Married ‘Smash’ Director Catches The McPheever…

22 10 2013

Like many families across the US, mine were avid “American Idol” watchers (until the abomination of Nicki Minaj judging took over the airwaves).  Our hooting and hollering was usually in good fun, unless we found ourselves at odds over a contestant.
Season 5, which aired in 2006, was a particularly hostile year.  I couldn’t explain it, but I was dead-set against Katharine McPhee. Week after week as she progressed in the competition, I did not catch ‘the McPheever.’  I deliberately wrote the call-in numbers down wrong so my family couldn’t vote for her!

I have always thought, though McPhee has been candid about her struggles before reaching stardom, she was one of those needy, annoying starlets who didn’t have the chops to live up to the hype her ‘people’ generated.  Her turns onscreen in The House Bunny and Shark Night 3D were less than Oscar Razzie-worthy.  Her albums, released in 2007 and (two in) 2010, were only modestly successful.

In 2008, she made headlines (in People, Us Weekly anyway) for marrying her significantly older beau, Nick Cokas.  Earlier this year, McPhee told Lucky magazine that although she had pictured life a little differently, she is glad not to have any children yet. “I’m selfish right now, but that’s how and where I should be. The thing is, work is the thing I love the most,” she said. Her  five-year marriage to Cokas was confirmed/acknowledged in the article as well (January 2013 issue).

I fully admit to being a gossipy, judgmental kind of person sometimes, but when someone doesn’t sit well with me, it is never for no reason. The personality flaws and errors in morality may not be immediately apparent, but I’ve had the misfortune of finding, eventually, everyone is who I think they are.
I also will disclose that I am guilty of often letting the personal lives of some celebs, as told by those nagging glossy tabloids at the grocery check-out, get in the way of my enjoying their work. (HALLE BERRY & TOM CRUISE, for example. )

(Photo Credit: TMZ)

(Photo Credit: TMZ)

So today when I logged into TMZ, as I do every day as I snack on my lunch, I was not surprised to read that McPhee was caught, in the middle of the California sunshine, kissing her ALSO MARRIED former Smash series director, Michael Morris.

I was incensed by this news because Morris, who previously produced and directed for ABC’s Brothers & Sisters series, himself is married– to the wonderful, talented, hilarious Mary McCormack (formerly of The West Wing and In Plain Sight).  How can these celebs continually misbehave and think they’ll get away with it? When you live a public life, you are never alone and, depending on the level of fame you achieve, your business is never just your own. It’s the price you pay for willingly participating in an industry that is in cahoots with the sensationalism of a 24/7 news media.

Though I anticipate statements from each camp by week’s end (a source has already told TMZ McPhee and Cokas have been living apart for 6 months), I can’t help but be reminded of the love-triangles and humiliating marriage-ending affairs passed… (Just to name a few!)

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordgren; other woman: Rachel Uchitel (among many others).

LeeAnn Rimes and Dean Shermet; other man: Eddie Cibrian (who was also married, to Brandi Glanville).

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James; other woman: Michelle McGee (among others).

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart; other man: Rupert Saunders (who was married to model Liberty Ross at the time).
**Stewart is also said to have cheated on her boyfriend of 3-years, Michael Angarano, with Pattinson.

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe; other woman: Abby Cornish.

Former POTUS Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton; other women: Monica Lewinsky, Ginnifer Flowers, Paula Jones…

Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid; other man: Russell Crowe.

Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher; other woman: Elizabeth Taylor.

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2013 VMAs… I’m Officially Too Old for This Shit.

26 08 2013

I was only half involved last year, having realized in adulthood that it is dumb for MTV to continue hosting the VIDEO Music Awards when they barely show videos anymore. Seriously, the days of TRL are long passed. The only time to avoid Rob Dyrdek yelling over viral videos, teen moms making mistake after mistake, or Tyler Posey running around a treed soundstage in facial fur, is 3am-6am when the videos play.
Watching the (pointless) preshow and red carpet coverage made me, again, feel entirely too old to be tuning in, but, the rumors of an NSYNC reunion were enough to secure my butt in this seat a good hour before start time, 9pm.

I will review and recap the festivities in timestamp fashion, as I am too lazy to actually make this post any kind of polished literary offering.

8:55pm – Shailene Woodley is here, and I could care less about the movie trailer she’s promoting. Love. Her.

