was like a moth to the flame when I first heard “Stellar” from 1999’s Make Yourself and immediately went backwards and got S.C.I.E.N.C.E. from a pawn shop). I was pretty

Review: 311 - Universal Pulse

You've heard this record before...
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311 seem to be a band you either love or loathe, with not a lot of middle ground. I have always been in the “love” category... that is until I got my hands on their latest effort Universal Pulse. I was excited for this album (whose cover art looks like something Journey rejected in the '70s) and was actually taken aback by how underwhelmed I was by it in its entirety. A bonus is that it’s only eight tracks long and the songs are usually brief, in the three minute range, so it zips along and ends quite quickly.

Review: Adele - 21

See what the fuss is all about
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At first glance, Adele’s 19 and 21 are a lot the same: heartache, anger, and love gone wrong with being alone the predictable ending in both scenarios. However, 19 introduced us to a young, vulnerable and broken Adele who was grasping at someone -- anyone -- to love her, for love’s sake. 21 shows us a  more mature Adele who hasn’t just lost any love, she’s lost the love- the one where falling in love with them is as quick, unexpected, and painful as falling out of love with them will inevitably be. Where 19 ended on a melancholy, introspective

Review: Adele - 19

A look back at a debut that launched a star...
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She doesn’t have the best voice we've ever heard but Adele has that “thing."She's such a powerful song interpreter she makes you feel her joy, pain, and anger even if you don't completely understand the lyrics. You still know what she means and she makes you feel it, too. I discovered Adele and 19 about a year after everyone else did. I didn’t take her seriously because the radio people (what I call people who let the radio dictate who their favorite artists are) took to her so quickly and earnestly. That meant, to me, she was too glossy, a

Beastie Boys f. Santigold "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" Video

The Beastie Boys and Spike Jonze have teamed up for another video classic collaboration...
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The opportunity arose for me to watch and review the video for “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” by Beastie Boys and Santigold which seemed perfect since I just reviewed Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and this was the sleeper hit that ended up being my favorite track on the album. OK, now fast forward to me sitting in my back yard actually watching this video for the first time and I wishing I’d been filming a reaction video for YouTube; I’m sure the look on my face was priceless. As with many (all?) Beastie Boys videos, the

Review: Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Make some noise if you're with me!
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The Beastie Boys have long been the godfathers of inappropriate, frat-boy lyrics peppered (sometimes blackened) with political messages. It took them until near middle-age to get the recipe perfect, and by perfect I’m talking 5 stars in the Zagat guide-perfect. The Beastie’s eighth studio album is here and it’s delicious. They’re still mischievous and politically aware but this time they’re not too heavy on either side, and the result is a smooth, satisfying 44 minutes that leaves you happy and licking your chops at the end. Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 (don’t worry, you didn’t miss part one), is the first album in

Review: Pia Toscano - "This Time"

American Idol Season 10 Contestant kicks off her solo career with a debut single cheaper than Ambien and perhaps just as effective...
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Pia Toscano’s long-awaited debut single “This Time” is finally here and if this is any indication of the material on her upcoming album (due later this year through Interscope Records), I'll pass, thank you. Ester Dean has written hits for Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, co-wrote “I Love You This Big” for the winner of last season’s American Idol- Scotty McCreery and penned “This Time” for Pia. It's radio friendly, very vanilla and forgettable. It never seems to take off and her voice doesn’t even sound as big and broad as it did on Idol. I listen to it on repeat about

The Summer of '93: Beck, Boguss, NIN, Cure, Metallica... and Color Me Badd?

High school was over and life was about to begin anew. This was my soundtrack...
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Well hello, everyone! Remember me? I took a bit of a writing hiatus after the Idol season because let’s face it, it takes some time to erase the versions of songs they assaulted us with on a weekly basis from the memory banks. Or maybe that’s just me. I immersed myself in good music, new and old and also kept my head down and focus sharp to get my son through those last couple weeks of school before our glorious summer started. Now don’t worry, I’m not thrusting anything Idol related on you (yet). I’m just sharing with you

Review: Lauren Alaina - "Like My Mother Does"

Season 10 runner up releases her first single and once again she's right on the heels of the winner...
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Lauren Alaina’s coronation single is "Like My Mother Does" and, like Scotty’s, hers was released directly after the results show and she shot right into the top five on iTunes’ singles chart. She didn’t surpass him at any point and likely won’t, at the time of writing this review she was still in the top ten. "Like My Mother Does" is a total "for the heartstrings" country song that is too contrived, forced, and hard to swallow. This the 3rd time it’s been released, most notably was on Kristy Lee Cook’s first post-Idol album (this song never charted for Cook). Lauren

