American Idol Season 8- Top 3 Performance Review

It is funny as I read a few of the other American Idol blogs tonight.  Most of the other blogs hate Danny Gokey so nothing he did tonight was good.  I am not an Adam Lambert so I did not like much of what he brought to show tonight.  It seems we are all fully entrenched into our preferences by now.  I suspect the American Idol fans are in the same boat.  It would take a mind boggling performance to change voters minds tonight and I think we had one.  The question is: would it be enough and whose voters would be swayed?

Kris Allen delivered arguably the most creative, fearless performance of the season.  Danny Gokey’s two super performances make him the overall winner for the evening.  Adam Lambert had his worst night of American Idol Season 8, despite the inexplicable fawning by the judges.

It is clear that the judges want Adam Lambert to win American Idol Season 8; so much so that Simon was begging Adam Lambert’s fans to vote.  Their dismissive treatment of Kris Allen offended me.

Performance Ratings

  1. Kris Allen: “Heartless” by Kanye West- When Kris said this to Ryan my jaw dropped.  This is the rap/autotune mess that Kanye West dropped on the world in 2008. Let me just summarize my opinion of this performance by saying: crazy, mad, reckless, fearless, amazing, wonderful, fantastic.  His beautiful singing on this song was soulful and rhythmic.  We see these type of breakthrough arrangements occasionally, only to find that the American Idol performer borrowed the arrangement from someone else (David Cook from Chris Cornell and Adam Lambert from Muse).  Kris Allen did not copy this from anyone.  He turned a deep, stylized R&B/Rap song into a modern rock classic.
  2. Danny Gokey:”You Are So Beautiful” by Billy Preston- I was heartbroken when I heard Danny Gokey was doing this 70′s ballad made famous by Joe Cocker.  It so feeds into the worst stereotype of Danny Gokey and I was hoping for a more bold choice.  I will just shut-up now.  His arrangement, with a cool gospel/worship section in the middle was wonderful.  It made me hear this song as a worship song.  But we can forget all of that and focus on the singing, which was simply brilliant.  Everyone in America, is in the American Idol Season 8 Top 3 because really, really sing.  That was a tour de force in powerful, emotional, expressive singing.
  3. Danny Gokey: “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby- I was a big TTD fan and I cannot think of afunky singer better suited to Danny Gokey’s voice.  Good choice Paula!  He unleashed his big, growling, soulful voice on this funky, uptempo R&B song.  I liked the scatting in the middle of the song, I thought that added a nice jazzy touch to make this more than a straight forward pop song.
  4. Kris Allen: “Apologize” by One Republic-  Kris Allen played the big piano for the first time on American Idol Season 8 and we heard his falsetto for the first time as well.  He sang the song beautifully and added some nice soul phrasing.  Overall, I was pleased with the singing but let down by the bland arrangement.  If Kris Allen could have done to “Apologize” what he did to “Heartless” he would have won American Idol Season 8 tonight.
  5. Adam Lambert: “Crazy” by Aerosmith-  I know that some will accuse me of bias toward Adam Lambert but, come on this was his most pedestrian performance on American Idol Season 8.  He walked through the arrangement with few variations, he copied Steven Tyler’s vocal runs and the back-up singers drowned him out at times.  The worst thing for me was his smiling, winking, head nodding performance of a song about the agony a lover is causing you.  As with many of his songs, my question is, how can you memorize the lyrics but not understand them?
  6. Adam Lambert: “One”" by U2- Horrifying.  I sat their watching the flat-screen with my jaw hanging open.  I hated the arrangement, I hated the over-singing and I hated the manic performance.  This is an important song that should be sang with longing and questioning and confusion; not with wide-eyed ranting.  This was so bad that my wife and I started debating that she new the song (she has heard it hundreds of times in my car), so I played it for her during the commercial.  Her reaction (with confusion and disgust) “that was what he was singing?”  Did they say that Simon spent the weekend with Adam working on the arrangement?  Who does American Idol want to see win Season 8?

Who Is Going Home

According to the judges, Kris Allen come into the night with little chance to advance, but he pulled off another in a series of brilliant show stopping performances.  Danny Gokey has never been in the Bottom 2 and he had his best night of American Idol Season 8. The show’s pre-ordained winner, Adam Lambert, was predictable but below par tonight.

If I went with my head I would say that Kris Allen is going home tonight, but I cannot say he will leave after that performance of “Heartless”.

I am going with my opinion of tonight’s performances and saying Adam Lambert goes home tonight and the Danny Gokey and Kris Allen will be the final two on American Idol Season 8.

