The Halloween Monsters I Created

October 29, 2008

To help get my three-year-old twins in the mood for Halloween, I got a couple holiday CDs to listen to in the car on the way to school and other activities.

But they have become obsessed with these CDs.  If they aren’t in the car when we get ready to leave, they beg me to go get them before we drive away.  If we take Daddy’s car that day, they remind me to get the CDs out of my car.  And they want to listen to the CDs over and over and over again. 

I have listened to the same two CDs for two weeks straight.  I have created Halloween Music Monsters! 

But their obsession is nothing compared to their reactions to the songs.  They definitely have their favorites.  Here’s what’s topping their list:

Ghostbusters

This song has quickly moved to the top spot considering the twins had probably not heard it very often before this month.  But my son will quickly tell you it’s his favorite.  He sings it both in and out of the car.

We sat down to dinner the other night and my son looks at Daddy and says “Who you gonna call?”  Then he answers his own question with a resounding “Ghostbusters!”

My daughter mostly dances to the song but will pipe up every now and then with a chorus of “Ghostbusters!”

Scooby Doo Theme Song

The kids have watched this show so often that they know the song by heart.  Plus they have two plush Scooby Doo dolls – one dressed like a pirate, one dressed like a witch -at home that play these songs.

But more interesting is their reaction when the song comes on.  We have the same conversation every time the song plays.

My son:  Mommy, it’s Scooby Doo!

Mommy:  Yes, it is.

My son:  Can I watch Scooby Doo at home?

Mommy:  Sure, when we get home we can watch Scooby Doo

My son:  Scooby Doo Vampire?

Mommy:  Yes we can watch the Scooby Doo at Vampire Rock

My daughter:  I want Scooby Doo Zombies!

Mommy:  Yes, we can watch Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.

And by the time we finish this conversation the song is over.

The Witch Doctor

The twins like this song, but they are very specific about which version.  They only like the Alvin and the Chipmunk version.  If I play any other version, one of them has to tell me Alvin sings this song.  Yes, I know, I reply.

But even if it’s not the Alvin version, I see heads bobbing in the backseat and stains of “ooh eee oohh ah ah” coming from the backseat.

Purple People Eater

The fact that neither of the kids knows the words to this song does nothing to deter their enthusiasm for the Purple People Eater.  My daughter particularly likes to dance to this song.  She bobs and wiggles in her car seat.  My son likes to jump in and repeat whatever the purple People Eater say.  I think he likes the voice.

But the twins favorite part is at the end, when they shout “tequila”.  So my kids are running around going “tequila.”

We are suppose to be working on our “t” sound for speech therapy this week, but I’m not sure this is what their teacher had in mind.  And I just know when we go in on Friday and she asks them for a “t” word, they are both going to shout “tequila” and I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do.

The Adams Family

It never fails that when this song comes on one of the kids asks me “what’s this song?”  They don’t sing along but they are particularly fascinated with the song.  I found out why when I went on their preschool field trip last week.  The grace they say this month before snack is to the tune of the Adams Family.

Monster Mash

The twins’ only interest in this song is the bubbling at the beginning.  They always ask:  “is that water?”  After I answer yes, they just wait for the next song.

So for the last two weeks, this has been my life – narrowed down to six Halloween songs and the exact same reactions from my kids for each song.  I might sound like I’m complaining, but actually I love the fact that my kids are getting into the holiday spirit.

I finally broke down on Saturday and bought a new CD, but it doesn’t have Ghostbusters, so they don’t want to listen to it.

Thank goodness that Friday is Halloween.  Then we can move on to music for the next holiday.  Anyone know any good Thanksgiving songs?

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David Cook Wins it All, Named 2008 American Idol

May 22, 2008

Welcome to the two-hour Fox promo machine – I mean, the season finale of American Idol.  And believe it or not among all the stars, a new star was crowned in what had to be one of the closest finales in seven seasons.

Cook rocks his way to victoryIt was easy to forget that the purpose of the night was to award the Idol title as Fox paraded star after star among this season’s Top 12.  But never fear, the answer to your long awaited question of who is the next American Idol is answered.

With a fairly narrow 56% of the record-setting 97 ½ million votes, David Cook beat out David Archuleta for the 2008 American Idol title.  Who knew that the cougar vote was more powerful than the teen vote?

