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Friday, March 30, 2007

Tony Bennett Week on American Idol

(word to Sanjaya Malakar)

This week, Sanjaya, leave your hair natural, like during The Kinks tune. Right now, with all the attention you're getting it is time to start sealing the deal on this competition with a great singing performance. Reach on down deep into that bag of gumption that drove you to wear that ponyhawk and sing, baby.

Tony Bennet has a song called "Firefly" it would be a great tune to perform. Jazzy, fun, and tune-wise, in line with your voice. Let those vocals shine this week, and exude sass out in a positive, dynamic way. Strut that stage, work it baby.

Obviously you've gotten the attention of millions, but not for all the right reasons, but man, what an opportunity. One in a lifetime. Play this game smart, you've done pretty well so far; now is the time, with everyone watching to do what that preacher in your church said - sing from the heart. We all heard you loudly and clearly last week with the ponyhawk regarding the hair, now we need the voice, loud and clear.

This song needs a delivery sassy, and passionate, not soft and hesitant, kid, stand them on their feet.

It's an old song, one of Bennett's last top 40 hits:
[i]I call her Firefly
Cause, oh, my
She radiates moonglow
Wants none of that noon glow
She starts to glitter
When the sun goes down

Bout eight p.m., it's mayhem
She switches those brights up
Lights up and gives me a call
Take me to the Fireflies ball

But when I get her there
Set her there
Do I get to pet her there
And grab me some glow

No, she's a gad about, mad about
Luring every lad about
While leaving me moaning low

Oh, Firefly, why can't I
Latch on for you no how
Oh, how I love you but gee
While you set the night on
Firefly, shine a little light on me

But when I get her there
Set her there
Do I get to pet her there
And grab me some glow

No, she's a gad about, mad about
Luring every lad about
While leaving me moaning low

Oh, Firefly, why can't I
Latch on for you no how

Oh, how I love you but gee
While you set the night on
Firefly, shine a little light on
Shine a little light on
Shine a little light on me[/i]

Sanjaya, let that light shine down on you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sanjaya Fights Back

Check the lyrics to the song, "Bathwater" and perhaps you might understand why he selected it: (he changed the gender references, of course)


You and your museum of lovers
The precious collection you've housed in your covers
My simpleness threatened by my own admission

And the bags are much too heavy
In my insecure condition
My pregnant mind is fat full with envy again

But I still love to wash in your old bathwater
Love to think that you couldn't love another
I can't help it...you're my kind of man

Wanted and adored by attractive women
Bountiful selection at your discretion
I know I'm diving into my own destruction

So why do we choose the boys that are naughty?
I don't fit in so why do you want me?
And I know I can't tame you...but I just keep trying

'Cause I love to wash in your old bathwater
Love to think that you couldn't love another
I'm on your list with all your other women
But I still love to wash in your old bathwater
You make me feel like I couldn't love another
I can't help it...you're my kind of man

Why do the good girls always want the bad boys?

So I pacify problems with kisses and cuddles
Diligently doubtful through all kinds of trouble
Then I find myself choking on all my contradictions

'Cause I still love to wash in your old bathwater
Love to think that you couldn't love another
Share a toothbrush...you're my kind of man
I still love to wash in your old bathwater
Make me feel like I couldn't love another
I can't help it...you're my kind of man

No I can't help myself
I can't help myself
I still love to wash in your old bathwater

Smart kid, smarter than most of the American Idol viewers who do not 'get' why he selected this song.
My boy has moxie and brains. I loved how he rocked that pony-hawk.

Sanjaya Malakar, Winning Hearts, Minds, one Pony-tail at a time...

Gay Socialites.com rallies forth with the commonplace drivel that Sanjaya Malakar can't sing. I began reading the article thinking, well another bash Sanjaya piece for all the ravenous hyenas who think they know anything about music to gather and cackle, and write their inane banter. I was surprised and heartened. Here are some of the posts:

Have some original thinking dude ? The guy sang well today. You don't have to keep saying he didn't sing well to feel credible.

what a poser, you.

Posted by: Kris Deloris | March 27, 2007 10:24 PM

seriously, i'm getting sick of all the 'tone-deaf' comments on all these sites. no musician or music teacher would dare say he is tone-deaf, his pitch is actually fine for the most part. and yes, it's just a way to take a crack at the kid. fine, you don't like him. he's not the best singer. don't vote for him! that's it. i'm all for taking a crack at the system that put him there in the first place. he is no worse now than he was in his original audition, when everyone--including the judges--loved him. they should be held accountable for putting him through. at least tonight randy and paula encouraged him to let the voice he does have shine through. and come on, we all know it's not a singing contest, it's a popularity contest. otherwise taylor would not have won...and, and btw, how many of you not-so-tone-deaf critics actually bought taylor's album anyway?
aside from a few bright moments here and there, this season is quite boring to tell you the truth. at least sanjaya has provided some entertainment! (and just to remind you, it still is a tv show!) i'm laughing all right, but i'm laughing with sanjaya. give the kid a lilttle credit for knowing the deal, and having a little fun in the process. go sanjaya!

