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Archive for May, 2011

American Idol Top 3 – The Results

After the requisite introductions and shots of all of the finalists in the audience, we get a plug (actually welcome this time) for Super 8, when the top 4(!) meet with JJ Abrams.  This one’ so top secret that they didn’t even get a screening of Super 8, just a screening of a preview!  Elle Fanning is also in the house, who looks like she just raced through puberty and is already taller than Ryan Seacrest.

On to footage of Haley’s hometown visit which is crazy crowded, despite the rain.  Glad to see her get the love she deserves.  She has been raked over the coals all season by the judges.  30,000 people show up to hear Haley perform with her father on backup.

Ford Music Video at the beach, which is a little odd, since the beach is deserted and it’s Scotty and two girls.  Doesn’t seem very wholesome to me…

Italian group “Il Volo”, featuring three barely post-pubescent crooners singing “O Sole Mio”.  These guys have unbelievable voices.  They also look like a combination of The Jonas Brothers and The Sopranos.  Someone really needs to style them.  Though I do love that only one of them is actually good-looking.  They should really be on “The Voice”.

Everyone goes nuts for Scotty, who lives in a HUGE house in North Carolina.  And Scotty gets WAY emotional and breaks down sobbing in his limo.  Dude has gotten a little boring on stage, but you know, he’s a great kid and is going to be as big as Carrie Underwood in the country music scene.  Maybe not a crossover artist, but huge in his community.  He’s surprised by Mr. Lock-them-Doors himself, Josh Turner.

Nicole Scherzinger performs her new single featuring 50 Cent.  Where you been, Fiddy?  And where did you go, Fiddy?  You came on just to do one line?  Guess you really need the career boost.  Song was catchy, and I like Nicole, but I prefer her on Dancing with the Stars, or even on the Sing-Off.

After the break, we’re on to Lauren’s hometown.  She’s off to see the destruction in the South.  Oy.  That’s incredibly sad.  Oh boy.  The whole visit just makes me wish Lauren had waited a few years to try out for Idol.  Her parents are younger than I am.  And she looks like she needs the extra years being a normal kid.  Alas, that will never be.

And on to the results.  Lock them doors and turn them lights down low, folks.  SCOTTY is your first contestant to make it to the finals.  Did anyone ever doubt it?  And then, without delay, as if reveling in their luck and celebrating their Tween dominance, Idol kicks Haley Reinhart to the curb sending LAUREN to the finale.  The judges cannot even feign disappointment.  Shame on them.

CONGRATULATIONS to Haley for triumphing over all odds and being such a pleasant surprise to watch week after week.

So now we are left with a finale with two contestants who should have starred in “From Justin to Kelly”.  Two of the most boring contestants in Idol history.  Two of the most wholesome contestants in Idol history.  They may as well rename the show “Country Idol”, or “Christian Idol”, because at this point, those are the only folks voting.

At least the Idol machine has gotten what it wanted and will have not just one, but two very marketable recording artists as their winners.  The crown is now firmly Scotty’s, no matter what he or Lauren do next week.

As I head off to Barcelona tomorrow just in time to miss this year’s finale, I cannot help but think that the ambivalence I feel about missing the show would have truly been regret had we had a very deserving Pia-James finale, Pia-Casey finale, Casey-James finale, or even James-Scotty finale.  America gets it wrong over and over again.

I’ll try to blog the finale shows when I am home after Memorial Day, but I suspect everyone will have moved on by then.  Have a great holiday, and thanks for reading.

Wertheim – off to Spain!

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American Idol Top 3 – The Performances

Much to my dismay, Idol has super-sized this week’s edition to two hours again.  And I am home late tonight.  And I lost a lot of interest after Durbin’s elimination.  But since I will be in Spain next week and will NOT be blogging, I feel like I should soldier through tonight.  Oh, and Beyonce is the guest mentor this week.  Now that’s a get.  Gaga followed by Beyonce.  JLo seems a bit icy at being out-diva-ed.  Yes, JLo, we do love you, but you are nowhere in the league of Beyonce.

Round 1 – Songs Chosen by Contestants

Scotty – “Amazed” by Lone Star.  Beyonce loves Scotty.  Except for his high range.  Everyone loves Scotty.  Just put the crown on already.  I must say though that for you for me, each week has shown us more and more of Scotty’s vocal limitations.  Despite his huge appeal, he really does have the weakest vocal instrument in the top 10.  Steven loved it.  JLo inexplicably thinks he has grown as a performer because he added some vibrato.  Randy did his usual name-dropping and said Scotty was money.

