Sunday, January 29, 2012

Time, Love and Tenderness: The Michael Bolton List

I started to talk about my fandom of early Michael Bolton last week, but decided it was too much to squeeze into a two paragraph sidebar amongst an Idol recap... so, here is my "Mike Bolton Post" as promised... Did you know that The Bolt released a total of FIVE albums, starting in 1975 with his self titled debut "Michael Bolotin" (his real name), before hitting it big with his 6th release, "Soul Provider"?  My man has been around awhile... and you might think this entire post is in jest, is making fun... and you might be right, partly.  But honestly?  I dig Bolton, ever since I remember him really hitting it big in the late 80s.  I'm old enough to admit it without shame.  So, I nod my head to The Bolt and say, "Good job".

So here we go... my own personal Bolton Top Ten...

Honorable Mention... 

"Don't Make Me Wait for Love"... I couldn't officially list this as one of my favorite Bolton tunes, because technically, its a Kenny G song.  Kenny G did this with a dude named Lenny Williams on his 1987 album "Duotones", but recorded another version of it with Michael Bolton for Kenny G's live album, appropriately titled "Kenny G Live!", in 1989.  Personally, I like the Lenny Williams version better, if only because the video is so frakkin' ridiculous (and never shows Lenny at all, its just Kenny G running around looking all curly headed, macking on all his chicks).  

When Kenny G plays his sax on the porch, the Unintentional Comedy 
Scale blows through the roof.

10) "When a Man Loves a Woman"... For my money, there's nothing better than when Michael Bolton sings "When a Man Loves a Woman."  I celebrate his entire catalogue.  

Do you own this album?  No?  You should.

9) "When I'm Back on My Feet Again"... Sometimes we all need a little inspiration, and Track #7 on "Soul Provider" provides just that.  It's not necessarily a song about love, though it could be.  Its about a tragedy, one that knocks you down, one that puts your butt on the floor, one that rocks your world, nay, turns it upside down, inside out and back over again.  And this song centers on how you deal with that tragedy... a promise of, "One day..."   As in, one day, I'm going to break these chains around me.  One day, I'm going to learn how to fly again.  One day, these tears will all be dry. Soon these eyes will see the sun--might take time, but I'll see it.  You know, when I'm back on my feet again.  

Though I'd have to go and dig the box out to confirm, I do believe that this is the only cassette single I own by The Bolt.  Awesome.  

8) "Love is a Wonderful Thing"... Now this tune, from "Time Love and Tenderness", is most notably famous for its lawsuit that followed the release.  When this song hit big in 1991, reaching #4 on the charts, The Isley Brothers had a big problem with it... because, they claimed, that it sounded a lot like their own 60s release, strangely titled "Love is a Wonderful Thing".   In 1994, the courts of this great land declared that yes, Bolton's song had many similarities beyond the title, ruled that Mike B and his team had to pay The Isley Brothers all profits from the song, plus 28% of the entire album's profits.  This ended up being in the neighborhood of $5 million or so, after all was said and done.  And the ironic part was that The Isley Brothers' original song wasn't even that big of a hit, recorded in 1964, but not even released on a single until 1966, where it languished between #125 and #101 on the pop charts.

The verdict was appealed, of course, and ran all the way up to the US Supreme Court where in 2001, it refused to review the case at all, upholding the original verdict.

I always hated that this song had such legal issues... Its fun, its peppy, its easy to sing and its catchy.  Awesome.

7) "That's What Love Is All About"... Such a sweet song, all about a couple who have been through everything and back again, yet they are still together.  They are simply two hearts who have found a way, somehow, to keep the fire burning.  Something they couldn't live without, and if it took forever, they were going to work it out, beyond a shadow of a doubt, cause you see, this is what love is all about.

See, finding the good times is easy--but the hard times?  Well, they can tear you apart.  There will be times in your heart when the feeling is gone... what do you do?  Well, you keep on believing.  You keep holding on.  Duh.

I can imagine this song being a popular song at a 50th anniversary vow re commitment celebration.  Awesome.

6) "How Can We Be Lovers"... Truly a question for the ages, featured on "Soul Provider", one asked by men and women of each other, and of themselves, since the dawn of time.  A question that, when asked, hangs in the air, itself asking, NAY, demanding (!) and answer.  A question that truly wants to know how this relationship will not only work, but how it will even begin.

That question is quite simply... "How can we be lovers when we can't be friends?"

Now, if that question doesn't throw you, if that doesn't make you too queasy, then there are follow up questions.... queries like, "How can we start over if the fighting never ends?"  And then, "How can we make love if we can't make amends?"

Then, a flat out command... TELL ME, how can we be lovers if we can't be, can't be friends.  See, going from friends to hookin' up is a common theme in pop music, but The Bolt puts a spin on it... you have two people who have a passion for each other... but can't get along as friends.  Thus the brilliance of this tune.  Awesome.

Michael Bolton's 7th album, and his glorious mullet
5) "Time, Love and Tenderness"... What a code to live by, eh?  When love puts you to the fire, when love puts you to the test, NOTHING heals a broken heart like Time, Love and Tenderness..."  Suffering from a terrible break-up?

According to the Bolt, you need three things.  First, you need Time.  Perhaps time doesn't heal all wounds, but it will make it better.  You need Love.  Maybe to replace the love lost, or just the love of your support group around you.  And finally, you need Tenderness. You need people to treat you with care.  And those people are the ones who you can call friends.  Great song.  Awesome.

4) "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"... From "Soul Provider", this is originally a song made famous in 1983 by Laura Branigan (but The Bolt was a co-writer on this), this one is just heartbreaking.  I mean, right off the bat, we are talking about a broken relationship... "I could hardly believe it when I heard the news today, I had to come and get it straight from you", meaning that he didn't even find out from the chick, he had to find out second hand, then go to her to confirm it.  Confirm what, you ask?  "Said you were leaving, someone swept your heart away, and from that look upon your face I see its true..."  Not only did he find the info out second hand, he found it out even though SHE WAS LIVING THERE!!!  Great tune, Bolton's raspy voice only adds to the bitter lump of heart pains in this song.

This was the song that truly put him on the map, as it ended up being his biggest hit ever.  It became the first #1 single of the 1990s, staying at the top for 2 weeks, from January 6th through the 13th.  Awesome.

3) "Steel Bars"... Probably one of the best opening beats of any Michael Bolton song, it's a fast paced pop song that tells of a man who loves his woman to the point where she's got "steel bars" wrapped around him... as in, the bonds are so strong, they cannot be broken.   And if you can believe it, this song was co-written by Bob Dylan!

My favorite part... "Every desperate step I take, every desperate move I make, its clear to me... what can all my living mean, time itself is so obscene, time itself don't mean a thing, I'm still loving you!"  Awesome.

2) "Missing You Now"... Baby I just can't wait, til I see your face, takes away this loneliness inside!  When your close to my heart, right here in my arms, then and only then will I be satisfied, I'm missing you now!  But the prime part of this song is the video itself.

Open up with a young Teri Hatcher working as a sales clerk, perhaps at a gas station, giving some guy the change, while she listens to a male voice on the phone that says, "I can't even talk right now, I'm just... just locked in the studio, I'll be working real late.  Can I call you tomorrow?"  She says, "That'd be great.  I can't wait to see you."  

Smashcut to Michael Bolton, leaning over a wall phone in a recording studio, saying, "Just wanted to tell you I miss you."  Teri then replies, "I miss you too. Go to work," she smiles and hangs up.

And now, the song begins... "Talk to you but its not the same... as touching you... every time you whisper my name... I wanna run to you... we'll be together, it won't be long, it won't be long... but it feels like forever... and its hard to be strong..." The video cuts back and forth between The Bolt sitting on a stool, baring his soul into a hanging mic and Teri back at the gas station, looking in the distance and forlorn.  But then, we see flashbacks of how Bolt and Teri met, with his car breaking down, a mechanic looking under the hood, and Bolt looks up to see this ravishing Teri standing in the doorway, staring at him.  

Their romance blossoms, with wine and roses and the camera slowly panning over a window where the curtains are blowing, showing off the cool nighttime sky, and then over a bed where we see The Bolt and Teri giving kisses to each other.  I mean, who knows when they got married... that's why they are there, right? Right.

And outta nowhere, there's Michael Bolton and Kenny G, hanging out on a couch, laughing.  


