Sunday, July 24, 2011

X Factor: Boot Camp- Top 70

Note: I do NOT know which contestants made it thru to the Top 32. 
These were the final performances before the cut, but no judges comments were made during the Saturday sessions. They said the Top 32 would be chosen tomorrow (Sunday).

Note: Spelling of names are more than likely off, as well as some actual names. 
Also, come contestants failed to mention their name, so I have no idea who they are. If only they would flash the contestant's name and youtube account during the performances.....
I'm not completely familiar with the XFactor format, but for some reason they decided to do their Top 70 performances live in front of an audience. To relate to American Idol, the T70 performances are like the 'Sing For Your Life', Top 40 performances. One last chance to sing before the judges pick who makes it to the semi-final rounds. The performances were split up into two sessions. I attended the 1pm (which was more like 3:30pm) and saw 32 acts perform.

I sat in the balcony section with my pen and notepad, and I jotted down as much info as I could about each contestant. Some, however, failed to mention their name. So there isn't much I can do about that. Also, I was not in view of the judges, so I cannot tell you how they reacted to any of the performances.

Simon being the diva that he is, was late and stalled our taping for an hour. :| The emcee for the evening, Bill, was as boring as could be. As much as I may hate to say it, I could have used some Corey in my life today. Corey is the main emcee for Idol tapings. He tends to get repetitive, and when you've attended multiple tapings, you may have his routine memorized to the T. least he was more entertaining that this guy.

The Judges
Simon, Paula, Nicole and LA arrived on set and gave some quick memo type of introductions:
LA: Please be as honest as you can with us. Let us know if you like or don't like a contestant.
Nicole: Let's make this a supportive environment so that they give it their all.
Paula: "I've never witnessed such incredible talent in all my years…of sitting next to Simon."
Simon: This is for a 5 million dollar recording contract. 

For the curious minds, they sat Simon, Paula, Nicole, LA. 

Simon and LA did most of the talking, though there was not much, as feedback was not part of the process. Some contestants did get small remarks before they sang, as in they had impressed them or been struggling throughout the week.  Simon liked to stress that this was for a 5 million dollar recording contract. If I had a dollar for every time he said it...I could fill my gas tank...once. 

The point of the introductions was one last chance to show themselves to "America" (also known as, the thousand or so people in the auditorium). "What do you want us to know about YOU!?" 

The contestants were given the song list (obviously small by the number of repeats in just half the performances) the night before, and it definitely reflected on a handful of the contestants. It also seemed there were no age appropriate songs for the children to sing. I doubt they know the extent of "Jar of Hearts" or have experienced the lengths of "If I Were a Boy."

I'm going to make these short and sweet...and by that I mean, I'll attempt to stop myself from making this post into its own book since we have 32 to acts to cover. Also, because the judges did not comment, you get to hear my honest opinion about them. :)

For Sure - Four black males (maybe 20ish), who failed to mention their actual names
Performed "Fix You" Coldplay
They made the song a dance remix, which completely ruined the song. I question if they even payed attention to the lyrics. The vocals were not on par, though their harmonies were decent.

Astro - Teen black male
Performed "Like a Star" Corrine Bailey Rae
Made a comment about how he can't sing, but can rap. Afterward, LA told him, "Don't make excuses for being a rapper. Do what you do." And as such, he isn't that great of a singer but a mighty fine rapper he is.

Jamie Lynch - Late teens/early 20s white female
Performed "This Years Love" David Gray
First of all, her bright red heels did not match her outfit & were quite distracting. She had a slight twang to her voice, but the lowness of her voice kind of reminded me of Katie Stevens (yes, I will continue to make Idol references because I can.) Forgotten words, could be the death of her....XF career.

Little Ladies - Four teen girls (Molly, Haley, Lindsey and _____)
Performed "Ain't No Sunshine"
Acapella opening with some very lovely harmonies. The individual solos were rough, though one girl is definitely the standout with some power vocals. Now sure how I feel about them stripping off their jacket mid song.....

Marcus Canteen - Early 20s black male
Performed "Flying Without Wings" Westlife (obviously the Ruben Studdard version)
Speaking of Ruben, he kind of haves a velvet teddy bear type of voice. More on the fact that it makes you melt, than an actual teddy bear. His high tones, however, need some fine tuning.

Dixon Haggan - Older black male (Lenny Kravitz look-a-like)
Performed "It's a Man's World" James Brown
This guy is crazy. Just crazy. No one was sure if he was a gimmick or not, though we were promised that these were all serious contestants. He started off accapella but then Simon stopped him to figure out where the band was. The band said it was the wrong song...Dixon said he was told to sing the song. Who knows what was up, but they eventually tried again with the music. I feel crazy to say but the guy was actually pretty good. Reminds me of Steven Tyler a bit....just not so, blunt or insane.

Ace Montatelli (sp) - 12 year old white male
Performed "Jar of Hearts" Christina Perri
He looked like a Justin Bieber wannabee. Not sure he gets the song....and he wasn't horrible but it was too big for him on multiple levels. He was cut off after less than a minute. :|

Brennin - Late 20s/early 30s white male
Performed "If I Ain't Got You" Alicia Keys
He did a slight change of tempo to add his touch to the song. He definitely stole Pat Monahan (from Train) pants. They were super tight. He said that he'd been at this for a long time but just can't catch a break, he's hoping this is his chance. Simon interrupted him mid song to ask why he changed it up. He wanted to stand out...restarted and rocked the house. He's definitely the season's token WG (not sure if he plays guitar). Worked the stage quite well, and did I mention from my view (which was kinda far) he looked hot. 

Stereo House (or Stereo Host) - Five 20ish black males
Performed "Cry Me a River"
The guys did some simple yet dramatic choreography that leaned more towards broadway than boy band. One main singer (smart move to make your strongest shine right now) and the rest did background vocals. Beautiful harmonies.

Nameless Boy - Teen white boy
Performed "If I Ain't Got You" Alicia Keys
Didn't say his name (boo) but he kind of has a Jesse McCartney look and feel. He was actually really good, especially considering the song choice. Um, watch your back Bieber. This kid is legit.

Nameless Female - 20ish black female, decked out in white sparkle dress
Performed "Fix You" Coldplay
Failed to mention her name. She's got an amazing voice, gave me goose pimples! Though, asked the audience to make some noise mid song and this really is the wrong song to do so. A bit awkward. Received a half 'standing O' from the audience.

Nameless Girl - Little black girl, pretty in pink
Performed "If I Ain't Got You" Alicia Keys
Didn't say her name. Amazing vocal control and quite beautiful vocals. Just, so little. Had to be twelve years old.

Audrey Turner - Older woman (Ike Turner's widow?)
Performed "Ain't No Mountain"
Ready to take her life back and that this song means so much to her. She was overly dramatic, and even fell to her knees and started crying. She wasn't horrible per say, but not great. Oh, and her pants stole the show....they were, um, ridiculous. I hope they show just the pants on TV.

Nameless Girl - White girl, blonde hair
Performed "Like a Star" Corrine Bailey Rae
Another one to not mention her name. She seems very nice and grateful to be there. She had some awkward hand gestures while singing. Her tone is Adele like, and soulful. Very good. (I honestly cannot remember her potential age range, but I think she was mid/late teens)

Rachel Crow - Little girl, possibly mix raced
Performed "If I Were a Boy" Beyonce
She didn't mention her name, but we found her on youtube! She was bubbly, adorable, and a talker. Talked about how her family live in a small house and she wanted her own bathroom. Also something about setting a foundation for adopted kids. Simon asked what she was singing and she replied, "It's a surprise!"

Within just a few bars of the song, the entire audience was up on their feet. It. Was. AMAZING.  I was moved to tears. (I, for one, am not big on the child performers. Parents, let them live their lives...they have time to be a star. But this girl...amazed me.) I'd go as far as saying she out sang Beyonce on this one. She sang with conviction, emotion, a song I sure hope she cannot relate to at her age.

Oddly enough, I am convinced she sang the whole song, while others sang partial versions of their song. Hm. No doubt that this girl will make it through. They would be stupid.

Aaron Ray (or Rehn) - Older teen black male
Performed "That's the Way Loves Goes" Janet Jackson
Wants to put real music back on the radio. He didn't even sing the chorus of the song which brought Simon to question what song it was at the end. He kind of gave off a Bruno Mars feel. He wasn't bad but his pronunciation  needs work and he needs to cut about half his runs.

Nameless Male - White male [Name could be Phillip]
Performed "Summertime"
He didn't mention his name but I believe I overheard Simon call him Phillip. He had a Sinatra/Buble tone and feel. Worked the audience well, but they weren't that into him. He wasn't bad, she not very relevant in today's music word, but he could always change that.

