Thoughts and musings of Peter Kupfer

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  • Tag Archives Pia Toscano
  • 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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  • Top 12 Girls

    Now for the women. Looking at the set list I am excited because there are a lot of big songs in this list and we are going to find out early who can sing.

    Ta-Tynisa Wilson – Only Girl In The World by Rihanna
    Not a very challenging song to start out with. I guess she sang it well, but it seemed too easy. There were some questionable notes at the end of the song but overall well song. I sound like a broken record, but I keep looking for memorable performances and I am consistently left wanting more.

    Naima Adedapo – Summertime by George Gershwin
    Good stage presence, but it is hard to judge her when she isn’t singing a contemporary sing. I know she chose this to honor her mother, but not a great choice. The girl can sing, but this song did not show her in a contemporary light and may not help her get votes.

    Kendra Chantelle – Impossible by Christina Aguilera
    Good performance from Kendra. I’m not familiar with the original version, but this rendition seems good. She had some passion in the sing, but I would have liked to see a little more motion on the stage a little more emotion coming through. but, pretty solid performance.

    Rachel Zevita – Criminal by Fiona Apple
    More lounge type music, I’m very confused. This Rachel girl sings effortless and blows this sing out of the water. I can’t say I liked the arrangement, but she is a good singer and a good performer.

    I like what Jennifer Lopez said about deciding on who you want America to see you as. When Rachel and Naima come out and go with a lounge/20′s era type song, it doesn’t make me thing star.

    Karen Rodriguez – Hero by Mariah Carey
    I like Karen’s mixing of English and Spanish (it’s a feat marketing move) but this song is bigger than her. She can hit the high notes at the end, but she doesn’t have the power in the middle of the song. She is a risk taker and that will pay off in the end.

    Lauren Turner –  Seven Day Fool by Etta James (Jully Black version)
    I like the sultry take Lauren is bringing here. I would again question the image this song/arrangement is going to leave in people’s minds, but maybe that isn’t that big if an issue. Lauren owns this song and the stage and gives a really greatbperformance.

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    Ashthon Jones – Love All Over Me by Monica
    I don’t really get this song. She seems to just want to say “hey” and then sing a long note and that is supposed to be enough. Ashton has a good voice, but this song was a little silly and not horribly moving.

    Julie Zorrilla – Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
    I remember Julie being one of my favorites from the auditions and she tackles a big sing here and delivers. Julie brought a whole different twist to the song and i thought the arrangement was good. I’m not sure how Randy can say she brought nothing new tonthe song. The whole song was stylistically different. I would agree she didn’t sing it as well as Kelly, but at least give her credit for trying to different.

    Haley Reinhart – Fallin by Alicia Keys
    Haley sings this song well, but it is a copy of the original. I can already tell the judges are going to give it better reviews than julie which is a shame. (Well, Randy proved me wrong.) Haley has a great voice and sings this sing well, but I don’t feel like I know any thing new about her.

    Thia Megia – Out Here On My Own by Irene Cara
    Good performance by Thia. She is a great singer and she made a good effort at moving on stage and performing. I would be interested to see how she handles non-ballads as that seems to be her preference.

    Lauren Alaina – Turn on the Radio by Reba McEntire
    Lauren seems like a good and sassy high schooler as she is stomping across stage and belting out the song. Great performance with a few new twists on this popular song. I think she will go far.

    Pia Toscano – I’ll Stand By You by the Pretenders
    Great performance by Pia. Very controlled and strong. She commits my Idol pet peeve of the big long note at the end, but I will let it slide after that performance. I just hope that Pia has more in her repertoire because she might be the strongest singer of the girls and she should stick around.

    Worth voting for:
    Lauren A., Julie, Lauren T., Rachel, Karen, Pia

    Send them packing:
    Ty-Tynisa, Ashton