Ok, I just made that category up but if you've ever heard Billy sing you'd know that he's in a class all by himself.\
Thoughts on tonight's show later.
In August 2007, at age 46 and married with three children, Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Professor Randy Pausch was given the earth shattering news that he had six months to live.
Ever the optimist, a month later, on September 18, he gave his last lecture entitled, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," to a packed McConomy Auditorium at Carnegie Mellon University.
The inspirational presentation discusses his lessons learned and offers advice on how to achieve goals both personal and professional. It also poses the simple yet life defining question, "Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?"
The lecture has been viewed online more than five million times and turned into the best selling book, The Last Lecture.
If you've never seen the last lecture I strongly encourage you to watch it now; it is truly inspiring.
Randy Pausch passed away while surrounded by his family at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia in the early morning of July 25, 2008 ending his battle with pancreatic cancer.
RIP Randy and peace to your family.
More soon, I promise.
The American Idol Tour may be coming to a city near you so if you’re interested in seeing the Top 9 Wannabes and the 7th American Idol, tickets go on sale May 17.
This week was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week and I was shocked at how bad it was. I didn’t start writing about Idol until it was down to the Top 10 because I figured that it would be interesting to chronicle the rise of these performers rather than the wackiness of tryouts but I am bored silly.
This will be short because the show just wasn’t very good. Jason Castro was horrible again, Syesha Mercado was good but not as good as many of the ladies from past seasons, David Cook seemed distracted and lacked intensity and David Archuleta was the best, which is a clear indicator that the show has lost at least a step.
Several weeks ago Simon said that the contestants were boring and lacked personality. Their song choices clearly reflect that and I think that is the reason for the ratings slide.
What is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week anyway? Ryan Seacrest didn’t give much of an explanation so we really don’t know what pool of songs the Idol Wannabes had to choose from; was it songs written by inductees, performed by inductees or the Hall’s 500 most influential songs that he mentioned? We just don’t know.
When song choice is everything being clear about the song pool is critical.
David Cook “Hungry Like the Wolf” Duran Duran 1982 & “Baba O’Reilly” The Who 1971
David Cook looked kind of bored during his first song and honestly the lights were more exciting than him but with this luke warm final four it was probably good enough to keep him around but certainly not up to his usual standard.
Cook’s second song was much better and I would have liked to hear more but he still seemed a bit detached or distracted. Unless he’s blindsided by a “Daughtry” he should stick around for the finals.
Syesha Mercado “Proud Mary” & “A Change Is Gonna Come” Sam Cooke 1965
Syesha Mercado’s first song included a sultry opening, full Tina Turner choreography and a shimmery gold dress (that didn’t hang very well). It was a good performance but a little too close to Tina Turner’s version without her unique performing ability for my taste.
Thinking back to Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones both would have knocked this girl out but given the strength of this final four Syesha should be back.
Her second song “A Change Is Gonna Come” started with a big note and finished with another. It was a great performance and Syesha showed that can be Broadway and more.
Jason Castro “I Shot the Sheriff” Bob Marley & The Wailers & Bob Dylan “Mr. Tambourine Man”
Jason Castro seemed baked in his interview when talking about Bob Marley and offered a completely whack performance of the Marley classic "I Shot the Sheriff". The arrangement was strange and it just came off like over inflated karaoke.
His second song was even worse. His only accompaniment was the acoustic guitar he played and my immediate reaction was “Oh my god, total implosion!” when he began humming because he forgot the words. We're down to the final four out of more than 50,000 people and this fool forgot the words.
And Hey Mr. Tambourine Man play a song for me, cause I can’t remember the words and two songs are just too much for me…
Paula’s “It is what it is” comment was utterly astute but Simon Cowell’s “Jason, I’d pack your suitcase.” comment captured my hopes and dreams to a T.
David Archuleta “Stand By Me” Ben E. King 1960 & “Love Me Tender” Elvis Presley
In his interview Archuleta said that he sings “Stand By Me” in his room to himself. *weirdo* Does this kid not have any friends?