Be sure to grab all of your favorite American Idol Season 8 performances from iTunes

Apple iTunes

American Idol Season 8- Top 3 Song Choices

Tonight is the night.  We are down to the American Idol Season 8 final 3 and they will be performing two songs each tonight.  Randy, Paul and Simon picked songs for Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert to sing  and then each of them will pick a song for themselves.  It is too close to call the winner (see our Top 3 Power Rankings) so tonight’s performances are vital.

Judge’s Selections

Their are rumors all over the Internet about which songs the American Idol judges picked for tonight’s performances.  We don’t know if the rumors are correct but, rather than try to read the judges minds, we will go with the rumors:

  • Randy picked Terence Trent D’Arby’s song “Dance Little Sister” Terence Trent D'Arby - Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby - Dance Little Sisterfor Danny Gokey.  TTD was a breakthrough R&B star in the late 80′s, touted as the next great soul star, who fell to Earth as quickly as he rose.   The lyrics have a nice positive message:

    Get up ‘outta’ your rockin’ chair grandma!
    Or rather would you care to dance grandmother?

    Hey you! Give up to the ghost
    That’s haunting you now
    Shout it out
    Don’t let it stay inside
    And eat you alive
    Make up your mind
    Don’t you want to stay
    This side of the line
    I can assure you
    When you’re my age
    You’ll learn
    From all you’ve left behind

    (You’ve got to)
    Dance little sister
    Don’t give up today
    Hang on till tomorrow
    I don’t wanna hear you’re late
    Dance little sister
    Don’t give up today
    Hang on till tomorrow
    Don’t give up your stay

    Say now share the weight
    And lay your cross down
    And let the long reaching arm
    Of hope bring you around
    It ain’t easy but giving up
    Is the easy thing to do
    Time is on your side
    Would you just watch the clock
    And let it tick for you

    (You’ve got to)
    Dance little sister
    Don’t give up today
    Hang on till tomorrow
    I don’t wanna hear you’re late
    Dance little sister
    Don’t give up today
    Hang on till tomorrow
    Don’t give up your stay

    I think the song is a little fast to be in Danny’s sweet spot but he I think Danny Gokey could do a lot with this song.  Here is a video of “Dance Little Sister”

  • There is some question about what Simon has picked for Adam Lambert.  Some believe he picked U2′s “One” and some think he picked Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”.  I think it is “Wicked Game” Chris Isaak - Best of Chris Isaak (Remastered) - Wicked Game, which seems perfect for Adam’s style and there are several electronic remixes for him to use.  Here is a video of Chris Isaak performing “Wicked Game”

  • Paula selected One Republic’s “Apologize” OneRepublic - Dreaming Out Loud - Apologizefor Kris Allen and that seems to fit his style very well.  This is a contemporary, mid-tempo pop-rock song about a break-up. I listen to One Republic performing “Apologize”  and I can imagine Kris Allen.  Watch this video of the Timbaland re-mix and see what I mean

Performer’s Choices

Three good choices from the American Idol judges so we should have three really great performances of those songs.  Here is what I think Danny, Kris and Adam should choose for themselves:

  • It is time for Danny Gokey to step up and boldly declare his faith.  He has been slammed for it all season and he hasn’t had a chance to sing an openly Christian song.  Randy gave him the perfect opening with an uptempo judges’s choice.  The most openly Christian American Idol finalist ever should sing the most openly Christian rock ballad ever sung on American Idol: “Thief” by Third Day Third Day - Third Day - Thief.

  • Kris Allen should also fly his faith with a little less overt but equally powerful song from Seabird called “Rescue” Seabird - 'Til We See the Shore - Rescue. Here are the lyrics:

    I’m pushing up daisies, I wish they were roses
    I feel like I’m drowning but nobody knows it
    I’m pushing up daisies, I wish they were roses
    I feel like I’m dying, just want you to notice
    somehow the grave has captured me
    show me the man I used to be
    just when I feel my breath is running out

    the earth moves and you find me, alive but unworthy
    broken and empty, but you don’t care
    cuz you are my rapture, you are my savior
    when all my hope is gone, I reach for you
    you are my rescue
    you are my rescue

    I’m swimming to safety, but even with my best
    if I don’t see that rope soon, this might be my last breath

    somehow the grave has captured me
    show me the man I used to be
    just when I feel my breath is running out

    the earth moves and you find me, alive but unworthy
    broken and empty, but you don’t care
    because you are my rapture, you are my savior
    when all my hope is gone, I reach for you
    you are my rescue

    don’t let me drown
    can you hear me
    cuz I am
    “drawlin out” (not sure)
    I’m underground
    won’t you pull me out

    the earth moves and you find me, alive but unworthy
    broken and empty, but you don’t care
    because you are my rapture, you are my savior
    when all my hope is gone, I reach for you
    you are my rescue
    you are my rescue
    yeah, you are my REScue
    yeah! you are MY resCUE

