Friday, November 13, 2009


To anyone who starts thinking about Christmas around this time each year: You do know it's still November, right? Christmas is not a season. It is a day. One day. We haven't had Thanksgiving yet, and some of you have been "preparing" for Christmas for weeks. You've got your lights up, right? You're already planning to cut down that tree, right? Many of you have already bought Christmas presents, right? You're just a wee bit ahead of schedule, in case you weren't aware. Well, not to big business, though. While you're doing all your shopping, be sure to congratulate all the retail stores out there: They've gotten you to do a lot of shopping over a long period of time.

Not only have people been brainwashed into thinking the Christmas season extends back to the middle of autumn, but sometimes into SUMMER, which ends in the last third of September, which is when some of you start going into "Christmas is just around the corner" mode. Of course, you've forgotten how late summer goes, because you've been told in advertisments and on the news, and maybe by people you know, that Labor Day means that "summer is officially over" (which is a LIE; the official end of summer, in our part of the world anyway, is either September 21 or 22). Which in turn leads some of you to obey those ads running in July that tell you to pay merchants a visit because it's time for "back-to-school shopping" and so on and so forth.

Doesn't anybody ever live in the PRESENT anymore? Why is everyone so in a rush to get to the next thing that's coming up? Each of the seasons we have on Earth is beautiful in its own way. So why not just cool it for a while and enjoy what we have going right now? Even though rain doesn't make it easy to keep your hair perfectly coiffed for work, there's still something wondrous to be found in a storm. And there's a gorgeous palette of oranges and reds out there to be enjoyed too. We'll get to the white snow in a little bit, okay?

When was the last time you found yourself whistling the tune of "Winter Wonderland" in February? Here's my guess, and I know I'm right: You've never done that, even though the beginning of February occurs smack dab in the middle of winter. Did you think about that? Christmas, you might have forgotten, occurs exactly four days into winter. In November, and maybe even October, you were singing about the snowman that you named Parson Brown and pretended was marrying you and your sweetheart, but once Christmas had come and gone, you stopped thinking about that song, didn't you? All through fall the song called "Winter Wonderland" was on your mind. Once winter actually started, you ditched it. Why?

Probably because you think it's a Christmas song. Guess what: It's not. There is no mention at all of anything associated with Christmas in that song. Here's something else for you: "Jingle Bells" doesn't mention anything that has to do with Christmas either. Neither does "Frosty The Snowman." Or "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" These are all songs about things going on in winter, but some of you were actually thinking about these tunes during the summer! Let the Australians do their Christmas caroling in the summer. After all, for them, that's when Christmas actually happens.

One thing I'm really excited about: The lack of Valentine's Day songs. I'd hate to have to start hearing those on December 26.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Let's review:

For the 2003 season, I picked Indianapolis to defeat St. Louis in the Super Bowl. The Colts lost in the AFC Championship Game, and the Rams lost in the Divisional Playoffs.

For the 2004 season, I picked Kansas City to defeat New Orleans in the Super Bowl. Both teams watched the playoffs the way I did...at home on the couch.

For the 2005 season, I picked Indianapolis to defeat Atlanta in the Super Bowl. Indianapolis lost in the Divisional Playoffs in the Almost-Jerome-Bettis-Fumble game, and Atlanta stayed home.

For the 2006 season, I picked Denver to defeat Carolina in the Super Bowl. Both teams: Just watching.

For the 2007 season, I picked New England to defeat Philadelphia in the Super Bowl. The Eagles missed the playoffs, but the Patriots actually did make the Super Bowl, which was the only game they lost all year.

For the 2008 season, I picked Jacksonville to defeat Dallas in the Super Bowl. Both team, again, just watching.

So, that's a record of of 12 Super Bowl participants predicted, one team getting that far and eight teams missing the playoffs entirely. How is that possible? Do not take any of these picks seriously, unless you are willing to bet on them not happening, in which case, take them to your graves with you.












28, 17.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


When, oh when, for the love of all things good and holy, are my teams going to stop being the victims in heartbreaking losses?

We had a 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the 14th last night at Coors Field, and suddenly, the Giants pitchers became massively retarded. A couple walks, including to the pitcher, and then a grand slam, and suddenly instead of being two games out in the wild card race we're now four games back.

The entire weekend was a compendium of ways to blow a ballgame. We're up 6-1 on Saturday and still get slaughtered. We're up 2-0 with Timmy pitching on Sunday and the Rockies come back and get a home run for the lead in the 7th. And don't make me relive last night's debacle. If we just hang on to all three of those leads, we are two games up in the wild card race. TWO GAMES UP! Instead, we are FOUR GAMES BACK. Unreal.

Oh, and by the way, fuck the Colorado Rockies. That franchise exists solely to be a thorn in the side of the San Francisco Giants and their fans. Nothing the Rockies do ever benefits the Giants, and everything they do hurts the Giants. Even in 1993, Colorado's expansion year, they had already established that their purpose was to mess with San Francisco. Keeling over against Atlanta in the four-game series to end the 1993 season and put the Braves in the playoffs while the Giants, 103 wins and all, had to stay home. Then 1998, when all the Giants had to do to win the wild card was hold on to a 7-0 lead at Coors field, and the Rockies came back and won...and the most disturbing image of all was Dusty Baker smiling as he went onto the field after that game. There's a bunch more that I can't go into for fear of killing myself with a hammer.

I hate the Colorado Rockies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


First things first: That was not a triple that Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki hit last night at Coors Field in Denver to complete a cycle.

The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano, for the briefest of moments, bobbled the ball near the left field wall, giving Tulowitzki the slight window he needed to advance to third, or at least to make an attempt to. That is what is known as an error in Major League Baseball. Of course, with a "cycle" pending, the official scorer wouldn't dare make such a ruling.

The official scorer -- employed by the home team -- also wouldn't dare give Cubs' shortstop Ryan Theriot an error for throwing the relay past third baseman Jake Fox, even though with a good throw Tulo would have been out by a country mile. That is also what is known as an error in Major League Baseball. Two errors were not scored as such, and T.T. was consequently awarded his desired triple and his cycle -- a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. But anyone who saw the play knows: It wasn't a triple, and he shouldn't have gotten credit for a cycle.

But never mind all this. Getting four hits in a game is a nice achievement. It's a strong performance. Ten total bases in a single game? Also, a very strong night for any player. However, "hitting for the cycle" is not so much a great achievement as it is merely a statistical oddity. If you hit two home runs, a double and a single, technically you have had a better offensive game than you would have if you traded one of the dingers for a three-bagger. But your offensive outburst is lost in the annals of the game simply because you didn't go 1, 2, 3, 4, but instead you went a statistically more impressive 1, 2, 4, 4.

I have heard of players giving up an easy double and instead stopping at first after a clean hit because they were lacking only the single; last night is a case of the opposite: risking an out to get an extra base. The cycle inspires players to take risks they normally wouldn't, all in pursuit of a meaningless statistical anomaly. Tulowitzki himself said, "We were sitting on the bench together and he was telling me, 'If you get anywhere close to getting a triple you better go'...I honestly think if it weren't for him I would have stopped at second."

The Rockies were leading the Cubs 8-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Tulowitzki completed his cycle, so it isn't exactly as though he were putting his team's victory in danger. But you can't tell me no player has ever thought about stretching a double into a triple -- or shrinking a double into a single -- in a close game, thereby acting out of tune with what should be done in those situations, all to get a single, a double, a triple and a home run into his line of one game's boxscore. Sometimes -- sometimes -- hitting for the cycle is stupid.

But Tulo didn't really hit for the cycle, now, did he?...

Friday, July 31, 2009


Man, I don't even think about this blog much anymore, much less write on it.

I experienced my first no-hitter as a Giants fan on July 10 when Jonathan Sanchez, the least likely of any Giants starter to toss one, came within one batter of a perfect game. That was one of the greatest days of my life as a sports fan. I'd been waiting over 30 years to witness a Giant throwing a no-hitter. Thankfully, the MLB Network was right there and I captured it all.

And it didn't occur to me to write up anything about it on this blog. One of the most exciting nights ever, and I couldn't write anything. It hadn't occurred to me that E.K. Nation's Next Pitcher To Throw A No-Hitter, the Giants' own Tim Lincecum, was six innings into a no-hitter himself just the night before. Nor had it occurred to me that my usual M.O. is to change such designations once the NPTTANH fails in his quest. And when the White Sox's Mark Buerhle dropped a perfect game against Tampa Bay last week, I didn't hop on to E.K. Nation to designate someone else then either.

Am I just losing interest in this blog? I used to post stuff three, maybe four times a week. I took great pains to make it look like a professional blog. I just don't do it anymore. Maybe it's time to wrap it up. The vast majority of stuff I've posted here in 2009 has been American Idol stuff, something I never would have imagined when I started this thing in 2003.

This blog just celebrated its 6th birthday last week -- six years I've been doing this...wow -- and I think it's kind of reaching old age. I can get to the computer but I just don't have the energy, or the ideas, to write anything. My creativity has been funneled elsewhere lately. Last month I posted one thing. I didn't post once in May. And here it is the last day of July, and it's my first post of the month. Two posts in three months. This tells me something.

I haven't given up. But I'm close.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Okay, so here I am putting an end to what I believe is the longest drought of posts ever on this blog. Basically a month and a half has gone by since I last wrote anything, and I'm sure people have been crying their eyes out. To be honest, I'm not sure how often I'm going to be posting in the future. Sometimes things just jump the shark, and maybe I have found that I have a cousin named Oliver.

But I definitely had to stop in here and congratulate myself for my NBA predictions last fall. For only the second time in this blog's history, I correctly predicted a champion: I had the Lakers beating Boston in the NBA Finals. Boston didn't make it, but the Lakers did and they won, so my success rate is now something like 2 for 20, maybe 2 for 22. I still have yet to pick a Super Bowl champion or a Stanley Cup winner, but the 2009 Lakers will join the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals as the only teams I have correctly forecast as champions in my pre-season predictions. Yay me.

I'd also like to mention that the Giants are in first place in the wild card race as of right now. This I did not expect whatsoever. So baseball is going to be bigger for me than it's been in the last few years, since the Giants have sucked recently. I have nothing more to add at this time but I figured I'd better jump in here in case I read this blog twenty years from now and fear that I might have passed away or something.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


This week's theme on the world's biggest karaoke contest was "The Rat Pack." And who did they bring in as the mentor for the week? Jamie Foxx. ANd who am I bringing up from the basement? E.K. Nation's Senior American Idol Correspondent "Smooth". What up, dawg.

