Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stefano Langone Sings Stevie Wonder's "Lately" on the AI Top 13 Show

American Idol Season 10 Heartthrob Stefano Langone sings "Lately" by Stevie Wonder. Idols choose a song by their personal 'Idol' this week. Stefano said he picked Stevie Wonder because "the layers in his songs, and really just the way he's carried himself throughout his career is really unbelievable." Stefano choose "Lately "because the words tell a story and that's what music is about."

Stefano's arrangement of "Lately" was a bit schizophrenic - going from ballad to disco. But Stefano pours his whole heart into his songs; it's just so emotional, he can't help but connect to his audience. The camera cuts to Jennifer Lopez really getting into the song, and judge Randy Jackson shaking his head "Oh, yes" with a smile. The audience and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler give Stefano a standing ovation. Steven said, “Ste-FA-no (in a bad, fake Italian accent), you pulled it off. By the time it end it was just soil(???) to a volcano. Arrangement was crazy. You pulled it off. Beautiful.” Jennifer Lopez praised, “You had me dancing there for a minute there Baby. It wasn’t just a copy of it, it was really you. And that's what I loved about it. It was really you.” Randy Jackson raved, “It started off a little rocky for me. It's so hard to sing Stevie, man. He’d be proud of this. You slayed it. By the middle of the song, you were soaring. Very nicely done.”

"Lately" is a song by American singer Stevie Wonder recorded for his album "Hotter than July" (1981). The song was notably covered by R&B group Jodeci and released as a promotional single for the live album "Uptown MTV Unplugged" in June 1993. Jason Elias at Allmusic praised the song, believing that unlike some of Wonder's similar material, "Lately" in particular hit all the perfect emotional and musical notes. Of the song's emotional power itself Elias stated, "it's enough to make a listener fall prey to an old-fashioned cry."

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Naima Adedapo adds some Reggae Flair to "Umbrella"

American Idol Season 10's Naima Adedapo sings "Umbrella" by Rihanna on the Top 13 show. The Idols were asked to pick a song by their personal 'Idol'. Naima choose Rihanna, an artist she "truly respects and admires." Naima had the good luck of working with producer Tricky Stewart, who produced the original for Rihanna. "He's gonna let me put a little bit of me in it," said Naima, adding "The only way you can take a song like "Umbrella", and that's current, and make it your own, is by doing you." And she did. Naima was the only contestant who truly performed a current, commercially viable song on the Top 13 show. The Reggae change-up in the middle added spice. The dancing could have, no should have, been left out. She did not have the breath control to dance and sing, and you heard her pant after the dance segments. (Also, according to posts on boards and forums, the spread-leg dancing put some people off; they found it vulgar, and this may have cost her some votes.)

The audience and judges enjoyed the up-beat performance. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler said, “Naima, you’re crazy good. I love ya. A little pitchy. You brought flavor tonight. You brought another little something. I adore you for that.” Jennifer Lopez liked it too, adding, “I don't care about all the pitchy. You got fire girl. You dancing up there. You're giving us your Reggae flavor, you're rapping. You’re doing it like stars do it. You need to work on the control. I’m glad you came out and did what you did.” Randy Jackson did his "I'm not really impressed" hahahaho, then said, “I differ with Jennifer. I care about the pitchiness. You’ve got to have the breath and the control. The cutoffs were a little rough. I loved the whole Reggae thing. I was like, Yo! Make a whole Reggae version of it. Yo. Give me more of that.”

"Umbrella" is a song recorded by Barbadian R&B singer Rihanna, featuring a rap verse by rapper Jay-Z. It was released as the lead single for Rihanna's third studio album "Good Girl Gone Bad". The track was released worldwide on March 29, 2007, and since its release, "Umbrella" has been covered by many artists worldwide.