1) "Soul Provider"... Bay-bee I-I-I-I wanna be... your soul provider... bay-bee I-I-I-I wanna stay that way... for the longest time!  Truly his first real hit of any kind, its the title track of the 1989 album of the same name.  "Soul Provider", the album, reached #3 on the pop charts, went 6 times platinum, and sold... get this... 12.5 MILLION copies worldwide.  And its his sixth album!  

This is truly my favorite Michael Bolton song, just because its a great song really.  Well written, well sung, good lyrics and... well, its Awesome.

BONUS BOLTON... Lest we forget "Forever Isn't Long Enough", an unreleased gem from the "Time Love and Tenderness" album.  See, the gist of the song is he wants her to ask him "How long will you love me?" and is answer is "Forever isn't long enough to give all my love to you...", which means he loves her lots and lots, because the word "forever" means from here to infinity, with no end, yet he says his love for her is actually beyond that, meaning beyond infinity, which is a really, really long time.  See what The Bolt did there?

He attempted to do the same thing with "Said I Loved You... but I Lied", which is really about a guy saying "the word 'love' isn't strong enough to convey my affections for you, my dear," and its just not a great song.  I consider this single the turning point and beginning of the downslide of The Bolt's career.  Don't even get me started on "Can I Touch You... There?"  Yeesh.

ALSO... The song "I Found Someone" is a song made hugely famous in 1987 by Cher, and it essentially resurrected her career.  However, did you know that the song was written by a guy named Mark Mangold, by Laura Branigan (yes, the one mentioned earlier in "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You") and by none other than The Bolt himself.   Branigan, who had hit the charts with "Gloria" and "Self Control", had "Axel F" composer Harold Faltermayer arrange "I Found Someone", but without a video to support it, it only got to #90 on the charts.

Cher picked it up for her 19th studio album, "Cher", in 1987 and with a big budget video that was heavily played on MTV, the song was huge.  Its also my personal favorite Cher song, and would rank somewhere in the 150 to 200 spot on my All Time Favorite Songs list.  Just a great tune.

The guy in this video, her love interest, was, at the time, her real life boyfriend... it made headlines in 1987, as he was 27 years her junior.

Anyway, The Bolt finally recorded his own version of this song and placed it on his 1995 album, "Greatest Hits 1985 - 1995", though after listening to it moments ago, I gotta tell ya... Cher's is better.  Her voice is perfect on it.

So, that's the Michael Bolton round-up for you folks, since you were dying to know.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tinker Tailor Snoozer... Sigh

With the addition of a new person in our house, something that we've always done freely--that is, go to the movies--has now entered "premium territory".  Anyone with children will just nod their heads in agreement when I say that with a child, you now much pick and choose what to do when you go out, because those times when you are free to do so are much fewer and far betweener... between.  Yeah, that.

So, when The Lovely Steph Leann had somehow convinced Mama Ruthless, her mom, to keep Campbell, allowing us an afternoon at the movies, we were excited.  Granted, there aren't a ton of movies out there that we are just dying to see, as January is known as a "movie dead zone", but two caught our attention... first was "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", a smart, dramatic British espionage drama starring a great cast, including Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and the president of The Colin Firth Club himself, Colin Firth... second, the 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close", starring Tom Hanks.   We also considered "The Artist", the much ballyhooed Oscar front runner, but decided to wait awhile longer on seeing it.

We both really wanted to see "The Descendants", the other Oscar Best Picture race leader, and had we been able to find it, we would have just gone there.  Alas, it wasn't playing locally yet--it actually doesn't hit wide release until this weekend... just looked.

So after a few texts and discussion back and forth, we decided on "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy".  I was kind of excited, because while I do enjoy stupid movies that don't require much thought process (hence my love of "Black Dog", "Beavis & Butthead Do America" and the Damon Wayan's award winning "Mo' Money"), I enjoy movies that challenge me and require me to connect dots.  "Inception" is a perfect example of a movie that I loved and was pumped to see again, to help me better understand it.

And then, we saw "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy".  Well, I saw it.  The Lovely Steph Leann sort of dozed through some of the slow parts... oh, who am I kidding--the whole movie is a slow part.

Apparently, there are a group of highly ranked officers in British intelligence, but one of them is a mole... that is to say, one of them is giving secrets to the Russkis and its all bad, because we don't know who it is, as one is called the Tinker, and one is called the Tailor and one is known as the Soldier and they are all spies and...

...and who cares.  Seriously.

The positive is that the movie looks good.  The drab color is very stylized and fits the pace of the movie well... there are few laughs, but truly, there doesn't need to be many.  The acting is good, with Gary Oldman even earning a Best Acting nod for the upcoming Academy Awards... perhaps he earned it, as his performance is very serious, very subdued and he looks very cool.

The negative?  Dear goodness this movie was slow.  And plodding.  And a little confusing, but I feel like had I  paid more attention, I would have understood it better... the problem is, I didn't want to pay attention.  With "Inception", it was so good, I was eager to understand it... With "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", I could care less. If I see it again, or if I don't, whatever.

And when a movie makes me not care--not even hate it, but just not care--it's never a good thing. So, watch the flick with a few shots of espresso and some Red Bulls handy... Otherwise, you might end up with a nap lasting about 137 minutes. Just saying'.

Houston, We Have an Idol

Cue "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum... naturally.

Some 250 miles above the Earth's surface is a space station, and in that space station is an astronaut, and that astronaut is holding a microphone and telling us that he is an astronaut in a space station hovering some 250 miles above the Earth's surface... some 250 miles above Houston, Texas, above the lines of 10,000 people that are waiting to get into their auditions... those auditions that will help us find the next Lee DeWyze Taylor Hicks Ruben Studdard Carrie Underwood.

Seacrusty opens the show surrounded by a whole lotta Idol hopefuls as the music cues and the credits roll.  Let's get it on!




Nine times Idol has come to Texas, including the first set of auditions... where they found a young lady by the name of Kelly Clarkson.

And first, is a dude names Phong Vu, with an odd accent.  On camera, he starts tearing up about the possibility of being the next American Idol, and just being born in America to begin with.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

He tells the judges he loves to sing female artists like Celina Dion. Yes, Celina.  And his rendition of "Unbreak My Heart" is probably making the wonderful Toni Braxton reach over and smack her sister.  Sista, even.  The Lovely Steph Leann has no blanket this time, nay, she's feeding Campbell... I think she's about to put the bottle down and cover her face with Campbell himself.  Wouldn't blame her.

Of course, its a NO from all judges.  And even after a NO, he does his best Derek Zoolander and busts out some iconic moves and looks, as he calls it.  And he promises us we'll see him next year.  One can only hope.

And in an unusual move, at least for this season, we see several bad auditions in a row, including three really back country dudes.

BACKSTORY ALERT!  Seventeen year old Skylar Laine, who we see doing a little deer hunting and fishing... we know this by the big deer head hanging on her bedroom wall.  She says, "I don't know if too many 17 year old girls hunt..." which means she's never been to South Alabama.  Her family owns a restaurant, which has hit hard times with the local economy.

She's doing "Hell on Heels" by the Pistol Annies, and sounds awesome.  Love this chick so far. Three YES votes and she's on her way to a Lauren Alaina future!

This is the first incarnation of Baylie Brown, before she was screwed over
by Antonella Barba in the Hollywood Round of Season 6
We see a montage of how some of the Idol hopefuls practice, in mirrors, in front of others, on the sidewalk, and so on.  BAYLIE BROWN IS BACK!  Holy crap!  Talk about one of the best ever and did one of the biggest flame-outs in Hollywood week.  That was five years ago?  Wow...

Now, Baylie is 21, and is singing "Bed of Roses" by Bon Jovi.  The Lovely Steph Leann gives Campbell and lighter, then holds him up and sways him back and forth.  Three YES votes and she's on her way... rock on.  I'm totally rooting for her.

And here comes Kristina Osorio, who, at 28 years old is at the maximum age limit--this is her one shot.  BACKSTORY ALERT!!!  We meet her kids, see her small home, and hear her hard story of the divorce she's going through right now.  She's also covered in tats.  That doesn't mean she can't sing... she took out a loan for her divorce lawyer and instead spent that money on a plane ticket to fly to Texas to audition.  Dave Ramsey would throw up.

She's pretty good, though, tats and all.  As she starts to sing, J-Lo looks up and whispers, "Thank God..."  Three YES votes and she's on her way to Hollywood!

