Tag Archives: Jimmy Iovine

American Idol Switch (For Better or Worse?). Who Will Judge Next?

16 Jul

If American Idol was a version of its reality show counterpart, Survivor, Ryan Seacrest may have just won the competition. The Fox singing competition has certainly transformed since it premiered in 2002. Long-term judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul left the show two years ago to pursue other endeavors (The X Factor), and the Idol producers quickly scooped up Aerosmith leadman Steven Tyler and pop superstar Jennifer Lopez. After two seasons of the new judge configuration, Lopez and Tyler are out, and even steadfast Randy Jackson, who I think has become a bit of a tired act, may leave the judges table. In that case, the producers are going to have their hands full refilling a table of musical talking heads to sit behind the prominent Pepsi cups.

Randy Jackson’s departure is not official, but it could certainly happen. I believe that is time to cut ways with Jackson’s dog house and “in it to win it.” He attempted to take the role of Simon Cowell’s honest critic, but he provided inconsistent commentary and criticism.

Who would be the ideal crew to judge? It’s a difficult choice. The show’s viewership has steadily declined and gotten older. That suggests that American Idol may have a loyal base, but the show is not attracting the 13-year-old screaming girl subgroup. After a relatively unsuccessful first season, The X Factor shedded judges Paul Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger in favor of the younger Demi Lovato and superstar Britney Spears. The show went younger in order to attract younger viewers. That is a good strategy, but, like all things, there needs to be homeostasis. I think The X Factor will demonstrate a rise in viewership this year (especially if they choose a good host).

What does American Idol need? It needs a mixture. If I was given the responsibility of choosing a panel, I would start with an anchor that loyal Idol fans have been calling for since he premiered as an advisor, Jimmy Iovine. He was perhaps the only judge of talent that consistently made sense during last season. He would be the knowledgeable record producer who could help steer young musicians. His role of advisor would only transform slightly. Would he want to be judge? I don’t know, but if he expressed any interest in the position he would be my first choice.

I would then choose a young idol whom everyone would recognize (much like the X-Factor did with Britney Spears), and an older, more experienced musician who knows the industry well and has had a ton of success. The older judge would naturally attract an older population of music fans.

Mariah Carey has been a name floated out there and she would certainly fit the motherly older judge. Aretha Franklin reportedly sent an e-mail to CNN saying she wanted in on American Idol season 12. I would be overjoyed if American Idol let the Queen of Soul sit on the panel. She is not an idol. She is a legend. She also seems like she would give kind, but truthful advice to the contestants.

As for the younger judge, musicians like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj have been propositioned. I’ve also heard Miley Cyrus. At this point, people could simply be shouting out reasonable names. Since money is no concern for the super-show, the judgeship could come down to whoever accepts the necessary time commitment. I think the show would be happiest with Katy Perry. She is at the peak of her popularity and is beloved by teenage girls. But would Perry even be interested? If she is, Idol producers better scoop her up. I think an outside musician would be better than bringing in Jennifer Hudson or Adam Lambert (two Idol alumni). Long time friend of the Idol stage, will.i.am would also be a good choice, but he currently is involved with the Voice UK. Lady Gaga…that would certainly turn the show into a spectacle. I don’t think she has been mentioned because I don’t think there would be a chance of hooking her.

Who do you want to see judge the show?

Some Thoughts on Last Night’s Idol

9 Mar

And next week they play Mozart!

Let’s start with this. No matter what featured genres/artists the producers of American Idol make the contestants perform, the Idol singers have to find a way to tackle the material. Yes, I understand the point is to push an artist and, in a sense, musically deracinate them, but, let’s be real, a vocal chameleon (while novel) is quite rare. Last year’s winner Scotty Mccreery is a country singer with a deep croon. The guy is never going to sing a Stevie Wonder song. Why make him? Honestly, it doesn’t help the show. And it doesn’t really matter – Scotty won despite singing country versions of every category each week. All it does is crowd the two hours of television with sub-par performances that make me change the channel to the Knicks game (to watch another sub-par performance, but that’s another story).

