8:00: Amazing. Not only has it seemed that Idol has given up trying to be overly dramatic with their Wednesday recaps, but they're also totally selling out. Why? Because they just merged the Dramatic Recap with the Clash of the Titans trailer in an incredibly shameless plug. So the recap was both way too over-dramatic (using drama that wasn't even theirs) while also giving a bit of product placement. Nice. Moving on.
8:03: Oh joy. Ruben, the season 2 winner, is back to sing a song. Oh wait, that's right. Nobody cares. Ruben was one of those handful of Idol winners that didn't go anywhere upon winning. And it's kind of a foreshadowing (or warning?) for Big Mike should he win. Not because they're both big, black men... but because they both have exactly the same tone of voice, both go for the slower and more boring songs, and both go for R&B stylings. So yeah, Mike, you're pretty much just another Ruben. You have a good voice and you're likable, but you probably won't sell. Really, I'm just making crap up waiting for Ruben to stop singing. But he's still going. Seriously, it's been like... 4 minutes. Finally. He's done. I'm gonna stop typing now.
8:07: Ruben's a vegan? Uh huh. And, of course, Ryan brings up Big Mike to compare the two. How... expected. Giggity.
8:12: And now for the Ford Music Video of the week--Kung Fu Fighting. Really, the only ones who look cool in this video are Siobhan, Crystal, and Casey (and maybe Big Mike). The others just seem way out of place.
8:14: Aww... nobody laughed at Crystal's "easier to carry around" joke.
8:15: Ha... I love Andrew's mom. And... lucky bastages. They got to go to a pre-screening of Clash of the Titans in 3D. And on to the results...
8:16: Lee's up first, so he's totally safe. And is he safe?
8:18: Yup. Casey's up next. I think he's totally safe, too.
8:19: Yup. Aaron's up next... I think this can go either way, but I think his fan base is too big. Then again, his votes and Tim's votes are probably split amongst themselves. There's only so many tween votes out there, and they can only go to one.
8:20: Um... I think Kara just made a joke Ryan made just about 2 minutes before.
8:21: Aaron's safe. Siobhan and Katie stand up together. If one of them is in the bottom... based on singing last night, it'd be Siobhan. But based on awesomeness in general, Katie should be in the bottom. So the one in the bottom is...
8:22: Katie. Guessed it. Siobhan is crying (quite cutely, might I add). And Simon is frustrated that Katie isn't going country... despite having to go along with themes that aren't country (like R&B).
8:28: Uh oh... next week they're doing Lenin/McCartney. That didn't go so hot last year. And... ugh... Justin Beiber. I swear, he looks like he's 8 and he sings about true love. Anywho... Usher is singing now. I wasn't aware this song was Usher. I've heard it on the radio a few times... it's kinda annoying, but at the same time hypnotizing. Like a Lady GaGa song. Or Kesha. Except Usher's been around for years. And what the hell is with the voice modification trend? It's really annoying. I think the Black Eyed Peas are really the only ones who can get away with it, but even then, it can be iffy. But it just makes you sound like you can't sing worth a crap. And I know Usher can sing... but this is making his voice just sound... eh. I also have to say it's kinda annoying that Usher is going out of his way to be politically correct by saying "Oh my goSH" (literally emphasis on the SH) so to not say "God" on live television. Whatever.
8:37: Back to the results. Didi's up... she's gotta be in the bottom. I mean, I figure she's the one going home, after all.
8:38: Yup, Didi's in the bottom.
8:39: Rube... er... Big Mike's up now. Wow, you know... I think this is the first time Ellen has spoken tonight. Anywho... Mike'll be safe.
8:40: And after a brief fake-out, Mike's safe. And then he literally picks up Ryan over his head... excellent. Crystal stands up.
8:41: And sits back down. She's safe. (Then she threatens to pick him up, too... lol). Tim and Andrew stand up together. Any other week, I'd say it could go either way. But I think it's definitely Tim this week.
8:42: I think Kara just called Tim 'slow' (mentally). What's wrong with Tim smiling? Seriously? Let it go. I think it's a decent trait. Anywho... Andrew is safe. Tim's in the bottom. And he'll probably go right back to the safety zone right now.
8:43: The safe one for now is... Katie. Huh. So it's between Tim and Didi. You know, this could be close. I seriously doubt it'll be Tim, but his reign can't last forever, right?... right?
8:48: Yet another performance. And it's by... who? Diddy Dirty Mommy? I really have no idea what Ryan just said (in regards to his name). You know, I just realized, I don't believe Ryan has once mentioned "Idol Gives Back" tonight. I think it's a record. Anywho... turns out it's just P-Diddy AKA Sean Combs AKA Puff Daddy AKA... whatever... with yet another new name--Diddy-Dirty Money. He changes his name more often than Jon and Kate have kids. Pretty soon he'll just pull a Prince and give us a symbol. And now he just gave every epileptic watching a major seizure with that insane strobe flashing. Alright now. Song's over. Let's just get on with the show already.
8:57: Back with the results. And the one in danger of going home tonight is... Didi. Just like I figured. This was a pretty straight forward results show, then. No surprises whatsoever. She's gonna sing for her life, but I doubt the judges are gonna save her. As her goodbye song, she's going for Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. I do have to say, I like that they give them the chance to sing anything they've sung before and they don't have to sing the song America hated. It just makes more sense to me. But... this is still not worthy of saving her, to put it nicely. And... that was a really scary note. It sounded like a deaf person calling for help (I wonder how many people I've offended this live blog so far).
9:00: Do not save her... do not save her. Thank God. The crowd started chanting, and Simon looked befuddled, like he was considering it. But then he came out and said no (despite it being, as he says, a million times better than last night).
9:02: And now that we're a couple minutes overtime, we get to see the Goodbye video. Idol is really notorious for running over in time... and without the need to actually do so. They pad the shows with pointless crap just to fill up a time slot, and then they run over. So... just stop padding the show. Get to the point. Anywho, that's it for this week. See y'all next week for Lenin/McCarthy! Hopefully Siobhan saves herself (and Lee continues to get even more awesome).
It's Tuesday, which means Idol night! And that means it's the night where I ask the following question: How will Crystal and Siobhan blow us away this week? Especially Crystal, who promised us last week something special for this week. And, of course, Siobhan is just hot and awesome. Tonight is R&B night, which should be good, especially for Big Mike. Maybe not so much for Tim, Aaron, and Didi. But we'll see.
7:00: Uh... Simon just kissed Ellen. That was weird. But uh... "This... is American Idol!"
7:04: Usher is the mentor tonight. Should be interesting. But I just wanna know who is up first.
7:07: Yeah, yeah, stop pimping Usher's new album. Let's get to the show already.
7:08: Whoo! Siobhan is up first! She's singing "Through the Fire" by Chaka Khan.
7:09: I'm liking her hair much better this week than last. The song is kinda slow... oh no... no, Siobhan! You just gave a bad note. Don't do this to me... no, another bad note. Ick. Stop it! OK, that note made up for it a little bit, but... Siobhan, this isn't good for you. This is probably your worst performance. Yeah... didn't really like that. Quite pitchy. You make me sad, Siobhan. So sad.
7:11: Randy thought it was all over the place and a bit pitchy, but thought she was courageous for taking on the song. Ellen didn't think it was her best performance. Kara thought the screaming parts were good, but the lower register wasn't good, but every performer is entitled to an 'Off' night. Simon thought it sounded like she was singing while running a marathon and by far her weakest performance. He says he's also getting bored with the screaming at the end. I have to say though... I kinda agree with the judges. It just wasn't good for her this week. But I totally love her outfit and overall looks this week.