Okay, so about 703p, right as it was coming on, we made the decision to watch Idol around 730, so we could skip through commercials via the magic of DVR.  In that time we could also eat dinner, I could get laundry worked on, I could make a bottle for Camp, The Lovely Steph Leann could do some dishes then feed him and so on.  In the background was one of my favorite guilty pleasures, "Grown Ups" from 2010.

So, about 724p, the screen goes black, and we see "PARTIAL SIGNAL LOSS" on the screen, meaing we couldn't watch the HBO channel it was one... lasted about five minutes or so.  Made me wonder how that would affect the DVR'ing of American Idol.. and now we find out.  We hear Seacrusty say, "Coming up after the break..." then the screen blips, then we go straight to this next chick being judged.  so, now we know.

When we come back, we see a contestant that apparenly just sang.. she giggles, "I'm about to pee myself" and Creepy Uncle Steven says, "Go ahead..."   He says YES, and Randy the Dawg says YES, while J-Lo says, "You need more experience, so NO."  After the chick leaves, J-Lo fusses at the boys and says, "When you watch this back, you are going to wish you'd sent her home."

Now we see a few clips of J-Lo saying NO to people, while the boy judges say YES.  Now we see Seacrusty with... well... you know those Idolites that the producers spot, and think, "There is no frakkin way this person will ever, ever, EVER make it to Hollywood, but this is good tv because we're going to make all kind of fun of this kid while making them feel like we are interested, and when they see it at home and realize we were totally making a debacle out of them, who cares, they'll be at home..."?  That's this guy.

Viva la Idol!
Big chunky dude who asks the judges to, "Grant me the power to bring revolution to the world through my music!"  Bad hair, bad ponytail, tight shirt tucked in... wow.  Alejandro Cazeres is singing "Thinks are Looking Up" by Paramore.  And for some reason, his tongue is blue.  Matches his shirt.  J-Lo tells him flat out his voice is not good enough for American Idol... and Alejandro begs for that chance to show the world what he can do, and how he will fight for the dream harder than anyone.

Randy the Dawg says, "Dude... your voice is terrible."  Alejandro gets on his knees to beg, "What can I do?! What can I do to make it!"  And the bouncer comes out and ushers him out.  Its never a good time when Big Hoss says, "Time to go" and puts his firm hand on your back to show you the door.  Viva la revolucion indeed.

And we now go to Day Two in Texas, as we see J-Lo in a tiny little top that stops about an inch below the bottom boob line.

Cortez Shaw is next with a BACKSTORY ALERT!  He used to be homeless, had a hard life, but believes in himself and his future.  He's kicking up "Someone Like You" by Adele, putting a little snap and rhythm to it... dude, I like this guy.  He sounds fun.

Randy the Dawg says, "What else you got?" while J-Lo says, "What?!  He was awesome!"  Cortez gets a YES from The Dawg and from J-Lo, and Creepy Uncle Steven says YES too.   Golden Ticket in hand, Cortez rushes out to his cheering family and friends.

The Idol Dream burns bright, as we hear about five Idolites say something about how they are the next Idol, or the next big thing.  Poor Adele.  "Rolling in the Deep" just got butchered, and no joke, Campbell just started whimpering.   Another bad rendition, this time of "Heard It Through the Grapevine"... were I the late Marvin Gaye, I'd come back and haunt this chick.

"Unbreak My Heart" makes another appearance by a guy (?) who makes The Lovely Steph Leann say, "Is that a girl?"  Randy the Dawg lowers his head behind the table to laugh.

And here we are, the last contestant of the day.  Rimino Garcia is from Houston, TX, and works as a worship leader.  BACKSTORY ALERT.. he was born with... get ready for this... no ears.  Surgeries repaired and built him ear canals when he was a youngling, and how he grew up learning how to hear.  His hair is a bit shaggy, so we cannot see the sides of his head.

"Amazing Grace" is his audition, and though its not fantastic, its also not bad.  He certainly sounds better than some of the people they have put through... and I really like this guy.  Creepy Uncle Steven likes him lots, too.  Randy the Dawg is hopeful for him, and says YES.  J-Lo says its a "leap of faith" and says YES too.

Rimino's dad is crying outside the door, even more so when Rimiro emerges with a Golden Ticket.  Awesome.  For all of Idol's emotional pandering, this was a good story.

A total of 55 Golden Tickets were given out in Houston (and Galveston, down the road, where some of the auditions were held), making the total bound for Hollywood like, 4,098 or something.  Seriously.  And next week, we head to the northwest in Portland, I believe.

And I'll be here giving you the note-by-note replay.  I watch it so you don't have to!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aspen Idol Extreme

So I just got home from recording another excellent episode of The Deucecast, this our 39th show so far.  Click over to the website and listen to this weeks, or last week's, show.  Enjoy it!

Anyway, The Lovely Steph Leann is watching some Hallmark film starring Ben Stiller's wife in "Meet the Parents" , while Campbell Isaiah is zonked out on the couch, asleep under a comfy blankie.  So perhaps we should get to business before young one starts a'stirring..

I know its just local, but it still amuses me that some WBRC Fox 6 guy sold Pepsi the ad space right before a Coke sponsored show begins.

Here we are in Aspen... and here we are with...


The judges arrive in a FORD, while drinking COKE, in Aspen, Colorado, and Creepy Uncle Steven already makes a "hey, Aspen sounds like Aspirin!  Got a headache! Anyone got an... Aspen?" joke.  To be expected.

Seacrust says, "Aspen is peaceful, tranquil and oh so quiet..."  Cue the loud chick.  And there she is.

Jenni Shick, 24, from Virginia, tells us of a safe list of people that she and her boo can kiss and it won't be cheating.  Of course, Creepy Uncle Steven is on her list.  Of course.  She is singing some Pat Benatar, "Heart Breaker", which for me is a great song, but not a great audition.  Eh.

This chick bothers me.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "What's with the weird people being able to sing?"

Jenni gets three YES votes, kisses Creepy Uncle Steven and rushes out the door.

Curtis Grey bemoans the fact he had to get up early, 6am, to get in line for Idol.  This gets no sympathy from me, who is up at 355am or so to go to work.  He's singing "Its So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday", a song that is hard to master, mostly because Curtis is pasty white, not black and names Nate, Mike, Shaun or Wanya.

I'm completely not impressed with this guy, but Randy the Dawg loved him, J-Lo loved him and Creepy Uncle Steven loved him.  He's headed to Hollywood.

"I thought he was pretty good... he's got to open his eyes, thought," says The Lovely Steph Leann.

We get a triple-audition montage with three that we'll probably never hear from again, including one that might be this year's Scotty McCreery, if only for the deep voice.

And now here's Tealana Hedgespeth.  Seriously?  So, you have a last name like Hedgepeth, and you don't give her something easy like Shannon or Bonnie or Lindsey... you go with Tealana?

Anyway, Tealana is up, and she is telling us all about how she's lived under the shadow of her twin sister who apparently is much more talented... and let's say that it wouldn't take much for twin to be much more talented.  Wow.  We finally got us a good, long bad audition.  Tealana is wearing a romper that looked like a highlighter threw up all over it.

Three NO votes, and well deserved.   The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Hmmm..." then silence.

And here now is HALEY SMITH FROM UTAH.  She lives in a log cabin, is a vegetarian and IS 18 YEARS OLD.  Her voice annoys ME AND SHE GIGGLES GOOFY.  I type like this because this is HOW SHE TALKS.  She is very excited about THE END OF HER SENTENCES.  J-Lo is noticing HER 70s VIBE.  She's singing Rufus and Chaka Khan's TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD.

I'm just NOT A FAN OF HALEY.  SorRY.  And The Lovely Steph LEANN DIDN"T THINK SO EITHER.  However, Creepy Uncle Steven LOVES HER.  J-Lo and Randy the Dawg ALSO RAVE ABOUT HER.  Really?  ReaLLY?  Three yes votes send her TO HOLLYWOOD NOW.  AwesOME.

Alanna Snare is a bartender from Colorado who tells us about serving up Rocky Mountain Oysters, which are really bull nards.  The judges didn't know this, but I did.  Alanna sings butchers "Jolene" by Dolly Parton, and immediately, The Lovely Steph Leann says, "No. No.  No."

Shelby Tweten, 17... BACK STORY ALERT!  Just recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder (and so was she), she also deals with depression and has lots of meds to take.  She is from Minny-Soo-Tah.  She's singing some song called "Temporary Home", and though I like her voice, I didn't think it was special enough to warrant a backstory... but thats why I'm not a judge on Idol, I reckon.

