Archive for February, 2008

A REAL ANGEL

February 29, 2008

Spent a bit of Wednesday at a hotel across from the Beverly Center called the Sofitel, the first time I’ve ever been to a press day there (and given the quality of their brownies, I hope it won’t be the last!). I was there to attend the roundtable interviews for a new film from Warner Independent Pictures called “Snow Angels.” The movie was a serious look at how an estranged couple’s personal problems spin out of control in a small town setting, featuring standout performances from Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale. And while we got to interview the young up and coming actors Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby, director David Gordon Green, and Stewart O’Nan, the the novelist who wrote the book the film is based on, the real draw was the chance to talk to Kate.

Although she is one of the most beautiful actresses working today, Kate seems very down to earth. Strangely, she grew up thinking of herself as overweight, a problem I hope she’s left behind these days. Another funny tidbit about her life is that she has never learned to drive. Living here in L.A., she may be the only one…

Kate insists she has never had a plan when it comes to her career. She explained that she started out playing fragile women in her early British films and only recently took on a mantle of toughness thanks to her work in “Underworld.” Like many actors I’ve interviewed, she says she just tries to take parts that scare her.

And speaking of being scared, Kate says she loves having a fanbase of teen boys thanks to her sci-fi work. She says they’re no bother at all, as they tend to be too scared to talk to her. They just mumble something and run away. Fortunately, I didn’t have that problem during the interview…

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AMERICAN IDOL 7: TOP 20 – THE GIRLS

February 28, 2008

Really, the judges (well, Randy and Paula anyway) should be ashamed of themselves for saying how good the guys were last night, because they really weren’t. I thought the ladies showed themselves to be much more talented tonight. Let’s see what we’ve got (and remember, I’ll be giving picks for each singer just in case eighties night comes next week)…

CARLY SMITHSON:  “Crazy On You”- Heart

I thought this performance started off the show well. Carly’s main problem was while she sounded good, you couldn’t help but compare her to original singer Ann Wilson’s powerhouse voice and Carly loses out in that comparison. Still, the best rock performance of the night.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “Tell It Like It Is” – Heart

This remake of the Aaron Neville classic would be the perfect soulful ballad for Carly. She could also take on Chicago’s “Look Away” or if she wants to try something fun, Madonna’s “Open Your Heart.”

SYESHA MERCADO: “Me And Mr. Jones”

I thought Syesha gave a smooth and laid back performance. She played well to the camera too. Not a star turn, but hopefully it’ll be enough to keep her in another week.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)” – Juice Newton

BROOKE WHITE: “You’re So Vain” – Carly Simon

Funny how her hair didn’t look that good in the interview segment where she was talking about cutting hair. As for the song, I thought her vocal had a nice throatiness on the verses, but I thought she was a little too smiley on the chorus. I’m know she’s the sunniest contestant personality-wise, but this song needs a little bit more anger.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “More Love” – Kim Carnes

I could also see her doing “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams if she wants to have dance or “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper if she wants something more dramatic.

RAMIELE MALUBAY: “Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston

I thought this was a perfect vocal on a fun disco song. She could have moved a little more, but I thought her performance was better than the judges did. She probably would have been better off to choose a song with drama and a deeper lyric to please them.

EIGHTIES SONG: “Listen To Your Heart” – Roxette or “Gloria” by Laura Branigan

KRISTY LEE COOK: “You’re No Good” – Linda Ronstadt

A good choice and she did a nice job putting emphasis on certain words in the angry lyric to make her performance better. She also changed the arrangement a bit to make it more dramatic. It was funny to hear Simon say she should try country because whenever someone does country, he says he doesn’t understand it.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “Better Be Good To Me” – Tina Turner

AMANDA OVERMYER – “Carry On Wayward Son” – Kansas

How could someone who would sound good singing most anything pick this one (although my college roommate would have been happy as this was one of his favorite songs)? She needs a big comeback next week.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “Bring Me Some Water” – Melissa Etheridge

ALAINA WHITAKER – “Hopelessly Devoted To You” – Olivia Newton-John

A good vocal, but really nothing special. Unlike Simon, I liked her hair, but I think she’ll be going home tomorrow night.