Posted by: mark spence | March 27, 2007 10:48 PM

After I got over the "WTF" hair, I listened to his performance again -- it was actually good. Better than Sligh and Haley for sure.

And anyone who has the balls to get out there in light of all the criticism and sport THE CRAZIEST hair ever in the history of AI...AND manage to sing decently and keep me entertained? Hell ya, he's got my vote!

Rock your bad ass self Sanjaya!

Posted by: John | March 27, 2007 11:07 PM

he is the only reason that i am tuning into the cheeziest show on earth. Rock on Sanjaya! I just voted for him.

Posted by: SANFAN | March 27, 2007 11:35 PM

Must admit, I could not stop laughing. The singing was less than stellar, but that silly faux hawk was worth the price of admission. Since I'm sure he'll be back next week (the Fanjayas will see to that), I can only hope he will take the challenge and perform in drag. He may be the least talented contestant left (and face it, he is), but I am sure entertained.

Posted by: Esco | March 28, 2007 12:41 AM

I'm a classically-trained pianist and, like Mark, I get disgusted by indignant cries of "Tone deaf!" "Off-key!" regarding Sanjaya from people who have NO IDEA what they mean. Stop embarrassing yourselves and showing how little you know about music. These aren't "insults" musicians toss around at people we don't like ... Call Sanjaya out for forgetting the words, for his lack of life experience, his demeaneor, or his fashion choices if you don't like them, but don't expose your idiocy about how he can't sing. He can. He's also a much more entertaining performer than most of the boring people on there, so he gets my vote every week, and I'm a 30-plus straight guy.

Posted by: Tom | March 28, 2007 05:37 AM

I'm a classically-trained pianist and, like Mark, I get disgusted by indignant cries of "Tone deaf!" "Off-key!" regarding Sanjaya from people who have NO IDEA what they mean. Stop embarrassing yourselves and showing how little you know about music. These aren't "insults" musicians toss around at people we don't like ... Call Sanjaya out for forgetting the words, for his lack of life experience, his demeaneor, or his fashion choices if you don't like them, but don't expose your idiocy about how he can't sing. He can. He's also a much more entertaining performer than most of the boring people on there, so he gets my vote every week, and I'm a 30-plus straight guy.

Posted by: Tom | March 28, 2007 05:37 AM

My favorite line: "And anyone who has the balls to get out there in light of all the criticism and sport THE CRAZIEST hair ever in the history of AI...AND manage to sing decently and keep me entertained? Hell ya, he's got my vote!".

My thoughts exactly.

I think young Malakar, by the look in his eyes last night said to American, "Go ahead, rip at me, hunger strike to get me off this show if that's what you want!" Should he stay in the competition, I hope that this impels him to do what I think he can. If nothing else Sanjaya was entertaining and much braver than any of the others on this show.

My boy showed brass balls last night. Damn, I love this kid.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Uncle Nigel" Lythgoe Says He's Sanjaya-ed

Sanjaya Malakar praised by Nigel Lythgoe for his 'no guts, no glory' performance of last week. In this interview granted to the Calgary Sun, Nigel Lythgoe commends Sanjaya Malakar on last week and enjoyed the Saturday Night Live parody handed the boy. When asked if he, Lythgoe, has a thick enough skin to find the parody funny, he responds with, “I don’t need the thick skin, Sanjaya needs the thick skin,” Lythgoe said.

“I’m old school, so any time my shows are talked about, I’m really happy. Saturday Night Live often has had potshots at us. And we’ve always enjoyed it. I don’t mind. Part of our humour here is making fun of ourselves, so it really doesn’t worry me if anyone else makes fun of it.”

(Ratings boost to come, I'm sure he's thinking.) Ratings for the show this season are down about ten per cent and the numbers of votes being cast weekly a reflection of this decrease.

Ever the realist, Lythgoe also reminds readers that, “It’s a really good talent show that appeals to families. It’s important as a sort of social glue. But is it the most important show? No, of course not. Let’s not lose perspective on what this is. It’s phenomenal in its own area. Outside of that, it doesn’t really mean anything in real life.”

You know, I think personally, I'd like this guy. He also sees marketability and commercial appeal that Sanjaya naturally possesses, the potential in place for his (Sanjaya's) long term viability in this field. He commended the way the boy worked the crowd last week in the Idol audience.

The only albums Mr. Lythgoe has listened to so far of all the winners are Kelly Clarkson's and Carrie Underwood's.

