“Fake is the New Real” – Alice Smith – “For Lovers, Dreamers & Me” (2006)

Sep 11
Posted by admin Filed in Girls Rule

Fact: Alice Smith is headlining a show in NYC which is a Citizen Cope presentation.

That’s about as much as I needed to know to be sold. All you need to know is that her phenomenal debut album is going on five years old, and that by the time your familiarize yourself with it, hopefully she’ll be dealing album # 2. This is the kind of album that I’ve always hoped some of my favorite American Idol performers would put together. It’s contemporary, hip, funky, and broad enough as to show range but not so much so that it is not cohesive. I think that someone like Siobhan Magnus or Naima Adedapo could have what it takes to create something as original and colorful as that which Alice Smith has given us.

– DAVE

“Wasted” – Carrie Underwood – “Some Hearts” (2005)

May 25
Posted by admin Filed in Uncategorized

Anybody who’s been paying attention to this blog knows by now that I’m a fan of American Idol, and that I’ve been very pleased with the season’s product. For those of you who aren’t fans, I get it, I think. Actually, I’m not sure that I do get why some people don’t like the show.

If you don’t like poppish Top 40 music in general then I guess I get why you wouldn’t be a fan. If you don’t like a bunch of snot nosed average Jane or Joes off of the street mucking up standards from Motown artists, The Beatles, Elton John, etc. I can see why you would have no time for Idol. If you don’t want to see a bunch of glammed out personalities sitting at the judges table, or a primped and preened robo-host try to squeeze every drop of melodrama possible out of results night then you will never ever turn the channel to Idol. But then there’s all of the good stuff.

If you like to see young people with a big dream, and at least a little talent shoot for the stars, it’s a fun process to watch. The end reult of that process is at various times rewarding, humiliating, humbling, enlightening, and often times life changing.

The show can sometimes look like a beauty contest – the makers and fans of the new show The Voice are beating this drum – but the pecking order of this year’s final 13 as well as last year’s final two haven’t lent any validity to this criticism. Pia Toscano, this year’s 8th place finisher, had what many thought was at least silver or bronze level talent, and gold medal, movie star looks and style, and yet there she is in 8th place. Haley Reinhardt has the spunk, and pretty face that will make her an eventual sideline reporter (ala Erin Andrews) if she doesn’t monetize Plan A which would play as something like Feist, or this generation’s Stevie Nicks. Last year’s final duo (Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox) looked like the type of kids who decided to come in from out of the cold from their regular busking routine, to see how far they could make it on America’s favorite talent show. It turned out that America liked earthy, Birkenstock wearing guitar strummers and kept them around for the whole year.

I really like this year’s semi-finalists even though they don’t perfectly fit within my musical sweet spot, are not from my neck of the woods, and aren’t hard luck stories who need the crown for the money and security that it would bring to their families. I like them because they seem like good kids who aren’t going to turn into regulars on TMZ due to boozing and bad choices. I like the fact that all of the star making heavy machinery that Idol and Interscope Records has in their workshop will be used to mold and buff a likable teenager who can carry a tune and not another dancing hussy, or hot head who relies on wardrobe changes, and a disdainful attitude which is inexplicably what much of the record buying public gravitates towards. I like the fact that Scotty McCreery wears a very plain, dull brown pair of shit kickers most weeks, lays on the cheese when he performs, is polite and respectful when interviewed, and bawled like a baby overcome with emotions when he visited his hometown last week. I like the fact that Lauren Alaina is not a perfect Hollywood shape and size but never acts anything but perfectly comfortable with who she is. And I love the fact that ordinary, every day kids and young people can take a chance, give music their best shot, do all of the work that the thing entails, and in the end gain fame, fortune, and aplatform to launch their career.

– DAVE

The Final Three

May 20
Posted by admin Filed in Rewind, Rock Bands

I often hear songs being performed on American Idol and think, “wow, I forgot how much I like that song.” James Durbin sung “Maybe I’m Amazed” which is a song that I never forget about, and is unbelievably good in its original version by Sir Paul Paul, but it comes off sounding original and new. I heard one of my “hey I almost forgot about you” songs this week, and I’m playing it tonight.

