Tag Archives: Lady Gaga

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?

Mrs. Robinson, Are You Trying to Seduce Me?

3 Nov

People of today, Lady Gaga isn’t the first one to push boundaries of what we are willing to accept from our stars in terms of eccentricity.  Elton John started blazing trails of strange looking clothing, obnoxiously large earrings and oversized sunglasses back in the 70s, and his reign as a pop icon has lasted for more than four decades.  Just to give you some perspective on how popular he is, here are some stats I find unbelievable.  He’s sold more than 250 million albums, putting him in the same class as Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones; those numbers helped by his seven straight number one albums in the US. Oh, in case you weren’t impressed enough, his tribute to Princess Dianna A Candle in the Wind, sold 33 million (THAT’S RIGHT 33 MILLION) copies.  (To put that in perspective, it takes one million copies sold to make a record platinum certified and five million to make it diamond certified.)  He’s still relevant too, check out Elton at the Grammys with Eminem.

They probably consider themselves a folk duo, but Simon and Garfunkel are pretty much everything a pop band should be.  From the folk mold, they sampled acoustic instrumentation, simple harmonies and traditional song structure.  But folk in many cases had become political (like Dylan) or attempted to emulate the common man by sounding like him (like Woodie Guthrie) or was rough around the edges (like Pete Seeger), yet Simon and Garfunkel inherited none of these characteristics.  Their songs are finely polished and record not man at his most weary, but man at a stage of perfection, with graceful harmonies that are caressing enough to put a baby to sleep.

Review of the American Idol Finale

26 May

17-year-old Scotty McCreery became the 10th winner of Fox’s American Idol last night, marking a creative season of new judges and exciting talent that boiled down to two country singers in the finals. At the end, 16-year-old Lauren Alaina could not lasso the strong country vote away from the unmistakable croon of Scotty. The win was unsurprising and pretty unexciting. Scotty was practically tagged as the winner when the viewer voting began. He does fit the perfect parameters of a winner. He is a baby-faced, good-mannered individual whose dark voice fits effortlessly into country music. He also looks like a frightening hybrid of Alfred E. Newman and a young George W. Bush. It’s striking, right?

While Scotty winning Idol was rather pablum and seemingly pre-planned, the finale last night was a concert. I have to think that’s why most people tuned in. The night featured guest performances by Lady Gaga, Marc Anthony, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Beyonce, Bono and The Edge (from Spiderman: The Musical), and even Jack Black. Yes, Jack Black, who was his normal hyperbolic and awkward self. Lady Gaga and Bono/Edge performed theatrical sets by themselves, but singers like Tom Jones and Beyonce joined season 10 Idol contestants. Jack Black performed with bearded odd-ball Casey Abrams and Tony Bennett joined the grunty, jazz singer Hailey Reinhardt. Oddly enough, the two most vapid, uninteresting performances of the night belonged to the finalists, but maybe that’s just because I am not a big country music fan. If I had to give the grade of A+ to one performance during last night’s variety act, the title would have to go to the poppy/gospel rendition of “I Smile” with Kirk Franklin, Gladys Kight and season 10 contestant Jacob Lusk.

Jacob Lusk sings gospel. That is just what he does. Idol, though, forces singers out of their “comfort zones” so they can grow comfortable with all musical climates. The result is generally unproductive. Let the contestants sing what they sing well. Unless you are a contestant like Casey Abrams or season seven winner David Cook that demonstrates strong musical ingenuity, it is difficult turning a Carole King song into heavy metal (season 10 contestant James Durbin‘s plight throughout the season). Lusk is comfortable in gospel as displayed above. The performance was powerful. It was jam-packed with vocal runs, a stentorian chorus and, of course, the aura of Gladys Knight. Well done bringing this choir together, American Idol. It made the show.

The Grammy Bastardization – The Modern Music Conundrum

3 Dec

More Like the Overly Conventional Yawn Awards

Excuse my horrendous photo editing, but, I believe it gets the point across quite nicely. The 53rd Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2011, and I could not be less excited. Seriously, over the last few years we have seen the Grammys honor bad musicians with awards they did not deserve. And, there has been no other category that has been more debased, defiled and debilitated, than the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The scariest part is this bastardization has just been over the last couple of years.

