Thursday, September 30, 2010

American Idol 10: New Judging Panel and New Audition Set

Ok. I almost forgot to post this because of too much Glee euphoria from yesterday. Haha. Anyway, here's a first look of the new judging panel - Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez - in action. Well, not really, but still..

Look at the new set! It's looking sharper compared to the past season's audition set. I must admit, this somehow made me a little excited for the upcoming season. I mean, with the last season being horrible, there's no other way than up right? I'm still optimistic.

Oh, and Randy Jackson is occupying Simon Cowell's seat! Interesting.

Check out the pictures after the jump!!

Glee Season 2: Grilled Cheesus Song Previews

Here's  next week's episode, Grilled Cheesus, song previews. I wonder why they didn't record R.E.M's Losing My Religion.

Anyway, I'll comment on the songs once the full versions are released. But I can tell that I already love Mercedes' version of Bridge Over Troubled Water and the New Directions' cover of One Of Us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glee Season 2: Brittany/Britney Episode Review

Season 2, Episode 2

Potentially my inner Britney fanboy talking, I absolutely enjoyed this episode. Was it the best Glee episode ever? Maybe not, and I'll tell you why.

Just like the Madonna tribute from last season, this one felt a little gimmicky as the story was driven forward by the songs instead of the songs driving the story. Yes, the episode had epic - and I mean EPIC - moments this week, but some part of it fell short of how great it could have been. Simply put, the episode wasn't bad, but not as good as I was expecting.

Let's just say that I was thoroughly entertained for what it was.


- Brittany S. Pierce! Haha. She was, as always, ridiculously hilarious! Just from the opening scene alone, when she was talking about her real name, Brittany had me cracking up. I also loved how she kept saying that she wants to get all the solos now as she think she's better than everyone. Haha. But I have to hand it to her, she does have a great voice and she totally acquitted herself well in her first time singing. Oh, and her dancing was fan-freakin'-tastic! This just shows how grossly underused Heather Morris actually is. Unbelievable.

- "I thought I was the only one getting the solos from now on? Next week, I'm going to be performing a musical number by Ke$ha." Ha! Of course, this one deserves its own bullet. I'm pretty sure that this one had me genuinely laughing (out loud). Seriously.

- Kurt having a bitch-fit at Will was unexpectedly funny! Truth be told, Mr. Schue needed that kind of beating from Kurt. I mean, he was being a total a*s about the whole Britney thing. I don't know, but that scene was shocking. Ha!

- Rachel and Quinn finally had a scene together! Frankly, I was so happy to see them actually being civil with each other. A possible friendship in the future? Hopefully.

- Santana was on fire with her half a dozen great lines!

- The production of their musical performances this week were all top-notch. Arguably, better than most - if not all - of their numbers during The Power of Madonna episode.  

- Britney Spears cameo! 


- Yes, I love me some Brittany (S. Pierce) but a lot of the focus towards her was mostly concentrated in the first half, which made the episode slightly unbalanced.

- The Emma-Will scenes were uncomfortable to watch, for some reason.

- I've always appreciated Glee's willingness to have its main characters - specifically Rachel - be realistically unsymphathetic, but I think they're pushing it a little too far these last two episodes. Come on! Rachel now comes across vaguely like a sociopath - "I want to be the only thing that makes you feel good about yourself". Seriously?

- I was missing the storyline established in last week's episode. You know, Glee club members hating Rachel because of the Sunshine incident? What happened to that? And where was Sam?

- Every contribution Jacob made to this episode was unnecessary, awkward, and annoying. I wanted to watch the freakin' performance of Toxic, but, alas, I couldn't because of the distasteful scene he and that obnoxious girl were making. Ugh!

- How come Kurt didn't get a solo in this episode? He was obviously the one who kept on pushing for a Britney theme right? That's a little odd.

- The awkwardness of Will performing with New Directions.

- Not enough Sue.