Smooth: Jamie Foxx really makes me think "Rat Pack". Also, Tony Danza makes me think "Cirque du Soleil". Foxx actually seemed to give good advice, though. All right, let's start with Kris, who did "The Way You Look Tonight", and who was excellent. The crooner theme calls for a very pure, clean tone, and that's exactly what Kris brought to the table. The first half of the arrangement was a very nice, mostly straightforward rendition. The second half was more uptempo and Kris playe around with the melody slightly in a few spots to keep it interesting. The only minor quibble I had was that his falsetto, while on key, sounded a bit weak. Simon called it "wet"; perhaps he's referring to Kris' female fans? Hello, vicar!

E.K. Hey, hey, hey, family blog here.

Smooth: Yeah, not really. Anyway, I think Simon meant that it was safe and verging on boring, which... kind of, but it was so well done that I think it was entertaining.

E.K. In explaining what he meant by "wet", Simon said, "Not dry," so he pretty much surrounded that one. I still don't know what that meant. But I do know that Kris pretty much nailed this song, except for, as you noted, the falsetto, which I didn't think worked at all, either as a style of Kris' own or as an element of a performance of a standard. Imagine Sinatra doing falsetto. See, you can't do it. I did not feel he was going to wind up in the bottom 3, but of course we know now that he did.

Smooth: Allison is kind of a black hole of personality in her interviews, isn't she? Nerves, perhaps.

E.K. Or maybe because she's 17.

Smooth: The arrangement of "Someone To Watch Over Me" had some similarities to the one Kris did in that it sped up halfway through and gave her a chance to show off her pipes. She sounded very good, but Allison's voice is naturally a bit hoarse. It's a rock voice, and it doesn't fit the theme very well. In addition, she appears to be the contestant least familiar with the source material (unsurprising, considering her age). The main problem is that she's simply the least charismatic singer left right now. She can really sing, but she can't win this competition.

E.K. I thought she was excellent here. I'm not so sure I was reminded too much of her raspy-rock-style voice; I think she made a nice adjustment to her voice to make it fit in to the style of the song. I'm glad the voters recognize that she is so much better than Lil, or Scott. I can't think of a 16-year-old, or I guess just-turned-17-year-old, singer on this show who has been better than Allison. Paris, maybe, from a few years back? She doesn't need to be much of a star during the interviews, 'cause chick can sing. Maybe she won't win, but...maybe she will. I'm still thinking Adam is going to win, but it would not surprise me at all to see Allison in the finals. And by the way, how many people has Paula said "See ya in the finals" to? Five? Does she know that the finale will be contested between two people? Has she done this show before?

Smooth: Foxx counseled Matt to hold notes longer instead of riffing constantly. He did seem to try to hold back in a few places, but in some parts of the song, he just couldn't help himself. The crazy runs just sounded way out of place in this genre. Also, Matt's performance was a bit cheesy; I think he does really try to get into the Rat Pack feel, but that led to him overperforming the song, especially in the first half of it. He altered his tone and phrasing; combined with the hat, it's like he's in a musical or something. Oddly, Simon loves it and calls it "believable" and "authentic". I usually agree with Simon, but in this case I definitely cannot.

E.K. I can't either. Simon was a weird case this week, loving the mediocre performance and expressing disappointment in the other four strong performances. I don't think Matt was awful by any means but there were a few minor pitch problems in there that immediately put him in the bottom 3. Maybe he should have tried the piano; he usually seems the most comfortable there. Next up was Danny, who started off his song doing the same thing he's been doing for weeks now, namely singing well but showing little charisma. However, the song picked up tempo and out came the outgoing, energetic Danny he's been needing to be for a long time. He blew this one out of the box. A very nice, dynamic performance.

Smooth: I also thought this was definitely his best performance in recent weeks. He, too, has a slight rock edge to his voice, but his song choice is much better than Allison's. The bluesy arrangement and big finish to the song complemented his vocals well. He really got into it at the end and did some nice runs, staying on pitch as usual. It's a good theme for him and he did well with it. The only bad thing I can say is that during the judges critiques he often stands
there with a Muppet-like half-grin on his face that reminds me of (shudder) David Archuleta.

E.K. I'm still not convinced Archuleta is not an actual Muppet.

Smooth: As for Adam, forget what I said about Matt acting like he's in a musical. Adam essentially performed a musical, complete with dramatic entrance, backlighting, and a white suit. It's almost pointless to comment on his vocals at this point, although this wasn't his best by a long shot. He's become a Taylor or Clay-like figure in the competition: clearly talented, but with a style that makes him massively polarizing. Ninety percent of people already have cemented their opinion of him, no matter what he does from now on. The question is whether his fan base will carry him to the end, and whether an anti-Adam backlash could actually send votes to Danny (or possibly Kris) in the finals. Wait, did Kara just call him "sleazy"??

E.K. Yes, she did. And I think she meant it as a compliment. However that works. Anyway, Adam was his usual stellar self and I still would never buy his CD. I don't think the yelling at the end fit the song at all, but he's definitely in his groove, not jolting our eardrums with the misfires he had early in the top 13. I'm not too surprised he landed in the bottom 3, because most people do at least once when they get this far, and he certainly is the polarizing type. I still think he's the favorite because of his uniqueness and I'm thinking most people will say he's the most memorable.

Smooth: I thought the bottom two would be Matt and Allison and that she would be the one to leave. Allison was better, but I think she was also more boring. Boring is the kiss of death on this show.

E.K. I too thought it might have been Allison, simply because Matt might have more of the young female voters in his pocket, and that's a huge chunk of the Idol demographic. I'll say right now that this is the second-most talented Final Four they've had on Idol, after 2006 when they had Daughtry, Elliott, Katharine and Taylor. Next week, rock and roll!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Sorry about that, folks. I know you guys were all putting your lives on hold waiting for us to offer our reviews of American Idol. The last few weeks have been rather busy, but then again we also had a stretch of three weeks last year where we gave you nothing and you survived, so I'm assuming you're all alive and not dead. Anyway, let's bring E.K. Nation's Senior American Idol Correspondent "Smooth" out from the basement to get things started again. Smooth?

Smooth: Why, thanks. You know, you could send down a pizza every once in a while. Bread and water is, uh, a little boring.

E.K.: Ha, ha, ha, he chuckled nervously. That is a distortion of the truth, everyone. As you may or may not know, Smooth has been given vitamin supplements to go along with his G2 and his San Francisco sourdough bread made with a 110-year-old starter, so he's actually living high on the hog.

Smooth: We're going to run through the last two weeks of performances. But let me say this first: Why did the judges use the "save" on Matt last week? I like him, but as Simon pointed out he has no chance to win. I think the producers just decided beforehand that it would be used at some point, and Matt is probably better than Lil, so... what the hell. I still kinda wish they had used it on Alexis; I thought she deserved to stay longer than she did. I think I know who you wish they used it on.

E.K.: Well, you're thinking Megan Joy, and sure, it would have been nice to see her for one more week before she got the boot anyway, but the real singer I wish had gotten the save was Michael Johns. Of course they didn't have the save rule last year, and that sucks because his dismissal was the worst voting result the competition has ever suffered.

Smooth: So, last week, we had "Songs From The Movies," and Allison Iraheta was up first with one of my most hated songs, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". Massive cliche of a song choice. Most of it's low in her register - not out of her range, just at the bottom of it - and there wasn't really much room for any improvisation or for her to show off her power. The arrangement started out interesting with only some quiet, staccato strings, but quickly falls into a straightforward version. It was fine, but it's pretty boring. Allison's natural rock edge in her voice makes everything she sings a little more interesting, but even that isn't going to save her here. Not at all her best.

E.K.: I totally agree that this is a ridiculous cliche of a choice, but I was expecting more from Allison. She's been able to blow out some of these rock songs she's been doing, but this one really was unspectacular. I was surprised to hear Simon say she could make the finals and that she is the girls' last hope for a winner this year. I, for one, know that neither one of the girls will win it.

Smooth: And then last night for Disco Night, was she wearing a bedazzled leather catsuit? No wait, there's a skirt that looks like there's an apron involved, and giant heels. This was kind of a weird performance. Slowing down the rock tempo of Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" kind of sapped the energy a little bit, and Allison kind of stalked around the stage weirdly and seemed almost disinterested at times. The vocal was excellent. The judges like it more than I did; she's still just not showing enough personality to inspire voters, in my opinion.

E.K.: It was indeed a pretty silly arrangement. I wouldn't have even expected the slowed-down pace if it were Alison Overmyer singing. And I was wondering, if it's Disco Week, why don't they make everyone stick to a disco tempo? And the outfit was weird; it looked like a 16-year-old girl was trying to be a cougar. But I agree that the vocals were great and that she's close to running out of time on the show. I like her a lot, though; she's a trooper. And her initials are A.I. -- how's that for an American Idol finalist?

Smooth: Last week, Anoop Desai picked "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", which is, again, a hugely-overplayed song that really has little to do with the movie it's in. Anoop did his normal thing; the vocal is good, but the performance wasn't anything great, so it was pretty karaoke. Another boring performance. Last night, he wrapped up the show by starting out with a ballad version similar to Adam's, this time of Donna Summer's "Dim All The Lights". He sounded good, but he fell into the trap of actually doing a song with a disco beat during disco week. Dumbass!! Anoop really does have a great tone to his voice and put on another solid vocal performance. Kara points out that it was a good song choice since even in the uptempo part, it's sort of a ballad vocal with glory notes in there which are Anoop's forte. He blows the final note which is never good, but I think he'll be OK.

E.K.: Anoop's vocals on both of these songs were great, but yet again, the performances just weren't all that memorable. Last night, he wore pink, about which Paula said, "Real men know how to wear pink", which once and for all, if we didn't know already, proves that Paula Abdul is batshit insane. So, we're going to veer away from Anoop to talk about Paula for a second, and I know you have something to say there.

Smooth: Paula is completely extraneous to this show at this point. Her crazy was amusing three or four seasons ago, but she offers absolutely nothing at this point.

E.K.: Precisely. I am actually at the point where I cringe when she's in the middle of critiquing somebody's performance and then she suddenly starts badgering Simon and can't let any comment go. Not only are her bickering and her antics childish and unprofessional, they're also insulting to the singer who is standing there patiently on the stage waiting for some feedback. I really hope that Kara was brought on as a transition to a Paula-free Idol. Okay, enough about Fruitbat Abdul.

Smooth: I am now also getting pretty sick of Adam Lambert, who is doing "Born to Be Wild". Of course, it would be much easier to dismiss him (along with his awful hair/clothes/makeup/performance/screeching) if he wasn't always on key, damn him. The performance was typically over the top and ridiculous with lots of stomping and head banging. It kills me that he is capable of sounding so good when he dials it back but instead chooses to become a wailing banshee that haunts my ears. I don't really think of this as a "movie song" either, but at least it's a bit more unexpected than the first two choices.