What do the Idol powers at be make our contestants perform on the Top 13 night? Boys: Stevie Wonder. Girls: Whitney Houston. Okay, have fun. Really? How is this fair? You might as well ask them to perform karaoke because most of them inevitably will. This challenge was easier for the boys. Stevie Wonder has an excellent voice and is a true performer, but it is just easier to manipulate his songs. But Whitney Houston? What is the first rule of idol for girls? Never sing Whitney Houston in an audition. Why? She was one of the most powerful female vocalists ever. You are immediately compared with her and you lose that battle all of the time. For the girls, Whitney Houston night just separated the good balladeers from the bad ones. Jessica Sanchez did this:

And, well, others had trouble. Sanchez succeeded because she has a Houston-style voice. That’s clear. Shannon Magrane, for example, crashed. Her voice was just not good enough to hit Whitney’s level. It wasn’t just karaoke, it was bad karaoke. And a few girls followed suit. The boys really only featured one awful, uninspired performance. That came from Jeremy.

In my review of the top 13 I predicted that Jeremy would be out first. This was about as easy to predict as my 7:29 train. While it occasionally is delayed, it almost always is on the tracks waiting for me when I arrive in the morning. And even though American Idol took an X-Factor turn and had the lowest vote getters from the boys and girl face the scrutiny of the esteemed judges panel (I say that in slight jest), it was obvious that Jeremy would see the exit. By the way, you can take a look at my entire Idol review here.

Here is what irks me about this all. Jeremy, while being a sweet guy, did not deserve a top 13 spot. It was obvious he would be eliminated first (and I guarantee he was the lowest vote getter overall). The only reason he got in was because of Jennifer Lopez who is proving time and time again that she is a biased judge who expressed favoritism. Steven Tyler likes all of them. Randy Jackson tries to be the bad guy, but he often misplaces his criticism. The judges are no good. Hence why I believe Jimmy Iovine should be a judge (taking Randy’s spot – he has run his course). While he lacks Simon’s snarky arrogance, Iovine provides accurate criticism.

All in all, America got it right again. This show also proved who the next singers out are. If I had to predict it, I’d say the next singers ousted will be (in this order), Shannon, Elise, Jermaine, Erika, Josh, Hollie. That will leave us with a top six of Jessica, Colton, Deandre (yes I know I originally chose Josh), Phil, HeeJun, Skylar. I then see the end of HeeJun and Deandre. Top four: Jessica, Colton, Phil, Skylar (nice even 2 girls and 2 boys spread). I stay with my final two prediction of Jessica and Colton, but if it was Phil and Skylar (or any combination of these four), I would neither be surprised nor upset.

I want to know what you think. Comment below or tweet at me!

American Idol Season 11 – Top 13 Thoughts and Predictions

2 Mar

What’s the best way to kick off blogging with our new domain name (www.musiccourtblog.com)? Oh yeah, American Idol! As I’ve stated on numerous occasions, I am a sucker for singing competitions. I have been watching American Idol since Season 1. If you too are an American Idol fan please do read on. If you think the show has jumped the shark (which it has) read on anyway. Maybe I will make you laugh.

You see, here is the thing with American Idol. I watch it for a few reasons. The pure and innocent reason is because I enjoy entertaining singing performances. I like watching individuals succeed at an art that I enjoy, especially when they have overcome adversity or are underdogs. Shoot me. I like this type of reality television. The more cynical and sardonic side of me would add another reason to my Idol observance. I watch to criticize.

With this in mind I move to my thoughts and predictions for the Season 11 top 13. Quick disclaimer. You may very well not agree with me. That’s absolutely okay. But please don’t spew vitriol on the comments section without any basis for argument or response. Come on, guys, it’s just a show. But please disagree with me. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I just hope people read and comment. Let’s talk!

Wait, what is an offensive lineman doing in the back row? And is that Justin Guarini’s younger brother (or son!)?  Sit tight. All will be answered in time. Here is how this is going to go down. I am going to pick apart each individual performer in short reviews of their voice/attitude/”it” factor. I am then going to choose a Top 3 boys and Top 3 girls (every week America votes and eliminates one contestant from the show – from here on out girls and boys can be eliminated with impunity meaning the show can end with a top 5 of all girls or boys; it won’t but it can). I will then narrow this down to my favorite boy and girl and ultimately pick a potential winner. Before we begin this breakdown, I have a few comments about the last couple of shows for the Idol faithful.