Scotty McCreery - "I Love You This Big"

The debut single from Season 10's American Idol...
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Scotty McCreery’s "coronation" single "I Love You This Big" was released immediately following the announcement that he (not-so-surprisingly) was this season’s American Idol winner and went immediately to #1 on the iTunes singles' chart and stayed there until the writing of this review. My knee-jerk reaction to just hearing the title when Scotty performed it on the show for his final judges performance was that it reminded me of that game you play with babies; "How big is baby?...Baby is SO big!" Upon listening more, the inevitable humming and singing in my head followed and "This Big" morphed into "I

Judging American Idol: America Has Spoken, Scotty McCreery Wins!

I saw this coming from the auditions...
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OK, we’re at the end of the road here... we got our closure, seeing Pia Toscano, Paul McDonald, James Durbin and the three of you who still care got to see Casey Abrams on the Idol stage for the final time this season. There have been a lot of positive and cringe-worthy happenings over the course of this tenth season of American Idol. We lost Simon and then lost everyone except Randy and in the process gained a music legend and a diva at the judges' table. The three shined brightest in the auditioning process with JLo sat smack

Judging American Idol: This Is The End

The final performances have been given; it's all in your hands, America...
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Tonight’s show starts off with the introduction of the two remaining Idol contestants- Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. Ryan refers to the match up as the “boy next door” versus the “Southern belle” and informs us they both love country music, both are merely teenagers, and both want to win this season’s American Idol. Ryan addresses rumors that were swirling around right before the show began regarding Lauren's lack of a voice in rehearsals. One rumor was that Haley Reinhart was prepping to take Lauren's place in tonight’s finale, just in case. Ryan called out the show’s doctor who

Judging American Idol: Final Words

It all comes down to this...
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The night we as American Idol fans wait for is finally upon us! Tonight, Tuesday May 24th, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina will perform for your votes for the final time. One thing is absolutely certain-whoever wins will release a country album, which is okay with me because the last three winners (David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee DeWyze, respectively) have all been one-note and virtually interchangeable with minor differences. I’ll be happy to have them pollute the country waves and leave mainstream radio alone. I kid, I kid- I don’t even listen to “real” radio anymore. And while I’d

Judging American Idol: How We Got Here

Looking back on the Top 3 performances as we prep for the big finale...
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I know we know who’s in the finale on Tuesday vying for the title of this season’s American Idol but I wanted to go over the performaces anyway since I already had all these notes and just got behind this week. We are left with Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina which is no surprise to most people… the big surprise to many is Haley Reinhart.  She was at the bottom of the pack for much of the first half of the top 13 results shows, never appearing to be a front-runner or even a contender, and now here she is, Top

Judging America: So Long, So What?

Haley's finally gone but it's too late for me to care...
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Here we are- Top Three Results Show and I have to be honest, I’m a little nervous, not because I care a lot at this point but, because I know I’m covering this through the finale and a few different scenarios are more painful to imagine than others. Let’s carry on and see how intense my level of pain is going to be, shall we? Show starts off with the top four contestants (James! I’m so happy to see you, even if you’re wearing a trucker hat!) going to JJ Abrams’ studio Bad Robot and getting a sneak peak of

Judging America(n Idol): Dear America(n Idol Voters), I Hate You

You have ruined this season for me and now you must all pay the price...
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Dear America, Contrary to what I’ve told you and everyone believes, voting for American Idol is not an exercise of opinion when it comes to this nonsense… I don’t care how wholesome Scotty is, how adorable and ditzy Lauren is, and I definitely couldn’t give a flying... duck about Haley’s sass. James is unequivocally the most talented of the final four. His absence from here on out with be felt more than any other Idol contestant voted off this season. I don’t care about excuses and weak attempts at making me feel better. I don’t care that Daughtry was voted

