Archive for January 31st, 2007

Served up piping hot and fresh.

Ken Barnes likes Katharine McPhee’s album, although he alludes to the fact that his colleague Elysa Gardner does not. (Her review has not yet gone live.) Here’s some of what he has to say:

It’s not flawless by any means. There are some unfortunate choices of material, some of which make Katharine sound awkward trying to be down with the sounds of today and and others that just make for tedious listening. The overall sound is not that different from the glut of Britneys, Jessicas, Ashlees, Paula DeAndas, JoJos and so forth, but Katharine adds another dimension because she’s a fine technical singer…

Over It: The album’s first single is a standout. I’m always a sucker for those acoustic-guitar intros (my extensive collection of the works of Frankie J attests to that penchant), and this is just an immediate grabber. On first listen, I’d class it with the very best singles by an Idol…

Do What You Do: Second clunker in a row, but in a different style entirely. This strays too far into Fergie/Pussycat Dolls territory, that cutesy egotistical how-hot-am-I stuff that makes you wish Fergie or the P. Dolls would just get over themselves and doesn’t work at all with Katharine, who’s clearly trying too hard to sound like a club-banging hottie…

Overall, there’s enough borderline hackneyed material to prevent me from going any higher than three stars out of four, but I am impressed at how well she pulled off this project, and how good she sounds doing it. When you hear it, let me know what you think. (three out of four stars)


American Idol Auditions 6: Los Angeles

Ooooh, L.A. Proved too much for…most of the contestants this evening. We open with a soft-focus-lighting shot of Katharine McPhee, last season’s California contestant, arching her back dramatically, singing her omnipresent “Over the Rainbow” while splayed out on the floor. (Oh, wait, I forgot. Katharine doesn’t want you to concentrate on her looks. Well, except for when she does.)

The kids are joined by Olivia Newton-John today. Oh, Sandy!

We start off with “fiery,” panther-imitiating Martik Manoukian, who wants to be…well, a famewhore, basically. After partially de-robing, panther-crawling up to the judges’ table, and doing a dance that makes Taylor Hicks look like Mikhail Baryshnikov, he proceeds to shriek and growl his way through a song. Aaaaaand it’s a no. Ah well. Onto acting. Or choreography. Or songwriting. Or more…prowling.

Sholandric Shallworth admires Julio Iglesias for his “romantic” take on love songs. (I…didn’t know there was another kind of take. My bad.) Unfortunately, the closest Sholandric’s version of “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” comes to is “romance” is imitating some kind of primal mating call. He’s out.

The “peanut butter jelly time!” guy ROCKED.

Marianna Riccio is this year’s McPhee; meaning, she’s living her mother’s dream. Well, except that her mother has already apparently had a decent career, as one of Dean Martin’s backup singers. Marianna, dressed in some faux-rocker-grrrrl garb that looks like it was fished out of Ryan Starr’s trash can. She’s terrible, and when she gets rejected, she gets down on her knees and begs, but it doesn’t work. Too bad, so sad.

Next up is Alaina Alexander, a self-described “struggling L.A. performer.” She’s sweet, with quirky Marisa Tomei-like beauty. She also know that this is her last shot — it’s either this, or the horror, the terror, of…college. Nevertheless, I like her personality. Her singing, unfortunately, isn’t up to par. Simon thinks she’s great (mainly, I think, because she is very pretty); Randy calls her out on her very evident pitch problems, but she is put through. I don’t expect to see much more of her, though.

Notice how Katharine is always bathed in glowing light and butterflies and puppies playing when she’s shown, whereas Taylor is generally depicted being mocked by crazy contestants like Eric Chapman and now Phung Pham? Well, get used to it, because that’s how this show rolls, folks.

Brandon Rogers, rumored to be Top 24, has toured as a backup singer with the likes of Anastasia and Christina Aguilera. (Anyone else immediately think “Ooh, Brandon Rogers/Melissa Doolittle THROWDOWN!” Just me? Okay then.) He’s warm and personable, with a mega-watt smile. And as expected, he’s excellent, though his vocals aren’t unique.

Sixty-four-year-old Sherman Pore started a petition to get himself on American Idol as a way to give his dying “lady love,” as he calls her, a little spark of life as she battled cancer. He tells the audience, through tears, that he believes his little drive helped his love keep a positive attitude through her illness. Before the judges, he reveals that she passed away a mere two days before his audition. As Paula cries, he launches into a quite moving rendition of “You Belong To Me.” He has a lovely, old-style crooner’s voice, tinged with the slight shake of sadness and the onset of old age. Not even Simon can say a terrible thing about him. As he leaves the room, he says into the camera, “I won.” I love him. ETA: There’s now a petition to bring back Sherman for the finale. Hooray!

Grab bag.

From CinemaBlend:

It’s easy to assume that this debut record would be conjured up with lovey-dovey ballads, but that is not the case. With the exception of “Each Other” as the one straight-up love ballad and “Home,” which I think has spiritual connotations, the tracks are primarily geared toward the broken-hearted, bitter, Ben & Jerry’s-devouring single woman. You know—the type who says men are all jerks and she always has bad luck with them, despite always dating the same type of guys over and over.

So we have a contrast between the “hot” and “not” duking it out in this one. The good songs are really good and the rest are…well, not. In any case, Miss McPhee should be proud of herself and this mixed-bag first attempt, which will likely sell a lot of copies and get a bunch of radio play. The 22-year-old has a hot voice and enough sex appeal to transcend her to the pop elite, just so long as she plays her cards right. I would merely advise her to not travel down the same path of her personal idol, Whitney Houston; just lay off the rocks, sweetheart.

From The 451 Press:

The CD, which was released today, is a mix of all things pop and R&B. The music — almost from start to finish — is the kind of stuff you can expect to hear while shopping at the mall. In other words, it’s the kind of music that easily can be forgotten.

Maybe I’m a little frustrated, because I wanted to hear a ballad-heavy release from McPhee. Instead, bubble-gummish pop tunes such as “Not Ur Girl” and “Dangerous” sound more like the early work of Christina Aguilera and, dare I say, Britney Spears. It’s almost like McPhee is trying too hard to fit in somewhere, somehow…McPhee’s voice still is sweet. It’s just not the McPhee that led us to catch McPheever. Seriously, the only song that will give you faith in having supported this girl — at least if you were in it for the ballads — is “Ordinary World.”

From The New York Daily News:

“Katharine McPhee” tempers a Beyoncé album with the mall-baiting R&B of Mariah Carey. Cuts like the likable opening ditty, “Love Story,” have the same percussive attack of something from Jay-Z’s girl, but the chorus sweetens it with sugary pop…The album’s harder R&B beats give McPhee an edge she never had before, while the caramelized choruses suit her mainstream character. In “Dangerous,” there’s even a bit of crunk in the trunk (courtesy of the dance-club synth riff), but no one will mistake this for a Lil’ Jon record. It’s factory safe for the girliest of girls. More attention seems to have been paid to the first half of the album than the second, which downshifts into a bog of ballads. But overall, McPhee has made one of the most pleasing, and commercially attuned, of the “Idol” CDs.”

Gives McPhee an edge? Snerk. I’m assuming this guy doesn’t get out much.

January 2007
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What the kids are sayin’

"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."

"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."

"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "