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 Season 14 Top 4 Revealed

5 05 2015

Tonight the “fan save” is no longer in play. The contestants have to sing a song from the judges’ hometowns–Nashville, New York, or New Orleans. The second song is what best captures the contestant’s soul. Russell Crowe delivers the results for the night (odd choice).

Clark Beckham gets the first spot in the top 4 which secures one of the hometown visits for him. He chose “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder. That was really excellent. I like that he let go. It was good to see that he listened to the advice that the judges were giving other contestants last week about finding the moments to make it more special, like including the audience. Keith said it was a great opening to the show. He felt like Clark could have actually stayed at the piano once he went over there. Jennifer said it sounded really good, too. She thinks when he has his instruments it has a different groove that being away from that does–that it isn’t quite there yet. Harry said it was a solid performance. He needs to find the pocket and sing in that even more so when he is not playing an instrument. Jennifer added that he needs to manipulate the adrenaline to his favor.

Jax has a spot for the hometown visit. She sings “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” by Alicia Keys. She could not go wrong with a song that means so much to her. It ended a bit oddly though. I thought she was pausing for a final note or something. Jennifer said she tripped her up at the end there–was she done or not done? Jennifer thinks Jax finally believes that she can win the competition. Jennifer isn’t sure if it was the best song choice but she does see her potential to take the whole thing. Harry really dug the performance. He asked her if she was a bit hoarse tonight and she sort of said yes but downplayed it. He liked that she just sang through it. Keith loved the song for her. Even though she may not be at 100% her talent powers through.

Nick Fradiani gets the next spot. I have always thought his voice sounded like Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty and he finally decided to do one of their songs “Bright Lights.” he has really grown since the auditions. I would buy his CD. He really let loose tonight as well. I liked this performance the best so far tonight. Harry thought it was the most comfortable performance by far that he has done. He thought he sang the heck out of it. Keith said he keeps going up and up every time he performs. He is getting stronger and better. Jennifer said he was peaking at the right time. It was Nick at his best.

Harry Connick Jr performed “City Beneath The Sea.”

Will Tyanna be through to the hometown visits or Rayvon? This is tough for me. I always thought Tyanna was going to make it to the top 3. Rayvon is a bit more seasoned but he has had ups and downs especially with not being able to make a real emotional connection as of late, but the last two weeks he has really done better with that. It is Rayvon. But they say goodbye to Tyanna and for the first time this season, Harry stands up to applaud her. They surprise her by giving her a package of her time at Idol, the first one this season. Like a pro, she takes the stage to sing “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce. What a fantastic way to finish the show.

Rayvon tackled a country tune “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. I got goosebumps–little ones but they were forming. Keith said he would have preferred less of the dramatics and more of the heart. Jennifer said the connection has to be there before the acting and the acting will feel real because it won’t be acting. Harry said that singers tend to overdramatize a lyric. He felt he was 100% on point with the delivery of the lyric. Harry thought he sang the pants off of it.

Round 2 is about the song of the contestant’s soul (or the gravy song). Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride were the mentors for this area. Martina takes the stage to sing her version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” It was pretty. And only Keith stood up to applaud.

