American Idol S15 The End…Or Not?

9 04 2016

And the winner is…….

I’m just kidding. There are 2+ hours of filler before we find out who wins the very last spot as an American Idol.

President Obama made a speech at the beginning in a pitch to get people to vote and exercise their rights as citizens to vote in elections.

The opening number included Idol contestants from previous seasons. My mind instantly went to one Idol who will there be in spirit, Michael Johns. His death was so sad. The song started with the top 3 of this season and then moved out of to the broader focus that included all the contestants from this season. Then more contestants. I recognized Nick Fradiani, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, (was that David Archuletta, too, next to him), Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, Ace Young, James Durbin, Carly Smithson, Jasmine Trias (from season 3 who wore a flower in her hair), Bo Bice, Scotty McCreery, and Caleb Johnson. I am sure there are others I will see and be shocked at how much they’ve changed (like Bo Bice).   Tonight I believe more often than not we will be saying to ourselves, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to” fill in the blank.

Brian Dunkleman, the co-host of season 1, joined as a surprise guest, a nice book-end to the beginning of Idol history. But the jokes he continued making got old and they didn’t get many laughs in the audience. Awkward.

Trent and La’Porsha teamed up to sing “It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with pictures of their journey this season playing behind them.

Season 10 and 11 judge Steven Tyler began a series of retrospectives of their participation in Idol. Later Nicki Minaj shared her wishes. Notably absent was diva Mariah CareyEllen DeGeneres sent a video.

Former seasons 8 and 9 judge Kara DioGuardi performed and I wished she hadn’t. She is a better songwriter than singer.   Also among the people in this medley segment were Colton Dixon from season 11; a duet with season 1’s Justin Guarini and season 6’s Jordin Sparks; season 2’s Kimberley Locke; Tamyra Gray (season 1); Allison Iraheta (season 8); Larry Platt from season 9 (“Pants on the Ground” song fame but was never a contestant); finally ending with Pia Toscano (season 10). Sanjaya was spotted in the audience in a “Where’s Sanjaya” segment.  Glad he didn’t sing.

When Kelly Clarkson was visiting a few weeks back as a mentor, since she was pregnant and it was unlikely she could attend the show, she pre-recorded a montage of all her most popular hits. It showcased why we love her and the show that served as a gateway to all the music she brought to our lives. The medley ended with the song that started it all, “A Moment Like This.

Male Idol rockers did a medley of songs. The members included Bo Bice from season 4 (the biggest physical appearance change I have seen yet this evening); Caleb Johnson from season 13; Constantine Maroulis (season 4); James Durbin (season 10); and Chris Daughtry (season 5).

Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood (season 4) joined forces to sing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” originally by Stevie Nicks featuring Tom Petty (Tom Petty actually wrote the song). I wish Carrie would have had a crossover rock career. When Carrie sang rock songs on Idol season 4, they were my favorite and had me looking at her like a winner.

Next was a country medley of songs starting off with Diana DeGarmo (season 3); Skylar Laine (season 11) who wasn’t sounding so great; Kree Harrison (season 12) who I loved during her season also sounded not so great either (you were pitchy dawg). They were then joined by the boys are of country Bucky Covington (season 5); Ace Young of season 5 (who is married to Diana DeGarmo); and confusingly Constantine Maroulis (season 4). Constantine filled in for Josh Gracin who declined their invitation because he didn’t want to sing a medley of covers with other contestants (per his report on tasteofcountry.com). Then Lauren Alaina (season 10) and Kellie Pickler (season 5) came on stage. Lastly Scotty McCreery (season 10) came out.

Harry Connick Jr presented a very emotional segment along with his friend, Marley Fletcher, from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the heart of the 9th Ward in New Orleans to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

He then introduced some of the best singers Idol has had on center stage.   Katharine McPhee (season 5) and Casey James (be still my heart from season 9) singing a duet; Carly Smithson (season 7) doing a solo; Clay Aiken (season 2) doing a solo; Ruben Studdard (season 2) and Amber Holcomb (season 12) doing a duet; and finishing up with Jessica Sanchez (season 11) in a solo of ‘The Prayer” where the others joined at the end.

Jennifer Lopez sizzled up the stage with her new song “Ain’t Your Mama.”   I would have loved to see that in person. That was stellar. And she ended with “Let’s Get Loud” to get Idol pumped up, the perfect halftime song. This whole thing left me breathless.

Season 3 ladies Latoya London, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson performed a trio “Bridge Over Troubled Water. Jennifer Hudson sang a solo of her song from Empire “Remember the Music.Brandon Rogers (season 6), Clark Beckham (season 14), George Huff (season 3), Danny Gokey (season 8), and Elliott Yamin (season 5) banded together to sing a medley of Motown hits.

Fantasia came back to do some of her song, “Ugly.” Latoya London (season 3) came back on stage with Taylor Hicks (season 5) “Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Season 11 Joshua Ledet took the stage; wow he looks fantastic. He sang “It’s a Man’s World” by James Brown. He rocked that stage!   And more Idol joined in. Candice Glover (season 12) and Melinda Doolittle (season 6) along with a variety of other Idols including many of the season 15 contestants to sing “Joy to the World.” Even Harry Connick Jr was up dancing.

