American Idol: The Last 8

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So tonight, The Idol has the 8 leftover performers doing 80’s songs (Love it!) so this should be right up my alley! With Gwen Stefani & the other guy from No Doubt as “helpers,” this should be…well…weird. Why not get an 80’s artist (like Stevie Nicks last week)? This show is confusing…

Anyway…DeAndre led off the show and I was out to dinner and totally missed it but the judges apparently liked it. I can’t stand DeAndre so…I’m gonna say it sucked and hope everyone else thought so too.

Up next, Elise performing “I Wanna Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. I gotta say…I love Elise and after her performance of “Whole Lotta Love” last week, she was on a whole different level but honestly…this performance was surprisingly average. Damn. Here’s hoping DeAndre REALLY sucked…

Skylar & Colton break out their rendition of “Islands In The Stream” in what has to be one of the oddest pairings tonight. Seeing a rocker like Colton singing Kenny Rogers is like a bad karaoke dream and Skylar doesn’t have Dolly’s…uh…assets? So yeah…there was a lot to be desired from this ridiculous pairing.

Up next…Phillip Phillips is tackling Phil Collins & Genesis. This has GOT to be more interesting than anything else so far. In the pre-song meeting with Gwen & that other dude, Phillip sounds pretty unsure of himself but once he gets into the real deal, he nails it. All the judges loved his performance and P2 had his brother join him on stage playing guitar. His brother mentions something about Phillip staying true to himself. This may be the most over-used term on American Idol at this point and now it’s just sounding cheesy. But that doesn’t take away the fact that he killed it…in a good way!

Commercial break and I don’t know what this commercial is hawking but it’s really long and a girl and a dude both go out running and the guy ends up in an ambulance while they both sing some cutesy song. Eventually the girl ends up running over mountains to get to the guy in the hospital. Oh…it’s a Nike commercial. Why is it that the guy always ends up looking like a dweeb? Whatever…this song sucked anyway…

Hollie & DeAndre are now singing the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” The fact that DeAndre sounds more like a Sister than Hollie is a little weird to me. And the ending fireworks is cheesy. According the Steven Tyler, it was amazing. Uh…no.

Joshua Ledet is up singing Simple Minds’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” I hate to say it, but Joshua is wearing me out with his gospel-tinged harmony on EVERY song. Now…with the stage lit up in red candles, this one is no different. A standard performance that I think I’ve seen over & over again from him. He does have an amazing voice but I’m bored. Weren’t there ANY good songs in the 80’s? Wait…don’t answer that. Jay Lo says it was a powerhouse performance & spectacular. Steven calls it over-the-top. Not WAY over the top but just enough over the top. And he’s obviously bored as well. Dawg says Joshua’s gotta have it. What the hell is he talking about?

Jennifer Sanchez is singing ANOTHER Whitney Houston song. She nailed “I Will Always Love You” a few weeks ago. This is no surprise and she’s gonna sing “How Will I Know” in her made up alias, BeBe Chez. Hey…she’s 16. Go with it. She’s performing with a guitarist and a guy with a keyboard strapped to his shoulder. She doesn’t exactly nail this one. Actually…I think this kind of upbeat tempo is actually tougher for her than reaching high notes. I don’t care for it. The judges however? Well…they think she’s great and amazing and blah blah blah…

I think I’m over Idol judges at this point. Enough already. Can we cut this show down to an hour and skip the judges at this point? Because they are terrible. I would vote THEM off, if I could.

Sweet….Elise & Phillip doing Tom Petty’s “Stop Dragging My Heart Around!” Love it and these 2 are my favorite performers. Why Elise didn’t do this song for her choice is beyond me. These 2 could do a great duet on their own someday. And now I’m thinking Elise could be okay after this performance! They should just go have babies right now ’cause these 2 are excellent together…

Hollie is up next singing “What A Feeling” from the movie Flashdance. Gwen says the song is about tough confidence. I agree and Hollie is the totally wrong one to talk to about confidence. Anyway, there’s a keyboard issue so Ryan has to ask a totally irrelevant question. There’s also a giant disco ball over Hollie’s head. Here’s hoping IT doesn’t have a malfunction! Or maybe there should have been a malfunction because this was not her best performance. It doesn’t fit her. Anyway…she’s too young and this song proves it. She’s out of her element and the judges nail her on it. She might be in trouble.

Joshua & Jessica perform “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.” I’m bored. I swear…we’re the 80’s THIS uneventful? Technically it’s fine but it just seems like everything is tired tonight. Maybe I’m listening to too much 80’s XM radio lately. Plus…I didn’t care that much for this song in 20 years ago so there ya go. Dawg says he worked on the original with Aretha & George Michael and this was on par with it. Seriously? Someone please shut them ALL up. Please?

So now Colton is gonna sing a Cyndi Lauper classic. I’m hoping for “She Bop” but instead it’s “Time After Time.” I love me some Cyndi but I dunno about this. Colton flirts with Gwen so…THAT was cool. Jimmy says he picked the right song so…let’s see. It’s a little more rockin’ so it has that going for it. This guy knows how to use the stage and he’s perfectly at ease up there. It’s my favorite song of the night so far! Nicely done! J Lo talks about his “journey” thru the song and around the stage and I’m not sure what she’s talking about totally but I kinda get it. The judges love his drummer. Colton admits to ripping the rock version off a current band (which is more than other singers have done in the past) but I don’t care. It was the best so far tonight!

Spunky country singer Skylar had picked “9 To 5” but when she sang “Wind Beneath My Wings,” Jimmy, Gwen & the other guy with makeup talk her into going with the Bette Midler sob fest. Skylar looks great tonight, her red locks flowing in with Farrah Fawcett curls. This is a very good song choice for her. She does a great job, taking it higher than Bette did and she nails it. Standing ovation from the judges! They like her! They really like her!

And that’s it! I give MY vote to Colton tonight. Dude killed Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” with the next 2 being Phil Phillips and Skylar. MY pick to go tonight? DeAndre or Hollie. But I think it’s Hollie & Elise who will be in trouble tonight with Hollie being voted off…barely. Elise is walking a tight rope. She’s gonna have to pick it up a notch to finish this thing because the judges are saving their “save” for Joshua or Jessica.

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American Idol Top 13…Round 1 LIVE

So tonight the selected contestants have a daunting task…perform the songs of Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. Let me start by saying this is TOTALLY unfair to the women simply because Whitney’s songs have been saturating the airwaves lately and she did have a one of a kind voice. Nevertheless…here they go and…oh yeah…it’s boys vs girls tonight. I have no idea what that means but Ryan Seacrest seems hellbent on making it something big. We shall see…

Firstly, Mary J. Blige and Jimmy Iovine are “The Help” for the group and so we’ll see how big THOSE egos get tonight…

Up first is Joshua Ledet singing Wonder’s “I Wish.” This is right up his alley and he nails it. Judges love it, the audience lives it. He’s gonna move on. And so am I…

First girl is my top pick, Elise Testone. She wants to sing “Greatest Love Of All”, but “The Help” persuade her to take on “I’m your Baby Tonight.” I thought it was okay, but not as good as Elise can be. So…of course the judges ALL hated it? Really? Hate might be a strong word. It wasn’t THAT bad. I gotta believe America knows this woman is Top 3 material! In the post-performance interview with Ryan, Elise says she really didn’t know the song very well but declined to blame anyone for the song choice. I woulda said, “They TOLD me to do it!” But…she’s classier than I am. And that’s why I want her to win.

Up next is baritone Jermaine Jones cranking out “Knocks Me Off My Feet”. It’s okay but he has an entirely different voice than Stevie. I suppose this was probably the best choice for him but I have to admit…I’m not sure. I don’t really know the song and quite frankly…I don’t care much for it. But that’s not Jermaine’s fault. Anyway…the judges are kinda “Eh” on this one also. I gotta think he’s on a short leash here…

Erica Van Pelt is up next singing Whitney’s “I Believe In You & Me.” I don’t think I even know this song. This song is one of the low note Whitney songs. I’m gonna give Erika some credit…without knowing the song, it SOUNDS like she nailed it. It can’t be easy when you want to go for those high notes but then back off. A very nice song and she looks really nice also. Red is her color. Randy actually says “unbelievable” 4 times in his critique of her. J-Lo got gooseys. Whatever…The Lo looks smokin’ tonight! After last weeks crazy hair/foo-foo dress disaster, she’s got it going on tonight! Aaaaanyway…Erika killed it. Moving on.