9:05pm – Ok, Gaga. I appreciate the incorporation of wigs that recall your hits like “Just Dance” and “Telephone,” but “Applause” more confirms your endless quest for attention than affirms your love of your Little Monsters.

9:08pm – First award is “Best Pop Video” and it goes to Miss Selena Gomez for the not-so-Disney-friendly jam “Come and Get It.” She gives a blah speech, with blah hair and an outfit that is only half-appropriate.

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

9:20pm – Miley Cyrus is complete trash.  Hannah Montana is officially dead.  I can’t believe her mother was smiling pridefully when they cut to her in the audience… It makes me sad how nasty their whole family is.   I can’t even give her respect as an artist, as a creative, because it’s all so gross. It just makes no sense.   Someone who has that much money, and therefore the creative freedom to do what she pleases, should not be trying THAT hard to break away from the images people used to have of her, because now we do in fact think she is a ‘ratchet white girl.
Aditionally, Robin Thicke has just cheapened himself by singing with her. Someone who has really made a splash recently, would absolutely been able to swing NOT performing with her. He should have ducked outta this one!

9:24pm – Lil Kim, is that you? If so, Letoya Jackson called and would like her face back. Ouch.
The formerly well-respected MC may be the “Queen Bee” of the B-K, but she is lookin’ a mess! A shell of her former self– looks, rep and style wise.

9:26pm – Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis win the second award of the night, Best Hip Hop Video, for “Can’t Hold Us.”

9:38pm – Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. “Blood on the Leaves” is entirely too heavy for the VMAs. People don’t so much respect you, as fear you. You make us uncomfortable.  (Before he started, my brother said “Oh, That’s what he looks like?” Then went on to acknowledge he had never seen him without sunglasses, nor without the contortion of rabbid, paparazzi-aimed rage.)

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

9:49pm – Taylor Swift wins the third award of the ceremonies, Best Female Video, for “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Daft Punk, Pharrell and Nile Rodgers presented (pictured at right).
Breaking from her usual, seemingly feigned, “I can’t believe they like me” gushes of gratitude- Swift stated “I want to thank the fans because I tweeted about this a lot, I really wanted this.” Adding, “I also want to thank the person who inspired this song because he knows exactly who he is, because now I’ve got one of these.”
Harry Styles of One Direction, her most recent ex, looked on unamused. Speculation has circulated that the diddy was about him, written more than a year ago following their initial encounter. Other claims are that the power-pop tune takes aim at one-time Swift beau, actor Jake Gyllenhaal. (I, however, refuse to believe he was at all toxic or drama-causing; confident that she ruined that union.)

9:51pm – Mackelmore takes the stage again to claim his trophy for “Same Love,” which won the 4th category: Best Video With a Social Message. He gave a heartfelt speech, driving home that this song not only has purpose but sincere meaning for him as a person. I’m glad Mackelmore won, but I have to acknowledge the ridiculous, made-up for this occasion category… Really, MTV? You’re only televising 8 awards and this one is total BS.

9:59pm – JIMMY FALLON!!! The greatest host in the history of this program has returned to the stage, now to introduce what proves to be a lingering vanity piece for Justin Timberlake.
JT starts in with “Take Back the Night,” before actually arriving at the stage, and going into an extensive medley of his hits: “Sexy Back,” “Like I Love You,” “My Love,” “Cry Me a River,” “Rock Your Body” among them. Going backwards through his catalog is KILLING MY NERVES as I wait pretty impatiently for the four men with whom he made his name to appear…

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

10:10pm – THEY’REEEE HEEEEERE! About 90 seconds of thrill (Thinking ‘This is epic!’) and a brief snippet of 2 songs, “Girlfriend” and “Bye Bye Bye”, broke way to feelings of ‘WTF, all that hype and it’s just a segue’ to “Suit & Tie.”

10:12pm – Jimmy is back and he is presenting BFF Justin with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Whatever the fuck that means.
JT says “I don’t deserve this award, but I’m not gonna give it back,” then goes on to acknowledge that his past successes, including 4 ‘Moonmen’ statues from the VMAs, are due in part to the men of NSYNC. “We can keep it at my house, but I share this with those four guys.”

10:25pm – I almost don’t feel like finishing this. Now that I have been significantly disappointed, watching a DVD of ‘Veronica Mars’ sounds like a better option than watching Katy Perry hop around to “Roar” (which at this point we all know bears striking similarity to Sara Barellis’ “Brave.”)