A tribute to David Bowie was done featuring Idol winners Phillip Phillips (season 11), Lee DeWyze (season 9), Nick Fradiani (season 14), David Cook (season 7) and Kris Allen (season 8) which included Bowie’s hits “Starman” from 1972, “Rebel Rebel” from 1974, and “The Jean Genie” from 1972.

Next was a playback of the worst or funniest auditions or moments during the early years with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest including that awful Simon and Paula kiss. Randy and Paula came on stage and of course you were just waiting for Simon to make a “surprise” appearance. Paula and Randy gifted Ryan with the American Idol sign that Ryan will put it on his nightstand. Simon didn’t have a black T-shirt on. He dressed up for the occasion. Fatherhood looks good on him. And just when you thought the surprises were over out pops the non-surprise, William Hung who performed “She Bangs.” He ultimately released an album which sold 200,000 copies and made it to number one on Billboard’s Top Independent Album chart. He now works for the LA Sheriff’s Department as a technical crime analyst. Ryan Seacrest did a little dancing with him on stage.

Contestants throughout the 15 years shared how much they loved doing the Ford video segments. Trent and La’Porsha received keys to their cars for this year.

Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood sang her song “Something in the Water.”   She got tearful when talking to Ryan Seacrest.

Now it is time to learn who is the winner is of the very last American Idol. The winner is TRENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am just as shocked as he was. With everyone chanting La’Porsha’s name in the audience the night before I felt certain the win was hers. He deserves it just as much as she did but I thought it was hers. I thought Trent was going to pass out. Jennifer pointed to Keith as if she was saying, “you called it.” Jennifer looked shocked and Harry looked shocked too and mouthed “wow” to Jennifer. Trent was sweet when he said that La’Porsha pushed him during the competition.

Ryan Seacrest then signs off the show by saying, “We say to you from Hollywood, goodnight America.” The room goes dark and you hear him say “for now.”   For now? What the hell does that mean? Do they think in 10 years from now, they’ll bring back like X-Files for a limited event? Let American Idol die in peace and go out on a high. They weren’t going out on tour for that very reason so what makes them think bring the show back is “going out on a high?”

I heard later on during the Twitterfest that the producers were going to shop the show to another network. If this is true, it is a mistake. American Idol is forever associated with Fox Broadcasting and to try to resurrect it as the same show or anything that has the name American Idol even if it is in a different format, is just a mistake. American Idol had a great run but like all things, they come to an end, and so should this.

Thank you American Idol for the many years of entertainment; you will live on in television legend.  Guess I will need to get back to blogging about other things, too.





American Idol S15 Top 4 Revealed

26 03 2016

I’ll have to catch up another time with last week’s Idol. I did see Tristan McIntosh was the one to go home. My life is insane right now during tax time.

Legendary Steven Van Zandt mentored the contestants this week. The first contestant through to the final 4 comes as no surprise – La’Porsha Renae. I LOVE her new hairdo. Now she looks like a rock star. They have to sing hard-rock songs this week. She chose Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” I don’t think there is anything she cannot sing. She is amazing. Keith said she killed it. She brought out the blue undertones of the song and it was really good. Jennifer said her voice is so undeniable she could sing the phone book. Harry says her ability as a singer transcends every genre. Her vibrato was in time and he had never heard anyone do that before.

MacKenzie Bourg chose “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick. He started out a little pitchy. I like that he tried to do something different with the song, but there were sections where the band swallowed him up. But his pitch problems remained throughout the song. Jennifer is not sure if she liked how he “MacKenzied” it. It wasn’t as exciting as she wanted it to be. Harry thought it was alright. His vocal was fine but it wasn’t one of his favorite ones. Keith hated the arrangement.

David Cook returned to the Idol stage to sing “Heartbeat.” I really liked it. The beginning of the song though sounded like bits and pieces of his other songs.

Trent Harmon made it through to the final four. He chose “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. The first verse was very Louisiana deep-blues sounding.  He kept the chorus familiar for the audience. I loved everything about this. Jennifer and Keith were on their feet. Harry said he was so content with the groove in the beginning. In concert, he could have sung the same song twice. It was really smart. Keith said it was so freaking good. At this point they need a song to show off their attributes and it was a 10 out of 10. Jennifer said she has been waiting for him to have this performance. It was perfect.

Sonika and Dalton stood together to hear the results of the final person who makes it through to the top 4. I hope it is Dalton. AND IT IS!!!!!! He was going to sing one song, but it never really came together so he went with his backup song, “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. This is NOT a hard rock song. After what I saw with Trent, this is kind of anticlimactic. For me to say that is tough because I’m a big Dalton fan. Keith said it was as pure as it gets. Jennifer said it is great that he took the advice. It was a really good moment for him. Harry said this one was the most complex harmonically and vulnerability. It wasn’t about a strong vocal but for him to get completely into the lyrics and he did that.