ALEXANDREA LUSHINGTON – “If You Leave Me Now” – Chicago

Producer/songwriter David Foster once told me that only Peter Cetera could sing the songs they wrote for Chicago, and maybe he was right. Not only was Alexandrea’s version not that exciting, but her choice of shorts didn’t help either. I did like the way she sung the last two lines of the song, which inspired my choice of an eighties song for her.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “Sweet Love” – Anita Baker

KADY MALLOY – “Magic Man” – Heart

I so want to like Kady, but she’s not a rocker and she really should smile more while listening to the judges. Also, her higher notes are more pleasing than her deeper tones, so she should choose poppier songs that show that off.

EIGHTIES SONG: ‘Magic” – Olivia Newton-John

ASIA’H EPPERSON: “All By Myself” – Eric Carmen

That’s right, I said Eric Carmen, not Celine Dion! Anyway, Asia’h belted out the song as well as she could, but lost a couple of notes due to sickness. Another I hope will be around next week after a subpar performance.

EIGHTIES SONG:  “Fame” – Irene Cara

AMERICAN IDOL 7: TOP 20 – THE GUYS

February 27, 2008

Let’s see, if we had Sixties Night last week and Seventies Night this week, does that mean we can expect Eighties Night next week? Maybe, which is why I’m listing an eighties song suggestion for each of the contestants after each review. So like The Cars say, “Let’s Go”!

MICHAEL JOHNS: “Go Your Own Way”

Unfortunately much of the power of the Fleetwood Mac original comes from the guitars and powerhouse drumming, not the singing. That said, Michael doesn’t come close to matching the wild passion and sheer desperation that Lindsey Buckingham brought to the song, plus Johns was a little off key at times during the chorus. Still, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t stick around.

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia

JASON CASTRO: “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”

Whenever I’m in Burbank at night, I can hear whatever classic rock songs the singer/guitarist is playing at the Burbank Bar & Grill. Well, Jason would fit right in there tonight. Although he brought some emotion to the song, his vocals weren’t up to par and it seemed like the background vocalists were bearing much of the load. He should have tackled one of the jazzy Paul Simon songs of the seventies, like “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard.”

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House

LUKE MENARD: “Killer Queen”

A little weird seeing that falsetto coming out of such a masculine looking guy. While a fun performance, he should have performed a song that would let him really dig into the lyrics (say Marvin Gaye’s”Let’s Get It On”) or one that allowed him to play to the ladies (like Exile’s “Kiss You All Over”). I can hear him doing a good job with something by George Michael.

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister

ROBBIE CARRICO: “Hot Blooded”

I agree with the judges… he’s no Lou Gramm. Still, it was well sung. Robbie should try some country rock. He has the voice for it and he already looks like Travis Tritt.

EIGHTIES PICK:   “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood for soul, “Drivin’ My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbitt for country or if he insists on sticking to rock, “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

DANNY NORIEGA: “Superstar”

Danny’s obviously better playing things serious (unlike last week’s debacle) and he has the teen idol look down. Not bad tonight, but not great either.

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Missing You” by John Waite (perhaps in a more dramatic slowed down arrangement)

DAVID HERNANDEZ – “Poppa Was A Rollin’ Stone”

I’ve always thought this was one of the more boring classic hits, probably because of the drawn out intro. David showed off a fine growling vocal, but really, this is only one of the top performances of the night because the competition wasn’t exactly fierce.

EIGHTIES PICK:  “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

JASON YEAGER: “Long Train Runnin'”

Jason’s no rocker. He has a good voice, but he’s obviously more of a pop guy, so this song didn’t do him any favors. Plus, did anyone else think his shirt looked a bit tight on him?

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Into The Night” by Benny Mardones

CHIKEZIE: “I Believe To My Soul”

Kind of a fun performance. Somewhere Elliott Yamin is screaming at the TV, “Why didn’t they like the song when I did it?”