J-Lo raves, as does The Dawg and Uncle Stevie.  Three YES votes, and she got herself a Golden Ticket.

And finally, we get us a good, solid bad-audition montage!  Thank you!  We even get a white chick, scatting, to "Stand By Me".

And Jairon Jackson, 19, from Denver, Colorado, is doing an original song called "So Hard".  Finally!  Someone I actually like!  All three judges like him quite a bit, and J-Lo even calls him a "lover".  Of course, his white wifebeater shirt is about 3 sizes too big... but he can figure that out as he heads to Hollywood, Golden Ticket in hand.

On the way out, Jairon is so excited, he leaps and knocks out an overhead light... good times!  Lights out!  Uh-huh!  Blast blast blast!  (who knows that reference)

Angie Zeiderman, 25, is a self-proclaimed "vintage glitter queen", and models herself after Lady Gaga.  She's doing some random show tune partly done with Swedish accent.  No, I didn't just make that up.   Then after a small disagreement of the judges, she does something more traditional, that being "Blue Bayou", and honestly, if I close my eyes, she sounds pretty good.  Then I open them, and realize she looks like a travesty, and know that I don't want her in my Hollywood round.  Three YES votes overrule me, though.  Blech.

And finally... can you say two words... Magic Cyclops.  Who left Iowa because of gambling debts.  He also says he has 11,000 air guitars, but there is a guy overseas that has had more.

He chalks up his English accent to watching lots of PBS on television growing up.  He sings Neil Diamond, sounds terrible, looks ridiculous and then transitions to "Margaritaville" upon J-Lo's request.

The Lovely Steph Leann says, "See, he can sing on cue, just sparingly..."  He gets a unanimous NO shout from all three judges.  And Magic Cyclops leaves, empty handed.

So now, we send 31 to Hollywood from Aspen, CO... and tomorrow night, we head to Houston for more Idol!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 100 to 91st Coolest Things of 2011

Feels like we were just here, doesn't it?  I mean, with the coolest things of the year, right?  About a week or two ago, we learned how Melanie rules, my car is awesome, iLove my iPhone and "Inception" makes my head spin in a good way...but THAT was 2010.

We just passed 2011.  And in that year, cool things happen.  Which means its time to start our new list!  Now, perhaps we can finish it before December 29th of 2012, eh?

Quickly, though, for those of you who have never read this list before, its quite simply what I consider to be the coolest things of the past 12 months.  For the most part, stuff that has made this list before won't make the list again, because otherwise, I'd have a rolling list year after year that includes the same things like "Star Wars" and "Shawshank" and "Toy Story Mania" and My Darling Wife and so on;  rather, this is kind of "new things"--movies and shows I've never seen before this year, books I'd not read, experiences I'd not experienced, that sort of thing... and some of these things may have predated 2011, like a book that came out years ago, but it qualifies here if in fact I'd read it in 2011.

Enough chatter.  Here are The 100 Coolest Things of 2011, starting at the top:

#100... Auburn Wins the National Title
Perhaps that heading should actually say "Cam Newton" wins the national title.  There are two kinds of teams that win championships in college football... those with great teams, like the Alabama team that won it in 2009 (and subsequently, a few days ago for the 2011 season) and those with mediocre teams and one great, great player.  Auburn was the latter.  Cam Newton was electrifying... watching him run, watching him play was genius, probably a more trumped up version of watching a young Steve McNair at Alcorn State do magic in the air.   They were known as the Cardiac Cats, because they had this habit of falling behind early, many times to lesser opponents, then roaring back... and when they fell behind to a perhaps superior opponent, the Crimson Tide, they managed to get a score in at halftime--my bro-in-law Tyler was high fiving his dad, Big Daddy Ron, excited, celebrating and saying, "Yeah!  We are dominating!", while Ron simply smirked at the 20 point lead for the Tide saying, "This isn't enough.  I'm worried."  As well he should have been.

Anyway, it was kinda cool to see a program who hadn't won a title since '57 take it home, especially knowing its not likely to happen again.  See, while Alabama... and yes, The Go Gator Nation... build great teams, teams ready to sustain a few years of hug success separated by a year or two of so-so 9 win seasons, Auburn is awaiting its next great player.  Someday, perhaps.

Found on Twitter:  Its great that Alabama sandwiched its titles around Auburn's title.  Just like a good big brother should do.

#99... Got a "Pocket Full of Kryptonite", Ah...
The band is the Spin Doctors, the album is "Pocket Full of Kryponite", and the title is from a line in my favorite Spin Doctors tune, "Jimmy Olsen's Blues", one of my top 100 favorite songs of all time.  I owned this CD, though I don't exactly remember where I got it--what I do know is, it was completely scratched up, so much so that I'd never heard the entire CD because from Track 4 (a song called "Forty or Fifty") on, it would skip.

So during The Great CD Purge in the Summer of 2011, the scratched CD was one that hit the bricks.  I didn't mourn the loss of the album, yet I wish I had still owned it.  So, imagine my joy one day in late 2011 when I was touring 2nd and Charles, a used book/music/movie/electronic/everything/anything store, and I came across a copy, a like-new copy of "Pocket Full of Krytonite".  For like, $2.95.  Done and done.

Now that I own it, though, I must make an ironic confession... its really not that good of an album.  The two major singles, "Two Princes" (my senior cruise theme song) and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong", plus the aforementioned "Jimmy Olsen's Blues", are the best part of the album by far.  Its not bad... but its not a great album.  But I do own it, and its the symbolism that counts, right?  Right.

#98... "Friends With Benefits"
Out of the three "friends who decided to hook up only as friends but somehow decided they liked each other" movies that came out within about 9 months of each other, this was by far and away my favorite.

Here's what I wrote on July 31st:

In my own (un)humble opinion, the far superior of the three films.  The script is funny and light, and more real than the rest (the hilarity of the first hook up is a great example), the jokes are funny, and there is great on-screen chemistry between Mila and JT.  You end up liking both characters a lot, and by the time you find out Dylan's story--father with the beginning stages of Alzheimers--it doesn't feel like a ploy to get you to like him because you already do.  Jenna Elfman shows up as Dylan's sister and plays the part great (and cameos from Emma Stone, Andy Sandburg, Rashida Jones and Jason Segel are great too) and the whole romance is entirely believable this time around.  I liked this film alot, and will probably be the only one of the three to appear on The 100 Coolest Things of 2011...

See... I knew.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of The Colin Firth Club, The Lovely
Steph Leann's Hollywood Boyfriend himself, Colin Firth.
#97... Colin Firth Wins the Oscar
Not much to say here, except that its always great when an actor who you know deserves to win an Oscar once in his career actually wins one, and its even greater when that Oscar is not considered by the masses to be a "lifetime" award, but a win for an actual singular performance... hence, Colin Firth wins Best Actor for his portrayal of the king in "The King's Speech", a great, great film.

Much like my excitement when my dear Kate Winslet won her award a few years back, The Lovely Steph Leann was beside herself when her man, Colin First, the president and namesake of The Colin Firth Club, took home the ultimate acting prize.  Now, if only Amy Adams would win one for me, and Hugh Jackman for The Lovely Steph Leann.

#96... "My Strange Addiction"
Holy crap, have you seen this show?  What a weird show.

Its one of those shows that the title gives you all you need to know... it documents real people who have real, strange addictions... like the chick who carries the urn with her late husbands ashes in it, everywhere she goes.  Oh, and she likes to eat the ashes by licking her finger, sticking it in the urn, and licking them again.

Eating is a big deal... there's the chick who drinks bleach... and the chick who eats foam cushions... and the chick who is addicted to eating toilet paper.... and the chick who not only pulls her hair out, but eats the follicles... and the chick who eats dryer sheets.  Lest you think that just the chicks have issues, which they do, there is the guy who likes to eat glass.

And of course, there is the dude who lives his private life as a baby, complete with diaper and giant crib... and the girl who wears a bunny suit everywhere she goes.... the chick who sleeps with her hair dryer... the list goes on.

What a weird show... weird, and yet a fascinating look at the human condition.

#95... Edge Bows Out 
When my best mate Wookiee, Big Tom and myself ventured to Atlanta in April, we witnessed something that you will find ranking high, high on this list, that being WrestleMania.  And in that event, we were able to see a legend wrestle in the opening match, successfully defending his World Heavyweight Title against Alberto del Rio.  The match was decent, nothing to spectacular, but was cool to see the Rated R Superstar, the Ultimate Opportunist, that being Edge himself, take the squared circle.

