Thoughts and musings of Peter Kupfer

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  • American Idol — Top 2

    After taking a few weeks off, it is time for the finale. I still feel that James Durbin should have been in the finale, but these two are great. What is really great about Scotty and Lauren specifically is how much they have grown and changed over the season. It may be a product of their age or because they had Jimmy Iovine as a consistent mentor (which I think was a great move by Idol), but they have progressed more during the season than any other contestants I can think of. I never would have imagined Scotty with the confidence to pull off Gone during these or season or Lauren having the confidence to control the stage as well as she does.

    My initial thought coming in to the night is that Lauren should win because she is a better singer than Scotty. Now, it is difficult to compare an male vs. a female singer, but I will would rank Lauren above Scotty. That is a not a knock on Scotty, but rather praise of Lauren.

    Scotty McCreery — Gone
    Phenomenal! The first week he sang this song I think it solidified his role as a serious contender. Up until then he was a kid who could sing George Strait type songs really well. But, singing Montgomery Gentry’s Gone showed a whole new side to his talent. His encore of the performance was just as good if not better.

    Lauren Alaina — Flat on the Floor
    Great job! She was moving and jamming on the stage and belting out the vocals. The confidence in her growing throughout the season really comes out in this performance. It was a great performance, I would rank Scotty’s higher, but, again, not as a knock on Lauren but as a compliment to Scotty.

    Scotty McCreery — Check Yes or No
    Great song choice and great performance by Scotty. It reminds of the Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not he sang earlier. He really is a great story teller as Jennifer Lopez says.

    Lauren Alaina — Maybe It Was Memphis
    This song highlights what I was trying to say earlier. When a female vocalist nails a song it is almost always going to better than a male. Lauren sings the snot out of this song and shows how talented she is. I don’t know if Ryan was over blowing the vocal cord problem, but it is hard to tell. If she is performing with only one vocal cord here, then I can’t wait until she has two.

    Scotty McCreery — Love You This Big
    Scotty looked very classy and made the least number of annoying facial expressions to date. This song was good for him and it will do well. He is going to a young entering a large field of talented male country artists and so he needs to stick to younger themed songs like this if he is going to be successful. I just don’t think he is quite strong enough to beat Lauren.

    Lauren Alaina — Like My Mother Does
    This song reminds me of something Taylor Swift would sing which is always a good thing in my book. Lauren nails this song and, if this were a strictly talent competition, nailed the title. The confidence to stare your mother in the eye and sing those wonderful things, wow, that takes poise. (Not to mention making it up and down those stairs.) While I don’t think Lauren is done improving, she is pretty far along and she will be a major contender as she matures as grows.


  • American Idol — Top 5

    James Durbin — Good performance. I found the song a little boring, not necessarily the performance, but the song wasn’t for me. The problem for James is that he has to try to top himself each week which is a big feat. This was not his best performance, but it was still high-caliber.

    Jacob Lust — Bad choice to try to sing a duet by himself. I could feel the emotion and it was a decent performance, but it was fell short of the level it needs to be at. He was screaming at some points which made him a little off pitch and it just didn’t work out well.

    Lauren Alaina — This girl might have this thing figured out now. She took on the tall task of singing a song by someone who is as talented and well known and Carrie Underwood and was pretty close to meeting the task. She was loose on stage, had personality and wailed on that song. She really has grown tremendously over the course of the show and I’m going to be interested to see how this all plays out.

    Scotty McCreery –Wow, what a performance. Scotty unequivocally knocked this song out of the park. He stepped out of his comfort zone, worked the stage, nailed the vocals and it was just tremendous. I was ready to declare a James & Lauren finale, but now I don’t know.

    Haley Reinhart — Hailey sang this well. I didn’t care for the song but she sang it decently. It got a little boring and repetitive towards the end. She can sing well, but when she has to compete against Lauren I think she will always come up short.

    Rank of the 1st Performances

    1) Scotty
    2) Lauren
    3) James
    4) Jacob
    5) Haley

    James Durbin — This was a better performance by James. The emotion and soulfulness of the performance really makes this. He was a little off pitch in the low range in the slow part, but he brought this home. The little pause at the end was awesome and gave me chills. What a performer!

    I agree with Randy, it is his competition to lose.

    Jacob Lusk — Again, this was an okay performance. Jacob is just being out shadowed by James and Scotty. He has a big range, but he over performs and he is clearly a diva. he emotion and connection with the audience was really nice at the end and he makes a good effort, but I don’t think it is good enough to beat the other three. As a diva, I always feel like he is a little aloof and disconnected from the populous.