Lauren – “Wild One” by Faith Hill.  Beyonce gives Lauren some good pointers on being a diva.  I would listen carefully, Lauren.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.  For me for you for all of us, I thought it was boring overall and not phenomenal.  JLo said she had a moment – huh?  Randy talked around the actual performance.  Steven said Lauren is ready for American to be all over her.

Haley – “What Is And What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin.  Beyonce thinks Haley is a rock star.  She even got the Idol powers-that-be to agree to have her father back her up on guitar.  Didn’t like the song, but liked Haley, as usual.  Too bad she took a spill when coming back up the steps.  JLo better say something nice, because we KNOW she tripped on her face at the Grammy’s last year.  Randy actually thought Haley slayed it.  Steven loved her too.  And thank you JLo for acknowledging your own fall and for complimenting Haley.  GO HALEY!

The judges give Round 1 to HALEY!!!

Round 2 – Jimmy’s Choice

Scotty – “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?” by Thompson Square.  Scotty breaks out the gui-tar.  Certainly better than the first song.  The girls love it.  The judges heap unadulterated and over-exaggerated praise on Scotty.

Lauren – “If I Die Young” by Perry.  Much, much better than her first song, even though there were a couple of sour notes.  The judges actually acknowledged her flaws and gave her normal praise.

Haley – “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac.  Holy wind machine!  And overall – wow.  As Randy said, a little somber.  But so good.  JLo thought it was a beautiful, ethereal moment.  And I continue to be impressed with JLo’s vocabulary.

Steven gives round 2 to Lauren.  JLo and Randy give round 2 to Scotty.

Beyonce Break

We then take a very special break to premiere Beyonce’s new video, “Run The World Girls”.  Hot video.  Not sure what I think about the song yet.  Although it does seem destined to be another anthem.

Round 3 – Judges’ Choice

Scotty – “She Believes In Me” by Kenny Rogers.  It’s just way too much country for me tonight.  He did a good job though.  He put it over the top for Steven.  JLo is so proud of Scotty.  Randy says it was very nicely done.  And Ryan makes Scotty’s father sing “Baby Lock Them Doors…”

Lauren – “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack.  Love this song.  Lauren did a good job, but she’s no Le Ann Womack.  I just keep thinking that had she had two more years before performing on the show, she would have been AMAZING, but she just seems too young.  Lauren gave JLo goosebumps.  Randy says Lee Ann is a good friend of his.  Steven says she’s his friend too.  WHO CARES?

Haley – “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette.  One of the most amazing songs of all time.  And she sang the hell out of it.  I think the judges were trying to sabotage her though.  That song is SO iconic.  Bizarre to hear anyone other than Alanis sing it.  And it’s certainly not a “feel good” song.  But Haley most definitely proved to me that at this point – she deserves to win the whole shebang.

My Ranking of Tonight’s Performances

  1. Haley – “What Is And What Should Never Be”
  2. Haley – “You Oughta Know”
  3. Haley – “Rhiannon”
  4. Lauren – “I Hope You Dance”
  5. Lauren – “If I Die Young”
  6. Scotty – “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?”
  7. Scotty – “She Believes In Me”
  8. Lauren – “Wild One”
  9. Scotty – “Amazed”

Who Should Be In The Final Two

Well, my rankings are pretty clear.  Haley most definitely deserves a spot.  And I think that Scotty has proven that he is not as talented as either of the ladies, so Lauren should be by Haley’s side.

Who Will Be In The Final Two

I will be very surprised if Scotty doesn’t make it into the final two, which means that either Lauren will go home, which would be fine with me, or that America will turn their backs on Haley.  I pray that the latter doesn’t happen.  But I can’t really call it between Haley and Lauren.  VOTE FOR HALEY, AMERICA.

Wertheim, tired and out.

American Idol Recap – Top 4 Results

If Pia’s departure wasn’t enough to convince the Idol producers that the show’s voting process is deeply flawed, tonight’s results should nail it into their heads once and for all.

Here is the play-by-play of the evening…

James & Scotty sing some country song called “Sorry Man”.  Solid.

Lauren and Haley sing “Gunpowder and Lead”.  They actually sounded great together.  The pairing also demonstrates how much more interesting Haley’s voice is than Lauren’s.

Windows 7 plug.

Lauren is sent to safety.  And the producers must be thrilled.  They orchestrated this, after all.

We then watch the Idols watching Gaga perform “You and I” taped at one of her tour dates, which I swear is the exact performance they taped for her HBO special this past weekend.