7:20: Aww... they show backstage as Siobhan goes back to cry. Poor Siobhan. But now we're back with Casey! And he's singing "Hold On I'm Coming" by Sam and Dave. I like this song, and I think it so suits Casey. This should be great (and it's never been performed on Idol).
7:22: Doing good so far. I like that he's forgoing the guitar during the chorus to showcase more his singing. I'm really digging this. Good stuff. Loved it.
7:24: Apparently the crowd loved it, too. Randy loved it. Ellen says he's consistent, but thought it was slightly generic, despite his great vocals. Kara thinks he has more range than he's showing. Simon, on the other hand, thought it was his strongest performance he's had, and he's really (really really) impressed with him this week.
7:33: Sorry, Mike, but I'm getting kinda tired of all the slow love songs. Get out of this comfort zone and do something entertaining and fun for once. He's singing "Ready for Love" by India Arie.
7:34: Sitting with an acoustic guitar. Vocals are really good. But it's just kinda... boring. Wow, that's really sad. Part of the lyrics said "If you ask me tomorrow" and my immediate thought was "you shall find me a grave man." That's a clue you've been spending too much time with Romeo and Juliet. Blah. Anyway... great vocals and guitar playing... just kinda boring and I wish he'd do something faster and fun again.
7:36: Randy thinks he's in the zone, but it wasn't all that exciting. Though he says it's good to pull it back a bit (for 3 weeks, though?). Ellen loved it. Kara thought he did incredible with it. Simon says this is the first time he can take him seriously as an artist and despite the song being a bit gloomy, he proved himself tonight. I suppose I can see their love. It was well done... I'd just like him to do something bigger.
7:43: I'm kinda liking these behind-the-scenes moments. Keeps them real with us. But now we're back with Didi. She's singing "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" by (I'm assuming) Jimmy Ruffin (as they never say which version).
7:46: Vocals are OK. But she's no R&B artist... this isn't her bag. She and Lily Scott had a similar vocal style, and I think Lily could have pulled this off better (she was a much better singer, and I'm still surprised Didi stayed on longer). Didi gave a pretty good note... then it just kinda slipped downhill pretty fast. Overall... meh.
7:47: Randy didn't think it was great. Ellen didn't get it; thought it was too dramatic. Kara wants singer/songwriter... but you don't have too much singer/songwriter with R&B (that I'm aware of). Simon thought it was too old-fashioned and didn't like it. I'm kinda with the judges here.
7:50: Ryan keeps pushing why Didi sang that song and what made it emotional. Didi refuses to say. The judges tell him to stop. He does, but ends up saying "she auditioned for a special person. We'll leave it at that." We all know her backstory, Ryan. Her friend died. It's hard for her. Leave it alone. She doesn't wanna pimp her backstory like Mike or Andrew.
7:55: Yay! Tim! Doing R&B! Wait... no. Just... no. What's he doing? "Sweet Love" by Anita Baker. And Usher wants Tim to pretend he's in love with him. Strange. Let's see how he does.
7:58: Vocals are actually pretty good. The song is kinda cheesy, but he's singing it well. And I hate that. Because that means that, besides her screaming parts, Siobhan is getting out-sung by Tim this week. And Tim wasn't even INTERESTING. Le sob. (OK, maybe that was a bit harsh and/or too far).
8:00: Randy thought he sang in tune, so that's good. But that it at times felt too pedestrian and 'singer/songwriter'... so... what's that say about Didi? Ellen plays a drinking game for those who take a shot with every 'adorable' she says. "Good for you for taking that on, but... oh, boy, why?" Kara--to keep it short--didn't like it. Simon: "It doesn't make any difference whatsoever what we say... you're gonna smile. The audience is gonna vote for you. You're gonna be here next week. So good for you." Oh, so (unfortunately) true.
8:08: Ryan and Randy are being goofs... and Andrew is now up. He's singing "Forever" by Chris Brown. But turning it acoustic. I wonder if he'll actually be good... oh, who am I kidding? I doubt it. Unless Usher's advice can flip everything around.
8:10: What... wait, what? This is... this is good. This is actually good. Andrew... Andrew, you're doing something good? And Siobhan didn't? Something is wrong with this picture. I'm... I'm actually liking this quite a bit.
8:12: Randy: "Andrew is back!" Randy digs the outfit, too, but... I dunno. Ellen loved it. Kara: "That is one giant leap in the right direction." Simon thought it was miles better than he's been doing, but he needs to show more personality. But you know what, now? "Straight Up" is out, and "Forever" is gonna be the new song they keep comparing him to. Poor Andrew.
8:20: We're back and Katie is singing... Aretha Franklin? Oh no, this is gonna be a train wreck. Imagine that... somebody singing "Chain of Fools" on American Idol. This is one of the most over-sung songs on this show. And I really don't think Katie has the voice for this song (not to mention it goes against the whole 'stay current' thing the judges tell her to).
8:22: Not doing too bad. But with such an overdone song, she's really not doing anything special with it. A couple pitch problems here and there, usually in her lower register, but not terrible. Just nothing overly special about it.
8:24: Randy thought it was one of the best vocals of the night, despite it starting a bit rough and a couple disconnections here and there. Ellen thought the vocals were great, but thought it should have been more current. Kara thinks this is one of her best, but says she has to go back to making it young and current. Simon thought it was 'pretty good', though robotic and cold. And he massively disagrees with Kara's advice that she's been giving Katie over the last couple weeks (which is Katie should be R&B/Pop). Overall, certainly good vocally... but the performance wasn't special.
8:33: Lee is up! I hope he pulls something similar to Casey and does super well tonight. I so hope he has his first big 'moment' tonight. So what are you singing? "Treat Her Like A Lady" by Cornelius Brothers. Come on, Lee! Believe in yourself! You can do it!
8:35: Yeah! Come on, Lee. You're getting there. Heck yeah! Keep it up, bro! And I think Lee just had his very first moment.
8:37: Randy: "Unbelievable." Ellen: "Now the night's started." Kara: "It was amazing." Simon: "I want you to go home, watch this back, and understand that this might be the night your life changed forever." Nice. Totally the best of the night thus far.
8:43: Yay! Crystal's up! Let's see what her big plans are that she mentioned last week. If anyone can outshine Lee, it'll be Crystal. So we'll see. She's doing "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips.
8:45: She's playing piano! That's a change. I just love her voice. She's doing fantastically. Wow... she hit a higher note. Not used to that. That was fantastic.
8:47: Randy loved it. Ellen: "You're never not good." She thought it was wonderful. Kara: "I'm so glad you took that risk." Simon thought it was sensational, but thought she could have dropped the background vocalists and a couple other things. He also says to be sure not to change anything about herself for the show and to stay true to herself. All around great stuff.
8:54: We're back with Aaron. He's singing "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers. This is a great song... so I really hope he can pull it off.
8:55: Ugh... rocky start. Not liking it so far. Yeah... he's so not pulling this song off. It's, well, it's not good. Even after Usher's specific training on the "I know, I know" part, I didn't believe it.
8:58: Randy thought it started off rough, but it was overall just alright. Ellen liked it. Kara liked it, but wasn't in love with it. Simon says that if Lee was the main course, this was like a cupcake. But there's no chance he'll be leaving the competition. I do think he'll be sticking around, but I think they're gonna watch it back and not like it as much as they did live.
8:59: Recap. Siobhan made me really sad tonight. Casey was excellent. Big Mike is starting to bore me. Didi was just not good. Tim was corny and kinda bland... on pitch... but way too bland. Andrew was one of the best tonight (surprising, I know). Katie had good vocals, but could have done better (which is what I feel I keep saying every week). Lee was the best this week. Crystal comes in second tonight, though barely. Aaron was 'blah'.
Final Thoughts: I'd say my Top were Lee, Crystal, and Andrew... then up next is Casey. I think the Bottom 3 are gonna be Didi, Katie, and Tim, with Didi going home. We'll see tomorrow!