We will be seeing Taylor Hicks on the show this season, Mr. Lythgoe said Hicks will be making an appearance later in the year.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

NBC Calls Sanjaya Malakar the Comeback Kid, & Saturday Night Live!

NBC Today Show calls Sanjaya Malakar the Comeback Kid!

I missed Saturday Night Live last night, but 'someone' (thanks, Grandpa Idol) told me they did a spoof on Sanjaya. Last year in April they spoofed Taylor Hicks, I did a brief write up on that because I also missed it; I was watching Mad TV spoof Bo Bice. Add that to the similarities between Taylor Hicks' run on Idol last year and Malakar.

I'll post the SNL clip as soon as I find it. oops FOUND IT!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sanjaya Malakar the American Idol Pinata

Taylor Hicks redux. More and more this season is giving me flashbacks of last season's Idol, especially reading through the fan boards. Sanjaya's fans are constantly having to defend their guy from ravenous hyena caliber attacks, and on-line slanted speculations, with goal in mind to get him off the show.

I remember distinctly how it was for Taylor Hicks last season even though many of his fans have either forgotten, or are fans that jumped on board supporting him near the end of the show. Too, many became fans after his win and did not really get to experience the 'joy' of supporting defending Hicks. I remember it so well because I started blogging for Taylor, January of 2006 and rode that rough ride to the (victorious) end.

Continuously the Fans of the other Idols on the show bashed him. Articles were pumped out daily with Hicks criticisms:
Taylor Hicks was called fat.
Simon said he would never win.
Taylor Hicks was called 'old and fugly' - many hated his hair.
Taylor Hicks dancing compared to having seizures.
He was called ridiculous.
He was called no-talent, that he could not sing.
He had his sexuality debated, how many times (and still see it) was it speculated that he was gay?
He was called a freak who did not belong on the show.
Taylor Hicks fans were ridiculed for liking him, all grouped into being overweight geriatric women without anything better to do than follow him. Fans were told they did not know good music. The Soul Patrol was made fun of, his trademark "Wooooooo!" lambasted.
Taylor Hicks was attacked on-line in forums more than any other contestant.

Yet he won.

Doesn't matter that Taylor Hicks' CD is not selling like a new Bible put out by the second coming of Christ; fact is he's done quite well by standards set by anyone outside of the American Idol machine. Actually, he's done quite well for that matter, by anyone inside the A.I. machine. Truth is, his style is not as mainstream as some of the others. Truth is, this man has found a viable career and success.

Other writers have made fun of me for comparing Hicks to Sanjaya, they are not seeing the picture I am, and they can kiss my sweet .......

Here are the comparables:

Sanjaya is being criticised for his hair.
Sanjaya is having his sexuality questioned.
Sanjaya is being told he can't sing. (check out the Sanjaya Sweet Chariot video)
Sanjaya's fans are being grouped as only tweenies.
Sanjaya's being called a freak who doesn't belong on the show.
Simon Cowell has threatened to quit the show should he win.
Sanjaya's fans are being ridiculed on-line in forums. This season Malakar is being attacked more than any other contestant in forums.

Now tell me these two have nothing in common.

One more thing; last season after being criticised for the singing on his first few songs he came out during Top 12. He performed low tempo tunes, "Levon" and "Easy". With negative commentary following both performances, especially "Easy". The next week, Taylor Hicks came out and blew everyone away with the fierce daring and passion he exuded in "Taking it to the Streets".

This season, Sanjaya has faced harsh criticisms (understatement) on his performances. And, notably has performed rather subdued versions of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Waiting On The World To Change" and "Knocks Me Off My Feet". I did enjoy the jazz treatment he provided, "Steppin' Out With My Baby". This past week he broke out of his quiet mold with The Kinks rock tune, "You Really Got Me Now". While neither of these guys had what you'd call the best vocals, they both showed extreme courage in just laying it out and going for the moment.

Bottom line, Simon was wrong last season, Taylor Hicks won, and he maintains a loyal group of fans that number in the hundred of thousands.

While there is a lot of competition to go, and Sanjaya 13 years Hicks' junior, I'm pulling for this kid to be in this reality TV show for some time to come.

Remember baby, if you think you can, you will.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sanjaya's Got Soul; "Sweet Chariot"

That's my boy.

Sanjaya Malakar, Star Power or Super Fizzle?

A writer who goes by The Scribe contributed their opinion in an article speculating on why Sanjaya Malakar is still in the Idol running. In a portion of the article he says,
    "That brings me to the next factor, he has the "YO Factor" whether we like it or not, he has naturally what so few of the other contestants have, a natural stage presence. If you knew nothing of Sanjaya and were seeing him on stage for the very first time, you would be thinking to yourself that you were going to be seeing a wonderful performance.