10:27pm – Kevin Hart is only funny half the time, so his second appearance as flashy little filler is weak. Nobody booed but I didn’t hear a ton of laughter either. This is one of several instances tonight I have though “What’s the point of this?” aloud.

10:29pm – Fifth award, Song of the Summer, goes to One Direction for the antagonistically catchy “Best Song Ever.” I would like to formally protest; “The Way,” by Ariana Grande and Mac Miller, should have not only been an option but the winner.

10:32pm – Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis perform “Same Love,” following an intro from Jason Collins, recently out NBA player (which is significant), and A$AP Rocky (which is a shameless plug). Much as MTV has diverged from their MUSIC Television roots, they do keep on trend and on topic- politically not just pop-culturally.

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

10:43pm – Best New Artist goes to Austin Mahone, whom I’ve never heard of. He looked genuinely excited, and also a bit like he was up passed his bedtime. He is a knock-off Justin Bieber; thanking God, his single Mom, his friends and PR team. His fans are apparently called “Ma-homies,” which made me gag a little. (Why do fans need nicknames now? They’re titles make them sound like the least threatening gangs ever– Mariah Carey calls her fans “Lambs,” Nicky Minaj’s refers to fans as “Barbs” or “Barbies” and The Killers’ followers are known as “The Victims.”)
A quick Wiki search does little to raise my interest– the 17-year-old gained attention through his Youtube covers, before traveling with Disney’s Bridget Mendler and country crossover Taylor Swift.

10:45pm – TLC introduced Drake. Somewhere about a lyric into “Hold On, We’re Going Home” I began to wonder if it were about Rihanna; and then whether it was at all awkward to sing about her whilst in the same room with her and a few thousand other people. Cameras cut to her, and she looked unfazed. Interesting.

10:55pm – Best Male Video, the 7th trophy awarded, went to “Locked Out of Heaven” crooner Bruno Mars.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a little like Kanye here when I say it should have been Robin Thicke.
And may I just say, I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down, MTV… having Taylor Swift present best male video? Not-so-subtle but definitely not out-of-line. Touche.

11:15pm – The ever-sexy Joseph Gordon-Levitt took to the stage to hand out the night’s final, and allegedly most prestigious or most anticipated, Video of the Year. Man of the night, Sir Justin Timberlake took the cake, for his single “Mirrors” off of the album “20/20 Experience.” He adorably huged his mom and manager before going up to thank and dedicate the concept of the song/video to his grandparents. I kept wondering though, as they cut between stage and seats: Where’s your wife, dude?

Photo Credit: MTV/Getty Images

11:18pm – Is “Roar” really Katy Perry’s biggest hit, as we have been told all night? Because I am fairly confident in assuming that “Teenage Dream” was the peak of her career. The performance is under the Brooklyn Bridge… Which only made me concerned about the unbelievable traffic for that whole borough last night! Yes, honestly, during all the pop festivities MTV had to offer, I was preoccupied about the traffic.  Why? Probably because KP was lookin’ a mess! The hair is natural, and on trend with the braids, but the outfit. Whoa.
Tiger sports bra; flame-edged, shiny boxing shorts; white, knee-high tube socks and gold hightops? WHO Let her out like this? It was a mostly spoken word performance, with a few runs thrown in. I give her credit, because it did appear as though she sang live, and who can fault her for not staying on melody when she’s got some pretty sprawling choreography to keep up with.

In the words of ‘American Idol’ judge Randy Jackson, “It was just OK for me, dawg.”

11:22pm – It’s over. Oh wait, it’s starting all over again. Time to pop in that ‘Veronica Mars’ DVD I mentioned.





On My Radar

29 05 2012

Here’s a recap of some things I have been following/thinking about lately:

1.  Amanda Bynes is a HOT MESS. 

Amanda Bynes, 2008 SAG Awards

In 6 weeks time the former Nickelodeon darling has gotten a DUI and been involved in (by my count) four fenderbenders — the first of which had her sideswiping an LAPD patrol car.

Bynes, 26, has worked consistently as a comedic actor since childhood. First featuring on Nickelodeon’s Saturday night program All That, an SNL-like variety show for the tween set, before starring alongside Jennie Garth in the fan-favorite What I Like About You in 2002. Bynes was last seen on the big screen in Easy A (2010) and Hairspray (2007).