Katharine McPhee returned to sing “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland.

Sia was the mentor in the second half of the show. I enjoyed getting to know her more on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.

La’Porsha is up first. Sia was blown away by La’Porsha’s rendition of her song “Diamonds” on a previous show. She chose “Elastic Heart” tonight. I loved the drum accompaniment, too. I loved it. Jennifer said she feels like she isn’t doing a job anymore. It’s so nice to watch. She has grown. Harry asked her if she sang in her head voice before and she said no. He says he feels like he is a passenger in a NASCAR seat when she sings. Keith said it is beautiful to come in with raw talent turn into a performer. He feels like he is at an award show watching her do an original song.

MacKenzie chose “Titanium.” I liked this song better than the first-round song. He took Sia’s advice and went for the falsetto for the high note on the first go-round and then took the note down later. Harry said it was nice. He gave him advice not to make it about a single note. Keith liked it as a singer/songwriter moment. Jennifer said there is more that he can do with his voice. Life doesn’t begin until you are out of your comfort zone.

Sia performed “Cheap Thrills.” She is such a performance artist with the dancers who work with her and how she presents in her songs in such a unique way.

Trent chose “Chandelier.” Wow. I really loved what he did to this song. I had goosebumps, more than Sia’s goosebumps on her legs. These were full-body goosebumps. I’m speechless. He has had a stellar evening with two fantastic songs. Keith thought it was beautiful. It played to everything he has that is so special to him. It was exquisite and he loved every minute of it. Jennifer said the voice is consistent but the wardrobe is like two. Harry thought it was phenomenal. He felt Trent was completely in another world with that. He gives it a 100 out of 100. (Wow, you can’t get higher praise than that).

Geeze, Dalton. I would hate to follow that. Dalton chose “Bird Set Free.” They discussed how they are both bipolar. It was a touching moment. I got goosebumps. That was a great performance for him. He was so emotional and I started crying with him. Jennifer said it is beautiful to watch him. He touches their hearts but especially tonight. Harry said this song was the best match up. He sure liked it. Keith said he is up against some insane singers, but he is always pushing through his limitations. It’s so inspiring.

I think Trent, La’Porsha and Dalton deserve the top 3. I have enjoyed MacKenzie’s work, but his growth hasn’t been as much as the others and I really haven’t seen him take risks other than try to make songs different acoustically. Also, I don’t see him as a book-end to Kelly Clarkson to close out American Idol.





American Idol S15 Showcase No 4 Duets & Cuts

24 02 2016

Kellie Pickler with Amelia Eisenhauer returned to a song Kellie sang on Idol called “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans. Kellie let Amelia sing first. That was a fun way to start the show. Kellie did a wonderful job helping her to carry the duet. Harry loves to see a young person like her come out fighting with someone like Kellie. Keith felt the same; it was a great song to do. Jennifer thought she felt right at home with Kellie and was the perfect mentor for her.

Haley Reinhart and Kory Wheeler teamed up for “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John. I didn’t like Haley’s voice when she was a contestant and I still don’t like her voice. Kory did a great job. Keith thought it was so good. Jennifer thought it was a nice pairing. Harry said he thought having Haley helped to ground him. It was really good.

Chris Daughtry and Lee Jean sang one of Chris’ songs “Home.” It is so hard to sing with someone who is so phenomenal. Chris should have won his year, but I’m almost glad he didn’t so he could go out and do his own thing and not get tied up with a specific contract. Lee did a good job, but will it get him into the top 7 tonight? I’m not sure. Jennifer thought he did a great job. She is speechless. Harry thought it was really, really strong. It was hard to do what he just did. Keith said he did a great job bringing the storyteller quality to that song.

David Cook and CJ Johnson chose Collective Soul’s “The World that I Know.” I love this song. And I love that David is so gracious to let CJ go first. It was fantastic. I got goosebumps. Harry thought their voices sounded really good together. He thought it was a nice job. Keith agreed. He held his own pretty well. They did as good as anybody could with that song. Jennifer said there were some powerhouse duets before it so it is unfortunate but they do compare. She wished it could have been “bring the audience up” kind of performance.

Jordin Sparks and Manny Torres sang her song “No Air.” Jordin was pushing him to find the emotional side of the lyrics. He found it because my goosebumps lit up in a crazy way. Keith said they were great together. It was powerhouse duet time. Jennifer said it could not have been more perfect. Harry said that his eyes were going back and forth between the two of them despite the fact that Jordin was looking so amazing tonight that it is a testament to how much charisma he has on stage. Great vocal performance and duet together.

Constantine Maroulis and Jenn Blosil sang “My Funny Valentine” by Frank Sinatra. Major goosebumps. That was fantastic. I would have to score this as much my favorite as Manny and Jordin’s duet. Keith was standing up. Jennifer said it was the embodiment of the perfect duet, coming together but being so very different. Harry felt like it turned into a shouting match that was inappropriate for this particular song. Keith said he frigging loved it. It was fantastic.