    Sanjaya also brings to American Idol a serious amount of potential. He is like a bomb that is ready to explode, however we are not sure if it is a dud or a big bang. Wouldn't it totally shock us if he came further and further out of his shell week after week, and ended up in the final 4 making it a shoot out between Jordin Sparks, Melinda Dolittle and himself? Only time will tell.

That sums it up relatively simply, and something I've seen in Sanjaya - star power. That shimmering, sparkly quality that is elusive and rare. Surely he's not the best singer in the competition, technically speaking, but I attribute some of this issue to his youth and inexperience. He's also been facing a daunting and heavy task for a kid his age, and before anyone compares he and Jordin Sparks (also 17 years old), I will say once again, 17 year old boys can usually be more equally comparable to a 14 year old girl regarding emotional maturity as well as physical maturity.

Something Sanjaya's shown, regardless of all the sneers and jeers all you 'experts' on music, in "The Land of Idol" throw his way, he did "it" anyway. Sanjaya displayed that very essence that will make him a star, set him apart from the other teenage guys that have come before him on this show. Carrying on with my Wizard of Oz analogy, that I refer to this show with from time to time, he was like the lion, Sanjaya went from standing there tentatively worrying his tail on that Idol stage to chucking it aside and letting go - Sanjaya Malakar found his courage.
The Scribe ends his story with, "Okay Sanjaya, it is time to put it on the line, we want to see if you fizzle and fade away, or explode into a full blown reality and become the star your potential says you have."
I'm hoping for that explosion.
Check out this link to see the boy's potential.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sanjaya Malakar; He Thought he Could - and Did. Top ten and Idol Tour.

Sanjaya Malakar's crazy, yet cool for its wild abandon, performance this week on Idol, certainly was a buzz-worthy endeavor on the young contestant's part. I admit this because I can be truly pathetic, but I was cheering like Sanjaya had won the Superbowl of Idol, when he broke free of his formerly shy demeanor (sans the hula). Man, I jumped and shouted. I brought back the Macarena - all over my den. Small moments of wild inspiration, that's what I live for, and this kid delivered Tuesday night. Aiding him this week, that sweet little gal in the audience, she looked about the same age as my daughter and her little Fanjaya buddies. While my girls did not cry, certainly they were screaming... and joining me in doing the Macarena. Ever the Idol trademark, absolutely great work in the show's editing direction, shots of that child made for good TV. Brilliant, that savvy man behind the scenes who kept cutting to that child's teary face, surely he's not getting paid enough, it completely fit into the British Invasion theme. I remember when the Beatles came to America, television news on every one of our three available stations were filled with black and white images of screaming, semi-fainting, crying girls. Words from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm". Sanjaya that was great.

Besides that sweet girl in the audience Tuesday night, the increasingly famous infamous site, Vote For the Worst ran by the canny satirist Dave Della Terza, has now been joined by new best friend, Sirius radio's Howard Stern are being attributed to keeping the boy in the Idol running. They look to be teaming up as the new Batman and Robin duo to save Sanjaya. (They can fight it out who is who.) During Tuesday's show Howard interviewed Dave, pledging his support for Malakar.Howard talked about his voting for Sanjaya on his show on Wednesday, many of his listeners responded by calling on air relaying their support of the previous night. First foreign call centers, now VFTW and Howard Stern.

I mean, really isn't it a completely American Ideal, the concept of championing the Underdog?
As it says in the Underdog theme song:
When in this world the headlines read
Of those whose hearts are filled with greed
And rob and steal from those in need.
To right this wrong with blinding speed goes
Speed of lightning, power of thunder,
All the world cries out for Under
Underdog, Underdog!

Reading through some of the posts to several on-line articles about Sanjaya, he continues to create controversy, some driving the Hate Sanjaya Foundation into a fonting, spaztic frenzy. Man, there are some angry, prejudiced folks wandering this planet, and so many so-called experts about music I can't understand why there seems to be somewhat a dearth of talent in the music industry. So many "experts", so much opinion and all of them think they matter. With American Idol, it's a matter of Myth and Fact. Myth, American Idol is all about music, and Fact, this show is about making money, by hook or crook. It sadly amuses me to a degree the way this kid is getting the blame for every one of the cast-offs and the reason for this - skillful directing of the show, with pitting him weekly, with the exception of this week, against the one being voted off.