Clark has been one of Scott’s favorite to win since the beginning but he gave a reality check to Clark. Jay said there is no doubt he can sing the crap out of the song, but where is his soul of the man delivering the song. (This has been a frequent criticism of the judges to Clark as well). Scott said they have argued about this–if he loses this competition it is because he is doing the wrong things. Clark came back saying that if this (the song) makes him lose the competition then he doesn’t want to win it. Scott said, “Fair enough.” Jay then said the only thing he would encourage him to do then in his position is to listen to the folks that he has been blessed enough to have put around you. Clark turns red. Scott adds “This isn’t American Musician. Okay? It isn’t. You keep throwing all these chords–all this stuff. You are on the fast track to a Holiday Inn with this kind of music. I don’t know what I have to do to make you understand.” Clark says at the end of the day he has to take what works for him and what he thinks as an artist is the best. Scott says, “Well…live by the sword my friend.” Jay said he respects his resolve. He doesn’t think it is going to work out for him, but he respects his resolve. This is not good. If Clark was good enough on his own not to need help, he would have already been on the charts. I think if I was Scott, I would see TROUBLE ahead if he won’t take the advice on songs in this competition. What would it be like for him to win? All I could see is a future of head butting. And a record company investing millions of dollars in someone is not going to tolerate that. I can tell you that the judges, seeing this, is not going to make them happy going into the song. He sings “Your Man” by Josh Turner. Oh no! It’s the Scotty song! Scott and Jay were right. He is singing the song really well. I think he thinks that squinting his eyes translates into showing his soul. But for me I liked that the song sounded different from the original or even Scotty McCreery’s version, but the emotion fell flat. I want the Clark back from the auditions. Jennifer thought he sang it well. Is this his gravy song? She thinks to his earlier songs and how they blew them away and this didn’t do that. Harry says it boils down to extremely hyperspecific song choice. The song was kind of tepid. Keith said he needs hit singles right now because he has the voice. Clark says he has no regrets singing that song. He talks about those minor chords being sexy and Harry chimes in that if he thinks it is sexy, sing it sexy. Clark felt he needed to clarify what he said in the package that he just believes this is what he is meant to play. Jennifer added that as an entertainer it is also his responsibility of creating an amazing moment for his audience. Keith said don’t confuse people liking him with the music that he is playing. If he gets it right they will love all of it.

Jax was mentored by Martina McBride. Martina had no noted for her. She loved it. She sings “Human” by Christina Perri. Finally some goosebumps. Serious goosebumps. That was awesome! Harry said “I think they liked it.” He said this was a perfect example of the technical versus the emotional. There were pitch issues all over the place but he felt what she was doing. She completely let herself go. Ultimately that trumps everything. Keith said it was such a perfect song because right now she is fragile-only human. He could see it. It was perfect tonight; she killed it. Jennifer said she loved it too. She loves that she connects to different people in the audience. That is what music should feel like. It was really great. Harry joked that he was worried they lost her in the clouds and that he was going to dive in to get her.

Steven Tyler wants to sing with Jax at the finale and she is ecstatic.

Rayvon had a great mentoring session with Jay and Scott. Scott tells him that was the best performance all season that they have had with a mentoring session. Rayvon dedicated “Believe” by Justin Bieber to his mother. I got goosebumps. Major goosebumps!! And tears. He made me cry. Keith said he sang phenomenally just then but the most incredible thing was watching his mom–she was at church–whew my boy! It was beautiful. Jennifer said that is what she is talking about–see the difference between what you did before and now. He said yes. She said that he has to do that every single time. She was crying, everybody was crying. Harry said there were about 15 people who wrote that song and each would have been very happy to have heard him sing that. Ryan invites mom up to the stage to give her son a hug.

Last up is Nick Fradiani and he takes on Rascal Flatts song “What Hurts The Most” and Jay picked up a guitar and joined in. Scott approved of his song choice. Jay tells Nick he has to go for the jugular–this is no time to back off. Jay suggests he just sing at the microphone versus being “that band guy.” he looked really awkward about singing without an instrument and I think he was trying to sing as if he did have an instrument. It was a bit distracting and didn’t allow me to fully get into the song with him. I still think he did a better job than Clark. Jennifer said she was going to go out on a limb and say he was the star of the night. Harry said he could hear him singing that on his CD. He thought it sounded great and he thought he killed it. Keith thinks his fans are going to show their support by making that climb the ITunes chart.

For me, tonight it was Rayvon, then Jax, then Nick, then Clark. In my opinion, Clark is in trouble.





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 Finale — And I’m Going To Be There — Pinch Me!

23 05 2011

I am going to the AMERICAN IDOL FINALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Did I use enough exclamation marks?)

How did I manage this? Keep reading. 

The first week of May was a very exciting week for me. At the beginning of the week, I had won two $25 gift certificates to My Fit Foods in our local area. I decided to go ahead and donate that back to my son’s school for autism so the children could take a field trip one day, maybe a lesson centering on nutrition. Later in the week I got another swag package from @OFFICIALFOXVIP to promote the season finale of Fringe.

Fringe wall light

Fringe night light.