For this episode, our shortest yet (they just keep getting shorter and shorter!), we're joined by our very first guest host, Rachel from Rachel's Reel Reviews. After plugging her blog and a monthly event that correlates with the main topic, we get into said topic--a discussion on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax.
Main Topic: MST3K and RiffTrax (33 Minutes)
The topic spans from why it's well liked, how it did so well, favorite episodes, and even a bit of Mike vs. Joel. And then, after a brief D-Bag segment, we move on to the next segment.
Reality Round-Up (15 minutes)
Rachel takes a break as Travis and I begin the reality show discussions. The Survivor talk is brief, as we're both mostly in agreement that Russell is king. And then our Idol talk has turned spit-fire, going from one contestant to the next, giving our thoughts, and wrapping it up with the Power Rankings.
Recommend A... (6 minutes)
Rachel recommends a web comic created by a friend, Bluff in the Pines.
I recommend the rising internet sensation "A Very Potter Musical," the Harry Potter musical. More information can be found at their website: Team Star Kid.
And Travis recommends the new wannabe-superhero film Defendor starring Woody Harrelson.
Monologue of the Week (9 minutes)
We wrap things up with the monologues of the week. And yes, we do force Rachel to do one. I kick things off with a speech from the love-it-or-hate-it Sci-Fi film The Faculty. Travis then moves into more... verbose territory with Pulp Fiction. And then Rachel shows up the both of us with an internal monologue from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
For the music this week, I went back (due to popular demand) to the theme used in the first episode. So thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Imcompetech Website. As always, you can use the player above to listen to the podcast, or you can search iTunes, where we are also available for download. Enjoy!
For those of you who have never heard of Smosh... how dare you. They're two friends from California who became an internet sensation a few years back (mostly getting their gain to fame from, ironically, a lip syncing video to Pokemon). But that's not the video I'm showing. I've been a fan of Smosh for years, and while the quality of their humor varies from video to video, their newest one tickled the geek in me. It's called "If Video Games Were Real."
The next video on the list is an oldie but a goodie. I used to quote this video all the time (which shows what kind of life I ever had) and had forgotten about it until today. It is essentially just two gangsta guys watching Pokemon. So here it is, "Two Guys Watch Pokemon." (Warning: Language).
To continue with the Pokemon trend here, this is a video I randomly stumbled upon today. It's a group of guys who made a pretty awesome song (and music video) in the style of gangsta rap about Pokemon. It's incredibly clever and full of really witty puns. And there are so many Pokemon references that anybody who played the original games will be dying laughing. If I had to equate this to anything lately, I'd say it's a nerdy version of something The Lonely Island would do. Here you are, "Pokemon Gangsta Rap."
Now jumping from Pokemon to Mario, here is something leaving comedy and going into just the plain amazing. A friend showed me this video. It's essentially an 11-minute Rube Goldberg machine using a Super Mario World mod that plays about 33 different songs using background music and sound effects from the game.
Now, going back to the funny, I wanna wrap this up with 4 videos that are absolutely, literally ROFL-inducing videos. Apparently there is a computer mod for the original Mario Bros. game that totally screws up the levels to where there's no floor and everything just doesn't make sense. Well, this guy spends about 20 minutes trying to go through it (only ever making it to level 1-2), and his voice-over is one of the funniest things I've heard in a long time. What makes it funnier is the fact that he sounds almost like a middle eastern guy trying to do a Christopher Walken impression the entire time. And if you'd like to see somebody actually beat this mod (and in short time), you can just search YouTube. But it's not even remotely as entertaining as this. So here you are, "Mario - The Hardest Level." (Warning: Incredibly strong language throughout).
Whew... my internet was acting mean and not wanting to function properly. I got worried there for a minute. But it's back up just in time for the Results show where Paige BETTER be leaving. So let's find out.
8:00: I always wanna laugh at these over-dramatic recaps at the beginning of the Results shows. Seriously... they're so hardcore and over-the-top.
8:01: "This... (this) is American Idol!" Yeah. Somebody in the background said 'this' during his pause. Or it was just an echo. Who knows?
8:02: WTF? Did that random audience member have some major nosebleed? Maybe it was just me, but it looked like she had this giant red gush of blood from her nostril into her cleavage. Anyway... Ryan reminds us of the Judge's Save yet again before introducing the judges.
8:03: The Top 11 perform WHAM!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." It's cute and entertaining. And Siobhan's hair is much better tonight.
8:10: And we're back... with the Ford Music Video. Is that the Greek theme song? The "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh" at least sounds like it. I know... so descriptive. Anywho. On to the results! Whoever makes this cut makes it into the Tour. But it better be Paige going home.
8:12: Apparently Casey screwed up during rehearsal, but did it just fine during the show. And now they're showing Siobhan's boss and friends. OK, the bloody girl was one of Siobhan's friends (a "Siobhan-bie"... you know, like zombie, but with Siobhan). Katie's dad is out getting drunk, afraid he'll jinx Katie and send her home. Big Mike is shown via video wearing a baby bjorn. So, yeah... on with the results. Filling up the Bottom 3.
8:15: Siobhan's up first. She'll be fine. Yup (Damn you Ryan for that terrible fake-out).
8:16: Lee and Casey both stand up.
8:17: Ugh... he makes them stay there after all that talking and make Paige and Tim both stand up, now talking to the two of them. And Paige is in the Bottom 3. And so is Tim. And... Lee and Casey are still standing. WTF? Nice time for a commercial. Poor guys.
8:24: And we're back. Ryan announces that next week they'll be doing an "R&B Soul" theme with Usher as the mentor. And now Miley Cyrus is performing. And I actually think she's singing and not lip syncing as they usually do. It's actually nice. Actually (just thought I'd toss another one in there).
8:27: WTF, it looked like Miley just started convulsing in the middle of her song. And I think it's her attempt at headbanging. Um... no.
8:28: Hey! A Billy-Ray sighting.
8:34: Surprise surprise, Ryan is pimping out Idol Gives Back. Again. OK, Lee and Casey are safe, according to Ryan.
8:35: Aaron is up. He'll be safe. Yup.
8:36: Didi is up now. I'm wondering if Andrew is gonna be in the Bottom 3.
8:38: Didi is safe. Big Mike's up. He's safe.
8:39: Crystal. Oh, she's totally safe. Ryan: "Kara says no guitar. Simon says guitar. Who do you listen to if you make it through?" Crystal: "Me." Hell yeah, girl. And she's safe.
8:40: Katie and Andrew stand up. And the person joining the Bottom 3 is...
8:42: Katie. Andrew's safe. But I think Ryan will be going to let one of the Bottom 3 (Paige, Tim, Katie) to safety. Granted, I think the Bottom 3 was totally right, bu the person safe and going on Tour is... Katie. Leaving it up to Paige and Tim. And I'm OK with either one going home, but I actually hope it's Paige.
8:47: And... another performance... this time by Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas. Demi was really pitchy right there. I can hardly hear them singing over all the tween girls freaking out (and I'm not sure I can watch the TV with all their overly dramatic movements and whatnot. It's stupidly over-the-top). I think all I got out of that was "throw a pebble in the water, make a wave." What amazing, groundbreaking lyrics.
8:50: Surprise surprise... Joe Jonas was actually a guest judge during the auditions and saw Tim when he went through. Irony.
8:54: Half of me hopes it's Paige because she's just so terrible. The other half hopes it's Tim so I don't have to hear Paige sing again. But the one going home (unless the Judges save them) is...