Nameless Female - 31 yr old white female, with 5 kids
Performed "Somewhere Only We Know" Keane
Again, no name. :| Reminds me of a Christina Perri/Hayley Williams. Her voice was very haunting and beautiful. She has great control. She caught herself in a lyric mishap, great recovery. Her stage presence was odd: She hunched over while singing. Really good tho. 

Clayton (Staney) - Early 20s, white male from Topeka, KS
Performed "Jar of Hearts" Christina Perri
He said he doesn't want to play the game, he just wants to sing and play. He's kind of average, nothing unique or standout about his voice. Could easily blend in. Still, he has strong vocals, nice control and emotional connection to the song. 

Emily Motolik (sp) - 12 year old, white female
Performed "To Make You Feel My Love"
She's got some power in that young voice of hers but mumbles a lot when not going for the notes. She was quite nervous and forgot some words. Maybe has a slight twang in her voice? 

Austin & Emily - 15 year old white male/female, bffs
Performed "Just a Dream" Nelly
They called themselves "Ausem." They said it was time for a teen male/female duet to shine. Nice harmonies at first but for most of the song the voices didn't blend well. They picked a bad song, it was too wordy and not a good duet song. The girl carried the song, the boy...not so much. 

Alona - 14 year old asian female
Performed "Cry Me a River"
She's got some attitude and sass. Great control for so young, and amazing vocals. Actually gave out a Christina Aguilera vibe, with her soulfulness...though less runs. Thankfully. 

Gina Rene - Older female
Performed "Praying for Time" George Michael
One of the three acts we saw go thru at the LA Auditions, first session, in May. She was pegged as a rapper then, but did not rap in this performance. It was rather boring.  Not memorable and not a good stand out for your last performance. Oh, and Gina, please get a new are not a teenager or in your 20s.  

Statik Express - 12-14 years old, two boys & three girls (cousins)
Performed "Just a Dream" Nelly
Another act we saw go thru at the LA Auditions. Simon's comment before they sing: "You've barely scrapped thru." Ouch. It was a wreck. The boys had the words on their hands (pointed out later by the judges) and the harmonies were not good. They were better when they were prepared and sang acapella at the auditions. Would be shocked to see them make it further.

Nameless Male - Older white male
Performed "Billie Jean" the Chris Cornell version
He auditioned on a whim. Remembered how much he loved music, as the process went on. He is trying to save his house, and he just buried his brother last Thursday. His looks and vocals are a bit mismatched. He was very good. He's got power vocals and a beautifully controlled head voice. Wow. Half standing O from the audience.

Nameless Female - Blonde, white female
Performed "I'm Already There" Lonestar
No mention of name. Another fail. She's definitely country, she had the country look before she even sang. Forgot the words to the song. Decent vocals, but not really ready for this. She has a lot to improve on, such as pronunciation, stage presence and charisma.

Nameless Male - 20ish black male
Performed "If [You] Were [My] Woman" Gladys Knight
Before he begins, LA: "I've been impressed with you. We'll see how it goes today." He was mediocre. Not sure it was the performance LA was hoping for. He slurred a lot of his words, made it hard to comprehend him.

Raphael _____ - Older black male
Performed "To Make You Feel My Love" Adele version
Could be wrong on the name, he said it fast. He could not remember the name of the song, Nicole had to help him out. He was very mellow, beautiful vocals, but it's hard to see him go mainstream. Especially the mainstream they seem to focused on finding. LA loved his outfit tho. He was dressed to impress.

Nick Dean  - 15 year old white boy
Performed "Somewhere Only We Know" Keane
Thank you Paula for making him say his name! Simon: "It's been up and down over the last few days." I see the potential, I do, but it wasn't that great. Nothing worth calling home about. He slurs his words, forgets his words and his mic holding is worse than Scotty's. He couldn't keep it by his mouth, he needs to some lessons from Lady Gaga.

Justin & Nathan - 14 & 17 year old white boys (brothers?)
Performed "To Make You Feel My Love" Bob Dylan
When the older one came out, we thought it was Tim Urban! They kind of had a Beatles-esk feel to them and when they harmonized, it sounded pretty good. The 14 year old completely flaked on his words. The older one did his best to keep him going and carry the song. They have some interesting potential.

Illusion Confusion (Lance, Richard, AJ) - Three 20ish males
Performed "Jar of Hearts" Christina Perri
They wanted to strip it down this time. Not really sure that was a stripped down version but maybe for them it was? There voices blend quite well together, however, separately they should not sing.

Nameless Female - Late teens/early 20s white female [Name could be Chelsea]
Performed "I'm Already There" Lonestar
Didn't mention her name but I believe Simon called her Chelsea. Started off way too low. Wow. You could tell she was having issues, and was off key. They stopped her and tried to mend the problem. Nicole: "Is it the wrong key?" Chelsea: "Oh no, it's the right key, I just can't hear the piano." Um, pretty sure it was the wrong key. She starts up again. Better than the first time but still off-key, then suddenly, "Oh I am off key...." and finds the right one mid-song. Despite that there were some decent notes but it was a wreck of a performance. Felt bad for her.

On that off-key note, session one was done...five hours later. Can't imagine how round two will fare with 40 more performances to get thru and already starting at least an hour late. :| This is why I chose the earlier session. It was interesting to see this process live and for them to have to perform this one last time (probably their most important performance) in front of a live audience.

Heather's theory on why we saw so many children was because of the child labor laws. Assuming the second round went till midnight.....makes sense. I was hoping to see at least one of the rumored former Idol contestants but didn't. I had my list handy, just in case.

That's all I got. It was far too long of a day, and no air conditioning in the balcony to make enough clever, witty comments to entertain you through 32 auditioners.

My personal favorite of the day were:
Marcus Canteen, Brennan, Stereo House, Jesse McCartney boy, Goose Pimples girl, Adele vibe girl, Nicole, The Mother of 5, and the Billie Jean guy. I wish I had names for most of these.....

Oh, one last comment....did you guys know this is for a 5 million dollar recording contract? Stashes another dollar in pocket, thanks Simon!

Not gonna lie....Kinda looking forward to the show this fall....shh, don't tell Idol!

Monday, May 30, 2011

S10: Top 2 Performance Taping

....And then there were two.
Two teens. Two country artists.
And one more chance....

::: This is American Idol: The Finale :::

There are a lot of differences between going to a regular taping during the season & the season finale tapings. It's actually less stressful but more intense...if that even makes sense. The required check in time is 2pm, but you would never arrive that late. In fact, we arrived at 9am for Tuesday's taping and were already about 50th in line.

The chair guy was back. He had to have made bank over the two day finale. Renting out chairs, and selling snacks & drinks. This guy deserves an award for being a genius. High five for you, chair guy!

The waiting in line this year wasn't too horrid. OCA [On Camera Audience, the ticketing company] came over to check vouchers about 11am, and about noon we finally got our hands on the gold --> Orchestra, HH, Seats 110-112. Not too shabby.

I learned a valuable lesson Tuesday morning. Christy stayed in line and I went to grab Starbucks for ourselves, and some of the girls. While walking over there I thought...It would be so random to see someone like...Katy Allen at Starbucks. Why Katy? I have no idea. So I walk in and hop in the forever long line, turn my head and what do you know? There was Katy Allen! Along with Kris' more than awesome manager, Lizzie. What are the odds right? So I tweet about it, and as I look up from my phone, here walks over Kris Allen (apparently he was coming from the bathroom).

This is my moment of self panic & fan girl moment. Not that I had never met Kris before, because I have a number of times, but it was so random. I panned back and forth from the cashier to Kris...cashier to Kris, glancing back at the long line that had formed behind me. To go say hi or stay in line hoping he would still be around after I made my order? He was getting noticed, so I figured maybe I had time. So I stayed in line. #Fail

But it gets worse. After I ordered, though they had left, they were still outside taking photos with fans. I had Ashley's bagel & Rana's hot chocolate in hand and I began to debate again. To run outside & say hi or wait for the rest of the coffee? Mind you...this Starbucks takes forever to get drinks ready, but I stayed inside and watched thru the window. Grabbed my phone & took a quick (lame) photo of them outside. By the time I had all my drinks in hand & got outside, they were....
"Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday. Gone like a soldier in the Civil War, bang bang...."
Lesson learned: Kris Allen > Starbucks. Always.

AT&T had this "big" show planned with a plethora of Idol rejects (jk, jk) alum! Thankfully, I knew who all of them were, even the Brittenum Twins...well except LaKeisha Jones (I'm not season 6 yet!).