Critics gave positive reviews to the song "Umbrella", many appreciating the "ella, ella" hook. It is generally considered Rihanna's signature song and achieved commercial success reaching the Top 10 in many countries. In the United Kingdom, where the song's chart performance generated controversy when the country was experiencing excessive rain at the time, it is deemed an iconic song and was one of the most played songs on radio in the 2000s. It managed to stay at number-one on the UK Singles Chart for ten consecutive weeks, the longest run at #1 for any single of that decade. The song is listed #3 on the 100 Best Songs of 2007 published by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Rihanna performed "Umbrella" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards and was the closing song of the "Good Girl Gone Bad" and the "Last Girl on Earth" Tour. The accompanying music video features Rihanna covered in silver paint. In 2008, "Umbrella" earned Rihanna and Jay-Z a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in addition to receiving nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Idol Hopeful Ashthon Jones Sings "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" for the 'Save'

American Idol Season 10 Top 13 hopeful sings Diana Ross' "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" after being told by Idol Host and Heartthrob Ryan Seacrest that she "may be headed home tonight." After the nationwide vote, Haley Reinhart was safe, and Ashthon was given the opportunity to 'sing for her life'. Every season, the judges have one 'Save' that they can use to keep an eliminated contestant on the show. The 'Save' can only be used once, and must be used before the Top 5.

Ashthon Jones broke down crying after giving a beautiful, heart-felt performance. It is obvious that she does NOT want to go home. The judges deliberated for several seconds, then Jennifer Lopez delivered the judges decision. "I’m sorry baby,” says a tearful Jennifer, “It was unanimous.”

"When You Tell Me That You Love Me" is a 1991 song released as a single by American soul singer Diana Ross. The song was subsequently covered by various artists. "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" was the lead single from Diana Ross's 1991 album "The Force Behind the Power", released on the Motown label in the US and by EMI in the UK. The song, a sentimental ballad, was the album's biggest hit. It peaked at Number 37 on the US Billboard R&B Singles Chart while peaking at Number 2 on the UK Top 75 Singles Chart. Diana Ross considers "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" one of her signature songs. The UK release included her 1985 hit "Chain Reaction" on the B-side.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

American Idol's Haley Reinhart Sings "Blue" by LeAnn Rimes

Haley Reinhart, American Idol Season 10's 'Sweet Young Thing' sang "Blue" by LeAnn Rimes on the Top 13 Show. Contestants were asked to choose a song from their personal 'Idol' to perform. Haley said she "choose this song because it really hits home for me. It takes me back to when I was a lot younger. I started singing when I was 8, so it has made a really big impact on my life."

Steven Tyler, who's had a crush on Haley from the beginning, said, “That was beautiful. You can hear the rest of the country roaring. You did such a good job. So so fine.” Jennifer Lopez said “I think America is really getting to know you now. You do really special things. It’s so unique to you. Really really special. Really good job.” And Randy Jackson praised Haley saying, “I like that you can do anything. But it was a little sleepy and a little boring for me.” Haley told Randy that she was trying to show her softer side.

"Blue" was written by radio disc jockey, Bill Mack in the early 1960s. Mack originally intended legendary country music singer Patsy Cline to record the song, but Cline died in a plane crash before it could be recorded. "Blue" is the title of the debut single released by American country music singer, LeAnn Rimes, released in 1996. The song propelled Rimes to fame at thirteen years old.

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American Idol Country Crooner Scotty McCreery Performs "The River" on the Top 13 Show

American Idol Season 10 Country Crooner Scotty McCreery performs Garth Brooks' "The River" on the Top 13 Show. The Top 13 finalist were allowed to pick a song by their 'Idol' for the show. Scotty choose "The River" by Garth Brooks, saying "Hopefully I can do it some justice. It's one of his classics." "Growing up in North Carolina, country music is just kinda who you are. Even as a kid, that's who I was. You gotta BE country music, you can't just sing it," said Scotty, showing he's just a good ol' boy.

The American Idol judges, who haven't always embraced country music in the past, just love Scotty McCreery and what he brings to a song. Randy Jackson said, "That’s a great Garth Brooks song. Dude, this is exactly where you belong. Don’t change it. I love it.” Aerosmith's Steven Tyler said, “You did the Garth justice. You’re riding high tonight.” And Jennifer Lopez was very pleased with Scotty tonight, gushing “I saw you open up as a performer. You embraced the audience…your taking the audience on the ride with you. Congratulations.”

