Friday, April 1, 2011

American Idol's Paul McDonald Soars to New Heights with "Rocket Man" on Top 11 Revived

Paul McDonald, American Idol Season 10's 'Man with the Bright White Smile' performs "Rocket Man." Idol contestants take on classics by the legendary Sir Elton John in this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

"My band (Hightide Blues) covered this song years ago," said Paul, adding, "and it was a disaster." Hmmm...I'm torn on this one. First, the tweaky suit. We've seen it already on Idol, and in old videos of his band. Paul, you have stylists and designers throwing free clothes at you now! My advice: Take advantage!!! I liked Paul's arrangement and the quiet, intimate vocals, but that ending just freaked me out. The whisper was creepy. Randy Jackson said, "We just got some quiet comfort from Paul. There were a couple of things that were a little pitchy, but when you get into that tender zone, that quiet, that soft voice it's very infectious. But you’re holding back." Jennifer Lopez interrupted to say, "I wonder if you're holding back in a way? There’s a little bit more to your voice than you even know. And I think you haven't gone there." Steven Tyler, with his usual dry wit asked, "So have you been watering that suit? Cuz there's a lot more flowers on it this time. I love your voice. You always do a little something. When you start singing, hitting every note, that's the day I'm not gonna like you anymore. I like the character where you sometimes hit a note and sometimes you don’t. That's my cupa tea." So Steven Tyler like off-key singers. Who knew?

Get Paul McDonald's Pre-American Idol Album The Grand Magnolias
5 Star Review!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars "Keep this band together"
By ConsumerAware March 18, 2011
This review is from: The Grand Magnolias (MP3 Download)
"Actually, I first looked at this because of American Idol. I'm not wild about Paul doing cover songs (sounds too much like Rod Stewart doing covers), but I definitely understand why he is in the top 12. The fact that he is on American Idol sparked my interest as I was wondering how this guy would get away from the "Rod Stewart" feel. This album answered that question for me - very nice, very nice indeed. I applaud all the musicians in this band, your music is upbeat, contemporary and new and it sound great! On top of that, in videos you all look like they are having a blast and really connecting with their audience. Ultimately, I watch American Idol to see people that definitely have talent and really like to see what they do to change cover song arrangements. However, I rarely like where American Idol takes them when they do win - they tend to lose their personal flare. I tend to be a much bigger fan of those who get known by American Idol, but continue with the bands and passion that they had prior to it - too me, these people are the real winners, and I see Paul in that group with this band. Thanks for the great music guys - keep playing!"

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American Idol's Stefano Langone Sings "Tiny Dancer" on Top 11 Revived

Stefano Langone, American Idol Season 10's 'Teen Idol', sings "Tiny Dancer". Idol hopefuls take on the classics by the legendary Sir Elton John in this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

Interscope Producer Jimmy Iovine really cracked the whip on Stefano this week. "Tiny Dancer" is a very hard song to sing since it was written specifically for Elton John's voice. But, luckily, Stefano got it. This was a much better performance than last week! Stefano hit all the notes, and even invented a new word - ballerinum. Someone must have finally told Stefano that being 'emotional' and 'connecting with the audience' come from his voice, and have nothing to do with making excruciatingly painful faces with your eyebrows all screwed up. He still overacted and hammed it up a little, but nothing compared to previous weeks. I really liked him this week, and I think that relaxing his facial muscles kept him from being in the bottom 3 again. Jennifer Lopez said, "I could really feel you taking our notes, connecting with the audience. I really feel like you moved the crowd today. Amazing."  Randy Jackson added, "What I loved about this performance, more than anything, you started connecting with the audience. Your eyes were open. I liked that you were moving around the stage. And when you hit the high note, when you hit the money notes, you were right on. Very nice job." Steven Tyler was delighted by Stefano again. "There’s a real sweet thing to your voice. Tonight, you just connected with the audience. You nailed it. I thought it was really good."

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American Idol's Pia Toscano Belts Out "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me" on Top 11 Revived

Pia Toscano, American Idol Season 10's up-and-coming Diva, belts out "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Idol contestants take on classics by the legendary Sir Elton John for this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

"I choose "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me" because it's one of my very favorite songs," said Pia. Interscope Chairman and Producer Jimmy Iovine told Pia to disregard Randy Jackson's advice against singing another ballad. "She's gotta approach this like a rock singer. She's gotta go somewhere in between Fergie and Axl Rose. So let's take me dear friend Randy and knock his ass right out of the chair," said Iovine.