E.K.: I was not even aware that "Born To Be Wild" was from a movie. In a movie, maybe, but was it written specifically for Easy Rider? At this point it became apparent that "Songs From The Movies" is an insanely huge category. To wit: There was a Lindsey Buckingham song playing on the bum's radio when Marty's time machine whizzes by him near the end of Back To The Future; could that song qualify to be sung here?

Smooth: And then last night Adam did another take similar to his "Mad World" ripoff of Gary Jules. I do prefer his stripped-down ballads when the alternative is over-the-top ridiculousness. Once again his vocal control is impeccable, and the only thing I don't like about the vocal is the usual screeching falsetto, which was thankfully minimal here. He certainly goes out of his way to look anguished while singing, and it's too much for me, but many voters will lap it up.

E.K.: I thought his version of "If I Can't Have You" was brilliant, actually. Damn him. I thought he brought the right amount of emotion to that song, which when you hear it in its original disco format kind of doesn't really have any emotion at all. I was also going to use the word "impeccable" to describe his vocals, but you already did, and I guess I just did, so there. I am gaining an appreciation for his talents and his unique versions of songs, and I'll make this proclamation right now: He will win, and he will deserve it.

Smooth: Matt Giraud is not long for this competition. He's doing "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman"... sigh. Is there a list of like 15 songs they use to do Movie Night every year?

E.K.: Yes. Yes, there is.

Smooth: Anyway, Matt did his thing at the piano. He's one of the more inconsistent competitors this year and this was closer to being in the "good" column than than the "bad". He put an R&B spin on the song; a few of his runs were impressive, but as the judges noted he went overboard with it at times. Matt is talented, but he doesn't have the charisma to stay in the game.

E.K.: I think if he weren't skilled at the piano he'd be gone by now. I agree that he has been so up and down, but more often than not now he's down. I thought it was okay, but then again, we're looking for memorable, not okay. Dare I say: He is no Adam Lambert.

Smooth: And then last night he gave a pretty entertaining performance, going right after the Timberlake vibe. Dude does have some soul, and his dancing is certainly better than Gokey's. It's a decent vocal, but he does appear to be trying too hard, throwing in runs and falsetto where they don't necessarily fit, and injecting "woo!"s in a rather non-organic fashion. Nothing has changed from last week; Matt is still a talented guy, he's just not going to win this thing.

E.K.: I, on the other hand, was completely nonplussed by this performance. You simply can not do a Bee Gees song without trying to make it your own and make everyone forget about the falsetto voices the Gibbs used. And he completely failed last night. I know he probably couldn't resist the impulse to use a song called "Stayin' Alive" the week after the judges saved him, but that was so wrong a choice. And as good as Matt can be, we already have a Timberlake. His name is Justin Timberlake. And he's better than Matt Giraud.

Smooth: Danny Gokey sings karaoke staple "Endless Love". Given the harp-driven but mostly standard arrangement, it sho' nuf sounded like karaoke, albeit well-done karaoke. At least it was not a duet. He got a little yelly at times but his control is excellent. Danny sounds great pretty much every week but his song choices at times are very uninspired. He'll undoubtedly be fine until the top 3 at least, but I'd like to see something more from him.

E.K.: Yeah, I had Danny as the favorite going into the final round, but now that Adam is clearly the front-runner Danny is going to have to majorly step up his game. He's a great singer, but here we go with the whole "unmemorable" line again. I suppose I give him credit for trying to win without having the "my wife died recently" thing shoved down our throats.

Smooth: And then last night doing "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, he was pretty damn cheesy, really. I knew it would be as soon as I heard the song choice. Danny white-boy dances around the stage as I cringed. He puts a few of his own vocal spins on it, but overall it still comes off as karaoke. Of course, his vocals are spot on as usual which is the only thing keeping the whole thing from being totally awful. I do think we'll see Danny in the finals but his stage presence and song choices still need work.

E.K.: I agree with everything you said about Danny last night, except for song choice, and not for the way he sang it, but, dude, because the very first line in the song mentions our birthday! I will never be upset or worried about hearing this song ever. Do you remembah...?

Smooth: Wait for it...

The twenty-first night of Septembah!

Smooth: Moving on, disco boy. For Movie Song Night, Kris Allen did "Falling Slowly" from Once. E.K., you are a fan of this song if I recall correctly so I think you were probably pleased with his choice; it wasn't a lame cliche, it was actually a song integral to a movie.

E.K.: Not only am I a fan of this song (and of the movie, which was the best movie of 2007), but like you said it was the only song sung this past week that actually played a part in the story of a film. It's the first song the two musicians play together at the start of their friendship; it wasn't just a song they put over the closing credits like the ridiculous "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" thing from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Seriously, when does that story take place, the 1400's? And they put a pop ballad on there? Sheezus. Anyhoo (which is a word I never say), that's why I liked Kris' song choice more than anything. And also 'cause it's an awesome song.

Smooth: As I was listening to it I actually felt like it was a relevant performance, something that Kris could actually put on an album today. The downside of this is that may AI viewers will have no idea what this song is, which does not always bode well in terms of votes. Randy called it "pitchy", which baffles me. I thought he sang it really well; it was a tad low for him at first, and there were a few very minor things about his phrasing that I didn't like, but overall I thought he was on pitch. For me he sounded great and performed it very well, but I will definitely be curious to see how the voters responded to this.

E.K.: It was my favorite performance of the night, if you don't count my marveling at Adam for the stones it takes to do what he's doing. He sounded great, and you're right, it would be a reasonable selection for an album. As for AI viewers being less likely to vote for a song they've never heard: You're probably dead-on with that observation, and surely it is a bit of a risk to do a song that not a lot of people are familiar with, but really, how lame is that? Memo to voters: You can like a song the first time you hear it, people.

Smooth: And last night was another good performance from him, although I wouldn't call it anything special. I liked that the guitar actually seemed more integral to his version of "She Works Hard For The Money this time compared to others. It was a unique interpretation of the song and his vocals were typically solid. Of course, the judges love any non-disco interpretation of a disco song. Why do they even have these theme weeks?

E.K.: And again, it was my favorite performance of the night. Kris is really good at all the things he's doing right now. I loved the arrangement, the somewhat Tex-Mex-y feel of the song (I was going to say "Santana-like" but Paula mentioned that and I really would like to distance myself), and his vocals were clean and pure. Great stuff. I think this guy might get to be the one to lose to Adam in the finals.

Smooth: Lil Rounds was in the final spot so you know the producers think she'll do well. She sang "The Rose", starting with the standard arrangement, and then she gospeled it up halfway through. It was more entertaining than most of Lil's performances lately. She sounded okay, but I actually think she got pretty pitchy when she started going on runs in the gospel section. Simon pointed out that it still has no edge to it, which Lil vehemently denied. Simon was right, of course, but in this competition pandering to the voters often works quite well, and I think Lil's performance accomplished that effectively.

E.K.: I thought she sucked.

(long pause)

Smooth: That's it?

E.K.: I'll get to it. Please, continue.

Smooth: Okay, well, for me this week, Lil was much worse than last week. A very boring, copycat performance, and to top it all off her vocals weren't very good (Paula claims she's had some throat problems or something). She's off key at times and runs out of breath at others since it's such a big song. I feel a little bad for Lil since she is getting criticized so much, but she just doesn't know what she's doing up there. She is picking the wrong songs and she just has no direction as an artist. Still, even though she didn't do a great job, I do think she is showing more personality than some of the other contestants. As we know, this can sometimes keep a person safe no matter how horrible they are.

E.K.: I thought she sucked.

(long pause)

Smooth: Okay, you can elaborate, y'know?

(takes deep breath) I'm just so goddamn pissed off that we've had to sit through weeks of Lil's crappy performances. Look, Megan Joy was not the best singer in the world, but at least she was adorable and unique in her floundering and foundering, and she was never boring or routine, at least for me. I guess that's where I'm heading with this. And it's not just Megan Joy: Alexis, and even Jorge to a certain extent, got jobbed when considering how far Lil has gone. They were all themselves, and they knew what they were doing, and they were never fake. Lil's just a wannabe copycat wedding singer. I thought she had talent during the audition weeks, but I'm wondering where the hell did it all go? And it's not just that she's trying to be other artists and not being herself: She just flat can't sing right now! She's off-pitch and she's doing hackneyed songs. "I'm Every Woman"? First of all, Mandisa tore that song up a few years ago and Lil is no Mandisa. She's not even half of Mandisa (figuratively and literally.) She's a poor man's Asia'h Epperson.

Smooth: Wow!

E.K.: And that song choice to begin with: I mean, Chaka Khan is a very respected artist in the industry but if I hear that song one more time I'm going to pull my own arms off, beat myself to death with them, and then put the right arm back where the left one was and the left arm back where the right one was. She is a complete bust. She is the Tony Mandarich of American Idol. Bring back Michael Johns. Bring back Carly. Hell, I'd be happy if they brought Sanjaya back to take her place. And the reason she gets criticized so much is that she sucks. I'm sure she's a great human being and I'm sure she's a great friend, but she is boring me to tears every week and she does not deserve to be on the show anymore. It's pathetic watching her tell us how good she thought she was and that the judges are off-base. Because they're not. American Idol winners do not have to defend themselves when the judges tear them down. Because the judges don't tear those people down, because those people are awesome. And I don't care how much fun you claim you're having on stage, Lil; isn't it also important that I, the potential voter, have fun while watching you? (gets down off the soapbox)

Smooth: Apropos of nothing, I think Lil should marry Lol Creme, so they could send out Christmas cards from Lol 'n' Lil Creme.

E.K.: I think Megan Joy should marry me so that I can be married to Megan Joy. Anyway, I'm not sure how they're going to conduct the whole "Let's see who's in the Bottom 3" business tonight, since two of them will be gone due to the judges' save of Matt last week. Here's how I would organize it based on my predictions for the vote: First, they will tell Lil that she is safe.

Smooth: Umm, what? But you just said--

E.K.: I know. But I don't think America is as remotely bothered by Lil's performances as I am.

Smooth: (twiddles non-existent handlebar moustache) Interesting!