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American Idol's Jacob Lusk Sings "I Believe I Can Fly" & Makes Us Believe He Can!

American Idol Season 10's amazing gospel singer Jacob Lusk gives another amazing performance with R. Kelly's "I Can Believe I Can Fly" on the Top 13 Show. Idol contestants were given the opportunity to sing a song by their personal 'Idol' this week. "My favorite singer of all time is R. Kelly. He's my Idol."

The judges liked Jacob's performance, but it did not garner the high praise of past performances, as when Randy said, "It was the best performance on American Idol, EVER!" after Jacob sang "God Bless the Child". Steven Tyler said, “Pure passion, pure music, I can’t even judge it.” Jennifer Lopez added, “You make us feel so much when you sing. It’s anybody’s game. You’re at the top of the list.” Randy Jackson said, “When you start, you have such a signature sound. You kinda went sharp, but by the end, you hit those high notes. I’m excited every time you hit the stage."

"I Believe I Can Fly" is a 1996 song by R&B singer R. Kelly. It was featured in the 1996 motion picture Space Jam. "I Believe I Can Fly" was #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the R&B Singles chart (for six nonconsecutive weeks), and number #1 in the United Kingdom. The song has since appeared on Kelly's 1998 album R. It has won three Grammys, and is ranked #406 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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Casey Abrams Gets By "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the American Idol Top 13 Show

American Idol Season 10's resident "Sexy Beast" Casey Abrams gave a thrilling (some might say titillating) performance of Joe Cocker's version of The Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the Top 13 Show last night. The contestants picked a song performed by one of their personal 'Idols', and Casey choose Joe Cocker. "The first time I heard this song I was like 5, and I just remember I heard it on The Wonder Years, so that it really stuck in my head," said Casey.

Well the song must have really made an impression on young Casey Abrams, because he poured everything he had into his cool, raspy, get-down-n-dirty performance. Grrrl! In talking about Joe Cocker, Casey said "You don't hear him, you feel him. I wanna be felt." We feel ya Casey!

Standing O!!! The judges and audience loved it! Jennifer Lopez said, “At one point I grabbed Randy and said "What am I watching right now?" I'm watching someone important. Blew me away.” Randy Jackson raved “Dude, you were so unbelievable and so exciting... You make listening to you sing fun. I loved it dude, I loved it.” And Steven Tyler had these words of wisdom for Casey "You are a rainbow of talent, man. You are a plethora of passion. Everyone in the house felt what you did." After the performance, Casey told Ryan Seacrest, "I think Joe Cocker embodied me for a second...He inspired me. Umrrah. The passion."

"With a Little Help from My Friends" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 1967. The song was written for and sung by The Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr as the character "Billy Shears"; it is ranked #304 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Joe Cocker's version was a radical re-arrangement of the original, using different chords and a lengthy instrumental introduction (featuring drums by Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson and guitar lines from Jimmy Page). It is one of Joe Cocker's most famous songs. Cocker performed the song at Woodstock in 1969 and that performance was included in the documentary film, "Woodstock". His cover was ranked number two in UpVenue's top 10 best music covers of all time in 2009. The version heard in the film Across the Universe segues from the original to Cocker's arrangement at the end of the song.

A little trivia: "With a Little Help from My Friends" was played as wake-up music on Space Shuttle Mission STS-61.
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Lauren Alaina Sings "Any Man of Mine" on the Top 13 Show!

American Idol Season 10's Country Girl Lauren Alaina sings "Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain on the Top 13 Show. AI contestants were asked to pick a song by their 'Idol' for tonight's performance. Lauren choose Shania Twain "because she's like a country music legend. She was the first female artist to kinda mix country and pop music together as one musical style. I choose "Any Man of Mine" cuz it's a really fun song and it can show off my personality...I'm gonna have a great time on stage with it."