8:55: Paige. Thank God. But now I have to hear her Re-Sing. But at least Simon comes straight out and says that no matter how she sings tonight, they're not gonna save her. But now she has to Re-Sing anyway. And... Oh God, did Ryan just say "What are you gonna tell your kids when you go back to class?" Paige is a TEACHER? That makes me feel even better about my profession. Le sigh. (OK, so I don't know where the correlation is, but hey... it was a free joke).
8:57: The Goodbye video.
8:58: Paige Re-Sings and... I really want to mute my TV, but I'm horribly tempted to see if she does any better. And... she actually is. But she's singing a different song. She's singing the one from last week when she didn't have a voice. And it's much better than last night's (but it couldn't have been any worse).
Final Thoughts: Thank God. I know this means Tim is in the Tour and Top 10, but at least Paige is finally gone. So... I'll see y'all next week when it's R&B Soul night with Usher.
It's Tuesday, so you know what that means. Tomorrow's halfway through the week! Oh, and it's American Idol night. Tonight they're doing Top Billboard (#1) songs, and my wager is that Aaron Kelly sings The Jonas Brothers (mostly because he sounds just like them). Oh, and Miley Cyrus is the "mentor" tonight... despite most of the contestants being older than her and her having so little experience. But anyway. On with the show!
7:00: "This... is American Idol!"
7:02: As Randy says, the Top 10 goes on the Tour, so this is a big night. Whoever goes tomorrow night doesn't make the Tour... so just like making the Top 12, making the Top 10 is a big important... thingy.
7:04: Aw... the show is gonna suck without Simon starting next season. I already miss him, and he's still here!
7:05: Whoa, WTF. I just saw Siobhan's hair. It doesn't suit her well. Anyway... we're getting some history of the Hot 100 Billboard list. And the introduction of Miley Cyrus.
7:07: Can we just get on with the show already? Stop stalling. I don't really care about finding out what Miley Cyrus felt about finding out she'd be a mentor on American Idol.
7:08: Lee's up first. Come on, show us some confidence this week! He'll be singing "The Letter" by the Box Tops. Even Miley tells him he needs to push himself harder and show more stage presence.
7:09: Looks like he's having more fun with it than usual. And he's smiling! The vocals are pretty good. Still waiting for the "Wow" moment, though. No BIG Wow Moment, but still a HUGE step up from his past performances.
7:12: Randy: "You knocked it out of the box." Ellen compares Lee to her favorite pen. Lol. Kara: "You've raised the bar for yourself." Simon thought it was corny and... was Kara just trying to kiss Simon? Anyway... I disagree with Simon.
7:18: We're back with... eh... Paige. And she's singing Phil Collins? Not really a choice I'd have gone with but... we'll see. Oh, who am I kidding? She'll probably be terrible. And even Miley is saying "pitchy."
7:19: Here's "Against All Odds." *shudder* The song has barely started and there's already some insane pitch problems. I swear, if she's not gone this week... I was about to say how she can't sing in her low register, but then she started singing in a higher register, and she can't sing with that one, either. God, this is unbearably terrible. Like... bad bad.
7:22: Randy is near speechless. "That was honestly terrible." Ellen: "I'm gonna start with a positive... you didn't fall down." Haha... she has no music critique and passes it on to Kara and Simon. Kara: "It was the worst vocal I've heard from you and possibly from the season." Simon: "It was like there were 5 of you singing the song and they were all getting progressively worse."
7:26: No, Ryan. No. Even if you've been a fan of Paige, do not vote for her. She needs to go, like... 3 weeks ago. And... Oh, God, no. Did Ryan just say Tim was gonna sing Queen? Pardon me while I go cry...
7:30: And we're back... with Tim... doing Queen... "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." No words can describe what I'm feeling going into this...
7:31: A couple pitchy problems... and a really cheesy stage slide. Yeah, totally cheesy performance, but fun (for Tim). And at least better than Paige. Yeah. That's right, people. TIM URBAN singing QUEEN is better than Paige's last performance. That should be a sentence that should never have been said.
7:33: Randy: "The dopest thing you did was the slide, but the vocals were so boring." Ellen felt it was an audition for High School Musical. haha... "There's a large group of people that will love that performance... and then there's me." Kara: "It was so Zac Efron." Simon: "I don't think the sliding around was the problem, because it distracted from the song so I can see why you did that." Burn. I agree. It wasn't great, but Tim had fun with it at the very least.
7:41: And now we're back and... Aaron's doing... Aerosmith? Ugh. And on top of that, he has both Laryngitis AND Tonsillitis. I'm just gonna go to bed to get rid of the headache I already have and avoid crying tonight. Aaron has a big crush on Miley (big shock). And he's singing "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing."
7:43: He's actually not doing bad, especially considering his voice. Granted, it's like if The Jonas Brothers covered Aerosmith, which should never, ever happen... Ouch, really bad note. Overall, it wasn't great, but it was Paige (which is like... the new synonym for God-awful).
7:45: Randy didn't think it was a perfect performance, but likes him. Ellen thought it was amazing. Kara thought it was the best song choice of the night (not best song, but best choice). Simon thought he's trying to make him too old fashioned, but there's zero chance he's going home. Simon starts to say he should give Miley something, but the audio drowns out. Lol... Ryan says "If you'd like to vote for David Archelleta here..."
7:48: Yes! Crystal! Finally something good. Crystal's up with some Janice Joplin. Perfect choice. "Me and Bobby McGee."
7:49: As usual, she's blowing it out of the water. Not much else to say. Best so far of the night... but Siobhan's still to come.
7:51: Randy can't even get a word in due to the crowd's cheering. Randy said she's a star and "that's the way you do it." Ellen thinks she can be a bit too stoic at time, but loves her. Kara loved it, but wonders if she can drop the guitar. But Crystal said she has big plans for next week if she's still around (and she will be). Simon wouldn't change anything, and thought that performance was just as good as the best version of the song. Crystal and Ryan sit down on a carpet that she put out on stage. Crystal's great. Can't wait for next week.
7:59: Big Mike's up. He's totally not star struck by Miley, picking her up in a hug. He's singing "When a Man Loves a Woman." Though it's kinda awkward to sing that to Miley Cyrus... anywho.
8:01: Already great. You know, random thoughts here... I bet if they do another Michael Jackson week, he'd do great. But back to this song. This is pretty great, if not a bit old fashioned. Still great, though.
8:03: Randy doesn't know if it was his best, but still loved it. Ellen thought it was safe, but loved it. Kara loves him, but thought it was boring. Simon thought he tried to make an old fashioned song relevant, but made it a bit too lounge-y. Still liked it, though. But here's the thing... what was the difference between this and Maxwell (despite Maxwell being newer). It sounded similar to me, except fewer higher notes. Whatevs.
8:10: Andrew is up with "Heard it through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye. Miley suggests putting the guitar away.
8:11: Pretty good vocals, but... kinda boring. It's like he's trying to have fun with it, but at the same time, it's like he's just running through the motions. There's no heart or connection to the song. It's just... singing.
8:13: Randy didn't think it was good ("wrong song choice"). Ellen didn't think it was fantastic. Kara feels bad for him. Simon: "Maybe we just over-rated that moment" in regards to his Paula Abdul song... which I can see. And then that he sucked the soul out of "one of the greatest pop songs of all time" while acting really corny. I can see that, too.
8:20: Katie's up. She's singing "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie.
8:21: Vocals are good so far. It's kinda funny how similar this sounds to the original. It's actually pretty good.
8:24: Randy didn't think it was her best performance, but likes that she listens to the judges. On the other hand, Ellen did think it was her best performance. Kara thinks Katie is more "Pop with R&B leanings," so this was really good. Simon: "I think you meeting Miley Cyrus was probably the best thing that could have happened to you." He thought it was a good performance, though still thinks she should go for more country.