Last year, this once prestigious award was given to Taylor Swift for her album “Fearless,” which is washed down, mainstream garbage. To take a page out of Kanye West’s “get drunk and make a fool out of yourself” playbook, Swift’s album was child-like and not as good as several other options. I don’t beat around the bush Kanye. I just say it. The album sucked.

I'm sorry for interrupting you, but, you and Taylor Swift both play to the same manipulated audience of young kids who do not know good music from bad. And, sorry, but you are both bad

So, with a chance to redeem themselves, the Grammy Nomination Committee, which I presume looks something like this:

The Grammy Committee put together a nominations list that includes albums by Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Kady Perry. So, we all cross our fingers and hold out hope for the last choice The Suburbs by Arcade Fire to pull off a win. It’s always terrible when you have to hold out hope for the talent to win. That’s when you know there is an issue. So, why, Grammy Committee, why? There was so much more talent out there. This morning, I delved into the depths of my mind to think of what has happened here. Before I get into my correct nominations for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, I want to talk a little about a burgeoning issue that is sprouting in our ever-changing music world. How about a little side-by-side comparison

In 1968, this is who won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year:

In 2010, this is an artist who is nominated for the same award:

It is almost nonsensical. The reason it is so funny is because any comparison made would be so out of place and utterly wrong. The fact that I am even including both of these songs in the same post upsets me terribly. So, what the heck has happened? Is it that the Grammy Awards are simply screwing up, or is the music just that bad. I think it is both.

I have noticed a rising trend, especially in the award nominations this year.

Here is some official nominations from the Albums of the Year award.

Katy Perry
Snoop Dogg, featured artist; Ammo, Benny Blanco, Dr. Luke, Kuk Harrell, Max Martin, Stargate, C. “Tricky” Stewart, Sandy Vee & Greg Wells, producers; Steve Churchyard, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Sam Holland, Jaycen-Joshua, Damien Lewis, Chris O’Ryan, Carlos Oyanedel, Paris, Phil Tan, Brain Thomas, Lewis Tozour, Miles Walker, Emily Wright & Andrew Wuepper
And, from Lady Gaga’s “The Fame Monster:”
Lady Gaga
Beyoncé, featured artist; Ron Fair, Fernando Garibay, Tal Herzberg, Rodney Jerkins, Lady Gaga, RedOne, Teddy Riley & Space Cowboy, producers; Eelco Bakker, Christian Delano, Mike Donaldson, Paul Foley, Tal Herzberg, Rodney Jenkins, Hisashi Mizoguchi, Robert Orton, Dan Parry, Jack Joseph Puig, RedOne, Teddy Riley, Dave Russel, Johnny Severin, Space Cowboy, Mark Stent, Jonas Wetling & Frank Wolff
Trust me, it is the same with Eminem.

This is how Lady Gaga or Kady Perry's album should look...All of the supporting musicians should get a spot

And, while it may look like the Beatles have a lot of people on their famous album cover, it is just other famous people. Their nomination went like this:
The Beatles (Producer George Martin). And, that’s it.

And this is why they sold 2 million songs in one week on iTunes

The rising trend of hundreds of featured musicians has completely destroyed the concept of bands. The term itself has been played with. Simon and Garfunkel won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1971 with “Bridge of Troubled Water.” It was just them. They were the band. No featured musicians. No supporting cast. What has happened to bands. Well, they still do exist, but just not in the spotlight of most media attention. The majority of today’s music is solo artists with a marketable name who barely even create their music at all. The supporting cast of around 100 musicians act almost as those people you read in movie credits. You will never know their name but they are behind the scenes making it all go. So, next time you listen to Kady Perry, just keep in mind that there are a lot of people creating that music…not just her. So, shouldn’t the Album of the Year go to bands or musicians that put in work and actually deserve the title? I would think so. But, why does the Grammy selection committee refuse to give credit to these exceptional bands that release very good albums? Well, it is a product of mainstream musics takeover of the industry. Now, I understand. Music is struggling. Live acts like Lady Gaga produce so much revenue that you must immerse the populace with their name so you can produce cash. But, at what cost. Are you not jeopardizing those who make good music? The question is purely rhetorical. I don’t know the answer. Any which way, he would be my list of Albums of the Year. I do not include Arcade Fire because they were nominated by the Grammy committee. Bolded is my choice for album of the year.

    – Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away

    – Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer of the Void


    The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt


    Band of Horses: Infinite Arms

    Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More

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