Archive for May, 2009

BACKSTAGE AT THE “GEORGE STRAIT: ACM ARTIST OF THE DECADE ALL STAR CONCERT”

May 27, 2009

In less than 24 hours, CBS will broadcast the “George Strait: ACM Artist Of The Decade All Star Concert,” which I worked on all through March until the concert was taped on April 6th.

As the researcher on the show, I had a number of duties. The first thing I did when I got the job was learning about the life of George Strait and developing fact sheets about each of the songs the performers would be singing. This task was helped along by the fact I still had the 72 page booklet that was included in George’s box set, “Strait Out Of The Box.” The book had George’s thoughts on all the songs in the 4 CD set, as well as a year by year chronology of George’s life, and it really came in handy when I wrote up some questions that George was asked during an interview at his ranch for the show.

Another job I had was gathering materials like photos and videos that would be used in the montages saluting the past ACM Artist Of The Decade winners. The producers also needed extra photos of those previous winners to project behind the performers who were singing their songs during the concert. Garth Brooks sent us plenty of exciting concert footage, so I was easily able to check him off my list. Alabama was a little trickier. Since they are no longer an active group, RCA Records donated all their memorabilia to the Country Music Hall Of Fame, so there wasn’t much available. Fortunately, Dick Clark Productions had featured Alabama many times on their shows and had even produced a one hour special about the group, so in the end, we found what we needed. As for Loretta Lynn, her tour manager Jim Hill was a huge help, sending us plenty of great photos from throughout Loretta’s life. I also enjoyed researching the life of Marty Robbins, in which I was helped by Marty’s son, Ronny, who came through again and again for us. Not only did he send us some great photos, but he was able to identify some footage of Marty we wanted to use. It turned out to be from a show that Ronny himself owned!

My most important task on the All Star Concert was also the most fun (at least until we got to Las Vegas during the week of the show itself!). The show’s writer, Fred Bronson, asked me to try to get phone interviews with all of the artists performing on the show to find out what George Strait and his music meant to them, as well as why they picked the song they were performing. Now while in the past I’ve worked for months to get an interview with a single rock singer, I talked to just about every artist I needed within a week of starting to arrange the interviews. Those that couldn’t find time in their schedules or were overseas that week sent e-mailed replies to my list of questions. This is a tribute to the stars of country music, their accessibility and their work ethic. I especially want to single out Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn who left his sickbed to call me and Blake Shelton who told me some very funny stories and was hilarious in a self depreciating way.

Fred tried to stick as close as he could to what the stars told me during their interviews. In fact, once we got to Vegas and started rehearsals, Taylor Swift couldn’t believe how Fred captured her admiration of George, at least until Fred pointed out to her that he just used what she had said in her interview with me, whcih caused Taylor to come over and give me a hug.

While the rehearsals for the ACMA’s went on in the Grand Garden Arena, the performers that were also on our show came by to rehearse in a huge ballroom across the street. I thought it was funny that while fans had staked out the entrances to the Arena in an effort to meet their favorite stars, no one knew about our rehearsals so there were no fans hanging out around the ballroom where they could have easily spoken to a long list of country superstars. Wait, I take that back. There was one fan getting autographs: me! I was well prepared, having brought a tall stack of booklets from the various Greatest Hits CD’s in my collection and was rewarded with signatures from Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry, Taylor Swift, Toby Keith and Lee Ann Womack.

Unlike on the Awards where all the singers played with their touring bands, each performer on our show (with the exception of George Strait) was backed by a house band, which had set up their instruments in a corner of the ballroom. It was exciting to see the singers come in one by one and communicate what they wanted their song to sound like. Some just ran through the song once or twice and were satisfied, while others experimented with tempos and sound.

There was one sad moment during the rehearsals. While Alan Jackson was rehearsing “The Fireman,” he asked who had chosen to perform my favorite George Strait song, “The Chair.” The answer was no one, and Alan said he’d wished he’d known because he would have sung that. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, those long legs of Alan’s carried him out of the ballroom before I was able to ask him for an autograph! Still, I’m not going to hold it against him. In fact, during the actual concert, I was up and dancing while Alan was onstage and the cameraman in the audience took a shot of me, so hopefully you’ll see me if you watch the show. I’m the bald man in black…

While the stars you’d expect to be great on the show are just that, some others who aren’t as well known (or even aren’t well known for country music) provided some of the highlights. For instance, R&B and movie star Jamie Foxx received a well deserved standing ovation for putting a Marvin Gaye spin on George’s “You Look So Good In Love,” while up and coming country star Jack Ingram turned “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” into a pulse-pounding rocker.