Until recently, Bynes seemed to be humble and healthy. I’m thoroughly surprised at her antics; they certainly feel more fallen-Disney-star (*cough*LiLo!*cough*) than disgraced Nick star (*cough*JamieLynn!*cough*).  I hope she pulls herself together, because I know she can continue into adulthood and be just as funny and just as successful as before.

I think it’s time for someone to ‘Ask Ashley’ about a 5-step program.

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2.  John Edwards is (still) a douche.

The disgraced politico and one-time presidential hopeful has done little to change his image, or himself. In all fairness though, theres not much he could do.  You cheat on your cancer-stricken wife and have an illegitimate child with the bimbo, you get a special seat in Hell.

His trial has concluded, and (literally) the jury’s still out as to whether he violated federal law by using campaign funds to cover-up his affair with videographer Rielle Hunter.

I am STUNNED that his daughter Kate has been at his side throughout the trial, much like she was by her mother’s side as she was DYING. I am not part of their family, and want to refrain from being too judgemental, but WHAT’S UP WITH THAAAT?!!  She’s an adult. She should be able to look at the situation objectively and say “He’s still my dad… but he’s also a douche.”  He isn’t looking out for ANYONE but himself, so don’t get too wide-eyed at the possibility that if he is acquitted, he will live the rest of his life trying to atone for his flaws. He won’t.

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3. Movies whose announced release dates have been moved back — This is never good!

G.I… Just Kidding

It was announced just days ago that GI Joe: Retaliation will not hit theaters June 29 as planned. They apparently decided to delay the premiere in order to apply a 3D treatment, ya know, so they can squeeze more money out of us. 

I think two things occurred to Paramount execs a little too late; they realized that the first one wasn’t great and they were going to be EMBARASSED by the continued success of The Avengers.  Also, they would have had two Tatum flicks pitted against eachother: GI Joe Retaliation and the testosterone-rich ensemble film Magic Mike.

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4.  Ted Kaczynski lists convictions/sentences as achievements on Harvard Class of 1962 alumni newsletter.

I read a couple articles about this:  I chuckled to myself then I wondered for a second why it was news, before remembering how stupid and touchy people are. I think the reunion committee took the harder of two options; someone (probably a liberal) would have objected to Kaczynski’s total omission from all things related to the Class of ’62 reunion, but I’m guessing now we know that MORE PEOPLE object to the mockery being made of their own successes by listing his legal tribulations amongst their MDs, PhDs and the like.  Either way, he’s still in prison and they’re all presumably quite rich… Let’s focus on that instead.

A mildly-related item: I immediately was reminded of a CLASSIC Will Ferrell skit on SNL in which The Unabomber attended his class reunion. I still pee my pants a little, even having seen it dozens of times. ENJOY!

 http://ahref=

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5.  Phil Phillips wins American Idol! 

Phillip Phillips, 21, of Georgia, wins Season 11 of FOX reality competition AMERICAN IDOL

Season 11 closed out with a high and a low; record-breaking numbers of votes and viewers. 132 million votes were logged between the finalists, but Nielsen Soundscan reports that this was the least watched conclusion of any AI competition season (nearly 8 million fewer than last year).

My brother and I liked Phil from the beginning. HOWEVER, I told my brother I would not cast a single vote for him until he performed a Dave Matthews song. (Which he finally did when he made the Top 6!)

I love that he never picked big numbers to get votes; he was always authentic and original. I have described his voice to non-Idol-watching friends as “if Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Tom Waits had a vocal lovechild.”   He’s hot. That’s all there is to it!

Runner-up Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year-old powerhouse from the San Diego area, was no slouch. I cannot and will not deny she is a great talent. BUT I also cannot and will not deny that she lacked personality. Singing a big song is only part of being in that business, and she just needs to live a little more life before she can top the charts.

I’m also glad Phillips won because I never felt that Sanchez should have been allowed to compete. Her Wikipedia page lists a number of accomplishments and professional opportunities earned before her Idol audition. The format of the show has evolved so much since season 1, but I know you cannot have had a record deal prior to auditioning. (Carly Smithson of season 7 was controversial for being in violation of that rule.)  Sanchez was featured on two major recordings, which from a technical standpoint I guess doesn’t violate the eligibility requirements, but it doesn’t seem fair. She’s got a lot of famous fans, and thanks to the show she’s had more exposure, so I don’t doubt that she will get a deal regardless of taking 2nd place. But who’s to say she wouldn’t have gotten the deal anyway? And if she hadn’t made the Top 24, would Phillips still have won?  I guess I’m glad they let her through, because ultimately she didn’t win.