Fringe squish sticky ball

Fringe squish sticky ball

The very next day I got ANOTHER package, this time from a program I participated in back in January with Fox where they sent out Red Vines to celebrate the move to Friday nights (thanks to my friend Nadine for that wonderful hookup). This was similar to my package I had gotten the day before, but this time it included a signed Fringe script!!!!
Signed Fringe script

Signed Fringe script

Being with Fox VIP, I have had access to previews of Fox shows not yet aired, swag, and a few internal contests. I have also met interesting people and continue to enjoy getting to know them. The previous week we got a notice that one of the Fox VIP group would be going to the American Idol finale. I hesitated at first, making sure that if I did win, I would be able to fulfill this commitment. Having a trip in the middle of the week in the month of May had three strikes against me: 1) The trip itself and my waxing and waning health; 2) my husband would have to take the 3-hour journey every day to take Patrick to school and stay with him after school; 3) I was supposed to have a big meeting with the school district in the month of May and trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules was becoming nightmarish; this would mean another 3 days someone was not available. However, the other side of me said, “When are you going to get enough opportunity like this with the odds of winning so favorable. You’ll regret not entering, and as you see in this entry “Life Without Regrets” I would not want that to happen. Oddly enough, when I sent in my entry, I told my husband, “I’m going to win this.” It was that sixth sense feeling that I often get, a gut feeling that has saved my life and rarely has been wrong. Perhaps it is because I am a Pisces. In our private group, we were making jokes about who was going to win and I said, “I’m very sorry but my horoscope said I was winning.”

Friday, May 6, 2011 is when the name would be drawn. Friday was also the day of Patrick’s school’s Mother’s Day celebration–a picnic at the park. I had left at about 11:15 a.m. We had a wonderful time. When Patrick used his IPad & Proloquo2go program to give me a Mother’s Day greeting, I was moved to tears. It was the best Mother’s Day gift EVER.

Patrick and his teacher

Patrick and his teacher at Mother's Day Picnic using the IPad to tell me something.

I came home and shared this day with my husband. I sat down at my computer to start working when I saw the email from Fox asking me to call them. Then I remembered: This was the day they were drawing the name for the contest, and I let out a scream that I won to my husband.

The phone then rang. It was a parent of a child with autism who really needed to talk with me. I just could not ask her if I could call her back. If you are a parent with a child with autism, you know that sometimes you need to talk to someone immediately. I would want someone to be there for me. The phone call lasted until almost 5 p.m. Fortunately, Los Angeles is 2 hours behind or I really would have had to call her back.

I dialed the phone number and reached the person with whom I needed to speak. I screamed, “Did I WIN?????” With the banshee screech I let loose, I’m surprised I did not rupture her eardrum.

The possibility of James Durbin being named the American Idol this year was exciting to me. The autism community speaks often of him and what a wonderful role model he is to the world. Of course, we know James will not be in the final 2, but I will get to see him perform.

I will fly out Tuesday afternoon. My friend and I will be having dinner at LA Market, where Nona from Hell’s Kitchen last year is now working (Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant). On Wednesday, I plan to have lunch with my brother-in-law who lives in the LA area before I go get my tickets at the Fox tent, and then on to the American Idol finale results show. I do not know where I’ll be sitting in the audience, but I feel blessed to be there. The people at the hotel say there is not a bad seat in the Nokia. My sign will hopefully say “Houston Warrior Moms Love James.” Something to that effect, but definitely the Houston Warrior Moms part will be on there. That will depend if I can find the right supplies in the area of the hotel. No cameras or phones are allowed into the Nokia. After the finale, I hope to meet up with another person I know for dinner. Then Thursday, I’m on the plane home again.

I hope to post updates here, on Facebook and/or on Twitter (Follow @PBMom) as I can access the hotel computers. Hope you’ll follow along this wonderful journey with me.





American Idol Top 4

12 05 2011

I think next season, American Idol should put a poll on-line of what “theme weeks” we want to hear. This week it seemed to be “one of these things is not like the other.” The contestants were asked to pick a song that inspires them. In the second half, they chose from a list of lyricist Jerome “Jerry” Leiber and composer Mike Stoller, who brought you long-ago hits like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog”, “Stand By Me” among many others. These song choices were mentored by Jimmy Iovine and Lady Gaga. I was looking forward to seeing the awkwardness of Lady Gaga and Scotty McCreery.