Kellie Pickler was paired this time around with Tristan McIntosh to sing one of Kellie’s songs “Best Days of Your Life.” Tristan was a little pitchy during the verses. The chorus was better. I love Tristan so I was a little sad. Harry thought it was pretty darn good. His advice is to make sure she doesn’t rush, to make sure she is singing in the pocket, and be aware of where you are on the stage. When Kellie was planted, she tended to wander the stage a little bit. Keith said he felt it was tricky for her to start the harmony below Kellie. He said it was shaky pitch-wise. Jennifer said that when they put her up there with a seasoned performed, it does show she does not have as much experience (she is so young) as some of the other contestants.

Olivia Rox and David Cook sang one of David’s songs “Light On.” Superior goosebumps. I love David Cook and I love Olivia Rox. Keith said it is really high praise when the alumni says that all week he’s been trying to keep up with her. Jennifer said her voice is phenomenal. She agrees what David says is true that if she can find her groove in the songs, she is going to be around for a long time. Harry said she sings like someone who knows music. Idol is lucky to have her.

Haley (sigh) Reinhart and Adam Lasher are singing Haley remake of Elvis Presley’s classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Haley is an acquired taste and I never acquired it. Of course my Twitter friend @Idol360 would love to argue with me about that and we have. This song is doing no favors for Adam Lasher. It isn’t allowing him to show off his voice. He looked stiff and he wasn’t looking at this beautiful young lady much. Jennifer said it was very strong and it came off really well. Harry thought it was lovely and he thought they were falling in love before their eyes. Keith wanted him to equally loosen up. She was right in the moment with it and he was stiff and he wanted him to give in. Keith felt like he never quite let it go.

I am SO glad Chris Daughtry was paired with Dalton Rapattoni. Chris wanted to sing “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder because he felt he didn’t reflect his best effort on Idol during his time. There is just too much hotness here. Seriously intense goosebumps. That was insane. I loved it. Harry thinks he is terrific. Every performance of his has been great but he has to give credit to this band being behind him. He did what he was supposed to do but Ryan could have sounded good on that one. Keith said they complimented each other. It was incredible. Jennifer said she is loving him. She thinks he is like this dark horse coming to the surface right at the right time (dark horse???? He’s always be a frontrunner to me).

Ryan then entertained us with a rap. Harry and Keith stood up for that and Keith gave him an 8.5 on a piece of paper.

Jordin Sparks and Trent Harmon sang a song from Jordin’s time on Idol “To Love Somebody” by The Bee Gees. Wow, these duets tonight are fabulous!!!! I enjoyed this so much. Goosebumps again. Keith thought it was a great match up, a great song. Jordin or that song pulled stuff out of him stylistically they haven’t seen yet. Jennifer said that was the Trent that they know and love. It was a great showcase. Harry loved it too.

Constantine and Shelbie Z tackled Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Even though Constantine did it first on Idol, Adam Lambert did it better (sorry). I like Shelbie Z doing rock better than country. I really liked her doing Heart and I liked this, too but Constantine hogged the song. Jennifer said she felt like she lost Shelbie in that. And Jenn is booed. Harry said it is a difficult song to do a duet. Harry didn’t feel like she had a point of view in all of that. Keith agrees with them.

THE CUTS

Staying: Lee Jean, Olivia Rox, Jenn Blosil, Dalton Rapattoni, Manny Torres, Tristan McIntosh, and the last one through is Trent Harmon

Going home: Adam Lasher, Shelbie Z, Amelia Eisenhauer, CJ Johnson, Kory Wheeler





American Idol S12 Top 4 Again

2 05 2013

After the unsurprising surprise twist last week, the top 4 were allowed to sing again since the judges never used the save all season. The votes tonight will be added to the votes last week to determine who is going home. Tonight’s songs are “now” and “then.” The “now” selection has to be from 2013. The “then” had to be on a list of standard classics.

All the ladies looked fabulous this evening. I have no doubt that all will be successful after the show is over. But here is my rundown for tonight (I’m behind on my blog from last week–so I think I’ll just skip. Most of the performances last week were lackluster anyway. This week, I wasn’t thrilled about Mariah and Nicki fighting.

Angie Miller

Song 1: “Diamonds” by Rihanna

I lived it but I hope we aren’t going to get ballads all night tonight. A little sleepy sometimes. She cracked in a few places. Keith thought it missed the mark. Nicki said it was bland and lackluster. Randy agrees with Keith but liked the leather shorts (okay?). Mariah: Girl–I love you but condense your comments!

Song 2: “Someone To Watch Over Me”

This could have been a really big song for her. It was sleepy for me. Her vocal is nice but it was not a standout performance (for me). Keith loved it. Nicki gave her some performance tips. Randy thought it was an amazing vocal.

Angie

Angie Miller

Amber Holcomb

Song 1: “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk

That was rough. She sounds like she is singing just under the note. She has done much better in the past. Nicki said there was no emotional connection (I agree). Randy said it was not stellar.