I just wish you had all been at the show, because there’s no way the producers will be able to fit everything that happened that night into just two hours (maybe you start making plans now to attend the Next Artist Of The Decade Concert in 2019!)  Each star would speak from the heart about George or the  earlier Artist Of The Decade winner they were paying tribute to, perform their song and then talk some more about George, which usually lead to a handshake or hug between George and the artist. It was all very emotional and you can see it for yourself tonight.

And if you do, you’ll see it before me, because I’ll be overseas on a new job. Check back in a few days for the adventures of Brian, International Courier…

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AMERICAN IDOL SEASON 8: THE FINALE

May 21, 2009

The day started with lunch with one of my all time musical favorites, Neil Sedaka. Neil is amazingly busy these days. He has a hit children’s album called “Waking Up Is Hard To Do,” they’re doing a musical in London based on his life and he’s planning another assault on the pop charts with an album of brand new Sedaka songs. Can’t wait for that…

Neil was pulling for Adam to take home the “Idol” title, but as you all know by now, it was not to be. Still, even if you loved Adam, it was hard not to be impressed by Kris too, so I hope the Adam fans won’t take the loss too hard.

I have to say the highlights of the finale both involved Adam, as his rocking medley with Kiss got the audience on their feet cheering, and his duet with Kris on Queen’s “We Are The Champions” was the emotional high point of the show.

After the confetti flew, I headed with my friend Fred Bronson to the Mondrian Hotel for an after-party at the famous Skybar sponsored by 19 Entertainment. While it was a few hours before any Idols showed up, that was okay because it gave us a chance to sample the many dishes that the waiters and waitresses circling the party were handing out (I still have nightmares about last year’s wrap party, when Fred and I got there too late and they were done serving food, so we ended up eating at 2:00 in the morning).

The first star we saw in attendance was Janice Dickinson, but it wasn’t long before the party became a true Idolpalooza! Not only were the entire Top 13 from this year in attendance, but so were some favorites from past seasons including Bo Bice, Carly Smithson, David Cook, Diana DeGarmo, Kimberley Locke and Jason Castro. Of course, I always get a kick out of seeing Jason at these events because during an interview I sat in on during his time on Idol, he said how much he hated being asked to take photos with people. Of course, that doesn’t stop Jason from saying yes to every request with a smile. I asked Jason when we can expect an album from him. He said he’s planning on an October release and will start recording soon.

Of this year’s crew, I especially enjoyed spending a little time with Scott MacIntyre, who is every bit as funny in real life as he was on the Idol stage. And after a past Idol contestant told me how some singers in past years spent all their tour money before they even got out on the road, when I ran into Michael Sarver and his wife, I told him to be careful spending the money he’ll make on tour, but he was way ahead of me. He’s already planning some smart investments!

Of course, the party was almost like a treasure hunt, as people ran around getting their photos taken with the Idols on hand. Unfortunately, when one girl asked me to take a photo of her with Paula Abdul, her camera wouldn’t work, even after I tried five separate times. Fortunately, I didn’t have that problem when I took a photo of a friend with Kris Allen.

The most interesting conversation of the night was with Kris’s father, who was being schooled in what was ahead for his son and their family by Diana DeGarmo and David Archuleta. Mr. Allen said that people were already dropping letters to Kris on their porch (one nine year old wrote that she was single in crayon!), but David insisted that was nothing, as people had gotten inside his house! Needless to say, Mr. Allen is going to try to remember to turn on his home security system from here on out!

I also sympathized with the plight of Brooke White’s husband, David. Brooke had an early flight scheduled in the morning, but naturally she wanted to say hello to all the friends and well-wishers she could. I told Dave that he had to be the steering committe and steer her out of there. He said it was more like the tugging committee and sure enough, the next time I saw the couple, Dave was leading Brooke off to the valet parking station.

Just a very fun night. Hopefully, we’ll do it all again next year for American Idol’s ninth season finale!

AMERICAN IDOL SEASON 8: TOP TWO ANALYSIS

May 20, 2009

Tonight I have a very special report for you, as I actually attended Tuesday night’s American Idol show at the Nokia Theater (and also plan on being on the scene tomorrow too!)!

