The XFactor Simon & Demi’s homes

12 10 2012

The day of the division of the contestants arrives. In the end, there will be 24 acts. After a brief montage of the contestants saying why they deserve to stay, the announcements are made.

Guest mentors at the judges’ homes will be will.i.am, Nick Jonas, Marc Anthony and Justin Bieber. The groups will be broken down into four groups. What is very cool is that I tweeted a few weeks back that I heard a rumor about who would get what bunch, and the rumor proved to be true.

DEMI LOVATO

Group: Young Adults Over 25
Guest Mentor: Nick Jonas
Where: Los Angeles, California

Contestants who made it through: Cece Frey, Willie Jones, Jennel Garcia, Nick Youngerman, Paige Thomas, and Jillian Jensen.  Interestingly Sophie Tweed-Simmons, daughter of KISS’ Gene Simmons, was not invited. It must be cold there in his shadow, trying to make your own way. On the one hand when you are turned down, you wonder if it is because of the family connection; on the other hand, you wonder the same thing. It is a tough place to be in. They did not show any of her singing, so I’m guessing it was not good enough. Also going home included Lyric Da Queen, and Ally Brooke.

JENNEL GARCIA:   At her “home”, Demi gave her some stage advice about not flipping her hair so much.
Song: “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry

I thought she did a great job and only had 1 episode of hair flipping. You could tell she was trying to use their constructive criticism to improve her performance. Nick thought it was great. Demi thought her advice before the show somehow took light away from her performance.

WILLIE THOMAS:  No preadvice given (at least on camera).

Song:  He decides to sing “Nobody Knows It But Me” by Babyface AGAIN.  This could be great or this could be a disaster. I was pleasantly surprised. He has an incredibly nice voice.  Nick: He’s a star (I would not go THAT far), and that Willie has to define himself as country or R&B.

JILLILAN JENSEN:  During the advice session, Demi tells her how excited she is to be working with her. She has an incredibly voice. She laughed at herself about her John Mayer squinting look
Song: “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles

I got goosebumps and that is the tell-tale sign of who is going to win. I’m never wrong. Nick thought she was “sexy..”. She pulled off a beautiful song without giving into crying, but showing a full range of emotion.  My PREDICTION:  She wins.

NICK YOUNGERMAN
Song:  “Tik Tok” By Kesha.

I think it was too silly. Nick Jonas said he liked it. Demi said she could not tell if she liked it or hated it.

If you want to do a Tik Tok cover, you do it like these guys, VerseCity (now The Anthem):

PAIGE THOMAS is up next. She got air-time advice before she went on. I noticed she is wearing a leopard-spots print. Was that a dig to Cece, who she feels has been her competition?
SONG: “Turn Up the Music” by Chris Brown

The song makes me a little sleepy. Demi said she has a lot of insecurities. Nick pointed out this, “Can you get her back to the way she used to sing in the auditions.

CECE FREY: Demi, as diplomatically as possible to tell her that “sometimes her character on stage is unlikeable.” That led Cece to tear-up and Demi said that if she were to put some emotion like THAT into what she sings, it would be great.

SONG: “I’m Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO

After the pep talk she likely could not change songs, so I’ll give her some leeway on that.  I did roll my eyes when I heard the title, but I was surprised that it was good. It looks like she heeded the advice and toned it down a bit. Nick and Demi thought that she took direction when very well.

 

SIMON COWELL

Group: Groups (was this to give a dig to Paula since all her groups went home quickly; that Simon can handle the groups and she could not?)
Guest mentor: Marc Anthony
Location: Miami, Florida

Three of the groups who were came in as groups made it through to the judges’ home. Many single contestants were brought back in and they created 3 new groups.
Groups who made it who auditioned as groups:
1) Sister C
2) Dope Crisis
3) Emblem3

The three groups created
1) Playback
2) Lyles
3) Lyric 145

PLAYBACK: (Members: Josh Metzler, Owen Stuart, Austin Corini, Brandon Hassan, Johnny Maxwell) Simon said that each of them were lacking a little something, but together as a group they are stronger.
Song: “You’re a Rich Girl” by Daryl Hall and John Oates

Personally I did not care for it. I felt it was dull. There were no harmonies which is essential for a group. Marc Anthony was bored; he wanted to look at planes. Simon disagrees.

EMBLEM3 (Members: Wesley Stromberg, Keaton Stromberg, Drew Chadwick): Their cocky faces were smacked down when Simon said, “If we shake hands on a deal and you renege, I’ll kill you.” The other contestants inside the house were making fun of Drew Chadwick who always seems to have his shirt open. Hmmm. The Dmitry Chaplin of The X-Factor.
Song: “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by The Police

I don’t like the way Drew sings and he missed his cue into the verse. Simon did notice. He felt they had lost their way a bit. Will that hurt the group or not? Marc said the younger one was lacking confidence, but he likes them.

SISTER C: (Members: Cirby, Carli, and Celbi Manchaca) Simon’s comments were to them: “Are people going to like you” because they come off a little “standoffish.”
Song: “Leavin” by Shelby Lynne

I like them better when they are singing gospel/R&B type of music versus turning up their intense country twang on a country song. I really could not stand their music before tonight, but tonight’s song was one I could like. Simon liked them. Marc thought it was a home run.

LYRIC145 (Members: Lyric Da Queen and the group previously known as ONE4FIVE members Jamelle and Julien Joseph).
Song: Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus

I loved it. It was my favorite song done by any of the groups tonight. Marc Anthony was thoroughly impressed and felt like she is a superstar.

DOPE CRISIS: (Members Jesse Stearn and Eli Brown):
Song: “Super Bass” Nicki Minaj

I did not like them. I don’t think they can sing. Simon and Marc Anthony think they did well, but how far could you push them?

LYLAS: (Members Dinah Jane Hansen, Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke, Normani Hamilton, Camila Cabello). Simon shares that this is the moment that can change their lives.
Song: “Impossible” by Shontelle

They are a bit more marketable versus Sister C. They did a great job.

 

MY PREDICTIONS

The three I think earn the spot for Demi’s group: Cece Frey, Jennel Garcia, and Jillian Jensen. Definitely Nick is gone because of his song choice. I’m unsure between Paige and Willie. Willie picked the same song he bombed on, so does that earn points or detract points? Paige’s song was just plain boring and her confidence is dipping.

The three groups I think earn a spot on Simon’s team: Sister C, Lyric145, and Lylas. Playback may get through because Simon liked them. I don’t like the cockiness of Emblem3 (Drew hurts their cause). Dope Crisis may get through, but I’m betting they don’t.





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