I didn't stick around to watch all of it because the boys were hungry. Priorities, boys! But we did get to see Blake Lewis beat box and serenade some random guy (Kim Caldwell wanted to trade places with Blake). We watched some lady win $10,000 by picking out phone that the Idol Alums had in hand. She could have won a million dollars...then Joey pointed out, that her prize was worth more than the next American Idol would win (unless of course, they become a huge success like Kelly or Carrie).

The crowd around was pretty fairly crowded, being so it never gave me a chance to meet any of them but I got plenty of photos. This being said, I felt very paparazzi while doing so (especially when I noticed Lee DeWyze sneaking by with Lizzie, as they headed over to radio row).

Check out all 173 photos from the AT&T Pre-show & Fox Tent Media with the Top 13, after the performance show...HERE!

Walking up to the Nokia, when doors opened, was complete CHAOS! Talk about lack of organization! We kind of just hopped into a random line and shuffled along to the doors...where I successfully snuck in my phone & camera. #winning But they hadn't opened the theatre doors yet so we were like sardines stuck in the lobby with nowhere to go.

I didn't notice anyone famous around us. Though, it was just the performance show so I wasn't expecting too much. As we sat there we learned about the TMZ reports saying that Lauren was dropping out & Haley would be performing. In fact, 20 minutes before the show, the band played a few bars of "Bennie & the Jets" and our eyes widened! #drama #rumors #omg

Lauren's family was the first to take their seats. It's so hard not to notice them with that hair. I mean, all the women in that family have this hair that came straight from "Hairspray." We were sitting 34 rows back and I could see Lauren's mom's hair while sitting!

Cue big screams....The Bottom 11 came out to take their seats in the audience and all my hopes that Haley just might perform were flushed out the door when I saw her walking in.

Corey, the MC, prepped us for Scotty's first song, as the words "Bang, Bang" flashed on the screens above. He were suppose to help sing along. Though he was giving us all the wrong cues for the song. Ha.

Moments before the show...the judges were announced [my thoughts: I guess we could stand for them] & Ryan entered the stage....

Ladies and gentlemen, "This is American Idol!" Oh wait, was this the first time Ryan had said the famous phrase all season long? Or at least in the past couple months? [which reminds that contest they did during the Idols Across America Tour, whatever became of that? Wasn't someone suppose to join Ryan on stage and join him for those famous 4 words? Apparently not.]

Oh Nigel. Should I not be surprised that you insist on dragging on the whole "Lauren blew a vocal cord?" And really, must the doctor come out and chat about it now? #nosurprise Let's move on. If she is really "in it to win it" nothing is going to stop her at this point (please see Kelly Clarkson's "Natural Woman"). Besides, have you met her mother? No way she would let Lauren back down. If need be, I am sure momma Alaina would have been more than willing to be her stand-in.

I should note that nothing too exciting happened during the commercial breaks. It was all business and no play. Corey just did his same old in which I realized I could replicate at gunpoint.

Where is Scotty? The problem with starting in the audience, when you are in the audience, is that you have no idea where the singer is. Scotty was a lost puppy in the crowd till he appeared on the stage behind the judges. It was a dynamite performance and the crowd energy really made it excel. Definitely, Scotty's best performance of the season.

A little odd that there were no judges' comments. I thought maybe they decided not to critique the reprise songs? It was a strange set up & made me wonder what the point of the judges were for this show. Though, I am pretty sure I could have guessed what they would have said anyways...
"It was beautiful." "You are in it to win it." "This was like a Scotty concert."
So maybe not having the judges talk was saving us all from déjà vu moments? Right?

I was as nervous as could be for "Little Lauren." But I have to say she looked stellar, one of her better, more flattering outfits. Despite her vocal issues she held a lot more confidence on that stage. No doubt the girl knew she was in for a fight tonight and she wasn't going to let no vocal issues hold her down.

Again, the energy in the audience was far exceeding what I had expected. I don't think anyone cared that it was an all country finale.

George Strait picks one of his own songs for Scotty to sing. #selfpimpage But to be completely honest, I love this song. It's super adorbs. And if a boy sang this to me I'd vote for him. I sang right along. It was a good performance. It would have been better if Scotty refrained from making all those faces. I mean, every time he did I would cringe.

Anyone notice the boy to girl ratio in the "mosh pit?" I think there was one boy, and I only noticed him while watching the show back. Come on OCA...mix it up a bit, or at least let me stand in the pit. You owe it to me with all those Section X seats.

Oh. Em. Gee. That dress. Hello Toddlers and Tiaras! I don't think I will ever get Lauren's style. I know their stylist is better than that. Come on are better than this! Don't let her outfits tear your rep apart!

Great song choice, Carrie. Lauren really brought it. Though despite it all, she should have brought it weeks ago to give herself a real chance at the title. Let's think reality here, folks...the only reason Lauren got so much pimpage tonight was because they had to make it seem like Lauren had a fighting chance.

Oh, and I bet that fiddler made bank after this one gig. As much as Joey was scared of him. lol. Did he perform in all 6 songs?

Oh look, the judges finally get to speak. Wait...was this necessary? I think it was obvious that Scotty won round one and Lauren won round 2. This just made for a super awkward moment and ruined the flow of the show. And I honestly, near saw them take notes, so why does Randy keep looking down at the desk?

Oh, I love Lauren's glances at Scotty, like "Boy, you know I ain't giving up on this. It's being brought!" No, Jennifer, it is not a tight race. Steven, stop hitting on Lauren. And Randy, shut up...this is not the "In It To Win It" show.

Who is this? Should I know who this is? And why is he performing in the middle of the show? Is it because of you that David Cook was pre-taped and I did not get to enjoy him live? Get off the stage! Props to the high school drumline though, you were great!

My new favorite hashtag: #thisbig. Right? The never ending joke that can go in one to many directions.

I honestly paid more attention to the footage being shown in the background than I did the song. I see you American Idol, trying to make cry. This is where I pretended to wipe tears from my eyes.

But this Joey kept stressing, the winner's song needs a good hook, the key change to cue the confetti & fireworks. It's not a horrid song but it wasn't the most ideal winner song. You know what he needed? To cry. So I yelled... "Cry Scotty, cry!" I was channeling my inner Debra Byrd.

And no Randy, it is not game time. Scotty did not bring it. He's only in it to win it, because he knows he is winning it. So to repeat for the hundredth time this season, "Shut up, Randy!"

How much do you love us, Scotty? #thisbig

Oh, I get it, this is her mother's moment. Really? As if her mother hasn't been the center of most of Lauren's moments, now she takes her coronation song. But the song is a better "winning moment" than Scotty's and she is pulling out all the strings to win this. Tears. Tears. Tears.

You would think after 10 seasons they would come up with better coronation songs? #noboundaries #insideyourheaven #momentlikethis #thisismynow

What you may not have noticed is that half the footage in her "idol journey" video had he mother in it. #shocker

What is Ryan doing walking on the stage? Where is Lauren going? Oh, but of course. I think I may have slapped my head in this moment. Looking to the boys, this girl knows how to work for those votes. You know moms will be splitting them votes tonight!

"Lauren Aliana has arrived, America." Really, Randy? Don't you say that every week? I mean, she can only arrive once, right? And you are right Jennifer, she could have won with that song...had she brought it since Day 1, but "bringing it" the last 3 weeks of the show won't cut it.

Umm...all I heard was "Blah, blah, blah." Lauren won the night but Scotty will still win it all. Jennifer, suck it up and pick someone next time. Actually, perhaps if you had all been a bit more constructive throughout the season, it would have been a much stronger Top 2 show. Too late for that....

Sigh...Oh DC, why did you have to pre-tape? And why didn't I get the wristbands to see it? I thought it was just a rehearsal, not the actual taping. Boo. A lot of people started walking out before they even started the video. I actually almost forget he was "performing." \o/ Sorry, DC. But I did enjoy your pre-tape. I just wish I could have seen the "slideshow" in the background. My favorite part. #memories

After the show the Top 13 head over to the Fox Media Tent outside, to well, get interviews by a plethora of Fox Media outlets from across the country. A huge crowd of fans swarms the barricade in hopes of meeting all the idols.

Scotty & Lauren were the first out but they only stayed out for about 10 minutes and stayed to the right where the bulk of the media waited. Lauren had a sign that said she could not talk. So I assume she was brief. lol.

Actually, while the press was anxiously interviewing the Top 2, there was a car accident right in front of Nokia. I think it was a hit & run. The sad thing is that all the press just stood there & went on with their interviews, and a handful of people ran over to make sure everyone was okay. [Yes, everyone was fine as far as I understood.]