In this article, A Love Song to Sanjaya written by Verne Gay with Newsday.com, he says, "What is it about "American Idol" that brings out the bloodsucking worst in some of us? That instinct to pummel the downtrodden, the weakest, the appointed loser? It's the "Idol" blood-in-the-water syndrome. Some of us smell blood. Some of us turn into sharks. (Some of us - heaven forbid - even turn into Simon.)" Truer words never spoken when it comes to the mean spirited self-important rantings against Sanjaya turning up in on-line articles, radio and television news casts. Mr. Gay proceeds to declare,"I'm going to vote for Sanjaya tonight and not because votefortheworst.com told me to. Even if - or when - he butchers his song, I'm going to vote for him because he's got heart - and courage and moxie and class. Whether we're willing to admit it or not, he's got talent, too. I'm going to vote for him because when I was 17, I barely even made it to class, much less subject myself to the abuse of an abuse-happy Idol Nation." (I certainly can relate to his last comment.) This he wrote before Tuesday night's performance. I'm thinking many folks are jumping on this train of thought concerning young Malakar; I for one am disgusted by the masses making true asses of themselves in their pointless overly bitter assessments of Sanjaya and his place on this reality TV show. One thing, Malakar's mother should be very proud of him and I think Sanjaya Malakar is an Idol in the sense that he is proving to be an excellent role model for the kids who are fans of this show by what he's exhibiting week after week.

Examining my other thoughts on the rest of the Idol pack, I was somewhat surprised to see Chris Richardson hit the bottom two this week, if he is falling off in popularity, perhaps his Timberlake schtick is getting stale. Regarding the eliminated Stephanie Edwards, although the girl has a good voice, she failed to garner a fan base of any power which is fatal with this show. It's a competition, after all. Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha are considered the front runners this season, but I'm having difficulty picturing one of them as winning this show, more likely they may be "shockers" to be voted off. Judges were giving LaKisha the "eye-rolling" treatment this week, she received a subtle brush off during their critique of her song, "Diamonds Are Forever". Doolittle, overall, a stunning vocalist, but her overly graciousness act is growing stale for me. I mean, by now she's aware of how good she sounds and how much the panel like her. That 'Christmas-morning-and-Santa-has-come' expression is growing stale.

My favorite of this season, (besides my boy Malakar), is Jordin Sparks. This girl has all the earmarks of being highly appealing for the commercial market. Her performance this week, once the show was over had me forget what Doolittle performed with the only thing that memorable about LaKisha was the green dress and diamonds. Jordin Sparks blessed with a kilowatt smile, amazing vocals, an endearing gawkiness paired with a bright sense of humor. It is funny how she crouches down to be eye level with wee Seacrest. It seems to annoy him a little so that makes me like her even more. Her performance this week of the Shirley Bassey tune, "I (Who Have Nothing) was brilliant.

My assessment of the rest, for what it's worth: Phil Stacey tried to be Daughtry/Bo Bice in one performance, sadly he lacks their sex appeal. Blake infused his number with beat boxing to make it more contemporary, he knows what his fans and the judges like about him. It helped him too that the stage was lit in psychedelic colors giving him a retro vibe, but while his vocals are actually pretty good, he holds limited appeal for me. I find him self-indulgent and somewhat repetitive, but the guy has a thick fan base. Chris Sligh had the good sense to put his glasses back on, but flubbed cruising through the audience. I was thinking, "People, Sligh, those were people". He cruised past audience members like they were cardboard cut-outs, mere background to his music video. Gina Glocksen with her performance "Painted Black" reminded me somewhat of a Joan Jett. At least she did not wear a Mohawk hoodie like Ryan Star did on Rock Star. I never figured out what the hell that was about.

Next to go home is difficult to gauge with this group, it's pretty much week to week and performance to performance, but my guess, at this point, it could play out like this:

Jordin Sparks - to win
Blake Lewis
Melinda Doolittle
LaKisha Jones
Chris Sligh
Chris Richardson
Gina Glocksen
Phil Stacey
Haley Scarnato

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sanjaya Rocked the House!

Sanjaya Malakar pulled a "Taylor Hicks" moment last night. Reminded me of The Soulman's ballsy take on "Taking it to the Streets" for all of its impact this should have for this kid during the rest of his Idol run. This is was a brave, courageous performance by Malakar. I knew he had it in him. Peter Noone gave him excellent advice. This should put him on tour and me on my way to taking my daughter and her Malakar buddies to the Idol tour, complete with glitter posters. Last night one of her friends in the midst of screaming about Sanjaya blurted out, "He's one sexy Mo Fo!". Her words. Mo Fo. Man, what are they learning in school these days.

The sweet little gal crying on the show is one of the "Make a Wish" kiddos that get to come on the show periodically *edit, that was the original rumor circulating the internet* Ashley actually had tickets to “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” which included passes to a dress rehearsal for Idol. However Miss Ashley Ferl got there, she made his performance The Bomb. Best ever time I have had watching Idol.