Pia takes the stage, looking gorgeous, in a very Diva-like rhinestone and sheer dress. Even though it's another ballad, with the choir behind her and no microphone stand, Pia seems more energetic and really fills the stage. Looks ~ Perfect. Commanding the stage ~ Perfect. Vocals ~ PERFECT! Even Randy's applauding at the end of Pia's performance, which you'll notice he doesn't always do. Steven Tyler is wild about Pia. "Pia you’ve done it again. Some people might have been wrong when we asked you not to sing ballads anymore. That’s what you are. You nailed it. That's just about as good as it gets." Jennifer Lopez raved, "The notes take us to an other worldly place. I felt you more than I have before, and I like that I feel you trying to break the barrier. (Jennifer points to her goosebumps.) Crazy." Randy Jackson said, "You sung a ballad every time and you slayed them every time. I was just trying to get you to switch up gears. The world knows you can sing. That was unbelievable once again. I heard some Whitney (Houston), Mariah (Carey) in there. I heard all of Pia tonight and Pia was great once again." The judges all agree that everyone knows Pia can sing, she just needs to go up-tempo next week and surprise us.

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American Idol's Lauren Alaina Puts a Country Spin on "Candle in the Wind" on Top 11 Revived

Lauren Alaina, American Idol Season 10's Southern Belle, put a slight Country Music spin on "Candle in the Wind", the best-selling single in Billboard history. Idol contestants take on classics by the legendary Sir Elton John in this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

""Candle in the Wind" was so great the first time it came out, that I didn't want to stray too far away from it," says Lauren. Lauren didn't mess with this classic. She stayed true to the original arrangement, and made it Country solely by the southern lilts and twangs of her voice.

Lauren took the stage looking GORGEOUS! This is the best she's ever looked. Bravo! Very solid vocal performance; Lauren could release this as a single right now, and it would get huge radio play as Country tear-jerker. Randy Jackson enthused, "That’s one of the greatest Lauren Alaina songs ever on the Idol stage. Very, very nice. Very sensitive. You can do anything. Just believe. Very hot." Steven Tyler's been wild about Lauren since her audition. "I’ve loved you since the first moment you laid eyes on me. That was just perfect. You keep singing like that and you’ll be able to afford the rest of that dress." Jennifer Lopez loved it too. "That was amazing. You were gorgeous, you sounded gorgeous. That was it baby. That was amazing."

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American Idol's Scotty McCreery Croons "Country Comfort" on Top 11 Revived

Scotty McCreery, American Idol Season 10's 'Good Ole Country Boy', croons "Country Comfort". Idol contestants take on classics by the legendary Sir Elton John in this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

Scotty choose this little known Elton John song simply because, "It had the word 'Country' in it, so I thought I'd give it a look." This is the one and only Country Western song done by Elton John; a fairly good job since the British aren't known for their Country Music hits!

Scotty took the stage with his guitar and a bravado that's amazing for a 16 year old. He pandered to the "Aw shucks, what a sweet young man-" vote by singing a line about grandma, then giving HIS grandma in the audience a shout-out. Overall, another strong, if safe performance by Scotty. The audience loves him, ad he had all three judges smiling and applauding. The always eccentric Steven Tyler started off the critique with, "Scotty, there's nothing I can say to you that an old-fashioned pair of high-heeled cowboy boots wouldn't fix." Huh?? "I love everything about your voice." Jennifer Lopez said, "You have amazing instincts about performing, and about what's right for you. A good performance." Randy Jackson raved, "Dude, you have seasoned so fast on this show, I thought I was watching at your show, at your concert, like you're already 'there'. That song could be on your record."

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting to Know American Idol's Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald: Come Pick Me Up - Paul McDonald - American Idol

American Idol Season 10's singer-songwriter Paul McDonald is 26 and comes from Huntsville, Alabama, and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, where he auditioned. Paul received his 'Golden Ticket' to compete in Hollywood by singing an original song, "American Dreams".

Paul ~ with his huge, bright white smile ~ is stealing hearts across America! Not only is his smile infectious, his sexy crooning reminds many of a young Rod Stewart. With his colorful taste in clothing and wild dance moves, Paul is one of the most unique and charismatic of the Season 10 Idol contestants. The eccentric Steven Tyler has always liked Paul's individual style, saying, “You define a cool dude in a loose mood. Your swagger up there is way cool. You’re very distinctive. And I like that!" Steven also said, "I love the character and the rasp in your voice. I love that character in you.” Jennifer Lopez raved, “You have real character in the way you move too. Your smile lights up the whole place. You bring joy to the world. You're the most well-rounded, seasoned performer.” And Randy Jackson said, “One of the things I love about you…you were so unique and different. I’m glad that Idol can embrace this kind of singer…quirky and different.”