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Lean On Me” by Club Nouveau

DAVID COOK: “All Right Now”

One of the alltime greatest rock songs and David did it justice vocally. I just wish he looked like he was having fun during the performance. It also didn’t work when he took the mike off the stand and then put it back on so quickly.

EIGHTIES PICK:  “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band (hopefully such a fun song would help David open up a bit)

DAVID ARCHULETA: “Imagine”

I think this is a hard song to give a special performance of because the melody is so simple (take a look at Blake Lewis’ try last year). It probably works better as a sing along. But David did indeed give it some drama. You could see this performance closing a concert someday.

Obviously the contest is David’s to lose and unlike some early frontrunners in the past, he won’t be stumbling. That will make for a very boring season, although things should pick up once we’re into the Top 12 and the shows are an hour long.

EIGHTIES PICK: Really, the kid could sing anything. But I’ll recommend “Lady” by Kenny Rogers.

SWEET CHARITY

February 27, 2008

Should I feel bad that one of my favorite jobs in Hollywood came about because of a horrible disaster? Possibly, but I still look back fondly on the week I worked as the researcher for “Tsunami Aid: A Concert Of Hope.” The show, broadcast live on January 15th, 2005, raised money for survivors of the deadly 2004 earthquake/tsunami that devastated parts of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

My job entailed things like making sure the on-air celebrities said all the names of the foreign cities affected correctly (which I did by calling embassies and even ethnic restaurants), tracking down satellite photos of flooded areas and making sure there were no factual mistakes in the script.

One of the highlights for me was getting to talk to one of my favorite TV personalities, Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball.” Chris was going to interview the head of the American Red Cross on the show and it was my job to brief him about the relief efforts over the phone. Chris seemed intent on making sure the money was going straight to the cause and asked tough questions during the telethon. He was definitely determined to keep being a journalist even while trying to raise money during a telethon.

It was also fun getting to spend some time with George Clooney, who helped put the show together. Two days before the program aired, George came into the writers’ room, sat down on the floor (he was suffering from a bad back at the time) and proceeded to entertain us for an hour with the history of his frequent disagreements with Bill O’Reilly and how they came to a truce that meant Bill would appear on “Tsunami Aid.” To Bill’s credit, once he was convinced the money raised would be going straight to relief efforts, he signed on immediately.

I also came into contact with George when I was assigned to write a fact sheet about the tsunami crisis that was handed to the celebrities working the phone bank so they would have the facts at their fingertips. It took three passes before George approved the page. Now I know some of my female readers might have put in mistakes on purpose just to have an excuse to go see George one more time, but I assure you, I just wanted to get it right and get it done!

The night of the show itself was amazing. It seemed like George had recruited every star in Hollywood and they had all shown up for the cause. The L.A. part of the program was broadcast from a soundstage at Universal Studios, and right before the show started, all the celebs crossed from one soundstage that had been set up as a lounge/green room over to the broadcast stage. Now I may have seen every actor and actress in Hollywood at one time or another, but I have never seen a parade of them like this! It was an amazing sight.

I spent most of the show standing near the celebrity filled phone bank. One of the friends I was hanging out with knew Jamie Foxx, so I had a chance to meet him before he took a stint at the phones. I also saw Vin Diesel and told him he was right about how easy it was to keep your head shaved (at a junket, I told him I was thinking about shaving my head and he said it was very simple and easy, which was one of the reasons I ended up shaving my head for the first time a few weeks later).

After the show, there were food and drinks available, so a lot of the stars hung out and chatted. I had grabbed a promotional poster that I wanted George Clooney to sign, but he was deep in conversation with his friend Don Cheadle and I didn’t want to interrupt him. While I was waiting, a publicist came up and asked me if I wanted her client Kenny Chesney to sign the poster. I didn’t, figuring I had worked with George and that was enough, but of course I said yes. Hard to believe Kenny had time to wander around, as that was the night he met Renee Zelwegger, his future (if not for long) bride.