The afternoon started with lunch at The Farm of Beverly Hills at LA Live, just around the corner from the Nokia. Also enjoying lunch there was former Idol producer and current “So You Think You Can Dance” producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe.

The meal was followed by some time spent at the AT&T tent on the red carpet where many of the past Idol contestants were signing autographs. On hand were Blake Lewis, Bo Bice, Chikezie, Chris Richardson, Diana DeGarmo, Haley Scarnato, Kimberley Locke, Kristy Lee Cook, LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, Mikalah Gordon, Paris Bennett and Vonzell Solomon. I watched as Cory the warm-up comic for “Idol” hosted a promotion where each Idol was given a cell phone with an amount texted to it. A contest winner from Texas got to choose an Idol with the amounts going from ten thousand dollars to a million. I told my friend Fred Bronson that I would pick Blake. He picked Chikezie. The actual contestant picked LaKisha, whose phone had an amount of $ 50,000! It turned out picking Blake would have been worth just $ 10,000, but Fred had it right! Chikezie had the million dollar phone!

We then headed inside for the show, where we sat in Row HH (just two rows in front of fifth season Idol contestant Kevin Covais, who told us he’s just made a movie with Lindsay Lohan called “Labor Pains”). While not as close to the stage as my seat for the finale last year, this time at least I was in the center. And while many have complained that Adam Lambert has a tendency to scream when he’s rocking out, he had nothing on the girls sitting behind us. Piercing!

The show started with Adam’s reprise of “Mad World,” which was one of my favorite performances of the season. While not as emotional as Kris’s first song of the evening, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” I still enjoyed it the second time around.

Adam upped the emotional ante quite a bit with his second selection, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” This was the Adam I came to hear. An amazing voice in the service of a dramatic song. There wasn’t much Kris could do to match Adam when he sang his version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On.” I’m fond of the version Cyndi Lauper does on her “True Colors” album, which is both rocking and very emotional, and Kris didn’t reach that plateau.

Next up was the reveal of this year’s “American Idol” single, “No Boundaries.” While Kris could have done a great job on this had he been allowed to perform it acoustically with his guitar, the rules said he had to stand at the mike and sing it. The arrangement seemed high for Kris’s voice and didn’t play to his strengths. While I thought it was a bit hard to understand the lyrics at times when Adam sang it, Adam definitely won the final round.

So while I would say that Adam won the night hands down, I’m not so sure Adam will be the next American Idol. At least in the beginning of the night, the audience was definitely on Kris’s side and screamed the loudest whenever he was mentioned. True, Adam got a bigger ovation for his version of the final song, but you’d have to say the title of “American Idol 2009” is truly up for grabs.

It turns out that one person who doesn’t care who wins is Kris Allen’s father, who we ran into the lobby after the show. Mr. Allen is a truly nice guy who realizes that Kris and Adam are so different as artists, they can both do well in the music business. And he’s right!

The evening ended with a wonderful dinner at another new downtown restaurant, Fleming’s, and the best news of all: the Lakers won the first game of the Western Conference Finals!

See you back here in 24 hours with tales of the Finale and the after-parties (well, if I get into the parties, that is…)!

LOST NO MORE!

May 15, 2009

First off, if you haven’t seen the Season Finale of “Lost” Season 5, stop reading now! Spoilers ahead!

So for the past two days, I’ve been reading everyone’s analysis on the web of Wednesday night’s rather revealing episode, in addition to exploring some of the myths and legends evoked by what we saw. And I believe I’ve figured out some things beyond the obvious… including the identity of the Smoke Monster! Here are some ideas and theories to chew on during the long hiatus:

I think most “Lost” watchers will agree that Jacob is really the Jacob of the Bible, which would make his mysterious adversary his brother Esau. I found it interesting when reading about Jacob and Esau, I discovered that Jacob was a simple man, a dweller in tents (like the Others), while Esau was a hunter (no wonder he could kill a boar while impersonating Locke). Also, while known for living in Canaan, the brothers also spent time in Egypt. Of course, having identified Jacob and Esau doesn’t preclude them from having taken other names throughout history or having different myths spring up about them. The story of Cain and Abel comes to mind.

While I’m sure that Doc Jensen, the “Lost” guru of “Entertainment Weekly,” is correct in his assumption that the touch of Jacob will enable the souls of the 815’ers to live on in the new timeline created by The Incident, which is why Jacob muttered the words, “They’re coming,” as he died, I’ve discovered another possible explanation for Jacob’s words. It seems that during the End Of Days, Jacob’s descendants will come to Mount Seir and deliver judgement upon Esau’s descendants. That could also be who’s coming… Oh, and don’t forget that Jacob had twelve sons and one of them was Benjamin. That’s quite in keeping with the “Lost” theme of sons killing their fathers!