Alan Update: I really, really wish I could stop coughing. My head hurts, my throat is burning. I took a couple Night Cold formula pills earlier and I figure once this show is over, I’m gonna crash. Here’s hoping I hold on to see Phillip Phillips’ performance. That dude is awesome (oh…and he replaces that loser Creighton who didn’t get picked to move on by the judges or America. I disagree with them but this ain’t the first time I’ve been disappointed).

Ryan explains that the girl & the guy who get the fewest votes get the boot tomorrow. So THAT’S what they mean about “Guys vs Gals.” Still not understanding. If each get someone voted off, how is it one versus the other? This is dumb.

Up next is Colton “Skunkhead” Dixon singing “Lately”. I don’t recognize this song at all. Is this a Stevie Wonder song? Either way…I thought it was pretty damn good for a rocker dude. Judges seem to like it. Okay…he moves on. Now Seacrest is talking smoldering eyes. He weirds me out sometimes…

Up next is Shannon Magrane looking to sing “I Have Nothing.” Mary J gives her some pointers that seem to make her happy. She starts out a little weak. Here’s the thing with this song though…it’s got a killer ending. Let’s see if the judges forgive the early part once she gets to…HERE! Aaaaaaand she is having some difficulty. She looks like she needs a drink or something. And her mic seems to be having issues. Either that or the band is overpowering her vocal. Hey Mr. Audio dude…fix that, will ya? Jenny From The Block tells her she thought about it too much. Apparently she was a little bit nervous. Well the girl is 16 and a there’s millions of people watching…no shit, she’s nervous! The judges try to soften the blow but…wait…what the hell IS that on Randy’s jacket? Whatever…it wasn’t good. I still don’t think she’s gone though.

So this brings us to my least favorite contestant, Deandre Brackensick. Ryan shows video of him crying like a baby. Why, oh why, Idol? Ok…he’s singing “Master Blaster” by the Wonderman. I HAVE to believe this is in his wheelhouse with that high pitched voice of his. Once again, the vocal falls behind the instruments. What is going on with the mix tonight? He LOOKS the like he’s having a good time but I can’t hear him over all the horns and bouncy beat. And he ends with one of his patented high notes. And that’s pretty much all I heard of it. Steven Tyler says a bunch of stuff that I have to believe someone is feeding him because there’s no way he even knows what the hell those words mean. All 3 judges liked his performance and Randy is rambling. Oh shut up already…

Singing “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” is country artist wannabe, Skylar McIntire (yes…I know that’s not her name but seriously…she’s Reba’s doppleganger!). She gives Mary J goosebumps. Let’s see what she does for me. Actually…this makes a pretty good country song. I’m surprised no one has remade it (or maybe they have?). It’s a good showing by Skylar. I’m liking her more & more every week but I’m SO tired of country artists winning this thing. Anyway…she nailed it. Judges will blather on about this, I’m sure. For MY money, I prefer it when she’s rocking out like last week but she DID do a good job.

Commercial break and Ellen Degeneres is hawking  for JC Penney? I love Ellen. She can hawk mens hair nose clippers for all I care because she’s ALWAYS funny. Come to think of it…that WOULD be funny!

Okay…so now Heejun Han is singing “All In Love Is Fair.” He’s a funny guy, this Heejun, so to see him singing this song is a little weird. It’s slow, it’s sappy and I’m not digging it. But his vocals seem good enough. J-Lo loves the Heejun. Randy says it wasn’t perfect. I’m starting to think Randy might be a little tone deaf. Heejun hugs Ryan and then it’s over.

“The Girl The Show Forgot” is singing the second “All” song…”All The Man That I Need.” Hollie Cavanagh SHOULD destroy this song. Taking Steven’s advice from last week, she has let her hair down. I’m sure THAT will help her performance. She does a good job while singing in a sea of candles (thank you Idol Video Boards) and Randy says she nailed it. Hollie is so cute but she kind of reminds me of Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally”…NOT the Meg Ryan with the huge, weird lips.

Jeremy Rosado is singing…something. I missed it. Anyway, the “Help” is saying he’s nervous. Let’s see, shall we? Sounds silky smooth so far. Okay…he’s singing “Ribbons In The Sky” and he is also getting drowned out by the orchestration. What the hell is going on here tonight? If the audio guys can’t get this right, what’s the point of watching? Oh look…they took a shot of J-Lo getting all googly eyed. Dawg didn’t like his performance. I could take it or leave it. But the kid does have a smooth sound.

Ok…here it is. Jessica Sanchez is singing the iconic “I Will Always Love You.” This 16 year old is a sensation but THIS song is scary. It’s Houston’s cornerstone song and if there is one thing off, it could be a disaster. Here she goes. First off, let me start by saying…this girl is WAAAY older than her years. In her voice, her look, her demeanor…everything. Well shit…she NAILED it. That was the performance of the night. Unbelievable and it gave ME goosys. Standing ovation from the judges. And I think we have a frontrunner. Randy blathers on about something. I kinda just wish they would not even say anything. Oh look…J-Lo says she’s speechless but then she continues talking. Why?

Okay…so I’m thinking we have a winner in tonight’s contest! As much as I love Elise…THAT performance was amazing. And I don’t even like that song THAT much!

Last but definitely NOT least is Philip Phillips doing “Superstitious.” This is a layup for this dude and it’s a GREAT choice  for him! Can he compete with Sanchez? Vegas bookies are picking him as the odds on favorite. I dunno about that but lets see how he does. Aaaand…he kills it…I think. Enough with the band already! I can’t HEAR the contestants! Crap! But the dude is a performer and Steven Tyler is stoned beyond belief. Dunno what he just said but J-Lo says he killed it. Randy is STILL talking and I need to go to bed.

Night America. Vote wisely…

Who Will Be “The American Idol” For 2012?

After skipping last season due to disinterest, I tuned in early to this season of The Idol to see if my thoughts on last season continued. Has it become a high-end karaoke machine that is churning out average talent in order to sell singles on ITunes? With the early shows being notoriously ugly as the producers have done their best to focus on the non-talented instead of those who DO have the ability to sing, I have been more & more likely to say yes. I didn’t watch any of last season but the season prior, an average talent won (Lee Dewyze recently released an album that has disappeared into obscurity already) and before that, the Freddie Mercury wannabe, Adam Lambert, screeched his way into the winners circle. So imagine my surprise when FINALLY the Idol producers figured out that they need to stop focusing on the non-talent and put the spotlight on the guys & gals who matter.

Baylie Brown may be pretty…but she’s ain’t gonna make it…

Early on there was a LOT of talent that came through the Idol screenings. It’s amazing to me how much talent we DO have in this country. Needless to say, there were the returning previous season early exits who made a splash and then there were plenty of fresh faces to focus on. As of last night, after watching the group get whittled down to the Top 24, I can honestly say that this really IS one of the better batches of voices that Idol has seen in a while. There are soulful singers, rockers, country singers, a few non-de script artists who are similar to popular artists but juuuuust different enough to hold my interest and a baritone voice that Idol has never seen before that is amazing (but will probably get voted off early on). It really IS an interesting group and the talent on the guys side is far greater than that on the women’s side. There are quite a few women who sound eerily similar to me and I can see them going quickly. But there is one who, I feel, could make a push to win even though her gender vastly underperformed in last night’s Top 12 competition and it will be interesting to see how America votes. The show needs to whittle it down to the Top 13 (America picks 10 [5 guys, 5 gals], the judges pick 1 each) and of the guys, 15-year old Eben from Cincinnati was the only one who I thought totally botched it (unfortunately the kid is as cute as they come and will probably be voted in by the teenage girl vote). So with much calculation and thought…here are MY picks to who will become the Top 13 on this 2012 edition of THE American Idol…

Dude wins “Best Hair” award but he ain’t making it either

The girls are a lot easier to pick, but there IS some contention simply because I know what America will pick and I disagree. So MY Top 6 girls (the guys get the extra 6th person) are as follows and in order:

