October 26, 2011

X-Factor 17 to 12

Posted in Music, Television tagged at 9:48 pm by myrlinn

In the end, the judges made the right choices but did we really have to have all that manufactured drama on the way to those decisions?

Choosing Dexter Haygood and then saddling him with that song and that presentation? He needed something more raw, gritty, that screams soul-deep pain … and he got vanilla.

Kicking off Melanie Amaro then bringing her back … did anybody, except perhaps Melanie herself, believe that was for real?

Making the music for Philip Lomax so loud that we could hardly hear him sing?

Putting through Simone Battle and Tiah Tolliver? C’mon, it would have been more real if Simon had put through Caitlin Koch.

The judges make much of the artist bring ‘authentic’. We could do with a bit more of that on their behaviour and judging! As it is, it’s like failed 4-person stand-up comedy.

Lucky for the show, the talent is enough to keep me watching. Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik, Leroy Bell, Drew … they’re FANTASTIC!

Talking about Drew, they should fire whoever styled her. Her hair was a mess.

Actually, Rachel Crow didn’t look too hot either. The buttons on her top was straining, and she’s such a character, I would have added bright accents somewhere. I think their own clothes were a lot better.

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May 19, 2010

Clay Aiken talks about new CD “Tried and True” (Decca promo vid)

Posted in Music, Tried-and-Liked tagged , , at 6:55 am by myrlinn

It’s a good morning when you wake up to another promo vid for Clay Aiken’s forthcoming CD, “Tried and True”, and a good one too!

We get video of the photo shoot for the album and more snippets from Clay’s PBS special.  Clay talks about the CD (musically, artistically, a “home” for him) and the taping of the PBS special.

Click below to watch:

May 8, 2010

Clay Aiken’s new CD “Tried and True” to be released June 1st!

Posted in Music at 7:05 am by myrlinn

I wasn’t too sure about Clay Aiken’s new CD, but this preview of Clay performing some of the songs off “Tried and True” has made a believer out of me.  There is a commitment to the performances that translate to magic. I’m now genuinely  looking forward to the release of  Tried and True on June 1st, and the PBS TV special sometime later (possibly August).

And if you want to know more about the CD, check out this new Clay Aiken bio which has interesting background on concept and song choices:

Clay Aiken has never sounded more at home than he does singing the lushly arranged classics on his fifth studio album Tried and True — the international pop phenomenon’s first album for Decca Records. The bulk of the album — which showcases Aiken’s powerful tenor voice and considerable interpretive gifts — is made up of songs from the ’50s and ’60s that Aiken grew up listening to as a child in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“My birth father was a musician and my mother sang in a band when I was a little kid,” Aiken says. “There was always music playing in the house. A lot of the songs on Tried and True, like ‘Unchained Melody,’ ‘Suspicious Minds,’ ‘It’s Only Make Believe,’ and ‘Crying,’ are songs my mother used to sing. If folks do think I sound at home on this album, it’s probably because singing these songs came very naturally for me. I never took sheet music or lyrics into the vocal booth. I knew them so well that I didn’t need to.”

For Aiken, Tried and True (so named because he feels the songs have stood the test of time) was about getting back to himself after a career performing more pop-oriented material. “There are a lot of elements to this album that are about me returning to what I’m comfortable with,” Aiken says. “I’ve often joked with friends that I feel like I was born at the wrong time because the person I am and the songs I like to sing are all from earlier eras. To me, older songs are more melodically appealing and beautiful. So doing this album was kind of an opportunity to just be myself. I’m kind of an old soul, so singing gorgeous orchestral arrangements backed by a big band fits me really well.”