His vocal was very clean and but he looked scared when he sang “All you beautiful girls, stand by me” and the line seemed like a farce; otherwise it was a very strong performance.
He didn’t know Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” but he wanted to sing a ballad. It was a solid performance and Archuleta was definitely the best this week.
I like David Cook and Syesha Mercado but this group just isn’t as exciting as past contenders and I’m finding it challenging to not fast forward through everything but the songs (ok even some of the songs too) and even more difficult to think of something intelligent to say about each of the remaining Wannabes.
It’s supposed to be getting better not worse but I guess that’s why the ratings are slipping.
Paula’s gaff last week was the most exciting thing to happen on Idol in weeks and there is no way they’ll replace her; she’s drama, comic relief and the Wannabe’s biggest cheerleader (pun intended).
People, PLEASE! A little more excitement or at least better song choices!
Results tomorrow and if Castro doesn’t go home the American public will lose all credibility.
Neil Diamond is an American singer/songwriter icon that has sold over 120 million records and had over a dozen top 10 hits. His 26th studio album Home Before Dark drops May 6, 2008.
This is the first week when each of the Idol Wannabes sing two songs. Though Diamond was friendly and engaging, the workshops were not nearly as interesting as last week with Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Jason Castro (“Forever in Blue Jeans” & “September Morn”)
In the workshop with Neil Diamond Castro didn’t know the words and brought the wrong lyric sheet but Diamond was kind enough to say that he thought the Idol Troubadour would do well once on stage.
Diamond was being FAR too kind. Castro played guitar on “Forever in Blue Jeans” to kick off the evening but unfortunately the performance sounded like it belonged in a train station.
He was boring, didn’t connect with the lyrics, and truthfully “I’d much rather be…” listening to anyone else sing this.
Regardless of what he did to Blue Jeans I’m sure that he seduced his fanbase with “September Morn” as they have probably never heard Diamond’s original and truly romantic version.
When confronted by the judges with his boring performances, he said that he started to choke right before he started to sing his second song "September Morn". He seems unaffected by the whole process and not too concerned about winning which is good because he shouldn't even come close.
Castro's plight was only made worse by the fact that David Cook followed him.
David Cook (“I’m Alive” & “All I Really Need is You”)
Cook picked two virtually unheard of Diamond tunes and rock them both.
He played electric guitar on “I’m Alive” and I wondered if he was thinking of his brother Adam (he still rocks the AC on his guitar).
Right off the bat Cook made “All I Really Need is You” his own. It was great. He was great. He hit some beautiful notes and it could be a single right now. He did everything that Castro didn’t do by reinterpreting, updating and connecting with the song.
Paula said, “I feel like I’m already looking at the next American Idol” and I couldn’t agree more.
Brooke White (“I’m a Believer” & “I Am, I Said”)
I was SO disappointed to learn that Brooke White would be singing, “I’m a Believer”. I love that song. Davy Jones offered a brilliant vocal more than 40 years ago and Smashmouth did an awesome (Awesome speech Popey –W.) job of updating it for “Shrek” in 2001.
She played acoustic guitar and I felt like I was at girl scout camp. Ok, I've never been to Girl Scouts but I can imagine...
Simon said that she was a “Nightmare” and I completely agree.
She played piano on “I Am, I Said” and the vocal was ok but it was really the song that carried her through. We’ll have to see if http://www.votefortheworst.com/ keeps her in the game and (fingers crossed) Castro goes home or if her time will finally be up.
David Archuleta (“Sweet Caroline” & Coming to America”)
As you know Rock & Roll Library is based in Boston which means we have a VERY STRONG attachment to “Sweet Caroline”. It’s played at Fenway Park during the middle of the eighth inning of Red Sox games and in November 2007 Diamond revealed that his inspiration was none other than Caroline Kennedy the daughter of Boston native and 35th President John F. Kennedy.
Unfortunately, tonight Archuleta sang it. He did not start strong and I felt like I couldn’t even hear him over the band at times; he did look a little more comfortable than usual.