    Lauren Alaina — Irregardless of her amazing singing, I have to really give Lauren credit for taking on two huge songs tonight. She doesn’t seem to be in time with the music here, or something seems wrong. I am nearly as impressed with this performance as the first. It really almost seems self-indulgent. There were none of the big notes I expected and it didn’t really add anything to the song. I was hoping for a lot more from that song. You can tell the judges feel the same, but are just scared to blast her.

    Scotty McCreery — Another great performance by Scotty. What a great night for him!

    Haley Reinhart — What a great performance by Haley. This song was written for her as Jimmy said. Such great emotion and story telling while highlighting her vocals. This performance should push her over Jacob for another week.

    Part 2
    1) Haley
    2) James
    3) Scotty
    4) Jacob
    5) Lauren

    In the end, either James or Haley should be eliminated


  • American Idol Top 6

    Carole King theme week? This is the top 6 and they are forced to sing songs from 1970′s to show how good of a contemporary artist they are? Really!? This seems silly.

    I really like when they start performing the duets at this point in the season.

    Jacob Lusk — Oh No Not My Baby
    I’m not sure whose outfit is goofier, Jacob’s blue and yellow bow tie get up or Randy’s or “R” sweater. Jacob does a nice job with this performance, but this song is not really contemporary at all, which isn’t really his fault, it is a Carol King song so that will happen. Jacob did a great job moving on stage and using his whole vocal range. I think it is too late for him to make a big move here, but you never know.

    Lauren Alaina –
    Lauren is definitely seeming more at ease each week and it is improving her performances. I like when Babyface asked her if she ever didn’t hit a high note she tried for and she said, “No.” Then, she went out on stage and nailed the big notes. Again, I’m not a big fan of the song, but she nailed it. She moved on stage, went for the big notes and really solidified her place in the competition. I think is neck and neck between her and Scotty for the third place now.

    I’m not a big Miley Cyrus fan, but I think her advice to Lauren about their always being haters was very helpful.

    Haley & Casey — I Feel the Earth Move
    If the rumors of them dating aren’t true, they did a heck of job acting like they are in their little video. Great choreography by this two in this performance. I really liked this performance by the two. They looked extremely relaxed on stage and they complemented each other well. I liked Casey’s little diddy at the end and Hailey keeps getting better. They both did themselves justice in this performance and it should help them in the end.

    Scotty McCreery — You’ve Got a Friend
    Scotty can’t help but sound country. So even when he tries to sing something else, he still sounds country, which isn’t a horrible thing, just an observation. Scotty forces the start of this song too much. He went too slow just to try to force emotion. I don’t know if a 17-year-old can convey enough emotion in this song as James Taylor did. By contrast, he makes the end too big, again trying to force the emotion. Having said that, I think that if he worked those out, he could record that as a single now. He sings the song really well and he wants to work hard and do a great job. He needs to let the song develop by itself and not force it.

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    James Durbin — Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
    I don’t want to overstate my feelings of this performance, but I think that minimally it secured James a place in the finale and may have won him the show (I typed it before Randy said it). The first 30 seconds of the song alone makes me want to vote for him. I was a little surprised that he went as pop with the song as he did. I know he was trying to get away from the wild performances, but this was really far the other way. If he had an album of rock songs, that would seem out-of-place. However, that performance was good enough to be a single. I don’t know if it was contemporary enough, but again I won’t blame him.

    Me and Steven seem to be in agreement on this song.

    I haven’t said it as much this season as last I think, but Ryan Seacrest is really phenomenal at what he does. James mentions the Idol forums and he doesn’t miss a beat with a witty plug for the sponsors. Likewise, when he pulled the boy who Lauren serenaded up on stage to interview him, that was great. And, when Jame’s guitar starts making noise, “A superstar wouldn’t let that happen”. He just understands his role and how to host the show. I do miss the exchanges between him and Simon Cowell.

    Lauren and Scotty — Up on the Roof
    Putting the two youngsters/country singers together makes sense and should be interesting. This was not nearly as impressive as Casey and Haley but it was okay. You could see clearly in this performance that Lauren is a stronger singer than Scotty. That is not to say that Scotty did a bad job by any means, but Lauren is just a better singer. In my mind, this helps differentiating between this too a lot easier.

