Thursday, May 12, 2011

American Idol's Scotty McCreery Sings “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”

Scotty McCreery, American Idol Season 10's consistently good Country Charmer, sang “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”. Tonight's celebrity guest mentor was Lady Gaga, and the first theme of the night was "Songs that Inspire". "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" is a Country song composed by Alan Jackson. Written in the wake of the September 11 attacks and introduced at the Country Music Association's annual awards show on November 7, 2001, it reached the top of the Billboard Country Charts. Scotty choose "Where Were You" "because these lyrics mean so much to me as an American. But I think they also speak to everybody out there in the country. So for me to be able to get on that stage and connect to all those people at one time, it's just gonna be a great experience."

Scotty gets a sit down with Host Ryan Seacrest before his performance. If Scotty makes it to the Top 3, he'll "go home and kiss the grass." Scotty keeps the theatrics to a minimum, and simply sits on the stage with a guitar and a violinist, so just the lyrics come powerfully through. A bit of a mis-connect with this song though, as Scotty was only 7 when the Twin Towers fell. Lines like "And I remember this from when I was young," just didn't hold true. Since Scotty didn't have an emotional connection to the events of 9/11 (because he was just a child), the song didn't nearly have the emotional impact it does when Alan Jackson sings it. But the Idol audience seemed to love it. Randy Jackson praised, "That’s a great amazing song, Alan Jackson. It's a great lyric. All these songs are inspirational because they mean so much to you. Perfect song choice for where we are now as a country. I think those lyrics, "I'm jut a simple guy singing a simple song" - I hope that you keep that. I think that you've set your mark on this stage this season. You’re ready for super stardom, Dude, and I hope you make it. Very nice." Steven Tyler added, "Scotty, Man, that was beautiful. Saw you almost lose it in the middle because of your passion for what you were singing about. I see it in your eyes now. You keep that up. That was beautiful." Jennifer Lopez raved, "I’m in love with you. What you stand for. What you bring to your music. I can tell how much you think about it. You know who you are. You know what touches other people. It’s the mark of somebody who was really meant to do this. I’m glad that we’re here to witness it."







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American Idol Season 10's James Durbin Performs “Don’t Stop Believing” on the Top 4 Show

James Durbin – the Rocker to beat on American Idol Season 10 - performed the classic Rock anthem “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey on the Top 4 Show. Tonight's first theme was "Songs that Inspire", and James choose this well-known Journey song because "never for one moment have I stopped believing."

James begins "Don't Stop Believing" seated on the steps, and like always, immediately draws the audience to him. "C’mon Randy I know you know the words!" shouts James. (In a small bit of unnecessary pandering. Randy Jackson, a bassist, was a session musician for the Rock group Journey from 1986 to 1987. Jackson played on Journey's 1986 album Raised on Radio.) This was a very solid, if unemotional, performance by James. He never goes anywhere near the top of his range, which is odd, considering Journey's Steve Perry sings much of the song in his sweet, high register, showing such amazing longing in his voice. Steven Tyler raved, "A little indication of what’s to come. You did it right. You couldn’t have picked a more popular song right now. (Big long bleep) Nice going." Jennifer Lopez praised James, "It's so great to listen to you, and hear you go into your upper register. Randy and I always wait for the bravado at the end, if you're gonna pull it out, and you do. It’s amazing. Everybody can’t do that. It was a really, really great job. Great song, great job, great performance." Randy added, "You're payin' such homage to my friends. Other than Aerosmith, one of the greatest rock bands ever, Journey. Also one of the greatest singers ever, other than Mr. Steven Tyler, in the Rock world, Steve Perry. I'm glad that you're giving him props; you're wearing the tails that Perry made famous (and an old Journey concert t-shirt!). Like they say in the Olympics, that was the highest degree of difficulty, and you did it."

Host Ryan Seacrest said, "The fight for the finale is heating up here!"