I also spent a pleasant ten minutes talking to one of the nicest guys in show business, actor Jim Caviezel. I had once interviewed him in New York for the movie “Frequency” and when I was later leaving for the airport, he introduced himself to me in the hotel lobby. At the concert, he was standing alone for a moment, so I thought I’d return the favor and say hello.

One of my friends in Pennsylvania always asks me why I don’t hobnob with the stars. I think that night was probably the closest I’ve ever come, all for a good cause.

KEEPING A “RESOLUTION”

February 26, 2008

During my high school years in Lancaster, PA, I used to spend just about every day in the summer hanging out with my friends at the pool at the Host Town Motel. Just a mile or so away was a department store called Nichol’s that I would walk to a few days a week and buy record albums.

I would buy LP’s by artists whose songs I liked on the radio or that I saw on “American Bandstand.” As I got more into music, I got a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Living in Lancaster, I didn’t get to go see big time concerts, so reading the concert reviews were the closest I would get to seeing Bruce Springsteen at the Bottom Line or Elton John at Dodger Stadium (I’ve made up for that lack since). I also often took the advice of their album reviewers and tried out records that got high ratings. That’s how I discovered some of my favorite artists like Marshall Crenshaw, Rosanne Cash and a singer/songwriter/pianist named Andy Pratt. Reviewer Stephen Holden said that “Pratt has forever changed the face of rock” with his album, “Resolution,” so I had to hear it for myself.

It turned out that “Resolution” was a perfect mix of majestic yet tender ballads and bouncy midtempo pop. The album led off with the title song, which soon became one of my go-to songs (along with “Reach” by Orleans) whenever I needed to be lifted out of a bad mood or needed the courage to call a girl and ask her out. I tried to live the words of the chorus:

I won’t stay this way anymore

I’m gonna fight, I’m gonna win

Won’t hold myself down anymore

And I won’t turn away from a friend

Gonna try and spread my wings

See what this life of mine can bring

A few years ago when CD’s took over, I junked my record player, which could have meant I would never hear “Resolution” again. Fortunately the record company Razor & Tie put out “Resolution: The Andy Pratt Collection” on CD. It contained the entire “Resolution” album, plus a few of Andy’s other great songs from that era.

The CD release enabled me to put some of Andy’s songs on my Ipod, a fact that I mentioned in my recent post, “Ipod People.” Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mailed comment from Andy Pratt himself. Not wanting to let it get lost in the comments section, I decided to reproduce it here:

Thank you very much for liking and mentioning some of my music. Just so people know, it’s easy to find. Most of my catalog, including Resolution, is available at
http://www.itsaboutmusic.com/andypratt.html
I like being discovered
Blessings to all

Andy Pratt

Let me just add that I want to thank Mr. Pratt for all his music has meant to me over the years. Now go click on the link…

IPOD PEOPLE

February 24, 2008

I’m not much of a gadget guy. I still don’t own a cell phone, and I never had a cordless phone at home until someone gave me one as a gift a year ago. I’ve never texted anyone either.

But somehow over the years, I have been an early adopter of certain technology. I had a Betamax in college (not such a good idea) and I was also ahead of the curve when I bought an Ipod in 2003. Sure, it was just one month before Apple announced a redesign that included a longer lasting battery, but it was still the best item I’ve ever bought! In fact,  working on my Itunes file seems to have become on of my main hobbies!

I’m currently at 2239 songs. Early on, I decided I only wanted songs that I would want to hear every time they came on, songs that I would never, ever want to skip. So I concentrated on fast, energetic music. But I soon learned that as you add more and more songs, you think, “Why not have a song I’d like if I just heard it once in a while?” Because once you get past a thousand songs, there is no one song you’ll hear a lot.