Seriously, I was sure that Archuleta had the crown cinched especially after the judges gushed all over him last night.  But just before the winner was announced, Simon apologized to Cook saying that after rewatching the performances from Tuesday night, he didn’t give Cook enough credit and that the race was closer than he thought.

As the new Idol, a very emotional Cook closed out the show with a performance of “Time of My Life,” the songwriting contest winner.  This song was worthy of the award and suited Cook to a tee.  It was a nice finish to a busy night.

Individual Performances

But if I was Cook, the highlight of my night would have had to been jamming with ZZ Top to “Sharp Dressed Man.”  Second on the list would have been doing the Guitar Hero commercial a lá Risky Business – which for me was the best cross-promotion of the night (sorry Archuleta, your boxer version just didn’t cut it).

But sing with a star was the name of the game tonight.  Archuleta sang the hit “Apologize” with One Republic.  And I actually liked him with this group.  Maybe there is hope for him yet.  But did anyone else notice that he seemed to have a little trouble keeping up with the group?  I think the multiple performances were taking their toll on him.

Syesha Mercado returned to sing “Waiting for You” with Seal.  I’m not sure if it was the time off, the song or her duet partner, but I thought she sounded great.  Guess it’s easier to perform without the pressure of being judged.

But apparently the producers couldn’t find anyone willing to sing with Jason Castro, who gave us an encore performance of “Halleluiah.”  My husband kept wondering if he’d remember the words.  I think the song was handpicked for him because they knew it was his best performance all season.

Brooke White teamed up with Graham Nash to sing “Teach Your Children,” a song that suited her style well.  She seemed more relaxed than ever.  Maybe she wasn’t struggling with stage fright afterall, but with the stress of the competition.  Either way, I was impressed with her performance.

Carly Smithson rounded out performances of the Top 6 by teaming up with fellow contestant Michael Johns to perform “The Letter.” 

Group Performances

The finale was packed with so many performances by the Top 12 that it seemed more like a preview of the upcoming tour with special guests.  But if the confident performances we saw tonight are any indication then the tour shouldn’t be as bad as I once imagined – at least for the more individual performances.

The group numbers weren’t quite as impressive.  The finalists of So You Think You Can Dance joined the Top 12 to liven up the opening number.  Clearly the producers are saying they don’t expect the Idol contestants to have any dancing abilities.  Do you think the dancers will be going on the tour too?

The two Davids treated us to a duet of Chad Kroeger’s “Hero,” a performance that clearly exaggerated the differences between the two and why Cook deserved the title.  As my husband said, Cook has a rocker sound that is more interesting to listen to.

The Top 6 women did a medley with Donna Summer featuring her new song “Stomp Your Feet.”  I was not impressed with this number.  Amanda Overmyer looked totally uncomfortable – maybe it was all the red outfits for “She Works Hard for Her Money.”  Somehow with these outfits the song wasn’t bringing to mind a woman working as a waitress.  But even with the prostitution undertones, Brooke still managed to look pure and innocent. 

And then there was the aging Donna Summer who had to be helped down the steps.  Couldn’t they come up with a better entrance that didn’t make her seem so feeble?

The Top 6 men had a better outing with their Bryan Adams medley.  They all looked sharp in their dark suits and Adams aged better than Summer.  He sang his new single “I Thought I’d See Everything.”

And finally the Top 12 performed a George Michael medley with the man himself.  Who knew that the Wham alum was resurrecting his career with his first American tour in 17 years?  Personally, I can do without the medley numbers.

Additional Filler

The musical side of the show was rounded out with performances by past Idol winners Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood.  The Jonas Brothers also performed.  I guess they had to have someone on the show that was within Archuleta’s age range.  But even the Jonas Brothers made Archie look young.

While I expected to see the array of singers, I was a little shocked by the number of comic acts.

Of course, we’d be treated to a promo for the new Mike Myers’s movie The Love Guru.  The mock advice of the guru was cute, but it was when Ryan almost drove his “flying pillow” off the edge of the stage that I laughed.

Surprisingly, Jimmy Kimmel (not a Fox product) put in an appearance to give us a season recap monologue.  Unfortunately, his Simon video just didn’t compare with his Ben Affleck video.

My favorite comic act of the night was the try outs for Gladys Knight’s Pips which featured funnymen Ben Stiller and Jack Black, and the surprisingly stoic Robert Downing Jr.  This skit was my favorite bit of the night.