    Casey Abrams — Hi-De-Ho
    You gotta love Casey’s outfit during the jam session: black tennis shoes, hiked up white socks, plaid shorts, and a blue sweatshirt. You can tell he is a musical genius who isn’t worried about matching. :-) I love the opening helping on the piano. I don’t always know what to do with his performances. He is living “on the edge of creativity” as Jimmy said, but that doesn’t always result in songs that make sense. I’m trying to put this singers in context and figure out if they can be stars on the radio or not. Randy is correct and saying that is “entertaining” but I don’t know if he is the American Idol.

    Haley Reinhart — Beautiful
    This is kind of boring song by Haley. I felt that her duet performance was better than this one. The slow bridge in the middle was the best part of this performance. She sang the song well and moved around on stage well, but it was just kind of boring. As I keep saying, she has improved tremendously as an artist over the past 4 episodes but I’m not sure where she is going to go.

    Jacob & James –
    Great duet by these Jacob and James. In a very good way, it was reminiscent of a great Broadway performance. There was a lot of energy and a lot of good vocals. It was a lot of fun and why I like duets.

    Tonight’s Performances
    James Durbin
    Lauren Alaina
    Casey Abrams
    Scotty McCreery
    Haley Reinhart
    Jacob Lusk


  • American Idol Top 8

    It will be interesting to see if the judges say anything critical after last weeks love fest. There was not a single critical comment last week, except for a few constructive comments for Pia. I don’t even Jennifer and Steven don’t know enough about music to be critical because they can just do it, or if they choose to not be critical. The judges need to realize that when they are not critical, (when it is appropriate) that they are not helping the contestants get better. The contestants this year are not that much better this season to be above constructive criticism as opposed to the gushing praise for all show we had last week.

    Paul McDonald — Old Time Rock and Roll
    This song was wedding singer quality at best. He digressed from any level of quality he had raised himself up to over the past few weeks. the judges can talk about letting go and his abandon all they want, but I would like to see him pull that in and actually sing the song. He was starting to grow on me, but he lost me with this performance.

    Lauren Alaina — The Climb
    Lauren sings the song the way it should have been sung in the first place. She was poised, confident, and belted out the vocals. I grow continually frustrated with her refusal to move on stage. I agree with the producer guy that she definitely could steal some of those Pia votes. She is growing and doing well, but she needs to keep pushing herself. The judges comments aren’t helping her push herself, so hopefully she is finding that internal motivation to grow.

    Stefano Langone — End of the Road
    Stefano is becoming one of the best story telling singers on the show, but sadly he can’t back up with stellar vocals. He has this tiny little range of notes he can sing and he can’t nail the big notes. He puts the effort in and he can perform the songs, so I feel bad for being critical, but he just doesn’t have the talent the other singers have. I agree with Randy Jackson that they may be Stefano’s best vocal, but it is still not good enough, and I don’t think he can physically do any better.

    Scotty McCreery — I Cross My Heart
    Good performance by Scotty. I liked a slow song from him and he sang it well. Not much more to say other than that he needs to remember what the TMZ guys says and work on his facial expressions.

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    Casey Abrams — Nature Boy
    I didn’t get Casey’s performance. Gina says she would like to listen to it in a coffee house, but this is not Coffee Shop Idol, this is American Idol! I like Casey, and he sang it well, but it wasn’t really for me. I guess it could go on a jazz type album like Randy says, but I don’t know if everyone is going to get it.

    Haley Reinhart — Call Me
    Good performance by Haley. I would agree with her that she is growing as a performer. This is one of her best performances thus far and she is settling into a style of rocker girl type singer and it is working for her. This performance should be good enough to keep her out of the bottom 3 and get another chance to shine. Gina says that the boots along should get her some votes.  So, now Randy is going to criticize her performance, but praise Paul? It’s like they just jump on the band wagon, once one of them says something negative, they all follow along.

    Jacob Lusk — Bridge Over Troubled Water
    Jacob is taking on a song that Clay Aiken ruled with and it is an interesting choice. This is one of Jacob’s most seriously and believable performances to date. He did an excellent job showing off his vocal abilities and his ability to emotionally connect with the audience. It sounded a lot like he was singing in a church choir at times, but this came out a lot better than I expected. I’m still not sure if I could hear him on the radio, but that was a good performance.

    James Durbin — Heavy Metal
    James rocked the house again. I don’t know if a rocker can win this show, but he could be the first. Not much more to say, he is really good.

    Ranking of Tonight’s Performances

    1 – James Durbin
    2 – Haley Reinhart
    3 – Scotty McCreery
    4 – Casey Abrams
    5 – Lauren Alaina
    6 – Jacob Lusk
    7 – Stefano Langone
    8 – Paul McDonald

     


  • American Idol Top Nine — April 6th, 2011

    Here we go with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week. The correct two got eliminated last week so now we will have to see how the contestants progress and see if they challenge themselves and grow or just play it safe.