Haley was actually the only one of the Top 13 who never made her way out to the Fox Tent. And of course, we all wonder why? Hmmm.

I didn't get to meet, talk to, or get any autographs because I was busy snapping photos. All photos you can find HERE! So check them because I sacrificed for you! Me & Paul could be BFF's by now....but no.

They were all quite gracious and enjoyed all the attention. Casey definitely got the loudest cheers when he came out. Though the crowd never stopped yelling "Casey!" or "James!" No doubt the most popular.

Pia was wanted most by the media. She had the hardest time finding time to sign autographs. Though while she was signing in front of me, a little girl commented on the fact that she was dating Mark Ballas. Pia chuckled, looked at the little girl and said, "You know what. I am dating Mark. I haven't told anyone that, so get the exclusive." Cue the "aws."

Poor Ashthon would just wonder around aimlessly. Not sure anyone remembered who she was...oops. She tried making eye contact with people, hoping they'd want her autograph. Thia often mistook "Pia" shouts for "Thia" shouts... #awkward

James had on a Thor helmet. It was actually quite adorable. I know I am often hard on him, but he was so sweet & kind to the fans. Loves the limelight, but it so gracious to the fans. Same with Casey. He was trying to shush everyone so he could do an interview. Then he would start posing for everyone.

Stefano was here and then gone...then back again. He was hard to see because he was so short, but he always had a smile on his face. Speaking of smiles...Paul's teeth were as white as ever. And he was as handsome as could be.

The media wrapped up after a couple hours, and the people dispersed. It was off to dinner with my KA girls (& Mark), where we saw Michael Sarver & Andrew Cook. Then a long night editing photos, while having a Steven Tyler painting stare at me all night.

Photos in which you can see HERE! :D

Tomorrow is the BIG day! The finale episode and taping on American Idol Season 10! We all know Scotty is going to win, so the most exciting part will be to see who all performs! Eep!

Monday, May 9, 2011

X Factor LA Auditions

X Factor LA Auditions, Session 1 on May 8th

I took a step into the dark side today.... as American Idol X Factor auditions, in front of the judges, started in LA. Less than, what, an hour before Paula Abdul was announced as the 4th and final judge? You can imagine it was a crazy scene down at Galen Center in LA.

Arrive time was 12:30pm, show was suppose to start at 2pm, but being the first taping...EVER in X Factor USA history, it was pure organized chaos.

The irony is that while I am typing this I am watching American Idol S4 auditions. :)

Upon arrival, I saw a handful of potential contestants out and about. Two girls, later to be identified as The Flawless Hotties were prancing up and down a set of stairs in their tutus, holey leggings & high heels. I couldn't see the camera but it was apparent they were getting a feature. B-Squared was also wondering around chatting with some folks.

Our section of the line had the privilege of hanging out near the front of the Arena to wait upon the judges arrival, along with the press. And wait we did....

Keep in mind, the arrival time between LA and Simon was probably an hour....

LA Reid was the first to arrive, followed by Cheryl Cole. Both come over to say hit to the audience members told to stand there. Paula was "swarmed" by the media upon her arrival, and about the second she arrived the official press release for her joining the show flooded the internet. She was as petite and adorable as ever in a elegant purple dress. Not a moment too late, Simon arrived and the crowd responded with a loud roar. Right after exiting the car, Paula was there by his side.
♪♬ Reunited and it feels so good! ♪♬
Big hug & perhaps a kiss were openly displayed for the press. Of course, this was (will be) probably the most exciting and anticipated moment of the entire taping season! #justsaying

After 3 hours of waiting around, and already an hour late for the taping, you'd think they'd let us in. Some important person was on his walkie-talkie yelling at someone for not getting people in fast enough. I was laughing. The crowd started chanting, "Let us in! Let us in!" I was chanting, 'I have to pee! I have to pee!" What? I did!

Inside, there were about 3,500 audience members. Family & friends were up in the highest balcony with signs. The warm-up guy was great in the beginning. He really got the crowd going. There were dance-offs, sing-offs and even a dating game. Not gonna lie, I almost volunteered for that one. It's just an instinct when someone asks, "Where are the single ladies that are desperate to get married?" And my arm shoots up. The crowd around me chuckled at my hastiness, and I quickly retreat my arm.. "Heehee, just kidding."

Steve Jones & Nicole Scherzinger came out for a split second. It was more of an awkward moment than anything. They played some Pussycat Dolls music and Nicole danced along. Steve kinda just stood there. They tried to interact with each other and it didn't work so well. But Steve has a hot accent, so snaps for him!

The judges arrived on stage. Simon Cowell gave a speech about what X Factor was all about and how he was excited for all the judges & finding the next superstar [told us WE were the 5th judge]. He then introduced LA Reid ["Let's make it clear, I am not Randy Jackson"], who introduced Paula Abdul [thankful to be back working with Simon], who introduced Cheryl Cole [excited about working in America].

The judges sitting order, looking at stage [left to right]: Simon, Paula, Cheryl, LA.

Simon is the same old Simon. He's honest, blunt but adds that flavor of humor with his quick comments so it doesn't stab as hard when he is mean. Paula is fierce. No doubt she'll tell it to you like it is, but also adds those sweet comments. It helps that it comes from this petite woman who is always smiling. She brings hope to the table. Cheryl was quiet. Her mic was having difficulties for a while so it was hard to hear. I can't say she added much, but she was pretty straightforward in her comments, in a nice way. LA is brutal. He's like Simon but has no fluff (it's not funny when he says it). He has no problems ruffling feathers.

It was past 3pm when the first auditioners finally came out. And so it begins....

B-Squared - 4 Nos
Male duo made up of Theo, 25 & Jonathon, 21 (brothers from another mother). Sang TLC's "Waterfall" and CCR's "Proud Mary." Would call first album "Breaking Barriers." Simon asked them a ton of questions, and so they told their story of how they formed their group:
We were out at a club and were drinking. We were pretty drunk. So we went back to his place *awkward audience reaction* and we started singing the National Anthem. Simon cuts in, "you were singing the NA?" Yes, he was doing the top, I was bottom. *awkward audience reaction, take 2* [Guy realizes what they are implying and cracks up laughing.]
Simon: "The song gave up on you."
Paula: "Future singing comedians." [this comment started the first 'tiff' of XF between Paula & Simon.]

IMO: They definitely captivated the audience, and were quite hilarious. Had some smooth moves and the vocals were decent, but there was nothing great about them. Jonathon had the better vocals of the two.

MARY - 4 Nos
Mary, a 52 year old mother. She sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" & "Independence Day." She kind of had a Crystal Bowersox carefree feel to her, which may have prompted Paula's question:
"Are you a native..(huh?)..a native to LA?" - Paula
This was "time for mom to shine," and to show her children, now grown up, that even she could reach her dreams.

Simon stopped her, "Sounded like someone was playing piano with their feet." In regards to the WBMW track, which prompted a debate on whether she should sing "Hero" or "Independence Day." Simon wanted "Hero" but she wanted to showcase her power vocals in ID [which she clearly did not have]. This debate ended up with Paula yelling, "Just sing something!"

This woman was on stage for at least twenty minutes and she kept starting & stopping, fighting about what song to sing, and just standing there....Honestly, I don't know why they just didn't tell her no and get on with the show.

I doubt they will even show this in TV thanks to the audience because this is when they got brutal, and I mean ruthless. Imagine standing on a stage being booed by 3,500 people. And in hopes to get you off the stage, just imagine 3,500 people breaking out into...
♪♬ Nah nah nah nah, Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye ♪♬
After they finally told her no, the warm-up guy had to scold the audience for their behavior. It is okay to boo the judges remarks & decisions, but NOT the actual auditioner. At least not in that retrospect.

Two girls, 21 & 22 (missed their names). Exposed stomachs, black & pink tutus, holey leggings, high heels (basically Lauren Alaina's mom dressed them). Sang "She Will be Loved" by Maroon 5. Name of first album would be "Flawless." They were over confident and well, had flaws.

Simon: "Lazy and whiny."
LA: "Song Choice did not fit...those dresses."
Cheryl: "I wanted more attitude from you when you sang."

I saw these girls before the show and had a feeling they'd be a complete train wreck. That said, they weren't awful but they were far from great. With all the sass they brought while answering Cheryl & Simon's questions...they had none while they sang.

SALOMY - Pending, no show
[I honestly have no idea how to spell her name].
Salomy, 21 year old female from Georgia. Sang "Think" by Aretha Franklin. She was very quiet at first but she held her confidence. She worked the stage and audience, and was incredible. Her rang, her pitch, her stage presence....AMAZING!