I'M A SLAVE 4 U. I'm dead. I must be dead. Haha. I have to give props for the incredible Heather Morris in her performance of this Britney classic because she killed it. This girl is so talented, and it was nice to see her have her moment. She can really move!

ME AGAINST THE MUSIC.  Really. Brittany + Santana = Incredible. Not only have I put this song on repeat on my playlist, but I've also played that part of the video - and Brittany's monologue directly after it - over and over again. The choreography was ridiculous and the way they recreated the music video was just as good. Of course, Britney Spears appearing at the end of the number made it so much better, I suppose. 

BABY ONE MORE TIME was decent. I did not like Rachel's version but the way the original music video was recreated somehow sold me to this particular performance. It was ok.

STRONGER annoyed me. I don't know. Personally, Single Ladies still blows this one out of the water, and I don't think the football team can ever dance to a Glee song without weird-ing me out. Haha. Vocally, it was good but I just didn't get that.

TOXIC was fun to watch. This is like Push It from last season. Haha. I think it was the best Britney performance of the episode because of the hilarity it created. Too bad, Jacob and the obnoxious girl ruined the moment. I'm also not sure if Will Schuester being part of this number is a good thing as well - it was a little creepy to me.

MY ONLY EXCEPTION was lovely. It was so poignant that it almost reminded me Smile from last season. By cutting away little scenes between the Glee members, it emphasized their underlying stories, thus broadened the emotional resonance to me. Somehow, this montage gave me a little preview of what they'll focus on for the rest of the season - hopefully.

Download music HERE.
Watch the preview for next week HERE.
Check out the promo pictures for next week HERE.

Glee Season 2: Grilled Cheesus Teaser

Next week looks so intense! A possible tearjerker! Sigh. Just when I thought I wouldn't act like a crazy fanboy for next week, they released another interesting teaser for next week. Haha.

Album Review: The Other Side Of Down - David Archuleta

Let me go straight to the point: The Other Side Of Down is seriously a solid sophomore album for David Archuleta.

Now, I'm definitely loving the newer sound. While I liked the first album, I’m loving the newer mature sound of David. Yes, it still has that usual bubblegum pop vibe that was somewhat carried over to this sophomore effort, but I think he has truly grown in maturity with his new album.

The album, I must say, is surprisingly diverse and yet, at the same time, coherent. He still has that youthful sound but, at the same time, is able to allow enough maturity this time around. I also think that this sophomore effort achieves a really good balance between the vibe of a singer-songwriter and the usual mid-tempo to upbeat production sound that is, arguably, popular today.

You know what? I'm just really happy for David.

Here's my track-by-track review:  

A surprisingly unique sound for David. Frankly, I'm a little perplexed with this track. I mean, a part of me thinks that this would have made a much more radio-friendly single than, say, Something 'Bout Love because it's different for someone like Archuleta and I kind of like the bouncy vibe in the verses. But, some part of the song - especially the chrous part - really annoys me. I don't know.  7/10

This one has radio hit potential. Sure, it's a little too overproduced with all the auto-tunes and whatnot but that's what works on pop music nowadays, so I'm not surprised. It is a catchy song, with great hook and incredible production. Oh, and the bridge took me by surprise. Seriously. I like that he uses his range in this song. 8/10

Say what you want about Elevator, but I really like it. Ha! Now, if I'm being honest, the first time I heard this track I said that this can't be seriously in his album because it reminded me so much of that hi ho hi ho song by the seven dwarfs. Haha. But after a few subsequent listen, I kind of warmed up to it. I think it's very cleverly written, both as a metaphor and just as a song - word choice, syntax rhythm, consistency in theme. I also think that it's fun, catchy and it felt like a little roller coaster of a song. 9/10

One of the strongest tracks on the album. At first, I thought it would be like an angst-y song - based from the lyrics - but the melody and vocals from him make it sound like a bubblegum pop type of song, which shockingly works for me. The verses are better than the chorus, but maybe that's just me nitpicking. This, to me, is probably one of the biggest potential hit in the album. 9/10

