Friday, April 8, 2011

American Idol's Sexy Beast Casey Abrams Wonders "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" on the Top 9 Show

American Idol Season 10's Dark Horse/Sexy Beast gives a soulful performance of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. For the Top 9 Show, Idol contestants took on songs from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" was written by lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty.

For Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame Week, American Idol finalists had the help of an all-star cast of celebrity mentors, including of the Black Eyed Peas, who helped the contestants with their song choices and gave production/arrangement advice, and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani who acted as stylist with clothes from her L.A.M.B. line.

Casey Abrams originally planned to sing "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by The Police, but producer Jimmy Iovine thought Casey and's 'collaboration' sounded a little too Rumba/Vegas/loungy. At the last minute, Casey choose "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" Casey's onstage, looking cool and calm, with his bass. ("My name's Casey, and I play the Bass-y!") Casey has really toned things down since his 'Save'. The rasp and cool growl are still there, but he's kept the theatrics to a minimum, letting his voice shine throw without distraction! The crowd has really warmed to Casey, probably because he's so real. All the judges loved it! Randy Jackson gave Casey a great compliment. "You definitely made CCR proud. You did well justice to that song. You've now made the upright base cool. This is revolutionary! I'm lovin' it!" Steven Tyler joked, "I think you oughta put some wheels on that and ride that thing around town. You're not just a singer, you're a true musician. Every time you sing you bring something different. (You're) the full package." Jennifer Lopez praised, "That’s exactly where you belong, with your bass. I’m paying top dollar to be in the front row."

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American Idol's Haley Reinhart Gives a "Piece of My Heart" on the Top 9 Show

Haley Reinhart, American Idol Season 10's Bluesy Ingenue performs Erma Franklin's "Piece of My Heart" on the Top 9 show. This week, Idol's tackled songs from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. "Piece of My Heart" came to mainstream attention when Janis Joplin, with Big Brother & The Holding Company, covered the song in 1968 on their album Cheap Thrills and had a hit with it. The song is included among 'The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll'. The song has since been remade by several singers, including hit versions by Faith Hill in 1994 and Melissa Etheridge in 2005.

This week, there was an all-star cast of celebrity mentors, including producer of the Black Eyed Peas, who helped the contestants pick their songs and gave advice along with Jimmy Iovine, and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani who helped with styling with clothes from her L.A.M.B. line.

Haley Reinhart choose Janis Joplin's version of "Piece of My Heart" because, "The judges have been throwing around Janis' name for the whole competition. If you want Janis, I'll give it to you." Haley hit the stage in all black, looking folksy/Janis-y, but with curly, cheerleader hair. Another wardrobe MISS. Hair and outfit did not go together. I'm not saying she didn't look gorgeous, because she did. She makes singing look effortless, so her style should be as well. She belted out "Piece of My Heart", showing off her amazing powerful vocals. The growls and trills and rasps we all love were perfect, and Haley put a ton of passion and energy into the song. Haley totally energized the crowd, who gave her a loud ovation. All three Idol judges looked pleased with Haley's performance. Jennifer Lopez said, "Wow. We’re off to a strong start here. This is starting to feel like a real fight. What you’re showing everybody is that you're a contender; they need to be careful with Haley. You're comin' on strong. You got that stuff. You’re going to be around for a minute." Randy Jackson raved, "They love you Haley. What we were referring to (when we kept mentioning Janis Joplin) was that bluesy kinda soul thing that you have. You had that cool run at the end. That’s the Haley that we loved when we first saw you. Welcome back." Steven Tyler, looking at Haley with lust in his eyes like always, raved, "Haley, I couldn’t find nothin' wrong with that. You know, Janis Joplin is my favorite, and you’ve taken it up a few notches, and I loved that. Janis gave the voice to Rock-n-Roll back in 1968, and you did it again tonight. You nailed it."

**Check out three AMAZING PERFORMANCES of "Piece of My Heart", by American Idol Season 9 runner-up CRYSTAL BOWERSOX, JANIS JOPLIN and MELISSA ETHERIDGE!! Click here:

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American Idol's Jacob Lusk Performs “Man in the Mirror” on the Top 9 Show

Jacob Lusk, American Idol Season 10's King of Gospel performs “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson on the Top 9 show. This week, Idol's tackled songs from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There was an all-star cast of mentors, including of the Black Eyed Peas, who helped the contestants pick their songs, and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani who helped with styling with clothes from her L.A.M.B. line.