LA: "I really enjoyed that."
Simon: "You sound like a really amazing wedding singer, but your old fashion."

LA asked her who she would be competing with in the radio market or where she would fit in. She responded, "good question, I don't know." When asked to sing another song, Simon was frustrated to find she had prepared no current songs, "Nothing from the last 30 years even?" She couldn't even name a current favorite artist, until she suggested a Michael Buble song...that was a cover of an old song. [Perhaps she would be a perfect fit for American Idol and it's dreaded old fashion theme weeks.]

Paula suggest she take the next few hours and find a current contemporary song and re-audition in the next session. I've been informed that she never showed up & missed out on her second chance. Sad, I really liked her.

I interrupt this recap of auditions for a word from our sponsors favorite show.

As the crowd chants "X Factor," me and Snaps (my friend) chant "American Idol! American Idol!" We may have thrown in a few Kris Allen's as well. :)

At one point someone from the audience yells out, "Where's Ryan Seacrest!?" A serious question as our warm-up guy left us hanging and the XF host were backstage with the auditioners.

Snaps & I spent a lengthy time making Randy jokes and quoting his 101 Best quotes. Really we were just wondering, dawg, if anyone was "in it to win it." Ya know? For me for you, for you for me?

Can you dig it?

JETTA (LINDA) - 2 Nos, 2 Yeses
A 61 year old, young spirited rocker. No joke. Retired State worker in the department of rehabilitation. Sang "I Touch Myself." Though her first choice was "Piece of My Heart" because she is often told she sounds like Janis Joplin. Simon wanted ITM. This was my face the whole time --> \O/.

"I'm hard rock. I could really rock the place." And no doubt she did. it was actually pretty incredible considering it was coming from a 61 year old woman!

Simon: "You are a little tiger aren't you?"
Cheryl: "I'd love to have you as an aunt at my party!"

Both LA & Cheryl wanted to see her through to the next round, but Simon & Paula said no. Of course, right after Simon said no (and the audience booed this decision) he got up and walked away. Jetta just stood their confused. The camera guy had to motion her off the stage.

Small-town girl, 18, from Redwood Valley, CA. Sang "Anyway" by Martina McBride and "Mississippi" acapella. Her community paid for her trip to LA, she collected money in a bedazzled tip jar. Her demeanor was amazing. She knew what she wanted.

Her performance was my absolute favorite of the afternoon. She was a bit shaky from nerves but she has a powerful voice with a slight twang.

LA: "I didn't get the spark."
Paula: "You are not ready for this."

The judges all voted no, but LA placed emphasis on the fact that they were "passing so you can get better." They said she was definitely talented, just not ready.

"This isn't the singing business, this is the entertainment business." - LA Reid

Male group, three brothers from a small town, Twain Harte, in Northern California. (one stoplight). Sang Bob Marley's "The Woman Don't Cry" acapella. Huge crowd reaction but than again they had a lot of friends & family up in the balcony.

Simon: "Manoa, you are the best singer."
LA: "I would not sign you."

But despite, LA's comment he said yes (and Simon called him out on that), as did the other three judges. After 90 minutes, the first act finally made it through to the next rounds! The family ran out of the inside arena, and you could hear them celebrating when they all finally met up with the boys outside. :)

GINA RENE - 2 Yesses, 2 Nos 4 Yesses
A female "peaceful" rapper, 35 (but looks 19). Sang an original song called "Cluck, Cluck." She said she was awful at self promotion and things like Youtube. She has a 12 year old daughter.
"You talked about being a peaceful rapper and you were killing chickens on that track!" - Simon
Her original song was hilarious, but it was so good. And yes, there were clucking chickens on the track; however, the lyrics were quite clever. Paula & Cheryl commended her on that fact.

Gina: "I'm a Gemini, so I have two personalities."
Simon: "It was like going into a therapy session with you."
LA: "Don't let that guy shake you."
Gina "It was a joke."
[The actual exchange was quite hilarious, I really hope they show this one]

LA starts name dropping rappers he has worked with. "Oh, let me pick that name up for you..." Then he goes off on how she wasn't confident, and this just wasn't going to work. [Despite the fact that he said she was great]. She fights back with the fact that HE could help her and mentor her.
"People with the 'x factor' have the diamond in the rough, we just help surface that diamond." - LA Reid
The audience revolted against him and started booing him. "You could turn my no into a yes, but right now, my no is final."

Simon agrees, and says no. Cheryl & Paula both say yes. Gina walks off the stage and the audience goes crazy. LA stands up and recognizes the crowd's unhappiness with the decision. The audience starts to chant, "Bring her back! Bring her back! Bring her back!" And out she came!

Paula tells her, "You have 30 seconds to prove these boys wrong." Gina breaks out into an acapella song (no rap this time). It was beautiful.

LA, "You said you were a failure at self promotion but you just promoted yourself. Yes!" Simon also changes his vote and she's got all 4 yeses! Cue audience cheers!

Five cousins, 12-14 years old, two boys & three girls. Sang the "National Anthem" acapella & "Bad Romance" acapella. They have performed at the Staples Center Nokia, etc.

Cheryl & LA both preferred the BR performance over the NA. Though the other boy was 'playing the pen' the whole time, then told Simon, "It's all talent, yo!" The held their grown pretty well. The 14 year old girl, Molly, has some sweet powerful vocals. Wow. The harmonies overall were amazing, too.

Simon spend the first 10 minutes arguing with them about who dressed them, who picked the song & group name. He was convinced the parents were running them into the ground. He got one of the boys to give him all the inside scoop. "Did you pick out that tie?" "No. My mom did." The mom ended up coming out on stage to chat with Simon herself. Well, she more took the critique then responded.
"I would fire your parents. Get rid of that silly name, silly outfits, and mother." - Simon

LA totally name drops Justin Bieber. "Everything I felt that day when Justin walked into my office, I am feeling right now." With that said, they received all four yesses, then preceded to walk off the stage without taking their mic stand with them.

'Mr. Pretty Boy Swager,' as he called himself, 21. He sang an original song. He is a rapper/dancer....but I am pretty sure he was just talking fast. He came out on stage very cocky, ignoring the judges and going straight for the crowd. Simon had to get his attention. He believes he will be bigger than Michael Jackson. Ha.

Simon: "Horrific. It's like something I'd expect to see on Hollywood Blvd."

Fifteen year old male. He sang "Superstar" by Luther Vandross. He had very little charisma. Nothing made him stand out. Sweet voice though. He has potential but he is 15....

LA: "Too much key change for me."
Cheryl: "Nothing new, but definitely pursue this."

The judges emphasized the fact that is seemed "Old Fashioned," as they had with Salomy. Time after time, they noted that they were looking for a Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Katy Perry....someone who was a current contemporary artist who would become a superstar.

The number one question asked during the interview portion, "Who would you replace in the current music industry? Why would you compete with right now on the charts?"

MATT TADEM - 4 Nos 4 Nos
Twenty four year old male from LA, though originally from Palmdale. He sang "Disturbia" by Rihanna & "I'll be There" by Tiffany Evans. I have to words, "sparkle queen." He actually reminded me of Todrick Hall...with sparkles. He was wearing a top opened shirt and sparkly boots. Oh, and he had a tail. No, not a Durbin bandanna tail (ugh)... but an actual tail. Like a fox tail or something.

Simon argued with him about being on the wrong show and how he should go to Project Runway, but Matt insisted he was bad with patterns. ["Make it work!"] They voted and he got a no from all the judges.

But Matt begged for a second song, because he watches these shows and knows people sometimes get to sing another song. So he sang "I'll Be There." The re-voted and nothing changed. Bye sparkle queen.

Three hours.
Twelve auditions.
Eight Nos.
One Pending.
Three move on.

I cannot say I would ever sit through an audition episode again. There was far too much down time between the acts. The warm-up guy was great in the beginning but he often left us hanging during breaks, so it got kind of boring at times. That awkward "silence" because you have no idea what is going on....happened far too often.

People were leaving the entire time & you could tell the OCA people were getting frustrated because they had to keep seats filled, especially up front.

Hopefully, we just got the bum group of the LA auditions because it was tragic for a long while. Theory was talent was better in the audience than on stage. Just ask they guy who sang "I Will Always Love You" in soprano, almost pitch perfect. Wow. Or the dancers who gave a real showdown on the stage during the pre-show warm up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

S10: Top 7 Result Show

First off, can we discuss why Section X has not been "X'd" from the set? I just can't with it. Not only are you forced to stare at the judges the whole time, you have to watch the show from a video screen. A video screen! If I wanted to do that, I would watch it from home in HD with audio, that I could actually hear, while in my PJs all cozy on the couch. The view is awful & the sound almost inaudible for most of the show. More than half of the section just remains on their feet the entire show so they can at least see partial bodies instead of bobbing heads.