Aiken’s delight in the material comes through not only in his vocal delivery but in the way he connects to the emotional undercurrents running through each of these melodic ballads. With the thoughtful help of executive producer Dave Novik (Decca’s Senior Vice President of A&R), as well as arrangers Chris Walden, Jesse Vargas, and Ben Cohn, the classic standards on Tried and True are respectfully updated and refreshed, but still retain the spirit in which they were written and sung by various legendary artists through the years. “I told Dave Novik that I wanted to do something that paid tribute to the Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, and Andy Williams type of sound, because those artists sang really emotional stuff and did it beautifully,” Aiken says. “I mean, have you ever heard Johnny Mathis sing ‘Misty’? What is he doing with his voice! He’s like some kind of amazing freak of nature. It’s just incredible.”

“Misty” is on the album, as well as “It’s Impossible” (memorably done by Perry Como in 1970 and later by Andy Williams). Tried and True opens with a swinging version of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” made famous by Frankie Valli (“We chose it because it’s a song people remember no matter how old they are,” Aiken says), followed by “What Kind of Fool Am I?” (featuring a saxophone solo by David Sanborn), which has been recorded by Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jr. “I tried to steer away from the Rat Pack mentality on this album, because so many people I admire, like Michael Bublé, have done it really well, but Dave introduced me to this one and I discovered what a great stylist Sammy Davis Jr. was,” Aiken says. Country legend Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” is here, (thoroughly de-countrified), as well as “There’s A Kind of Hush” (made famous by both Herman’s Hermits and The Carpenters), and “Suspicious Minds,” which Aiken sang during his 2005 “Jukebox Tour.”

Tried and True also features two songs Aiken sang while appearing as a contestant on the second season of American Idol: “Mack the Knife” and “Unchained Melody,” which is one of his mother’s favorites. “My mom had this dream that ‘Unchained Melody’ was going to be my ticket to stardom,” Aiken says with a laugh. “She always thought she was going to take me to Nashville and I was going to sing that song and have a big hit on the radio with it, so I’ve sang it all my life. It’s exciting to finally have my own version.” Then there’s a song Aiken wanted to perform on Idol but never did, to his regret: “Moon River” (featuring a guitar solo by Vince Gill). “I really wanted to sing it, and [then-executive producer] Nigel Lythgoe told me I should, but I had folks in my ear telling me not to because they didn’t think it was a vote-getter, but I love it.”

And finally, there’s Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” which Aiken performs as a duet with singer and Broadway star Linda Eder, whom he asked to sing with him not only because of her “beautiful, crystal-clear voice,” but also because of her star turn as the ingénue in Broadway’s Jekyll and Hyde. While in high school, Aiken auditioned for a county showcase with that show’s signature song: “This Is The Moment.” “I ended being one of the only soloists in the county who got to sing for this big performance,” he recalls. It was on the very same stage, Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium, where Aiken taped a live concert special for PBS that will air in June.

It’s just another way that Tried and True feels like a king of homecoming, seven years after launching his career journey on American Idol. After winning over millions of viewers with his phenomenal voice and down-home charm, Aiken parlayed his success into full-fledged stardom. He has sold more than six million copies worldwide of his four albums: the double-platinum Measure of A Man (featuring the hits “Invisible” and “This is the Night”), 2004’s platinum holiday CD Merry Christmas With Love, 2006’s gold-certified A Thousand Different Ways, and 2008’s On My Way Here — all of which debuted in the Top 5 on the Billboard chart. In addition, Aiken has launched nine live tours, made the New York Times best-seller list by co-authoring the inspirational memoir Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music In Your Life, executive produced and starred in his first TV special, A Clay Aiken Christmas, and won several American Music and Billboard Music Awards — all while donating a significant amount of his time to such charities as his own foundation, National Inclusion Project and acting as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. In January 2008, Aiken made his Broadway debut in the role of Sir Robin in the Tony Award-winning musical Monty Python’s Spamalot.