Jacob Lusk was a bit nervous, and thought this week's song choice would be a little hard for him. "I am not a Rock-n-Roll guy," said Jacob. At the last minute, Jacob changed his song from Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" to "Man in the Mirror", because his first choice "was very blunt. It says 'Let's do it. Let's do the nasty.' I couldn't get on stage and sing something that wasn't me." More power to Jacob for knowing who he is and having integrity. But, Jacob condescendingly added, "If I end up in the bottom 3, it won't be because I sang the song bad. It won't be because I sang the song wrong. It will be because everybody in America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror."

Jacob took the stage in all white, looking angelic. We already know he has the voice of an angel! Wow! This is one of my favorite performances by Jacob! He toned it down considerably, cut out a ton of the drama and runs, and just let us experience (focus on) his pure, perfect voice. He moved around the stage a bit more than usual, including some hip thrusts that would have gone better with "Let's Get it On" or Scotty McCreery's Elvis Presley song. Jacob received a very long standing ovation, with the Idol judges applauding as well. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler said, "Every time you sing, you bring another little piece of yourself to the party. And I love that about you. That was beautiful. Well done." (Screams from the audience "Jacob, we love you!" Jacob: "I love you to, Baby!") Jennifer Lopez praised, "You make everybody know that if you believe in yourself and you stick to what feels right, what is right for you, you can do anything in this world. That was a beautiful performance. Perfect in every way; perfect on every emotional level." Randy Jackson was proud of Jacob for sticking to his moral convictions. "I was also so proud, because last week I said I needed to find a Jacob moment. There were moments all over that. That was hot!"

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's Life Been Like for Lee DeWyze Since Winning American Idol? PLUS, a Rare Acoustic Performance of Lee's New Single "Beautiful Like You"!!

Lee DeWyze Speaks Candidly About Life After 'Idol'

What's Life Been Like for Lee DeWyze Since Winning American Idol?
Lee DeWyze Speaks Candidly About Life After Idol
The Season 9 winner opens up about his "upsetting" album release day, telling THR's Idol Worship: "There were so many things going against it."

Lee Dewyze has achieved an extraordinary feat: he won American Idol during one of its toughest seasons ever -- not just in terms of the competition, which was formidable, as always, but because he also had to battle apathetic judges, viewer fatigue and slipping ratings. Somehow, Lee not only survived American Idol Season 9, he thrived, transforming from a reserved former paint salesman to a star on America’s biggest stage.

The euphoria lasted until November 23, 2010, when, after a week of mixed emotions, Lee saw his debut album, Live It Up, chart at a respectable No. 19, only to be derided in the same breath for its low (by Idol standards) sales -- as far as the rest of the music business is concerned, 39,000 units moved is a good week!

Last week marked Lee’s first return to the Idol stage since winning Season 9. And perhaps in being reminded what he had truly accomplished, Lee sat down with Idol Worship and spoke candidly for the first time about that roller coaster record release week and life after Idol.

THR: The Idol experience, especially for a winner, can make you feel like a hamster running on a wheel. When were you finally able to stop and take a breather?

Lee DeWyze: People use the world whirlwind a lot, and it really was. It was just out of control -- almost like you don't remember it. When it was over, I didn't know what was next. I was like, "What do I do now?" Going back home and seeing the family was awesome, but I got back in the swing of things really quickly with recording the album.

THR: How did your family handle Idol?

DeWyze: I think they handled it well. It was definitely difficult at times. It was pressure for them, too -- now they're the parents of this kid that's on American Idol. It was interesting for them. They're very humble, normal people so it was more fun than anything.

THR: How did it feel to be back in the Idol studio?

DeWyze: It was awesome. It felt more like playing a gig with my band than going up as a contestant. You're finally doing your own thing, playing your own music -- getting to that point is a really great place to be. I had a couple flashbacks here and there, but it wasn't a bad feeling. It was more like, "I remember what this was like."

THR: The set is different…

DeWyze: It's very different. I like it way better, actually. It felt more like a stage, like a place I'd want to perform. The other one was like a backdrop and here's 60 feet of floor. Now, it's got a dynamic to it, it's got shape, there's an audience of people surrounding you. It feels like you're in a venue.

THR: What didn’t you miss about that building?

DeWyze: Waiting around for performances, sound checks and things like that. What I did miss were the people behind the scenes.

THR: What was your impression of the new judges?

DeWyze: They're doing great. I think that they're really finding themselves as judges. And the niceness slowed down a bit, I noticed. They were real fluffy at first, and now it's a little more direct.

THR: It’s like a feather's touch compared to your season. They were harsh!

DeWyze: On our season, they tore it up. They really didn't hold back at all and I think a lot had to do with it being Simon Cowell's last year. It was just, like, “Let's do whatever the f--- we want, let's just tear them down.” But I got through it. I'm okay with where I'm at, and I'm happy I went on the show when I did… . It was a wild ride, but now it's all about real music.