So, Sanjaya, did you "think you could"? ;)

(This audio isn't the best but will have to work until I can pick up a better one.)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

American Idol's "Little Engine That Could"

Sanjaya Malakar is facing, most likely, one of his biggest performance challenges on American Idol 6. This next week's show determines who gets to join the Idol tour or simply go home. I've dubbed Sanjaya "The Little Engine That Could" after that famous children's story about the small train, who against all odds, rose to the occasion by pulling on inner strength and self-belief. He is one of the most talked about controversial contestants this year, attributed with attracting some strong alliances in Vote For The Worst and Sirius satellite's Shock Jock, Howard Stern. Stern's been drawn into this fray because he hates American Idol, plus discounting how derogatory or colorfully he may phrase it on his show, it masks Stern's propensity to take up a fight for the Underdog. After all, Stern knows fully well and first-hand what it is like to be that Underdog. Through sheer grit, wit and an uncanny insight into what may lurk in the back of folk's minds, Stern has fought his way to success.

The talk and controversy surrounding Sanjaya Malakar, this season is reminding me of the brouhaha that swirled around Taylor Hicks last year. Obviously there are vast differences between Taylor Hicks and Sanjaya Malakar. To point out only a few, singing style, appearance and experience levels. Both have in common the situation of having to overcome big odds stacked against them on this music reality show, Hicks stared down adversity and won, and of course, Sanjaya is really just in the beginning stages. This time last year Hicks was beginning to amass a loyal following. His fans on the Idol forums faced harsh criticisms with attacks on his appearance and much debated perceived lack of true "Idol form". His singing was criticized, his dancing slammed and made fun of, his hair color bashed. Other prominent difference between Sanjaya and Taylor Hicks, Sanjaya is only 17 years old, whereas Hicks is now thirty, and notably, experience. Taylor Hicks had toured for ten years the club and bar scene, a harsh fast training ground.

The quality upheld by Mr. Hicks that bolstered him through - confidence in himself. He faced those judges week after week, many times hearing scathing criticisms, especially from Simon Cowell. He was called everything from a drunken Dad at a wedding to a bar room act and ridiculous. Simon consistently pontificated on Taylor's low chances at winning the show. Week after week the Soul Patrol rallied, gaining force with numbers and enthusiasm to pull Hicks to the top of the Idol ranks. Throughout every insult and bad critique, Hicks amazingly, held his tongue - and smiled. Each time he responded in that way following those bad reviews, Hicks gained fans, votes and fame. Taylor Hicks has always reminded me of those boxers in the ring, whom no matter how hard he's hit refuses to take the knock out, the man keeps coming up swinging. Last season, I couldn't help but hear that Rocky Balboa theme in my head watching that man. He was and is an inspiration.

Sanjaya Malakar reminds me of Taylor Hicks for the manner in which he is facing the rejection and criticisms. Through every harsh review the boy stands there and bravely smiles at the panel. Last week, Randy called his song, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" unlistenable. Checking out the downloads portion of the American Idol site, Malakar sounds better than some of his rivals including the now gone Brandon Rodgers. Simon Cowell is stepping up the ante with demonstrating his displeasure with keeping this boy by saying in a press release that should Sanjaya win he would leave the show. I am appreciating how each week, Sanjaya returns to hold his head up and strive to do his best, and he's improving.

One positive review regarding this budding, young man on the site of MasterClass Lady blog Roseanne Simunovic writes about his February 27 performance, "Stepping Out With My Baby",
    Sanjaya –call me crazy, but I actually enjoyed this song. It was refreshing and, even better, totally unexpected. The band arrangement was super and your retro look and genuine, gentle demeanor was just the ticket for this laid back, jazz -infused number. I thought that your performance was wonderful and your voice wrapped easily around the melodic line.
Ms. Simunovic happens to be not your average casual blogger, she is a woman with high credentials in music knowledge, and has written numerous articles on American Idol for publication.

Last week was Diana Ross week on Idol, the visiting diva had praise for the boy saying he was about "Love", which lit up the guy's fanboards. She also had to say to Sanjaya, "there is something in your spirit that is the winning ingredient". I believe that something is his sincerity, his openness, his youth, obvious boyish charm that radiates with his every smile. Certainly he is not the most polished performer, nor possessed of the most stunning vocals, but he showed with grace and humility that under pressure, even the great pressure that is Simon Cowell, he has drive to carry on. One of the biggest draws to this show is watching the contestants strive to make their dreams come true. While cynically, in the back of my mind, I have reservations regarding this show and its seeming metamorphosis into not much more than a money making empire and cunningly produced reality show, there is a part of me that holds dear my childhood memories of wanting to believe in Peter Pan and fairy tales. Witnessing Sanjaya Malakar and his struggle buoys that part of me, takes me above my cynicism and sarcasm for a time. I'm hoping that within Sanjaya Malakar's mind, resonates the message behind my favorite children's story, "I think I can, I think I can." Anything can be possible if you believe.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Idol Blues Post Spoilers, last weeks Winners and Losers, and Seems Sanjaya is like the Little Engine that Could... ,