    Jacob Lusk — Man in the Mirror
    Jacob’s little comment that if I’m in the bottom 3 it is because America isn’t ready to look in the mirror really turned me off. This was a good performance. I don’t have the love for Jacob that the judges do. Randy specifically told him to pick a point in the song to show his whole range, and he didn’t. But does Randy call him on it? No, he says, “You did exactly what I said.” We need some more critical judges, not just yes men.

    Haley Reinhart — Take a Little Piece of My Heart
    Haley does a great job paying to tribute to Janice Joplin. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I know who Haley is at all. Every week she is different and doesn’t have her own identity. This week she is just doing what she thinks the judges want. I think she absolutely nailed this song, so maybe this is who she should be, but time will tell.

    Casey Abrams — Have You Ever Seen the Rain
    Great vocal performance by Casey. I’m not sure how I feel about his smiling through the whole thing, it comes off almost as a little creepy. He still got his little growls in there for some vintage Casey. I really like this performance. Especially towards the he really starts to show off his range. Good performance. A nice step up from last week.

    “Casey is making up-right bass cool!” — Randy Jackson

    Lauren Alaina — You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
    Wow, Lauren seems much more poised and confident this week. Perhaps last week’s rave reviews may have encouraged her. Great vocal performance, but as the song progressed I really felt that she could have used the stage better. She walks out but then gets to center stage and doesn’t move from there. I’m really on the fence with her. She could be really good if she works a little more on her performing to own the stage a little more.

    The judges are becoming absolutely useless. No constructive feedback just praise with no thought.

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    James Durbin — While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    Great move by James to slow it down. I agree with Will I Am (is that how you even spell that?) that he needs to bring some passion in order to not get swallowed by the other fast songs of the night. The first half of the song was good, maybe a little boring, but I could feel him trying to put the emotion into the song. The last note was really nice, he maybe could have put more of that into the rest of the song. Not a lot because he wanted to keep it soft and sweet, but maybe a little more edge. It was a good performance, not his best, but it was good.

    Scotty McCreery — That’s All Right
    Nice to Scotty show us another side of spectrum. This is a fun little performance that he sings very well. He is still very goofy (I know he is only 17 so maybe that is to be expected) but it is probably appealing to the ladies (as evidenced by the girls running on stage.) Good performance and it will help him stay alive showing more sides of himself.

    Pia Tuscone — River Deep – Mountain High
    Very interested to see Pia’s upbeat song. She picked a good song for her voice. I’m trying to be unbiased, because I just don’t like her, but even this song is just an upbeat ballad. She stood at one place on the big stage and just sang a few words and then hit a big note. I don’t know why these people don’t know they are allowed to walk left and right. She eventually wondered down by the judges and sang to them and eventually sang to the crowd. She still seems like a little princess who doesn’t want to mingle with the people, but I hope I’m wrong because I really want to like her.

    Jennifer actually give some constructive feedback, but only to the best singer in the competition. I seems like she is favoring Pia over the rest.

    Stenfano Langone — When a Man Love a Woman
    I really want Stefano to do well, but he just doesn’t have a strong enough voice. It is perhaps not fair to compare him to the original, but there where places where I really wanted a bigger note and he just couldn’t do it. Having said that, 95% of that song was awesome. He was emotional, he walked on the stage, and he made the song his and about him. He seemed a little confused at the start switching between the falsetto and now, as if he was two people.

    “Sometimes you can let it marinade and then counter-punch at the end. You know what I’m saying?” — Randy Jackson (BTW: No, I don’t know what you are talking about.)

    Paul McDonald — Folsom Prison Blues
    Paul is growing on me. He did good justice to Johnny Cash tonight. You can really see his experience as a performer coming through as well. He gets up on stage and does his thing and doesn’t care about his critics or detractors. This was a good performance and it will be interesting to see if it gets him out of the bottom three.

    Tonight’s Performances

    This ranking was tough. There really weren’t any bad performances. I think Pia, Casey, and Jacob where in one category and then James and Scotty were in a second category and then the other four are a toss up. Haley was the weakest, but no one really flopped. What was disappointing is that no one really stood out as a star performer. Many of them tried new genres which was nice but no one blew me away.