He didn’t connect with the song or the audience on the most obvious lines, “hands touching hands, reaching out touching me, touching you…” he didn’t even reach for one hand in the audience. He would have been beaten and thrown out of Fenway for this rendition. Verdict: SuperLame
“Coming to America” was very karaoke. He can hit big notes but in more of a Broadway style than rock or pop. The judges loved it but I thought that it was Broadway and that was last week.
Syesha Mercado (“Hello Again” & “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime”)
“Hello Again” was not her best performance but it was still good. Unfortunately it lacked the power punch that performers need to deliver at this stage of the competition.
“Thank the Lord for the Nighttime” was her second song and it reminded me of Aretha Franklin singing “Respect” to Matt Murphy at the diner in the Blues Brothers movie. She was very good but American Idol isn't Broadway and given her frequent presence in the bottom three Syesha could be in serious trouble.
I love Syesha’s hair but this week she straightened it and I didn’t care for it.
Whack moment of the night:
After everyone performed their first song host Ryan Seacrest went to the judges for quick impressions before the break and Paula Abdul critiqued both of Jason Castro’s songs…Ryan said, “Your seeing the future baby.” She did seem sober if totally confused.
The recap montage made it perfectly clear that Jason Castro and Brooke White are in a class by themselves; last. Syesha Mercado has found her niche in musicals and the finals should be Archuleta vs. Cook with Cook crushing the 17 year old; but you never know what will happen with Idol voting.
First or fifth David Cook will go the way of Kelli Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry racking up millions of sales and tons of accolades.
Jason Castro “Memories" (Cats)
Clearly the Idol Troubadour was going to have difficulty this week as Lord Andrew doesn't write songs for single key singers but his selection of one of the Broadway master's most well known power ballads sealed our horrible fate.
Castro didn't help himself in his interview when he added that he didn't know the song or that it was sung by a cat. It was quite a battle for worst this week and without the support of http://www.votefortheworst.com/ Casto may be finished tonight.David Archuleta "Think of Me" (The Phantom of the Opera)
Mariah Carey was the guest mentor this week on American Idol which coincides with the release of her new album E=MC2 which dropped yesterday. Earlier this year Mariah Carey surpassed Elvis Presley for most #1 singles by a solo artist with 18.
Tonight Carey gave a great performance of “Bye Bye” from her new album. She was a great role model for the Idol Wannabes this week who is technically proficient and connects powerfully with her songs and audience. The women struggled while the men seemed to do well with her songs this week.
Kristi Lee Cook, Brooke White and Syesha Mercado made up the bottom three and unfortunately for Kristi Lee Cook it was time to pay up for mangling the Beatles “Eight Days a Week” oh so many weeks ago.
Kristi Lee has a good shot at making it in Nashville where she is likely headed.
I’ll let you know whom www.votefortheworst.com decides to support next week but I’m thinking Brooke White.
Cook offered this explanation of his hospital visit after last night's show: "The whole thing kind of got blown out of proportion. I have high blood pressure and it spiked and so they took me there as a precaution; but I'm cool, I'm not going anywhere."
Dolly performed a new song "Jesus & Gravity" (Jesus lifts her up and gravity hold her down); not exactly my cup of tea but I admire her energy and positive outlook. She's an icon and a nice person, I wish this week on Idol had been better for her.
The winners of America's Next Great American Band (American Idol for bands) the Clark Brothers sang "This Little Light of Mine" which was a weird mix of a gospel song with country guitar stylings and something like punk vocals (or maybe he was just yelling). Don't worry, Next Great American Band never really found an audience and I don't expect it back.
Next week's theme is Inspirational songs.
And Sarah Silverman’s boyfriend, late night talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel + Ben Affleck. It's true, they announced it on his show (2/24/08), check out their response video to Sarah & Matt below (aired on national television but may be Not Suitable for Work or the faint of heart).
As you know I’m frequently up late and I caught both debuts live on Kimmel. Silverman introduced the clip that she said she had made for his birthday in October but because of the writer's strike she had to wait to show it to him until the show resumed production in February.
Congratulations Eli Manning and the New York Giants you are the World Champions.