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Monday, May 9, 2011

American Idol's Scotty McCreery Croons "Always on My Mind” on the Top 5 Show

Scotty McCreery, American Idol Season 10's 'Country Cutie', croons “Always on My Mind” as his second song on the Top 5 'Now & Then' Show. "Always on My Mind" was originally recorded by Brenda Lee. Allmusic lists over 300 recorded releases of the song, in versions by dozens of performers. The most successful US version was performed by Willie Nelson. Successful covers in Europe were performed by Elvis Presley, and later Pet Shop Boys. At the 25th Grammy Awards held in 1983, the songwriters won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Country Song; in addition, Willie Nelson's recording won for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

"Jimmy told me not to compete with the other contestants, and just stay true to me," says Scotty. With "Always on My Mind" Scotty stayed true to himself, giving a very solid performance. The arrangement was a little to slow and sleepy for me, compared to my favorite Elvis version with the pronounced heartbeat-like drumming. I did like Scotty's story-telling phrasing and emotional intensity...he really knows how to draw the audience in. The crowd gave a long, loud, sustained standing O for Scotty. Jennifer Lopez, who loves the story-telling quality of Scotty's performances, said, "Between the last song and this one, you show us what a well-rounded artist you are. You can sing anything. You captivate the audience with your sweet voice. It's so beautiful. Nothing awkward about you up there. You're so comfortable in your own skin. A true performer." Randy Jackson praised, "We call you our youngest veteran. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. You do what you love. You're a huge Country music fan and you do it so well. When you speak quietly, and do the simplest thing, it gets the loudest reaction. I'm happy to see you do the tender moments because we now see the kind of record you're going to make and the artist Scotty's going to be. I love it, Dude." Steven Tyler raved, "Scotty, America loves your voice, Man. And you've just been takin' us up and down the trail. I love it. I think we're going to make it real hard for America to vote this year on American Idol because everybody's been so good tonight. I cannot pick that apart. That was a beautiful rendition of that song."







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American Idol's Lauren Alaina Sings “Unchained Melody” on the Top 5 Show

Lauren Alaina, American Idol Season 10's own Sweet Georgia Peach, gives a lovely performance of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers as her second song on the Top 5 'Now & Then' Show. Lauren choose "Unchained Melody" because "it's my mom and dad's song, and it's just beautiful. And I love it. When I sing it, I'll sing it for them." Both producer Jimmy Iovine and celebrity guest mentor Sheryl Crow warned Lauren that this song takes maturity. "You've gotta put yourself in the song. You're a young girl, with an older record. This is a mature kinda lyric. Most people know this song from the movie Ghost. It's a big song that everyone knows, and they all relate powerful emotions to it," says Jimmy, adding, "Lauren's gotta take this song and re-translate it, to what it means to Lauren." Sheryl was impressed with the vulnerability that Lauren showed singing this song.

Lauren looks perfect! "Unchained Melody" allows Lauren to show off her huge vocals. Her unforced power shines through beautifully. Jimmy and Sheryl were over-worried about Lauren's maturity, or lack thereof, in singing this song. The emotional intensity she evinces in the first chorus, singing "I need your love" would not have been sung any better by someone four times her age. Beautiful phrasing, technically perfect, an awesome performance for anyone of any age...let alone 16!! Lauren could win this, Fans! The crowd loves it!!! Jlo said, "Nothing to judge there. It was a beautiful song sung beautifully by you." Randy Jackson praised, "We saw a different side to you tonight. You had your little R&B runs, a little Whitney, Mariah-ish kinda thing. This girl can sing like a bird, and that's what you proved tonight. I'm so happy to see this other side of you, cuz I think you got your Country thing, but you got this other vibe too. Very nicely done. Very tender moment. Nice soul." Steven Tyler, who's always got big love for Lauren, said, "Your voice, your singing, you're so ripe, you're so there. I love that song. It was perfect. I could listen to you all night. There's nothing to judge. You're just beautiful."








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American Idol's James Durbin Performs “Without You” on the Top 5 Show

American Idol Season 10's James 'Bring Back Metal' Durbin gives an emotionally charged performance of “Without You” by Badfinger as his second song on the Top 5 'Now & Then' Show. (Hmmm, I thought the 'Then' songs were supposed to be from the 60's, right? Song bio after video) "Something in those lyrics moved him," said producer Jimmy Iovine after James broke down during rehearsals. "Why I'm out here is to make a better life for my family. Every time Heidi and Hunter come to visit, and they leave, I have to let them go," said James, explaining why the lyrics meant so much to him.