We didn't know it would be his last match.  Ever.

A week later, the following Monday, I'm at home in The Cabana, watching WWE Raw as I'm known each week, and Edge comes out.  Typically, the guys come out and do a trash-talk routine, or discuss who they are feuding with and so on, maybe even call out someone from the back and do a one-on-one confrontation that always ends in them punching each other and knocking over a table.  However, Edge took a different tone.  He started out discussing the realities of wrestling, the dangers and the real-life toll it takes on people.  He told us about the seriousness of a previous neck injury which resulted in the fusing of his cervical vertebrae, and the numbness he'd been feeling in the last few months.  Then, he told us of the MRI he recently had and how he had, in the last week, been diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis.  And finally, he said the real-life doctors would now no longer clear him to compete, as an injury to his spine at this point could result in partial- or full-paralysis... or even death.

You think you know me.  Thank you, Edge.

And right there, Edge retired.  Winner of a record 31 championships in his career, and it was all over... and it wasn't like he could come out of retirement and do a match here or there, like Kevin Nash or Booker T, or even do his patented moves randomly, like Shawn Michaels does with his Sweet Chin Music... no, for Edge, its over.  He has made appearances here and there, but knowing that one missed fall, or one single move that didn't go quite right could kill you?  Done.

I tip my hat to Adam Copeland... you haven't always been my favorite, but its been a joy watching you be a heel all these years.

#94... "Fast Five"
What an absolute piece of crap movie.  A piece of crap movie that I love, one that months after I saw it, I pondered on how ridiculously stupid it was... but if ever there was a movie that lined up with the word "Craptacular", then this piece of glorious poop would be it.

I think we will look back in a few years at the crap that has come out, and rank "Fast Five" along side of "Con Air", "The Expendables" and "Armageddon" as the most beloved, improbable crap of our age.  And its a darn sight better than The Rock's other movie this year, "Faster".  Yeesh.

#93... "50/50"
I'm a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan, but I was still surprised about how good this movie was--and how great Seth Rogan is as Jo-Go-Lev's best buddy, when Jo-Go-Lev's Adam gets cancer and has to learn to deal with it.  And the appearance of Anna Kendrick doesn't hurt in the least.

Here's what I had to say:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in a fair world, would be sniffing an Oscar nomination, at the least a Golden Globe nod, because his performance is awesome.  I love this guy in "Inception", as his character is one of the coolest cats out there, but he tops himself in "50/50".  I enjoy Seth Rogen being goofy in any number of movies, but his semi-serious turn that he couldn't nail in "Funny People" is nailed here.  Bryce Dallas Howard doesn't have a huge role, but does it right, while Anna Kendrick shines as Katherine, just like she does as Natalie in "Up In the Air", a movie which is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. (note:  "Up in the Air" currently ranks as my 14th favorite film of all time--d$)

Loved this film, one of the best I've seen this year... however, this movie is not for kids, as the language flows pervasive and free flowing, and there is a few uses of the Mary Jane plant... there is one sex scene, though you really don't see anything, and it ends a little different than you would think, almost in a sympathetic fashion.  Its about an hour forty-five or so, maybe a little less, but it is paced really well and honestly, its one of those rare movies that I didn't want to end.

Read the entire review from September 29th by clicking here.

#92... The Aladdin Stage Show
Its no secret that one of my very favorite attractions at Walt Disney World is the "Finding Nemo: The Musical" show at Disney Animal Kingdom.  Being fans of Broadway style shows, "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular" was circled on our list of things to do when The Lovely Steph Leann and I went to Disneyland this past May.

Located in California Adventure, it takes place in the 2000 seat Hyperion Theater at the end of Hollywood Boulevard.  The show itself is only similar to "Finding Nemo" in that its a musical stage show, but its great nonetheless.  In the 45 minute show, many of the classic scenes and songs from the movie are recreated onstage, and they even move some of the action into the audience, like Aladdin's arrival in the song "Prince Ali". There are flying carpets, magic lamps, great special effects, a lovely Jasmine, a handsome Aladdin and a convincingly evil Jafar... but the crown jewel of the show, like the movie, is The Genie.  Whether he's like that always, I cannot speak, but in the show we watched, the actor portraying Genie was brilliant.

If you are ever in the area and have a chance to check out Disneyland, or at least California Adventure, make this a must-do.  We loved it.

#91... "Something Borrowed"
Yes, yes, its a total chick flick, and yes, it was blasted by critics, and yes, the heroine of the movie is the chick who actually does the home wrecking and man-stealing in the movie, but you know what?  I liked it.  Sue me.

Coming up:  Getting the Help... Needing a dollar, dollar... and Gods of Thunder... and later, one of the best documentaries of the year is about... a coffee burn?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cruising the USS Idol

We were going to watch this last night, but after the game featuring the 49ers of San Francisco and the New York Football Giants went into overtime (with the Giants winning 20-17) and not ending until almost 10, I declared that Idol was a Monday viewing appointment.

So, here we are!  Its Monday afternoon, and here I am, in front of the laptop... The Lovely Steph Leann is on the couch, blankie in hand... however comma a new edition to the party.  Its Campbell Isaiah, in the house.  Not sure he'll have much input in the whole show, but if he throws up during a certain contestant, I'll let you know what he thinks.

10,000 hopefuls arrive... with a dream to change their lives... what they don't know is... this audition is unlike any other... cause tonight, the audition takes place on the deck of the USS Midway, docked in San Diego Harbor.  (and yes, Top Gun theme music is playing, and no, I'm not kidding)




Randy the Dawg comes in, flanked by J-Lo and Crazy Creepy Uncle Steven... they are sitting at a table, and behind them is a wide open area, with a jet airline.

First up?  Chick in a bikini top and shorty shorts.  Seacrusty actually makes her take the stairs twice... to get a glance at the posterior side of our first contestant.  Creepy Uncle Steven loves her already.  Jennifer Diley, 19, is doing some Jessica Simpson, and finally... finally... a bad audition.

The Lovely Steph Leann whispers, "Uh uh" and says nothing more.

Randy the Dawg and J-Lo both say no, and Jennifer Diley wants to sing "Hero" by Mariah Carey... and it gets worse.  And Idol plays "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin.  San Diego starts with a bust, as Seacrusty tells us as the camera gets a torso shot of our failed brunette.

Single mom Ashley Robles, 26, is a DJ and a admin chick and works like, four jobs and such... that's admirable.  She's singing "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney... and she's not bad.  I feel like this song should be banned from Idol forever.  She gets to the "IIIIIIIIIIII will always love youuuuuuuuuuu" part and nails it.  The fact that the judges let her go the entire first verse, entire chorus and the ending fade is huge...

She gets a big fat YES from all three.  Word.

Songwriter Jayrah Gibson, 26, says, "I was literally told 'you can't write, you can't sing, you can only sing..." Wait... what?  He offers the judges his own song called "Shake Yo' Moneymakah" for J-Lo.  Wait... what?  He's singing "Just Friends" by someone, I think... he's a little annoying, but his voice has that young Usher, Shai kind of sound.   Randy the Dawg is all about him.  Creepy Uncle Steven loved him.  J-Lo looks forward to his music in Hollywood.  Three YES votes.

"They enjoyed my presence, they just just just... just just they just just just j-j-just loved me..."  Wait... what?

Aubree Dieckmayer, 20, has her family here with her to encourage her to become a singer and America's Next Top Model... whaaaaaaa?   The producer says, "Top Model?" and she giggles, tries to recoup and has a hard time spitting out "America's next American Idol".

She's singing "Feeling Good" by... well, she says "Michael Buble", but this is a Nina Simone song, one of my top 20 songs of all time.  Yes, Buble does it well, but Nina Simone's version is right, tight and outta sight.   This chick does well, really good even, but I don't like her because she's stupid.  You can just tell she's an idiot.  She's someone who voted for Obama because he seemed cool, and thinks free healthcare is free.  She goes to Hollywood, but I'm rooting for her to flame out, because she's a moron.

Nina Simone, Feeling Good.  Sounding awesome.

Ali Shields, 19, got on the America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeG Show recently, after writing her a song that told her how big of a fan she was.  So America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeG sent her as part of a correspondent team to some awards show, then got a smacky kiss from Usher and Mike Posner.  She is in love with Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler.