  1. Elise Testone
  2. Jessica Sanchez
  3. Hallie Day
  4. Hollie Cavanagh
  5. Shannon Magrane
  6. Jennifer Hirsh

Where I feel America will screw this up is they will vote in country firecracker (and Reba McEntire lookalike) Skylar Lane. Her performance last night WAS one of the better ones but Hollie Cavanagh is a better talent. Unfortunately, America likes country music and Hollie is completely under the radar. The show didn’t even feature her until last week and Skylar is just so damn cute and energetic that I imagine this swap will happen whether I agree with it or not. The wildcard here is Jennifer Hirsh. I like her a lot but she just isn’t standing out like I thought she would. We’ll see what America thinks on this one…

For the guys, it’s a LOT more complicated. There is more talent on this end and their performances the other night were all pretty damn good. But here are MY Top 6 picks and we’ll see how America votes…

  1. Phillip Phillips (loved his version of “In The Air Tonight”!!!)
  2. Reed Grimm
  3. Joshua Ledet
  4. Adam Brock
  5. Creighton Fraker
  6. Colton Dixon
  7. Jermaine Jones

The judges did the smart thing by inviting baritone singer, Jermaine Jones, back onto the show. The guy has AMAZING pipes. Unfortunately there are limitations when singing with such a deep voice and that is that most popular music isn’t sung in that range. So whatever he sings, most of the country who votes won’t know the songs and so…there ya go. Eben will get voted in, thereby knocking Jermaine out and forcing us to sit through another couple weeks of listening to Eben singing songs that are WAY too big (and old) for him (his rendition of Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” was painful).

Oh yeah…SHE’S got talent!

Now…The Top 3. This is tough but I’m going with my gut on this one…

  1. Creighton Fraker
  2. Elise Testone
  3. Jessica Sanchez (pictured above)
WHAT??? 1 guy?? Yep…and here’s why. Phillip Phillips, as much as I like the guy, is a Dave Matthews sing-alike. He’s great and all, but his limitations will eventually catch up to him (dammit). Adam Brock is too bluesy and that never bodes well on The Idol. Reed Grimm is too quirky and his goofy smile and on-stage antics will finally wear down the audience and the judges. Colton Dixon is a generic rock star type who has done well but has limitations. The Eben/Jermaine matchup will show the limitations of either singer for all of the reasons I’ve already mentioned and Joshua Ledet will be the shocking 4th spot singer voted off BEFORE HIS TIME (as the producers will promote ad nauseam for the week before the show airs). Creighton Fraker is just quirky enough, just soulful enough, just likable enough and just similar enough (you KNOW you know someone like him…admit it!) that I think his talent will shine through much like his rendition of “True Colors” was the understated highlight of the show the other night.

My wildcard for the Top 3

As for the Elise & Jessica? Well…as much as I hate to admit it…they are the surprise talent in this year’s group. Jessica has been pretty consistent throughout the season so far and has a great voice. She’s young but doesn’t act it and has the looks to be a superstar. But MY money is on Elise. She’s one of the oldest in the group, she has that “girl next door” quality about her, she’s not “stunningly good-looking” but definitely attractive (much like many of the female winners of the past) and has an amazing voice that shines with each performance. I look for her to be consistent week in & week out and as she starts to tackle more current radio-friendly material, her vocals will shine as someone who could go on to have quite a career in pop music.

And my winnah is…

So tonight is the voting process….let’s see how it goes and odds are very good that 5 of the contestants I picked will be gone before tomorrow…and that includes Elise (but I don’t think so).

P.S. As much as I like Steven Tyler on this show, I’m quickly growing tired of he & J-Lo’s boring critiques (“beautiful,” “amazing” and “outstanding” should be words that NO ONE says again on this show). Randy Jackson is a little full of himself BUT I love when he breaks into producer mode and gives TRUE criticism that music producer would give any artist who is recording in the studio with him. Unfortunately…this happens only so often and I CAN say this…Simon Cowell is missed if simply for honest opinion of the performances…even when they were rude & obnoxious.

Buuuuut…maybe…? Nah…America doesn’t get it…

Van Halen / Kool & The Gang (Indianapolis_2.22.12)

I WISH I was this close…

In 2007, my wife & I got to see the revamped Van Halen in Cincinnati. The Van Halen’s had brought Diamond David Lee Roth back out on tour and had promised to put on a great show. At the time, I was beside myself with excitement and HAD to get a good seat. We sat in the first row off the floor directly in front of the stage and the audio mix was HORRIBLE. I couldn’t hear ANYTHING Dave was singing and I was disappointed that the audio quality wasn’t better. So I blamed the arena and that was that.

MY view for $30

This year, Van Halen is BACK out on tour, promoting their first new album since “1984” to feature DLR on vocals, and I wasn’t rushing out to buy a ticket. I wasn’t impressed with the first single (“Tattoo”) and I listened to some of the other tracks online and I wasn’t blown away. But I happened to be in Indianapolis for Van Halen’s 3rd show out on the road for this tour so I decided to buy a cheap ticket and see what was up. Plus…I have never seen Kool & The Gang live so I figured if anything I get to see them in a better venue and see a band I haven’t seen already.

Since they came out first, let me tell you about Kool & The Gang. Not knowing much of the history of the band, I CAN tell you that I didn’t know what to expect. Seriously…I didn’t know the band still existed so to have them pop up fronting Van Halen is kind of weird. Needless to say, they haven’t lost their touch. This 11 piece R&B band has been together so long that they could probably play these tunes in their sleep and they’d sound great doing it. They did an abbreviated set list of some of their classics, including “Jungle Boogie,” “Ladies Night,” “Get Down On It” and ended with the classic “Celebration.” I loved the saxophone in the band and they’ve added a rapper to make a couple songs a little more modern. Even with a sparse crowd, it seemed like they were gonna make the most of the larger venue and they had as much fun as they could considering the audience was more rocker than they were funky.

My friends’ view for over $100. 10th row ain’t so bad!

Up next was Van Halen and I have to be perfectly honest…I now know it wasn’t the venue. David Lee Roth wears a headset mic on stage and I honestly could barely hear him half the time. I don’t know if it’s because his vocal range has become so much more limited in his old age or if they’re simply showcasing the band’s guitar work (which IS remarkable), but when I can’t understand a word of “Chains”…there’s something wrong. So between the sheer volume of the guitars and DLR’s out of tune vocals, there’s IS something to be desired in the mix. It’s also an issue when there are certain aspects of songs that are completely disregarded (when they leave off the “Class Dismissed!” from “Hot For Teacher?” That’s just wrong!) and there wasn’t much to the stage show with only a huge video screen flashing photos (and not even OLD photos) of the band periodically mixed with live cameras. There wasn’t a lot of flash until the end and even THAT was recycled from the 2007 tour.

As for the set list, you know all the songs. Well…most of them. They also included several songs from their new album which, quite frankly, MIGHT be decent songs but they were SO LOUD all I could hear was the occasional “Chinatown!” or “Tattoo!” refrain and I eventually figured out that one song was actually the only track on the album I would endorse, “The Trouble With Never.” Needless to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of the new tracks but either way…they deserve the benefit of the doubt and if you like Van Halen, maybe you’ll like these newer songs (if DLR remembers the lyrics. He actually forgot them at one point during “Romeo Delight” but he made light of it and it actually was one of the high points of the show!).

So…would I recommend seeing Van Halen? Absolutely…if you’ve never seen them before. Just make sure you bring ear plugs. But it’s worth the $30 cheap seats ticket price to see Eddie play the guitar, watch Wolfgang come into his own as Michael Anthony’s replacement, watch Alex bang the drums and watch DLR do half round kicks (hey…he IS pushing 60) and dance around with as much energy as any performer out there today. Seriously…the guy LOVES to entertain and despite the fact that he can come across as a little corny at times, it’s hard to repress how much the guy loves singing and dancing with this buddies. So go see Van Halen & Kool & The Gang…if you’ve never seen them before. But if you were lucky enough to see them back in their heyday? Don’t bother. As it is, this is one loud Las Vegas show that is STILL working out the kinks…since 2007.