James performs the entire song standing at a microphone, and draws the audience to him. Even without the theatrics of a burning piano, fireworks or a drum corps, James still lights the house on fire! His voice is so strong, so pure, that even without strutting around the stage, he still commands the whole stage and moves the audience. (We've seen plenty of eliminees sing a ballad at the mic and completely fail to draw the audience in. I guess that's why they were eliminated!) James ends the song in tears, and as the camera panned the audience, you see several others crying as well. The crowd loved it, and so did all three judges...the standing ovation went on and on. Randy Jackson praised, "James, this is a mark of a truly great performer. I could feel your emotion when you started that, thinking about your family and the journey you are on here. For you to give a vocal like you gave, no it wasn’t perfect, but it was emotionally perfect. The notes, some of them were flat, choppy, but it was emotionally perfect, and that's what the audience feels. This competition is yours to lose." Steven Tyler said, "You know, James, when you sing as good as you do, and you can let a song get the best of you, that's crazy time. That's a beautiful thing. When your emotions and a song meet together somewhere, that was just as beautiful as it gets. I loved that. Pitchy a little bit, in a strange kinda James Durbin kinda way. Your emotions were incredible." Jennifer Lopez raved, "Everybody knows you can sing, but you're not just a guy who can wail up into the stratosphere, some Rocker who just sings these high notes and screams. That's not who you are. You have the heart and soul to back it up. You are a true, true artist. And you are serious about winning this thing. It takes a lot to control your emotions and deliver what you just delivered. He is amazing."







"Without You" is a song written by musicians Pete Ham and Tom Evans of British rock group Badfinger. According to ASCAP, the ballad has been recorded by more than 180 artists and has made many appearances on the Billboard Hot 100, including the number one position. Beatle Paul McCartney once described the ballad as "...the killer song of all time." Ham and Evans did not consider the song to have much potential at the time Badfinger recorded it, and the track was slotted to close Side A of their 1970 "No Dice" album.

Harry Nilsson, at the time best known for his hit "Everybody's Talkin'" and for composing such hits as Three Dog Night's "One", heard Badfinger's recording of "Without You" at a party, and mistook it for a Beatles' song. After realizing it was not, he decided to cover the song for his album "Nilsson Schmilsson" in 1971; it stayed at #1 on the U.S. pop chart for four weeks in 1972. The song also spent five weeks atop the U.S. Adult Contemporary Chart. In the U.K., the song spent five weeks at #1 on the British Pop Chart, and sold almost 800,000 copies.

Mariah Carey's version was released as the third single of "Music Box" in 1994, and in the United States it was released just over a week after Harry Nilsson had died following a heart attack on January 15, 1994. In the U.S. it was promoted as a double A-side with "Never Forget You". In the song Carey dips into her lower register and is accompanied by backup singers (including herself) magnified to sound like a mighty gospel chorus. Carey said that she decided to cover the song when she heard it in a restaurant (although when performing the song in Tokyo, she said she listened to it when she was a little girl). Her version has been considered very popular on talent shows. "Without You" was later included on some non-U.S. pressings of her compilation album #1's (1998).

Mariah Carey's "Without You" reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the Top 40 for twenty-one weeks and on the chart for twenty-three. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and #3 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales. Both radio airplay and sales were strong, and it was certified gold by the RIAA. It was ranked 16 on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts.

"Without You" remains Carey's biggest hit outside the U.S., being largely successful across Europe. It became her first UK #1 single, and still remains her only #1 there as a solo artist. It debuted at #1 on the chart and stayed there for four weeks. It was also her first chart-topper in Italy, but was most successful in Switzerland (with ten non-consecutive weeks at #1) and the Netherlands (twelve weeks). It also topped the singles chart in Germany for four weeks and Austria for eight weeks, where Carey's success had previously been limited. It also topped the Swedish Singles Chart for eight weeks, was #1 in Ireland for five weeks and in New Zealand for one week. It was able to make the Top 3 in Canada, France, Norway and Australia. It was certified Platinum in Australia and in Germany and Austria. It was also certified Gold in New Zealand and in France.

The song is one of only two Mariah Carey singles certified Gold in the UK with sales of 445,000 copies.




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