Ah, but what you really want to know is who or what is the smoke monster? Well, I’ve decided it’s an Egyptian deity called Nehebkau. This was a benevolent snake god who was the guardian of the underworld and in fact was responsible for judging those that arrived in the afterlife. Nehebkau’s name comes from an ancient Egyptian word meaning “Yoke together” or “Unite.” Rather reminiscent of the “Lost” mantra, “Live together, die alone,” isn’t it?

Nehebkau had another power, that of joining the ka, a part of the soul, with a physical body. The ancient Egyptians believed the ka could manifest itself like a ghost, whether a person was dead or alive. That would explain how the smoke monster could appear as various people.

The big question in my mind: Is Esau also the Smoke Monster? While many fans are assuming they’re one and the same, I don’t think so. I thought that when Ben told Esau (while he was in the guise of Locke) that he was told by Smokey to obey Locke, Esau was surprised. Also, if indeed Esau was a prisoner in what we thought previously was Jacob’s cabin, how did the Smoke Monster operate on the island during that time?

Of course, many “Lost” fans are assuming we’ve seen the last of Juliet, as Elizabeth Mitchell will have a fulltime job come fall on the new show, “V.” But I think I’ll hold out hope that she’ll make a cameo in the final episode, something like that scene at the end of “Heaven Can Wait” where Julie Christie and Warren Beatty’s character meet once again and are immediately attracted to each other. We can only hope for that happy ending between Juliet and Sawyer.

Which brings up one final observation… online, some viewers were disappointed in the Season 5 finale because so many of the characters took the actions they did out of love. But I believe that will turn out to be the ultimate moral of “Lost”: that love is the most important thing in our lives, that love comes first. I think it’s what Jacob is hoping for… unless he turns out to be the devil, of course. What, just because a guy wears white, you assume he’s the good guy? Either way, we’ll find out in eight months!

THE LOST WORLD

May 13, 2009

There’s little doubt I’m a pop culture fanatic. My entire life revolves around movies, music and TV. Yet there is one icon of pop culture that stands alone in my personal pantheon, above “American Idol,” the Lakers, Bruce Springsteen and the latest superhero movie, and that is “Lost.”

In just a few hours, the Season Five finale of “Lost” will be broadcast and I can’t wait! Producer Damon Lindelof has said that after tonight’s episode, fans will finally have enough information to start putting the pieces together and figure out what’s going on in the show. That’s great, but not that important. I have no idea if “Lost” will answer every mystery it’s introduced but I trust the producers to wrap the show up in a satisfying way when the show ends next season and I’ve been enjoying the answers as they come along. Unlike one of my previous favorite shows, “The X-Files,” which lost control of their mythology in an attempt to strech out the story for nine seasons, the powers that be at “Lost” made the decision to stop at six seasons, which has made every show count.

Of course, what hooked me on “Lost” wasn’t just the storytelling, but the mysteries. I’m a sucker for trying to figure out what’s going on, whether you’re talking about “The X-Files,” comic books like “Planetary” and “100 Bullets,” and “Lost.” But even while doling out the mythology, “Lost” has always kept the focus on the characters. For instance, while we’ve spent time with the Dharma Initiative this season, we really don’t know that much about its workings. We have learned about the personalities of the members of the Initiative though, from Dr. Chang’s no nonsense manner to Radzinsky’s paranoia.

The other area in which “Lost” has excelled is with the addition of new characters. What other show has added characters after the first season that have become some of the most popular on the show? “Lost” did it over and over with Ben, Desmond, Juliet and Daniel.

“Lost” is the one show I’ve bought every season of on DVD. It’s always fun to go back and look at earlier episodes with the knowledge you’ve gained from more recent episodes, plus it’s nice to be able to share the show with friends. As the shows promos have insisted, it’s never too late to get “Lost.”

Oh, and if you hear a scream about 10:59 tonight, don’t worry. It’s just my reaction to the latest way “Lost” has once again pulled the rug right out from under its viewers, as well as my terror at the fact I’ve gotta wait eight months to see how it all turns out!