E.K.: Then they will divide the remaining six into two groups: Danny, Kris and Matt in one group, and the three A's -- Adam, Allison and Anoop -- in the other. After the Ford commercial starring your Top 7, Adam and Danny will be told they are safe. Later on, Ryan will tell Allison that she is in the bottom 2, sending Anoop back to the couch and Allison to the stage to sing "Hot Stuff" once more before leaving the show. Then, Ryan will approach Kris and Matt and he will tell Matt, "Last week, the judges saved you. This week, the voters...did not." And Matt will sing one last time, ironically, "Stayin' Alive."

Smooth: I refuse to be that elaborate in my details. Matt, Lil and Allison will be in the bottom 3, and I think Matt is gone fo' sheezy, and after that it's a tough call but I'll go with Allison.

E.K.: Fair enough. So we have the same two people leaving. Also, we both think Lil is safe. You are not bothered by this as much as I am.

Smooth: No, sir.

E.K.: We shall see tonight. Go Blazers!

Smooth: I second the notion that Go Blazers! is the correct attitude.

E.K.: Megan Joy, will you marry me?

Smooth: Oh, don't.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I don't talk much about hockey on this site, for a couple reasons. One, my team, the Avalanche, sucks. Only two teams had fewer points this season. And two, I really don't know much about hockey, turthfully. ESPN lost its contract with the NHL a couple years ago and games are not as available on cable as they used to be. There are probably a dozen teams in the NHL that I can not identify one player on these days. But the hockey playoffs are still awesome, and I'll be into them over the next couple of months until the champion is crowned. So without further ado, I present to you, my Incredibly Uninformed NHL Playoff Predictions:
Eastern Conference: In the first round, the series winners will be #1 Boston over #8 Montreal, #2 Washington defeating #7 N.Y. Rangers, #6 Carolina upsetting #3 New Jersey, and #4 Pittsburgh outlasting #5 Philadelphia. In the second round, Boston will defeat Carolina and Washington will beat Pittsburgh. And in the East final, Washington will take down Boston.

Western Conference: The first round series will result as follows: #1 San Jose will beat #8 Anaheim, #2 Detroit dispatching #7 Columbus, #6 St. Louis with the upset over #3 Vancouver, and #5 Calgary getting by #4 Chicago. San Jose will then defeat St. Louis in the second round, and Calgary will upset Detroit. In the West championship, we will see San Jose advance to its first Stanley Cup Finals by beating Calgary.

Stanley Cup Final: It's going to be the San Jose Sharks beating the Washington Capitals. Keep in mind that I know almost nothing about hockey.
Running Up The Score?: Some people are upset with the Denver Nuggets' J.R. Smith, who fired up seven three-point attempts in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter last night with his team leading the Sacramento Kings by a bunch.

I say, come on. NBA teams have 24 seconds to shoot or they turn the ball over. The rules say the players have to shoot! What do you want them to do? This is the NBA. Ticket prices are not cheap. People want to watch the best basketball players in the country play hard, not run the clock out. Play hard for 48 minutes. I think it's way more insulting to the other team to quit playing hard because you feel you have the game wrapped up than it is to run up the score. You never know when a team might come back from 20 points in the last six minutes. You just never know.

By the way, Kings, if any of you are upset, remember: If you were better at basketball last night, the Nuggets wouldn't have been in a position to run up the score.

Phil Jackson, Whiner: Before the recent Blazers-Lakers game in Portland, the Blazers replayed Trevor Ariza's move on Rudy Fernandez which sent Rudy to the hospital in an effort to, I suppose, rile up the crowd and get them into the game. Apparently it's against NBA rules to do things like this. And Lakers coach Phil Jackson took exception, saying, "That's something that they try to prevent in the spirit of good sportsmanship, but Portland has been like that."

Excuse me? Portland has been like that? Showing bad sportsmanship? Who, the team? The fans? I've always felt that over the years Blazers fans have been far from unsportsmanlike, to the point of almost being too soft. I don't know who Jackson is complaining about, but I don't buy into his idea. Plus, Jackson didn't even show up for the game, saying he was injured or something. I don't know; I'm thinking he's tired of taking blame for not being able to figure out how to win in Portland these last few years and wanted someone else to deal with it this time.

And anyway, let's get back to the play, if we're talking bad sportsmanship: Rudy was going in for an uncontested lay-up in the closing seconds of the third quarter in a game the Blazers were absolutely destroying the Lakers. Ariza, instead of just letting Rudy score without incident, took a swipe at Rudy, hitting him on the head and knocking him to the floor. Now, I don't know how intentional or unintentional it was, but Ariza showed no remorse at all. He didn't go over to check on Rudy as he was lying on the floor in obvious pain. I don't think I want to hear a complaint about bad sportsmanship from the Lakers right now. (To be fair, L.A.'s Jordan Farmar immediately went over to Rudy to check on him, so I'll give him credit for that.)

Here's something a Laker fan did recently. I was at the Stockpot at one end of the bar, and at the other end sat a Laker fan, and we got into a conversation about who would win a series between L.A. and Portland. I said that since the home team wins almost every game in this head-to-head rivalry over the last few years (to be more exact, in last four seasons, the Blazers have won only once in L.A. and the the Lakers have won precisely zero times in the Rose Garden), that would naturally lead to the conclusion that the Lakers would win that series in seven games, since they would have home court for four of the seven, including Game 7. This Laker fan said I was crazy and said the Lakers would win in five. I think "fucking crazy" was what he said. And I had just said his team would beat us! I tried to explain my logic, which was, well, logical, but he stuck with his take which was based on LakerFan-itis, and then he insulted me personally. People had to intervene. Nice work, Laker fan. Talk about bad sportsmanship.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Last year I picked the Red Sox to beat the then-longshot Brewers in the World Series. Amazingly, the Brewers did make the playoffs but were dispatched quickly by Philadelphia, and the Red Sox almost made it to the Series, losing in Game 7 of the ALCS to Tampa Bay.










Big year for the first season of the new Yankee Stadium. The season will end at the Stadium in Game 6, with Alex Rodriguez hitting a walk-off home run to give the New York Yankees the World Series title. Make a prop bet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


For all you folks dedicated to checking in and finding out what we have to say about American Idol, we apologize unreservedly for not having our reviews up the past two weeks. I was unavailable two weeks ago and Smooth was unavailable last week, and it looks like we won't have a review this week, at least an extensive one. Never fear, kids! We'll be back to our usual form soon. In the meantime...

...I think we're going to be saying goodbye to the delightful Megan Joy tonight. She's unique and insanely gorgeous, but her performances really haven't been the kind that win contests like these. I've really liked watching her do her thing these past several weeks, but America probably isn't as keen on her as I am. So it's going to be a rough night for me. But this, too, shall pass.

Meanwhile, Adam has gone from ridiculous awesome to ridiculous to awesome and then to ridiculous again. I can't get a read on this guy. He's not going anywhere. Danny's still strong. Lil is boring me. Allison has some pipes but she's probably going to be leaving soon too; I think the pressure is getting to her and she's trying too hard. Kris has impressed the last couple of weeks, particularly last night's version of Ain't No Sunshine", one of the best performances we've seen this season. Matt followed up last week's amazing performance with something really lame last night. Scott has been quite weak except for last night. And Anoop has disappointed more often than not. I think he's too much of a wannabe. If I had to guess the top three this year, it will likely come down to Danny, Adam and Kris.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Here is the first-ever perfect bracket:

In the Midwest's first round, the winners will be Louisville, Ohio State, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia, North Dakota State (yes, upsetting defending national champ and #3 seed Kansas), USC and Michigan State. Second round winners will be Louisville, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Michigan State. The regional final will be Louisville defeating West Virginia.

In the West, we'll have Connecticut, Texas A&M, Purdue, Washington, Utah State, Missouri, Maryland and Memphis winning in the first round. I'll still be rooting for Cal though, against Maryland. Second round winners will be Connecticut and Washington (setting up an all-Husky matchup), and Utah State and Memphis. Memphis will beat Connecticut in the West final.

Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Xavier, UCLA, Villanova, Texas and Duke will win in the first round of the East regional. Pittsburgh, Florida State, Villanova and Duke will advance to round two, and the regional final will see Villanova beat Florida State.

In the South, North Carolina, Butler, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Temple, Syracuse, Michigan and Oklahoma will win their opening round games. North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse and Michigan will prevail in the second round, and North Carolina will win the regional final over Syracuse.

All of this means that you should look for the following upsets: The aforementioned North Dakota State-Kansas upset, Western Kentucky beating Illinois, and at least seed-wise, two #11s will perform upsets over 6-seeds, namely Utah State, which gets to play injury-hampered Marquette, and Temple over Arizona State, which must go all the way to Miami for the game. That doesn't usually work out for Western teams. In later rounds, look for #10 Michigan to stun #2 Oklahoma, Utah State to continue on, beating #3 Missouri, and Florida State to knock off title dreamer Pittsburgh.

Now for the Final Four: Memphis will return to the championship game, defeating Louisville, and North Carolina will take down Villanova. And look for North Carolina to take the title, beating Memphis.

On The Board: Haven't done this in a while, so let's get some picks in. Portland (-1.5) is a good bet against the Pacers tonight in the NBA. And in the first round of the NCAAs, let's focus on Butler (+2) over LSU, Virginia Commonwealth (+7.5) to cover but not win against UCLA, Cornell (+13) to cover against Mizzou, Ohio State to cover the measly 3.5 points against Siena in a game played in Dayton, and Xavier (-10.5) over Portland State.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A.I.: THE TOP 13 

This week on American Idol the theme was songs from the catalog of Michael Jackson. And that's never not going to be a tad creepy. Last year David Cook found a way to completely transform "Billie Jean" into something all his own; that isn't easy to do with a Gloved One song. Shall we see who "made it their own" this week? I shall now bring in Senior American Idol Correspondent "Smooth", who I keep locked in my basement but rest assured he is given water and vitamin supplements and at no time is his health in danger.

Smooth: First up was Lil Rounds, who sang "The Way You Make Me Feel". It was a good vocal if a tad shouty, and she gave an energetic performance. Although I must say she had on some weird clothes. Lil is easily good enough to sail through to the next round.

E.K.: So far, Lil has proven to be rock solid. She hasn't missed a step yet, and she shows no signs of doing so. However, in order for me to be truly interested in her, she's going to have to do something remarkable, like a Fantasia "Summertime" type thing. She's sort of falling into a routine. Maybe she's doing that because she thinks she'll be in the competition for weeks to come and she can save her best stuff for later. She was quite good last night if a bit showy and slightly over-the-top, but I agree, she'll be back next week.

Smooth: With Michael Jackson's catalog, it's not a great idea to pick a relatively unknown song. But that's what Scott MacIntyre with "Keep The Faith". It was a decent performance, with a just-OK vocal. On a night with mostly very strong vocals, his was towards the bottom. However, everyone loves him and he'll still be fine. He'll make it to next week.