    I’m pushing up daisies, I wish they were roses
    I feel like I’m dying, just want you to notice…

    Once you watch the video below you will see why I picked this for Kris Allen.  With these two songs Kris Allen could propel himself to the forefront of American Idol Season 8.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k6K_IdRgVE

  • Adam Lambert has done Robert Plant and he needs to take on Freddy Mercury by  performing the most theatrical rock song ever recorded (except maybe some Meatloaf) “Bohemian Rhaposdy” Queen - A Night at the Opera - Bohemian Rhapsody.  It has been done on American Idol several times, so it can be done.  Interestingly, it was performed by Constantine Maroulis, the American Idol Season 4 finalist who looked for all the world like a “rock god” but who has never charted a song or sustained an extended rock tour.  He has, however, been nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Rock of Ages. Hmmm.

So there it is.  We go boldly into the last two shows of American Idol Season 8 with six good songs that can be well performed by three terrific singers; Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert.

Be sure to put together your American Idol Season 8 by downloading any of the performances from iTunes

Apple iTunes

Voices Of The Underground Pt.8

voicesoftheundergroundlogo-copy2

Several weeks ago One21 Music posed fifteen questions to a number of music artists in the Christian music scene, ranging from the light-hearted to the deeply spiritual. We received many responses, some very helpful, and some…. not so much. Some of the answers were short and sweet, some were extensive and eloquent. Many expressed frustrations with the current landscape of the music industry, while others were hopeful for a future of uncertainty. We heard from guys who had been performing for years, and bands that are just now starting to get their names heard. From indie rock to hip-hop, from hardcore to worship, the Christian music scene spoke back to us. Realize that these answers are by the people making the music that you are listening to, and these are un-edited and real. The opinions expressed don’t always reflect ours, but we aren’t perfect, right?

Need to catch up?

Read Pt.1: What Do You Love About Music?
Read Pt.2: What Are Some Of Your Favorite Albums/CDs?
Read Pt.3: What Is The Best Thing About Making Music?
Read Pt.4: What Is Your Opinion Of The Music Industry?
Read Pt.5: What Impact Has The Digital Age Of Music Had On The Industry?
Read Pt.6: Who Is Jesus Christ To You?
Read Pt.7: What Is Christian Music?

This week we asked our artists what their opinion of the Christian music industry was. Before you read them, let me emphasize again that these are their opinions, and not always ours.  There are a lot of artists that are happy with the way the industry has grown over the last ten years, but their are many that aren’t. You may read some things in this installment that seem very negative, but let me assure you that these guys know what they are talking about, and this is their inside view on what is happening. I also want to take a minute and say that when many of our artists were talking about this subject, they were not talking about Christian music, but the industry that drives the majority of what you see in Christian book stores and what is on the radio.  There is a difference. I have done my best to display a balanced and fair depiction of the industry from the artist’s view, but sometimes maybe a cry for change just needs to be heard.

What is your opinion of the Christian music industry?

mahoganyjones Mahogany Jones (independent hip-hop artist)                           Mahogany Jones
I think that there is good and bad. There are people with pure motives to minister the gospel to people who need to understand the importance of a relationship with Christ, and there are people who use their gift as a means not to promote the gospel but themselves, and I feel that if we aren’t careful to ask God to keep us humble that we may be in for a rude awakening.

dewey Dewey Lybecker( independent solo singer/songwriter)                           Dewey Lybecker
I feel like the Christian music industry is beginning to come into a place that’s its needed to be in for a while. I think that a lot of Christian music was kind of cheap. It was a bunch of people that just regurgitated everyone else’s songs but added a different hook or something that made it “cool/ hip” again. It wasn’t very original, and because of this it wasn’t very respected by other
musicians. I think where it’s headed is the opposite of that, with bands like Switchfoot, MuteMath, Underoath, P.O.D., The Fray, One Republic… they’re showing the world that Christian music isn’t as lame as a lot of people think it is.

hylandjon Jon (lead singer/guitarist for independent pop/rock band Hyland)       Hyland
I think the Christian music industry is doing a terrible job of staying current. They are banking on bands that are tried and true (Newsboys, Third Day) and aren’t taking chances on new original talent, only on what has already worked in the secular scene. Where are the Audio Adrenalines and the DC Talks of THIS generation???!!! Everyone in the industry is worried about their bottom dollar instead of realizing taking a chance on originality will pay off ten-fold.