Just like the other tracks, this one has a bouncy and hook-y melody. That said, this song just doesn't really do anything for me. I'm also not particularly keen with the different voices in the verses. Possibly one of those songs that I wouldn't necessarily skip over but it wouldn't make me repeat it for a second listen as well. 6/10

I can easily picture this track as part of a TV series' or a movie soundtrack. The melody and the production of this song is lovely. Yes, the lyrics aren't it's strongest suit but, good thing, everything else about it is great. His voice, especially on his lower register and his falsetto in this song is quite gorgeous. 8/10

I heard the live version of this song from David and I was somehow on the fence with it as his voice sounded almost hoarse singing the high notes. However, the studio version completely changed my opinion of the song. The production is actually pretty good and, somehow, takes it to a whole new level. I wonder though if this would've been better if it was sped up just a bit. As for the vocals, I love the soft rise and fall of David’s voice. 8/10

This reminds me of his song Your Eyes Don't Lie from his first album. Totally annoying at first listen but somehow along the way made me a fan of the track. Yes, I barely finished this song and thought that this would be the one track that I would end skipping. But guess which song gets stuck in my head after listening to the whole record? Yup, this one. Ha! Possibly one of my favorite tracks. This song is absurdly catchy, which reminds me a bit of both Owl City and Imogen Heap - just listen to the first tens seconds of the the song. 9/10

It's interesting that the beginning of the verses sounds exactly like Crush. Is that intentional? Maybe. Does it matter? Absolutely not because this song, I believe, is one of the best tracks on the album. It may seem a little generic in terms of its structure but this song is to die for. It's simple, hauntingly beautiful and surprisingly powerful. His vocals just spill over on the lyrics like a series of massages. Ha! Oh, and the bridge and the last chorus makes this song even more impressive. 10/10

This definitely grew on me. Not the best in the album, but it's definitely a good track. Very soulful, bluesy, and clearly has that John Mayer sort of feel to it. The melody is marginally different from the rest of the tracks and it does have some classic pop harmonic structure in the chorus that I just can't resist. Somehow, the song also sounds a little bit country to me - I don't know if it's just me though. 8/10

Frankly, I'm liking it a bit more than I did but the track just strikes me as one big cliche. Sure, it's decent but I just can't really get into it as much as I'd hope. Now, if they tweak this song a little, I could see this being an Idol exit song - it does have the inspirational kind of vibe obviously. 6/10

EPIC! This song is gorgeous!! Stunning vocals with so much emotion! His strong full-bodied voice is always in front and center and it never got overpowered by the instrumentations. You see, I love a distinct piano presence in a song and this is a perfect and heart breaking example of simple but powerful recording. Pure. Soft. Unadulterated. It is beauty, rawness and simplicity at its finest. 10/10

I have to say, this sophomore record of Archuleta does hold together very cohesively from start to finish with each song highlighting another side of his voice. It is actually interesting that he maximized his falsetto and higher register compared to his debut album. Anyway, the fluidity of the songs is spot on and it seems to me that each track have its own distinct melody. I don't feel like I'm listening to the same song over and over again, but I don't feel like I'm listening to 5 different albums either.

Suffice it to say, whatever happens with his sophomore effort, I think it’s a fantastic album and I do believe it's far superior than his last album. Nothing more, nothing less.

RATING: 8.2/10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Glee Season 2: I'm A Slave 4 U Sneak Peek

So, I posted a few days ago a preview of what to expect for tomorrow's episode entitled, Brittany/Britney. I also posted a Me Against The Music sneak peek. Now, it's time for I'm A Slave 4 U to take front and center.

Anyway, here's Brittany (Heather Morris) with her version of a Britney hit. Oh, and John Stamos is in it as well. Ha!

Here are previews with Britney Spears herself in it!