Song 2: “My Funny Valentine”

Goosebumps. Phenomenal. I felt she was very connected to the song. It was flawless perfection. The judges gave her a well-deserved standing ovation. She became very emotional because she thinks that she has no shot of going through next week and was openly tearful. I felt so bad for her. It was not a fake cry just for votes. Note to Amber: Jennifer Hudson did not win Idol either–look how far she went. It is what you do with the opportunities you get and you must passionately pursue your dream.

Amber

Amber Holcomb

Candice Glover

Song 1: “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars

Candice IS BACK! Last week I was so disappointed that she wasn’t pouring her heart and soul into his music which I have seen her do multiple times in the past. I also love her hair. I had goosebumps (see my goosebump history–it has never steered my wrong). Randy said it was amazing. Mariah and Keith thought it was a winning performance. Nicki said she deserved a standing ovation and Mariah stands up after the others and pretends to throw glitter on her.

Song 2: “You’ve Changed” by Billie Hollday

Goosebumps AGAIN!! Her voice is also perfection during both songs this evening. She receives another standing ovation.

Candice

Candice Glover

Kree Harrison

Song 1: “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood

I loved it. She looks lighter in spirit this week even though this was a serious song. She was looking downright depressed last week. Keith thought her voice was full but there was a disconnection between what he was hearing (a full band) and what he was seeing (an intimate setting with an acoustic guitar).

Song 2: “Stormy Weather”

She looks beautiful. I felt she was very connected to the song. She did not take Harry Connick, Jr.’s advice. I thought that was a good thing because I loved the way she did it. The judges, however, did not like her song choice. They thought “God Bless The Child” might have been a better song for her, for example.

Kree

Kree Harrison

So my picks for tonight are: Candice, Kree, Amber, Angie

Last week my picks were: Angie, Candice, Amber, Kree

It will be interesting to see who goes home tonight. David Cook will be on!





My American Idol Finale Trip — The Final Chapter

3 06 2011

Glicel and I retired to our room after the American Idol finale on Wednesday night. I had already received a phone call from my Twitter buddy, Robert Burnett, who is currently directing episodes of Femme Fatales on Cinemax. Having missed our dinner reservations for LA Market by Kerry Simon (a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, where Nona Sivley was now working, winner of Hell’s Kitchen Season 8), I had booked a reservation for 9 p.m. on May 25th after the Idol finale. Rob would meet us there.

After seeing that the menu did not have a dish with vegetables with nuts, I opted for the bricked organic chicken with organic farro, braised beet greens and citrus jus.

Chicken

My chicken dish.

Glicel had the special-recipe meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf

Secret recipe meatloaf

Rob had grilled beef tenderloin with Yukon au gratin, onion, smoked bacon and red wine jus.

Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin

Ryan was our server. We each gave a little sample of our dish. I was a little disappointed when I took some chicken off the bone and it was a big pile of fat. There was not much of the chicken, but when I did actually get the chicken, it did melt in my mouth. However, after tasting the beef tenderloin, I had wished I had ordered that.

Glicel has a S’mores fettish right now, so we indulged. We reached consensus that there was no beating the original.

Smores

Upscale S'mores

My friend’s son wanted to go into filmmaking (surprise to me because I thought he wanted to be a musician) and she asked Rob a lot of questions. Rob was kind enough to offer his advice. The time went by very quickly; he had an early morning call so we parted ways.

Rob Glicel and me

Rob Burnett, Glicel, and me.

Texas is hotter than Hades right now (reached 100 degrees today). Even with the heat on (yes we turned on the heater in our room), I was still cold so the hotel was kind enough to bring me up a blanket. I went to the business center to find it had closed but they had a few computers outside the actual room. I used the opportunity to post on Twitter and Facebook and to print out our boarding passes for our flight home. On the way back up the elevator, I met two radio station personalities from Houston. I was trying to find a few of these people during the trip, and here they are in my elevator. I took the opportunity to explain who I was and when the Idols came into town, if they were interviewing them, I would love the opportunity to ask them questions or just say hello. They gave me their business cards and told me to contact them. They seemed to know me, or at least know my name, which was odd, but I had done a lot of promotional marketing for our April Rock Autism event benefitting my son’s school, “Including Kids”, so it is possible they remembered it from an email I sent. Hope lives that I will get to meet James Durbin soon.

It was 2-3 a.m. once again before I fell asleep and was up at about 7 a.m. We decided to go back to LA Market for breakfast where we opted for the buffet. We inquired if Nona was working, but we were told she would not be in until the afternoon. After breakfast, I ran down to the business center to post on Twitter and Facebook and mail off some things to home that would exceed the liquid limits on the airplane ride home. I also stopped in the gift shop where my new friend was excited to share her news: She was able to go to the finale herself and she smuggled in a camera. Her pictures were fantastic. We left in our taxi around 10:15 or so for our 12:45 flight home. I expressed my exuberant thanks to the taxi driver for the more peaceful ride to the airport.

Tired campers

A Rob-Burnett-inspired photo

Hallway

I pictured a big wheel and two ghosts.

We went and checked out some areas of the hotel we had no time to explore.

Pool

And it was heated.

Nokia

Nokia from the pool-eye's view.