1. Melinda
2. Lakisha
3. Gina
4. Blake
5. Sanjaya
6. Jordin
7. Chris R
8. Stephanie
9. Sligh
10. Brandon
11. Phil
12. Haley
13. Sabrina
14. Sundance
15. Antonella
16. Jared

1. Melinda
2. Lakisha
3. Gina
4. Jordin
5. Stephanie
6. Hayley
7. Sabrina
8. Antonella

1. Blake
2. Sanjaya
3. Chris R
4. Sligh
5. Brandon
6. Phil
7. Sundance
8. Jared

Seems that Sanjaya is holding his own. The boy has fans, friends and now the "Dark Angels" who Vote for the Worst in his corner. I'm hoping the boy picks "Ben" as his song selection for this week. Lay it out there baby boy and shut those naysayers up. Sunny's pulling for you.

Keep that Little Engine That Could on the tracks.
All Aboard the Sanjaya Express. ;)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Taylor Hicks and the Greyhounds go for Tea

Wow, some fortunate folks obviously lucked out on this full moon weekend. Following Taylor Hicks' sold out show at the Orange Peel, he went with the Greyhounds to perform at this intimate venue, The Grey Eagle, photos captured at Grey Eagle Review. That's how I'd like to see Hicks too, just a stripped down joint with limited musical inclusions. The Soulman just can't get enough of making music.

*having a fangirly moment* Wow, he looks great!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Taylor Hicks, Surviving in the American Idol Hamster Wheel

Unique to Season Five we saw five contestants score record deals. A brilliant move for the show's marketing team, and a Godsend for the newly recording artists, a win-win for all concerned, you might think. Flipping the other side of this shiny coin, while as a viewer you may revel in the success stories of these fortunate few, it dampens the effect and glamour of winning this show. Compile this factor with the focus on Simon Cowell and his obvious delight in fostering the feel of continued competition, aspiring contestants should think long and hard about the personal costs. As time, and now six years into the show, it feels like American Idol is much more Survivor or Big Brother than Star Search.

Of course the music industry is rife with competition, top of the charts is where it's at - the common conceptual image of prestige and success. That said, pressure and emphasis levied on the American Idol success stories seem amplified, magnified, a more oppressive force than found for artists who find their way to stardom outside the show. The contestants on American Idol are locked into a perpetuating cycle revolving around comparisons against one another. Is American Idol on its way to shooting itself in the foot by the very concept it is founded upon - competition? It is looking increasingly as the seasons pass that the contestants are contracted into an infinite circling competition, thrust into a rivalrous miasma trapping them inside that pulsing blue virtual hamster wheel of contention against their fellow contestants. Profiteers to this situation, the producers, 19E and of course, Simon Cowell.

In this recent article from People Magazine titled, "Simon Trashes Jennifer Hudson and Taylor Hicks", Simon says,
    "As for Taylor Hicks, who won season 5's competition, "They (Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson) loved him. I couldn't stand him. I didn't get it," Cowell snapped, adding that "at the end of the day you have to find a bona fide recording artist. Just because you win the show doesn't mean you will sell a lot of records. Chris (Daughtry) is the one who sold the albums, not Taylor."
This man digs his barbs into the meat of the most profitable area of Idol. Controversy. By Mr. Cowell's very contentious nature he creates buzz for the show and that creates viewers. He is an intelligent, savvy man who innately knows how to butter his bread. Commentary about Taylor Hicks whether positive or negative gains immense attention which is Mr. Cowell's main role on the show. Hudson, who may have only finished 6th in 2002 on the show recently has won an Oscar for her acting debut in the movie "Dreamgirls". Cowell's commentary in this recent article, attributes Idol for her success. While the show may have served to assist her in gaining attention, credit should be placed on her shoulders for the advancements she has made for herself.

This People Magazine article emphasizes a continuing prime news making example, Mr. Cowell continues to link Chris Daughtry and Taylor Hicks, and in this piece, in the same sentence. Apt commentary regarding Chris Daughtry's sales and success, would be more in-line to compare his CD, Daughtry and how it is selling against Nickelback's All the Right Reasons. (Daughtry is currently at number 2 on the top 200, All the Right Reasons at number 15.) By meshing and comparing apples with oranges, Simon keeps the in-house competition alive, and the American Idol wheel turning.