Judging American Idol: Consider This A Downpayment On A Future Ass-Chewing

If you think I'm over James Durbin being eliminated, you're not done thinking...
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Hi kids, remember me? I’ll spare you the details of my absence and leave it with you’re just happy to see me, right? Good, thought so. Now that that’s settled we need to discuss a few things that we missed in our time apart. Jacob Lusk has been eliminated- are we sad, happy, indifferent, or asking ourselves “Jacob Who?” Yeah, me too. Okay, we’ve given that all the attention it deserves. Moving on to the performances of last Wednesday May 11th where the remaining four Idol contestants regaled us with songs of the Lieber and Stoller song writing duo

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: James Durbin

From American Tail to American Idol?
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Saving the best for last, we will now look at James Durbin. Anyone reading this probably knows I’ve been Team James since the moment I saw his audition. Sad story: check, down on his luck: check, amazing vocal ability with a flair for glam rock: check, looks exactly like Fievel from An AmericanTail: check, check. I’m secretly hoping he does the “There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese” song, and I’m only half kidding. James has actually grown over the course of this competition, I know many think he’s just the heavy metal screamer, but

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: Scotty McCreery

Can anyone stop Scotty from winning?
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Scotty McCreery is every little girl’s dream boyfriend, and every cougar’s dream pool boy. He is so super marketable and likable and has that amazing baritone with the country twang. I was just watching Scotty’s audition and I miss that Scotty! He was humble, charming, and authentic without even once seeming like he wanted to sell me a used car. I want that old Scotty back- the deep voiced, humble and not smarmy Scotty. I think he has gotten caught up in Scotty fever and believed his own hype. Why he won’t win: I’m afraid Scotty might fall prey to

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: Lauren Alaina

4, 3, 2... who will be #1?
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I did the same thing with Lauren Alaina that I did with Haley; I went back and listened to her audition and watched all of her Hollywood Week performances. Her audition was so annoying to me at the time, I didn’t like the sad story angle (sick cousin Holly, who hasn’t been mentioned since…have we even seen her in the audience?) and I judged her as a chubbier, Carrie Underwood-knockoff. I was wrong. She’s much more of a Kelly Clarkson knockoff but with blonde hair. She is, however, coming into her own and we have to remember this little girl

Judging American Idol - Final 4 Edition: Haley Reinhart

4, 3, 2... Who will be #1?
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Now that we have our top four American Idol hopefuls, I’ve decided it will be fun to do a little then and now of my own. I will be looking back at auditions and early performances of Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and James Durbin and playing a little devil’s advocate explaining why I think they will, won’t, or can win and whether or not I think they will be the next American Idol. We begin with Haley Reinhart. Oh Haley, Haley, Haley… how you’ve won me over! Not completely, kids, don’t get excited because I don’t want her to

Judging American Idol: Back To The Future

An underwhelming theme leads to underwhelming performances...
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On tonight’s American Idol our remaining five contestants perform songs from a very loose theme, “Past and Present,” which is supposed to be current and '60s songs. Jimmy Iovine has Sheryl Crow as the guest mentor; she reveals she wants to see more depth and desire in each contestant. Randy gave the “America wants to know, who’s in it to win it” speech and implored the contestants to show us what music they want to record, and what kind of artist they want to be. James Durbin starts us off with “Closer To The Edge” by 30 Seconds To

Judging American Idol: The Mighty Casey Has Struck Out

After Carole King night, American Idol is down to five contestants...
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Oh goodness, this Carole King medley at the show’s open is almost as offensive as Jacob’s camel toe in those mom jeans. It’s off key, hard to hear at some points, and just a big jumble of weirdness. We’re subjected to a bland Ford commercial- by far the worst yet and that’s saying something. Then we get a dose of Crystal “Mama Sox” Bowersox doing a song from her new album. It wasn’t worth me paying attention, it was snooze-worthy, also I was very distracted by her dreadlocks-with-a-mullet hair. Banter with the contestants answering questions from fans. Yawn. Ryan

Judging American Idol: It's Good To Be (Carole) King

The Carole King songbook gets Idol-ized...
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To start off Wednesday night’s show, Ryan Seacrest comes out like Flava Flav or some other crack-addled hype man, making long, slow strides across the stage yelling “Let’s hear it!” over and over. It was a little disconcerting but let’s focus on the reason we’re here. Tonight the remaining six not-yet-worthy American Idol contestants will attempt to do the songs of Carole King justice. 118 of her songs charted on the Billboard 100, she has garnered 4 Grammy awards, and was still a teenager when a little song she co-wrote called “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” was recorded by
American Idol's theme for Wednesday's performance night is "Songs of Carole King." I'm assuming contestants aren't limited to just her amazing hits but can also choose those she wrote for others. This is a big night- all the contestants are really in need of "a moment" this season. A couple of them had them early on and they all need to remind us why we loved them to begin with. I keep hearing moans of this theme being so narrow and limited; these people clearly need to Google "Carole King" and see what she has not only created for herself