While admitting Broadway is “a challenge” he’d love to tackle again, Aiken considers the small screen his second home and has made numerous television appearances as both guest and host. He was a correspondent for The Insider for the 2005 Emmy Awards, co-hosted The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Live with Regis and Kelly, both in 2006, appeared on the sit-com Ed (2004) and legendary soaps All My Children (2005) and Days of Our Lives (2006). He also made a guest appearance on the comedies Scrubs (2006) and 30 Rock (2009). Popular among late-night talk-show hosts, Aiken has made memorable appearances on Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, Larry King Live, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He has a particular bond with Jimmy Kimmel, guesting on Jimmy Kimmel Live! multiple times, usually participating in skits that allow him to show his comedic side. Two years ago, Aiken’s whole world changed when he became a father for the first time. In June, he will launch his first tour since his son Parker’s August 2008 birth: a co-headlining jaunt with good friend Ruben Studdard. The “Timeless” tour, in which the two will perform renditions of classic hits from the past five decades, kicks off on July 23rd in Asheville, NC, and takes in 17 venues across the U.S. through mid-August. “To be able to share the stage with Ruben again is so exciting,” Aiken says. “He is such a talented artist. He inspires me daily and I think that respect and admiration will truly be reflected in our show.”

“Timeless” tour-goers will no doubt be delighted with the classics that appear on Tried and True. “I’ve done well with adult audiences in the past,” Aiken says, “whereas my past albums have been about trying to sing songs just because they might appeal to Top 40 radio, this album is a chance to do what I want to do: Sing songs that I think are great and not try to put a square peg in a round hole.”

Source: Decca Records – Clay Aiken Bio

April 29, 2010

Random thoughts on American Idol 9 contestants

Posted in Music, Television tagged , , , , at 7:12 am by myrlinn

American Idol seems to be floundering a bit this year. Which just goes to show that it’s the quality of contestants which makes the show, not the overpaid judges and host! 

One of the things we’re missing this year is a “story” – a battle royale between  contestants who are really different from each other (Clay Aiken vs Ruben Studdard, the two Davids, Kris Allen vs Adam Lambert), amazing out-of-the-pop-box singers, compelling personalities who keep you watching, contestants who keep improving with every performance…

Still, having said that, I’ve probably watched more of this season than recent seasons. Maybe because I keep pulling for various contestants to hit their stride.

A few random thoughts on this year’s contestants:

Crystal Bowersox – Compelling performer. She’s completely at one with her music, and because of that she pulls you in too.  Where she seems to be falling back a bit, though, is that she’s not having an arc-like run on idol — improving and wowing everyone more and more each week. She started off strong, and stayed at virtually the same level.  Her looks, image and style of music point to a niche market, which is not what an idol winner is usually marketed to. Still, seems to me that she’s clearly the deserving winner of American Idol this year.

Siobhan Magnus – Loved her quirkiness at the beginning, when it seemed more like her being her.  But I get the feeling that she now takes herself, and the competition, too seriously. She’d be more appealing if she gives off more of a don’t-care-what-you-think vibe. Lots of potential in this girl though – she’s got the vocal talent (I don’t love her tone, but I appreciate that she can sing), the looks and perhaps just as important, she loves the stage  and loves creating drama. She’s probably the only one this year who could do really well post-Idol in the pop market, perhaps marketed in the Lady Gaga mold?

Lilly Scott – Wish she were still in the competition.

Tim Urban – Not the best range and stylistic maturity of the bunch, but I miss him now that he’s gone. He’s always pleasant to listen to with a nice tone to his voice, and mostly, I like his intelligence. His answer to Kara when she asked him if  he understood what she meant struck the right note.

Aaron Kelly – Lovely, rich voice. He’s someone who could have done really well with a few more years of performing experience under his belt.

Lee DeWyze – Not too sure how he can stand out post-idol, but he’s got a great tone that will work well on radio, and a certain sweetness to his personality.  He has an outside chance of challenging Crystal for top spot this year.

Casey James – may well end up being remembered for his hair 🙂  Well, at least his stylist has moved away from the Shirley Temple ringlets we saw a few weeks ago to a wavy style which is more  flattering.

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