And for her audition, she raps.  And ghetto booty shakes.  Randy the Dawg laughs, and asks her to sing.  So finally, Booty Ali busts out with a little tune, and isn't that bad.  So far, no one has truly impressed me, though no one has asked me my thoughts.  Randy the Dawg says YES, J-Lo says she loves her, and we know that Creepy Uncle Steven loves her.

They show her with her Golden Ticket after the audition.  Holy crap she's obnoxious.

Day 2 arrives in San Diego, as do the judges, with J-Lo missing parts of her dress.  Creepy Uncle Steven says, "I can't wait to hear 40 people sing the same Adele song for 40 #(*$* hours!"

Kyle Crews is a Kappa Alpha at UC-Berkley and admittedly has a habit of serenading the chicks that come over to the frat house.  He's going to sing Monica's "Angel of Mine".  I kinda wanted him to be bad, and thought he's got this weird vibrato thing, he's pretty good.  He kinda looks like Casio Kid from The Rick & Bubba Show.

A prime example of great lenses, bad frames... great voice, bad voice container.  The judges send him to Hollywood.  Maybe a Clay Aiken in the makin'.... good one, d$!!

Joanne Childers, 26, is in the middle of her version of Ingrid Michelson's "The Way I Am", a song I really dig, when the ships horn starts blaring.  We then see a montage of Idol hopefuls interrupted by various ship sounds, horns and the like.

BACKSTORY ALERT!!  Here comes a waitress mom who seems very toothy.  And why?  Because her dad is Jim Carrey.  Her name is Jane Carrey, and she's ready to make her own name.  She totally has the same mouth, and The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Her eyes too".

J-Lo says, "I was one of the fly girls!  Remember me!  I know your dad!" referring to In Living Color from back in the day.  Jane Carrey sings, "Something to Talk About"... its not over the top, but its got potential.  She gets a YES from everyone and she's off to Hollywood.

Why the frak-a-lak is this chick waiting tables as a single mom?  Her dad is Jim Carrey!

A montage of chicks who get Golden Tickets, while "California Gurls" plays in the background...

As the sun sets over the Pacific, more and more contestants leave empty handed... and one remains.  Jason "Wolf" Hamlin. He's a golf course mechanic, repairing everything from carts to sprinkler systems.  His dad gave him a handmade guitar, so Wolf started playing and singing.

Wolf is doing "Midnight Special" by Creedence, and despite his gruff exterior, Wolf isn't bad.  Creepy Uncle Steven wants to hear something else.  So Wolf pulls out his git-fiddle, and starts in on "Folsom Prison Blues", always a winner.  I kinda like this guy.  He seems just humble enough to like, yet he's got some talent.  Personally, my favorite audition of the night.  Three YES votes sends Wolf on to Hollywood!

In the post-audition interview, he runs his hand over the Idol backdrop and says, "This is why you send a mechanic to Hollywood... to fix the seam!"

And wrapping up San Diego, there are 53 contestants headed to the next round... once again, little bad auditions shown... so, Wednesday, we head to Aspen, Colorado!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Idol that Saved Pittsburgh

First... shaaaaameless plug.  For those of you who don't know, I co-host a podcast with my buddy Mikey and produced by Tommy Mac, which is downloadable on iTunes, or from our website, The Deucecast (as the podcast is called). I only mention this because last night's show was pretty good, actually, including a heated debate not only on the serious subject of the American education system, but also on the serious subject of whether comedies deserve consideration in awards programs like The Academy Awards.   Click to the site to get the show, and give it a listen.  Mikey and I's nasally drone can wear thin, but we do what we can.

And as soon as I can figure it out, I'd like to some video podcasts on this here site too... and, a change in address is coming.  Great things are afoot at Clouds in My Coffee!  Oy!

Now... just saw a commercial on Fox for a show called "The Finder", with Michael Clarke Duncan.  Its an indication of how much network tv I've avoided when I tell you that I've never, ever even heard of this show.

Seacrusty is strolling along a suspension bridge, telling us its the first time the show has been in The City of Champions, that being Pittsburgh.  You ready?






As usual, the opening montage displays the past Idol winners, and some Idol success stories... thought I am a little surprised when Lee DeWyze shows up--I feel like he's to Idol what the Star Wars Christmas Special is to George Lucas... they just want to forget the whole thing and pretend it never happened.

Right off the bat, its a 22 year old Asian dude who tells the camera he's not sure if he's good enough, and he's not sure if he can be the next American Idol.  He says he likes to sing R&B, but is singing "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton.  His name is Heejun Han, and holy crap... he's actually not bad.  Like, he's pretty good.  I'm a little shocked here, cause Idol usually sets these guys up to fail bigtime.  Wow.

He's better than some of the putzs we heard yesterday, and heck, I'd send him straight to Hollywood.  He's like, William Hung with talent!  Randy the Dawg loves him, Creepy Uncle Stevie says yes and J-Lo approves.

Speaking of Michael Bolton... I'm a fan.  There, I said it.  Okay, well, to be more specific, I'm a fan of 1988 through 1995 Michael Bolton.  Everything he's done from "Can I Touch You There" and on, I didn't like.  But his early solo stuff is fantastic.

I got $90 in iTunes money for Christmas, and this video was one of my first purchases.  

I actually started typing out some Mike Bolton stuff, but thought it would be better served as another post.  You know, so I can discuss in more length my favorite stuff.  Look for that in the next few days, all you Mike Bolton Fans--I'm talking to you, Brad Latta!

We are back from commercial, and the room is filled with those who are ready to sing for Randy the Dawg, J-Lo and Creepy Uncle Steven.  Up next is a dude who has been performing with his family for years.  Reed Grimm, 26, comes in and actually sings a jazzy version of... yes, the "Family Matters" theme song, complete with scatting.  I didn't just make that up.  And it was awesome.

Of course, all three YES votes send Reed to the Holly Wood!  Kinda reminds me of The Eliminated Casey Abrams.

Aaron Marcelles busts out some "Change is Gonna Come" and sounds awesome.  Chase Likens, 20, does some country and isn't as good as the three previous, but still, very good.  We see quick clips of people who have made it, including a spitting image of a 20 year old Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Two girls, one who is a self-proclaimed singer.  The other is a self-proclaimed "Planker"  Yes, she says that she is planking the other chick to Hollywood.  Which essentially means, she's lying very still and straight.  Thats it.  I dislike both of these girls immediately, one for daring to actually tell the nation she is a Planker, and the other for associating with such riff-raff.

I love the fact that as she is walking out with her Golden Ticket, Idol
plays Carrie Underwood's "Flat on the Floor"
They give her a whole segment, but all she's doing is LYING DOWN!!!  Dear goodness, I freaking plank every night for at least 4 hours.  Geez.

Samantha Novacek sings a little country, with her sister planking in front of her.  I'd give Samantha a Golden Ticket just for kicking her idiot sister in the stomach right now.  J-Lo loved the song.   Creepy Uncle Steven loved the tone, the voice, all that.  Randy the Dawg liked the vibe alot.  Sammy N gets a YES from all three.

Creepy Uncle Steven says what I--and hopefully you the viewer--had been thinking... "Did her sister really come out here to plank?"

So, I'm assuming the next audition will be terrible.  It has to be.  We've had a hot streak of several in a row that have been great.. surely they will give us something for fodder, something I can make total borderline inappropriate jokes about.

So this guy decided to write a song on the way to Idol from NYC... Creighton Fraker sings a little ditty about the judges, and has a really, really, reeeeeally annoying voice.  Like, really.  J-Lo says, "If Timberlake and Jamiroquai had a baby..."  That is a perfect analogy.

Creepy Uncle Steven praises him, then asks for another song.  The judges are lapping this up... but this guy... he's a diva.  He's going to Hollywood and will be a diva.  Maybe the Idol Producers know this will make for great drama, but I'm not a fan.   I put him with obnoxious Braided Hair Sista from Savannah's audition.

By the way, I really want to see Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon in "Spy vs. Spy"... okay, correction, its called "This Means War".  I swear I thought this was called "Spy vs Spy"... anyway, it looks kinda fun.  And, despite my better judgement, I want to see "One for the Money" with Katherine Heigl.  I have not read the books, though they are on my list, and The Lovely Steph Leann is on book six or seven by now.  However, Katherine Heigl has burned me so many times on her movies... yet, I still want to see it. Darn you Heigl!  Darn you for taking my money on your promises of goodness and consistent deliveries of badness!

 Yes, it looks stupid.  But fun and stupid.