Judging American Idol: Long Time Coming

Tonight's elimination has been in the works for awhile now...
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It doesn’t always feel good to get what you want, that’s a life lesson from my Mom that rang a little true at the conclusion of tonight’s American Idol results show. Lauren, Haley, Jacob and Stefano kick off the evening with a less-dreadful-than-most mini group performance of “Hey Soul Sister." It was predictably awkward, off-key, with train wreck potential and I pretty much loved it. After the commercial break, Ryan tries to pull at the ole heartstrings by billing their newest Ford commercial as “one of their last performances together as a group…aw.” Then we are forced to watch

Judging American Idol: 21st Century Breakdown

The lucky seven remaining sing songs from the 21st century...
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To paraphrase Salt-n-Pepa: here we go, here we go, here we go again! Tonight’s show starts with the six previous castoffs doing Pink’s “So What?” It’s cheesy, weird, and makes me highly uncomfortable. Naima does a David Lee Roth high kick, then grinds on Ashthon. Everyone’s off key and to make matters worse, Paul comes out looking like he just didn’t leave after he was eliminated last week; he appeared disheveled, a little shellshocked, and I think in the same suit. I couldn’t even hear him half the time with the off-key wailers trying to prove their point with lyrics

Judging American Idol: In The Year 2000

21st century songs are on tap for the remaining seven AI contestants...
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A little behind on getting this out...my apologies, I was funning and sunning in Cali, so I know you forgive me. This week's theme is "Songs From The 21st Century." Wow, way to narrow it down, Idol. Anyway, that is the theme so what should our remaining seven contestants sing this week? Here are my picks: Haley Reinhart: "Chasing Pavements" by Adele would be "in her wheelhose" as JLo likes to say however, Little Miss Obvious will probably pick "Don't Know Why" by Norah Jones. I'd be okay with "Mercy" by Duffy and "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera as long

Judging American Idol: The Walrus Was... Gone?

Elimination night on 'American Idol.'
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Tonight’s results show starts with a performance by our favorite country twosome, Scotty and Lauren, singing Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey” and while they’re no Tim and Faith, they were cute. Sure, a little flat and boring, but cute. We then get to see a cheesy Ford commercial where the contestants are dressed up as zombies, followed by a performance by Casey and Haley that had me begging for someone to stab my eardrum and eyeball simultaneously to end that nonsense. Ryan then calls down Scotty and Lauren to join Casey and Haley center stage to learn who is first

Judging American Idol: Hooray For Hollywood

American Idol's Top 8 sing the songs of Hollywood
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Lights! Cameras! Don’t fall on your face! Tonight’s eight remaining Idol contestants are singing songs from the movies and I’m excited to see what they chose- so many great options. I’m also excited to see how many, if any, songs I picked correctly in “What Should They Sing?” Paul McDonald starts us off with “Old Time Rock N’ Roll” by Bob Segar from Risky Business. In rehearsals Jimmy Iovine suggested he do something interesting like maybe beatbox in the middle. I can’t think of a worse idea and Paul broke out a tambourine instead. He also broke out the black,

Judging American Idol: What Should They Sing? Songs from Movies

American Idol becomes a soundtrack...
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OK people, you've had a few days to get over the shock of Pia's exit (and might I add...if all the people who are crying foul over her elimination had actually voted; I guarantee she would still be here). This week's theme is: Songs from movies. This gives us a bit more leeway because it doesn't have to specifically be on the soundtrack, if I read correctly. Here we go: Haley Reinhart- "It Must Have Been Love" Roxette (Pretty Woman), "How Do I Live" Trish Yearwood (Con Air). Lauren Alaina- Dolly Parton Jr needs to sing "9 to 5"

Judging American Idol: A Curveball Is Thrown

A surprising elimination takes the field down to 8...
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The results are in and to quote the great Gomer Pyle, "surprise, surprise, surprise!" The show starts the usual way with little interviews from the contestants, a cheesy group performance (did Scotty really just mess up the lyrics to "The Letter"?), and Ryan Seacrest warning us it could be a very shocking night... hmm. We get to see some of their session with a "charisma coach" who turns out to be Russell Brand, who gives tips and answers questions about being comfortable on stage. Jacob asks him how to go about being sexy on stage (holy hell, WHAT??) and Russell