bryanblondstreakabandon Bryan (bass player for Forefront Records pop/rock band Abandon) Abandon
Honestly, it stinks that it has come down to a business plan, labels, and it stinks that it actually is an “industry”. I feel like Christians should be at the head of the line creating the best art the world has ever seen. It should just be known that we are Christians based on what we stand for and how we live. It’s weird to me that it has become it’s own separate industry.

brookewaggner Brooke Waggoner(solo indie/pop artist on SlowMoon Music)          Brooke Waggoner
It’s a shame that it’s so divided and set apart from other genres and in other ways, it’s not set apart at all.. it’s really like any other industry – they tapped into a market, create products to fit that demographic, and package it accordingly. It’s difficult to find genuine amongst alot of this, but it does exist!

brandonsayyouwill Brandon (bass player for independent pop/rock band Say You Will)
Since we’re all trying to survive in a broken industry people are starting to fight against their morals to stay afloat. As a band we’ve been ripped off, lied to, and stepped on a lot. Unfortunately, the Christian music industry has been the worst about that to us. I hate to say it, but the snakes are in the Christian music industry. That said there are also a lot of awesome people in the Christian music industry that have done wonders for us. It’s no different than the secular side I guess. They’re just selling to Christians.

echocastbandwb8David (singer for independent nu-metal band Echocast)               Echocast
I think that a lot of artists are jaded towards the Christian music industry because they might have felt slighted at some point in the business end… But, a lot of people forget that that the music business is still a “business”…

amycourts Amy Courts (independent pop/folk artist)
Amy Courts
Honestly? Having come and gone from a number of major Christian label opportunities and seen the ins and outs of their operations, I see the Christian Music Industry much like Jesus saw the sale of goods in the temple: an exploitation of righteousness and holiness for the sake of making money, and a tyrannical dictatorship regarding what defines “Christianity” in melodic terms.

christopherthegoodnighthorizenChristopher(vocalist for Harvest Earth Records metal band The Goodnight Horizon)
The Goodnight Horizon
They spend to much time catering to those who already know Jesus. Open the door, plant the seeds. Stop hiding.

sethinfrontendervence Seth (singer for independent hard rock band Endeverance)
Endeverance
I think the “Christian Music” industry sometimes is worse than the Mainstream industry because there is no grace in “Christian Music” I mean if your sin gets out and you’re in the “Christian Music” industry sometimes you get ex-communicated…I mean we are all humans we all sin and fail…Why does it mean when you’re a so called “Christian Artist” you can’t fail…And I think that’s horrible if anything you would think they would be more understanding. But I mean it does have good things like promoting music that has a meaning behind it…

curtisblackhighvally Curtis(mandolist/singer for Centricity Records country band High Valley) High Valley
I think it’s sad that Christian music has to be so “commercial” and surface in order to have success. I like deep songs that may possibly offend someone or really challenge them rather than telling someone that God loves them and knows there name over and over again. These are good messages but hearing it over and over again won’t change anyone’s life if they have heard that message a thousand times before. I think that Christian music good have deeper and more powerful messages. A band that I believe does an awesome job is Downhere. Lyrically the best Christian band I have ever heard.

divulgencecamCameron(guitarist/vocalist for Bombworks Records metal band Divulgence)
Its almost as though Christians have the mindset that since they are playing for God they get to slack off on their song writing. I can turn on the local Christian radio station and hear 5 songs that sound the same in about an hour. It shouldn’t be that way. If you are writing for the King of kings you should give it all you got and don’t take the easy way out by doing some overused chord progression.

corpuschristijarrodinfront Jarrod(guitarist/singer from Victory Records metal band Corpus Christi) Corpus Christi
Sadly, I find the name is often one of the only differences between it (Christin music industry) and the secular music industry.

domicballi Dominic Balli (independent Reggae/hip-hop artist)                              Dominic Balli
It’s the same as the mainstream one. At the top, there’s still a dude that is just really all about one thing. Money. That’s the industry, not the artists. There’s some artist with wonderfully pure hearts out there. A bunch of them. And there’s some labels that are the same. But as far as most of the “big” Christian labels. It’s all the same.

I think Dominic best summed it up, “it’s all the same”. That seems to be the pervailing theme throughout all the answers this week. Christ called us to be different, so why is it not?

Next week we are talking about the importance of the Christian music scene, so check back with us next week!