Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite American Idol Moments

Tonight is the premiere of American Idol: Season 10, so I figured I should commemorate the occasion with another "favorite moments" list. I have to admit, my love for AI has waned in recent years--especially when there were four judges and Ellen DeGeneres was hired (Still have love for Miss Ellen though! Just not on a music competition show). I'm curious to see how everything plays out tonight with J-Lo and Steve-Ty. It could be TV gold, or a massive train wreck. Anyway! Let's get to the list, shall we?

10) Lisa Leuschner – Sweet Thing: I'm still very ticked off about Lisa Leuschner not making it to the finals in AI 7. She's beautiful and I love her sexy, R&B voice. I mean, the girl has SKILLZ. Just listen to her sing this Chaka Khan song. It's just as good as the original--how often can you say that? Boo judges, boo.

9) Carly Smithson—Audition: I was bummed that Carly Smithson got booted from AI 7 after singing Jesus Christ Superstar. That's no way to go out! I have to say, when I watch her audition footage, I still get chills listening to her sing the opening from I'm Every Woman. (PS: Chaka Khan rules!)

8) Michael Johns—It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right: Okay, I am apparently obessed with AI 7, and I think that's okay because I remember so many people from that year, especially Michael Johns, the gorgeous Australian who loved classic rock. Swoon! I thought his best performance was when he covered this Dolly Parton Song. Sooo bluesy and perfect.

7) Paris Bennett – Audition: I'll always remember Paris's audition for AI 5, not only because she sang The Dixie Chicks AND Billie Holiday and OWNED them, but because of the emotional reaction she gets from her family once she gets the golden ticket. Also, I still think it's so strange how different her singing voice and speaking voice are. Crazy!

6) David Cook – Hello: Back to AI 7, the mecca of great performances. I know that David Cook is a little bit smarmy, but I  must admit, his electrified version of Lionel Richie's Hello was flat out genius. He managed to make a very dated, but sweet song feel really fresh and angsty. Too bad David all but disappeared after winning this season.

5) Elliott Yamin – Moody’s Mood for Love: Confession time--I actually own Elliott's debut album, and I heart it so much, I can't even begin to tell you. I always thought it was crap that he lost out to that Tucker What's His Face, and Pretty Tall Brunette Girl with the Big Teeth. How could anyone deny Elliott's superior talent, which is proven by his A++ take on Moody's Mood for Love, one of the most difficult songs to sing? This dude is, was, and will always be AWESOME.

4) Kelly Clarkson – Without You: AI 1, where it all began! And who knew how big Kelly Clarkson was going to become? Well, I'd like to think that I did after hearing her belt out this heartbreaking song by Badfinger. Although this performance isn't flawless, it's clear that Kelly has what it takes to be a superstar.

3) Bo Bice – In a Dream: While Carrie Underwood won AI 4 and went on to take a Louisville Slugger to both headlights, the high point of the final showdown this season was Bo Bice's performance of this Badlands track. It was pretty damn ballsy for him sing without a band or backup-singers, and the hush that falls over the crowd in this clip is almost palpable. I won't ever forget how I felt watching this for the first time--completely breathless.

2) Melinda Doolittle – My Funny Valentine: I'm going to go on record and say that Melinda Doolittle was robbed on AI 6. I know that teenagers rule the voting and that's part of the reason Jordin Sparks reigned instead of this classy, uber-talented vocalist (who is also a sweetheart), and I've come to accept that. But come on guys, Melinda is totally where it's at. When I saw this performance, I closed my eyes and just listened to her voice--it was freaking RADIO READY. Just love the judges reaction to it, too.

1) Fantasia – I Believe: Yes. I said it. My number one pick is Fantasia singing the cheesiest, cliche-ridden song in music history. But you know what? I don't care! And the fact that Fantasia could make me NOT care about how lame the song is, is a feat in and of itself. Also, the way her face lights up when the  gospel choir starts singing with her is like magic, and the grit of her voice reflects her troubled personal history, which I found so compelling as well. She had one of the longest ovations in AI history, and has over 4 million hits on this video clip, so I'm not the only person to feel this way. I do, however, try not to think about the fact that she turned out to be a homewrecker and a reality TV star. Instead I focus on this brilliant moment of promise, and I think that's what people love about AI in the first place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top Ten Memorable MTV Music Award Moments (In my world, of course)

Don’t know why I had the urge to post about this, but I guess I was in the mood to make a list. So there.

10) Justin Timberlake – Like I Love You (2002)

I was never really an *NSYNC kind of girl, but JT’s performance of his first solo single made me rush out and buy the album Justified. I still listen to it regularly, on a boom box just as big as the one on stage. Seriously. You should come over to my place and see it.

9) Eminem – The Real Slim Shady (2000)

What I liked about this performance was Eminem’s “Don’t F with me!” attitude as he was walking into Radio City with a gazillion guys dressed like him. Still haven’t seen a grand entrance like this since.

8) Michael Jackson Tribute (2009)

I was shocked as hell when I heard the news Michael Jackson died, and then I worried about how this tribute was going to fly. But all the dancing and Janet showing up to kick ass during Scream—yeah, won’t ever forget it.

7) Puff Daddy/Sting/Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You (1997)

Speaking of dying, I wasn’t that shocked when I heard the news that Biggie Smalls was killed (especially after what happened to Tupac). However, I was shocked that I was moved to tears by a Puff Daddy performance. Didn’t think that was possible. Perhaps it was Biggie’s wife Faith Evans’ soulful, heartbreaking singing that got me choked up. Yep, that explains it.

6) Britney Spears – Oops, I Did It Again (2000)

I tried to learn the choreography to the Oops video one weekend at my friend Michelle’s apartment in DC. That sh*t was HARD! But Britney makes it all look easy on stage, including wearing flesh tones—not everyone can pull that off.

5) LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (1991)

I swear to God, LL Cool J has not aged AT ALL since the 90s. Just watch NCIS: Los Angeles and see for yourself. Oh, and more to the point—this was the first time I heard rap music performed with live instruments and I absolutely LOVED it. Still do. I also love back-up dancers dressed like featherweight boxers.

4) The Beastie Boys – Sabotage (1994)

I had no idea the Beastie Boys could clean up like this, but damn, put suits on these guys and some shades and they suddenly become CLASSY. Also another shout out to live instruments in a rap song. What can I say? It works!

3) Nirvana – Lithium (1992)

Kurt Cobain. LIVE. Do I need to say more than that? Oh, wait, I do. The moment when Krist Novoselic throws his bass up in the air and it nails him on the head—PRICELESS.

2) Madonna – Vogue (1990)

Some people prefer Madonna’s Like A Virgin performance, where she rolls around on the stage in a sexy 80s wedding dress. But that’s not enough of a spectacle for me! I want PASSION! I want DRAMA! I want RENASSIANCE-ERA INSPIRED COSTUMES! Done, done, and DONE. Thank you, Madge.

1) Tom Petty – Freefalling (1989)

I was fourteen in 1989, and I remember that for weeks, MTV kept talking about this “special guest” for the finale in their promos. I stayed up extra late to watch it and was bummed when Tom Petty came out. Yeah, I liked Freefalling, thought it was a good song—but really MTV? You’ve been begging us to watch Tom Petty all this time? And then—BOOM—Axl Rose comes strolling out on stage, surprising the hell out of everyone and making our lives meaningful again. I will always remember standing up and punching a clenched, celebratory fist in the air.

G’N’R forever!!!