Marriott

The opposite corner's view

Our flight was just a few minutes late. Although my itinerary said Glicel and I were sitting together, the boarding passes indicated we were not. Instead, I got to sit to this inspiring 20-something-year-old named Donnell. He is a hip-hop music producer who had been in LA for a few months, and was just now returning home to Atlanta. We talked music for awhile and I let him listen to some of Houston’s local talent that I had on my IPod. Our discussions turned more philosophical and I was in awe at his wisdom, an old soul. I don’t think I ever did this in my life with someone I met on the plane, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch. I have met some wonderful people in my lifetime on a plane, even held the hand of a woman an entire flight who was going to her grandbaby’s funeral. The life stories I have heard have enriched my life. I normally thank them for sharing and wish them a wonderful life, but Donnell was different. He actually emailed me on Sunday and I was tickled. We plan to keep in touch. We had a very bumpy ride into and out of Phoenix, the kind of turbulence that makes your stomach drop. This turbulence was NOTHING compared to a flight from New Orleans to Houston when there were tornado warnings out in the area of the Houston airport. That was the scariest flight I ever took.

The next segment of our flight was both booked solid and late arriving (for us to even board). They asked people who were in loading zones 3, 4, and 5 for boarding to step forward and check their bags so they could get the plane boarded quickly so we could take off as soon as possible. Only five stepped forward. We were rewarded with an upgrade to zone 2 boarding. Because people did not listen to the airline personnel, when they tried to bring their luggage on board, it was packed, so they had to go back out of the plane to check their bags, causing a further delay in the flight. I let out a heavy sigh. If people do not cooperate voluntarily to a direction or suggestion that will ultimately make things better for all, everyone else suffers.

Glicel and I did sit together this flight, but our attention was directed to the young mother flying with her 2-month-old child. The baby was wonderful through the flight. She was on a one-way flight from Phoenix to Houston to live closer to home. As we were close to landing in Houston, she informed us of a family member serving in the armed forces and was stationed in Korea and also had had a baby. She was missing him. I thanked her for his service, noting that the families of those serving in the military deserve our gratitude as well. With Memorial Day around the corner, I shared that my father-in-law, would be turning 90 on that Saturday, had served in World War II on the naval vessel Daniel T. Griffin in the Pacific campaign. My father was in the Navy during the Korean War, but I believe he was stationed in Europe and did not see any actual fighting. Glicel and I helped her get out of her seat and get her baby fastened safely into stroller in the jetway. As we parted, I gave her a big hug. I do hug people all the time. It’s the only way I can let out all of the emotion I feel inside sometimes.

We arrived about an hour late, but Glicel’s husband was there to pick us up at baggage claim. Somebody in that area was having a serious flatus problem; I had to hold my breath until we got outside. When I got home, I realized the only one who missed me was my golden retriever.

What a whirlwind trip it was! We encountered a few hiccups, but overall I had the time of my life. The trip turned out exactly the way the trip was meant to turn out. Los Angeles’ weather was a glorious reprieve from the oppressive Texas heat. We left our sign for James Durbin at Nokia; I can always hope that someone may have given it to him, particularly because of the nature of the sign (with all the autism ribbons on it). The recorded Idol finale will never be erased from my DVR; all I have to do is replay it, and it will take me right there again.

Many thanks to be given: To Fox Broadcasting for not only developing the program, but for offering this as a prize within our group. To my local station, Fox 26 Houston, for the recommendation to be a part of this wonderful VIP program. To the JW Marriott LA Live staff. To Jessica and Scott who helped to make this adventure even more fun. To Rob for coming out to dinner with us even though he was likely tired. To US Airways for getting us from point A to point C in one piece and for the friendliness of their employees. To my friend, Glicel, who accompanied me. To my husband for working it out so I could go. To my sweet Patrick who did not give my husband any trouble while I was gone. To my friends for putting up with me during those weeks between winning and going. And to anybody whose name I did not catch, thank you as well.





American Idol Finale — Day 2, Part B: The Show

1 06 2011

Although the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles seats 7100, the theater seems very intimate with a good view from every chair. This was my ticket:

Ticket

My ticket for American Idol Finale

And I was seated about where I have the dot on the chart:

Nokia

Sat in the blue section, right side, where the dot is.

We entered about 3:45 p.m. The production staff was on stage. I thought maybe Comfort from So You Think You Can Dance might have been one of the choreographers on the stage, too, but we were too far away for me to make a positive identification. I had forgotten binoculars! Those WERE allowed into the theater. Bicycles were practicing behind them, which immediately brought Arcade Fire’s Grammy performance to mind. To my right in the mezzanine section was a sign for one of the contestants with battery-operated lights. I immediately realized the poor choice I made in the color selection of the sign for James. The cameras would never see it. To our left in the LOGE section was a group of young ladies holding up individual-letter balloons that spelled out S C O T T Y. Very creative.

I got to meet some more Fox people who were sitting around us. Everyone was so wonderful. I hope my excitement did not get on their nerves.