8:31: Casey's up next! Let's hope he does something really good. He's singing "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News. LOL... to Miley Cyrus... "I'm a big fan of you....r dad."
8:33: Finally! Rocker Casey is back! I don't know about his best, but it's certainly better than his last couple weeks!
8:35: Randy wasn't a fan of the song choice, but thought he did it well. Ellen agrees... but best vocal of the night? Not quite. Up there, but not quite. Kara thinks he's just ready to make an album right now. Simon: "It was like watching and listening to an 80s cover band. But maybe it's just me. I'm English." haha... but I agree with Randy. Not sure I dug the song, but Casey did it really well.
8:41: Is it sad that, in talking on the phone with my mother earlier about who was left in the show, we couldn't remember Didi? Huh... she's singing "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt. And Ryan mispronounces her last name.
8:43: She's actually doing pretty well. Her voice fits this song well. It's still quite old fashioned, though, so the judges probably won't like it. But I think her voice fits the song very well.
8:44: Randy loved the idea of it, but thought it was pitchy. Ellen didn't think it was the right song choice. Kara thought she was playing a character. Simon: "There was a certain irony in you screeching out 'you're no good, you're no good, you're no good' over and over again." Huh... I kinda disagree with the judges here. I liked it, for the most part.
8:51: Saving the best for last. Before the break, Ryan said Siobhan was gonna sing some Stevie. Is that Stevie Nicks? Stevie Wonder? Stevie Ray Vaughn? I'm thinking the first. Let's see... And it's "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder. Wow... that doesn't really match her hair. But alright.
8:52: So far it's alright. Crystal's coming out on top for me so far. She's having fun with it, though. And her vocals aren't bad. It's just not a super spectacular performance like the last few weeks. Though the last few notes were excellent.
8:54: Randy loved it. Ellen: "To quote Oliver, 'more please.'" Kara doesn't think it was her best performance, but loved the end note. Simon: "I think there's gonna be a real split with this one." I can agree.
8:57: The Recap. Lee was really good (much improved). Paige was... sorry, I just convulsed. Tim... singing Queen... was better than Paige. Aaron was... alright. Crystal was the best of the night. I liked Big Mike. I've just given up on Andrew. I actually liked Katie tonight. Casey's back! I don't care what the judges say, I thought Didi did well. Siobhan has done better, but was still way up there as usual.
Final Thoughts: Paige is definitely gone (and if she's not, I might just give up on the future of America). Crystal was the best of the night, followed by Siobhan, Casey, Lee, and Big Mike. They're just in a completely different playing field than Tim, Paige, Didi, Katie, and Aaron. So, we'll see what happens tomorrow. See y'all then.
Now I'm so conflicted. How dare you do this to me, Michael Bay. How dare you.
Plugs (6 Minutes)
The following websites were discussed during the Plugs portion of the podcast:
-Financial and Sales Advice
-Blog Cabins (for the LOST Reviews/Recaps)
-Cool Awesome Movies
-The Lair of the Unwanted Podcast
Topic: Book (and video game) to film adaptations (45 Minutes)
This week we lose one segment--the "If I had written/directed" bit--and gain another. We call it the "Demented Bag" or "D-Bag." The D-Bag is placed in the tail-end of the main topic (yeah... the pun is intended, people) and allows for listener participation! We take your comments and questions and read them aloud on the podcast, giving you our thoughts in return. If you would like to be a future D-Bag contributor, please join our Facebook Fan Page here.
The Reality Round-Up is shorter this week, clocking in at around 19 Minutes, though with no Survivor this week, it's a purely American Idol discussion (and only promising to get shorter as the weeks go on, with the contestants list shrinking along the way).
We spin into a brief (3 minute) "Recommend A..." where the both of us actually go for music-related recommendations.
And finally we wrap the show with a completely coincidental Princess Bride-centric "Monologue of the Week." Though Travis' is more "Dialogue of the Week," mine could be considered an "Interrupted Monologue," as it would have been a monologue had Westley just not been continually interrupted.
And we apologize immediately for anybody offended by our terrible accents.
Music this week is provided by iTunes and American Idol, giving you a couple brief clips of the lovely Siobhan as she sings her rendition of "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones. The song is not given in its entirety and we strongly urge you to go out and buy it yourself if it interests you. Also, you can now subscribe to us via iTunes. We hope you enjoy this week's episode. Join us next week when we should have our very first guest host!
Let's start off with the plot, one of the only non-stolen things in this movie. In the not-too-distant future, a company is formed to give the dying or the vain the option to get new organs and other body parts on credit. But if you can't pay your credit, they send Repo Men to hunt you down and cut the part(s) out of you while you're still alive. Remy (Jude Law) plays a Repo Man who doesn't care for his job and wants to keep it and his family separate from each other (especially from his child). But his wife is tired of the late nights and killing, so she gives him the ultimatum of taking a job in sales or leaving. His partner and best friend Jake (Forest Whitaker) wants him to stay in Repo. But after one last job that, well, backfires, Remy is forced to get a new heart from the company. He starts seeing things from the victims' perspective and can no longer go through with repossessions, which really puts a damper on paying off his credit on his heart. So when he goes past due, Remy has to go on the run and try to figure out a way to clear his debt and stay alive.
Before I get into the movie itself, I have to get all the similarities out of the way first. Of course there's the obvious Repo Men of organs idea (which in and of itself wasn't original to Repo! Opera, as there was a sketch from Monty Python that dealt with the same subject--that sketch, in fact, is actually shown in this movie briefly). But both are in a dystopian near-future. Then there's a dark-haired female singer with, I kid you not, altered eyes--among other things, but they actually made a point of the eyes at one point--and she's a pretty big part of the movie. There's the fact that both Repo Men are a bit reluctant, but still drawn in by the job. Both Repo Men have family issues that stem from the job. Both movies have an illegal street drug that helps dull pain and becomes an addiction to some people (Q in this one and Zydrate in the other); though Q is red and Zydrate is blue, so, you know... bit leap there. I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting, but I really wanted to mention the ultimate slap in the face: Marty Adams plays a brief role in both films that indebted to the respective company. And let's take a gander at his character names in both films: In this, he's "Obese Man" and in the other he's "Big Man." Uh huh.
One last one I wanted to bring up isn't even a rip-off of Repo! Opera, but I felt it was worth mentioning. At one point, Remy is fighting his way down a narrow hallway against a bunch of "hitmen" (for lack of a better term) and even uses, at one point, a hammer. Now, it's not one continuous shot or anything but... Oldboy, anyone? And then the ending--which I'll get to later--is another total ripoff to another movie that came out in the early 2000s.
But let's move on to the actual film. Besides the complete and utter unoriginality (it even pimps the book it's apparently based on in the movie, despite the book coming out after the movie already started production), it's honestly a decent movie. In fact, I might have enjoyed it more had I not been educated in films the typical American hasn't heard of. Now, this review will be mostly negative, but I'll say it now: I really did find entertainment here.
For instance, the action was decent and there were some truly wonderful music choices. But like the music, sometimes the movie felt uneven. While there were great and unique choices in music, sometimes it just stuck to the bland, basic tension-filled orchestral stuff that every other movie has. Where else the movie falters is in its tone. It seems the movie doesn't know whether it wants to be a gory action thriller or a dark comedy. There are some darkly humorous moments, but they're so scattered throughout the movie that they nearly feel out of place at times.
Another issue I had is the CGI blood. This is the second movie of late where this has really bugged me, the first being Ninja Assassin. The CGI blood is so obviously fake, sometimes laughably so, that it takes you out of the moment (and an otherwise attempting-to-be-realistic movie). At least Repo! Opera had the decency to use real fake blood as opposed to this rising trend of fake fake blood. I mean, seriously, it has to cost more to create buckets of CGI blood than buckets of the 'real' stuff.