James Durbin got the sweet spots of both opening and closing the show. Part of being a contestant is choosing smart songs. While the audience is tired of hearing “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, especially given the resurge in popularity because of “The Sopranos” ending and for it being used in “Glee,” Randy Jackson is not. James did pick wisely; however, once again, his pitch was off. The last few shows when he is singing in his usual register, he has been mostly sharp. I think James enjoyed his time with Lady Gaga who helped him to move his hips better. When James does this, it is sexy (not so much on Scotty, see below). James closed the show with “Love Potion Number 9.” When comparing him to the other contestants, he is the most talented of the ones that are left. When comparing him to other Idol seasons, he is not quite there yet for me. He is my pick to win this year.

Haley Reinhart picked a self-indulgent song (“The Earth Song”) versus a song that is what she would produce as an artist. Perhaps she thought doing Michael Jackson was a risk, but it did not pay off. By the end of the song, she was screaming like a banshee. You could hear the strain in her voice. Wardrobe is making her wear that horrid red lipstick again. Randy and JLo had some issues with it; Haley did not take what she felt to be an attack well. The music industry is not for the timid, but one also needs to know their place within the music industry. She is a rookie and when professionals are giving her advice, even if it comes off as criticism and not constructive criticism, she should be eager to accept the advice and take what she can from it and apply it to her music. People who talk back to the judges are generally voted off, especially when it begins to go on and on. She told the judges, “That’s NOT the top of my range” and “You don’t have to say it again.” I had a feeling that the judges or maybe even Jimmy Iovine gave her advice during the earlier part of the week and she did not take it to hear. She enjoyed her time with Lady Gaga (I bet she is singing with her during the finale show). Even with Lady Gaga, however, she appeared a bit snarky. When Lady Gaga suggested a way to put a dramatic point into her song, she retorted, “Why?” It wasn’t a “why” as in, please teach me; it was more of a “why” like “why are you criticizing me.” I thought how she sang the song during the rehearsal sounded great, but it never translate to the stage, it seems. I’d like to see her do a stripped down song with no growling in it. The song in rehearsal had that. In the end, “I Who Have Nothing” was much better than her first song.

I had some thoughts that maybe the producers were going for reverse psychology in the voters. Perhaps they really want Haley in the final 3, but she wasn’t going to get there with the number of votes she was pulling in. So they set her up to take a fall with harsh criticism during the first number and then she is redeemed in the second number. I can tell you that people who would not have voted otherwise for Haley said in Twitter last night that they would be voting because of it. Whether her talking back turned off more voters than she gained trying to protect her, we will soon discover on the results show. There is one fan for sure of Haley’s — Casey. Did you see them cutting to him in the audience several times and he way-over-the-top support of her? Casey’s pheromones were on fire.

Scotty McCreery is a smart young man. People who chose patriotic songs do not get voted off. I think it was Kelly Pickler who did this when she was in jeopardy of being voted off and she was saved for another week; Simon told her it was a brilliant move. In light of the death of Osama Bin Laden by US forces, “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” was either a Rudy Giuliani move that will turn people off, or secure his place in the final 3. Poor Scotty. I was embarrassed for him with Lady Gaga. Was he old enough to even be in the same room with her? “Young Blood” by the Coasters was an embarrassment. I hated the weird Casey-like exaggerated eye movements. Note to Scotty: Please don’t try to move your hips or pelvic thrust; it’s just not sexy. I think he is secure in the final 3.

Lauren had the best night since her audition. I do not know what happened to this feisty young lady who auditioned and had the guts to sing a duet with Steven Tyler in the audition. It seems like she came to the stage and lost her nerve or was intimidated by the competition. I still do not believe that she believes fully in herself. She picked a smart inspirational song: “Anyway” by Martina McBride and did a wonderful job. Her time with Lady Gaga helped break her out of her shell and she performed a great rendition of “Trouble.” She came onto the stage very confident. But is it too late? I think this will all depend on the audience’s reaction to Haley.

I was thinking perhaps we could morph Lauren and Haley and create a new contestant called “Laley.” Laley would have Lauren’s voice and sweetness and Haley’s confidence.

Steven Tyler’s secret password this evening was “beautiful.”  Everything was ‘beautiful.”

If I have to call it, I think James and Scotty are definitely in the top 2. I think Lauren sneaks by because of Haley’s backtalk.





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?