AMERICAN IDOL 8: TOP 3 ANALYSIS

May 13, 2009

I always enjoy the strategy of Top 3 night. What will the judges pick? What will the contestants pick? What will Clive Davis pick? What’s that? They’re only doing two songs a piece this year? Let’s see what we got:

“DANCE LITTLE SISTER” – Danny Gokey

I have to admit I was stunned by Paula’s choice of this song. If you’re going to have Danny sing Terrence Trent D’Arby, why not make it one of his Top Five hits, “Wishing Well” or “Sign Your Name,” rather than a song that only hit # 30 that not many people remember? Yet the song choice ended up working for Danny. He pushed his voice hard in the first verse and sounded pretty good, then made the mistake of doing some jazz scatting. Still, the performance was fun for the most part and was one of Danny’s better outings on the Idol stage.

“APOLOGIZE” – Kris Allen

Unfortunately, Kris came in second in my mind to David Archuleta’s take on this song during the finals last year, when Archie even surpassed One Republic’s Ryan Tedder when they were on stage together. This would have been an impressive performance during say Top 6 week, but Kris needed a knockout punch and didn’t deliver. With the exception of improving on the high notes, I’m not sure there’s much Kris could have done with the song. While Randy and Kara were hoping Kris would rearrange it, this wasn’t really a song that gave him any leeway to do that. It’s a pleasant ballad but not exactly a deep lyric. Maybe they should let Simon choose all the Judges’ Choice songs…

“ONE” – Adam Lambert

At first I was so wowed, I didn’t take any notes… but then Adam started shouting a bit and I thought lost some of the emotion inherent in the song. He’s certainly not playing it safe. It was nice to see Adam speak a bit after the song.

“YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL” – Danny Gokey

Danny sounded a bit like Michael Bolton on this, and I mean that as a compliment. Could Danny be purposely bad some weeks just so he can come back and redeem himself the following week? Of course not, but that’s exactly what he did on his two songs tonight and it should put him in the finals next week.

“HEARTLESS” – Kris Allen

You have to hand it to Kris. He chose a song that was popular during the last few months, which should help bring in some votes. It was brave to redo a rap song with just his guitar. I thought there were so many words in the verses that it made it hard to sing, but the chorus was catchy.

“CRYIN” – Adam Lambert

Now that was a vocal master class, even if the female background vocal took away from Adam’s performance a bit. I did think the showiness of his vocal lacked the proper emotion in the song a little, which should be sadness. And yet I can’t wait for the Idol tour to hear Adam wail live. I have a feeling my television hasn’t come close to capturing his voice.

Next week, it’s goodbye to Season 8! See you then!

BOLDLY GOING

May 7, 2009

Hard as it might be to believe now, the first time I saw an episode of “Star Trek,” I wasn’t impressed. It was an episode of the original series called “Catspaw,” which featured an alien that could turn into a giant black cat. It was the second season’s  Halloween episode and it was so cheesy, I didn’t watch another episode of “Star Trek” for years. But a few years later, I gave it another try thanks to the syndicated reruns and this time I watched an episode every afternoon until I had seen ever one. I soon realized that “Star Trek” was the blueprint for one of my favorite storytelling devices, which I call the three guys. The trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The leader (Kirk) pulled in opposite directions by logic (Spock) and emotion (McCoy). It always works…

I was in college when “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came out, and I was in line to see it opening night. And while it might have a bad reputation now, at the time my friends and I all loved it. It was great to see the crew back in action. Of course, we didn’t know what action was until the release of the second “Trek” movie, “The Wrath Of Khan”!

By the release of “Star Trek III,” I was living here in L.A, but as I only started covering movie junkets in 1992, I never got a chance to attend a press event for a film starring the original crew. Somehow I even missed out on “Generations,” my big chance to interview William Shatner, although I haven’t missed the interviews for a “Star Trek” movie since, evidenced by the fact the entire “Next Gen” cast has signed my “Next Generation Companion” book. Oh, I finally did get a chance to see William Shatner, even if it was while he was accepting an award for winning the celebrity race at the Long Beach Grand Prix!

Of course, more “Star Trek” came along on TV over the years and I never missed an episode. Some of my favorites included the final season of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” which featured the most seamlessly intricate and exciting storytelling this side of “Lost” (it’s no wonder some of the writers went on to work on “24”) and also the final season of “Enterprise,” when the show finally threw open its arms to the “Star Trek” canon and started basing stories on some of the earlier shows’ legendary plots and ideas.