Needless to say, I was in Section X tonight. The far back corner, stage right. Yes, so far back in the corner, me & the plastic wall got a little frisky. I even have a Section X battle wound on my arm.

Interesting stats from tonight's show. We were 90-92 in line, some friends (who had to step out of the line until their full party was present) were 130-133. My group was in the second section of people to get tickets (all section X). My friends were essentially, they got some pretty awesome seats. A lady who was #173, did not get in.

So basically, out of the 700 seats in the studio, maybe 150 of them are for "non-special" people. By "non-special" people I mean they are NOT famous or a past idol, part of a school group, press, or friends & family of anyone related to CBS, FOX, 19, Interscope or American Idol.

Just an interesting thought considering the waiting list is a year long.

The show kind of started out of nowhere. Corey came out for five minutes and suddenly, the video reel started for the super overly dramatic intro. Cue the judges, Ryan and the contestants. What did the judges say? I have no clue, couldn't hear a blessed thing. But I am sure it went along the lines of, "They are beautiful. It was beautiful. Life is beautiful."

Why? Why, oh, why must you torture us with THIS song! I'd rather hear a second rendition of "So What" by the S10 booties! Ok...maybe not, that was just tragic. From my seat, it didn't sound horrible but that does not say much. [watching it back on TV, I'd say those girls ran marathons around those boys]. But can we retire this song forever now? Please?

Oh, and Haley's outfit. Was she taking fashion tips from Jennifer Nettles of Sugerland? Spring came and left its mark. Though, I admit, I much prefer Haley's interpretation of spring, and she worked it as always. Oh, and those heels!

Cue Ford Video...nap time!

I could barely hear the vocals for this...but the girls in the section by Scotty were freaking out. I should just mention now that Scotty wins hands down for most fans in the audience...every time. There is never a question about it. The ladies L.O.V.E. him.

Did this seem like more of a "production" that the first group's song? Maybe it was just me, but the lights and such...I dunno. I'm always suspicious these days. Always looking out for the producers' manipulation tools. Got to say, not as evident tonight..or was it? More on that down below.

Corey, the MC, spent the evening passing out signed merch to overly enthusiastic fans. I mean..OVERLY enthusiastic fans. Yes, I am talking to you cougars decked out in sparkles. Uh huh.

Lauren gave away a shirt to a little girl in the back. Of course, another little girl thought she was the winner of the shirt and followed her down to the stage. To make up for it, Corey got Lauren to come back later & sign a shirt for her, too.

The "Hey, Hey Haley!" guy got a signed water bottle & an awkward wave from Haley. Some uber excited Stefano fan got a signed notebook thrown at him. Scotty got to hand out a water bottle to this girl who continuously thru the night could not hold her sign correctly. I think she wins for most exuberant fan in the audience. If her excitement were tears, she'd be the next "crying girl."

Another lucky Scotty fan got to come on stage and get a hug from him. Her sign said something about a hug from Scotty would make her day, and Corey made some joke about security would have to do their job? Whatever. Scotty jumped out of his seat to hug her, and she was like a little kitten almost scared to get to close.

Lastly, all the remaining idols signed a book bag to be handed out to the most animated fan during the night. It was given to a young girl in a wheelchair who, though she had an ideal seat, had to stare at the screen behind her when everyone stood...which is most of the night. Not a very thought out handicap section, Idol.

Corey completely ignored the balcony. :( It was like we didn't exist. Rejected, as always. Actually, I felt like the whole balcony was non-existant for the entire show. Lights were always dim, few of the idols actually took notice, no acknowledgement from Corey or Ryan. No love for the audience rejects.

Sitting in the nose bleeds, one of my favorite past times (since I can't see the stage most of the time) is watching the teleprompter and the 'time till commercial' countdown. The lyrics to the songs are always displayed. Very helpful when you want to sing-a-long! And then knowing what Ryan will say before he says or what the topic will be before discussed...I know, so exciting!

But they spoil all the fun when it comes to results and it says "begin reading from cards." Boo.

David came out while the crew was setting up the stage. He chatted with Debbie (stage manager) for a moment then spun around to say hi to the audience. I suppose there have been a "few" minor changes since his days on the idol stage. :)

Cook sang his new single, "The Last Goodbye." And just in case he needed any lyric help, the words were streamed on the monitor for him. Though, I really think they were there just so Section X could sing along. To which, I did, but I also spent the first 45 minutes of my drive up to LA playing back the song over & over again to learn the lyrics.

Casey seemed to really enjoy Cook's performance. He was grooving right along. All the idols were on their feet for the whole song. Unlike the judges who always seem to just remain seated during & after stellar performances (oh no, I have not forgotten the failed respect to the Idol Queen, Kelly Clarkson).

Cook threw out his pic and Casey Abram's mom caught it. Her face was like this --> :O and then she began to flail. No joke. She was like a cougar at a rock concert, and I would totally go to a concert with her! No doubt she is a DC fan. Even hugged her friend next to her and showed off her new pic.

Following the performance & the little chit chat with Ryan, Steven Tyler was the first to skyrocket out of his seat to greet Cook & shake his hand. Randy followed, while Jennifer remained seated. Nigel also jumped up on stage to see Cook and escort him over to Jennifer who was busy chatting with some fans behind her. She was surprised to see David standing there when she turned around.

A few other crew members went to say hi before David took a seat in Simon's former chair, now belonging to Randy. He enjoyed it very much, while giving a very sophisticated pose for the camera with his chin on hand grinning. He then waited while Jennifer got touched up before taking a photo.

With a minute remaining, he jumped back on stage and went straight to Jacob, offering him some quick words. Then rushed over to the couch to shake hands with the other six, and Lauren even got a hug. One last quick goodbye to the audience, and he was off stage and the show was back.

Well, if you didn't know, Katy Perry's performance was pre-taped after last week's performance show. The funny thing, only a small handful of people in the studio audience had any idea (me!). Every time they mentioned her performing, people would flip out. They never once told them they would be watching a video.

I don't know why people were not cued in when there was no setup during commercial break (it's Katy Perry will be a production), and the stools were left on stage (though Jacob & Stefano did join Debbie backstage).

After the commercial break, when Ryan announced Katy Perry, everyone jumps up and starts screaming and just stared at the empty stage. Once the doors opened & she 'walks out'...the audience's applause slows almost to an unconscious clap. The level went from a 10 to a 3. They were seeing her enter the stage from the screen, but not actually ON the stage. People in the balcony (section X) were eve more confused because they can't even see that part of of the stage.

It was just awkward. Some people remained standing. Why I have no idea? Maybe they thought she would magically appear on stage? A few clapped along. Others, they sat there in disappointment, or relief <-- me.

I'm not going to lie, I cheered quietly when both Stefano & Jacob were sent to the B3. I must be 'Heartless,' I guess. They both have lasted longer than I expected, or would have desired them to last. Haley has outlasted her expected stay, as well, but...that's because I thought America didn't get her. Thank goodness she is pulling through each week (Haley Reinhart FTW!)

Speaking of Haley. The great debate of S10 (or so it seems): Was Haley B3?

Ryan never said she was B3 or announced all three of them as the B3. He did say there was 'one seat left in the B3' and then sent Haley 'over to the stools.' Honestly, when he called Scotty & Haley down, I thought maybe Scotty had a good chance at being B3 after his performance the night prior. So, I wonder. Hmm....Idol manipulation?

I actually had thought Casey had a slim chance of being B3 instead of Haley. Though you have to admit, Haley's adventures to the stools are always quite entertaining. I wasn't paying too much attention to reactions during her short lived time at the stools, I was to excited to see her survive!

No doubt Stefano knew it was his time. I mean...the kid has been connected to three of the most tragic idol eliminations this season: Casey, Pia, and Paul (okay, Paul was tragic for me). Needless to say, he took it like a man. I mean, besides James tackling him...

Okay, can we talk about Durbano/Durfano? Is that what people are calling them? James' head immediately went down when Stefano was eliminated. Even Lauren tried to console him but he wouldn't have it. Ryan actually motioned him off the couches in preparation to go hug (I mean, tackle) Stefano.

After all the hugging, and Randy's attempt to console James (who was the one leaving tonight?), the idols departed from the stage...except Stefano. He ran down to give his dad a big hug, and then gave one final goodbye moment on stage....

