Thoughts and musings of Peter Kupfer

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  • Tag Archives Paul McDonald
  • 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 2011: Top 11 Part 2

    With the unexpected voting off of Casey Abrams last week and the expected and deserved saved American Idol is going through a repeat this week. The sweet songs of Elton John this week will hopefully inspire some creative performances from the contestants.

    Scotty McCreery — Country Comfort
    Nothing really new to say here about Scotty. It was a very composed and nice performance. It frustrates me at times that he doesn’t really seem to take any risks and skates through while Casey is pushing the envelope and gets voted off (almost). But, Scotty is good and will be able to make a few good records. At this point I see him finishing about 6th or possibly 5th depending on other song choices of the more talented artists.

    Naima Adedapo — I’m Still Standing
    As much as I can not stand Naima and think she is probably the least talented one left, she is a risk taker and I definitely respect her for that. This actually wasn’t a horrible performance. It was a different and a little strange, but I will never hold that against a contestant taking a risk to try and grow as an artist. What I don’t understand is why she keeps getting by and Casey gets voted off (there seems to be a theme of anger this week, sorry.)

    Paul McDonald — Rocket Man
    Bonus points to Paul for dressing the part and for putting the dark and brooding feel into this song. It is a nice change for him. There are some points, especially towards the end where I wish he had taken the song a little bit different, stronger direction. The first half of the song I liked a lot, and he seemed to be building to a crescendo. Either he made a conscious choice to not go that way or he can’t. I guess we don’t know, so I am guessing he can’t. I do like the originality of the song here, but he needs to push and show off some more.

    Pia Tuscano — Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me
    Well, after Pia’s promise last week to try something new, she came back with the same old and Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez totally back pedaled on what they said. (Well Lopez is maybe making a good clarification, but they need to be harsher.) Steven Tyler just says yeah to everybody and takes his paycheck. Now he agrees with the other two. I mean, Pia sings ballads very well, but I would argue Clay Aiken’s performance was better at this point in the show and I would bet that Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (Possibly Katharine McPhee as well) could have sang that just as well if not better. The difference between those two champions and Pia is showmanship. She has not moved more than 40 feet collectively since the actual competition started.

    This video hopefully illustrates my point, there are plenty of people that can belt that song out. Here is my favorite. And as Randy says, where is that voice coming from?

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  • 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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  • American Idol: Top 13

    Theme tonight is people who inspire me. I’m not sure who my one Idol would be in terms of music, but one that I can think of would be Brad Paisley. He sings songs that are funny and that are true to himself and his music. His music videos are typically amazing and hilarious. I would probably sing Letter to Me given a chance.

    Lauren Alaina – Any Man of Mine (Shania Twain)
    I don’t really care for Shania Twain. Her performance is a little boring and far too airy when she sings. I agree with Jennifer Lopez that Lauren doesn’t need to try, but it seems like she is taking the easy way out and not trying hard enough. This was a good start to the night. She was trying to do a fast song because everyone else was doing ballads, so maybe that will help her stand out, but it may also back fire if the rest are good.

    Casey Abrams – With A Little Help From My Friends (Joe Cocker)
    I love the Wonder Years. I’m getting a little biased, but I love what Casey does when he sings. His passion and emotion in this performance is awesome. He said he wanted people to feel it when he sings, and you do. He mixes between strong throaty singing to a little falsetto seamlessly. Casey seems to really enjoy singing and rocking the house and he should be around for a while. The end of the song with the little breaks in the music were pretty cool and well timed.

    I love how Steven Tyler paraphrased Randy Jackson, “You are a rainbow of talent. … You are a plethora of passion.”

    I am beginning to dislike J-Lo. She gave Ryan a dirty look after his little joke about her watching American Idol after she jokingly early said, “I don’t know what I watching here.” Lighten up.

    Ashthon Jones – When You Tell Me That You Love Me (Diana Ross)
    It doesn’t take long to remember why she barely squeaked threw. This song is pretty blah and boring from the start and seems to be full of pitchy notes. (I’m not expert, the notes just sound out of place at times.) I’m not she why Barry Gordy had to come and listen to that performance, because it wasn’t that impressive. I guess it may have been technically good, but it doesn’t make me want to vote for her.

    Paul McDonald – Come Pick Me Up (Ryan Adams)
    I don’t get this song at all. Paul is erratically moving on stage and singing a song that doesn’t seem to require as much skill as I would expect at this point in the competition. Ashthon at least tried to sing what I perceive to be a difficult song. Paul picked another song that sounds like Rod Stewart. J-Lo and Randy both say they hope that America gets it, and I don’t think they will. He is charismatic and that may get him through, but he is going to have to step up his song choice and his singing.

    The judges seem very reluctant to be critical at this point. I do not believe that Paul was that good. None of them really say anything good about the song or his singing. They all say they love Paul but no one says he sang well. They are tip toeing on egg shells.