Album: The Other Side Of Down - David Archuleta

Here's David Archuleta's sophomore album entitled, The Other Side Of Down. All I can say is that I'm fairly impressed with this latest effort from him. Anyway, I'll be writing a tack-by-track review, which will be posted after the Glee episode tomorrow. For the meantime, enjoy!


1. The Other Side Of Down
2. Something 'Bout Love
3. Elevator
4. Stomping The Roses
5. Who I Am
6. Falling Stars
7. Parachutes and Airplanes
8. Look Around
9. Good Place
10. Complain
11. Things Are Gonna Get Better
12. My Kind Of Perfect


Glee: Darren Criss Joins the Cast as Kurt's Boyfriend

Ok. So, there's nothing official yet, but according to several sources, singer/actor Darren Criss will join Glee, playing a gay student who is a member of a rival show choir.

A source tells, Darren Criss's character Blaine - a gay member of the Dalton Academy Warblers, a glee club rival to New Directions -  will at first share a simply platonic relationship with McKinley High’s most out and proud pupil, Kurt.

Well, there it is! Rumors were spreading like crazy when Chord Overstreet's character, Sam, was announced because people initially thought that it's his character that will come out and hook up with Kurt. Probably the same reason why they had a little hint of that with last week's premiere episode where Sam unintentionally - or maybe not - mentioned to Puck,"I dont know, I never had balls in my mouth." Haha.

Anyway, Darren Criss' credits include a role on ABC’s short-lived Eastwick  - as the brother of Matt Dallas’ character - and A Very Potter Musical, which he did as a member of the University of Michigan’s theater company, Team StarKid.

He got cast via the nationwide open casting call that was conducted this summer, originally intended to fill the roles of Kurt’s boyfriend, a male counterpart to Mercedes and a fundamentalist Christian female.

Now, here is his audition video. Frankly, I was totally not sold on this guy until about 30 seconds in. He doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, which is good for the fabulous cheesefest that is Glee. Haha.

Movie Review: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

I have to say, I was really hoping that this movie would be perfect. It wasn't, but what really made this film work were the stunning visuals. Really.

This, to me, was a visually gorgeous animated film. The computer animation was richly detailed and the 3D effects were sensational. Even the exciting flying scenes - reminiscent of those in Avatar - were quite breathtaking, and the shots of the lush, dark forests and vast seascapes were equally sumptuous. However, these visual gimmicks and cool computer graphics are only the tools to tell the story and not the other way round.

I must confess that I was "carried away" by the movie's impressive visuals and seascapes, but this feeling soon faded when the narrative kicked in. I mean, the story just didn't go much beyond a standard hero's quest as it rarely rose above the cookie cutter kids’ fantasy plot. Frankly, it had great potential, but it was just not delivered as well as it could have been.

The pacing of the movie was a little odd too. For a bit, there's a flurry too fast for the eye to follow, and then everything goes into extra slow motion. Oh, and at times it spent more time on things that were clearly unnecessary. I also found it too difficult to keep track of who's who, as there was a continuous blur of feathers, beaks, and claws - especially during the final scenes. But, maybe that's just me. I don't know.

I have to say though that the voice work in this animated feature was excellent - with a considerable array of stars adding luster to the mix. The standout, however, was certainly Anthony LaPaglia, whose booming delivery and forlorn attempts at gravity in his "musical numbers" will probably draw the most giggles. Ha!

Ultimately, the film’s superlative animation, at the very least, made this a dynamic experience. I'd like to think that, somehow, it even compensated to it's passable story and odd pacing. Sure, the narrative side was impoverished, but, good thing, the level of visual invention was pretty high. So, good enough.

 RATING: 6/10

Monday, September 27, 2010

Idol 21 - Carly Smithson

21. Carly Smithson
Season 7, 6th Place

Going into Season 7, there was a ton of hype about the "Irish Girl" and I was definitely intrigued. Too bad, Simon made her sound like the best thing since Whitney Houston, so the bar was set impossibly high for her. Consequently, when I finally saw her audition, I wasn't disappointed - ok. Well, I was slightly disappointed, but I still really loved her. Sure, I was expecting absolute perfection, which she was not, but she definitely delivered.