I just got done speed watching last night’s two hour Idol and tonight’s results. I really think this year has been a stellar season with so many diverse styles and genres represented. James was my guy, hands down, who I wanted to win, it ain’t happenin’ though, but it’s still okay with me. A lot of seasons I find myself irritated with an attention hoarding diva or scratching my head over someone who the judges fawn over, but I find average at best or downright undeserving. I never got the sense this year that there were any unsavory or unworthy characters. And so, I’ll be happy for whichever southern teenager (Scotty McCreery or Lauren Alaina) wins the crown next week. For the record, although I favored James, in the back of my mind, I’ve felt from the beginning that Lauren would win the whole thing. But, I also thought that based on this week’s performances, Haley and Scotty would be the two finalists.

When Haley sang “Rhiannon” this week, I immediately knew that I would be creating this post. Her performance was very good, but after Jimmy Iovine picked the song for her and before she struck the first note, I could hear Stevie Nicks in my head. I love the front half of the verses thrown down sultry, almost mournful then countered up range and bordering on hysterical. This is a classic tune by as stylish and talented of a rock and roll band as there ever was.

“Rhiannon” – Fleetwood Mac -“Fleetwood Mac” (1976)

– DAVE

“What Hurts The Most” – Rascall Flatts (featuring Kelly Clarkson) – “Me and My Gang” (2006)

Apr 24
Posted by admin Filed in Girls Rule

Today is Ms. Kelly Clarkson’s 29th birthday. I went back and checked to see If she was born on Easter and found that Easter in the year of 1982 was on April 10th. Pretty interesting, of the dates that Easter can fall on (March 22nd to April 25th) April 24th is tied for the third least common date, and the most infrequent April date. I know, it’s not really that interesting, I’m a trivia dork.

Anyways, I’ve got a lot of appreciation for Kelly Clarkson. She’s pretty top shelf as far as pop stars go. She’s got a skill set that hold up even to music critics who typically aren’t going to pen flattering thoughts about people who once upon a time took part in some dumb reality TV/talent show. The girl can sing though. I think she’s got enough growl in her voice to front something along the lines of a Sleigh Bells type of thing. Now she’s doing some country collaborations to round out her dance card, and she keeps making music that will keep her original fans happy.

Happy first 29th birthday. Eat all of the Peeps, and Cadbury eggs you want, you’ve earned it.

– DAVE

“These Days” – Foo Fighters – “Wasting Light” (2011)

Apr 24
Posted by admin Filed in Rock Bands

The new Foos album does what the six previous records did. The thing rocks, hard and loud centered around the turbo charged emissions coming from Dave Grohl’s lungs. The man can just flat out scream his head off and anyone who’s seen him in concert can attest to the fact that he can go the distance and maintain volume all night long. Grohl’s obviously not only a wailing banshee as he holds notes at top speed, harmonizes well, and is probably at his best in the quiet sections of songs and stripped down acoustic versions of classics such as “Everlong.”

Dave and Foo Fighters often employ the quiet-loud-quiet song form which was a hallmark of that other little band that Grohl drummed for in the early-90’s. The quiet draws every ear to Dave’s very accessible voice while the counter parts see every nook and cranny of the sound space filled with perfectly wed rock and roll guitars, drums, and bass. If this James Durbin kid goes on to win American Idol, or even if he doesn’t, a study of Dave Grohl’s song writing, playing, and singing would seem like a pretty good place to begin when looking for a role model.

