Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Viva Fiesta....Wreath

Fiesta Wreath

Here in San Antonio, we're celebrating Fiesta. The cool San Antonio people are celebrating Fiesta by attending festive events downtown and in cool historical districts. Brian and I, on the other hand, celebrated by eating enchiladas at a church supper. And I made this gaudy tacky colorful wreath. Ole!

Wanna celebrate Fiesta San Antonio style in the privacy of your own home? Take a grapevine wreath base. Grab a handful of colorful ribbon. If you're smart, look for remnants in your closet or shop for remnants in the bargain section of your local fabric store. If you're lazy or foolish (and I am both), stop by Michael's and have an assortment of ribbons cut. I purchased 2 yard lengths of several different colors, then purchased a few 99 cent rolls of printed ribbon. Buy some cheap colorful silk flowers at Dollar General (or better yet, a thrift store or garage sale...or check your attic). Pull their heads off. And some leaves. Stick a low-temp glue stick in your low-temp glue gun. Glue some leaves down here and there. Arrange the flowers in a pleasing pattern. Lift each flower, add a dab of hot glue, then press into the wreath. Cut ribbons into short, medium and long lengths...I think I cut roughly 9", 15" and 20" lengths. Hot glue them in a row, alternating colors, along the bottom back side of the wreath.

Hang with Tex-Mex flair and have a couple of Nachos.

¡Viva Fiesta!

I'm going GREEN in April


Well, just barely in April, and, well, just a little green. As in green plants. In my house. In my apothecary jars. Nah, I'm not really the crunchy type. I'm not even sure I "planted" these correctly. But they're awfully cute, doncha think?

I intended to put some potted herbs in my jars, but I couldn't find any in small enough pots. Then I saw these sweet succulents, and I had to have them. I tucked a bit of sheet moss in the bottom of each jar, then stuck the succulents in. I'm hoping for a terrarium effect...minimal watering...but I think you have to put charcoal or something like that in them to prevent mold growth. Anyone out there know about such things?

Here are the other 2 jars:
jar1 jar2

American Idol - Five Alive

5 Alive...Yes, I am that old.

Neil Diamond, huh? He wrote the soundtrack of my childhood. I don't know a lot of his songs, but those I do know remind me of slumber parties and family vacations and talent shows. It will be intersting to see how many of these kids are able to make something new and interesting out of these golden oldies.

I didn't watch AI live tonight...we were getting haircuts and then working on home improvement projects, so I watched the clips on YouTube just now. Therefore, I have no idea what order these songs came in. Actually, I saw the last 3 songs live, but the rest were on Memorex...err...YouTube. Does Neil Diamond night make anyone else feel the arthur-itis coming on? OK...let me dust my cobwebs off and we'll get started.

The Top 5, in no particular order:

Jason Castro - Forever in Blue Jeans - Loved the low range for him at the beginning...it was manly, solid, less squirrely. Oh, he had to pop up into his high. Which is nice, but not supported enough. Oh well. Still a nice rendition of a rather dated song. Jason is a sweetie, and just adorable, dreads & all, but I don't think he compares to the star wattage of David Cook. I'm afraid he may be near the end.

September Morn - Jason sings with such a laid back, sort of cheesy Love Boat feel, that I feel like I'm hearing the original version, only without the polish of Neil Diamond. I really liked the "Hallelujah" Jason, but I haven't liked him as much since then. I've enjoyed seeing some of the videos of him leading worship, though.

David Cook - I'm Alive - I don't know this one. I'm sure you're all surprised by that. I'm a regular pop culture encyclopedia...NOT. Anyway. This sounded cool to me. If it weren't Neil Diamond night, I'd have never guessed that it was a Neil Diamond song. I think we might as well just cinch this thing up right now. David Cook seems head & shoulders above the rest, in terms of his performance skills. He just maintains the poise, and comes up with something fresh and original each week. Even when I don't really like the song, I still think he's the best!

All I Really Need is You - Guess what? I don't know this song either. But. Chills. Really. As a vocalist, I really love strong, clear vocals (like David Archuleta), but I'm a total sucker for a singer who interprets his song. He makes these songs contemporary by making them meaningful. Current arrangements, appropriate dynamics, and a little bit of drama. I would seriously buy this on iTunes. But I don't have an iPod. Yep...I really am ancient. Or cheap. Or both.

David Archuleta - Sweet Caroline - I remember listening to this song on my parents' Readers' Digest cassette back in the late 70's/early 80's on road trips in our station wagon. Time to take some Metamucil and Bengay...maybe some Milk of Magnesia. Let me put my pink foam rollers in and cover them with a hairnet. OK...now to little Archie. Cute. Good. But, it seemed like a really nice voice covering a rather stale tune. Is that Bengay I smell on him? He needs to work on his "hip factor" or he'll just end up as another Clay Aiken. Cute, great voice, but kind of boring.