    1 – Pia Toscano
    2 – Casey Abrams
    3 – Jacob Lusk
    4 – James Durbin
    5 – Scotty McCreery
    6 – Stefano Langone
    7 – Lauren Alaina
    8 – Paul McDonald
    9 – Haley Reinhart


  • American Idol Top 11

    Motown theme this week for the top 11 and a chance to make the tour as part of the top 10. Will we finally see the demise of Naima? Will Jennifer Lopez continue to be critical of the contestants, or will she revert back to her praise-fest? Only time will tell?

    Casey Abrams — I Heard It on the Grapevine
    Casey took the judges advice to heart and toned down his energy this week with great effect. For a lot of people in his position this would be a week to give a nice safe performance, but Casey added his own flare to the performance from the opening riff to the serenading of his girlfriend (I think) in the audience. Casey is a quite original and quite awesome I hope he keeps bringing the heat each week and taking risks!

    Thia Megia — Heat Wave
    Good change of pace for her and Thia performs admirably. The motion seems forced and robotic but I give her credit for trying to step out of her comfort zone. She didn’t show as much vocal talent in this performance, but now she has started moving, but she needs to bring the two together. Not a stellar performance, but it was good and she should be safe.

    Jacob Lusk — You’re All I Need to Get By
    This should be a chance for Jacob to deliver another knock out punch. He opens with good restraint, as mentioned in the preview, and builds the anticipation. He looks a little awkward standing still but he is doing okay. I guess the performance must have been great since Steven Tyler went up on stage, but I wasn’t really that blown away by it. Maybe I just was expecting it to be great so I wasn’t blown away. Maybe the song was just a little too simple. I would agree that he really did build it up but it never really got as big as I was waiting for.

    I am not sure why Steven goes up on the stage at the end, but whatever. And now the whole crowd is hugging him? Odd. Also, I wonder if Jennifer realizes that she is on camera when she is doing her goofy dancing?

    Lauren Alaina — You Just Keep Me Hanging On
    Lauren delivers a good performance. It sounds like the original with very little variation. It was a fine performance, but nothing really new or interesting. She moved well, but still looked a little uncomfortable. (I mean it is amazing for a 16 year old to be doing this and all, but she needs to step it up still.)

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  • American Idol Top 12

    The birth year songs are always a little weird because the contestants have a hard time picking a good song. That ended up not being too much of a problem this year which was nice. Overall you can see a clear distinction between the contenders and the rest of the field at this point. I would say at this point there are seven (although I would have said six before Stefano’s surprising performance.) There were some good performances and some bad performances, but this year is shaping up to better than I thought it would be.

    Naima Adedapo — What’s Love Got to Do With It
    Really, this song seems to go from bad to worse. She seemed off key and pitchy and bad right from the start. Jennifer Lopez for the first time really brought the hammer down on Naima. (It’s about time.) Not much else to say, it was just bad. It was original, but not good.

    Paul McDonald — I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues
    Paul is okay, but I am not a big fan. He does make the song his own, and I guess he sings it well, but I do not like the way he sings. He was way to much swagger and confidence for someone who hasn’t earned it yet. It looks like he just shows up and starts singing without really thinking about it.

    Thia Megia — Colors of the Wind
    Thia does a really good job with this song. She is smiling through the performance which is nice, but she maybe could have moved around the stage and brought a little more emotion to the song. She doesn’t really add anything to the song or improve upon her image as a performer in the show. Having said that, we know she can sing.

    James Durbin — I’ll Be There For You
    Compared to the first three you can just tell that James is a performer. He takes over the stage and connects with the song and audience. (He brought back the towel, yeah!) He did a tremendous job with this song, although he doesn’t seem quite as good as last week, he seems a little off (was he sick too?). As Randy Jackson said, this is a James  song and he did in a very tasteful yet unique way. James rocks and he is going to go far.

    I like Steven Tyler’s advice to not get too poppy. “I don’t want to spoil the Aerosmith to the finale.” Now, that is swagger that is deserved.

    Haley Reinhart — I’m Your Baby Tonight
    Haley gives a fair rendition of this Whitney Houston song. In general, the song seemed a little too big for her. The end got better than the beginning, but it still seemed wanting. She does a better job of moving on stage than Thia and she sings better than Naima so I would think she will be safe, but she needs to keep growing and getting better.

    Stefano Langone — If You Don’t Know Me By Now
    Stefano starts out strong here and finishes the song with personality and flair. This may be his best performance to date. The songs seems to fit right in his range and he really has passion in this performance. While this isn’t a life changing or show stopping performance, for him this was an amazing performance and he did a really great job with this song.

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