Awesome guitar licks by a rock god! (Photo courtesy of Wayne Luna)

The Set Lists…

Kool & The Gang

Fresh
Tonight
Emergency
Misled
Too Hot
Hollywood Swingin’
Jungle Boogie
Ladies’ Night
Get Down On It
Celebrate

Van Halen

You Really Got Me
Runnin’ With the Devil
She’s The Woman
Romeo Delight
Tattoo
Everybody Wants Some!!!
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
China Town
Hear About It Later
Oh, Pretty Woman
*Alex Drum Solo*
Unchained
The Trouble with Never
Dance The Night Away
I’ll Wait
Hot For Teacher
Women In Love
Girl Gone Bad
Beautiful Girls
Ice Cream Man
Panama
*AWESOME Guitar Solo*
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
Jump

The Big Finale!

Tunes From ITunes_February 2012

Actually she’s good. I mean…very, VERY good…

Hello there. It’s been a while. Sorry about that but the end of 2011 found very little music to rave about but now we’re well into February and I figured it was time to find some music to get you through these cold winter months! Here are just a few tunes you should (or shouldn’t) go download…RIGHT NOW!

Frankie Rose – “Know Me” (alternative)
Dreamy vocals and a familiar 80’s retro backbeat makes this a familiar sounding song which comes as no surprise since Rose is in the Dum Dum Girls (which had a new album last year off the Sub Pop label). It’s a slice of alt-pop heaven and is available this week (2.7.12) on ITunes!

Red Wanting Blue – “Playlist” (rock)
This band hails from Athens, OH…home of Ohio University, which is where this “critic” attended college! Although somewhat repetitive lyrically, I love the hook and it reminds me of the late 90’s guitar bands. Think Collective Soul with a hint more blues.

The Fray – “1961” (pop)
Not as much piano on this track (which is nice) and this song ALSO sounds kind of 90’s-ish. Not a complete changeup for this band but the chorus soars and I like that it’s subtle but not a slow ballad.

Chevelle – “Revenge” (alt-metal)
Sounding a LOT like Tool, this Chicago-based band reaches for the stars on this track a pulls it off. Soaring guitars and vocalist Pete Loeffler channels his best Maynard James Keenan to pull this out of a pile of wannabe’s and makes it their own.

Johan Reinhold – “Shoot Me Down” (alternative)
I dig this track. It’s kind of mellow and fits my mood right now. And there’s a remix of it that is kind of eerie that I also like a lot.

Jesse Thomas – Fire (acoustic)
Jesse has a cool, raspy voice and this song soothes my soul. Very nice and FREE on ITunes this week!

Bruno Mars – “The Other Side” (pop)
After seeing him perform on the Grammy’s, I decided I wanted to know more about him than just his hits and I found this track. With appearances by Cee Lo Green and B.o.B., this one is probably gonna be a hit sometime!

deadmau5 – “Raise Your Weapon” (dance/electronica)
Okay…so I saw deadmau5 on the Grammy’s and wanted to see  what the guy with the Mickey Mouse head was all about and downloaded his most popular track. I get it. It’s really DISCO with a lot of beeps and whistles! Nice…

Mikey Wax – “Counting On You” (pop)
My wife found this one. Dunno how SHE heard it before me but this guy is on par with Pete Yorn (who is a favorite of mine). First class track if you like radio ready pop music!

Van Halen – “The Trouble With Never” (rock)
Oh how I WANTED to like the new album but unfortunately…I don’t. And the first single is HORRIBLE. But with that being said, there are a couple tracks worth salvaging in this mess and this is my favorite! Old school DLR doing it the way I remember it! Wish they all were so good…

Tim McGraw – “Felt Good On My Lips” (country)
Let’s face it…most of McGraw’s music starts to all sound the same after awhile and this one is fairly typical but I like the summer-time feel it has and I imagine it will be a big hit.

FM Attack – “A Million Miles Away” (synth pop)
Somewhere since the last time I posted I went through a synth pop faze and started downloading some 80’s retro tracks like this one. FM Attack, Tesla Boy, etc and this one is my favorite of the bunch!

LMFAO – “I’m In Miami Trick” (dance)
Actually, the title is “I’m In Miami Bitch” but I can’t really play THAT in my car when taking the kids to school. Actually…I can’t play the edited version EITHER! LOL! But this is a party anthem much like every other song these guys put out and it’s better than “Sexy And I Know It.”

Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kids” (alternative)
EVERYONE loves the Sleigh Bells! Oh what joyous noise they make! And this first track off their upcoming new album is every bit worth the attention. Can’t wait to hear what else they have in store for us…

Jay Park – “I Love You” (pop)
Yes…he’s Japanese and yes…he SINGS in Japanese. But ya know what…the language barrier is broken on this track because this is just as worthy of your attention as just about anything on the radio these days! Go check it out and tell me the lyrics really matter…

ALBUMS YOU NEED TO BUY:

Okay…I know it’s February and no one wants to go out in the cold so stay in, log onto ITunes and buy these next few albums ’cause they’re worth EVERY penny! LOVE them!!!!

Snow Patrol – “Fallen Empires” (rock)
Just carrying on what they’ve been doing since 1994 but with U2 out of commission for awhile, Snow Patrol becomes the next in line for deserving a large arena tour. Their anthemic songs with the soaring choruses and the guitars and the drums…well…I just LOVE it! This one features many great tracks including “This Isn’t Everything You Are,” “Fallen Empires,” and “Called Out In The Dark.”

Graffiti6 – “Colours” (R&B pop) 
Where did this band come from?  Sounding a little like Gnarls Barkley, I love their pop sensibility and many of the tracks on here are radio worthy! Love “Colours,” “Annie You Save Me,” “Never Look Back,” and “Free.”

Mark Lanegan Band – “Blues Funeral” (rock)
The former frontman for the 90’s alt-rock band Screaming Trees returns with a blistering blues-tinged album that has so many great tracks. Love the darkness of it and Lanegan’s vocals are from the depths of hell. He is the modern day Man In Black and he nails it out of the park with this superb album! Download “Riot In My House,” “Ode To Sad Disco,” “The Gravedigger’s Song,”  & “Harborview Hospital” if you’re picky.

Lana Del Rey – “Born To Die” (60’s Retro Pop?)
I knew nothing about the viral song “Video Games” that Del Rey released online back in 2011 and honestly, with her being a “throwback” type singer, I didn’t really give her a second thought when her album was released a couple weeks ago. But then I caught wind of her performance on SNL and how bad it was and HAD to see for myself. Needless to say…I didn’t think her performance was that bad and so…off to ITunes I went and ya know what…I’ve bought into her schtick! In the 90’s, I went through a Julee Cruise/Mazzy Star phase and so…this was kind of in that realm only with more pop influences. I gotta tell you…this might be a surprise album on my favorites of 2012 when it’s all said and done. LOTS of likable  songs on here but if I HAD to choose, I would go with “Blue Jeans,” “Off To The Races,” “Radio,” and “National Anthem.” Buuuuut I also like “Million Dollar Man” and “”This Is What Makes Us Girls.” Oh yeah…and then there’s “Video Games.” Ahh…to hell with it…just buy the whole damn thing. It’s worth it.

Single Of The Week: Electric Guest’s “This Head I Hold”

Danger Mouse is one of the more prolific producers out there today and this new track from the band “Electric Guest” definitely benefits from his soul. This track is catchy as hell and will crawl into your head for days! From the opening clink of the piano keys, this song sets itself up as classic R&B but has that neo-soul feel that is getting so popular these days. Download it here for free and enjoy!

Dumb Songs Cage Match: Lady Gaga vs Adele vs Rihanna!!!

So there are 3 songs on the radio right now that perplex me. I am, unfortunately, a prisoner to my kids and their taste in music and I have find myself listening mindlessly to plenty of pop music lately but the other day I actually listened to the lyrics of a few songs that were being played and…seriously? Who is writing these lyrics? I want THAT gig. That’s a job that ranks up there with TSA agents and weathermen as far as I’m concerned because these lyrics make NO sense. So which ones are dumber? Let’s take a look…shall we?

Lady Gaga – “Marry The Night”

I’m gonna marry the night,
I won’t give up on my life.
I’m a warrior queen.
I’m gonna make love to the stars.
I’m a soldier to my own emptiness.
I’m a winner.

Um…DUMB!