America - OK, this song is probably just a hint more contemporary than "Sweet Caroline". I could see him singing this on some network TV July 4th program. But really, David, you're starting to remind me of a really excellent singer on "Up with People". I think you're smart to choose songs which show off your vocals, but I'd love to see you sing a song that David Cook picked out for you! Then apply those stellar vocals. That would be hot.

Syesha Mercado - Hello Again - Barefoot? Weird. Syesha is just beautiful. And so poised. She reminds me a bit of Katherine McPhee...nice vocals. Very talented, but not as original as David Cook or as vocally strong as David Archuleta. Still, I would love to see her in a Broadway show...she'd be very entertaining.

Thank the Lord for the Night - She certainly takes command of the stage, much like David Cook, but in more of a Diva fashion. When I see her, I see an actress with surprising vocal talent, rather than a vocalist who can act. I think she gets in over her head vocally, so she makes up for it by performing big. But I think she is at her best when she has a mental idea of the character she's playing. That's what would make her great on the Great White Way.

Brooke White - Believer - Hmmm...the low just doesn't seem to work for Brooke, at least not at this tempo. She looks like she's trying too hard. That didn't do it for me. It was kind of Brady Bunch cheesy. I don't think I like guitar Brooke as much as piano Brooke.

I Am I Said - Her comments with Ryan were a little strange. Oh well. I like this a lot better already. Good range for her. In fact, I like her version better than Neil's. Very nice. Much more suited to her. This might redeem her. But the first one was so poor, I fear she may be on her way out.

Miles Ahead: David Cook

Almost There: David Archuleta and Syesha Mercado

Had a Good Run: Jason Castro and Brooke White

Please do stop by BooMama's to see her witty commentary on the Top 5. And definitely check out Cindy and Scott...these two are the dynamic duo of AI blogging. Very FUNNY and Alphabetical.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A New Thing

Isaiah 43:18-19

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

I share that verse today as a way of announcing something new that is happening in our lives. If you know us, you probably already know some of what I'm about to share. If you're a blog friend, this may be more than you care to know. But it's central to what is going on with us, and several things I've wanted to blog about relate to this "new thing", so I felt it was time to share the whole story.

Brian and I have been married for 6 and 1/2 years. We married when he was 33 and I was 32. After 2 years of wedded bliss, we began trying to get pregnant. Due to our age (mine in particular), we had difficulty in the endeavor, and finally opted to see a fertility specialist. After another couple of years, we learned that it was unlikely that we would ever conceive. That was a tough blow for us. About that time, we heard about this conference, and it was going to be taking place at a church just down the road from our house! We knew and respected Dennis & Barbara Rainey's ministry. We used their book, (which I highly recommend), for our premarital counseling. So we jumped at the chance to learn more about adoption from an organization that we trusted. Let me tell you, if you are thinking about adoption, this is an excellent workshop to attend. It's very thorough and informative.

One thing they made a point of saying at the conference, over and over, was that you shouldn't adopt just because you felt it was the right thing to do, or because you had a whole in your heart or home due to infertility, or because someone told you that you should consider adoption. They shared many scriptures which revealed how Christians are to care for the widows and orphans. And they urged us to find a way to minister to widows and orphans, both in our midst and far away. But, they said you should only adopt if you believe God has called you to adopt. They asked the conference participants to spend time in prayer, seeking God, before we made the decision to adopt.

Fresh on the heels of our infertility news, we knew we weren't ready to adopt. We had some grieving to do first. We were open to the idea, but we didn't want to run ahead of God, so we just stayed in prayer about it. For over a year. The next fall, we met with some friends of Brian, who had adopted. We asked them a lot of questions and learned some of the ins and outs of private domestic adoption. But it's very expensive, and we didn't feel a peace about it. Still, over the next several weeks, God made my heart very tender toward adoption. Brian and I would talk about it, from time to time, but he didn't seem ready. In January of this year, I was looking at an adoption website that Brian's friends recommended. It had a quiz that was intended to help assess your readiness for adoption. First, it asked what your motivation was for adopting. Were you considering adoption because you felt it was the right thing to do, or because you had a whole in your heart or home due to infertility, or because someone told you that you should consider adoption? I thought it was interesting, because they were the same things we heard at the conference. I knew, at that time, that I believed God was calling us to adoption. He had put it so heavy on my heart that I ached to move forward. However, the second question asked who was leading the pursuit for adoption. You, your spouse, your parents or in-laws, or someone else. God nudged me and pointed out to me that I was the one, at that point, who was leading the quest. This brought me to my knees. I didn't want to be the leader. I knew that was not God's plan, either. I understood very clearly that God wanted to bring Brian to the point that he knew God was calling us to adopt, and my persistence and encouragement or nagging wouldn't help matters. If Brian was going to exercise his God-given right to be the spiritual leader in our home, I needed to settle down and wait...on him and on God. So I prayed and asked God to help me be patient with His plan. And I prayed for Brian, that God would help him to be sensitive to His call, and help Brian not to discount it out of fear. I didn't say anything at all to Brian. I left it in God's hands.