And we're back. Evan Franckewitz, 15, is our first Beiber of the year.  Coming from Ohio, we have a BACKSTORY ALERT!  Mom and Dad are so proud--they just said so.  Randy the Dawg says, "Who do people say you look like", and he says, "Justin Beiber".  Evan... excuse me, its EBEN (who does that to their kid?  the only way that name works is if your last name is "flow".  Seriously) is going to sing "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, one of my top 30 favorite songs of all time.

First, its a respectable attempt.  Not great, but decent.  Secondly, this guy is far, far too white to sing this song.  That is a soul song, and this kid, talented as he may be, has no soul.  Of course, the judges give him a Golden Ticket.  And Idol plays Beiber music as he comes out of the audition room.  I predict he ends up crying at some point during Hollywood Week.

Travis Orlando is back!  He sang last year, didn't make it very far, and this year is here to sing "Isn't She Lovely".   No joke, I think this guy is pretty good.  Not incredible, but good.  And J-Lo is telling him that he's not getting all of his voice out?  Creepy Uncle Steven is saying he's not sure Travis is singing with passion?  Really?

BACKSTORY ALERT!!   Travis' mom walked out on the family for another man after he left Idol last year, then he got evicted, then his dad got sick and lost his job and they moved into a shelter.  Holy crap, really?  Perhaps whatshernuts has room in her tent in the woods.


Randy the Dawg gives a hesitant YES, and so does J-Lo and Creepy Uncle Steven.  This guy sounded better than No Soul Beiber earlier, so I am not sure why the hesitation is there.

Of course, homeless high school drop out Travis is holding an iPhone--and thats at least a 4, if not a 4G, with a very nice case.  Hey Travis, thats my tax dollars at work.  Your welcome.

And we're back, with J-Lo running late, Creepy Uncle Steven and Randy the Dawg kick off Day Two in Pittsburgh with an impromptu jam session for the Idolites.

Up next, a "mobile DJ", who says she moves in and out of bars for a week or so performing, and she does wedding singing.  Erika Van Pelt, 25 , is singing "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow".  Okay, so there is a scene in "Spaceballs" where Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and Barf (John Candy) try to rescue Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga).  Before they open the door, however, they hear her inside singing "Nobody Knows the trouble I feel... nobody knows but Jesus..." in a very, very low voice.  Not quiet, but low in tone.  Barf turns to Lone Star and says, "She's a bass!"  That was the first thing that popped in my head when Erika Van Pelt starting singing... however... I like her.

She does sing a bit low, but sounds really good.  I can't decide if I think she's cute or way un-cute.  Its like a mild version of The McGriddle Effect.

She goes on to Hollywood!

Twenty minutes left in this show, and not a single rejection?  Whaaaa?

Oh, here we go... they show the faces and reactions of a few rejections, but mostly to highlight a sound-effect box that Creepy Uncle Steven has obtained.

Here comes Shane Bruce, 19, from West Virginia.  He's a coal miner.  That's miners, not minors.  And he's sporting no less than six earrings.  We see him entertaining the fellow miners with a version of "In the Still of the Night", and I know one of those guys is thinking "This is the pansiest thing I've ever heard.  Pick up a shovel, you wuss."

He's going to sing what he says is a song from "Shrek".  You know, "Shrek", that Hallelujah song that plays in there?  Of course, he speaks of the legendary Jeff Buckley tune "Hallelujah", featured in "Shrek", but also in a disturbing scene in "Watchmen" and has a ton of plays on my iPod, because its a feeeee-nominal song. Jason Castro also did an incredible, show stopping version of this some years ago.

 One of the best Idol performances ever.  Also, one of the most depressing songs ever.

Judging from Randy the Dawg's expression, Shane Bruce ain't cutting it.  J-Lo nervous bites a pen.  Creepy Uncle Steven stares blankly.  He takes the rejection well, though... they tell him to work on it, and come back and audition again.

And in a genuine awwww inducing moment, when he comes out, he looks on the verge of tears, and his mom hugs him and whispers, "You'll always be my Idol."  Wiping tears, he admits he didn't do as well as he wanted, but wanted to try again.  I hope this guy does come back.

Here's the montage of rejections, 53 minutes into the show.  Lots of tears, lots of  "I want this so bad", lots of "I will be back!".

Finally... the last segment of the night... BACKSTORY ALERT.

Hallie Day, 24, from Baltimore just got married six months ago.  She dropped out of high school at 13, moved to New York at 16, became an addict, and finally found her way home, even with no mom or dad around.  And after a suicide attempt with some pills, she hit rock bottom.  Finally, she met a dude who became her hubby, Ryan.

"He's loved me more than anyone else ever has," says Hallie.  That's a pretty good story--good job, Idol.  She has to be good, after all this.  She's singing "I Will Survive"... not my favorite voice of the night, but a darn sight better than some of the stuff they've sent to Hollywood already, so I'm sure she's headed there.

And she's on her way!

All in all, Pittsburgh sends 38 to Hollywood with the Golden Ticket pass.  Next week, on Sunday, its San Diego, California, following the San Fran-NYGiants game... and I'll be there, blogging, with The Lovely Steph Leann on the couch, blanket in hand!  And probably Campbell in the other, but still.

Savannah Idol Smiles

Its a revolution.  Its an American institution.  Its where Kelly Clarkson came from.  Its where Carrie Underwood got her break.  Its where Daughtry got famous.  After 10 years, another journey is beginning... new voices... new styles... new names... new nicknames... one will be crowd My Next American Idol... and one will be crowned the real American Idol.

"American Idol has been in my life since I was 6 years old!" says one chick... holy crap do I feel old.

Randy Jackson, Randy the Dawg returns.  Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, Creepy Uncle Stevie is back.  And Jennifer Lopez, J-Lo, is here again.  (note:  that's the first and last time you'll see their full names used in this season of American Idol).

Well, here we are again... its January, and you know what that means?  Its 32 degrees Monday through Wednesday, and 73 through the weekend, right?  Its MLK holiday, right?  Its only five months to summer, and hence, five months to "The Avengers", right?!  



Creepy Uncle Stevie in the pimp suit... J-Lo is the only chick... Randy the Dawg is the black dude... and Seacrusty
brings up the right side with the form-fitting black tee
Let's head to Savannah, Georgia, a sleepy Southern town full of old houses, old people and old living... the sight of one of my all time favorite books, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt.   Thousands of Idoloonies have come to the deep South to make their mark and go through the rigorous audition process to make it to see the judges.

Kicking it off, a youngster who says he's 17... his name is David, but is also called "Mr. Steal Your Girl". He actually hands a chick his cell phone and instructs her to put her number in it.  They show a video where he was 2nd in a musical contest with Scotty McCreery, who won... Deep Voiced Scotty won the whole shebang, of course.

Uncle Stevie looks like a pimp.

David Steal Your Girl throws down with a huuuuuge voice on an R&B classic.  Not bad, though he still looks like he's 12 years old.  Upon request from J-Lo, he sings some obscure Michael Jackson song--the first was better.  He's pretty good, and I feel like with a little work, he could be really good.

Gabby Carrubba is next, she's 16, and she's shaking from being so nervous.  She is a champion tap dancer, so that helps.  And she's excited to meet the dreamy Ryan Seacrest... I mean, who wouldn't be excited for Seacrusty?  I would.

Gabby is singing "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5.  She hugs Nigel the Producer... she knows who the real power is in the room.  All three judges send her straight up to Hollywood.

Seacrusty then introduces a "Good Singer Montage", including our first Whitney Song of the Year--"I Wanna Dance with Somebody".  Several Yes votes send a number of chicks and dudes out with their yellow ticket... looks like we are on a hot streak in Savannah!

Twenty minutes in and no bad auditions... this is not boding well for Jessica Whitely, 19, is has a strange speaking voice... J-Lo jinxes Jess Whitely's whole audition by stating, "We've had a really good run this morning...".  Were I Jess, I would just leave.

And... its bad.  Its awful bad.  It sounds like a goofy voice I use sometimes when trying out voices for "Mr Frog and Mr Toad" stories that I'll read to Campbell soon.  Bad bad.

Blank stare from the judges, and she knows its over.  "Awful", Randy the Dawg deadpans.  She says, "I'll see you in Texas, then."  Which means she's headed to Texas to audition.  Yikes.

Now there's a montage of people trying to imitate Seacrusty... including one guy named Shawn who really played the part out well... dressed to the nines, hair styled like a boss, and a voice to match--he is shown saying all the catch phrases... "The votes are in!"... "Dim the lights!"... "Call or text 1 866 IDOL 001!"  Its quite funny, actually.