E.K.: I wasn't a big fan of this performance; I wasn't enthralled by the song, which I don't think I recall hearing before, and Scott's vocals were just okay, as you said. I thought he'd shine a lot more behind a piano, but maybe he was a little overwhelmed by being on the big stage. I wonder how different it must be getting acclimated to a larger crowd if you can't see most of it. But there's no way he's getting the boot this week.

Smooth: Danny Gokey took to the stage next and sang "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)". He gave a vocally excellent, confident performance, with a busload of goofy dancing mixed in. Unless you are a really good dancer, it's tough to avoid that in this setting though. He was very strong overall, perhaps the best of the night.

E.K.: One thing about the title of this song: If you're going to abbreviate it, why add what it stands for right afterwards? Anyway, I know what you're saying about his dancing; it kind of seemed like he was forcing it on himself a bit. It did not seem authentic. But I know what he's saying about being on stage and singing and dancing at the same time and how it's sometimes tough to mix it together; when I'm singing in my band and I'm not playing an instrument at the time, I barely know what to do with my hands let alone know how to dance successfully. But enough about me. Danny's a great singer and proved it again last night and he's not going anywhere, well, except to the next round.

Smooth: Oilrigger Michael Sarver went on next -- and yes, producers, we know he's an oilman already, sheesh! -- and he was a million times better than his previous song choice. His vocals aren't quite up there with the best (not as much power, and slightly pitchy at times) but they're pretty good, and he does have more charisma than you'd expect. Paula has already decided he is "in the finals"...so I guess we should stop with the viewer vote and just put him through.

E.K.: I thought Michael was the best he's ever been last night. He was very confident and gave a smooth performance, so much so that I actually thought he was lip-synching for a moment; I didn't realize he was that good. As for the charisma, I'm not sure I've seen it yet. But he'll have at least one more week.

Smooth: Now on to Jasmine Murray, who did "I'll Be There". One of the cardinal rules of this show is, don't go where Mariah has been (and I suppose I mean that in every sense). It wasn't a bad vocal at all, but making MJ songs "your own" is hard enough; when you throw in Mariah's version this song is basically untouchable. I like her and her voice is a lot better than I originally thought, but I don't think she's ready for this.

E.K.: Jasmine's going to have a rough time advancing far if she keeps doing songs like this. Forget that Mariah Carey once did it and that the comparisons are inevitable; she needs to do something richly soulful that we would expect from Lil Rounds. This is a very tinny song and it doesn't show off what Jasmine can do. She's undeniably cute, but it's going to take a lot more than her looks. Also, the arrangement was bad; seemed like most of it was just her singing the line, "I'll be there" over and over. The producers really need to give the singers more time on stage to perform their songs, and I know I say this often, but I don't care. I also know they need their advertising money, so whatever.

Smooth: You know, we were talking about how Kris Allen made it into the top 13, and when he came on my wife immediately remarked on him being cute. So he's got the female appeal going on, I think.

E.K.: Yeah, didja see who he got to be his wife? Wow. Hot with a capital H-O-T, my friend. But what was Simon talking about, that Kris should have "kept her hidden a couple more weeks"? I'm not quite sure where he was going with that.

Smooth: Kris seemed more comfortable performing with the guitar and he does have a very nice voice. He was mostly on pitch but he missed a few notes pretty bad. Weird song choice but it actually turned out better than I originally expected.

E.K.: I thought the guitar element was completely fake. As far as I could tell, he played two chords the entire song and they were on the same fret. I felt like he did this to seem more talented than he probably is. It wasn't bad, it was just blah. Up next was Allison Iraheta, who did "Give In To Me", which I had never heard before and I hope to Stevie Ray Vaughan* that I never hear it again. I don't know how Michael's arrangement was but here it sucked. Allison's a great singer but this one missed it by a mile. It just seemed too unpolished and she couldn't show off her vocals enough. I'll chalk it up to a bad song choice. She's much better than this.
* Some people say "God" here.
Smooth: It was indeed another relatively obscure song. I thought she did a nice job with it, but I'm a little concerned for her because it did not really allow her to show off her personality as much as she probably needed to. The vocal was great, but overall it didn't really grab my attention, which is surprising for someone who is usually very dynamic.

E.K.: Come on, you're not that dynamic.

Smooth: I meant Allison, and I shall punch you. Up next was Anoop Desai, and as the judges pointed out "Beat It" is another "untouchable" song that automatically sounds karaoke. At least it sounded like pretty good karaoke, right?

E.K.: No, it didn't. It was awful.

Smooth: Oh come on. Anoop showed tons of personality, which is what he needs to do to keep going in the show.

E.K.: If by "personality" you mean "ridiculous over-the-top hotel-lounge crap" I totally agree with you.

Smooth: I thought you liked him.

E.K.: I thought I did too. But come on, dude, that was atrocious. The posturing, the horrible mini-attempt to move remotely like MJ, it was appalling. He made a fool of himself. I still can't believe he did this. Fortunately for him, I think the voters like him enough and they were probably willing to overlook this train wreck.

Smooth: Well, I'll wrap up with this: Likable + decent vocals + dork charm will get him through this week. Next we had Jorge Nuñez. "Never Can Say Goodbye" has been done before on AI, with poor results, if I recall correctly. I love the song, but it just isn't that exciting. He started out pretty rough and had some pitchy parts at the end as well. The accent and attempts to cover it up are slightly distracting at times.

E.K.: The judges were way harsher than you, and I thought it was totally uncalled for. I thought he did a nice job. I would not buy the record, but I thought he was quite solid if not spectacular. I'm not particularly worried or bothered by the accent; he's from Puerto Rico, for cryin' out loud. Up next we had the joy that is Megan Joy Corkrey, and I think I know where you're going to go with your criticism.

Smooth: Sorry EK, but this may have been the worst of the night.

E.K.: I thought you might think so.

Smooth: I'll number these so you can fight me in a more orderly fashion: (1) She looked hot, I will grant you that. (2) But the choice to sing "Rockin' Robin" was just awful. It sounded incredibly dated, even more than the Jackson 5 stuff. (3) Plus, it did not allow the better qualities of her voice to come through. (4) She grinned all the way through it. (5) Chalk it up to inexperience, because I don't think there is anything she could have done to make that song come off well. (6) The vocal was not horrible, but it's certainly nothing special. (7) And the "caw, caw" at the end? Horribawful.

E.K.: (1) Damn right. (2) I agree it sounded dated...horribly dated...and I do admit my heart sank a bit when Seacrest announced that was her song...but tell me if "Beat It" doesn't sound dated? (Aside: Immediately after I watched Idol I put in a Season-Three DVD of The Office. And coincidentally, the episode I watched was the one where Jim and Pam steal Andy's phone and put it above the ceiling and keep calling it so that Andy goes crazy trying to find it, and his inability to find it plus the ridiculous ringtone and its repitition compels him to smash his fist through the wall. The ringtone that drove him bonkers? A recording of Andy singing all four parts to an a cappella version of..."Rockin' Robin." Made Megan's version sound much better by comparison. (3) I suppose you're right about that. It didn't sound as much like Megan singing as I would have liked to hear. But she had fun doing it, and I love watching her have fun. (4) And isn't her grin cute? (5) Then she did the best she could and should be rewarded. (See MacIntyre, Scott.) (6) Everything about Megan is special. (7) Do you know how many times you would have to kill me before I would recommend she do that "caw caw" again? So...my verdict is...: It wasn't her best. She had an off-week. And I love Megan Joy Corkrey, and I really don't think anyone can do anything about that, not even choosing to do "Rockin' Robin" on American Idol during Michael Jackson Week.

Smooth: I think Adam Lambert must come off better live than on TV, because the judges basically worshiped him after he sang "Black Or White". I know he's talented, but his personality is just incredibly off-putting, and I don't like the screechy tone of his voice. He does exude confidence on stage, but I still don't like it. Whatever, he'll be around for months.

E.K.: Given what I said last week about Adam, namely that I couldn't stand it, this is probably the biggest about-face I've ever done about an AI contestant in a one-week span or however long it's been since we saw him last: I liked it a lot.

Smooth: You're joking.

E.K.: Nope. I'm not sure why I liked him this time and hated him last time, because he didn't change his persona at all. But his vocals were really, really good, and he pretty much electrified everyone, and I'm going to give him all the credit in the world for it. If there is one positive about the screeching, it's that he hits the notes he strives for. If he missed them, this would be a whole different series of sentences.

Smooth: Okay, well, why don't you start off with Matt, 'cause I need a few more seconds to recover from what you just said.

E.K.: Fine by me. Matt Giraud was in his element this week, right behind the piano. He's good at piano and he's good at singing and he's good at doing both at the same time. Might I say he's like Brooke White in that regard? I would have liked to hear him unaccompanied by the band; while I like "Human Nature" I've never particularly liked the arrangement of it, and I think he could have stood out even more by going solo on it. But never mind; he'll be back next week fo sho.

Smooth: Behind the piano is indeed Matt's comfort zone. Good song choice which minimized the effect of his usually-excessive vibrato, and he added his own touches here and there. A few pitchy spots but this was the best we've seen him thus far, I think. He got screwed out of screen time during the judges' comments because the show was running long.

E.K.: That's 'cause Paula's an attention whore and can't shut up. She alone causes shows to last six extra minutes.

Smooth: Finally, Alexis Grace wore a jumper that I believe was a size negative 6. Again, her growly vocals and downright angry stage persona are startling after seeing her interviews. It was weird but effective. I was worried the song choice would make this a train wreck but she rocked it out and I think she managed to pull it off. The ending is a bit weird. Due to phone sex conflicts, she has a different phone number than expected but I am pretty sure that won't matter, she'll be
just fine.

E.K.: I thought it was closer to a train wreck than a masterpiece. It wasn't special by any means, and for some reason the lighting guys kept her in the dark, it seemed, through most of her song. But she definitely has a powerhouse voice in that little body of hers, and if I thought David Eckstein were any good at baseball I'd say she's the David Eckstein of American Idol Season 8. She'll have at least a couple more weeks for sure. And yes, it was kind of weird, the first 12 contestants got phone numbers 1 through 12, and she got 36. 36? 'Cause they had a Top 36? Okay, whatever. Predictions, sir?

Smooth: Overall this really may be the deepest season of AI yet. There was not an absolute stinker in any of those performances, some weren't great, but nothing even approaching Kevin Covais-level bad. A number of people have really great vocals. Predicted bottom 3: Jorge, Megan, Jasmine. If they throw in a fourth I'll go with Allison. Predicted boots? Jorge, Jasmine.