  • There have been a lot of comments from television pundits and fans about the talent on this season of Idol. Words like “awful,” “worst ever,” and “embarrassing” have been bandied like a basketball controlled by Jeremy Lin! I agree, to a point. The last two nights featured some of the worst performances I’ve ever heard this late in the show. The performance by Baylie “boobs” Brown (I’m sorry but come on, her dress more than accentuated her grand tetons – Steven Tyler was salivating) was flat and miserable – it wouldn’t have passed the initial audition. Some of the guys were just as bad. Many of them, actually. But, overall, out of the 24, there were around 10 good singers and all of them are in the Top 13. The fact that those around them were just so awful made it easy for America. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Good job America. You totally got this right. I think the voters for this show have become tired of watching bad acts make it far and now just pick the most talented performers. The top 10 chosen were the top 10 that should have made it (minus, perhaps, one)
  • Judges. Really! Stop it! Last year you received many comments saying just how annoying your kindness was. And then you experience two of the most out-of-tune, horrible nights in show history – something that modeled what you’d expect to see at a karaoke bar in midtown Manhattan – and the worst thing you say to any of the performers is “it wasn’t the right song” or “I’m not sure if it worked for you.” I understand you want ratings but remember when that guy Simon panned people consistently and, hmm, the show did quite well, right? Then, last night, the producers let music producer and American Idol confidante Jimmy Iovene rip into the performances and he was candid and rightfully critical. The judges then said they agreed with everything Iovene said to a point. But, what, how, you just spent the last two nights bopping your head to horrible performances and then spewing flat-out lies to the performers and viewers (because that’s what you are saying when you agree with Jimmy Iovine). How about we replace Randy Jackson (who is just flat-out lost at times – criticizing good performances and letting awful ones slide by) with Jimmy Iovine. Or just add Jimmy as a judge.

Let’s get to the top 13. I am going to do this in the order they are listed in on Wikipedia. Or, to quote The X-Factor, “in no particular order!”

DeAndre Brackensick – 17

 DeAndre was one of the three wildcard choices last night (meaning that he was not initially chosen by America to be in the top 10). He was the one performer I think should have been in the top 10, so I am very pleased he received the judge’s pick. DeAndre has an insane upper register. The kid is just so powerful up there and that is so refreshing. He also is a skilled singer. After just missing out on the live show last year, DeAndre went back to work and improved his full range. His strength, though, lies in his comfortable falsetto and natural high voice. This can earn him a lot of votes if he plays to the swooning teenage girl population. He is a dark horse in the competition. So when does he sing “Stayin Alive?”

Hollie Cavanagh – 18

Hollie has two things going for her. She is pretty and she has a trained, composed, and easy voice. There is one BIG problem, though. She is easily forgettable and that is the largest problem anyone can have in this competition. It doesn’t matter how good your voice is. If you don’t stand out, you won’t go far. Will she stand out? I guess we will see. It may be an early exit for Hollie.

Colton Dixon – 20

American Idol is happy. They finally have the alt/punk rock fusion performer on the show. Colton just missed it last year, but boy has he made it this year. His voice is gritty and he is a true musician. I bet you can expect some David Cook-like manipulations of song. I’m eager to hear how he tackles Stevie Wonder this week. Colton is going to be in this competition for a while and I think he is an early favorite.

Heejun Han – 22

Oh, Heejun Han, the merry prankster of the bunch. This 22-year-old Korean singer from Flushing (my backyard) is an intriguing story. From the start, the judges thought he would be a joke (and some still view him as such), but, we cannot overlook his voice. It is solid, technically proficient, and he is likeable – if not loveable. You just want to cheer for Heejun because despite his funny, off-the-cuff attitude, the man is humble and surprised. He is a tough one to predict. I put him in the middle of the pack.

Jermaine Jones – 25

Finally someone who is older than me. Jermaine Jones should have made it into the top 24 and the judges knew it so they expanded the top 24 to a top 25 and allowed Jermaine to join the boys. His deep Barry White croon is infectious and so is his personality. He performed so well that he made it into the Top 10 and this is telling. People like him. He is different and his croon is well-done, like a crispy steak – a little rough around the edges but at the heart of it is a juicy tenderness (and this is coming from a vegetarian).