But still, what kind of pop-culture consumer would I be if I didn’t obsess over people I don’t know and speculate on things that didn’t happen?





Grammy Breakdown (FULL)

14 02 2012

In Brief:  3.5 hours, 17 performances, 9 awards.  6 Whitney comments, 2 Whitney clips, 1 Whitney song tribute.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards aired last night on CBS, hosted by musician/actor LL Cool J.  He did little more than introduce the presenters.

Fan favorite Bruce Springsteen, accompanied by the E Street Band, opened with “We Take Care of Our Own.”  They played tight, it was a good note to begin the show on…   Well, it was until LL Cool J brought everybody back down by immediately starting in about Whitney Houston.

The second performance of the night was nominee Bruno Mars and his Doo-Wop Hooligans.  The best part of his appearance was when he said for everyone “to get off your rich asses!”
The Grammys are known as the informal awards show of the season, anything can happen. Mars is quickly making a name for himself as an innovative and exciting artist, but this performance was predictable! The flashing lights, kitchy gold outfits and throwback choreography will not land the hooligans on top of any memorable lists for this year.

Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt — an interesting duo — shared the stage briefly to pay tribute to two fallen female icons, Etta James & Whitney Houston, with a rendition of “Sunday Kind of Love.”  The pair lead in to the first award of the night: Best Pop Solo, which ultimately went to Adele for “Someone Like You,” her second smash single off 21. The other contenders for this category included Lady Gaga for “You and I,” Bruno Mars for the uber popular “Grenade,” Katy Perry for “Firework,” and P!NK, who was not in attendance, for “F**kin’ Perfect.”

Chris Brown took the stage for the fourth performance of the evening, if you can call it that.  The beleagured wannabe-Michael Jackson was TOTALLY LIPSYNCHING.   My brother (14) was watching with me, and as soon as Brown was introduced he said, “Oh, the Beater.”  No doubt similar sentiments echoed from homes across the viewing nation.

Fergie, who was dressed in one of her tackiest ensembles yet,  took the stage with an underenthused Marc Anthony to present the second trophy of the night, for Best Rap Album.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but, luckily the award went to Kanye West for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and he was not in attendance. Therefore we were not subjected to an idiotic acceptance speech riddled with reminders of his self-assured genius and the gift that it is for us to get to listen to him.

 

One of the highlights of the evening, for me, came in the form of Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean reprising their duet single “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”  Aldean always wears a hat that covers half his faaaace! Clarkson was dressed well in a black Grecian gown, accented with sparkly bondage straps.  These two have sung together several times now, and it only gets better!

Then… the moment my brother and I had been waiting for!
THE FOOOOOOOO ❤
Jack Black rambled on about indie cred, how often it’s lost by attending/being honored at the Grammys, and something about the artistry being stolen at the door only to be “sold out back to Bon Iver.”
Under a cloudy LA evening, the tent outside the Staples Center was packed with people eager to have their faces rocked off, something the Foo Fighters always deliver on.  They played “Walk” off thier latest record, Wasting Light.

The second pairing of the night came in the form of a three-song medley from Rihanna and Coldplay.  Rihanna opened with “We Found Love,” surrounded by about two dozen dancers in various levels of undress. Then Chris Martin appeared, and the two sang their duet “Princess of China,”  before Martin finally broke off with the rest of his London mates for “Paradise.”

The third golden gramophone of the night went to the Foo Fighters for “Walk.”  Frontman and founder Dave Grohl gave the speech for their Best Rock Performance win; he was well spoken and topically appropriate. That’s so important– and obviously it was appreciated by the crowd because he got a standing ovation!

The only appearance talked about as much as, but not more than, Adele’s comeback was the 50 Year Reunion of the Beach Boys– which also featured Maroon 5 and Foster the People.  It was low energy and failed to evoke any rich feeling of nostalgia due to the steady 20-something average age of the noms.  Additionally, the remaining Beach Boys who appeared were dressed for BINGO, not a CELEBRATION.

16-time Grammy recipient Stevie Wonder introduced another oldie-but-goodie performer: Sir Paul McCartney. Accompanying the former Beatle on his new single “My Valentine” was legendary Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh (upon seeing whom my brother squealed like a 10-year-old girl does at Justin Bieber) and pianist Diana Krall.