E.K.: As for me, I'll guess that Jorge and Allison will be headed home and that Jasmine will have to sweat it out in the bottom three. I'm curious as to what change in the voting they said they've added this year. I wonder if the judges get a percentage of a vote to add to a singer's total? We shall see tonight.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


The Portland Trail Blazers are back, ladies and gentlemen.

I haven't often written about my hometown NBA team, or the NBA in general, simply because I've typically not been much of an NBA watcher until the playoffs start, particularly since the founding of this blog back in 2003, which was basically the last time Portland had any semblance of a decent team (at least play-wise...character not so much) until this season. And if anyone thinks that there's no basketball anymore in the Pacific Northwest now that the Sonics are gone, remember that we're still here. And if we win tonight against Denver, we'll be the division leaders. We're not the class of the NBA or anything, but we're certainly so much closer than our reviled teams of years past.

A huge reason we're back and shedding the Jail Blazers label is our man Brandon Roy. Heard of him? Here's a link to an article on ESPN.com about why Roy is so good. And don't be surprised if we're in the playoffs hosting Game #1 at home in the first round come April.

Idol's Wild-Card Show: Bless the judges for bringing back the delightful Megan Joy Corkrey to sing tonight in the wild card round. I would like to see Megan, Anoop and maybe Matt make it through tonight into the Top 12. And my god, Tatiana, please stop crying. You are shameless. Shut up and sing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The last of the three semifinal rounds happened last night on American Idol, and here's E.K. Nation's Senior American Idol Correspondent "Smooth" to help us run through the details.

Smooth: The first song of the night was kind of a weird arrangement for Von Smith ("You're All I Need To Get By"); it's quite a bit lower than the original, and slightly low for Von in the beginning. He is definitely a very theatrical performer, with exaggerated facial expressions and movements. He talked about trying to tone down his in-your-face vocals in his interview, and he did succeed for the most part compared to what we saw in Hollywood, but his voice just naturally borders on being a bit shouty. Not to say that he can't sing, because he can, although he sounded a little nervous in this performance. Simon correctly compared him to Clay Aiken. He's memorable, he's got a big voice, but something about him is going to make every song sound Broadwayish.

E.K.: He's one of several singers I've never much liked from the start. He just seems way too dramatic, or perhaps more accurately, melodramatic, with everything he sings. It's almost like he'd be a better fit for the stage if his mic was attached to his ear "Rent"-style rather than hand-held. Because that's what he reminds me of, a singer in a Broadway show, as you pointed out. He can handle singing, but this kind of performer doesn't do well with the voters. Except for, I guess, Adam from last week, and if they already have him there, why would anyone need Von?

Smooth: Taylor Vaifanua's song started off pleasantly, again a little low in her register but I liked the tone. When it got to the belting parts, however, her voice just wasn't big enough. It wasn't bad, she just couldn't really hit some of the higher notes with any force. The judges clamored for more personality, which is indeed her biggest problem right now, and the reason she won't move on. Very little airtime + good but unspectacular voice = boot. Even by the end of the show I barely remembered her.

E.K.: Yeah, this was pretty boring. Not to mention a near impossible task, since she's doing an Alicia Keys song, and unless you can really pull it off, you better stay away from that. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great, it was just unmemorable, and she doesn't have any star quality. Might I add that I have been tired of the insta-booing of Simon whenever he says something negative; of course it happened again here, but he was right, as is the norm. She just isn't good enough. Up next, we had Alex Wagner-Trugman, and for the life of me I can't figure out why he is here. He's not a great singer at all. Did the judges really think he was better than some of the singers left out of the top 36? He seems like a nice guy but he has an awkward stage presence and his vocals last night were just all over the place. It was way too karaoke-ish. Side note: Who decided that "kah-rah-o-kay" was to become "Carrie-Okie"? I wasn't consulted on that. Also, "lingerie" is not "lahnj-uh-RAY" but rather "lan-zhu-ree," speaking of nothing we were talking about. Just so you all know.

Smooth: You through, Mr. Berlitz?

E.K.: Si.

Smooth: Okay. Well, oh my. So Alex seems to be a pretty funny, self-effacing, dorky kid. I am sure this is why they put him through to this round. Unfortunately, this is at least partly a singing competition, and his vocals are ridonkculawful. It did indeed sound like okay karaoke, until he started doing some absolutely ear-rending throaty "growling" that was completely at odds with his normal voice and his WASPy image. It was a weird Jekyll-and-Hyde thing, and it almost - almost - distracted me from just how bad it was, with pitch problems all over the place. He did put on a rather entertaining show in a bizarre way, because he jumped all over the stage, using weird gestures, and even knocking over the mic stand (unintentionally). It's a train wreck, but I must admit I'd rather watch this again than something as generic as Taylor, for example.

Now, apparently this is the first season that AI has sprung for an ABBA license, and they might regret that decision a bit after Arianna Afsar. She came off as mildly conceited in her interview ("I was so glad in Hollywood that the judges talked about my voice, and not how incredibly cute I am"). The performance was not that good. It was quite boring. Her vocals were okay at times, shouty at others, and there were a number of bad moments. On the last glory note in particular she ran out of breath, started yelling to get through it, and the pitch went all over the place. On a song like this you need to have a great voice to hold the audience's attention, and she didn't bring it. Simon ripped her badly; I didn't think it was awful, as he put it, but I don't think she got a lot of votes after that.

E.K.: This was a major letdown for me, I suppose simply because Arianna is one of the most beautiful contestants Idol has ever had, and if nothing else, she would have been fun to look at for weeks to come if she had done any good last night. Unfortunately, she didn't; I think largely it was due to the song being a horrible choice. "The Winner Takes It All"? Again: WIth all the Billboard pop hits over the past 50 years, you couldn't pick a better song? She had to resort to falsetto a couple of times to hit some of the higher notes, something I needed to be reminded that females could even do. And it was very noticeable, as in, this is not a style choice, this is whoops, I can't hit this one normally, gotta fake it. She was overall just okay; she had a few lines where she sang beautifully, but too often she followed it up with something decidedly not good.

Smooth: It's not a bad idea to go with something contemporary, as Ju'Not Joyner decided to do with "Hey There Delilah", but this is one of the most overplayed songs of the last few years, so I wasn't too excited about it. He did a fairly straightforward, slowed-down rendition. He's got a very nice voice, but he's not putting it on display. At the end we got a little bit of improvisation, and it sounded a lot better. He mentioned in the post-interview that he did a more reworked version of this song in Hollywood but wanted to "honor the melody" this time around. I think that was probably a mistake. You need to really grab people's attention in order to inspire them to vote for you in the early rounds. He mentions that his "butt hurts" from a cortisone shot, so I guess he's got that to differentiate him, at least.

E.K.: I think I liked it a bit more than you did. It wasn't the most thrilling performance ever, and he hit a few pitchy spots, but I think he did rather well. Given the caliber of the 12 singers tonight -- mostly not spectacular -- he might benefit from the luck of the draw with the voters. He changed the song up to, as they say, "make it his own", and it worked. I do agree that the song was too overplayed to get excited over hearing it again. He's certainly in the running to get a third-place vote and a spot in the Top 12.

Smooth: Next we heard from Kristen McNamara, doing "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman. Now I know I just said these contestants need to put a unique spin on their songs, but if this is the result, I recant. It was a really bizarre rendition. The well-known original is driven by the bass line and has a bluesy, almost earthy feel to it; Kristen did a sped-up, cabaret nightclub version with horns and an organ among the prominent backing instruments. She performed it in a pink dress, and threw in a scream and a "let's go!" The funny thing is that she actually has a somewhat bluesy voice with very good range, and could have probably done a great rendition with the right arrangement. It was all very odd. Like Arianna, she really blew the last note. Her voice is a lot better than I thought it was, but I think the arrangement is really going to kill her.

E.K.: This was spectacularly awful. Her vocals were okay, but I am in total agreement that the arrangement was horrific. It was way too fast and she had trouble keeping up with with to start. It also didn't give her much chance to show off her range until the very end but at the same time, while the song seems to be suited at first listen to a blues joint, this is not a get-up-and-dance! thing. I've always felt that it's a melancholy song. Maybe I'm wrong, but because of that, Kristen's happy-time performance was just way off. And because I was sort of watching the show from a weird angle at this point, I was ready and prepared for the bizarreness of Nathaniel Marshall. First things first: The glittery headband. What? Is it 1982 already? Look, some of the fashions of the 50s, 60s and 70s can be brought back to life these days and at least look okay. Nothing, and I'm pretty sure I mean nothing, about 80s fashions should ever be brought to the current day. Not even for Halloween as a joke, because it reminds me of how soulless the zeitgeist of the 1980s was. And Nathaniel is serious with it. It's just so off-putting. And his performance style is nothing more than posturing and posing without even one sly wink to the camera. Not to mention the arrangement, which was all over the place, although maybe that's the way the actual song is; I don't think I have ever listened to "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf all the way through, so I don't know. The drama he involved himself in during Hollywood Week is a disturbing memory for me; no one worth his salt in a competition like this should (or could) ever go all DQ like he did. In the end, he's much better suited for "let's feel good about ourselves" assemblies in elementary schools.

Smooth: From the first notes, it became apparent that Nate's voice is subpar for this competition and he's only here due to his flamboyant personality. He looked absolutely ridiculous, with a sparkly blue headband and ridiculous clothes and hair. His voice was shaky, theatrical (the song doesn't help), and not particularly strong. It seemed to go on forever, and ends poorly. He is suprisingly respectful in the post interview. Simon makes an Olivia Newton-John reference to the headband, which Randy awesomely refers to later as the 'Elton John "Physical"' thing. Indeed, Nate is just your everyday drama queen attention whore and his presence is pointless. Like Alex, he's memorable, but unlike Alex, he's wholly unlikable.

Up next we had Felicia Barton, who was the last-minute replacement for Joanna Pacitti, and she's had a bit of a makeover since Hollywood. She's actually very pretty. She sang the second Alicia Keys song of the night ("No One"), and did fairly well with it. Felicia is more memorable than Taylor, and has a bigger voice, but she also misseed some notes, and generally oversang it. What kills me is that Felicia, who can sing and is taking this seriously, was cut in favor of "Norman Gentle" and a couple of other bad singers like Stevie, Jeanine, and even Casey Carlson. I like her, but I don't think she's going to get the votes to advance.