It definitely beat out the return of Renaldo Lapuz who got to perform his original “My Brother” song with the USC marching band.  This Best of the Worst feature was still better than last year’s “awards.”

Overall, the two hours of fluff could have been worse – at least most of the time was filled with performances and a few of them were even good.

What do you think?  Did the best David win?  Was the show a complete waste of two hours or have the producers finally found a good mixture of fluff and performances?

———————–

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Davids Duke it Out for Idol Title

May 21, 2008

Tonight the Davids faced off in the finals of American Idol in a battle that pit a rock star versus boy wonder.  But who will pull away with the title?

David and DavidGoing into this final night of competition I still believe that David Cook is the better choice for the Idol winner because he offers the whole pop star package.  Even in the cheesy eight-minute Ready-to-Rumble introduction David Archuleta couldn’t muster up enough character to make the whole “fight night” ambiance believable.

This final battle was fought in three rounds before 7,000 fans in the Nokia Theatre with Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Webber helping the Davids prepare.

Round 1 – Clive’s Choice

Songs for Round 1 were chosen for the contestants by Sony BMG Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis.

In the first round, Cook proved that he was in it to win tonight, opening with a slowed-down rendition of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that started the show off on a high note and caused Randy to forget the year when he called this the Dual of 2007. 

But if you liked Archuleta coming into this show, then you loved his version of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”  It was his every performance personified, then amplified.  I’ll agree that it was one of his best performances.

Although the judges gave this round to Archuleta, I’d say that Cook won it.  While both sang well, Cook worked the stage and the crowd better.

Round 2 – Songwriter Contest Choice

This round was for those of you that wanted to see what the contestants could do with something original. 

And what Cook did was rock a song with only mediocre lyrics.  In fact, I think his rendition of Emily Shackleton’s “Dream Big” could actually become a hit for him despite second-rate words.  The arrangement was likable, fun and easy to rock out to.

The lyrics of “In this Moment” by Ryan Gilmore might have been better, but for me Archuleta’s performance was forgettable.  As I listened, I kept wondering what Cook could do with this song.  We all knew what Archuleta would do – sing it as a ballad, squint his eyes and hold out his right arm as he sang.

While I thought it was cool to see some original work, I have to wonder at the wisdom of choosing from songs that weren’t good enough to win the songwriting contest.  The judges also gave this round to Archuleta.  But was it because they liked the lyrics better?  I still think that Cook did more with what he had.

Round 3 – Contestant’s Choice

The songs selections in the Contestant’s Choice round were better than last week.

Cook showed his versatility by slowing things down with Collective Soul’s “The World I Know.”  For me, his performance felt intimate despite the venue.  I think it was a cool move on his part that, even on the last night with the title at stake, he didn’t take the easy way out with a song he’d already performed.  Instead he challenged himself with a new song.

On the other hand, I was not impressed with Archuleta’s “Imagine” the first time he sang it.  And an encore performance did nothing to improve his standing with me.  But on a similar note, I wouldn’t have been more awed if he’d chosen a new song since I think all of his performances sound the same. 

Again the judges gave the round to Archuleta, but it was Cook who proved his range and his flexibility with his choice.

If anyone had any doubt that Archuleta was being set up to win had to just listen to the judge comments tonight for proof.

Cook clearly out sang Archuleta showing his versatility and originality while Archuleta’s songs were all alike – right down to the hand gestures.  But still he got the praise.

What do you think?  Who sang better?  Who deserves the title?

———————–

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The Davids to Battle it Out in Idol Final

May 15, 2008

And then there were two.  In a very predictable finish to the American Idol Top 3, Syesha Mercado is eliminated leaving David Cook and David Archuleta to vie for the title next week.

Syesha MercadoWhile the pairing of the Davids in the final is something fans have been predicting for weeks, I am surprised by Syesha’s third place finish.  For several weeks in the middle, I was sure that she was marked for an early exit.  But the last few weeks, we have seen Syesha pull out all the stops with Broadway-worthy performances.

Although I’d much rather see Syesha over Archuleta in the final, I’m not surprised to see her go.  Cook has stood out as a favorite among fans looking for originality and the complete package while Archuleta is a favorite of the judges and teenage girls.