“California King Bed” – Rihanna – “Loud” (2010)

Apr 15
Posted by admin Filed in Girls Rule, Top 40

There are so many reasons to like this the 10th season of American Idol, more than many of the previous seasons. Of course, this season could start and finish with the shiny personalities and considerable singing abilities of the finalists. The group has covered the genre map pretty well, or at least the pop music-centric genres that get mainstream play (sorry, but Fox watching Americans just aren’t ready for s mathcore, house, or shoegaze idol). Our under-30 cast of hopefuls comes in all shapes and sizes, styles, and attitudes. We won’t see a singer-songwritew win, for a change, and might see the first place trophy taken home by a good old fashion, or semi-old fashion, late 20th centrury heavy metal headbanger. Then you have the fact that it’s easy to cheer on our smily faced dreamers as they take the musical E ticket ride of their lives as their doesn’t seem to be any beach ball headed sore thumbs in the bunch.

Some of the other things that I love about this year’s show, I’ve previously touched on but I’ll reiterate. Addition by subtraction, plus addition, subtraction, multiplication, and not as much division (what did I say about mathcore).

– Subtract a certain judge that thinks that HE is The Show
+ Add a judge who is one of the greatest frontmen of all time and has a healthy appreciation for what the young folks are trying to accomplish.
– Subtract the horrible grotesquely awkward moment of making thee most recently banished re-sing the song that helped get them tossed.
+ Add a prominent producer who helps find and polish musical stars as his day job.
– Subtract the host whose only worthy moments usually happen on the road during the country wide discovery phase (I know, I know just let me have this dream for a minute… wouldn’t Ellen be way better at that job?).
+ Add more musical heavyweights to help the previously mentioned producer coach up the kids, and yuk up the rest of us.
+ Add a new Queen Judge who is as good or better than the black swans that she followed.
x Move the remaining judge down the row and let him say meaningful things that humans as well as dogs will understand.

Randy has really said some things that should make future Idol hopefuls, who aren’t totally cut from Top 40 cloth, have hope. I can’t remember who he said it to but a couple of weeks ago but he made a comment about balancing “art and commerce.” That is a great message from a guy that has the ability to influence many a music maker. The message is don’t turn yourself into someone whose main goal is to sing in a style that will add more commas to the paycheck. Do what you love or feel, and everything will fall into place. And then, on Wednesday Mr. Jackson reiterated this message by saying that “the world cannot live by pop stars alone.”

So then, why am I posting a top of the heap reigning pop diva in today’s post? Because I like her. And, I think that as far as high performance, custom built, sleek, and shiny pop stars go, this girl is pretty damn special. She’s not strutting around in the trash chic bubble wrapped, John-ripped fishnets, I-slept-on-a-park-bench-in-a-hurricane glazed over look that some of her peers sulk around in. She looks classy. Her voice is pure, liquid gold. Her albums entertain front to back. If we one day do have to subsist on pop stars alone, more Rihannas would be a good crop to grow.

She’s going to have to share the stage today though. I’m a big Jennifer Nettles fan too, and I thought that their duet at the Country Music Awards was really cool.

– DAVE

“Who’s Lovin’ You” – Terence Trent D’Arby – “Introducing The Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby” (1987)

Mar 4
Posted by admin Filed in Soul Music

I’ve got a put in a good word for one of my favorite female American Idol contestants seeing as how I gave James Durbin a shout the other day.

I love Naima Adedapo! I breathed a huge sigh of relief when she got the 13th and final spot. She’s spectacular, everything about her. Her powerful, soulful voice, colorful wardrobe, striking physical features, wear it on your sleeve emotions, and the back story of her life as a janitor at a concert venue make her an all around compelling contestant. As a whole, I think that Season 10 has a strong group of contestants, and the shake up on the panel is to my liking too.

I don’t want to just type cast her on looks but I can see her making music that has the same raw, gutsy, blues vibe as Mr. D’Arby. D’Arby’s version of this song, written by Smokey Robinson and made famous by The Jackson 5 and an 11 year old Michael Jackson, is the 14th and final track from his debut album and perfectly caps off the album. Naima can probably do justice to anything that she chooses to sing so my only wish is that she keeps singing stuff that sounds like it comes from deep in her core, and is not meant to just show off a bunch of vocal gymnastics which a lot of Idol contestants tend to do.

– DAVE