Having an Ipod has changed the way I listen to music. Instead of deciding whether I like the songs on a new CD, I’m really deciding if any of them are good enough to add to my Itunes. I’ve scoured libraries all over town looking for songs. My most recent find was a song I heard on the radio and loved immediately, which the announcer said was by Los Lonely Boys. I borrowed their first album and found out the song was called “More Than Love.” Now I’ll have it forever…

I think the best thing about owning an Ipod is every so often, you’ll hear one of those songs you know you’ll never hear on the radio again. I get a lot of joy from when something like “Love Changes (Everything),” “Smoke From A Distant Fire” or “The King Of Wishful Thinking” comes on. Then there are the songs I would never hear if I didn’t have an Ipod (mainly because I threw out my last record player years ago). A friend of mine who’s a music engineer, Steve Nelson, did me the favor of taking some of my favorite songs from old albums that never came out on CD, cleaning them up and yes, putting them on CD to transfer to my Itunes file. That’s why I can now listen to an obscure seventies favorite like Parker McGee’s “I Just Can’t Say No To You” (which used to get played a lot on my college radio show) or songs from the Australian movie musical, “Star Struck,” anytime I want. Then there are what I consider my secret favorites, songs that hardly anyone else has heard of, like Katrina Leskanich’s slowed down take on Tracey Ullman’s “They Don’t Know” or the seven songs I have on my Ipod from Andy Pratt’s album, “Resolution.”

Currently, the top artist in my Itunes is Barry Manilow with 45 songs (which makes sense considering I have more of Manilow CD’s than any other artist’s). The Beatles take second place with 40 songs and Bruce Springsteen is third with 33. The top country artist is Trisha Yearwood with 21 songs, while the “American Idol” contestant with the most is Kelly Clarkson with 10.

Just like every picture tells a story, so does every song on my Ipod. If you don’t have one, what’s keeping you?

WALLY HATER

February 24, 2008

So a few days ago after I posted my thoughts on the “American Idol” Top 24 girls’ faceoff, I got a comment from someone named Wally. He took me to task for not watching the entire show before I wrote about it, saying I shouldn’t be a critic if I’m not going to see the whole thing (I had gotten a few phone calls during the show, causing me to miss two of the performances). I deleted his comment because I thought it had an angry tone to it, plus I disagreed with his premise. After all, I’m blogging for fun, to share some of my thoughts and stories, and in the process, maybe improve my writing skills, so if I’m writing about “Idol” and miss a performance, so what? It isn’t like there aren’t plenty of places that people can read reviews of “Idol” (although it is a shame we lost Judge Jru, the greatest of all Idol bloggers, who quit last year).

Then today I got another comment from Wally. This time he said he checked my blog and found I hadn’t posted his first comment and that if his latest comment wasn’t approved, it would show I couldn’t handle criticism. Although this comment showed a more civil tone, I decided to delete it because it wouldn’t make any sense if you hadn’t read his previous one. But now that you know the story, perhaps you’ll see another Wally comment pop up soon that I will post.

Either way, it is interesting to think about what I owe my readership, most of whom I thought were friends who were nice enough to take a look at what I wrote. Maybe joining the “American Idol” train has turned that around. After all, a few days ago, I had my second biggest day ever when it comes to readers. So maybe I should stop answering the phone while watching “Idol.” I’m already doing just that during “Lost”…

AMERICAN IDOL 7: TOP 24 – THE GIRLS

February 21, 2008

Wasn’t able to see everyone on the show tonight as I kept getting interrupted by phone calls. Here’s who I saw:

KRISTY LEE COOK – “Rescue Me”

I don’t think she’ll be getting her horse back. A good voice, but she ran out of steam by the end due to the repetitious arrangement of the song. Also, her facial expressions were a bit too theatrical and her new hair style didn’t do her any favors.

Missed the full performances of JOANNE BORGELLA and ALAINA WHITAKER, so I won’t comment.

AMANDA OVERMYER – “Baby Please Don’t Go”

I used to say if Elvis had a daughter, it was Wynonna Judd. Now Amanda’s in the running. Adding a bit of blues to her previous rock excellence, she showed up her competition.

AMY DAVIS – “Where The Boys Are”

An O.K. performance from a voice with a hint of Patsy Cline. The judges ripped her for the sixties sound of the arrangement, which makes me wonder what will happen if they do fifties or swing night…

BROOKE WHITE – “Happy Together”

Better than David Cook last night. She brings the joy of a country singer without the twang, which may not bode well for her commercial future.