In addition to the group number to “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – an appropriate title for the night if not a mediocre performance –  the Ford “Heaven” video and a performance by Idol winner Fantasia, we were treated to videos of each contestants tearful homecoming.

Archuleta headed home to Murray, Utah where he performed at his high school and, of course, visited the mall where he was surrounded by – what else – throngs of teens.  His big concern – where did they all park?

Syesha was so welcomed in Sarasota, Florida that the mayor was doing handstands.  She rounded out her very emotional visit with stops at Bradenton and her alma mater Booker High School.

Cook’s trip to Blue Springs, Missouri read like a wish list – he did the weather on the local TV station, gave a concert downtown where even the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the masses, got to thank his elementary school music teacher for inspiring him to get into music and threw out a pitch to for the Royals.

It should be interesting to see how next week pans out.  I still think that Cook deserves the title more, but that it’ll be Archuleta walking away with it.

What do you think?  Was Syesha the right person to send home?  What are your predictions for next week?

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Idol Top 3 Fail to Wow with Lackluster Performances

May 14, 2008

American Idol is down to its Top 3 contenders and the contest should be heating up, but the competition tonight was uninspired and predictable.  With three songs a piece, did any of the contestants really stand out?

David, David and SyeshaTonight each contestant got to sing one song chosen for them by one of the judges, one song of their choice, and one song chosen by the producers.  Let’s just say that the producers should stick to producing and not selecting song (as if the themes from this season are proof enough).

The sole bright spot tonight was David Cook, but even his performances weren’t top shelf.

Simons’s choice of a Roberta Flack song for Cook seemed off the wall at first.  But I have to give Simon credit for picking something outside of the box and let’s just say that once again Cook rose to that challenge with a tear-jerking performance of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”  I had no idea how was going to pull of such an old-fashioned song, but he not only did, he made it sound current and hip.

Next was Cook’s song choice.  The fact that he picked a Switchfoot tune didn’t surprise me, but it did disappoint me.  His rendition of “Dare You to Move” sounded exactly like something I’d expect to hear from Cook.  But I was hoping for more – more originality, more extraordinary – another “Hello” or “Billie Jean.”  And I didn’t get it.

And as for the producer’s choice, Cook definitely served up the best performance in this category.  I’m pretty sure that an Aerosmith tune wouldn’t have been what I would have picked for Cook, but he nailed the performance of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and did songwriter Diane Warren (who was in the audience) proud.

Syesha Mercado, on the other hand, didn’t fare as well.

I can see why Randy picked an Alicia Keys balled for her.  Syesha definitely has the voice to carry off a powerful song like “If I Ain’t Got You.”  And Syesha even gave the number a little pizzazz.  But just like the Whitney Houston and Celine Dion songs that she gravitates to, it’s hard for Syesha to stand out against the originals.

Now Syesha made an excellent song choice for herself.  Tunes like Peggy Lee’s “Fever” are a perfect fit for her.  Not only does she get a chance to showcase that nice bluesy-soul sound with her voice, but she gets to flaunt her stage skills.  I know the judges didn’t like this performance, but I think it played to her strengths.

Now the song that the producers picked for Syesha did just the opposite.  The tune from the movie Happy Feet was a nice dance number.  But when you get up and dance it’s easy to forget who’s performing and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened with Syesha’s rendition of “Hit Me Up.”  It was fun while it lasted, but it was easily forgotten.

And finally, David Archuleta showed us all the same moves he’s been using all season.

Archuleta was right about one thing – the Billy Joel song Paula chose for him is a pretty song.  And Archuleta’s rendition of “And So it Goes” wasn’t bad.  But the performance wasn’t really any different that every other song he’s every performed on the show – nice, but forgettable.

Picking a Chris Brown song was a smart choice for Archuleta if he was trying to appeal to his teenage fans.  But unfortunately Archuleta is not Chris Brown.  He lacks Brown’s smooth moves and performance skills, leaving his version of “With You” looking and sounding like bad karaoke.

Archuleta concluded his set with another uninspired choice – the producers chose yet another ballad for the 17-year-old – “Longer” by Dan Fogelberg.  As expected, Archuleta performed the song in exactly the same format that he’s performed all the rest of his ballads – no surprises and no wow factor.

I thought Archuleta was the least impressive tonight.  It’s not that he doesn’t have a nice voice; it’s just that every song sounds the same with him.  But since he’s a favorite of the judges, I’m going against my better judgment and predict that Syesha will be going home on Wednesday.