Now, during the semifinals, I admit that she was a bit of a let down. Simon was absolutely right when he kept talking about the potential she had, and how she wasn't living up to it. But, at the same time, I think Simon should've brought up the positive more often. I mean, Carly at 75% of her potential was still much better than most of the girls giving their all. So, judging her based on her potential, I'd say a good portion of her performances were sub standard, but judging Carly on her competition, she was amazing! Really.

That said, Carly, of course, wasn't perfect. I actually had issues about her that somehow made me connect with her a little less than usual. I think that the way she looked when she performed on stage could be a little distracting as she often looked like she was in pain when she was really belting it out. Sometimes though, that fact didn't bother me that much as long as it sounded good - as it mostly did. Oh, and she did strain a bit in some songs, but that was just me nitpicking. Haha.

Frankly, I don't think Carly ever had a bad performance. Yes, she had a few ones that I thought were just ok, but she never was bad. So, when she was cut after a stellar performance of Jesus Christ Superstar, I was totally speechless. She absolutely did not deserve to go that soon. Heck, I thought she should've made Top 4, at least. She was consistent and interesting musically. Her elimination left me more apathetic about the show than ever. I didn't feel like watching the next week, but I did - and I'm glad I didn't give up. Haha.

Post-Idol, I was really really hoping that Carly would get picked up by a label right away. She really does have a marketable sound to her, and I would certainly rush out to buy an album from her when it comes out. But she didn't. Good thing, the ex-members of the disbanded Evanescence formed a new band called We Are The Fallen and hired Carly Smithson as their lead vocalist. I listened to their album and I thought it rocked. Seriously.

Favorite performance(s): There are actually two performances from Carly that really stand out as brilliant performances to me. The first of which would be her performance of Here You Come Again. I cannot believe how underrated this performance was. I was floored by the subtlety when she sang this. Absolutely brilliant. Now, the other major stand out for me was when she sang Come Together. The vibe of this performance was beyond cool, and I loved all of her phrasing choices. Another notable performances for me would be Jesus Christ Superstar and Crazy On You.

Here You Come Again

Come Together

Jesus Christ Superstar

Crazy On You

Interlude: 15 All-Time Worst Idol Performances

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Idol 22 - Lee Dewyze

22. Lee Dewyze
Season 9, Winner

I'll be honest, I could still feel my outrage by remembering that Lee's performances during his Idol run was not the work of someone who's ready to carry on the tradition of vocal spotlessness forged by Kelly Clarkson all the way through to Kris Allen. Oh, and he has a charisma of an oyster. Haha. That being said, he was a guy who may botched a few notes along the way, but he clearly sounded like Pavarotti when you line him up against Travis Garland or Ke$ha or a half-dozen of the other chart-toppers who graced the Idol stage that season.

Looking back, I never really saw Lee as a potential Idol winner. Sure, he got lauded by the judges as ''commercial'' and ''current" but that fact alone didn't convince me that he's worthy of being Kris Allen's successor. His audition was decent and I think his Hollywood round performances - though limited - was alright. I honestly saw him as just another fodder who's lucky to end up in the Final 7.

Then, semifinals came and I suddenly noticed his potential as a great competitor - not necessarily a winner - that season. Through out the semifinals round, he picked more contemporary songs, which surprised me in a good way. His versions weren't exactly flawless but at least, it wasn't as expected as the other contestants.

I think Lee hit the trifecta during the semifinals by choosing an appealing recent hits, giving it a unique - but not too unique - twists, and singing them solidly. Yes, his pitch was never perfect on any of them but as I've said, his song choices NEVER bored me to tears.