The fourth and arguably most controversial award of the night, for Best R&B Album, went to Chris Brown.
Up against R. Kelly, El DeBarge, Ledisi and Kelly Price, the kid we sometimes hate to love but always love to hate feigned graciousness and stumbled through his thank-yous.
Personally, I deleted any songs of his I had the day news broke of his violence toward then-girlfriend Rihanna… which was two years ago almost to the day of this ceremony. I think it is BULLSHIT that the Recording Academy or the voting audience award this spoiled petulant child with ANYTHING. He has done less than nothing to make strides to redeem himself. He constantly seeks attention in negative ways and refuses to publically take any formal responsibility for what he did.   If I were Neil Portnow, I would have banned him for life.

The tenth performer of the night was usual award show darling, Miss Taylor Swift. She sang “Mean” off her hugely successful Speak Now album.  (The single that won praise in the Best Country Solo* and Best Country Song categories.)
I love her, she is a brilliant lyricist, but I am a little tired of her for two reasons; 1) OMG. If you’ve always wanted to be a country star, DO NOT try to manipulate the markets and release TWO versions of your songs. If you’re good enough to crossover, you will! Shania and Faith never did thaaaat;  2) When you finish singing and everyone stands up to clap, wipe that stupid doe-y surprised look off your face! Staying humble is one thing, and good for you for knowing how lucky  you are… but after all the money and attention and awards, you know we like you. Say “thanks” and wave like everyone else who’s happy to be there.

*This arguably should have gone to Carrie Underwood for “Mama’s Song” which was a stunningly beautiful track.

One of the biggies, Song of the Year, was awarded next, and went to Adele! “Rolling In The Deep” was everywhere this year, and she was genuinely moved by the response to it.  When you can tell the artist is really grateful, it makes it all the more fun to watch. I never liked seeing someone who thought they deserved to win something, win it.

A blue-haired Katy Perry broke it down with a high-flying performance of “Extra Terrestrial” …which lead into the debut of another number: “Part Of Me.”  Girlfriend looked PISSED the whole time, but it is defnitely going to be a smash. She may not be the best singer out there, but she is a great entertainer who is honest with her work.

Shifting genres from the pop performance by Perry, attention was paid to a country trio Lady Antebellum, who won for Best Country Album (Own The Night).  I don’t like them, they’re stuff is kind of catchy but nothing super special.

ADELE FINALLY TOOK THE STAGE AFTER BOUNCING BACK FROM THROAT SURGERY THIS FALL.

SHE GAVE AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE OF “ROLLING IN THE DEEP” AND WAS JUST BEAMING THE WHOLE TIME!
NO WONDER EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER LOVES HER.

It was a hard act to follow but somebody had to do it, it was only 10:0 after all.

The Band Perry and Blake Shelton paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement recipient Glen Campbell, before he joined them onstage for a joyful rendition of the classic “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Another country star came out with the incomprable Tony Bennett for a version of “It Had to Be You” — currently featured on his album Duets II.
They then gave out the award for Best New Artist: which did NOT go to Nicki Minaj! HA HA HA!  The incredibly deep indie rocker Bon Iver took the prize.  He thanked the fans, saying it was a “sweet hookup.”

The highly anticipated ‘In Memorium’ segment of the show was extensive, eliciting “Wow, a lot of people died this year,” from my brother. “I don’t like Jennifer Hudson,” he added before running downstairs for a drink.

The one-time American Idol contestant and longtime Whitney Houston admirer tearfully made her way through “I Will Always Love You.”

So as not to disrespect the somberness of the main hall, the commercial break resumed back outdoors in the tent where the Foo Fighters performed earlier.
The “Grammy Dance Party” of sorts commenced– with Chris Brown lookin like early Run DMC/Ice-T/Sir Mix-a-Lot. It was ridiculous. And he most certainly was using AutoTune in his mic. DJ David Guetta spun for the first part of the ‘party,’ while Brown sing-talked and danced alongside rapper Lil Wayne who looked like he just woke up and rolled of his tour bus.

On the opposite side of the tent, the Foo Fighters started in with “Rope.”  With Deadmau5′ help it got a remix treatment about halfway through.