Lauren Alaina had more 'fun' with it than the judges did. Steven Tyler, who praises almost anything said, “Gotta have a good song, I wished it had been more kick ass.” Jennifer Lopez agreed, “We want you to kick it into high gear. Now it’s time. Randy Jackson tried to soften the blow of the criticism, saying, “That’s a cool song, you sang it well…we want to see something that makes you shine beyond belief.” Lauren did not take the criticism well; but we'll excuse her for that since she's so young.

"Any Man of Mine" is a song by Canadian singer Shania Twain. It was the second single released from her 1995 album "The Woman in Me". The song became Twain's first number one hit on country radio sations, as well her first crossover hit after it cracked the Top 40 on the pop charts. The song was later included in Twain's 2004 "Greatest Hits". The song was also performed by Mandisa on the fifth season of American Idol and Siobhan Magnus on the ninth, but both were eliminated from the show the day after their performances.

"Any Man of Mine" also proved to be a critical success for Shania Twain; it was nominated for both Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance at the 1996 Grammy Awards. It won Single of the Year at both the Canadian Country Music Awards and Country Music Radio Awards in 1995. It also won Country Single of the Year at the 1996 Jukebox Awards and Song of the Year at the 1996 RPM Big Country Music Awards. This song is used in the Rock Band Country Track Pack,and has been confirmed as upcoming downloadable content for the Rock Band series.

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Pia Toscano Shows She Can Bring Down the House "All By Myself"

American Idol Season 10 has been blessed by the amazing singing of Pia Toscano, who gave a stand-out performance of Celine Dion's "All By Myself"! The Top 13 contestants were asked to choose a song by their personal 'Idol'. Pia choose Dion, saying, "Since I was 8 years old, I loved Celine Dion. She's very family oriented and I am as well. And I feel like, you know, having the career that she does and being able to stay so close with your family is extremely important." Toscano picked "All By Myself" because "it's a very emotional song. And I can really connect with it."

The judges, once again, loved Pa Toscano's Performance. Jennifer Lopez thought Pia topped last week, saying, “Really beautiful.” Randy Jackson said, “We say don’t tackle those songs if you can’t do them. But you have that quality. You hit the notes dead on without even thinking about it. Very hot, dope, cool performance.” Steven Tyler said “That was the sum of all your performances so far.” But Steven always has to say something eccentric, so he added, “You just polished that apple. You just slammed it.”

All by Myself" is a power ballad written and originally performed by Eric Carmen in 1975, with the verse borrowing heavily from the second movement (Adagio Sostenuto) of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18. One of the more notable cover versions of "All by Myself" was recorded by CĂ©line Dion in 1996. It was the fourth (or third, depending on the country) hit single from her album "Falling into You" It has a belted high F sustained for an entire 12 seconds! Dion performed this song many times during world tours, TV shows and music events such as the Grammy Awards (1997) and Billboard Music Awards (1997). Dion recorded also a Spanish version of "All by Myself," called "Sola Otra Vez".

The "All by Myself" single became one of Dion's biggest hits in the United States, reaching number 1 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks (for three weeks) and the Latin Pop Airplay (two weeks). It peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and number 5 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales). It was also a top 10 hit in France, United Kingdom, Belgium and Ireland. In Canada, "All by Myself" was released as a promotional single only, hitting number 1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart. "All by Myself" was certified gold in the U.S. (500,000), and silver in the UK (200,000) and France (165,000).

The track was included on some editions of Dion's greatest hits "All the Way…A Decade of Song" in 1999 and on "My Love: Essential Collection" in 2008.

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James Durbin Sings "Maybe I'm Amazed" on the American Idol Top 13 Show

Rocker James Durbin sings 'Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney on the American Idol Season 10 Top 13 Show. "Maybe I'm Amazed" allowed James to show his softer side compared to his heavy metal, rockin' Judas Priest performance. James conveyed so much emotion through this song. Wow! And those high notes...what can I say? I'm amazed! The crowd and judges LOVED it! Judge Randy Jackson raved, “You’re one of my favs in this whole thing. I love this kind of voice. Now you come out and sing Paul McCartney and slayed it. You showed you had a sensitive side. Dude. James Durbin is dangerous, America.” Steven Tyler said, “You have taken everything you’ve ever felt and kicked it into next week.” And Jennifer Lopez praised James saying, “You have such a quality. You have what the greatest rock singers have. You’re melodic.”