A few final notes and then I'll shut up: The wife character was stupidly annoying and didn't make sense, especially on the subway sequence near the end. But the acting was pretty good, for the most part. Finally, I'm not sure if the ending of this movie pissed me off or not. It certainly irked me. They do one of the only original things this movie had going for it--what the characters do to get around being Repo'd--which is actually pretty damn cool... and then the ending slaps you in the face (which is already pretty raw at this point). Again, I know it sounds like I absolutely loathed this movie, and on some level I think I do, but taking out all my predispositions against it, it was actually pretty enjoyable.
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.
(P.S. I was actually going to give it one score higher, but just for the hell of it, I knocked it down one, just for being a rip-off incarnate).
Starring: Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl.
My Reaction: The Ugly Truth is like mixing together American Pie 2 and Hitch. Let me explain... you know that bit of American Pie 2 where Alyson Hannigan teaches Jason Biggs how to be with a woman? Now, imagine if that montage was stretched out into a whole movie where Alyson Hannigan is replaced with Stiffler, but Stiffler is merged with Will Smith's Hitch (and then Jason Biggs is replaced with, well... Katherine Heigl). This movie isn't anything new to the Rom-Com genre and is quite reminiscent of other films, like I said (for instance, another scene brought to mind the diner-orgasm scene of When Harry Met Sally). The tone seemed kinda strange, as it didn't know if it wanted to be raunchy sex comedy or Rom-Com. Despite this, I found some good laughs in the movie. But it's overall a very predictable Rom-Com, just full of some pretty raunchy jokes not usually found in the genre. And Gerard Butler is charismatic enough to keep it interesting (despite talking through the side of his mouth the whole time, trying to keep that American accent).
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.
Alrighty. It's Results Night! The first of the Top 12 is going. For those who read last night, I was a bit off in my memory, forgetting that once it gets to the Top 12, only 1 person goes home at a time (but hey, the show only comes on once a year, and I've only really watched it the last couple years). Anyway, I'm crossing my fingers that Paige is going home. But honestly, who the hell knows anymore?
8:00: Doing this whole stylish recap video of all the Top 12. It almost came off like a horror movie teaser trailer. But let's get on to the show. As Ryan says...
8:02: Wait, what? He didn't say it. He just said "Welcome to American Idol." And he said it all... non-dramatically. Whatever. Then they did some kind of weird green light thing with Irish music for St. Patrick's day.
8:04: Simon and Ryan have an uncomfortable moment where Simon talks down to Ryan about his "uncomfortable" aggressive move last night where he got in Simon's face. But hey, they also just announced that they're bringing back the Judge's Save. For those that didn't watch last year, the Judge's Save is when the judges can save one person from going home one week if they believe America got it wrong (but the next week, 2 people go home). Last year I believe they used it on Matt. He still didn't win. Hopefully they use it wisely this year. Oh, and they only have only before the Top 5 to use it.
8:05: David Cook! Doing a Stones cover of Jumpin' Jack Flash. Doing really good, but David Cook is always awesome.
8:09: Pimping out Idol Gives Back again. Imagine that.
8:13: Again, for those who don't know how this works... now that we're in the Top 12, they don't just go down the line and say "you're going home, sorry." Instead, they go own the line and tell you whether or not you're in the Bottom 3 (the 3 people with the least amount of votes) and then get back to them. They say which one is safe to narrow it down to 2 before telling who is going home. And then the Re-Sing again.
8:14: The first car commercial of the season with the contestants. And then some interesting car designs that they came up with. Huh. Let's just get on with it.
8:16: Paige is up first. Huh. She better be in the bottom. And... she is!
8:17: Lee is up now. He'll be safe. Yup. Now calm those nerves, Lee!
8:18: Siobhan! If she's not safe, America's crazy. And she's... safe.
8:19: Aaron's up. I think this could go either way, but he's got the tween vote, so I think he'll be perfectly fine. And he's... safe.
8:20: Andrew and Tim. Wow... this means one is safe and one's in the Bottom 3. I'm gonna say Tim's in the bottom, because I think Andrew still has a slight bit of popularity left. But who knows? The one in the Bottom 3 is... Tim.
8:22: Right now we have Paige and Tim in the Bottom 3 with one more spot left (duh). I say either Katie or Lacey (probably Katie). We'll see.
8:26: Orianthi's up singing "According to You."
8:34: Back to figuring out the Bottom 3. Since there's only 1 spot left, that means, like before, it's one of the final 2 Ryan gets to.
8:35: Didi's up first, so she's safe. Yup.
8:37: Crystal's up next, and she's totally safe. Yup.
8:38: Katie's up next, so I guess that means she's safe (which means Lacey's in the bottom). God, Ryan, stop talking for 5 minutes every time you get to a new contestant. Just give the bloody news. Anyway... she is...
8:40: Safe. Big Mike's up now, and he'll be safe. Yup.
8:41: It's down to Casey and Lacey. Uh oh. I'd prefer it be Lacey (and I'm sure it will be). And the final person in the Bottom 3 is...
8:42: Lacey. So the Bottom 3 this week is Paige, Tim, and Lacey. I say Paige. But one's now going back safe. And that person is...
8:43: Tim. Huh. And now Kesha is gonna sing? How many performers do they have tonight? Jesus. Talk about procrastination.
8:47: Kesha's now singing "Blah Blah Blah" (feat. 3OH!3). Oh wow, she's totally lip syncing. Like, it's not even a question. Though I'm pretty sure when the 3OH!3 guys came out, they actually did their part instead of lip syncing.
8:54: And we're back. I'm saying Paige is going. Oh, and because of the whole "Save" thing going on, the "Re-Sing" becomes a "Sing For Your Life." In other words, they do their Re-Sing and the judges use that to decide whether or not they want to save them. And the one going is...
8:55: LACEY? Double-You Tee Eff. I hate Paige even more now. Though apparently they don't have to sing the previous night's song in their Re-Sing/Sing For Your Life, and Lacey's choosing not to (which is unfortunate, because I thought last night was one of her best, even though the judges disagree). She's singing "The Story." But I know the judges aren't going to save her. It's too early and there are much more impressive artists still left to use it on. That, and Lacey's doing really terrible right now. So are the judges going to use the save?
8:58: No. And it was unanimous, apparently. I would agree, as well.
8:59: The Goodbye Video, showing a montage of all her previous moments.
Final Thoughts: OK then. Lacey's gone. We're down to a Top 11. I'll see y'all next week.
Well, it's that time again! But this time, we're down to the Top 12 Finalists. It's a bigger stage. It's the beginning of themed weeks. It's boys and girls all in one night. And tonight... they're doing The Rolling Stones! All I know is that Siobhan is apparently singing "Paint It Black," which has me so excited, you have no idea. And I feel bad for whoever decides to sing "Satisfaction," which went down in Idol history last year when Adam Lambert sang it, so they'd have a lot to live up to. But here we go... for the next 2 hours....
7:00: Ryan: "This... is American Idol!"
7:03: Beginning a video montage of Rolling Stones footage and music with Ryan talking about their history.
7:04: Big Mike is kickin' off the show. I'm interested to know if he can pull off the Stones. What's he singing?
7:06: "Miss You." It's alright. Singing it really well, but it's not blowing my shirt up or anything. It was just OK to me. Not much else to say.
7:07: Randy wasn't crazy about it when it started, but thought he slayed it overall. Ellen: "What's not to love about that?" Kara loved it, thinking he took control of the big stage. Simon thought some of the performance was corny, but he sang it well... but sometimes verging on desperate.
7:10: Haha... Ryan confronts Simon, getting right in his face. Epic. Anywho, I'm thinking Mike is quickly going to become overrated and/or overhyped. He's great, don't get me wrong, but they're gonna pimp him so much I just know I'm gonna start getting sick of him. So be careful, Idol. They also have to be careful not to make Mike too confident, comfortable, or cocky.