THR: Of course, most people judge the success of a music career on album sales. Was your release week kind of ruined because you couldn’t just take pride in the accomplishment?

DeWyze: Definitely. It was interesting. They didn't release the album on time [because] there was some sort of a mix-up at iTunes -- it was supposed to be out at midnight, it didn't get released until three in the afternoon -- and just as it’s about to come out, The Beatles release their full catalog. So it was like, "Wow. Really?" Almost every album above mine was The Beatles, which is cool, but I got a lot of flack.

People wanted to bash on me and I was, like, “I don't really f---ing care.” I don't. I'm gonna do what I do because I love doing it and for the people that like my music. So for me, the album release wasn't my best day. It was pretty upsetting. Not because of where it was or how much it sold, there were just so many things going against it…

It's easy to sit behind a computer and blog about how much you hate somebody. It's my job to get out there and perform, and it's their job to try to tear people down.

THR: Were you able to talk to the Season 10 contestants? Maybe offer some advice?

DeWyze: Yeah, I got to hang with them for ten minutes. They were really inquisitive. They asked me a lot of questions like, “How did you feel every week?,” and “What's it like when the show's over?” My advice to them was, "Just remember why you auditioned in the first place: you love music. And if that's really what you're in this for. No matter what happens, you'll still be playing, one way or another. Small venues, big venues, whatever. And you have a lot to look forward to in your careers, so don't look at this as the be-all, end-all." That's what I did. I looked at it like, "If I go home, I go home. If I don't, I don't.” I'm still as happy with my life no matter what happened. You can't look at it as if, "This is it. This is my life.” Because it’s not.

THR: Although the words American Idol will be attached to your name forever.

DeWyze: Which is okay. I like that I stand for something like American Idol which helps musicians and artists get out there. It's important to have shows like Idol because it's so hard to get into the music industry nowadays – nearly impossible.

THR: Season 10 finalist Haley Reinhart is from Wheeling, Illinois, not too far from your hometown of Mt. Prospect. Coincidence?

DeWyze: It must be something in that Midwest water. [Laughs] I'm hoping the best for her. I've seen a bit of the shows here and there, and I've got my eye on a few of them, like Casey [Abrams], Pia [Toscano] and Haley; they would be my three.

THR: Your album is called Live It Up, have you been able to?

DeWyze: A little bit, but a lot of my time has been work. Living it up for me is just enjoying life. That's really what the album is about: experiencing life, examining relationships… The new single "Beautiful Like You" is a song that I relate to so well and I can sing from a very honest place.

THR: Is there a lyric you’re especially proud of on this record?

DeWyze: "You've only got one life, live it up darling." I love that line because it speaks to everybody. It’s saying: just do it. Whatever your dreams are, if you're in love, just go for it and have fun doing it. And then it goes on to say every second that passes you by is just wasting time. You can sit on your ass for years saying, "I want to do this," but until you actually get up and try, it's like, "what are you doing?"

Lee also treated us to a special acoustic performance of his new single "Beautiful Like You," which, following his Idol performance, saw an 8,000-plus percent boost (Live it Up also re-entered the Billboard 200 chart on March 23, coming in at No. 96). See video below...

Source: THR by Shirley Halperin


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American Idol's Jacob Lusk Performs "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" on the Top 11 Revived Show

Jacob Lusk, American Idol Season 10's 'King of Gospel', remains a front-runner after performing "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word". Idol contestants took on the classics by the legendary Sir Elton John in this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

Jacob choose "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", saying, "The first time I heard it, I actually heard it from Mary J. Blige, not Elton John. Ironically (yeah, right!), when I was rehearsing my song, Mary J. Blige just "happened" to be in the back of the room." American Idol has been pretty bad with product placement, i.e. Coca-Cola and Ford, and questionable marketing practices, but to pimp out young Jacob's rehearsals for pre-publicity of Mary J. Blige's September Interscope album release was just tacky.

Jacob Lusk takes the stage with him cool, calm confidence, but then went against Interscope Producer Jimmy Iovine's advice and "over-dramatized". Once, again, Jacob gave a technically perfect performance. The audience just loves Jacob. Steven Tyler raved, "I watch how far out there, or in there, you get when you sing, and for that alone I think you're wonderful. I loved the whole thing. Once again, you slayed me." Jennifer Lopez loved Tricky Stewart's arrangement of the song, saying it "was amazing." Jennifer added, "It was beautiful. He tailored it to you. He made it yours. You made it your own. It was really beautiful, and that last note, you don't see (hear???) that everyday." Randy Jackson, sounding a bit like Steven, said, "Jacob, you know I love you, I always do. I liked the arrangement. I thought it was a beautiful song for you, and the first half was brilliant. Always remember, you got that race horse, and that gas in the tank, so give me one spot where you go all the way up. I like that you used restraint. It was brilliant."