Corey is the warm-up guy for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. He sounds like Ryan Seacrest. Before the show began, they introduced the judges: Randy Jackson, then Jennifer Lopez who was in a stunning gown, and then Steven Tyler. Then we were live.

Benefitting greatly from on-line voting this year, the vote for Scotty versus Lauren brought in a record 122 million votes. Decked-out in white, reminiscent of the David vs. David year, Lauren and Scotty took the stage. The group performed the Lady Gaga song, “Born This Way” and it sounded great in the theater.

During the commercial break, people were going in and out from the audience. Corey asked everyone to get up on their feet, especially towards the end of a song.

Coming into the theater on the orchestra level was a bald guy with a spiked costume. My friend was yelling to me that was James Durbin, but I was looking at the bald guy saying “no it’s not.” (She was looking in a different place). I had to ask Scott and Jessica with whom James was singing (Judas Priest)

Another thing I noticed when I watched it back on DVR was when they were making note of someone in the audience, like Adam Lambert or David Cook, it would not show up on the screens at Nokia (unless I totally missed it because there was so much going on).

Next up was Jacob Lusk with Gladys Knight and Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth, singing “I Smile.”

Casey Abrams and Jack Black were up next singing “Fat Bottomed Girls.” When they were head-to-head at the end of the song, I really expected Casey to kiss him, like his JLo move earlier in the season, although probably not as soft. What you missed on camera was Casey mauling Jack Black with a giant bear hug. I could see Casey pursuing a career in comedy (I mean that as a compliment).

The girls were up next with a medley of Beyonce songs. It sounded good in the audience; however, after I returned home and listened to it on DVR, it did not sound so wonderful. It gave me some perspective though on why the judges think everything sounds fantastic. Also the crowd was going bonkers, but on TV, the sound of the crowd was sort of muted. It reminded me of the voice-sensitive microphones they use for news broadcasts where you can hear the voice of the reporter, but the background noise is muffled out.

Houston-girl Beyonce looked and sounded fabulous. I remember saying that she must have been glued in tight for that dress and I worried for her for a wardrobe malfunction. Once she took center-stage, she was so awesome she made the girls look like amateurs.  Beyonce is a goddess.  That is all.

At this point, I was very surprised how slowly time was passing which was a good thing for me. I also felt sorry for my seat-neighbors hoping I hadn’t ruptured their eardrums with my high-octave screeching and apologize to anyone sitting behind me about my dancing. I was in the zone.

During the commercial breaks, Ryan or Corey (I really could not tell their voices apart) engaged the audience members, threw them T-shirts, and other things like that.

I was expecting Haley to sing with Lady Gaga, so I was very surprised to see Mr. Tony Bennett. Then TLC was up, but I did not recognize them at first either.

When “Live Like You’re Dying” was announced (misheard for the real song title “Like You Were Dying), I thought, “Cool, Scotty is going to be singing with Kris Allen.” Embarrassing how little country music I know. It was Tim McGraw.

Another commercial and then more bad singing which was then reprieved by Marc Anthony singing “Aguanile” by Hector Lavoe, with Jennifer Lopez dancing and Sheila E in the house. My friend Glicel later explained the song. It was about black magic and calling out the evil spirits, which would explain the JLo booty shaking.  

Another shocking guest star appearance was Tom Jones after a medley of his superhits by the boys.  

After this I had what I’d like to call my Disney-overwhelm moment. To understand, back in the late 1990’s I went on another girls’ trip with a friend, her sister, and her friend to Disney. I had so many years at that point of caregiving and throwing myself into my son’s treatment program. I was working 40-60 hours a week for my employer, working 40-60 hours a week with him and running him to occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy in between. The first night we were at Disneyworld, seeing the fireworks, hearing the music, not believing that I was actually having this fun time that I desperately needed with these wonderful friends, the flood gates to my emotions just opened up and I found myself sobbing. Having gotten only 6 hours of sleep between Monday and Wednesday, being there, hearing the music, getting a break from my son, my eyes began to well up with unexpected tears. Since I was not anticipating having this moment, I did not wear waterproof mascara. The fear of having raccoon eyes quickly quelled my emotional overload.

While the stage was being set up for Lady Gaga, Ford did their tribute with the teachers. Three cheers for them. Our teachers in this nation deserve some recognition. Not only did the school get money, but the teachers got a car. Then we learned Scotty and Lauren could have a Ford car of their choice and consensus around where we were sitting was that Scotty would get a pick-up truck–I’m thinking F-150.

Lady Gaga is a terrific performer, but the simulated sex and jumping off the edge of a cliff with Mark Kanemura (from So You Think You Can Dance) in the song “The Edge of Glory” were not something for young kids’ eyes. Although the age limit was no one under 6 allowed, there were some kids younger than 6 in that crowd. At home, you have the choice as a parent to turn off the television; attending a concert that you trust is family-friendly, she should have had the good sense to modify her act. When Adam Lambert was touring Indonesia, he was asked to tone down the concert and he respectfully did. It goes back to the age-old argument that yes, you have first amendment rights and a right to creative expression, but you have to use that right with responsibility. It was nice to see Clarence Clemmons, however.