Adele – “Set Fire To The Rain”

I set fire to the rain,
Watch it pour as I touch your face,
Let it burn when I cry,
Cause I heard it screaming your name, your name
I set fire to the rain,
And I feel lost into the…
Cause I knew that was the last time
The last time, oh, oh!

In all fairness, my wife pointed this one out to me. But she has a point. As deep as this TRIES to be…it’s still pretty stupid.

Rihanna – “We Found Love”

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive

It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I’ve gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

(Continue to repeat endlessly and add a terrible techno beat)

So there you have it…3 popular songs on the radio and 3 stupid lyrics that you have probably been singing along to and didn’t even realize it. Which one is the dumbest of them all? YOU DECIDE!!!

(But my money is on Gagag…)

Single Of The Week: “Before The Light Takes Us” by Darkness Falls

Gotta love the ITunes freebie of the week! This week (December 20, 2011) they are spotlighting the band Darkness Falls. And what a great pick! With a throbbing (almost naughty) beat that reminds me of Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me There,” this track could be featured in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Apparently the 2 members of Darkness Falls are Danish and they’ve been together since 2009. Huh…who knew? The new album is called “Alive In Us” and it features this song. Go get it and tell me you don’t feel kinda dirty afterwards…

Here’s where you can get it on ITunes this week for FREE!!!

My Top 10 Favorite Albums Of 2011

As much as I hate to admit it…I’m not as into buying albums as I once was. It’s so much easier now with ITunes and other music outlets to simply pick & choose singles and a lot of times I would rather spend a dollar or two on a couple of songs rather than spend $12 on an entire album online. Shopping for music isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago and that is unfortunate. I used to really enjoy shopping for CD’s at the local music shop but those days seem to be gone now. It takes too much time and I haven’t got a few hours to waste going through bargain bins and racks of $20 CDs. So…I am sad to say that I don’t buy as many albums as I used to. But there were a few this year that I made the trip out to the store to get because I wanted the physical copy of it and so…without further adieu…here are my Top 10 favorite albums of 2011!

10. Teddybears – “Devil’s Music”
This Swedish band knows how to make you move your butt. From the opening track, they hit you with techno beats and silly lyrics that are just fun. And with a slew of artists making appearances (from The Flaming Lips to Cee Lo Green), they leave no beat unturned.

Favorite Tracks: Rocket Scientist, Devil’s Music

9. Foo Fighters – “Wasted Light”
From the opening track, David Grohl & company hit you with solid left hooks and slamming guitars and they have made another incredible rock album. It’s almost to the point now where you would think Grohl would phone in an album or two but when it comes to rocking out, there’s no one that can put together the melodies with the metal like the Foo.

Favorite Tracks: Bridge Burning, Rope, These Days

8. Social Distortion – “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes”
7 years came and went between their 2004 album “Sex, Love and Rock N Roll” and this one but it was worth the wait! With their bluesy rock still as fresh as when they rolled it out of California in 1983, Mike Ness leads the way on this jam packed album. Solid from start to finish, it’s kind of refreshing that my favorite track on the album is actually a slower song.

Favorite Tracks: Bakersfield, California Hustle & Flow, Machine Gun Blues

7. Beastie Boys – “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2”
If ever there needed to be a return to their roots, The Beasties picked the perfect time. After a few overproduced albums and one cancer scare, Committee is a return to the glory days of chest thumpin’ and party bumpin’ of “You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)”. Hooks and wicked beats pepper this album and it’s hard not to get motivated when you got this album boomin’ in your system.

Favorite Tracks: Here’s A Little Something For Ya, Don’t Play no Game I Can’t Win, Make Some Noise

6. Blue October – “Any Man In America”
I don’t know what to say about this album other than it is honest in every way. With his marriage falling apart, lead singer Justin Furstenfeld dove into his art and came out with one of the most curious and angry albums I have ever heard. The key is listening to it in its entirety as it goes from the beginning to the end of the relationship and where it stands, we’re not sure. But it sure is a fascinating journey.

Favorite Tracks: The Honesty, The Follow Through, You Waited Too Long

5. Gotye – “Making Mirrors”
Not gonna lie…I haven’t had this album very long. It came out in August but I just recently discovered it when it appeared on ITunes as a “selection I might like.” And man…I really do! It’s quirky and poppy and has all kinds of loops and whisperings and…well…you get the point. Wally De Backer is a unique talent and this album showcases his ability to find the perfect hook to go with his unique style.

Favorite Tracks: Eyes Wide Open, Save Me, No Easy Way Out, Somebody That I Used To Know

4. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
The half of Oasis that is known for writing the music continues to do so and he does it so well. This album is chock full of soaring guitars, Beatle-esque hooks and the famous Gallagher attitude.With brother Liam leading the charge for the rock band “Beady Eye,” Noel stays true to his roots and puts together a classic that I’ll be listening to for a very long time.

Favorite Tracks: Record Machine, AKA…What A Life, (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach

3. David Nail – “Sound Of A Million Dreams”
If there is one thing I love about country music, it’s that it can be familiar and yet new all at the same time. Taking a page from the Glen Campbell handbook, Nail has that smooth country croon that makes everything he sings about seem like it could be happening at this very moment. It could be love, it could be heartbreak, it could be a fleeting moment in time. But whatever it is, it grabs my attention and I can’t stop listening, wondering what will happen next. This will undoubtedly be one of my favorite country albums of all-time. Granted, only time will tell. But I enjoy ALL of the songs on this album and it’s damn near perfect in it’s pop country way.

Favorite Tracks: She Rides Away, That’s How I’ll Remember You, Let It Rain, I Thought You Knew

2. Black Keys – “El Camino”
There’s not a hotter rock band in the world right now than these guys. Straight outta my neck of the woods (Akron, OH is maybe 2 hours from my hometown), The Keys have won several Grammys and this highly anticipated 7th release was everything I hoped it would be. With fuzzy guitars and thumping drums, this album can only be played loud or it’s just not being played correctly. And the fact that it sounds like it’s straight from a 70’s porn flick gives it all that more street cred.

Favorite Tracks: Lonely Boy, Gold On The Ceiling, Money Maker

1. R.E.M. – “Collapse Into Now”
My world was rocked when one of my favorite bands of all-time called it quits earlier this year…but I totally understand. They’ve been together for almost 30 years and each member has other interests outside of the band so it makes sense. And it is only fitting that they call it a day with this album. Sounding almost like a collection of greatest hits that spanned their careers, this album, the 15th studio album in their collection, is far and away one of their best since drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1997. I am hoping that there are hundreds of new tracks in a vault somewhere that will be released over time however if that’s not the case, then this album is a classic that R.E.M. should be very proud to leave us with.

Favorite Tracks: It Happened Today, Oh My Heart, Discoverer, Mine Smell Like Honey, That Someone Is You, Blue

My Top 50 Favorite Songs Of 2011

Nicki Hit A Home Run…But Did It Go Far Enough?

2011 was a great year for music! Despite what some prognosticators say…I DO NOT believe the music industry is dead. On the contrary, there was great music across the board this year from all genres…from electronica to pop to rock to alternative to instrumental. You name it, there was lots of it. Some was easily accessible. Some you had to go find yourself. But there was a lot to select from and honestly…I probably coulda done a Top 100 with no problem! Here they are…MY top 50 songs of 2011. What a year it was….

#50:  Snow Patrol – “Called Out In The Dark” (alternative)
The new album won’t be released until 2012 but this early release single shows a lot of potential for the band mostly known for their musical appearances on “Grey’s Anatomy.” It has an uplifting message and I like the beat. Nice start…

#49:  Radiohead – “Seperator” (alternative)
Oh so dreamy song from the “The King Of Limbs” and easily its best track. No one does dream rock quite like Thom Yorke.

#48:  Lowline – “Suicide” (rock)
I “discovered” this band back in the early summer and their debut album ROCKS! This track was the first that grabbed me and shook me around. Love to drive to this one…

#47: Social Distortion – “Bakersfield” (blues rock)
A strong album released last January from this California rock band and this slow burn of a song is my favorite on the album! Funny…I feel like this a lot…

#46: Jane’s Addiction – “Ultimate Reason” (alternative)
Although not the strongest album by this classic alternative rock outfit, their latest, “The Great Escape Artist,” had a few good tracks and this was my favorite. Thanks to Perry Ferrell for keeping the dream alive!