This week, American Idol contestants had to pick songs from their personal 'Idols'. "Paul McCartney from The Beatles is my Idol. He's so versatile. You know, he's one of the greatest musicians, the greatest writers, and the greatest singers that there's ever been, and there ever will be. And I hope I can get that way as well." "Maybe I'm Amazed" is a song written by Paul McCartney that was first released on his "McCartney" album in 1970. McCartney dedicated the song to his wife, Linda, who had helped him get through the break-up of The Beatles. Later, McCartney's band Wings released a single of a live performance of the song from the band's 1976 tour of America, which became a top-ten hit in the United States.

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American Idol Beauty Thia Megia Performs "Smile"

Thia Megia performs the Michael Jackson version of "Smile" on American Idol Season 10 Top 13 Show.

In the past, judge Randy Jackson told Thia, "Your tone, when we first heard you, reminded me so much of the late, great Michael Jackson, that I love it." After this moving performance, he again compared Thia to Michael Jackson, saying, "I loved the intro, it was so beautiful, I heard Michael..." Jennifer Lopez was not so complimentary. “The beginning reminded me a little bit of last week. I thought the arrangement was interesting (I don’t think she meant that as a compliment.) Doesn’t matter, you sing like an angel."

Idols were asked to choose a song by their personal 'Idol'. Thia said, "My Idol is Michael Jackson." But she choose a song that was not written by Michael. "Smile" is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, while John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954. In the lyrics, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a brighter tomorrow, just as long as they smile. "Smile" has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film. When producer Ron Fair told Thia the song was written by Charlie Chaplin, not Michael Jackson, it was obvious Thia had never heard of the famous silent film star, referring to him as "Charlie Chapman." The song was originally sung by Nat King Cole in 1954. It was also covered by Cole's daughter, Natalie, on her 1991 album, "Unforgettable... with Love". "Smile" was Micheal Jackson's favorite song, though he never released it commercially. (see below video for more on Michael Jackson and "Smile".)

Singer Michael Jackson recorded the song for his 1995 double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It was planned to be released as the eighth and final single from the album in 1997 but was canceled days before its release date. Only a few copies from the Netherlands, Germany and South Africa (where the record distribution was started previous to the withdrawal) were saved as the other copies were withdrawn. The rarest pressings include the CD maxi single (estimated value over €500) and the single track promo (The promo single CD was going for $1,725.00 Au In February 2011).

The remixes on this release have never been released commercially since, but some can also be found on the "Is It Scary" promotional 12" records from the UK. The "Downtempo Groove Mix" is the rarest mix of this song because it was only released on the maxi. The remix was uncredited, but was actually done by Eddie Arroyo.[2]

Jackson had never performed this song live; an HBO special was once planned with the song being performed, but Jackson collapsed during the concert's rehearsals. During the final concerts of his HIStory World Tour, the song was played at the beginning of each concert in memory of Princess Diana. In Living with Michael Jackson, he mentioned the song while at Neverland Ranch and sang it while he was in Las Vegas.

Around November 2005, a number of bootlegged 12" records appeared on eBay and some record fairs in Germany and The Netherlands. This explains why the 12" presses are the most common, although the original is still considered the most rare. The short version of "Smile" was later re-issued on the deluxe United Kingdom edition of King of Pop in 2008.

Michael Jackson's brother, Jermaine Jackson, sang "Smile" at his memorial service on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, shortly after Michael Jackson's friend Brooke Shields mentioned it had been Jackson's favorite song. He also sang it in an interview with Today at Neverland before the memorial and only days after Michael had passed. During the internationally televised public memorial, Jermaine switched the words "gladness" and "sadness" in the lyrics, possibly in an unintentional flub of the lyrics.

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