Enrique Iglesias performs “Dirty Dancer” backed by a video of Usher.  Kind of bizarre, as it is actually a duet, just with one of the performers on video.  Then he segues into “Baby I Like It”.

Ford Music Video featuring “Fireflies”.

Out comes Jordin Sparks looking and sounding fierce, singing her new single, “I Am Woman”.  Ah, makes me nostalgic for the days when Idol winners were really worthy.

Stuffing both another song and another product placement in, Idol gives us the world premiere of Steven Tyler’s new video “It Feels So Good”, brought to us by Coke.

Haley is sent to safety as the horrifying reality of what is about to happen manifests itself on James Durbin’s face.  He is certainly bright and savvy enough to know that the America that has been keeping Lauren in the competition is certainly going to keep the more worthy Scotty in.  Ugh.  My heart is already breaking.

Finally, Scotty is sent to safety, leaving James Durbin as the contestant going home tonight.

Look, I would have been alright with James not winning the whole shebang, but I very disappointed to see him going home tonight.  He is hands down the most talented contestant left – no question.  But consider a few things:

  1. He is truly a metal guy at heart.  He won so many of us over, but ultimately most of America, including myself, will not be purchasing the album he ultimately produces.  It’s just going to be too metal.
  2. His first performance last night did not raise the bar for him at all.
  3. He was just too damned consistently good.  Even though he shockingly did continue to improve incrementally, he didn’t have the arc that made him the triumphing underdog.
  4. The judges did him in last night by first pimping Lauren out to the heavens and second by trashing Haley.  The teeny-boppers were told to vote for Lauren, and everyone else (including me) rallied around the deserving Haley with their votes.  No one came out for James because they didn’t think he needed the votes, even though Ryan very clearly told America to do what they could to avoid a Chris Daughtry moment tonight (incidentally – could the Idol franchise be any meaner to Taylor Hicks?!?!?).

So it doesn’t completely shock me that James went home tonight.  But it definitely makes me way less interested in the rest of the competition.  James should absolutely have been in the final two.  He should have been accompanied by either Scotty or Haley.  That would have been a deserving final two.  None of the combinations left have nearly as much star-power, especially the most likely scenario, with Scotty and Lauren in the final two.  The teeny-boppers and the Idol producers will get their way, and the rest of us will be bored to tears.  I do loves me some Scotty, but he doesn’t need to win and doesn’t deserve it.  And Lauren isn’t ready.

Congratulations to Haley for triumphing over the unsupportive Randy and JLo.  You are truly the best example we have had yet on Idol of a little engine that could and of someone who turned the audience’s opinion completely around.  You are more talented than I gave you credit for, and I hope you win the whole darned thing.

Farewell to James Durbin, who many initially suggested was a “poor man’s Adam Lambert” but who turned out to be at least twice as talented as Adam.  What an inspiration to see someone with not only Autism but also Tourette’s Syndrome show the world that anyone can be gifted with talent and make the most of it.  I hope you join Pia in getting a record deal before those who still remain do, and I wish you heaps of success.

I will be shocked if they don’t change the voting process next year to resemble that of Nigel’s other big success, “So You Think You Can Dance”.  America chooses the bottom three and then the judges choose who will go home from that group.  It ensures that huge mistakes like Pia or James don’t happen.  I hope you’re reading this, Nigel.

Wertheim out.  GO HALEY!

American Idol Recap – Top 4 Performances

Before I start tonight’s recaps, I just have to say that if you’re not watching Survivor this season, you’re really missing out.  Boston Rob is seriously the best Survivor player ever.  Dude has played four times and no one has even SUGGESTED voting him out and now he’s in the final four.  Simply amazing.  Certainly the most entertaining.

On to Idol…

Tonight, each contestant will be singing two songs.  One that is “meaningful to them”, and another from the songbook of Leiber & Stoller.  Oh, and they will be coached by Lady Gaga – who is everywhere.  Including Farmville.

Songs that Move…

James – “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey.  Great song.  Great voice.  Great performance.  Nothing particularly special though for James.  And we had to hear Randy prattle on and on about having been in journey.  A bit afraid that he is getting too confident…

Haley (aka Punching Bag) – “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson.  Interesting choice.  Glad that she didn’t choose a very well-known Michael song.  Not my favorite song ever, but once the chorus came in and Haley started belting, it was good.  JLo was totally right.  Who is she going to win over with a song people don’t know?  But Randy was ridiculously hard on her.  Boy, they really don’t want Haley in the finals.  No way she deserved that much criticism.  Thank goodness she fought back.  Because she was right.