Paul McDonald's favorite quote comes from Bob Dylan: "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between he does what he wants to do." Paul's musical influences are all over the place! They include Folk, Country, R&B, Gospel and Rap!

American Idol's Paul McDonald (born William Paul McDonald) was born on August 29th 1984. Since 2005, Paul has been the lead singer of the band Hightide Blues, which was renamed The Grand Magnolias in 2010.

Hightide Blues

In the spring of 2005, Paul McDonald and fellow student Jonathan Pears began writing songs together, forming the band Hightide Blues. Adding two other members, Phillip Gayle and Scott Rollins, they began touring small clubs around the state of Alabama. In 2006, McDonald put his education on hold to pursue a full-time career in music. After releasing a limited edition self-titled EP (Hightide Blues) in 2007, the band released a self-produced album, Love Come Easy in 2008. This album was recorded in an old boarding school turned recording studio called the House of David in Nashville, Tennessee. Hightide Blues saw some radio play from the songs "Dreamin' Alone" and "Let It Roll". Also included was a song called "Dancing with the Angels (Meg's Song)". Paul McDonald wrote this song the night before the funeral of a very close friend to the band, Meg Ingram, who passed away from cancer at the age of 21. The band performs annually at the Meg Ingram Memorial Scholarship benefit concert in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hightide Blues has also had success on the Internet, winning multiple awards on, including over fifteen Top 10 placements, as well as reaching #2 on Best of Pop for 2011. From 2007-2010, the band continued touring around the country, performing with musicians such as the Zac Brown Band, Sarah Barellis, and JJ Grey and Mofro. Hightide Blues also played festivals such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Florida Music Festival, the Hangout Festival, and the Lynyrd Skynrd Simple Man Cruise. Between 2007-2010, Hightide Blues averaged around 150-200 shows per year.

The Grand Magnolias

In August 2010, Paul McDonald and his band members moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and launched a campaign to let their fans choose a new name for the band. The group's first album under its new name, entitled The Grand Magnolias, was released in 2011. The songs were written by McDonald and band member Jonathan Pears and produced by Dan Hannon and Ken Coomer. The album has seen a boost in sales since Paul McDonald's appearance on American Idol, and it reached #16 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and had sold 4,000 copies by March 23, 2011.

Want some great music by Paul McDonald's 2 pre-American Idol bands???
Just click these links for The Grand Magnolias and Hightide Blues!

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Getting to Know American Idol's Stefano Langone

Stefano Langone American idol Season 10 contestant

American Idol Season 10's 'Teen Idol' is 22 year old singer and piano-player Stefano Langone. Stefano comes from Kent, Washington and auditioned for American Idol in San Francisco, California. Unfortunately, Stefano was not one the Top 5 male vote getters in the semi-final round to advance. Consequently, he was one of the six contestants (3 girls and 3 guys) selected by the judges to sing for a 'Wild Card' spot, and he then advanced to the Top 13.

Since advancing to the Top 13, Stefano has shown he is one of the most passionate, heart-felt singers in this year's Idol competition. The audience goes crazy each time Stefano performs, and the judges rave. From comments the judges have made, it's obvious they think Stefano is a dark-horse in the competition who could win the whole thing! This week, judge Randy Jackson said, "You can definitely sing. You're one of the better singers we have." And when Stefano sang Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me by Now," Randy said, "The best performance of the night! Hot vocals, Baby!" Jennifer Lopez praised Stefano saying, "You could take this thing. You're great!" Stefano also received huge praise after singing Stevie Wonder's "Lately". Not only did Steven Tyler give Stefano a standing ovation, but Randy raved, "It's so hard to sing Stevie. He'd be proud of this. You slayed it! You were soaring!"

Stefano's favorite quote is "Live life to the fullest!" Stevie Wonder has been Stefano's greatest musical influence throughout his life.

Stefano Langone was born February 27th, 1989 to Ernest Langone, a singer and musician. Stefano has been singing and playing the piano since childhood. He studied at Kentwood High School in Covington, Washington and Bellevue College in Seattle. Stefano performed with Bellevue College's 'Celebration!' vocal jazz ensemble while a student. He had previously collaborated with a local rapper to produce hip-hop music.

In May 28, 2009 Stefano was involved in a near-fatal accident after being hit by a drunk driver. He suffered two broken arms, a fractured pelvis and other serious injuries. Stefano had to re-learn how to walk, and he has extensive scarring as a result of the accident.

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