ALEXANDREA LUSHINGTON – “Spinning Wheel”

She made it contemporary, but I, like Simon, thought her night notes were a little shaky.

KADY MALLOY – “Groovy Kind Of Love”

I liked this performance, but the judges sure didn’t.

ASIA’H EPPERSON – “Piece Of My Heart”

I thought this one was a little over the top. You’re singing about letting someone tearing out a piece of your heart, so it shouldn’t be too happy. A little grit please.

RAMIELE MALUBAY – “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”

A good voice, but not as dramatic as past performances of this “Idol” standard. Remember Nadia Turner?

SYESHA MERCADO – “Tobacco Road”

Sassy and sexy. Just wait until she tackles a song that people know.

CARLY SMITHSON – “The Shadow Of Your Smile”

Impressive. She may win me over yet… although I listened to her 2001 album, “Ultimate High,” today, and if she does become this year’s American Idol, she better do way better. Many of the songs were written from the point of view of an 16 year old, but Carly’s voice at the time was way too mature for those songs to work, plus the lyrics weren’t all that special. No wonder it failed. Nice job on two of the ballads on the album though…

Summing up, many of the girls were a disappointment tonight, but once we’re down to the Top 8 or so, it should be quite a race!

GUARDIANS AT THE GATE

February 20, 2008

I saw on CNN that today marked the 35th anniversary of the first American Music Awards. I got to sit in the audience in 1985 (most memorable moment: Prince played “Purple Rain” and at the climax, hundreds of flowers poured down from the ceiling), but I’ve worked at just about every show since then, often watching from a trailer outside the Shrine Auditorium and helping to identify the celebs in the audience so they could put their names on the screen. I’ve also had another job after each show, helping out at the celebrity entrance to the after-show party.

Its a tricky job because we’re not supposed to let anyone in without a ticket (the party tickets are quite costly with the money going to charity), yet just because a star doesn’t have a ticket doesn’t mean we shouldn’t let them in. I still feel bad about the year I didn’t get from the trailer to the party until it started at 9:00 and no one else was smart enough to let Rod Stewart go in early, so he left.

Perhaps the highlight of all the AMA parties I’ve been to the last twenty years was when Stevie Wonder got up to sing “Signed Sealed Delivered” with the band. But it almost didn’t happen… because of me! Early on a man came up to the party entrance without a ticket and said that he was Stevie Wonder’s brother. I asked him a few questions about Stevie’s many businesses, figuring if he knew the answers, it was a good bet he was who he said. Well, he knew that Black Bull was the name of Stevie’s music publishing company, so I let him through the turnstiles. I found out later that my grilling had upset him enough that he was about to tell Stevie not to perform until one of the show’s producers intervened and convinced him to let his brother go out onstage.

Then there was the time a few years later when a distinguished looking gentleman in his fifties arrived without a ticket and said he was the president of ABC Television. He had a business card that said just that, but after years of hearing people lie to get into the party, the guy in charge wasn’t about to let the man inside. I said why take the chance just in case he was the head of the network and I won the argument and let him into the party. As he was walking through the entrance, I spotted the show’s host Jimmy Kimmel standing nearby and asked him if the man was indeed president of ABC. Jimmy said he was and laughed when I told him we almost didn’t let him in.

Of course, standing backstage at the entrance to the party while the show was going on afforded me and my friends a great view of the stars walking on and off the stage. I was there the night Anna Nicole Smith made a scene, but most memorable of all was seeing Shaquille O’Neal walking down the hallway, surrounded by people who looked like ants next to him. Alas, those times are gone now that the awards have moved to the Nokia Theater in downtown L.A. and the party is outside the building on the roof of the neighboring parking structure.