#45: Wiz Khalifa – “Black & Yellow” (rap)
The Steelers went to the Super Bowl (and lost) and this was the mantra as they beat the snot out of everyone else in the AFC. Hometown boy Wiz trumps it up and roots for the hometeam…

#44: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes” (alternative)
Sounding a lot like Chrissie Hynde, lead singer Dee Dee Penny cranks up the heat in this little ditty. It’s 60’s pop rock at its best!

#43: Wild Flag – “Romance” (rock)
An all-girl band that rocks! With influences ranging from all over the place and lots of guitar work, Carrie Brownstein brings her unique sound over from Sleater-Kinney and jams on it!

#42: City And Colour – “Fragile Bird” (alternative)
Straight from the great north, Canadian rocker Dallas Green goes a little soft on us. Little known fact…the name of the band comes from HIS name…Dallas (city) and Green (colour).

#41: Jeff Bridges – “What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do” (country)
Bridges takes his Bad Blake character one step further and with the help of T-Bone Burnett cranks out this simple yet effective classic country tune.

#40: Max Rafferty – “Go Down Easy” (alternative)
This nice little acoustic track from the Kooks’ lead singer is a haunting song that sounds like it was produced in a tunnel. Very effective use of reverb without losing Rafferty’s vocals.

#39: Maroon 5 – “Moves Like Jagger” (pop)
I know, I know…seriously? But damn if this song doesn’t just stick in my head. And having Christina Aguilera doesn’t hurt it one bit.

#38: Girl In A Coma – “Smart”
Another product from the great state of Texas. This little known band has opened for Morrisey, Social Distortion, Frank Black & Tegan & Sara. Time for them to make an impact on their own, doncha think?

#37: Thievery Corporation – “Culture Of Fear” (rap/trip hop)
This band has been around for a while and for this track, they enlist political rapper Mr. Lif to slam on the man. Damn the man!

#36: Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks” (alt-pop)
Yes…it got played to death. But it doesn’t take away the fact that I was listening to this song WAY before pop radio got its hands on it.

#35: Gavin DeGraw – “Not Over You” (pop)
Sad little pop song with a killer hook. DeGraw hits this one out of the park…even if he does lose his heart in the process.

#34: PT Walkley – “Save The World” (alternative)
Wikipedia says Walkley is “regarded by many as one of the top truly independent artists of his time.” I don’t know about that but what I DO know is that this song is AWESOME! May be one of my most listened to tracks of this year…

#33: Peter Bjorn & John – “Second Chance” (pop)
Catchy as hell, this song bounces all over the place and fills your ear with bubblegum pop goodness!

#32: Paul Simon – “The Afterlife” (adult contemporary)
Ever wonder what happens to us after we die? Paul Simon does…and he wrote a song about it. Purgatory has never seemed so much like the DMV…

#31:  Manchester Orchestra – “Leave It Alone” (rock)
A very bleak look at a trouble relationship. The song has emotional resonance and sticks with me.

#30: Kurt Vile – “Puppet To The Man” (alternative)
Vile has had a great year with Spin listing his 4th album as one of the best this year. I’ve downloaded several tracks but this is my favorite. We may be underdogs but we’ll get by folks…

#29: The Kooks – “Rosie” (alt-pop)
Sometimes I just like a good pop song and the Kooks are pretty good at producing power pop alternative rock hooks that can stick to your ear like hair gel. Wonder what I’m talking about? Yeah…me too. But I like this track.

#28: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow” (rock)
Who writes lyrics like this anymore…?

You can holler, you can wail
You can swing, you can flail
You can fuck like a broken sail
But I’ll never give you up
If I ever give you up my heart will surely fail
And after all God can keep my soul
England have my bones
But don’t ever give me up
I could never get back up when the future starts so slow

Apparently The Kills do…and they are awesome!

#27: Foo Fighters – “Bridge Burning” (rock)
Oh come on. A Top 50 without the Foo Fighters would seem just…so…empty. And this leadoff track to their latest album, “Wasting Light,” is the bombastic thrill that only Dave Grohl can produce.

#26: Flo Rida – “Good Feeling” (rap pop)
This is NOT your typical rap song which is why I like it this much! It builds slowly and then smacks you in the face with it’s heavy trippy bounce. A good anthem for any sports arena!

#25: David Nail – “Let It Rain” (country)
Nail nails it as far as a country album goes. His “The Sound Of A Million Dreams” is what pulled me back into the country scene and I love it! This song was the first track to be released and it soars with the pain & guilt of a one night stand. And if THAT doesn’t make a good country song, I don’t know what does.

#24: David Guetta featuring Chris Brown & Lil Wayne – “I Can Only Imagine” (rap/pop)
I dare you to turn it off. Catchy as hell from the DJ who is the hottest thing this side of sliced bread and when the song drops out at 1:15 it gets nasty…

#23: The Black Keys – “Gold On The Ceiling” (blues rock)
The little band that could from Akron, OH is winning over EVERYBODY with their blues rock sound and this song is as funky as they get with fuzzy guitars and grungy vocals.

#22: Gotye – “Easy Way Out” (alternative)
Wally De Backer is an indie darling and he sure knows how to layer a song…and this song soars. If you like the band Spoon, you’ll totally dig Gotye. I struggle with which song to choose for this list because, quite frankly, the entire album is excellent. But I’m going with this one because I like the lyrics and the texture of the background vocals.

#21: Blue October – “The Honesty” (alternative)
I have to be honest…taking ANY track from the latest album by this band is a like stealing a part from an engine. They all work in unison to make a classic album that is so honest and brutal that it was hard to select just one. But this track is indicative of what the rest of the album is like and it could be a the most “honest” of all of them.

#20: Chickenfoot – “Come Closer” (rock)
What do you get when you throw a bunch of classic rockers together from Van Halen and Red Hot Chili Peppers? An amazing song about a struggling relationship is probably  NOT what you would think. But this song works wonders and is a perfect vehicle for all of them to showcase their abilities.

#19: Future Islands – “Balance” (alternative)
I don’t know anything about this band and this song was a part of a bunch of free tunes I got from Spin magazine but it immediately caught my ear and now I can’t STOP listening to it. Like Frightened Rabbit on soda pop, it has this odd lilting sound to it that keeps me hooked.

#18: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Record Machine” (pop rock)
Half of Oasis went to Beady Eye, the other half made an album so good that it can be considered a classic. This song has Oasis written all over it, from the soaring vocals to the backing guitars. The Birds fly pretty high and I would pay big money to hear it live in a huge arena. And THAT is really what rock n roll is all about.

#17: Mat Kearney – “Ships In The Night” (pop)
Know the joke about hallway sex? If you do, then this track elaborates on that. Just…not in a funny way.

#16: Friendly Fires – “Show Me Lights” (electronic alternative)
This song is right up there with “Second Chance” as the catchiest songs of 2011. Dunno what they’re talking about but the song rocks!

#15: MuteMath – “Tell Your Heart Heads Up” (alternative rock)
Although their latest album isn’t as strong as “Armistice,” it still offers a few songs that are as good as anything released by any other band this year. I love the pace of this one…

#14: Active Child – “Hanging On” (alternative)
If there is one song that sounds almost religious in its presentation, it’s this one. But it’s about a bad relationship (again) and the vocals are painful and haunting at the same time.

#13: Mumford & Sons – “The Cave” (alternative)
This one is a layup. One of the best tracks of the year…as voted by just about everyone.

#12: Katie Cole – “Gravity” (rock)
You might not know her yet, but this singer/songwriter from Melbourne, Australia will be lighting it up in 2012. This song I found while watching a wristwatch commercial on television and I HAD to find out who sang it. Turns out it was Katie. And she’s awesome!

#11: Wye Oak – “Civilian” (alternative)
This track has the most blistering guitar solo of the year midway through it. I can’t seem to turn my stereo up loud enough when it comes on.

#10: Raphael Saadiq – “Heart Attack” (funky R&B)
This is old skool at the heart of it but it sounds so fresh that you can’t help but wonder where you’ve heard it before. Saadiq returns to the roots of funk and gets brilliant.

#9: The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” (rock)
With their fuzzy guitar and hot back beat this song makes me wanna dance. And for a white guy, that’s pretty damn funky.