Skylar Laine – 18

Skylar also answers to Reba. Yes, it’s high praise for an 18-year-old, but this aspiring country superstar has the necessary components to be a star. Her top 24 performance was one of the best of the bunch. I don’t usually enjoy country music, but I absolutely HATE pop/country. It is forced and bleached material. Skylar, though, sings true country. Her brand is upbeat and passionate, with soul influences fused in (which is what true country needs). I love it. She, too, is an early favorite.

Joshua Ledet – 19

Here is another guy who is so easy to cheer for. He also might have the second best natural voice in the competition. Ledet, though, is a pure gospel/soul singer. I do not know if he can transition to “popular” music. If he can, he will do quite well on the show. If not, his strong and passionate voice may not last long on the show. I sure hope he does last a while.

Shannon Magrane – 16

Shannon is 16! She is also a few feet taller than me. Her father is former Major Leaguer Joe Magrane. Shannon is interesting. Her voice, similar to Hollies, is trained. You can just hear the vocal coaching. It has been worked on and, while it has not been perfected yet, it is naturally good and that makes up for any imperfections. It is definitely good enough for the Top 13 but will it get her into the Top 10? I’m not sure. She has a lot of potential.

Phil Phillips – 21

 This 21-year-old with an odd name is one of the favorites in the competition. Iovene only said that he would sign two artists on the spot. Phil was one of them. He is an indie performer, through and through, who will also use his granular and intelligent voice to mix up song compositions. I say intelligent because Phillips knows how to play a crowd. He holds notes with skill and puts a unique blend on everything.

Jeremy Rosado – 19

I wish Jeremy had a better voice because I like him. Rosado seems like the nicest guy you’d want to meet. He does not only come off as humble, but also as a jolly, kind, and real. I just wish he had a better voice. Should he be in the top 13? No. He was a wildcard choice and a poor one. The only reason he is still in this competition is because of Jennifer Lopez. Last year her obsession was Stefano. This year it is Jeremy. Stefano, though, was a better singer. Jeremy is a limited singer with a naturally high voice that can carry a tune but not do much else. The whole wildcard process stunk, honestly. The judges shouldn’t be allowed to choose anymore. While, yes, two deserving individuals did make it into the top 13 (and as Meatloaf said two out of three ain’t bad), the other one should have been either Creighton or Aaron (who received a standing ovation on Tuesday BY THE WAY). Both did not even get a second chance. Instead the judges chose Jeremy and Reed (a hokey, theatrical performer whose act does not fit American Idol – another exceptionally nice guy, though). But, I’m sorry Jennifer, American has the reigns now, and when we move on to the top 12, Jeremy will not be with the others.

Jessica Sanchez – 16

Jessica will not only sail through into the top 12, but she may win the show. This former America’s Got Talent contestant (she performed on the first season in 2006) is an INCREDIBLE singer. She has the best voice by far. She is also just 16. It is understandable that the young guns are the best. It’s just circular. Sanchez is not only well-trained but her voice can blow you out. It is so multifaceted that you can often get lost in it.

Elise Testone – 28

At 28, Elise is the oldest performer on the show. That is good, though, I think. Her voice is mature and quirky. She has this rich blues inflection in her voice that makes her performances consistently strong. I want her to do well. I am cheering for her to go far. I just hope she gets over the hump and becomes unforgettable.

Erika Van Pelt – 26

Erika, the second oldest performer in the top 13, was a wildcard save, and a good one. She has a POWERFUL voice. She just can blow it out. If she does it consistently she may force listeners to remember her. If not, she will be out quickly.

Top 6

Boys

Out of the diverse group of male performers, I will pick Colton Dixon, Phil Phillips, and Josh Ledet as my three best. My dark horse is either DeAndre or Jermaine (one of these can easily be in the top three).

Girls

Out of the females, and this one is a bit easier because of what I see as a larger disparity between good and forgettable, I pick Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone, and Skylar Lane

Winner

In a few months American Idol will crown a winner. Will, like last year, a boy and a girl be vying for the crown on the last day? I don’t know. Could be. Let’s assume that this is how it goes down. The final two will be:

Jessica Sanchez:

Colton Dixon:

 And I think Colton takes it home in the end and goes off to lead a band and have a very nice career.

So what do you think? Let’s talk! Who do you think will win?

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