Bo Bice and Taylor Hicks certainly played their part in opening up the Idol cage to a wider field of aspiring artists, gaining acceptability outside the tried and true Pop star image originally in the show's prospectus. This season I'm seeing several of these new contestants monkeying Idols that have come before. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but too much of 'seen that, heard that', becomes a bore. One example I'm talking about is this season's popular contestant, Chris Sligh. He enters the show bringing attention to his curly afro, and in his own blog had said his fan base should be named the 'Fro Patro' (no that is not a typo). He mentions in first audition to the judges that his goal on the show was to make Hasselhof cry. This in reference, of course to David Hasselhof's tears, he was in attendance, when Taylor Hicks was crowned winner in the finale. Second week of competition, Mr. Sligh performs one of the songs that was a stand out hit for Taylor Hicks, Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble". He's being obvious in his attempts to travel ground already trodden, to jump the Hicks' train to attract viewers. His saving grace, the guy's got a great sense of humor.

Watching Simon Cowell I can tell he already has a sweet spot for at least one of the contestants. He also seems a little more acid tongued this year as do Randy and Paula. That may lie in wake of the really limited standout performances we've seen so far from this year's crop of Idol Wanna-Be's. Might this shed any light over the condition we are seeing with this season? More attention is being garnered by one of the girls in the show becoming a household name by racy on-line pictures being submitted by past pals, and a disgruntled former boyfriend over some of the girls with superior singing skills like Melinda Doolittle. One of the guys in the competition, through no real action of his, has become known for being supported by Vote For the Worst, a site that proclaims they are dedicated to revealing the truth as they see it behind Idol. My point, the singing this season is being eclipsed by the behind the scenes machinations and negotiations. Yes, truly this show is looking increasingly like Big Brother or Survivor with on-line participants 'virtually' included in the show (VFTW). Last year this time we were reeling from the singing performances, this year the show is becoming steeped in manipulations and alliances.

Last season's fourth place finisher, Chris Daughtry is discovering first-hand it's not as easy to shed the Idol chain as it is to switch his wallet chain. In an interesting article written by Michael Endelman of EW.com he interviews Daughtry while the singer visited Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. Shockingly Mr. Endelman writes that Chris Daughtry canceled the Question and Answer session that had been planned, then proceeds to critique a collage of snapshots from American Idol designated for the hospital scrapbook. He winds up signing it, commenting, "How did they get all these cheesy photos?" (Nice commentary.) According to Mr. Endelman, following an introduction by the hospital administrator as 'Chris Daughtry from American Idol',
    'the tightly wound singer snaps. He turns discreetly to a member of his entourage and whispers, "Are they even going to mention the album? Are they even going to talk about the band? It's just Idol," saying the last word with special disdain.'
Considering that the show is using his song, "Home" off of the CD, Chris Daughtry is going to find that wheel's gonna keep on turning.

Simon Cowell's jabs at Hicks being outsold by Daughtry have legs only when spoken within the top 40 Nickelback rock boundaries. Chris Daughtry's sound is in a more popular genre. What Taylor Hicks proved successfully last season (along with his fans), is that the coercion techniques that Simon Cowell, the King (apparent) of Opinions That Matter can be defeated. The Idol cage could be infiltrated by one other than the 'chosen' or should I say, ideal contestant. His obvious manipulations to influence the show's outcome can be overturned. Simon Cowell with his ego will never forget that.

What has also been seen and proven in the media, and in the marketing of the Idols is win or lose, American Idol runs somewhat like in The Wizard of OZ, the contestants and viewers are are subject to the 'man behind the curtain'. Should viewers get too wise to the man behind the curtain, this juggernaut hit could be on its unwitting way to creating a self-consuming monster.

The Soulman's CD when it comes to numbers of units sold, doesn't carry an assessment of the fan base Taylor Hicks has developed. Taylor Hicks, in his, let's say natural state, no I'm not referring to him in the buff, rather I'm talking about him being sans the overproduction trappings cast into his CD by the producers, i.e. Matt Serletic. Hicks carries naturally that throwback vibe, he is not Pop mainstream, nor does he want to be. Regarding his fan base; I don't think it is a matter of it diminishing, I do think that many who became fans enjoyed Taylor Hicks the natural musician. The man thought to have distinctive choices in music. The man possessed of a growly, raw vocal sound. The man who delivered Ray Charles' "Georgia" heard on-line last year, in a manner that would have made Ray proud. By Serletic selling Hicks on the concept of broadening his fanbase, it weakened the potential of the product. One thing Taylor Hicks need remember, that Idol wheel may keep on spinning, but sometimes the hamster has to jump off. Bo Bice has picked up on that, and eventually so will The Soulman. Now if we can just get the keys away from that man behind the curtain.

Groove on.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

There is Nothing Little About Doolittle's Voice.

This was Melinda Doolittle's song from last week's Idol broadcast; "Since You've Been Gone":

This week she absolutely killed with her rendition of "My Funny Valentine":

Idol Blues seeing the next American Idol in this amazingly sweet, humble, massively talented woman. Gal's got Soul.