#8: David Nail – “She Rides Away” (country)
Oh look who’s back. Country artist Nail has said that he didn’t even think he wanted to record this song and it is my favorite song on the album. Arena country rock that has me seeing a woman driving her El Camino in the desert, leaving her man in her dust. Odd imagery but that’s what I got…

#7: Teddybears – “Rocket Scientist” (dance)
I dare you to put this on and NOT shake your butt. Go ahead…DOUBLE dare ya…

#6: Gym Class Heroes – “Ass Back Home” (pop rap)
In many cases, music is a soundtrack to my life. In the case of this song, it is a reflection of my life on the road. Much like last year’s “The Wind”, this man in this song is very much like myself…on the road a lot and trying to keep his relationship intact. Tough stuff for a pop rap outfit but this song nails it.

#5: R.E.M. – “It Happened Today” (alternative)
How much am I gonna miss Michael Stipe and the boys? After retiring a few months ago, I broke out this CD and wore it out…again. It’s a fitting ending for an amazing band that has been a staple in my music collection for decades. And this song has Stipe and Co. singing to the heavens…

#4: Joe Bonamassa – “Dust Bowl” (blues)
Listening to this song makes you feel as if you’re walking through the desert in search of a cold drink when you find yourself in a dirty old cactus town. There, over at the corner bar, you ask for a bottle of whiskey…and this guy is playing on the jukebox. And yes…it is EXACTLY like that.

#3: Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass” (rap pop)
This song will forever remind me of the summer of 2011. Nicki was only a backup voice until this song shot her into the upper echelon of today’s pop rap artists. There wasn’t a catchier rap track on the radio this year…

#2: The Raveonettes – “Ignite” (alternative)
Something about this Danish duet that does it for me. I don’t know if it’s the fuzzy guitar or the distorted vocals or just the vibe but The Raveonettes are about as cool a band as you can ask for these days. This song never got any airplay but it is a classic. If there ever was a great simple song about longing and unrequited love, this is it.

AND FINALLY…

#1: Beastie Boys – “Here’s A Little Something For Ya” (rap)
The REAL Beasties have returned and their latest album saw them return to their roots. For those about to party, feel free to put on the ultimate party jam. With classic rap lines and a beat that kills it, the Boys give you a song that you can blow out your speakers and that’ll make your tires bounce. Here’s the Beastie Boys with the best song of 2011. And if ya feelin’ chilly I’m gonna get ya a shawl…

David Nail’s “The Sound Of A Million Dreams”

I don’t know if it’s because lately I’ve been making so many trips to Nashville lately or what but I’ve been listening to quite a bit of country music and I have been waiting in anticipation for this sophomore effort from David Nail. Not so much a pure country album as it is great pop with country influences (Nail has called it “California Country”), this album has so many personal touches and so many familiar themes that it’s hard NOT to like it.

From the gospel tinged “Grandpa’s Farm,” which has a southern rock funk sound, to the soaring arena rock anthem, “She Rides Away,” this album has something for everyone. The first single, “Let It Rain,” was released earlier this year and peaked at 11 on the Billboard Country Top 100 List in September. Now, with the release of the album, I have to imagine there are gonna be a slew of hits coming from this relatively new artist. With a little help from his friends, including band members of Lady Antebellum, Lee Ann Womack, Phil Vassar and Johnathan Singleton, Nail has packed this album with stories of love, regret, life struggles and longing and there’s not a song on here that doesn’t hit it’s mark.

One of the many highlights is the title track. Written by Phil Vassar and Scooter Carusoe, Nail’s vocals take this above what could have very easily been a Marc Cohn retread. Nail has said that he loved the song from the first time he heard it and was fearful that someone else might cut the song if he hadn’t jumped at the opportunity. After listening to it several times, I have to believe that, although he didn’t write it, this song was tailor-made for him.

There are so many quality country tracks on “Dreams” that I have to wonder what his label will do with them all. I would say this album is a mixture of Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and classic Glenn Campbell. It’s quality music that focuses on the hooks and the lyrics both without sacrificing either and it’s about as entertaining as any album that I have listened to this year.

If I were to recommend songs to download, I would wholeheartedly recommend “Let It Rain,” “I Thought You Knew,” “She Rides Away,” and “Sound of A Million Dreams.” But you can’t really go wrong buying the entire album. It’s worth every penny.

SOTW_11.2.11 – Gym Class Heroes’ “Ass Back Home”

Gotta love this rap/pop band. They consistently produce top notch pop singles (they’re holding the #3 spot on Billboard’s Top 100 right now with “Stereo Hearts”) and are usually dead on when it comes to what the masses enjoy listening too. Here is their latest single and the lyrics hit me because of all my traveling. Here is “Ass Back Home”…the next big hit for Gym Class Heroes!

I don’t know, where you’re going
Or when you’re coming home
I left the keys under the mat to our front door
For one more chance to hold you close
I don’t know, where you’re going
Just get your ass back home

We both knew this type of life didn’t come with instructions
So I’m trying to do my best to make something out of nothing
And sometimes it gets downright shitty in fact
When you call and I don’t know what city I’m in at
Or what day of the week in the middle of the month
In a year I don’t recall
It’s like my life’s on repeat and the last time we spoke
I told you I wouldn’t be long,
That was last November, now December’s almost gone
I’d apologize but I don’t realize what I’m doing wrong

And you’ve been nothing but amazing
And I never take that for granted
Half of these birds would have flew the coop
But you, you truly understand it
And the fact you stood beside me,
Every time you heard some bogusness
You deserve a standing o ‘cause they’d a just been over it

Let em talk, let em talk, let em talk, let em talk
Like we don’t hear what they saying
Let em walk, let em walk, let em walk, let em walk
We’ll just drive by and keep waving
Cause you and I above all that
Just let them wallow in it
Now they all choked up, yuck
Cause they be swallowing it

No one hold me down like you do sweetheart
You keep doing that, I keep doing this
We’ll be alright in the end
Trust that
We put the us in trust, baby
Let’s go

I don’t care what you’re after
As long as I’m the one, no
I don’t care why you’re leaving
You’ll miss me when you’re gone

I don’t know, where you’re going
Or when you’re coming home
I left the keys under the mat to our front door
For one more chance to hold you close
I don’t know, where you’re going
Just get your ass back home.

Everyone Needs A Little Sunshine…

Back in Nashville last week and, as always, had to get my fill of some live music. Although country is the obvious genre of choice in Nash-Vegas, my friends and I discovered a real talent off Broadway at a little jazz club called “Jazz & Jokes.” I’ve seen my share of entertainers however I gotta tell ya…if there ever was a singer/performer built for the stage, it’s Avery Sunshine.

With all the energy of a hummingbird, a smile that’s infectious, a great sense of humor and a voice that is amazing, Sunshine hit the stage on Friday night and blew us away with a strong mix of great R&B, some very funny lyrics, a little bit of gospel and a great backing band. I had never heard of Avery Sunshine but I will be watching her career as it takes off. A voice like this can’t be held back and neither can her personality. I checked out a lot of her videos on YouTube and I gotta tell you…she’s something special on stage. Her recordings are good, but to get the FULL effect of this genuine artist, please check her schedule and make an effort to see her live. You won’t be disappointed!

And here is her latest video that has been featured on BET called “All In My Head…”

Single Of The Week: 10/18-10/23/11: Friendly Fires – *Blue Cassette*

I love it when I discover new songs by alternative pathways. Sometimes I happen onto a song via the internet, sometimes on ITunes, sometimes XM Radio. But in the case of this song, I heard it playing in a clothing store while waiting for my daughter to find new clothes. Apparently this band is from England and have 2 albums to date. One is “Pala” which was released earlier this year. “Blue Cassette” hasn’t been released as of yet as a single but I really like it. Kind of reminds me of classic 80’s alternative…which, as we ALL know, I’m partial too. Here is Friendly Fires with a great track from their latest release…

Tunes From ITunes: 10.11.11

Ah October…how I love thee! The leaves change colors, the weather gets cooler, it stays darker later & longer. Halloween is around the corner and there are so many options. What should I be this year? A sexy pirate? A sexy caveman? A sexy nerd? How about a zombie? Yeah…THAT will work. Speaking of zombies, I’ve been ambling along, being somewhat despondent about highlighting new songs from ITunes that I buy every week. So I’ve created the “Featured Singles” to allow for me to highlight at least one song a week for anyone who might be interested. Anyway, here are some tracks that I’ve downloaded over the past month or so. Let me know what you think!