There’s one moment at the AMA’s I wish I could do over. I once walked one of the biggest stars in music out to the parking lot to show him where he could meet his limo. Unfortunately, I had barely heard of him at the time and wasn’t the fan I soon would be. To think I had nothing at all to say to Garth Brooks…

AMERICAN IDOL 7: TOP 24 ANALYSIS – THE GUYS

February 20, 2008

It’s Sixties Night, and that can be tough because songs from that era were mostly light and fun and without the dramatic weight you need to impress the judges and the audience. I think the ladies might have an easier time of it tomorrow, as there might be more dramatic songs for them to choose from like “To Sir With Love,” “Angel Of The Morning” and “Harper Valley P.T.A.” So let’s see what we got tonight:

DAVID HERNANDEZ – “In The Midnight Hour”

He gave the song a dramatic, slowed down opening, but on the whole, not too exciting. There’s not a lot of depth to the lyric so you need a great soulful voice to make it something special and David doesn’t quite have that.

CHIKEZIE – “More Today Than Yesterday”

Chikezie reminded me of Carlton from “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.” A daring arrangement of what should be a joyful song, he gives it a smooth performance. He’ll need to add some drama to his singing if he wants to hang around.

DAVID COOK – “Happy Together”

He seemed to give a performance that was tossed off and nonchalant, yet  he had excellent tonal control. Has to work on his facial expressions, which made it seem like what he was singing was a joke. Still, one of the better performances of the night.

JASON YEAGER – “Moon River”

Nice enough, and with that smile, the Tom Cruise of this year’s competition. Not too different from what Michael Buble would do with a song like that, but ripped by the judges anyway for being too laid back and uninteresting.

ROBBIE CARRICO – “One”

Very professional job. He has an excellent voice and did himself a lot of good with this performance.

DAVID ARCHULETA – “Shop Around”

Just when I was wondering if they were saving the Motown catalog for another night, David gives the best performance of the evening on the Miracles’ first top ten hit. I wish the judges would stop harping on his age as he sounds older than he is and at 17, he’s no kid.

DANNY NORIEGA – “Jailhouse Rock”

This seemed a bit rushed tempo wise, but just fine vocally. He would have been better off if he had stood at a microphone stand since it might have added some drama (I lip synced this song at a talent show in college, so I know what I’m talking about. Of course, I wore an Elvis costume and Danny didn’t…).

LUKE MENARD – “Everybody’s Talkin'”

A good looking guy, but the song just didn’t allow for an exciting performance. I did enjoy it when he went for the high notes. He’ll probably say goodbye tomorrow night, although I’d like to hear him sing something else.

COLTON BERRY – “Suspicious Minds”

Colton was certainly enjoying himself, but he could have used a bigger voice on this Elvis classic. Colton seems like he would fit in well with a boy band. He would have been the one contestant who could have pulled off a fun sixties song, but instead picked one that was beyond him.

GARRETT HALEY – “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”

Garrett seems like he came out of a time machine from the seventies. His look just screams teen idol. Unfortunately, he seems the least experienced onstage and comes across blase about his big break. It made me laugh that he did Neil Sedaka’s sixties hit with the arrangement Neil used when he re-recorded the song in 1975. We lost Kyle Ensley for this?

JASON CASTRO – “Daydream”

Seemed like a bar singalong because he played guitar, but the judges liked it. I enjoyed his jazzy vocals and effortless  falsetto. He’s a dark horse who makes me want to hear more. He also resembles a celebrity, but I just can’t place who it is. It’ll come to me.

MICHAEL JOHNS – “Light My Fire”

Michael should have entered “Rock Star INXS.” Not quite Jim Morrison, but in the ballpark. I’m waiting to see some originality from him, but he’s certainly one of the top contenders.

Finally, is this the year Simon finally comes to blows with Paula Abdul? She was making sense tonight (although she could have used some better eye makeup), but Simon couldn’t have looked more bored when she or Randy were speaking. Maybe he’s the one who’s been spiking Paula’s drinks all these years so he can get more uninterrupted speaking time…

Oh, and the best song of the night? I changed over to ABC to watch “Boston Legal” and caught the last minute or two of “Carpoolers.” They were playing “Someday Someway,” the biggest hit by one of my all time favorite artists, Marshall Crenshaw. Not that I would perform the song on Idol. Not quite enough drama to it…