Judging American Idol: They May Not Be Hall Of Famers, But They Were Pretty Good

The Hall of Fame songbook presents the remaining nine contestants with an opportunity to shine...
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Songs from “Rock and Rock Hall of Fame” night went pretty smoothly and I don't know about you but I wasn't surprised or blown away by anyone however I was moderately entertained throughout. Here's how the night went: James Durbin sings "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison which I actually saw on YouTube a few weeks back from a performance he did a couple years ago. James is a weird kid, with the hands-down, most versatile voice in this competition. I've said it before and I'll say it again; I would pay to go to a James Durbin concert right now.

Judging American Idol: What Should They Sing? RnR HoF Edition

Instead of one Hall of Famer like last week, contestants this week can choose a song by any of them...
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As you all probably know by now, I'm a sucker for a theme and I'm even a bigger sucker for an American Idol theme. They can break the mighty, swallow the meek, and elevate the dark horse. This week, Idol contestants are singing songs by inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (which is located next to a smelly body of water in Cleveland, Ohio but you should still go). The way this works is; I choose what song or songs I think each contestant should sing and you all agree, disagree and comment and it's a big ole, fun

Judging American Idol: Countdown From 11 (Again)

Two contestants were eliminated after Elton John night...
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Tonight two contestants will say goodbye, ending their run at being this season’s champion. If I was a betting girl, I’d guess there will be zero surprises tonight. There I go being wrong again- Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina open the show with a fantastic surprise of a duet, doing Randy Travis’ “I Told You So.” These two are simply adorable and insanely talented for being barely 16 and 17 years old, respectively. No sooner did the song end than Ryan Seacrest calls them down to center stage and after reviewing their critiques from the night before, we learn they are

Judging American Idol: Elton John Night

My stupid DVR put me behind but here's a recap and review of the Elton John performances...
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Another week of American Idol and another week of watching the Top 11 contestants vying for your votes. This week’s theme is Elton John songs and since my DVR took a crap last night and I’m a bit behind, let’s do this. We’re reminded over and over (and over) that there’s a lot on the line, two go home and how completely shocking the Casey Abrams elimination (which ended in him getting the season’s only “save” from the judges) was for all of America. Except for those of us who felt it was at least slightly staged, of course. James

Judging American Idol: What Should They Sing? - Elton John Edition

2 contestants will be eliminated this week, but first they'll sing an Elton John song. Which one should they pick?
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Well here it is, the third installment in “What Should They Sing?” This will be a shorter entry because our theme is Elton John’s catalogue, and while Elton and Bernie Taupin wrote a gajillion songs, there aren’t that many the audience, let alone this young group of contestants, will actually know. Here’s what they should sing, and it is worth mentioning I have gotten at least one song right the previous 2 times we played this game. Well, maybe only I care about that statistic. In no particular order: Casey Abrams - “I’m Still Standing” would be a nice message

Judging American Idol: 11 Is The New 10!

Judges use their save and one contestant got a reprieve... for now.
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Here it is, the night we finally find out who the Top 10 American Idol contestants are, which means we find out who will be going on participating in the American Idol tour. The show begins with shots of Marc Anthony (JLo’s husband) meeting with and coaching the contestants on how to deal with in the in-ear monitors. We see the group number, which was better than normal maybe because Stevie Wonder joined them on stage. When Wonder starts playing, Steven Tyler is so happy he hugs JLo. Then Stevie says, “Steven… are you ready for a Celebration?” and starts

Judging American Idol: Motown Night

American Idol Season 10 contestants try their hand at the classic Motown songbook...
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Tonight on American Idol contestant sing songs from The Book of Motown. We are reminded that these votes are important because it decides the Top 10 and those are the contestants who go on tour this summer. The show starts with some history and pictures of Motown and Hitsville U.S.A. and I got a little nostalgic for Detroit. I loved living there, it’s nothing but a shame how far it’s fallen from its glory days. As we know, Motown and its artists shaped music from the get-go. Over 400 songs on the Billboard 100 and over 50 number ones- that’s

