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Friday, April 08, 2011

American Idol 2011

With supposed frontrunner Pia Toscano's shocking elimination last night (has a "frontrunner" ever gone so early?), I figured it was time to offer my thoughts on this year's series of American Idol. Though I've stuck with the show since its beginning, it hasn't always been an enjoyable ride. Last year was one of the most painfully dull and cringeworthy seasons of any reality show, ever, and nearly destroyed the entire franchise. This year has been far more enjoyable, with likeable (if not outstanding) contestants, likeable (if not all that constructive) judges and some minor tweaks here and there.

But honestly, it's not the show that's held my attention continuously this year... it's the results show. It's become the best (and strangest) hour of reality tv all week. From what-the-hell voting to crazy cameos, it's easily the most unpredictable Idol's ever been. And yet here I am, trying to predict who will go home when. Here are my thoughts:

Top 8 Exit - Stefano: Overstayed his welcome already. I was sure he'd go this week. I think everyone was, which means that he'll get no sympathy next week.

Top 7 Exit - Jacob: Overpraised since the beginning for a very pitchy, dramatic voice. His appearance this week in the bottom three is the first sign of his vulnerability and his snotty comments this week won't win him any new fans.

Top 6 Exit - Haley: I honestly don't know how she got more votes that Pia (or Thia or Naima, actually). I guess it's the Brooke White/Crystal Bowersox voters. I still don't think it will be enough for her to be the last girl standing, though.

Top 5 Exit - Paul: One of my favorites, though I'm continually surprised that he's still in the competition. He's a very odd choice for AI, though I think that will help bump him into the top five. Just barely, though.

Top 4 Exit - Casey: Will stay around far longer than he should have due to the infamous judges' save and the publicity that came out of that. People have now connected to him, as annoying as he is.

Top 3 Exit - Lauren: The only girl this year with the personality necessary to connect with voters. The country thing certainly helps her, but it really is down to how she comes across when she's not singing.

Runner-up - James: Has the likeability factor and the voice reminiscent of Adam Lambert (except for that "gay stuff," which will guarantee that conservatives can vote for him without having to pray). I think he'll be a little too polarizing to win, though.

Winner - Scotty: He's really the perfect AI contestant because he appeals to what I consider to be the two biggest voting blocks for the show -- teen girls and country fans. Plus, his personality guarantees him crossover appeal. I've even voted for him a few times. I can't see him losing, but with the way this season's been going, who knows?


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Vanbot - Lost Without You

"You'll be my stranger"

It's so exciting when a pop act like this comes out of nowhere. Yes, I know I wrote about Vanbot very recently, but she just released a second track on her soundcloud page and it's as stunning as the first one so she deserves another mention. She's going for that full-out Robyn With Every Heartbeat/Dancing On My Own sound and that is definitely something that I can't ever get enough of. This is a lush electronic pop opus with a stunning chorus. Vanbot manages to pack so much emotion into such a short, dense space. It's really amazing stuff. And like the first track, this is freely downloadable via the soundcloud link. This is a pop star that is doing things right!

Lost Without You by Vanbot

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Pop Blitz 4/6/11

Noah & The Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.
I've been very much enjoying this band's reinvention as a slick, melodic aor rock act. This isn't one of my favorites from the album, but it's got a laid-back nostalgic sound. B+

Usher - More
Usher delves even further into club sounds, and this is one of his strongest singles in years. It's very Taio Cruz, which means it's gonna sound old fast, but for now I'm enjoying this. B+

Pitbull - Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)
Empty calories. I'm not a fan of the heavily distorted vocals that make up the chorus to this. Pitbull's part is passable, but I don't think this is all that memorable. C

Alexis Jordan - Good Girl
There's something refreshing about Jordan's simple, airy pop. The drums on this are fantastic, but on the whole it's not as strong as her debut. The chorus is pretty strong, though. B+

Mumford & Sons - The Cave
Melodically, this is like a slowed down version of their last single. It's a nice, strummy, Summer-sounding single. Very pleasant, but I'm already a little sick of it. B

Willow Smith - 21st Century Girl
Not a bad song, necessarily, but the delivery is very annoying and the lyrics are just ridiculous given who the singer is. Give this to Rihanna, switch it up a bit, and it could be pretty good. B-

The Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness
Their much-lauded return to form kicks off with this pleasant, jangly single. They've had stronger, for sure. I love the sound of it, but there isn't really much of a hook beyond the guitars. B-

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Diamond Rings - Show Me Your Stuff

"All I need is already in me"

Diamond Rings is the project of Canadian John O'Regan, a deep-voiced, glam-loving singer with one amazing song and an album that I'm not quite sure about. I can see why people love it. It's downtempo, diy pop/rock in the mold of old Lou Reed records mixed with the new wave of the 80's. Personally, it's a bit too downtempo and diy for me. But this track (it's best to experience this for the first time by watching the glamorous video, btw), is a glimmer of what could be. Show Me Your Stuff is beat heavy, with house-piano that builds to a gigantic chorus. It's glam that borrows equally from the 70's and the present. For some reason, the song was left off the album (perhaps because it didn't fit with the rest of the tracks?), even though it was released a few months prior. It's okay, because I'm hoping that for the second album he embraces this sound. I love the Adam Ant homages in the video, I love the stupid rap, and I love that this is a performer with a ridiculous amount of x-factor.

Diamond Rings - Show Me Your Stuff by LipSyncMusic

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Cocknbullkid - Asthma Attack

"You keep me coming back"

I hadn't listened to a Cocknbullkid track until just last week. I, like many others, was turned off by her stage name. Hell, I didn't even know that it was a she at all. I just don't understand why certain artists/bands pick certain names. It's like judging a book by its cover, and we all do that. Either way, I've finally given her music a listen and I am totally hooked. This track, her latest single, is a surprisingly breezy disco-pop number that will make an excellent Spring/Summer release. Delving further into her earlier releases, I'm very impressed with this lady's ability to write a catchy pop song. It's bubblegum with substance. Once you hit the chorus of Asthma Attack, there is no resistance. An album's due in May, and I'm very much looking forward to it. Between this, Patrick Wolf, and Gaga, May's gonna be pretty awesome.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.