Stefano morphed into Rocky & edged on the crowd as they cheered for him. He was prancing around the stage with his hands in a victory stance. You'd think he just won the show, not been eliminated. He went out proud, he went out in style. Good for him!

And that was that....another idol show for the record books.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

S10: Top 9 Performance Taping

I figured since I failed to blog about Top 12 Performance & Result Shows, that I owed you this one...even if it is a week later.

I apologize for writing a book. I sometimes get carried away when I write, and go off on a lot of tangents. I try to give you all the details that I can remember.

Christy & I met in front of CBS Studios about 12pm. Later than we planned, but to our luck we were 5 & 6 in line! [Arriving there at noon 3 weeks ago landed us in the 60s.] However, through our experiences this season, we have come to realize your placement in line is worthless, unless you get there too late & don't make it in.

I overheard a conversation a few weeks back that they only let in about 200-300 people from the OCA waiting list. The other 400 people are friends/family of those who work for Idol/19/CBS/Fox/etc, the contestants and celebrities. Lame.

While finishing up our awesome posters (Paul McDonald is on "Top of the World" & "Casey Play my Bassy") we heard this man's voice yell from a car, "Make it dirty!" We look up and lo and behold it is Steven Tyler leaning out the window looking right at us. "The sign, make it dirty...for me!" Dirty old man.

For the Lee DeWyze fans: Mike DeWyze randomly drove by & got stuck at the traffic light. That was an awkward moment for us all. Ha.

To our fortune & misfortune we received 'Section Y.' At least it wasn't the dreaded Section X (where sound & view become irrelevant). Section Y is located right above the band, where the backup singers often stand when not on stage. It is a relatively good view of the entire studio & stage. The sound is 'meh' since you are above the band...vocals tend to be more difficult to hear.

For some odd reason, which I can't complain because it is better than being stuck in the sun, they brought us in an hour till showtime. In our section there are 10 seats. The two girls in front of us were diehard Scotty fans. They were adorable. I had to remind them to breath when he came out. You can see their "Scotty is a Hottie" sign hanging during his performance later on. The girls behind us...didn't know when to shut up (as most of the audience couldn't either). They were fans of...everyone. The couple sitting next to us were quiet. I don't think the guy cared to be there as he had never seen the show before. Then there was Christy & I. Need I say more?

Speaking of the audience...could they be more annoying on Wednesday night? Not sure how much you could hear on TV (as I haven't watched it back yet) but they kept yelling out the judges names during the "critique" (aka "everyone is all peaches & cream") time. About half way through the show, Corey (the MC guy) had to scold the audience for interrupting the show so many times. One girl screamed so loud for Jennifer that I thought she might pass out. Keep it classy Idol fans....

Casey & Haley's families seem really tight. They chatted together for a significant amount of time before the show began. Pia's family just sat there in their neon shirts. Paul's family was quiet, too. His dad made notice of my sign a number of times & kept trying to get my attention with his. :) They had a huge sign from his Elementary School, but I'm not sure they showed it on TV. I only saw them wave it once. Julie Zorrilla was there & chatted with the Casey & Pia's family before getting seated way in the back.

Scott McIntyre & fiance were also in the audience again. I doubt Ryan will ever point him out. So sad. I didn't notice Christian Slater till about half way through the show, and had my first starstruck moment.

One of the two perks of our seats is that we can see behind the doors/screen on the stage. So before the show started we were making contact with Casey & Stefano. Stefano had a hard time making a heart from his hands & Casey kept teasing us.

Debbie gave us some instructions for the opening of the show but I was too distracted watching the boys behind the stage to hear anything she said. Everyone kept tripping on the mini staircase (See Stefano's performance) waiting in the back.

Finally, the infamous words "This is American Idol" and the show begins!

Jacob starts us off and I was flipping out during his video segment. First, he wants to do a Matt Giraud song, and then ends up doing a Kris Allen song? Thank you for reminding us how awesome season 8 was, is, and always will be. (Kradison FTW) I don't know what Miles was thinking but that outfit was not enduring, and I had to stare at Jacob's butt during the whole performance. No. Standing during his performance was almost a forced feel, though I noticed Nigel was NOT encouraging the crowd on...for once. I think this was when the one girl let out a deafening scream for Jennifer, and Jacob thought it was for him.....

Who else thought it was Naima on stage as the extra backup singer?

I was a tad worried with Haley being in the "death spot" tonight. I've actually liked her since her audition. She was my original pick for winner, until I discovered Pia's 'Sing For Your Life' performance. (so much for that...) She was a bit interactive with the crowd beforehand. Her performance had people on their feet in seconds! By far my favorite Haley performance, even if I had a hard time really hearing her vocals (again, the band).

I have no idea what the judges said about Haley because I was slightly distracted by the events occurring behind me. All we hear is this country accent, "Oh, I like your dress!" Turn around and there is Lauren & (to Christy's delight) Casey, just chilling on the staircase. Of course, by this time everyone around us had noticed (and as the annoying crowd they were, made note of it vocally...mind you most of those flipping out where the cougars). Christy showed Casey her sign and he gave her a grin & a fist pump.

After they walked down, the usher responds: "See, I told you these were the best seats in the house!" My response: "Liar!" [Sit me right next to Brad Pitt in Section X, and I'd still call the seats crappy, I want to see & hear the performances].

I went to grab my phone from my purse when I saw the upright bass wheeling in from backstage, then I realized my phone was in a plastic bin outside with security. I couldn't be more excited to see Casey finally bring back the bass. He's been all over the place for me, and though this was not the greatest performance, I'd take it over "Smells Like Teen Spirit" any day. I like when Casey doesn't scare me. He loves to take in the crowd, making sure to face every section of seating to wave hi. And his parents are the most adorable of them all. (I did meet his dad afterward and he's too nice).

Lauren was anxiously waiting behind the stage during her video package. You could tell she was reviewing the song in her head while she waited. My biggest note to Lauren....don't ever let Gwen Stefani dress you ever again. You are too old/too young for diapers. I was actually watching the screen in the back during her performance & I kept thinking they were ruining the shots since you could see the cameraman walking in front of her, but I guess they don't show the actually TV footage on that screen, just one camera shot. (sometimes it isn't even on so people in Section X can't see anything.)

James appeared behind us during Lauren's critique time. His presence kind of startled me. I knew he'd be standing in front of our section for the cut to commercial. He just stood there in silence, and the girls behind me starting flipping out. Again, making too much commotion while the cameras were rolling. He did his thing in front of us...I may be on camera, I dunno, but I definitely had a fake smile on. Christy got a high five on the way out, she said he has soft hands.

It's amazing to see what happens when the cameras stop rolling for commercial breaks. Suddenly, the doors are opened and the strings were wheeled in & some of the stage guys do the "Turban Slide" towards it to lock it into place as fast as they could. It's fascinating! High fives to all the behind the scenes folks at Idol, you rock! As soon as I saw the strings, I knew this would be a toned down James...which I prefer, if I prefer anything of James. [Sorry, I just can't.]

If my memory serves me right, this is the performance where Nigel stands in the middle of the audience and tries to get them to start up the sway bots. Uh no, Nigel, I refuse to diminish myself to a sway bot with or without the sway pits. He is so aggressive about it, too. It's like he is saying with his arms, "Do it! Do it now!" Then he gives that fully accomplished grin he wears when he knows he succeeded.

Scotty peeked out from behind the stage before his performance and the two girls in front of my squealed. "Don't forget to breath, girls," I had to remind them often. They were adorable. They hung their sign from the railing. Scotty knows how to work the audience during his performance and off camera. They love him. Biggest cheers no doubt about it. Girls have signs for him everywhere....most of them being some version of "Scotty is a Hottie."

Besides the girls in front of me, I may have been the first on my feet. I loved every ounce of Scotty's performance, though listening back I realize it wasn't his best vocals. But performance wise...this guys has got it all down pat.

I watched Nigel gather the group of girls from the audience. Yes, it was not a "random" happening, it was a Nigel manipulation moment. He had them waiting there (they looked ready to pee their pants) and then motioned for them to rush the stage. Cue Nigel's fully accomplished smirk. [I noticed while watching his performance back you can see Nigel walk behind the judges at one point to grab two girls from the far corner].

I read that Pia suffers from stage fright, especially when performing more upbeat songs. No doubt about it. She was standing right below us and no matter how loud the girls behind me called her name, she was oblivious. She walked behind the stage and you could feel the tension as she ran through her performance in her head. I caught her eye, and she finally looked up, smiled & waved. So I got the girls to yell her name again and she heard them.