Things got to an all-time low level of weird with a short play acted out by Nicki Minaj. “The Exorcism of Roman” was such a mess. Minaj was trying way to hard to be memorable, and now she will be for the wrong reasons.  I think the she-rapper was going for some Lady Gaga “Paparazzi”-level performance art, but there was just so much going on and you couldn’t totally understand her. And the blatant religious imagery that wasn’t really defined as good or bad in the scene, would make Sinead O’Connor ask “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?”

The final two award categories to be televised, as there are over two dozen actually given out, were Record of the Year and Album of the Year… which both went to ADELE.
The beautiful Brit was so gracious and cute and in awe of the response to her work, she cried as she told the audience “It’s been a life changing year.”

The finale was, in no uncertain terms, an Epic. Musical. Moment.  For the men on stage, for the viewers in the theater, and fans watching from home.
Sir Paul McCartney reemerged on the grand stage to (appropriately) play the Beatles “The End” with the help of Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen.  Yeah, I’m serious. It was a freaking fantastic way to end the night, with all these incredible musicians jamming out.





American Idol 2011: Traumas Continue to Eclipse Talent

28 01 2011

I’ll be up front, I haven’t watched a season of “American Idol” from beginning to end since 2006- or as I like to call it, The Year Chris Daughtry Should Have Won.

My opinion of and interest in the competition series has changed from the Kelly & Carrie days- back when talent triumphed over whatever tale of trauma the participant was toting.

Arguably, the audition episodes are no more than an expensive forum for shenanigans and sob-stories. Some of the contestants who really set themselves apart in Hollywood week or on the final stage aren’t even showcased during the selection period. (The “Top #” group has ranged from a final 8 to 13.)

 It is telling that rules or protocol have changed from season to season- with the age requirement/range and wild card round being prime examples. The age thing makes me think that they know the quality of the show isn’t what it has been, and they are reaching as young as possible to try to find a Justin Bieber or Miley Cyurs kind of gold. (ATTN AI PRODUCERS: ONE OF THEM IS ENOUGH!)  As for the wild card, it worked for four seasons and it really made for a burst of excitement (or anger, depending on who was picked) right before the finals. LWhy not reintroduce that to spice things up instead of letting middle schoolers audition?

I think that it is time for ‘Idol’ to bow out gracefully- much like Simon Cowell just did.  Nobody in the 19 Entertainment offices took it as a clue when Cowell turned down over $100 million contract that maybe the show had run it’s course?

I digress.

The issue at hand is

From the beginning, instead of a short backstory about why these people love to sing, their experience level, and their goals if chosen- we got tears.  (I’m looking at you, Jim Verraros.)

Dozens of bloggers have posted about last night’s episode, which featured a four-minute segment on Chris Medina, 26, from Chicago, IL.  Before he was even able to get out the title of his chosen audition tune (“Break Even” by The Script), Medina became the latest face on the seasons-old issue: The Sympathy Vote.

Now, don’t misunderstand, my heart is not made of stone.  I got a little choked up when Randy, J.Lo, and Steven Tyler asked Medina to bring his fiance, Juliana, in to meet them.  A little act of kindness from these percieved untouchable, mega-celebs is always welcome!
Contrary to others online, I don’t think that Medina was in any way trying to exploit his situation or his fiance… But these sort of scenarios are thrust upon us watching at home way too early in the game.  Sharing the tragedies of their past off the bat makes contestants memorable for the wrong reasons.

Yahoo! Blogger Lyndsey Parker hit the nail on the head with this morning’s “Reality Rocks” column, in which she pointed out “TV producers love this sort of tearjerking tale and the buzz it creates. So if any exploitation was perpetrated, the producers are probably to blame, not Chris.”

Parker really got me thinking…  All of my anger is displaced! I shouldn’t be upset with Danny Gokey for going on (and on and on) about his late wife, or Chris Golightly for playing the orphan card, or even Lil Rounds for bringing up the whole homeless by tornado thing.

The dozens of bloggers who so quickly aimed to crucify Chris Medina should all take a step back and acknowledge that Medina wouldn’t have just offered up this painful experience if nobody interviewed him beforehand.
 

Why can the hordes of hopefuls not just come in, sing, and leave- with or without their golden ticket?

If the intentions of the big shots over at ‘Idol’ was truly to find the next great musical icon, the emphasis should be on the 10 or so bunch of finalists, not the hundreds of dressed up, tone-deaf idiots who make it on-air for the first month.