E.K.: Another question I had was, once the four judges had their Top 36 in mind except for the eight or so they weren't sure about, they had those eight pair off in a round of "sing-offs" to see who got the last spots. Everyone else, it appeared, they had made up their mind about. Which included Felicia, who was cut without doing a sing-off. Wouldn't the few losers of the sing-offs be the ones they'd pick a replacement from? But then again, Felicia proved herself to be a fine replacement choice. She did very well, save for one really poorly missed note during the first chorus. She did look nice too, although I have never been a fan of bangs. Grow it out! But anyway, I think she did enough to be at least considered for the wild card "sing-off" on Thursday.

Smooth: Scott MacIntyre has a good tone to his voice, but I just listened to him sing again on YouTube and it was damn rough in parts. When he goes for the high notes, in particular, he tends to scoop into them, and his voice cracks a fair amount. "Mandolin Rain" is, in fairness, actually kind of a tough song to sing. He performed the song surprisingly well; it's clear he would be more comfortable at a piano, but based on his previous auditions it actually appears he's practiced being on stage. He looks around at the audience, waves his arm, and brings energy to it. The judges are a bit easy on him. Simon didn't like his song choice and Randy mentioned the vocals being a little weak; I think with any other contestant both points would have been harped on a LOT more. Scott capitalized on a chance to make fun of Seacrest's attempt to high-five him in the audition rounds, and my wife couldn't stop laughing. Given that Scott is overcoming blindness to be on the show and appears to be the nicest human in the universe, there is no way he won't go through.

E.K.: I don't think there is a chance in hell that he did not get the top guy vote last night. He's certainly getting a pass from the judges due to his blindness and the whole sympathy thing; they don't want to be too rough on the guy, but really, who would? You can't not like him. What he might lack in vocal superiority he makes up for in drive and passion (so we're told by the producers and the judges), but then again, is that really a rare characteristic? As for last night, I think he got better when the notes got more difficult to hit. And clearly he's more comfortable behind a keyboard and the voters know this by now and theyve surely put him through. Then we had Kendall Beard, who sounds like a country singer based solely on the name. I thought she was rather Taylor Swift-y, and by that I mean I don't think Taylor is a great live singer, and neither is Kendall. Considering the talents of other country singers these days, your Carrie Underwoods and Jennifer Nettleseseseses, there's really nothing here to exalt. It started to low for her register and by the end of the song she was, as Simon pointed out, quite "shrilly" and it just didn't work. It was, well, kah-rah-o-kay. She's cute and blonde and so are Carrie and Jennifer and Taylor and Kellie Pickler and so on. We have Kendall Beards out there already and they're better singers.

Smooth: She's another prepackaged AI "country contestant" that's not good enough to advance; she's blonde, bubbly, sort of cute, and sings country. But she's rather pitchy. Really, just being on the show is a "win" for Kendall. If Josh Gracin and Kellie Pickler can have country music careers, why can't she? I didn't like it at all, but that is neither here nor there. Next we had Jorge Nuñez. This was actually much better than I was expecting. Frankly, I thought they just put Jorge on the show because they needed to have at least one male and female contestant from Puerto Rico since they went down there for auditions. However, his voice is actually quite strong. The only complaint I had was that he enunciates some words in an unusual manner, likely a result of overcompensating since the judges mentioned his accent at his first audition. Simon probably confused him by saying "actually,now I think you should keep the accent", and Paula patronized the hell out of him by asking him to "say something" with his accent. Who does that?

E.K.: Paula.

Smooth: Anyway, Jorge comes off as very likable and he does stand out.

E.K.: It didn't seem to me like he had any Idol-star quality to him, but he did pretty well with "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." I'm not a huge fan of the song, but it was much, much better than Alex's attempt at another Elton John song. What I think might have happened was, his post-song conversation with the judges might have done more for him with the voters than the actual performance. I thought it was quite genuine when the judges praised him and he started tearing up as he said this experience has been amazing for him. If he doesn't make the top three vote total, he just might be a favorite to go to the wild card show.

Smooth: Finally, Lil Rounds took the stage. Lil is obviously an early favorite since she has received a lot of screen time and has a strong R&B voice. She's got the ability to be a recording artist right now. The song was actually not the best choice to showcase her vocals because the phrasing is choppy at the beginning; towards the end she was able to put some more runs and power notes in there. She performed it well, although she threw in some cheese when she changes the lyrics to "call this show if you just can't be without me" while making the "call me" gesture with her hand. She'll be fine for weeks to come.

E.K.: That was the only drawback to her performance. Really, Lil, you are strong enough to not have to beg Tatiana-style for votes. Remember, those who are good enough to win know they don't have to do that. Otherwise, she is very solid; she kind of reminds me of Melinda Doolittle from two years ago; very comfortable on stage like she's been doing this for years and surely she has, and while she's not as modest as Melinda, she can bring the goods. She's a shoe-in for the Top 12.

Smooth: So now to the official predictions: Lil and Scott are in. I think another guy will take the third spot; I think all of them could have gotten a decent number of votes. I'll go with Jorge.

E.K.: Lil and Scott are clearly in the Top 12, I agree. As for the third place vote, it's a toss-up between Jorge and Ju'Not. It's just a question of whether Jorge made a connection with the voters. I'm going to go with Ju'Not, but if Jorge makes it I won't be shocked or disappointed. All that's left for me to care about is that Megan Joy Corkrey gets her deserved wild-card show spot. We'll be back to rundown the wild card show and rank the Top 12 and also tell you all who we would have chosen for our Top 12.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Our review of A.I. is a little late this week, seeing as how we've already witnessed who went through to the top 12. But sometimes the world just doesn't work out the way we want it to. So, I've decided to end the blog right here. Good night everyone! No, wait. Let's not do that. Dumb thing to do. Skip that. Let's go to work and bring in E.K. Nation's Senior American Idol Correspondent "Smooth", who shall get the ball rolling tout de suite.

Smooth: We meet again. Jasmine Murray is a very pretty girl, and she looked good on Wednesday night. Hers was a good song choice ("Love Song") in terms of current relevance, considering the judges specifically mentioned this song last week. Her voice was OK; she didn't seem to have a big range or a lot of power, but the song doesn't require it. It was a little nasal in places, and the second half of the song kind of went off the rails slightly, but she pulled off the end pretty well. The performance was pretty good in terms of her comfort level on stage. The judges were nonplussed because they like her overall package, but as Simon bluntly puts it she "hasn't got a great voice".

E.K.: I thought she was really good in her audition and during Hollywood Week, and had high hopes for her in this round, but she was surprisingly pitchy to start off. It got a little bit better as the song progressed but not by much and certainly not enough to convince me that she belongs in the Top 12 now. I wasn't so sure that was the best song choice; if I were her, I'd be shorter and much prettier, but besides that, I'd have gone with maybe an R&B song. "Love Song" just seemed too poppy for her.

Smooth: Matt Giraud gave us another very contemporary song choice ("Viva La Vida"), although it's a bit overplayed. Based on what we've seen of Matt so far (not a lot, granted), this song does seem to be an odd choice for his style, though. His singing was not very good. WAY too much vibrato, and he seemed almost totally out of breath (nerves?) the entire time. He did a run towards the end that was just painful to listen to. He threw in a lot of embellishment, and it's not working at all. The judges are again confused by his song choice (I would hope so, since there's no way he should have made it this far with performances like that).

E.K.: He did well when he had the piano in Hollywood; he's got some of that white soul. And I don't know if they are prevented from using instruments during this round, but I think he would have benefitted from having it as sort of a crutch. I know what you're saying about the vibrato; it was like he was driving over train tracks. Then he kind of lost it and didn't have enough time to get it back. How much time do they get? Two minutes? Which means that less than a quarter of a 2-hour singing competition is devoted to actual singing. The song choice was bad; Randy's comment to Matt was interestingly counter-intuitive but probably dead-on: Don't do easy stuff and cruise through. Do tough songs, because you can handle them. Wednesday he wasn't spectacular, but I thought he'd made enough of an impression to make him a front-runner for a spot in the Top 12. As we know now, he didn't, and must wait to see if he gets a wild card chance. So that's one guess I got wrong.

Smooth: Next was Jeanine Vailes, who strikes me as one of those contestants that is there for exposure more than anything else, like, I think she really wants to be a model or actress but AI seemed like a good way to get on TV. "This Love" is a song that automatically sounds karaoke to me, and Jeanine turned in a bad karaoke performance. Weak voice, poor phrasing, and she was off-key a lot. I think she believes she can really sing, but she's just not that great. She was wearing what are essentially daisy dukes, which is the only positive I can come up with regarding this performance. Jeanine complained about not being on TV enough up until now. Guess what, lady, the best singers usually get through even if they haven't been shown at all. If you can put on a fantastic performance, you'll get votes. What you just did was the opposite of fantastic.

E.K.: I'm not going to spend much time commenting on someone so unmemorable and boring who has no chance of getting a wild card spot. I wasn't even enthralled by the legs. And anyway, you pretty much nailed it. Instead, I'm going to talk about the Eliza Dushku commercial that I was fast-forwarding through, but then I noticed it was Eliza Dushku, so I rewound and watched it. During this ad, she utters the phrase, "It will simmer your head meat to a bubbling brainy fondue." Wow. I don't know if I will ever look at Eliza Dushku the same way again.

Smooth: Nick Mitchell's "act" as "Norman Gentle" is funny for about 20 seconds. Then it becomes tiresome. And finally it becomes maddening, because you're watching a guy do an unfunny "comedy" routine while many people who could actually sing were cut in Hollywood. Why is he here? What purpose does his presence serve? He's obviously not going to win, and American Idol doesn't need stupid gimmicks like this. I can't comment on the vocal, because it's ridiculous and interrupted by his rolling around on the floor, screeching, and talking to the audience. Some of the judges still claim that he has a "good voice" when he wants to. When, exactly, has he displayed this? Very little of what I have heard from him is anything better than mediocre, and most of it is terrible.

E.K.: What can I say about this guy? I was entertained by the performance of his alter ego, "Norman Gentle", but I must stress it's only because he's succeeding at exactly what he set out to do: Make a mockery of American Idol. Never for one second was this guy ever serious, and I can not believe that not all of the judges knew this. He's done his thing and he's gotten his time, and for accomplishing his mission I am proud of the guy. Say what you want, but he was never boring. He was memorable. And he should never be allowed to set foot on the AI stage again. I was dreading that the show would become "Nick and Norman's Infinite Playlist."

Which brings us to our first real knockout performance of the night, courtesy of Allison Iraheta. During the pre-song interview she was visibly nervous; she could barely say a coherent word. Then she got on stage and blew "Alone" by Heart clear out of the sky. That's not easy, because at least in my opinion Ann Wilson is the greatest female rock vocalist ever. She showed tremendous stage presence and poise, not to mention the powerful vocals. And she looked pretty cute and the dress was nice, etc., etc. At this point I knew she was going to win "most votes by a female" and get a spot in the Top 12.