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American Idol's Haley Reinhart Puts a Bluesy, Torch-Song Spin on "Bennie and The Jets" on Top 11 Revived

haley-11redux-2michelle pfeiffer

Haley Reinhart, American Idol Season 10's 'Ingenue', turns the Idol stage into a lounge with her bluesy rendition of "Bennie and The Jets." Idol finalist took on the classic songs of legendary singer/songwriter Sir Elton John for this week's Top 11 Revived Show.

Producer Jimmy Iovine, who has produced Elton John in the past, said, "Haley moves great, she has great tone, and she has a great style of singing. But, she doesn't always bring all three things to the game. Tonight, she does!"

Haley begins the song perched on a red piano. Her performance is riveting. Loved the 'hiss' at the end of "Jetssssss". Loved the bluesy trills, the Janis Joplin-esque rasp and how Haley 'rrrrrrrreved' the lyrics. This was probably one of Haley's best, strongest performances - she showed tons of confidence and individuality. The only misstep was her wardrobe. When you sing a Torch Song ~ sexily draped across a piano ~ you do not dress for a Saturday afternoon wedding at the Country Club! You either dress like Michelle Pfeiffer in "The Fabulous Baker Boys", or dress like "Bennie" and wear a dress like Lauren Alaina's, but a tad shorter in front, and with knee-high black boots. The song is about "the greed and glitz of the early '70s music scene (and) is portrayed by Bernie Taupin's lyrics:

We'll kill the fatted calf tonight, so stick around,
you're gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound.

Taupin also goes on to describe the flashy wardrobe of "Bennie", the leader of the band:

She's got electric boots, a mohair suit
You know I read it in a magazine Ohh..."
(Dress with a eye toward your lyrics. Singing "We'll kill the fatted calf tonight" doesn't work while wearing a sweet, pastel floral dress! If you need a new stylist, give me a call! I worked as a personal shopper at Bullock's Wilshire for several years!)

The judges LOVED it! All three were applauding, and the audience was on it's feet. Jennifer Lopez praised, "YES! That was it Haley! It all came together. The voice, the moves, the confidence. You felt every place you were going. It was a great way to end the show, and it was amazing." Randy Jackson said, "For me, Best Performance of the Night!! You gave it up. You deserve it. (Jennifer: "That was hot!") Steven Tyler has been smitten with Haley since auditions. "You sing sexy," he raved.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

American Idol's Casey Abrams Performs "Your Song" on Top 11 Revived

Casey Abrams, American Idol Season 10's true original, leaps back to the top of the pack with "Your Song". Idol contestants took on the classic music of the legendary Sir Elton John in this week's 'Top 11 Revived' Show.

Jimmy Iovine, Interscope Records Chairman and Producer, came down really hard on Casey about last week's performance, asking, "Do you know what was wrong with that performance? Everything." He was so harsh with Casey because he knows what an amazing singer Casey can be. "Casey went from a guy who was killing them every week, to kill himself. The judges saved him, so now it's time for him to come back and earn that." Last week, Casey seemed overly cocky; all his quirks that were cute before had become over-exaggerated. I believe that if Casey goes back to being humble, we will all fall in love with him again!

The big reveal: Casey trimmed his hair and the scraggly beard. He's back to looking like the 'Sexy Beast', rather than the Homeless Hippie. I was never a great fan of "Your Song"; then I fell in love with Ewan McGregor's version in Moulin Rouge. I couldn't wait to see how Casey would interpret it. Beautiful! Casey left all the theatrics in last week's trash heap, and just let his pure voice shine through. "My gift is my song," Casey sang, and he gave it all he had. Even though he sang the song very tenderly, he still managed to get in that sexy growl and rasp we all love. The audience went wild with cheering. Randy Jackson praised, "One of the greatest saves we’ve ever had on the show. That performance, hearing you sing but not lose all of who the Casey is that makes you different, was absolutely brilliant. That was so nice, and so tender. Very nice choice. Well done man." Steven Tyler concurred, "One of the finest moments on this show was putting you through. If not but for the last two notes of that song, that was the most beautiful...if that's the only two notes you sang, you would have gotten a standing ovation. True artist." Jennifer Lopez added, "One decision I didn’t lose one ounce of sleep over was saving you. You proved why tonight, with the character in your voice. It was very Casey."

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