American Idol: What Should They Sing? Motown Edition

First we suggest, then we judge...
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Welcome back for another installment of “What Should They Sing?” I heard earlier that Wednesday’s American Idol theme is Motown. So, like we did last week, I’d love your feedback and opinions on what everyone should sing. This isn’t as much in my wheelhouse as last week’s theme but it was fun to research and pick songs anyway! I had just as many memories associated with these wonderful songs and I love that it will introduce people young and old alike to the original source of covers they have been enjoying for years. In no particular order, here are

Judging American Idol: Turn This Thing Up To 11

American Idol Season 10 says goodbye to another contestant...
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The show opens with a "Born To Be Wild/Born This Way" mashup. I hated it, as I do all group performances on American Idol- they’re lip-synched and beyond cheesy. We also see the Ford commercial the contestants filmed and see some interviews of them discussing hidden talents, pets, and other exciting things. Getting down to business, Ryan calls down Casey, Lauren, and Jacob and goes over the judge’s critiques which were mostly positive for all three and tells Jacob to head to the couch, he’s safe. Ryan reminds us that Lauren was sick last night and that Randy said she

Judging American Idol: Robbing The Cradle

American Idol's contestants sing songs from the year they were born...
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Last night our American Idol Top 12 sang songs from the year they were born. This is always a fun night because we see clips and photos from their childhoods and hear little stories from their parents. It’s pretty cute and usually makes you like your favorite a little more and maybe even like your not-so-favorite a bit more to hear that you liked the same songs as babies or they wore the same footy jammies as you.  Ryan comes out to open the show and reminds us Ashthon went home last week and the judges chose to not save

American Idol: What Should They Sing?

Helping the contestants choose their songs for this week's round of competition...
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I know what you’re all thinking, “It’s Sunday, what on earth is HippyGirlHeather doing today?” Well kiddies, I’ll tell you- I’m thinking about Amercian Idol and compiling little lists. I do this for you! I got excited about this week’s "theme," even though AI did away with themes (allegedly), but The Beatles, “songs from your idols,” and “songs from the year you were born” all feel like themes to me. Anyway, I got excited because their birthday’s take me from elementary school to college-age. Those years have such a wide range of awesome music and vivid memory association for me

Results night

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Here it is Idol fans! The night we wait for all week! Oh, that’s just me? Very well then. I’m not going to give a play-by-play of all the silly extras they use to fill an hour long results show. Adam Lambert performed, as did Diddy-DirtyMoney (Stupidest name for a group, ever? Yes, it is). If you care about either, YouTube is your friend because neither is really worth much of our time, trust me. Ryan Seacrest tells us they had 30 million voters, last night and I guess that’s impressive. Ryan also reminds us that someone will go home

Judging American Idol: Top 13 - Live

The Top 13 sing live for the first time in Season 10 of 'American Idol.'
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Last night’s American Idol contestants were choosing songs from their idols, some choices were obvious, some were surprising in a good way, and some were severely misguided. We also got to see a bit of their rehearsal footage, Jimmy Iovine’s opinions, and see them working with producers.  I’ll review them in order then at the end, I’ll give my picks for who is safe, who isn’t,  and who I think will go home. It should be noted this is the contestant’s first time performing live in front of America, last week and all auditions prior were pre-recorded. Lauren Alaina

Judging American Idol: And Then There Were 12

Another contestant got the axe. Who was it?
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Here it is Idol fans, the night we wait for all week! Oh, that’s just me? Very well then. I’m not going to give a play-by-play of all the silly extras they use to fill an hour-long results show. Adam Lambert performed, as did Diddy-DirtyMoney (Stupidest name for a group, ever? Yes, it is). If you care about either, YouTube is your friend because neither is really worth much of our time, trust me. Ryan Seacrest tells us they had 30 million voters last night and I guess that’s impressive. Ryan also reminds us that someone will go home tonight

Judging American Idol: America, Meet Your Top 13

From 24 down to 13, we're getting closer to crowning the 10th American Idol...
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Results night! We're down from 24 to 10 contestant that were voted in by the viewers. We're told by Ryan Seacrest after the first 10 are announced, the judges will select six from the 14 not selected who will then "sing for their life" and one of 3 "wild card" slots. At the end of the evening, we will have a Top 13. Couch for the 10 contestants voted in by calls, texts, and online voting. Ryan tells us there were 40 million votes over the last two nights. There’s no real reason to give a play-by-play of the eliminations, as