Now, when he finally got into the Final 12, he tried to improve on his performances by trying not to be the nervous-to-the-point-of-nausea guy - see Lips Of An Angel. Haha - and that's was probably his turning point. He managed to pull out great performances every week since the Finals started. Yes, he had some missteps here and there - Kiss From A Rose - but I though he was able to still maintain that enormous momentum on his side.

So, come Top 3 night, Lee arrived ready to play the game and came out looking like a champion. I don’t care if you think some of the praise he received that night wasn’t deserved, that's politics then and the momentum was certainly in his favor. To me, it was impossible to deny that Lee was, without question, the star of that Top 3 evening. He was almost crowned that night - that obviously doomed Crystal Bowersox's chances the next week.

Sadly, come Finale night, Lee certainly choked. His first song choice was Lee’s stupidest decision of that evening as The Boxer wasn't really his biggest hit. It should've been Treat Her Like A Lady. His second performance another ballad, which only further showed me how weak his interpretation have become. As for Beautiful Day was a song that worked well on paper for Lee and certainly was his best attempt of the evening, but his performances were all starting to merge together by the end of that evening.

But why is Lee above Crystal in my countdown? Well, even if I think Crystal deserved the title more than Lee by sheer basis of their performances during the Finale, I was never really a fan of Crystal and her style. Lee Dewyze, on the other hand, seemed more marketable and I think I'll prefer to have his post-Idol album than Cyrtal's. Oh, and to me, Lee picked songs with melodies people will connect to more throughout the competition.

Favorite Performance(s): Treat Her Like A Lady, to me, has turned Lee Dewyze into a legitimate force. Vocally, the intensity and passion was palpable and the audience clearly ate it up and asked for seconds. Lee's version of Hallelujah, on the other hand, was epic and really did cement his position as the one to beat going intothe Finale.

Treat Her Like A Lady


#21 - Bury Me Alive

Glee Music 2: Brittany/Britney

Here are the songs for next week's episode, Brittany/Britney. This also marks the debut of Brittany as a singer! Woot Woot!

Oh, and yes, the official single cover for Baby One More Time and I'm A Slave 4 U has not been released. I'll replace them as soon as they have it already. For the meantime, enjoy!

 Baby One More Time
Ok. I love Lea Michele but I have to admit that I did not like her version of the song. One, it's completely in the wrong key and the high notes were unnecessary - way too high for her range. This is the first time I didn't enjoy her singing. Personally, this song would have suited Quinn better. But it might work better with the visual because it does look like they are completely recreating the video just like they did with Vogue. 4/10

I'm A Slave 4 U
 Who would've thought? Haha. Brittany's voice is perfect for Ms. Spears' song - I was sort of afraid it wouldn't be. But, really, her voice fits the song perfectly and I can now see that with her great dancing skills, this performance would be so amazing. 7/10

Me Against The Music
Brittany and Santana rocks this song! Again, happy to hear Brittany singing here. Sure, her voice is not out-of-this-world crazy good, but she still sounds great. I love that Santana is in this track as well. I wonder if they'll kiss at the end. Ha! 8/10

This was good, but nothing I was super stoked about. I'm sorry but I'm just not a fan of Artie's voice. It's just too boy band-ish for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I think Artie has a good voice, I just I feel like it gets boring to listen to after a minute or so. Same reason why I've never liked his solos before. 6/10

 The Only Exception
I like how soft and simple Rachel's vocal is here and this is somehow a nice disconnect to such a flashy episode. However, I'm still trying to figure out why the mandatory Finn-Rachel duet couldn't have been one of Britney Spears' ballads. It's just weird that a Paramore song is in a Britney episode. 7/10

AMAZING. The song is not as bad as I thought based from the preview I heard. I think it might be one of their best covers to date. Perhaps it's because they changed it up enough to make it different, but not too much that it ruins the actual melody. Now, I do have to add that Mr. Shuester's voice has NEVER done anything for me, but he somehow did it for me here. 10/10

(all 6 tracks)

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