But he is auditioning, of course.  He's singing "Oh Girl" by the Chi-Lites... starts out loud and strong... falls apart halfway through... Randy the Dawg, J-Lo and Creepy Uncle Stevie all say no, complete with a background sound of "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter.

Shannon Magrane, 15, 6 foot tall and looking 22 (Creepy Uncle Stevie has a grin on his face) tells the judges she's the daughter of World Series pitcher Joe Magrane from the late 80s.  Her family comes in, Daddy Joe shakes hands with the judges, and Daddy Joe asks Creepy Uncle Stevie, "How are things in Beantown?", to which Creepy Uncle Stevie replies, "Hot and happening... just like your daughter."

Aaaaaand that's why I like to call him Creepy Uncle Stevie.

She sings some jazzy Etta James, which wins me over just about anytime.  I love it, perhaps my favorite audition of the night thusfar.  Three YESes and she's on her way!

And here comes the bad montage... a big chick ruins a Jessica Simpson song... yes, made it worse... and here's the first butchering of "Rolling in the Deep".

However, in comes Amy Brumfield, 24, hailing from Gatlinberg, TN.  She lives in a tent in the woods.  Literally, in a tent.  Granted, its a large tent, and they have a pretty good set up, but its a tent nonetheless.  A tent.  Her and her man.  Times are tough, but she says, "I'd rather be outdoors and happy than indoors and miserable."  She says her boo's mom dressed her up with the jewelry and dress and such.

"Superwoman" by Alicia Keys is the song, and I really want this chick to be good.  She sounds good enough to go to Hollywood... but I don't think she'll make it out of there with success.  The judges say Yes.

Is it just me or does Amy not seem like she really wants to leave that tent?  Its like she's in Occupy Sherwood Forest or something.

Joshua Chavis has a dream to sing the national anthem at a NASCAR race.  Guess we have to have goals.  And then he just said, "I'm going to leave my nerves out the door with my boyfriend..."  I rewound it just to make sure I heard that.  I did.  He gets gayer every word he says.

You know, its not that he's gay... its that he's obnoxious AND gay.  He says his voice is like that of Brad Paisley or Daughtry.  Somehow, I doubt it.  He's now slaughtering "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.  He continues to become more and more gay.

Oy.  He's terrible.  And he gets no votes of confidence.  So what does he do?  He does the ol "I'll sing another song and that will impress them!" schtick... and Randy the Dawg is the only one who is really bold enough to say, "Dude, its bad."  But Joshua finds comfort in the arms of his boo.  His just-as-gay boo.

And the camera follows him as he cries on the phone, shoots the finger and throws a fit.

Fifteen year old Stephanie Renae is almost falling apart, being so nervous.  She watched Season 4... when she was 8 years old.  Excuse me while I replace the tennis balls on the bottom of my walker.

"Inside Your Heaven" by Carrie Underwood is her song... and its not bad.  Starts strong, struggles a bit but hits the big notes.  J-Lo tells her to correct the nasally part of her voice, but they tell her they like her voice.  Creepy Uncle Stevie says Yes... Randy the Dawg says Not Yet... but J-Lo says Yes, and Stephanie Renae freaks out.

Now, we get to see Skylar Dixon... sister of Colton Dixon... who both auditioned last year.  This year, only Skylar is doing it.  She's got great hair.  The judges force Skylar to go get Colton, which sucks, because he doesn't want to audition... which means that Skylar's chance at the spotlight solo is ruined.

She sings "Break Even" by The Script.  I love this chick's voice.  And now, they force Colton to sing, which he does.  Honestly, he doesn't sound all that great... he's really mumbly. If they judges give Colton a Golden Ticket and not Skylar, I'm going to... well, be mad.  But keep watching.

And the judges give both of them a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.  So, if Colton advances and Skylar gets cut early... wow, unnecessary drama.

Another montage, this time with tears!  Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" is a perfect tune to play while all these people whimper, yell and go home thinking they were better than anyone else.

BACKSTORY ALERT!!  Lauren Mink, 25, works with people with disabilities in a home.  I can't tell if I think Lauren is pretty or her face annoys me.  Is that bad?  What's not bad is her audition... its quite good.  Three YES votes and she is on her way!


All three judges get back in place for the second day of auditions, and first up, is a dude from South Africa singing "Rascal Flatts".   A black dude from South Africa... I feel like there is only about six of them in that country... is apartheid still going on?  I dunno.

From the lead up, and the "Rhinestone Cowboy" playing, I can tell this is going to be horrible.  Mawuena Kodojo is just that.  I don't even recognize this song...

By the way, The Lovely Steph Leann is not here... she's out of town with Campbell and her mommy, but I can just imagine her on the couch at this second... and I imagine that blanket slowly creeping up to cover the face, and her whispering, "Make it stop!"

Randy the Dawg send him out to find people to say he's a good singer--if a few people will say that, Randy will send him to Hollywood.  An old man asks him if he's a runner... ha!

Seacrusty finds an old grandpa and four small children to tell Randy the Dawg that Mawuena is good.  Randy the Dawg says, "Its still a no."  I was so afraid they were going to send him on, like they did with Dave the Jumper Guy some years back.

Oh no.

Oh no.

Sista with long braids.

Got sassy 'tude.

Big glasses.  I'm afraid this is going to be a train wreck.

Holy crap.

Colton (L) Dixon is forced to sing, and passes, much to the obvious
chagrin of his sister Skylar (Schylar?) (R).  Sista Braided Hair in the middle.
She's... well, she's not too bad.  She is doing this freaky "Joy Hop" dance she created.  She sang "Come Together", which wasn't perfect, but pretty good... and enough to get herself a Golden Ticket.

Oh, its time for some more bad singers.  Though we are only seeing the judges saying no, not hearing the actual auditions.  We see them come out of the door empty handed, usually into the arms of family and friends.

WT Thompson is about to sing now... he had to quit his job to audition for Idol.  This might be bad.  He's got a kid on the way... his wife is 6 and a half months pregnant.  Oh my.

I feel like he goes through, but gets cut Day One.  Creepy Uncle Stevie says no!  J-Lo likes him, says Yes... Randy the Dawg says what I already thought... "Dude, you are going to be eating alive in Hollywood."  However, he says Yes.

One hour and 41 minutes in, there isn't a soul that has blown me away just yet...

Montage of how all the women love Creepy Uncle Stevie, including kisses on the young girls lips, and the grandma's lips... and one equally creepy chick named Erica Nowak who says, "He is my future ex-husband."

Randy the Dawg says, "I think they should hug!" and Creepy Uncle Stevie hugs her... and Creepy Stalker Erica grabs his butt.  Seriously.  She's singing "Super Duper Love" by Joss Stone.  I really want her to be terrible, because I don't like her and never want to see her again.

She then hugs Randy the Dawg and touches his butt.  She gets no's across the board.  Thank the Maker.

NBA Dancer Brittney Kerr comes in, and Seacrusty reminds us that last year, Creepy Uncle Stevie and Randy the Dawg were loving the ladies.  She sings another Joss Stone song, well by the way, and the camera actually starts at her shoes and pans all the way up to her head, slowly.  Randy the Dawg says Yes, J-Lo says No, and Creepy Uncle Stevie says Yes, as we knew he would.

A quick glance at some we haven't seen til now, and another look at Young David Steal Your Chick.  Some dude named Neco killin on some Bruno Mars.  Another look at whatshername... I dont feel like scrolling back up to get her name.  None are that memorable.

Philip Phillips?  

Who names their kids that?  What moron parents... that's like me naming my son Juan or my daughter Anita.  No can do.

Phillip Phillips stole the show.  Kinda has a "John Mayer singing"
vibe about him.
Phillip Squared is our first Guitar Guy of the season.   He's going to do a bluesy almost country version of "Superstition".  Not bad, but a little screechy for my tastes.  He's like something that Taylor Hicks crapped out.

Phillip Squared gets the guitar and then starts playing, singing a country version of "Thriller".  I like this guy alot.  Alot alot.  He wins Savannah for me.  And he's headed to Hollywood!

42 singers get a Golden Ticket in Savannah, GA, while thousands more are told "pump it, nimrod."

Tomorrow night... Idol Auditions head to Pittsburgh, PA!  Backstory Alert from a guy in a mine!  People crying!  Unsuspected talent!  And, for one guy, this means alot to him.

FINALLY!  We find the guy for whom this contest means alot!  See you tomorrow.