Judging American Idol: Luck Was No Lady Tonight

The first sing-off between the Top 12 female contestants was full of misfires...
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It’s ladies night and the feeling’s... all wrong. To start tonight’s episode of American Idol, Ryan asked JLo what set these particular 12 girls apart, why were they picked from all the rest. Her answer was so generic; I should have known then what we were in for. She said they’re amazing, special, all winners already, and she’s excited to see what they deliver. That was so non-committal and half-hearted, I know the guys have a much stronger lineup but come on, fake it a little! Randy was a bit more to the point when he told America to really

Top 12 guys perform

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And away we go! Tonight’s episode of American Idol showcased the Top 12 guys who will vie for your votes. There were actually a few surprises; some were good surprises, and some were out of key, yawn-inducing surprises. Tomorrow the Top 12 girls sing and Thursday is the results show where we will be down to only FIVE guys and FIVE girls. Rumor has it; the judges each get a Wild Card pick, making it a Top 13 on Thursday. Here is my review of tonight’s performances from best to worst, in my little opinion with some judge comments as

Judging American Idol: Separating The Men From The Boys

The first night of competition between the 12 male finalists on American Idol Season 10...
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And away we go! Tonight’s episode of American Idol showcased the Top 12 guys who will vie for your votes. There were actually a few surprises; some were good surprises, and some were out of key, yawn-inducing surprises. Tomorrow the Top 12 girls sing and Thursday is the results show where we will be down to only FIVE guys and FIVE girls. Rumor has it the judges each get a Wild Card pick, making it a Top 13 on Thursday. Here is my review of tonight’s performances from best to worst with some judge comments as well as my own.

Judging American Idol: The FInal Judgment

We have our Season 10 Top 24...
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Last night’s episode of American Idol started with Ryan Seacrest asking America- ”Is Jennifer strong enough to go on?” after saying goodbye to Chris Medina, she broke down and questioned how she told him he wasn’t making Top 24. Then Ryan answers his own question by reminding us that JLo knows “the show must go on.” On that note, let’s review who got their yes on Wednesday and I’ll give you the rundown on the contestants who comprise the rest of the Top 24 for Season 10 of AI. We learned on Wednesday that Naima Adedapo , Clint Jun

Judging American Idol: From Liverpool To Las Vegas

American Idol Season 10 continues with a tribute to and assault on The Fab 4...
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And away we go! Contestants traveled to Las Vegas for last night’s show to select, learn, and sing a song from the Beatles’ catalog as either a duo or trio. The mini-groups were picked without any drama or fanfare (now, what fun is that? We don’t watch American Idol for manners and normalcy!). Starting last night we began to learn who our Top 24 will be... they gave us a teaser of several who made it and a few worth mentioning who did not. But, slow down kids, let’s talk about the performances of duos and trios first, shall we?

Judging American Idol: Hollywood Week Ends

The field is nearly set...
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We’re almost there, kids! We’re oh so very close to our final 24 contestants, and what a long, hilarious, heartbreaking, moving, trainwreck of a journey it has been. We began Hollywood Week with 327 hopefuls; tonight we begin with 100 and by the end will be left with the 50 who get to go to Las Vegas and perform Beatles songs (which I’m guessing will be at the Mirage where the “LOVE” Cirque du Soleil tribute to the Beatles plays. This is the contestants' final chance to impress the judges, and they get their choice of singing a capella or

Judging American Idol: Hollywood Hell Week Turns To Group Performances

The pressure is on as contestants must assemble groups and wow the judges on short notice...
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Oh, Star Boobs, how far and quickly you have fallen. Last week Tiffany Rios (Star Boobs to those who witnessed her New Jersey audition) declared to the judges, contestants and all of the world that she’s “tired of all these people trying to do what I know I can.” She then belted out a crappy version of whatever song she decided to butcher. She was sent through, mostly I think because JLo was just entertained by her and felt she had spunk. That ill-advised comment couldn’t have come at a worse time and definitely haunted Tiffany as she was looking

Judging American Idol: The Journey Begins (And Ends) in Hollywood

Auditions are over for Season 10; the competition is just beginning...
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At long last! American Idol’s Hollywood Week AKA Hell Week is here. This is where contestants cash in their golden tickets for one chance at advancing in the competition. The show is handling this the same as in years past: contestants come out in lines of 10 and each one gets one shot to impress the judges. Ryan Seacrest called it Sudden Death, you’re in or out and get no feedback from judges. After all 10 hopefuls have gone and judges deliberate, they ask contestants to step forward or not, then dismiss the front or back row. I cannot