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  • The Start of American Idol: Top Twelve Men

    So far I have been very pleased with the Cowell-less American Idol. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have brought a nice addition to the show. I wouldn’t say it is better than some of the early seasons of Idol, but it is a good evolution of the show. The talent this year has been extremely good and I constant amazed that they are able to find more singers every year. I feel more connected to the men so far it seems that Casey and James are the early front runners.

    Clint Jun Gamboa — Superstitious
    Clint reminds me of Andrew Garcia from last season, but more talented. I am not digging the disco lights and goofy dancing. Clint seems to be going with a very safe and un-memorable performance. I don’t think he has enough buzz to pull this enough. A few strong notes at the end, but not a real exciting performance over all. Solid performance, but he is being too safe.

    Jovany Barreto — Crying Shoulder
    Jovany looks very nervous on stage. Good song choice trying to go with a more difficult song. He sounds flat in a lot of places and again the performance lacks any real memorable qualities. It was a good performance, but nothing I will be talking about tomorrow. I know it is the first week, but the contestants need to make a mark on the show. (Randy made a good point, you need to bring something special to the song.)

    Jordan Dorsey — OMG
    I do not like this guy, but he has some talent. Jordan has the showmanship down. He did a great job owning the stage and bringing some flair to the song. He seemed to bring a lot of personality to the song. He took a chance and stretched himself and tried to make himself better. I don’t really know this song, so I’m not sure how unique it was, but I was a fan of the song. I don’t care if it is not him, I like that he tried to show a new side of himself.

    Tim Halperin — Come on Over
    Tim seems to really enjoy this song. I feel his spirit coming through in it. It again was a relatively easy choice and didn’t really show off his talent. It was a good song to lead the crowd, but he could have done a tougher song and pushed himself further.

    Brett Loewenstern — Light My Fire
    I’m not a big fan of Brett coming into this show. I was surprised he made the cut, but here he is. Brett sings the rock classic well, but his voice is so high pitched and his movement is erratic is almost comes across as creepy. He doesn’t seems to have very large vocal range. He seemed to only be singing in a range of about 6 notes. I didn’t see anything new out of him in that performance, but I would have liked to see another side of him. I’m not really sure who is going to vote for him except for the people at votefortheworst.com.

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    James Durbin – You Got Another Thing Comin’ 
    James is one of my two early picks to win this season. Although realistically he will probably make it to the top 3 or 5 as a rocker has yet to win the show. I don’t know this song at all, but what James did sounded good to me. He is talented, but not as off the wall as Adam Lambert which may help him get over the hurdle the rockers have faced. I don’t know if he is a musical as Chris Daughtry, in terms of arrangements as such, but he may be with his pedigree.

    Robbie Rosen — In the Arms of An Angel
    Whenever I see a guy is going to sing a song made famous by a femal artist I get nervous, but I was presently surprised by Robbie’s performance. I’m not thrilled with the arrangement, but he is bringing something new to the song and he is a doing a good job of it. He has a very nice voice and he may be a dark horse in this competition. Time will tell if he can keep growing as an artist and find new ways to perform. But, I will give him a lot of credit for trying something different with the song.

    Scotty McCreery – Letters From Home
    Scotty is very much a one trick pony which will probably be enough to get him at least one good selling album. I don’t like how is face looks all cocky. I feel like he is a getting a big head because he is a 17 year old kid on Idol, but maybe I am not giving him enough credit. (His humbleness after the whole JC incident and at the end of his performance is making me rethink my impression.) It was a good performance and I liked his little adjustment at the end, but again it wasn’t amazing, but it was a solid performance right in his wheel house.

    Stefano Langone – Just the Way You Are
    This song was okay until the chorus. After that it became clear that Stefano does not have the pipes to pull this song. Again he seems to have about a 6 note range (admittedly he tried to leave this range, but it didn’t go well). I’m really not sure if I dislike this performance or Brett’s more.

    Paul McDonald — Maggie May
    Seems like a Rod Stewart cover even down to impersonating the way his voice sounds. Paul seems to have the Taylor Hicks movement tick on stage which doesn’t bother me, but rather it is just an observation (and perhaps a good omen for him.) Nothing new here. A decent cover of a good song. Safe performance, but he is going to need to do better.

    Jacob Lusk – A House is Not a Home
    Really excited for Jacob to sing. What a performer. It seems that he can sing anything. He can go as low as Scotty and as high as Brett and do it better than both of them combined. He needs to figure out what he wants to sing because right now he is perhaps little too goofy and doesn’t have a niche. (Although I guess he can have a Luther Vandrose type career with beautiful balads.)  Having said that, I am going to have to put him with Casey and James as front runners. (I forgot his God Bless the Child performance or else I may have added him in the first place.)

    Casey Abrams – I Put a Spell on You
    Wow, what energy! This guy brings it all when he sings and I love it. I don’t know if he is like a young Meatloaf or where he fits into the music world, but I want him to stay around. When he was singing “Put a Spell on You” I felt like he was actually going to put a spell on me. You can tell he is confident, but not cocky. We will have to see if he can make it 15+ weeks.

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