Who do you think had the better night?  Who should go home?

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Ding Dong, The Dreads are Gone on Idol

May 8, 2008

As a relief to much of America (or at least this American), the dreadlocked Jason Castro was finally given the boot as American Idol dwindles its numbers to three.

Jason CastroI don’t know if people vote more when the field narrows or if the record-setting nearly 51 million votes was a testament to how many people really wanted Jason off the show, especially when Ryan added how close the Top 3’s numbers were – with in a million of each other.

I, for one, am glad that Jason’s time is up.  I would have been sorely disappointed if he’d made it to the next round.

And I’m really not surprised to find Syesha Mercado landing in the jeopardy seat.  I think David Archuleta deserved to be there, but given his standing with the judges I never really questioned his safety.

As for the rest of the show, did anyone else think that the opening number “Reelin’ in the Years” reminded you of those Brady Bunch episodes where the kids tried their hand at a singing career?

On the other hand, the Beetle’s Cirque de Soleil LOVE show looked awesome.  I want to make a trip to Vegas just to see it now.  And I have to admit that the Fab 4 looked pretty good after their makeovers, especially David Archuleta – he actually looked like he wasn’t 12.

In the caller questions, we saw David Cook get hooked up, had Jason admit that his “brain is dead” (big surprise there) and learned that Simon not only wants to be knighted but that he’s also willing to be the next James Bond.

Performances by Maroon 5 and Bo Bice rounded out the evening.

Is there anyone out there that didn’t think America got it right this time?

———————–

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Syesha Proves She’s Still in the Running on Idol

May 7, 2008

Tonight the Top 4 had the songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at their fingertips on American Idol.  But could the contestants make the best of these great tunes?

American Idol Top 4

Leading off the night and topping my list was David Cook.  I was very interested to see what he could would do with “Hungry Like the Wolf.”  But I was a little let down.  I was expecting more originality.  While Cook’s version was a bit edgier that Duran Duran’s, it didn’t stand out as being unique.  With the catalogue of music available, I have to admit that Duran Duran wouldn’t have been my first choice for Cook.

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Cook’s second song, was more like what I’d come to expect from him.  What else can I say?  When Cook is in his element he can rock any song.

And proving she’s still in the contest is Syesha Mercado.  She is at her best when she adds some personality to her performances.  So I was really happy that she picked a song like “Proud Mary” where she could let loose.  Even if Syesha’s vocals aren’t top notch, she compels you to enjoy her performance when she looks likes she’s having a good time like she did with this song.

If she highlighted her performance skills with the first song, she showcased her voice with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and reminded us of her flair for ballads.  And when she doesn’t sing them every week, I can enjoy a good one from her.  But if I’m honest, I liked the first performance better.

David Archuleta was deemed the winner of the night by the judges, but I was not so impressed.  I love the song “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King.  But Archuleta took a simple song and ruined it with all of his typical Archuletaisms – the outreached hand, the unnecessary runs and the campy mic moves.  Seriously, the vocals weren’t that bad, but the performance was marred with his signature moves that are not only trite, but boring and a sign of his immaturity on stage.

That said, I have to admit that Archuleta’s version of “Love Me Tender” wasn’t that bad.  Of course, he’ll never compare to Elvis, but it was one of his better performances.  My complaint is that every Archuleta performance looks and sounds alike – just insert different lyrics.

And finally, I have so lost patience with Jason Castro.  Not only did he prove that he was absolutely no originality with a really poor imitation of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.”  But he also performed rock and roll blasphemy during his interview.  When he talked about choosing a song from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame repertoire, he said “There’s a few songs on the list that I knew.”  A few songs?  Seriously?  This guy has no business being in the Top 4.

And his second song was further proof.  Oh. My. God!  Did Jason really forget the lyrics to “Mr. Tambourine Man?”  And it was one of the few songs he knew.  What else can Jason do to get himself sent home?

Obviously my pick to go home is Jason.  And apparently, it’s Jason’s wish too.  I think Archuleta should join Jason in the bottom two.  But given the unconditional praise rained on him by judges, I’m guessing that Syesha will keep Jason company.

Who do you think had the best night?  Is there anyone (actually listening to his performances, not just looking at his face) out there that doesn’t think Jason should get sent home?

———————–

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