Judging American Idol - San Francisco Outshines LA

Season 10, Episode 7 auditions American Idol contestants in SF...
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San Francisco…City by the Bay! Well kids, we’ve made it; final audition night before we begin Hollywood Week. We learned a few things from this episode; Adam Lambert came from the San Francisco auditions (insert collective, “of course” here), there is a LOT of talent waiting to be discovered, and “just because somebody farts, let them finish singin’!” And with that, I bring you the highlights from the American Idol San Francisco auditions. This first contestant was more a lowlight but such an entertaining one, I could not leave her out. Her name is Inessa and she’s from the Ukraine

Judging American Idol - Train Wreck, Los Angeles

Season 10, Episode 6 auditions American Idol contestants in Los Angeles...
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I wish you could see the look on my face right now. I think it’s a cross between the look of someone who just saw their grandmother naked while smelling what I imagine Joan Rivers’ feet smell like. I think for all of us that witnessed, no- ENDURED tonight’s American Idol should either get a refund or at least an explanation. I don’t even know where to start! Do I highlight the three decent, barely average auditions or spend all our time on the insane and delusional, not to mention highly underwhelming potential contestants? A little of both you say?

Judging American Idol: Everything's Bigger in (Austin), TX

Season 10, Episode 5 auditions American Idol contestants in Austin, TX...
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As last night's show started I was excited wondering what I'd see, what our favorite dirty old man Steven Tyler would say, and what talent has been hiding down in Austin, TX. Instead, I got a fake apology from American Idol. They're so very sorry about Steven Tyler, his swearing and off-the-wall behavior, they hope no has has been offended and it will never, ever, cross-their-hearts happen again. Well, then what are we watching for?! Oh right, for the auditons! First up is Corey Levoy, who is 21 and brought his sister in to sing to. His song choice? Bonnie

Judging American Idol: What A Stripper Wears To Prom in Nashville

Season 10, Episode 4 auditions American Idol contestants in Nashville...
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Last night’s installment of American Idol auditions lands us in Music City: Nashville, TN at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. The night begins with a hopeful contestant showcasing the longest high note I think I’ve ever heard. Was it good? No. Was it necessary? Probably not. Was it entertaining? Yes! And that, my friends, is the magic of American Idol. Ryan Seacrest tells us that a staggering 17,000 people are waiting for their chance to make their dreams come true. They later tout Nashville as “the most talented city of auditions so far." First audition of the night is Christine McCaffrey.

Judging American Idol: Randy Jackson Punches A Contestant in Milwaukee

Season 10, Episode 3 auditions American Idol contestants in Milwaukee...
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Week Two of American Idol auditions brings us to Milwaukee, Wisconsin… home of obnoxious Packers fans, cows, and cheese curds- and apparently home of some pretty talented folks. Well, even if it’s not their home, it’s the place they traveled to for a chance to sing in front of Steven Tyler, JLo, and Randy Jackson. I had no idea what to expect tonight. I intentionally stay away from AI previews and anything relating to it during the week leading up to the new show because I don’t want to ruin it for myself. I also don’t want to be

Judging American Idol: New Orleans

Season 10, Episode 2 auditions American Idol contestants in New Orleans...
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It's Day Two of American Idol auditions, in one of the best cities in the world: New Orleans, Louisiana. You know just from the location we are in for a treat and N’awlins does not let us down. We see costumes, crying, weird gibberish singing, cross-eyed boy holding the longest out-of-tune note ever, and some pretty impressive talent.  Right out of the gate, we get Sarah Sellers. She’s got that “Sexy Librarian” thing going on, and it does not go unnoticed by Steven Tyler who compliments her from head to toe, starting with her big lips. That got a little

Judging American Idol: Begin The Begin

Season 10, Episode 1
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Hi, my name is Heather, and I am addicted to American idol. There, I said it. I have spent the majority of the last 10 years feigning interest and pretending I could barely name the show’s main judges, let alone every single guest judge and mentor that has ever appeared. Why? Because I love music. I am obsessed with it, it’s a part of everything I do. Everyone knows you cannot be a "serious" music-lover and watch American Idol, right? Wrong! Anyone who claims to be a music snob, music-phile, etc. should watch AI. And vote. Like it or