Lauren sang a great duet with Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” and just like Beyonce, the star shined. However, I give her major props for trying to keep up especially with her vocal cords problem.

After more “youngest contestant” jokes, Beyonce performed yet again. I could never get enough Beyonce.

During the commercial, they emphasized to the audience to make sure the aisles were clear. The Spiderman performance required very precise movements and they wanted to ensure the safety of both the acrobats and the audience. When Bono and the Edge and Reeve Carney (the guy who sings in the play on Broadway) took the stage, I slapped my head and feigned fainting. When I got home and watched the performance on playback, wouldn’t you know that there was some idiot in the audience who thought the rules did not apply to her and tried to touch one of the acrobats when he came down into the audience.

After another commercial break, Steven Tyler came on and performed “Dream On.” It was too short; I was left wanting more.

Coming back from another commercial break, Scotty was named the winner. As he broke down and cried, my heart again welled up with tears. Scotty and Lauren were both very humble and very down-to-earth kids; if James could not win, then either of them would have been the next best thing.

There were congratulations to the band and then the crew with the show signing off. I wanted to stay in the audience as long as possible (until we were kicked out) but Glicel wanted to get t-shirts before they sold out, so out we went.

After obtaining t-shirts, we exited the Nokia and saw a bunch of lights and excitement over at the Fox tent, so we went to investigate. However, too many people were smoking, and I could not tolerate it, so we went back to the hotel.

Next up: The rest of Day 2 and Day 3





American Idol Top 7 — 21 Century Week

21 04 2011

The world complained week after week about the judges and finally they WOKE up, well perhaps just JLo and Randy, but the 5-second delay has come in quite handy for Steven Tyler’s comments. When the judges start getting booed, you know you are getting close to providing the appropriate amount of constructive criticism. However, you could see Jennifer Lopez cringe when the audience booed at her for the comments she made to Scotty.

Tonight’s theme was songs of the 21st century. I think it was a smart pick. Overall, last night was the best I’ve heard everyone sing with a few exceptions.

I think Scotty misunderstood the assignment. The song “Swingin” is a 1983 hit from John Anderson originally, not Lee Ann Rimes. For Scotty, upping his game is switching hands to hold the microphone. He needs to step out of his comfort zone and surprise us with being able to sing something else, for example, when David Cook sang “The Music of the Night.” Instead of making it a rock tune, he sang it as if he were singing it on Broadway. It made him stand out as a well-rounded performer. David Cook will be performing tonight on Idol, so be sure to tune in. Scotty looked very uncomfortable getting constructive criticism from the judges. I put that on the judges. He needed constructive criticism the week he sang the Elvis song.

Certain to be within the top 2 or 3 in the finale, James Durbin chose “Uprising” from Muse. I love James. “Uprising” has been sort of a theme song for me of my rebellious streak. I love Muse. The music started off rough. His lower vocal register needs some work. The chorus was great. The marching band was crazy weird.

I have been very vocal about not being a Haley fan. When I heard she was going to tackle an Adele song, I was worried….for the song. She chose “Rolling in the Deep.” I agree with Jimmy Lovine that she can sing the song, but she has to FEEL the song. I think at her tender age, she has not had the life experience to pull this off. There were parts of the song that were great; the growling is getting old. One growl would have been fine, but she just kept on and on. I did like her dress tonight. I would say it was Haley’s personal best.

“Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross was Jacob’s pick. His story was filled with emotion and I was with him feeling his pain during the rehearsals. There was a pause within the song and we all thought it was because of his emotion. The judges had some constructive criticism for him, especially Jennifer, about needing to find the line between showing his emotions and becoming so emotional you cannot sing the song. At the end, Jacob blamed it on the equipment. It very well could have been the equipment, but it made it look like he was deflecting the criticism by putting blame on an external source.

Casey was up next. I enjoyed the video where the other Idols are imitating things about him. It was the funniest one of the bunch. Casey chose “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5. I like Casey’s voice a lot when he is not growling. What IS it about the growling this year? I have a hard time with his facial expressions because I don’t believe in their sincerity. It’s a dichotomy between wanting to be serious in his singing, and wanting to be a clown in his performance. It comes off very strange at times. The kiss given to Jennifer Lopez was creepy, but it might save him from being in the bottom 3 this week.

Also achieving a personal best this week was Stefano singing “Closer” by Ne-Yo. On Twitter, when Joey Guerra, music critic of the Houston Chronicle, suggested that he was like a member of a boy band trying to go solo, I responded, “Yes, yes, like a replacement player for O-Town.”

I think they put Lauren at the end of the show not because she was the best performance but rather because they desperately want to keep one of the last two girls on the show. Lauren looked beautiful and said “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans. I am not familiar with this song because I don’t listen to country music, but it sounded good. My eye, however, was turned more towards the musician on the violin. He was outstanding.

My top 2 for the evening: Casey and James.
My bottom 2 for the evening: Stefano and Scotty

Who do you love? Who do you think will go home?