Scotty – “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” by Alan Jackson.  OK.  It’s songs like this that make me not like country music.  Did nothing for me.  But I bet it did TONS for America, with Scotty singing over and over again “I love Jesus.”  WTF – Randy said it was the “perfect song choice”.  Give me a break.  Why didn’t Scotty get the ribbing that Haley got?  Still love Scotty too, but didn’t love this performance.

Lauren – “Anyway” – Martina McBride – Again, Lauren has redeemed herself from the first part of the season.  She sounded great, she looked great, and she picked a powerful song.  She sang about loving the Lord and the judges are in her corner.

Songs of Leiber and Stoller…with Gaga coaching…

Haley – “I Who Have Nothing” – First of all, I love Gaga.  She is phenomenal.  And she loves Haley.  Second – interesting choice for Haley, given that this was one of Jordin’s signature songs.  Third – she SANG it.  Awesome.  Sounded amazing.  Wonderfully dramatic.  Loved the string section behind her.

Scotty – “Young Blood” – Enjoyable.  I like it when Scotty shows personality. Would be nice if he delivered a vocal tour-de-force once in awhile.  Not really an “in it to win it” performance.  But of course the judges didn’t call him on it because they want him to win.

Lauren – “Trouble” – My favorite Lauren performance so far.  So nice to see her get out of that sappy, wholesome schtick.  She has really upped her game.

James – “Love Potion Number Nine” – Amazing.

My Ranking of Tonight’s Performances

  1. James – “Love Potion Number Nine”
  2. Haley – “I Who Have Nothing”
  3. James – “Don’t Stop Believin'”
  4. Lauren – “Trouble”
  5. Lauren – “Anyway”
  6. Haley – “Earth Song”
  7. Scotty – “Young Blood”
  8. Scotty – “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning”

Who’s Going Home

Based on tonight’s performances, Scotty deserves to go home.  Based on the entire season, Lauren deserves to go home.  But based on what the Idol powers-that-be are trying to achieve, Haley will be going home.  I don’t want to see it happen (and I voted for her tonight – my first vote of the entire season), but I think it may be inevitable.  James is a lock, and both Scotty and Lauren are way too wholesome to be ejected before Haley.  The good news for her is that she made it so much further than anyone expected her to, and she is going to have a lot of people in her corner based on the way she was treated and how well she handled herself.  There is a chance that Lauren will go home instead of Haley (which is really what should happen), but that’s a long shot.

A note on the order tonight – although he clearly is good enough to both open and close the show, it is totally unfair of the producers to give James BOTH pimp spots – opening AND closing the show.  Come on, Nigel Lythgoe.  That is an unfair advantage.  You can’t pull out every stop to guarantee James’ win.  Let him win it on his own.  Not cool.

And a final note once again to say how amazing Gaga is.  If you didn’t watch her HBO special on Saturday, find it and watch it immediately.  Weird as she may be, she is refreshing, inspiring, and mad talented.  Compare her to Madonna all you’d like – she deserves the comparison.  She has all the talent Madonna has plus an actual AMAZING voice and a healthy message.  She deserves her success and superstardom.

Alright.  Wertheim out.

American Idol Recap – Top 5 Results

The show starts with a group performance of “Happy Together”.

The Idols do a plug for Hell’s Kitchen.

Performance by Lady Antebellum.

Plug for Bing.

Jacob and Lauren are placed on opposite ends of the stage.

More Hell’s Kitchen plug.

JLo performs “On the Floor”, followed by a preview of JLo’s new single.  Bless her for negotiating a great deal.

Haley is sent to join James and Jacob is sent to join Lauren.

Scotty is SAFE, and Ryan pulls the old “choose the group you think is safe” trick.  Luckily, it is James and Haley.  I am glad I was wrong and that Haley got the respect she deserves.

So Lauren and Jacob are the bottom two, which sends Lauren into a tearful breakdown.  Unnecessary drama, ad Lauren is SAFE and Jacob is going HOME!!!!  May we never have to hear him again.  And to think…he started out as my favorite contestant.

And so Pia travesty aside, we have a worthy top four.  Good for the two women for evening out the gender balance at long last and showing that there are people other than tween girls still voting.  That being said, it’s going to be very difficult for either to crack the top two.

Wertheim out.