7:15: And we're back... with Didi! Her mom hates the "judge" part of the show and doesn't watch that... at least when her daughter is the one getting judge. Huh. So what are you singing?
7:17: "Play with Fire." Starting off well. Thought she forgot a lyric there for a minute, but it was just a pause in the song. It's always awkward when contestants forget the lyrics (uh oh... just as I'm typing that, she starts stumbling over the lyrics). That serious look on her face isn't becoming. She almost looks constipated. And that last note was pretty bad.
7:19: Randy thought she was on fire. Ellen says that despite losing her way in the song, she got right back into it. Kara: "Two steps in the right direction." Simon liked it ("solid, not brilliant"). I kinda agree. It was OK. Solid. Not great, but she's getting better.
7:22: Casey! Hell yeah. The Stones seems right up your alley, Casey. What are you singing (not Satisfaction... not Satisfaction...)?
7:24: "It's All Over Now." Casey... you had to make the Stones sound country? You're not a country artist! Stop trying country! You're losing "awesome" points with me, Casey. I mean, the singing is really good. The guitar playing is really good. I just didn't care for the song/arrangement.
7:25: Randy: "You're back!" No he's not! lol... Ellen alludes to a lesbian joke, then switches it around to a blonde joke. Though she thought it was fantastic. Kara: "Tonight, you were a rock star." But no Kara, I don't think it was his best performance. Thank you, Simon, who agrees with me. Simon thinks he's a really good artist, but has to use the stage more.
7:33: Lacey's up. This'll be interesting. She doesn't have a Stones voice at all. But I'm crossing my fingers she does really well. So what's she singing?
7:34: "Ruby Tuesday." I'm liking the arrangement. And she's singing well so far. I'm digging it. In fact, I think this is the best she's done so far for the live shows. Wow, really good note. This was a great song choice for her. So far my favorite of the night, but I know that's gonna change with some of the people we have left.
7:36: Randy was presently surprised, but didn't love it (F U, Randy). Ellen thought it was sleepy? Wha? How? Kara agrees with the others. Simon says she performs like an actress by thinking every little thing through, but liked the vocals. These judges are on crack.
7:43: Andrew Garcia is up. I recognize the song behind Andrew's intro video, but I can't place it. I like it, though. I think it's from a movie. Anyway, what is Andrew singing (and whatever it is, I hope he does really well, because he really needs a come-back).
7:44: "Gimme Shelter." Some shaky vocals. Overall seems kinda awkward or uncomfortable. I think it's the song choice. He should stick with late 80s/early 90s female pop songs. Yikes, that last big note started good, but ended really bad. Didn't care for it overall.
7:47: Randy thought it was really pitchy. Ellen thought it was his best performance? I feel bad for his other performances. Kara didn't think he connected with the song. Simon starts ragging on Kara for taking songs too literally. Simon feels bad because he's been getting such mixed reviews throughout the season. He also feels that Andrew probably did better during rehearsals than here. Who knows?
7:54: Uh oh. Katie Stevens. I have a feeling this is gonna be painful. First, Katie's probably never even heard of the Rolling Stones. And now she's wearing some girly dress. She's gonna be singing "Wild Horses." Ryan put her on the spot. She said she'd heard of Stones songs when she was younger, so he asks her who the lead singer was. She kinda pauses and goes "...Mick Jagger?" And you could tell she was so hoping that was right. Anywho... on to the song.
7:56: Vocals are really good so far, though the song is pretty slow. She did what I figured she'd do: she kinda made it country. There's no country twang or anything, but it just feels country to me. Her vocals are really, really good (probably the best she's done)... but the song is still a bit sleepy.
7:58: Randy thought it was good, despite a few minor pitch problems (which she quickly corrected). Ellen agrees. Kara thought it was better than last week. Simon thinks this was the first song she's really done that she's connected with and done really well with. Overall, I kinda agree with the judges. Her vocals were good, but the overall package wasn't super great or anything.
8:05: Tim Urban is up. I actually liked him last week. Let's see if he can keep it up. Wow, there are at least 3 contestants from Texas so far (Casey, Lacey, and now Tim). So what are you singing, Tim?
8:06: "Under My Thumb." Sticking with the acoustic guitar and kind of an "island" arrangement to the song. He really is channeling Jason Castro. His vocals are pretty good, not great. Slightly shaky in parts, but still good. I actually liked it.
8:08: Randy "didn't get it" or the reggae feel of the song. Ellen agrees. Kara understands what they're saying, but applauds him for doing something incredibly different. Simon applauds him for doing stuff different, but didn't think it worked. I wonder if they'd have said the same thing if Jason Castro had done it, since that was his sound for every song.
8:14: Yes! Siobhan! And if the rumors were true, she's singing "Paint it Black."
8:15: Yup. Wow... it's almost broadway-ish. I'm not sure what I think about this. The part between the broadway bit and the big break-out part was kinda shaky. Then she broke out and it turned amazing. Then she hit another amazing note (though it verged on screeching... still amazing, though). The second half of the song was definitely better than the first half.
8:18: Randy: "That was hot!" Ellen loved it. Kara's having flashbacks of Adam Lambert (well.. duh. I've been saying that for a couple weeks now). Simon says it was the "standout performance of the night." I do agree. It was the best of the night so far.
8:25: Lee is up! This is right up his alley. He should knock this out the park. So what's he gonna be singing?
8:27: "Beast of Burden." I'm actually really digging this. He's made a Stones song sound kinda like an Alternative Rock-type song. If he sang this type of song for an album, I'd listen to it. I really enjoyed that.
8:29: YES. Those were the names I couldn't think of. Rob Thomas/Dave Matthews. It was similar in style to them. Thank you, Randy. Ellen thought it almost didn't come together, but she liked it. Kara says he's growing more than anybody on the show right now. Simon likes him as a person and thinks he has an incredibly good voice, but thinks he needs to have a "moment" and needs more confidence.
8:36: Ugh. Paige is up next. Come on, Paige. Prove me wrong. Prove to me you deserve to be there over Lilly. What are you singing?
8:37: "Honky Tonk Woman." Eh... more country-sounding music. Uh oh, she seemed to stumble over the lyrics (with some shaky vocals before that). Decent vocals after that (a couple pitchy moments here or there, at least to me). I mostly didn't like it due to it being so country.
8:39: Randy: "You did alright with it." Ellen: "No one would know you were struggling with your voice." Really? I kinda noticed. Kara: "At times you might've gotten a little lost," but the "young Paige is back." Simon thinks she hasn't connected yet, but taking the apparent laryngitis into account, he thought she did great. I have to say for being barely able to talk, she did hit some really big notes (which doesn't quite make sense to me).
8:42: Aaron Kelly is up next. So... the Jonas Brother doing The Rolling Stones? And... they just said he was adopted, but Aaron has no idea where he got his voice from because his mom can't sing. Um... genetics, Aaron. If she's not your biological mother, it doesn't really matter if she can't sing a lick. Anywho, what are you singing?
8:43: "Angie." It's OK. Kinda quiet and subdued. He could put more power into it. Wasn't blown away by it, but I didn't think it was terrible. Could have been better. Doesn't really matter, though. He has the tween vote.
8:45: Randy liked it. Ellen thought his was on the caliber of Siobhan? Um... no. Sorry. Kara thought it was great. Simon thought he picked the perfect song for him and sang it within his range (because apparently he doesn't have a strong voice). Well, whatever. If that's one of the best he can do, then I don't care to hear more. It was good, I thought, but not super fantastic.
8:52: Saving the best for last! Crystal Bowersox. What are you singing?