Which brings us to the movie that opens tomorrow night. I really wasn’t worried about what J.J. Abrams would do with “Star Trek,” as I loved his work on “Mission Impossible III” and I’ve always been one to take a look at something before I badmouth it. I don’t mind if things are changed if it makes for a better movie. And if there’s one thing J.J. has done, it’s that he’s made a great movie (but let me take a moment to say that in the rush to canonize the new “Star Trek,” people are talking down the earlier movies, but some of them are very enjoyable, especially “The Wrath Of Khan,” “The Voyage Home,” “The Undiscovered Country” and “First Contact”).

The new film has done everything right, so much so that I got teary eyed at times, thankful that something I loved was done so well. Great cast, non-stop action and most important, characters that actually have personalities. That last one came from Gene Roddenberry and the new “Star Trek” has smartly carried on the tradition. Yes, I kind of wish Chris Pine had done more of a William Shatner impersonation (hey, it worked for the other cast members), but I’ll certainly accept Chris’ claim that only Mr. Shatner is capable of playing Kirk that way.

So like everyone else who’ll see “Star Trek” in the next few days, I can’t wait for the further adventures of the Enterprise and her crew. I hope that next time around, Chris gets to say those immortal words, “Space, the final frontier…” Although I have to admit, I am a little worried that the producers are thinking about bringing Khan back, as Ricardo Montalban played him so perfectly the first time around.

And here I promised I wouldn’t badmouth something before I saw it. Sorry… and live long and prosper!

AMERICAN IDOL 8: TOP 4 ANALYSIS

May 6, 2009

First off, a get well soon shout out to Idol stage manager Debbie Williams, who took a tumble on the set today, just one of the problems Ryan alluded to on the show tonight.

Is having Rock Week this late in the game fair to all the contestants? Fair or not, let’s see what we got…

“WHOLE LOTTA LOVE” – Adam Lambert

Adam came on looking a bit like Elvis. I wanted to see him jump around a bit more early in the performance.  I think he held back a bit vocally this time out, sticking close to the recorded version of the song. Even so, it was a performance that was bigger than the Idol stage!

“CRY BABY” – Allison Iraheta

An excellent performance, but it would have been even better if she hadn’t been giving the audience little smiles here and there. Obviously Allison loves performing, but she could have been even more committed emotionally to the lyrics.

“RENEGADE” – Kris Allen & Danny Gokey

My friend Fred Bronson has always wanted to see an episode of Idol that features duets, perhaps pairing the contestants with past winners and runners-up (and I’m especially reminded of this as I could see Fred in the audience a number of times tonight). Still, while this would make for a great moment during the “Idol” concert tour, the contestants singing with each other doesn’t belong on the show.

That said, Kris seems more comfortable on the song, but Danny holds his own. I especially liked the breakdown when they sang together.

“COME TOGETHER” – Kris Allen

I was worried that after Simon said Danny was better on the duet, it might have seeped away some self confidence from Kris, but that didn’t happen. But while he gave the song his all, Kris turned in a performance that was good but not that special. One problem was that it’s tough to connect to a song that has nonsense lyrics, plus the verses of “Come Together” have an angry tone to them and that’s definitely not Kris’s strong suit. He probably should have rearranged a rock song, which would have wowed the judges. I also think if Kris is going to sing rock, he’s much more suited for power pop, a la Crowded House or a more poppy Beatles hit.

“DREAM ON” – Danny Gokey

This was the song that got Michael Johns booted off the show last year. At the time, I thought the problem was it’s a long song that was hurt by editing. This time out, Danny puts a spotlight on the lyrics before pulling out the vocal fireworks on the chorus, so I wasn’t bothered by his having to cut the song down. I did think adding a little jazz in the breakdown seemed weird and I’m still trying to decide if that final scream was musical or not (and if you have to think about it, it probably wasn’t). Too bad, because the scream Danny did in the highlights package at the end of the show (taken from rehearsals) was right on.

“SLOW RIDE” – Adam Lambert & Allison Iraheta

Just great to watch, as Adam and Allison played a musical game of “Can you top this?” Their voices matched perfectly, and given that it was a duet, I didn’t mind them having fun onstage.

So who should go home? If you’re judging just from tonight, you’d have to say it was Danny. But I think the voters will take into consideration that rock isn’t in Danny’s wheelhouse, plus the judges came down pretty hard on Kris. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night, but at least we got an enjoyable night of rock and roll!