American Idol Recap – Top 5 Performances

So we’re at the Top 5 already, also known as the Top 4 + Jacob Lusk.  Each contestant is singing two songs tonight: “One from today and one from back in the day.”  And Sheryl Crow joins Jimmy as guest mentor this week.  Contemporary songs first…

James – “Closer to the Edge” by 30 Seconds to Mars – James demonstrated tonight why he might not grab the Idol crown.  Of course, he sounded great, but I had no interest in the song.  He is showing us the kind of record he could make, and it ain’t one I am gonna buy.  I hope he doesn’t do something like this in the inevitable James vs. Scotty final.  He also didn’t look like a badass.  He just looked bad.

Jacob – “No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown – Hmm….Interesting choice.  Love the song.  Do it in Karaoke all the time.  But with a woman.  OMG.  HORRIFIC.  It was like one of those first auditions that the old panel would have laughed through and promptly said “no thank you.”  What a poor choice.  That’s ok, since tonight is the Top 4 + Jacob Lusk.

Lauren – “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood – Well, she looks better and better every week.  And she also seems more comfortable every week.  I also think it may have been her best performance in the finals.  Not a magical moment, but certainly enjoyable enough to buy herself another week.

Scotty – “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry – Probably the first time Scotty actually seemed his age.  He gave a spirited, energetic, fun performance that showed a lot of personality.

Haley – “You and I” by Lady Gaga – Wow.  She got an unreleased song by Laga Gaga and actually talked to Gaga herself.  Haley has come further than any other Idol contestant has ever come.  From dead-in-the-water to true contender.  She was great.  I don’t think she had the “moment” Jimmy thought she was going to have, but I thought she was great.  And I think the judges are trying to sabotage her.

And now back to the ’60’s and ’70’s…

James – “Without You” by Harry Nilsson – Wow.  Well there was the moment.  A shaky start then became magical when he started belting.  Marry the flawless belt with tears streaming down his face and there came magic.  I enjoyed this one way more than his first performance, and I think it will win more people over.

Jacob – “Love Hurts” by Keith Richards – What are you trying to do to my theme for the night, Jacob?  Oy vey.  You may have thrown a fly in the ointment.  I cannot tell a lie.  I think this was his best performance in ages.  I think he sounded great and really chose the right song.  And I don’t think the judges gave him nearly enough credit.  Dude is annoying and first song sucked, but this one was pretty damned good.

Lauren – “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers – Much better than I expected it to be.  Thank goodness, Lauren has finally delivered on her potential.  Why did it take her so long to start REALLY performing.  She has finally earned her spot in the top.

Scotty – “Always on my Mind” by Elvis Presley – And Scotty is back.  Perfect song for him.  Nothing exciting, but he did his thing and his shining cross was well-positioned.  And he’s 1/4 Puerto Rican – who knew?!?!?!

Haley – “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals – Go Haley.  She started out a cappella and sounded amazing.  And boy did she bring it for the rest of the song.  As far as I’m concerned, the best performance of the night.  The judges seemed to think so as well as she got their only standing ovation.

My Ranking of Tonight’s Performances

  1. Haley – “House of the Rising Sun”
  2. James – “Without You”
  3. Lauren – “Unchained Melody”
  4. Jacob – “Love Hurts”
  5. Scotty – “Always on my Mind”
  6. Haley – “You and I”
  7. Scotty – “Gone”
  8. Lauren – “Flat on the Floor”
  9. James – “Closer to the Edge”
  10. Jacob – “No Air”

Who’s Going Home

Well, despite a very strong second showing, I think that Jacob will truly be going home tomorrow night.  “No Air” was really the only disaster of the evening, and he just needs to go home.  Haley will clearly be in the bottom with him, which is completely undeserved.  Frankly, I would put Scotty there with Jacob.  But I suspect Haley will have to sweat it out once again.  Let’s just hope Jacob doesn’t pull an upset this week as well.

An overall enjoyable night.  James cemented his front-runner status, and both Lauren and Scotty started fighting to win.  Haley is the Little Enigne That Could and continues to prove that she deserves to be in the final two, though I doubt she will get there.  Who cares at this point anyway.  She has done what she needed to do and will have her shot at a career one way or the other.

My odds are now on James and Scotty 50-50.

Triathlon Update

So I am now 7-weeks into training and starting to get into the groove and really enjoy myself.  I am also close to raising the $3000 I need to to reach my minimum goal and have adjusted my goal to $4000.  Thank you so much to the many of you who have generously given a contribution already.  If you haven’t and are in the position to do so, please consider helping me out and donate to this worthy cause: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri11/mwerthe59w

Wertheim out.

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