8:53: "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Has a bit of soul to the song. I'm really liking it so far. This is great. Man... in my eyes, Crystal has already won this competition (well, her or Siobhan). She's never done wrong to me.
8:55: Randy: "You're always great" despite not thinking it was her best. Ellen agrees, but adds that she's adding personality. Kara agrees. Simon says this was the first time he thinks she's been beaten by somebody (Siobhan). Kind of a funny moment where Simon talks about how other people might think she thinks she has this in the bag. Crystal says she doesn't think that way, but thanks Simon for thinking she has it in the bag (tee hee).
8:58: The Recap. Big Mike'll be fine. Didi might be in trouble. Casey'll be fine. Though I liked her, Lacey might be in trouble. Andrew might be in trouble. I think Katie will be fine. Tim may be in trouble, but I think he'll stay around. Siobhan ain't going anywhere. Lee'll be safe. Paige needs to go. Aaron has the tween vote, so he'll last a while longer. Crystal's gonna be in the final 2 (potentially with Siobhan).
Final Thoughts: The girl to go? I think either Lacey or Paige. The guy? Andrew or Tim. We'll see tomorrow. See you then!
This first book centers around a teenage boy named Thomas. After waking up in a strange elevator, a group of other teen boys pull him out and into a type of valley called The Glade, which is right smack in the middle of an enormous stone maze. Some of the boys have been there for at least 2 years, and none of them remember anything about their previous lives. Thomas learns that in the maze are big, blubbery, machine monsters called Grievers that come out at night--though luckily the wall entrances to the maze close at that time, keeping them safe. Otherwise, the boys--and it's all boys--have created a small community in The Glade, with different jobs from janitor to Runner. The Runners travel the maze all day, only to come back right before it closes and draw out maps, as the inner walls of the maze change daily. But something is different about Thomas. He seems to feel a connection with this place, and a couple other boys seem to recognize him, as well. And then the next day, a new person shows up--a month early--and it just so happens to be a girl. And she has a message: She's the last person to arrive. Ever. And things are about to change.
The book has a great premise, despite being a bit difficult to describe. And in fact, the book itself is very suspenseful, keeping me wanting to know what happens next. But here's what makes the book so interesting: everything else about it is rather mediocre.
The beginning of the book is a bit slow, and all it is for a large chunk of the book is Thomas whining about how nobody will tell him anything and how he seems to remember certain details about his previous life but not others and how weird that is. And just other incredibly repetitive descriptions like that. And speaking of repetitive descriptions, the book happens to have a love for similes; there's quite an overabundance of them, actually. And I'd say the last half of the book gets kind of annoying in its writing. The dialogue is laughably bad. There are way too many logic holes in character actions and reactions. The descriptions are choppy and confusing. Granted, there's all of these things in the first half, too, but it starts to get more grating in the second half, I found.
And that brings up the characters themselves. Besides maybe one or two characters (Minho and Newt), I couldn't have cared less about any of them. They were incredibly boring or one dimensional. And half the characters seem to shift personalities at a moment's notice. Minho can go from being cool and collected to a blithering idiot, while Thomas can go from being whiny and ignorant to the smartest of the smart, coming up with ideas and solutions in a couple seconds that these other boys didn't even think of in 2 years of doing nothing but focusing on this stuff. Teresa, the main girl that shows up, has potential for a good character, but despite showing up early on, she doesn't really join the story until the second half. And then her appearances are limited until toward the third act. You can tell her personality is trying to break out, but it still appears bland and boring. Honestly, Newt is the only character that goes through any kind of change in the story, and it's not that major of a change.
And I didn't even mention the Grievers. They're the main threat throughout the book (there are a couple hotheaded human characters, but it's mainly the Grievers they worry about)... but despite endless descriptions, I could never picture them. The closest I came was picturing them like the Golden Army from Hellboy 2, but covered in a layer of blubber that the machine weapons could pull in and out of. They were easier to hear than picture, honestly, with constant descriptions of the scraping and metallic noises and whatnot.
So that's why this book feels like a true anomaly. With mostly bland characters and so-so writing, how did it keep me so engaged? Well, I think part of it had to do with the fact that the chapters were incredibly short and each one ended on some kind of major cliffhanger. The other part was that I was interested in the plot itself and wanted to know what the heck was really going on.
And you do get answers--for the most part. Questions are answered enough to be satisfied. It doesn't answer every question, obviously, since there are still 2 more books planned. But you do get the basics. It's kind of an open ending, leaving it for that sequel, but I didn't hate it. I guess I can leave it at that. Though once it started getting closer to that ending, it started getting predictable. I began figuring out things before even Thomas The Incredible, and I also knew which characters were going to inevitably die.
Anywho, it's not a terrible book, but it isn't the greatest thing I've ever read. I'd definitely be interested in checking out the sequels whenever they come out. The characters are bland and the writing is so-so, but the plot is suspenseful and engaging and kept me wanting more. So if you're into young adult fantasy or dystopian fiction and have nothing else to read, this isn't all that bad a choice.
This film acts like a sequel of sorts where Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is grown up and about to be proposed to by a Lord. But when she runs off to go think about it, she falls down the rabbit hole yet again. Despite growing up with strange dreams of Wonderland, she doesn't recognize any of it and can't figure out what to do, which causes some of its bizarre characters to wonder if she's truly "the" Alice. You see, Underland (not Wonderland) has been taken over by the tyrannical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) because she controls the dangerous Jabberwocky. But it is apparently Alice's destiny to regain the Vorpal Sword, return it to the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), and become the champion that will slay the Jabberwocky and return peace to Underland. To help her are some memorable characters including, but not limited to, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), and Absolom the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman). Other actors to grace this film include Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, and Timothy Spall.
There's not a whole lot to say about the movie. Let's start with the positive. Visually, the movie is magnificent. There are a couple issues here and there, but for the most part, the CGI is wonderful to look at. The story itself is also interesting, though there are a couple logic holes here and there. For instance, if the Cheshire Cat can evaporate and do whatever he wants, what stops him from just destroying the Red Queen himself? He's already damn near invincible. Also (bit of a spoiler here), there's kind of a leap of faith to take that the Bandersnatch will change sides just like that (end spoiler here).
Acting-wise, it was about half and half. Mia Wasikowska does pretty good as Alice, and Johnny Depp, Stephen Fry, and Matt Lucas are the next stand-outs. In fact, I really only had three issues with certain characters. First was Crispin Glover's character. Something about how he moved really irked me and just came off as overly fake, like they weren't done with the CGI but released the film anyway. I really didn't care for that character overall. The next big issue I had was with Anne Hathaway. I don't know whether to blame Hathaway or Burton, but the way the character was portrayed was just... stupid. It was overly regal and just plain silly. Her hands wear always up like a drunken T-Rex, and she had to flow about and spin around to make any kind of basic movement. It was all incredibly annoying to watch. Luckily, though, she's not in the movie all that much. The last little irksome bit was actually with Depp. I'm sure it was to help portray his character as, well, mad... but his constantly changing accents bugged me. Sometimes he'd be British, sometimes Scottish, sometimes... well, who knows? It was more of a subtle thing, but it still bothered me a bit.
Those were actually my biggest issues with the movie. It didn't blow me away, but I didn't hate it. The visuals were outstanding, and most of the acting was pretty well done. The story was engaging, though it did start to drag a bit near the third act. I just wanted to get on with the battle already. Again, I'm not sure how one would take it if you're an Alice fanatic or if you have a bias against Burton for being too similar in all his movies, but if you aren't those types, then I'm sure you'll find it at least pretty good and enjoyable.
I Am McLovin!
(P.S. The 3D aspect of it was pointless. Besides maybe a couple scenes here and there, there wasn't any point to having it in 3D).