Smooth: She came off as annoyingly ditzy backstage, but she's 16 so I'll give her a little slack. She's got red hair of the type that looks completely unnatural and weird, which means you know she loves attention. "Alone" is becoming a bit overdone on AI, but it's still a great vehicle for a female to show off big rock vocals. And that's what Allison has, surprisingly. She has a natural rock edge in her voice and it worked well here. She did have a few issues; her voice cracked a bit and she missed a few higher notes when she really goes for them. But compared to most of the female contestants this year, she's excellent. The performance was decent, she really gets into it, although she made a lot of weird hand movements. She was easily the best of the night to this point, and the judges agreed.

E.K.: Whoever's been telling contestants to stay away from Michael Jackson songs clearly did not meet up with Kris Allen, who went with "Man In The Mirror." There was nothing special about this performance at all, and there are too many bland pop stars who look and sound just like him. He's a good singer, but I thought he'd have to stand out much more than this in order to make it through. Apparently the voters did not agree with me; they put him into the Top 12. I'm not sure if he'll last too long, but we shall see.

Smooth: Great, another nice-guy WASP that has had no screen time to date. They always last a long time on this show. His voice is actually decent, but there is really nothing memorable about him or his voice. I thought that way too many contestants of his ilk have been bounced in the first round for him to have much hope of advancing, but there he is, now in the Top 12, ladies and gentlemen.

As for the next singer, Megan Joy Corkrey, she's kind of hard to get a read on. She has a largely tattoo-covered right arm and seems vaguely hippie-ish, yet she comes out in a floaty white dress with poofy flowers on it. I think she's got a pretty face, but her hair and makeup didn't do her any favors. Her vocal on "Put Your Records On" was pretty quirky, with some weird phrasing and a bizarre pronunciation of the word "down" for no apparent reason. Her voice has a bit of a nice jazzy quality to it, but it's not that strong, and in the second half of the performance in particular she really started running out of gas. My main issue with her is the weird "dancing" she does. It's pretty much bad white-girl dancing, and her go-to move is a brief, abbreviated Chubby Checker Twist involving her arms and hips. She'll twist twice quickly, then suddenly freeze. It's really weird and rather distracting after a while. Plus, they showed her doing it in the balcony later so it's not just nerves... she just dances like that. If she didn't dance I think I would have liked it more.

E.K.: I'm not sure if you saw the same performance I did...umm...well, okay, I guess you did, because what you described is pretty much exactly what happened, except...

I love Megan Joy Corkrey.

She can be summed up in just one word: "My god, this girl is delightful." She is insanely attractive and has a very distinctive voice, and I thought she pulled off "Put Your Records On" with ease, because basically, the song, as she said in the interview, makes her happy, and it completely showed. Yes, she dances a bit awkwardly but it's so, so cute. That twist-quick-and-then-freeze thing? Adorable. And I know that as a heterosexual male I'm not really supposed to use that word, but that's what she is...completely adorable. Let's call that move the "Megan Joy Corkscrew." It's one of the things that made her stand out; she is unique, and that's what we want. Also, she's insanely cute. Did I mention that? We also want that. I know what you're saying about her enunciation of the word "down", and I liked it. Now, my guess was that she wasn't going to get one of the top three spots for the night, and that wound up being true, but I do think that based on what the judges said about her they'll bring her back for the wild card show. And would it surprise you to learn that I really want that to happen?

Smooth: It would not.

E.K.: She's pretty much this year's--

Smooth: Oh, don't say it.

E.K.: --Brooke White.

Smooth: Okay, okay, simmer down now.

E.K.: Brooke White!

Smooth: Stop it.

E.K.: Hey, Brooke even came back to perform last night. Didja see? Her song is okay, I suppose; I wasn't amazingly enchanted by it, and I'll probably be waiting outside Best Buy in the freezing cold the morning her CD comes out.

Smooth: No, you will not.

E.K.: You're right. I won't. Brooke White!

Smooth: Anyone have a croquet mallet?

E.K.: Megan Corkrey!!!

Smooth: You are close to death. Let's move on, for smash sakes. At first, when Matt Breitzke came out, I was thinking, cool, I haven't heard "If You Could Only See" in like ten years!, but I guess there's probably a reason for that. I still like the song, but it's a poor choice for AI. Matt seems like a nice guy, but he is not very charismatic on-stage. They've shown him to have a good voice, and this song doesn't let him show off his main asset. The vocal was fine, but it's not a song with range to it and his voice is not very hard-edged, so it just sounded like a good karaoke version. He didn't look comfortable on stage and mostly just did a kind of slo-mo Matrix bullet time thing with his hands. It's too bad; I think he was capable of better, but in the end he doesn't have star quality anyway.

E.K.: He's another one of those blue-collar American specials that the producers love to trump up for whatever reason. He proved himself to be a very low-rent Emerson Hart. He missed notes here and there and definitely did not improve upon the song. I was surprised by the song choice and by his inability to work it out, dawg. The fact that he's a downhome nice guy who welds for a living can't save him now. The Top 12 already has a guy like that, and Matt has no chance at a wild card.

Smooth: I just read on Wikipedia that Jesse Langseth is blues guitarist Jonny Lang's sister. Who knew? Anyway, Jesse gave a squinty, winky, "sexy" performance. It was really not bad at all. Her voice is pleasant, although at times I almost wonder if she was just doing a Kim Carnes impression. She constantly tilted her head to the right and backwards, another tic that distracted me after a while. Jesse awesomely calls Randy out on his usual vague criticism. He claims he wants more than a "five note range", which... I don't think this song has THAT narrow of a range, so I assume he just means "more glory notes!!!" Kara agrees for some reason. Really, I think the problem was that the performance was just OK and the vocal was good, but not good enough to grab your attention. I wouldn't mind seeing Jesse do a different song, which is more than I can say for many of the female contestants this year.

E.K.: She's a good singer but some of her words were unintelligible. I'm not sure what to make of her. She's definitely hot and sexy, and I suppose that more than anything will be what I remember from this one. I'm not as fond of "Bette Davis Eyes" as others are; it's just a weird song choice. Fifty years of Billboard hits and that's what she brought to the table? But for all that it was, I thought it was much better than most of the performances, and it would not surprise me to see her on the wild card show. I still don't know how many spots they're going to fill or how that's going to work. I think right now I'm going to look it up...and I just read varying accounts so I don't know who's right. Whether they are bringing back the 4th place vote getter for each round and then judges' choices, or whether it's all judges' choices, I don't know. Boy, I just surrounded that explanation, didn't I?

Smooth: Most songs that are played on oldies stations are generally not going to go over well on Idol. Kai Kalama, with his wacky hair and very shiny shirt, looks memorable and sounds good, but the song choice let him down. He actually turned in a pretty good performance, it's just a boring song in this format. Simon called him a "very good backup singer", which is about right given that performance. I think he's another one that's capable of better.

E.K.: I fast-forwarded after about 30 seconds. Sorry, Kai, but it took you about that long to bore me. Plus, you remind me of Rick Fox and that isn't good. So I'm going to move to the next singer, and I will say this about that: If you want Katharine McPhee and all you can get is Mishavonna Henson, wait! She sang well, I suppose, but she was hindered by a poor arrangement. Memo to the producers: Let them sing longer! Let them get into a groove or something. This 90-second or two-minute spot does not help. I'm afraid she wasn't memorable enough, but I do think she can sing so if she gets a spot in the wild card round I'll have no problem with it, unless putting her there would take away a spot for Megan Joy, in which case I will burn down the Kodak Theatre before they ever get a chance to do any shows there this year.

Smooth: Are you saying you like Megan Corkrey?

E.K.: If she is not given a wild card chance I will go completely WarGames.

Smooth: Simmer donna. Well, getting back to Mishavonna, ahem, "Drops of Jupiter" is another slightly odd song choice. A lot of these adult contemporary songs just don't fit with the younger contestants. Mishavonna sounded pretty good until the latter half of the song when she started trying to do too much. Overall it was actually a solid vocal, but again I don't feel like the song really showcased her talent. Plus, I have bad associations with Ace Young singing it. She showed a little personality in the post-mortem with Ryan, but I just don't think she did enough to differentiate herself from the pack.

Finally we had Adam Lambert, and...Oy. This was definitely a love-it-or-hate-it performance, as pointed out by Simon. First off, it was a very bad arrangement. It started off super slow, then sped up almost immediately, reminding me of something out of Grease. The beginning was pretty rough, but not long into it, Adam launched into a whole lot of glam-rock screeching. Like seriously, he could have been the frontman for Nitro in that "Freight Train" video. I can tell you I already don't like Adam from what I've seen. The ridiculous black dyed hair, guyliner, clothes, chains, fingerless leather glove on one hand.... ugh. It just seems disingenuous, like he's wearing a costume. With his Broadwayesque voice and mannerisms, he basically reminds me of a combination of Clay Aiken and Constantine Maroulis. However, I can't deny the fact that he does have ridiculous range and control on his voice. He doesn't have to go into falsetto even to hit very high notes, in a Steve Perry way. On this song, though, he just sounded too shrieky; not sure if that was intentional to fit a rock song or not. If he can dial that down somewhat and maintain good tone throughout his range I will be a lot more impressed. I sure hope he does, actually, because he was easily the most memorable contestant of the night and will probably be around for quite a while on the show.

E.K.: I'm already predisposed to not liking Adam because of the whole look, which, as it does for you, screams out to me, "I'm not genuine at all!" Strike one. He has a musical background, and by musical I don't mean high school musical, I'm talking "Phantom", Broadway, "Rent" musical. Which is fine, if you like that genre. I do not. So there's two strikes against him for me. Third strike was the incessant screaming. I couldn't take it. He might be a nice guy, and as you said he can hit some really big notes and does have ridiculous control, but I just can't listen to it. I'd like to see him tone it down a bit. This could get really annoying after a few weeks. I knew he'd get one of the three Top 12 spots this week. Which made me 2-for-3.

Smooth: I felt Adam and Allison would get two spots, but the third spot was very tough to call this week. I thought there were actually four or five people who have a shot at it. Compared to last week, there weren't as many train wrecks that you could automatically throw out. I went with Megan to move on.

E.K.: I'm so proud of you...Wait, you picked her and I didn't? You wouldn't think that, would you?

Smooth: I suppose it was because she sort of reminds me of Kristy Lee Cook, who always got more votes than I thought she would.

E.K.: Until next week, this........was........American Idol.

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