The stage guys worked on getting the smoke machine going, and literally pulled away the tube & ran off stage seconds before her performance began. I was digging it. I love Pia. She was suppose to win....(I demand a recount, it was the hanging chads.)

There was one moment, where tragedy could have struck. After the cameraman walked around her, the cord got wrapped around her heels, and the cameraman jumped off the stage. Luckily, the chord guy noticed and did not pull the chord with him, otherwise, she would have ate it. Not sure if she realized it either but she gracefully stepped over the chord after awhile before walking to the judges' table. Tragedy adverted.

[Last time I was in attendance Paul & Stefano almost suffered the same tragedy, only Paul did stumble slightly (the cameras did not get that shot).]

Note the adorable daughter of Christian Slater. Her & her dad were jamming during the whole show. Seriously, Christian Slater was always up on his feat, rocking his head to the beat. Who knew he was such a fan?

Random staircase in the middle of the stage. I watched the stage crew bring the staircase in from the elephant doors to the backstage area before the show started. That's not a light staircase. But why, it is so random? Maybe it's just me. It was my 2nd least favorite performance of the night, and I feel the audience may have agreed with me. Slow song or not, people get up on their feet....but only a few people made it to their feet by the end of his performance (usually those in front).

Randy, thanks you for at least giving Stefano something to work with. While the audience booed, I nodded my head in agreement. Come on judges, not everything is rainbows & unicorns. Let's actually critique the singers, no matter how good they were. Give them something so they can grow! [This goes for all the contestants, not just Stefano.]

Note: I am a big fan of Paul, though I do not want him to win idol nor do I think he will win idol. So I am a bit biased when it comes to him. :)

It's bad enough that I always grin from ear-to-ear when Paul performs but this performance was just awesome in every way. When he gets on stage, he always acknowledges the crowd. Waving hello, reading signs, doing his "oh, just stop it" hand gestures (in a humble way, not cocky). He was laughing at himself during the video package, and so ready to jam.

It didn't take less than one note for the audience to be on its feet dancing along. You forget you are watching idol in a moment like this. You become engulfed by the music and the atmosphere, and you don't want it to end. Well, at least I didn't...and from the jamboree afterward, I'd say nobody else did either.

The hoedown alone made this the best taping ever. It lasted through the entire recap video. We didn't even get to hear the recap because the band just kept on playing and the idols kept on dancing. Well...all of them except Pia. She tried to avoid it all the best she could. Debbie had to keep jumping on the stage and redirecting them to the middle because they were all over the stage. Paul & Lauren did their twitvid routine. He started dancing with his guitar in hand before one of the stage crew grabbed it for him. Casey & Haley were practically attached at hip. I didn't even know the show had ended. They went on playing & dancing for about 2 minutes after they cut.

The idols stuck around on stage for awhile saying hi to fans. As Paul exited around back, he made one last intentional glance in my directions & waved goodbye. <3 Scotty came towards us and pretty much made the girls in front swoon.

Then out of nowhere, the band starts playing "happy birthday." I want to say the guys name was Steve? But I don't recall. He came out and there was a birthday cake, everyone was singing. Then the idols came rushing out and the boys literally attacked the guy with hugs. It was one of those "aw" moments that America missed out on (like Lee DeWyze's speech after he won last season, an "aw" moment not caught on camera).

That's when you realize how special it is to be in the audience. To experience the idols off camera moments, and see true personalities shine. You also learn to appreciate those behind the scenes, and notice the relationships they build with the contestants. Not to mention the amazing MC, Corey, who pumps up the crowd & passes out idol merchandise all night. Didn't get anything this time, but I do have my Paul McDonald t-shirt from Top 12 night. :)

Afterward, we had dinner at The Grove's Cheesecake Factory. I heard it is an Idol hot spot, as the idols often go have dinner with their families after performance shows. Sure enough, while sitting out on the patio, we saw Lauren speed walking (by herself) thru the mall in her bright blue sweatshirt & sweat pants. She got stopped a couple times, and even did a quick dance move for a group of girls who were at the show.

I guess she eventually made way to the CKF. We had seen her family waiting outside. Someone said she kept going in and out of the restaurant. We walked by her as we were exiting, she was eating and chatting with the cute male waiter. You go girl!

Someone tweeted me while we were there that Scotty and his family were also at CKF. We actually ran into him on our way out, as he was leaving, too. So I stopped and said hello. We talked about how great everyone did tonight & how it would be a hard vote. Then he held open the door for us. True southern gentleman! :)

Then I spent the next two hours driving home. Ha.


Another great taping, another adventure for the books. Until next time....
(David Cook anyone? Me!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

S10: My Top 13 Picks

My Dream Team
Paul McDonald
Casey Abrams
Scotty McCreery
Tim Halperin
Brett Loewenstern
Pia Toscano
Thia Megia
Lauren Turner
Haley Reinhart
Lauren Alaina

Wild Cards:
Robbie Rosen; Kendra Chantelle; Ashton Jones

Paul McDonald
Casey Abrams
Scotty McCreery
James Durbin
Jacob Lusk
Lauren Alaina
Pia Toscano
Thia Megia
Haley Reinhart
Karen Rodriguez

Wild Cards:
Brett Loewenstern; Lauren Turner; Ashton Jones or Stefano Langone

Monday, February 28, 2011

S10: More from Top 12 Guys Taping

Based on some Qs I have been asked, here is some added notes from the Boys Top 12 taping on Friday:

A lot of people have asked about Nigel's interaction with the judges and to clarify some comments about him whispering to the them after performances.

Nigel was all over the place. It was the first taping and things were going wrong (hence why it took 4 hours to tape), so he was intervening everywhere. During "commercial breaks" he did often chat with the judges, as well as Ryan, Debbie & the contestants. Only once did Nigel run up to the judges table after a performance, but prior to the judges' comments.

When Brett finished singing, Nigel approached Randy and whispered in his ear and quickly ran off. Obviously, I don't know exactly what was said, but during Randy's critique he says something along the lines of..."Someone counted 14 hair whips from you. Do you do that on purpose?" So the assumption was that Nigel whispered that count in his ear and nothing more.

He did interact with the audience quite often, trying to get people excited about the performance. Not that is was hard...but there was a hesitant on what you are allowed & not allowed to do. Like I said before, Debbie told us NOT to clap during performances but Nigel was often in the back corner clapping above his head, so people joined in.

The band was small...well, I guess the normal size expected during the semi-finals. Though, unless they use the stage, I don't see where they could involve more instruments. There are three back-up singers, one male & two females (mixed races).

The new band leader is Ray Chew. You can follow him on twitter at @RayChewLive. The MC only introduced them at the end, though Jacob gives props to them after his performance, so you should get to see them all.

The girls were sitting on the opposite end of the stage from me, so I didn't get to observe them much. For the most part they were pretty mellow while just sitting around. During the performances they were out of their seats giving the boys their love. Throughout the performances some went missing here & there. Not a lot of attention was made towards them, except a couple times when Ryan reminds everyone the weeks schedule (like after ever commercial break).

I would say for the most part everyone was as comfortable as they could be after performing for 700 people & cameras. Some more than others but there were no real awkward moments during the interactions (no Ryan/Didi or Simon/Ryan moments). Jordan may have been the only uncomfortable moment but he didn't exactly get handed roses after his performance and he was disappointed in himself.

All around they gave some pretty good comments and then some vague ones. Randy disagreed with Jennifer & Steven twice, calling them pitchy. Tim & Jordan were the only ones to get overall negative comments.

To be clear, they told Tim there was nothing wrong with his vocals, but that basically it was the wrong song. And no, he didn't play the piano. Randy commented on how well his vocals were when he played the piano during Hollywood.

Before Jovany repeated his performance for us, he was just hanging on the stage. The girls kept shouting, "Take your shirt off!" So he gave the audience a fake-out striptease.

For some reason...Nigel & Debbie wanted us to do a "laugh" take. No idea why, but I'm sure all they got were cheesy "get me out of here" laughs. I think it has something to do with Steven. I guess we'll find out later.

No, I am not going to the girls taping on Monday. If I could, I would find a way to be there. I am, however, working on trying to get tickets to Thursday's live result show. Though I am not really sure I could handle all the emotions. I decided that if I had gone to last years Top 16 result show (where top 12 was announced) I would have caused a scene at Alex & Katelyn's dismissals. I have no doubt there will be some type of upset on Thursday b/c that is just how America likes to stir things up. :/

I have a number of emails on the waiting list right now, so hopefully, I will be able to attend a good number of shows this year. I'll let you know when I do. I will be at the finale (where there is a will, there is a way, and I will find a way).