NEEDTOBREATHE – “Keep Your Eyes Open”  (rock)
With 4 studio albums in their arsenal, this Christian rock band from South Carolina have a polished pop/rock sound and this track has a simple & familiar sound to it. Not gonna say I LOVE it but it certainly has a message and I would have to imagine there will be at least 1 track off this new album (The Reckoning) that will find its way to pop radio. Dunno if this will be it but it has potential.

Pearl Jam – “Ole”  (rock)
A freebie on ITunes and it rocks! I’m a big PJ fan and considering the other option (which is Vedder doing ukele songs), I’ll take this! Is it fresh & different? For PJ, no. But it gave me a good kick in the butt this morning and I’ll be putting it in my workout mix now, thank you very much!

James Morrison feat. Jessie J – “Up”  (pop)
Simple & soulful, I really like this track and with Jessie J’s soulful vocal powering this to “above average” status, I have to imagine this one will hit on adult contemporary radio at some point! This is easily the best track on the album (from what I heard).

Joe Jonas – “Fastlife” (pop)
So Justin Timberlake is hanging up his pop cleats, huh? Well…seems he may have already been replaced. One of the 3 Jonas brothers, this kid has got it firing on all cylinders. With his hit “See No More” and his latest release, “Just In Love,” Jonas is moving into Timberlake territory. This track is the jam!

Manchester Orchestra – “Leave It Alone”  (rock)
A lovely mellow rock track from this Atlanta band. Reminds me of Pink Floyd a bit and the lyrics of a broken relationship are true. Love this one!

Mayer Hawthorne – “No Strings” (R&B)
This has a traditional R&B sound with a modern pop twist. Suggestive lyrics and Hawthorne’s smooth vocal make this an excellent choice for anyone who likes a little music for their bow-chicka-bow-wow…

Dum Dum Girls – “Coming Down”  (rock)
Lead singer Dee Dee has a similar vocal style of Annie Lennox and this track sounds a LOT like Mazzy Star with fuzzy guitars and reverb. I imagine it being played in one of those old desert town bar jukeboxes. It has a sexy edge and makes me want to drink my sorrows away. I recommend this one! I also HIGHLY recommend “Bedroom Eyes” and “Wasted Away” from their album “Only In Dreams.”

Blink 182 – “Wishing Well”  (rock)
8 years since releasing their last album, this punk pop band have returned with a decent effort and this track has a familiar sound as Tom DeLonge brings his best Angels & Airwaves impersonation to the Blink reunion. I love A&A and this track sounds like just about everything else on that bands’ albums…so that means it’s good!

Benjamin Francis Leftwich – “Atlas Hands”  (adult contemporary)
Mellow and beautiful, I can’t say it’s original but I love the lyrics and it IS refreshingly simple. Think The Weepies. If you like them, you’ll LOVE this.

David Nail – “Let It Rain”  (country)
Guilt is a very strong emotion and this song conveys that to a tee. Originally released in February, I recently heard it while in Nashville. Love it!

The Kooks – “Rosie”  (pop rock)
Not sure how to define this track. If you liked their hit single “She Moves In Her Own Way” from their 2006 album, “Inside In/Inside Out,” then you will probably like this track. I REALLY like it and it will probably be one of my favorite tracks from this year!

Bush – “Red Light”  (rock)
For whatever reason, this doesn’t sound like Bush at all to me. And that’s a good thing (I think). This is ultimately a generic pop rock song but I kinda dig it and I would recommend checking it out if you like Top 40 rock artists like Daughtry or David Cook.

Wild Flag – “Romance”  (rock)
This all-girl, all-star band featuring rockers from Sleater-Kinney and the Minders show they can hang with the big boys and crank out a guitar-laced homage to love & romance…hence the name, I suppose…

Lights – “Peace Sign”  (pop)
Generic dance pop that my kids tend to love. It has a catchy refrain and kept me interested for a few listens but for the most part, it’s average at best.

ALBUM OF THE MONTH THAT DOESN’T QUITE LIVE UP TO THE PREVIOUS ALBUM BUT I LIKE IT ANYWAY:

Mute Math – “Odd Soul”  (alternative)
Oh how I wanted to say that this one is as good if not better than the band’s previous album, “Armistice,” nut unfortunately I can’t. It does start out very strong with songs like “Prytania” and “Tell Your Heart Heads Up” (my personal favorite), but it drifts into experimental rock territory in the latter half of the album and never seems to recover. Songs like “Quarantine” and “Walking Paranoia” have a jam band quality to them, featuring distorted vocals and 70’s flavored tempos that just don’t gel with me. It’s funky in places but never quite reaches the potential that it strives for. That being said, it DOES have several strong tracks and I wouldn’t call it a disappointment at all, it’s just not as good as “Armistice.”

Recommended Tracks: Tell Your Heart Heads Up, Sun Ray (instrumental), All Or Nothing, Prytania, Odd Soul

What Is Going On With Christina Aguilera?

In 2007

I am a professed Christina Aguilera fan. In my mind, there is no one out there in pop music today who can hold a candle to her vocally. She simply has amazing talent and despite the fact that her career has taken an odd turn, I can’t help but wonder…what is going on with her?

Pictures taken at a Michael Jackson tribute concert in Cardiff, Wales recently have been less than flattering and I can’t figure out what is going on. Here she is in Wales…

I have no idea what to think. Is this just a bad shot? I realize that she had a baby in 2008 but in last year’s film, “Burlesque,” she looked like this…

And then last year on “The Voice,” she admittedly had gained some weight but I thought that maybe she was either pregnant again (even though she had divorced from her husband in late 2010, she was said to be dating a production assistant that she had met on the set of “Burlesque”) or maybe just not as in shape as she normally is. So…I dunno. I’m hoping that whatever she’s doing she’s okay physically and mentally. She looks…well…frankly she looks like she needs some help. With her last album, “Bionic,” never really finding an audience (even if it did have a couple of hit singles) and “Burlesque” doing less than expected at the box office (I liked it), I’m hoping she’s not slipping away and losing sight of where her talent really lies. “The Voice” might have had an audience but her strength is HER voice and I hope she can find it again…and find herself some help with her weight. Not that she looked bad on “The Voice” but the shots at the MJ concert are horrible. She looks insane!

Here she is in the latest single with Maroon 5, “Moves Like Jagger.” I gotta think there’s some kind of odd camera trickery going her because a person can’t just leapfrog from what she looks like in this video to what she looks like in the above photo. It’s just not physically possible!

Is it?

Lyrics You Should Know: “Why Worry” by Dire Straits

In 1985, Dire Straits released their classic album, “Brothers In Arms.” I must have listened to it the entire year, riding my bike along the Muskingum River in the summer moonlight and the track “Why Worry” features not only poignant lyrics but a soft steel guitar ending that always relaxes me in stressful times. “Money For Nothing” might have been the monster hit, but this song is my favorite on the album and in today’s times, it is a lullaby for the ages…

“Why Worry”
by Dire Straits

Baby I see this world has made you sad
Some people can be bad
The things they do, the things they say
But baby I’ll wipe away those bitter tears
I’ll chase away those restless fears
That turn your blue skies into grey

Why worry, there should be laughter after the pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now

Baby when I get down I turn to you
And you make sense of what I do
I know it isn’t hard to say
But baby just when this world seems mean and cold
Our love comes shining red and gold
And all the rest is by the way

Why worry, there should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now

Single Of The Week: 10.4 – 10.10.11 *The Raveonettes – Oh Stranger*

This week’s hot single is a release from the soundtrack to the popular videogame that came out today called “Batman: Arkham City.” The Raveonettes’ awesome single, “Oh Stranger” is controlled chaos. Screeching guitars over a pounding drum and haunting vocals by lead singer Sune Rose Wagner, this band is a favorite of mine (check out their single, “Ignite” from their album “Raven In The Grave”) and I love this new track!

The only way I can post it is if I link you to THIS site. Go about halfway down the page. The track is featured there! Rock on!