Two days later, I was sitting in a doctor's office when my cell phone rang. It was Brian. He'd just heard a Focus on the Family radio broadcast about adoption. God spoke very clearly to Brian's heart, and he wanted to tell me that he felt God was calling us to adoption, and that when I was ready, we could proceed. I was ready! That very weekend, a local church was hosting another adoption workshop. We went to the exhibit hall and met with several organizations who deal in domestic adoptions. Then we went home and prayed about it. By the end of the day, we felt God was directing us to pursue adoption through the state. Gulp.

We called our families and shared the news with them. They were delighted for us. We shared with our Sunday School class and asked for their prayer support. Our friends and family have been so good to pray for us and encourage us along the way. A dear lady in our church approached me with the scriptures above, not even knowing our situation. She said God had told her to share those words with me. What a sweet encouragement that was!

So we've spent the last several months preparing our home. We have several significant remodeling chores that need to be complete before we have a home study or home inspections. We're about halfway through the task list. We have finished our application, except for the home plans (a sketch of the layout of the home), which Brian hopes to have finished in the next day or so, and then we'll send our application in. We'll have several classes to attend, followed by lots of inspections and such. It's a little stressful, but I know that God is sovereign and in control. And I have confidence in His perfect plan for our family.

In the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of the progress we've made in our home remodeling projects, and updating our progress on the application/interviews/classes, etc.

In the meantime, please keep us, and our future children in your prayers. And thanks for reading!

American Idol Top 6 - on Broadway!

Tonight's Andrew Lloyd Weber night. Cool. I do love me some musical theatre!

Here's something to get us in the mood:

Is it just me, or does Andrew Lloyd Weber (hereafter ALW) have some really wacked out eyebrows? He reminds me of Mike Myers. Check it out:

OK...now that that is established, I will say that he seems to be very gracious. And in the world of musical theatre, he's a genius. He says his music is story driven - good - that's what these kids need work on. This should be fun.

Syesha Mercado - One Rock 'n' Roll Too Many - Seemed like she was a little off rhythmically on the entrance, but she caught up quickly. Looks smokin' tonight - cute, cute hair. Such a nice performance. A nice sassy feel. I'm so glad to see her get a chance to really show off. Though I'm still a David Cook "Cookie", I've liked Syesha all along, and I think she really showed her stuff tonight. And Broadway would be a great place for her. Well done!

Jason Castro - Memory - Wow...interesting choice for him. This is such an iconic song with Betty Buckley, that it's kind of a risk...wonder if he knew that! Nice in the islandy suit. Pretty. Not sure he understood it in context of Cats, but he put a nice spin on it. His breathing though? It's driving me crazy. He really needs to improve the breathing. I think that's standing between him and real success. I think Simon's comments were the most honest. It seemed like something he was being forced to sing. Oh sweet Jason, please get a vocal coach and work on the breath control. You'd be magnificent with that improvement!

"Our own resident glamourpuss, Simon Cowell." Funny, Ryan!

Brooke White - You Must Love Me - I love this song from Evita. My middle school choir sang it years ago. Bravo, ALW, for making her .....Oh, Brooke, it's rough when you flub the words. But you just have to keep going. At least she wasn't too far into it. I don't really like the way she's singing it line by line. It weakens the message, I think. It makes it look like she's trying to remember all the words. "Frightened you'll slip away" was my favorite line. Maybe because she looked frightened. I wish she'd worn her hair up in a bun...more severe and dramatic...a little less sunny. I think that would have helped her carry it off better. It was very nice, but it didn't seem right for her. And really, if you're going to sing musical theatre, you need to know what the song and character are about. I'm glad she didn't talk back to the judges. That's an improvement.

Side note: I can't stand the camera angle behind the waving hands. It's very distracting.

David Archuleta - Think of Me - Wow, I am really impressed with the advice that ALW gives. I think it's been very productive. WOWWWW, David, that was a GREAT spin on this song. Very contemporary and not musical theatre-y. A nice pop style...could be on the radio. That's my favorite David A. performance in several weeks!

Carly Smithson - Jesus Christ, Superstar - Good call, that. Very cool dress. It looked like she had fun with it. She kind of shouted the chorus, but it worked. It's not one of my favorite songs, but it was pretty good. I liked the t-shirt, though. And I really liked the dress.

David Cook - Music of the Night - What a nice departure for him. Maybe not the best performance of this song, but it did show that he's not a one-trick pony. Loved the final notes.

Favorite performances tonight: David Archuleta and Syesha Mercado.

Weakest performances tonight: I'm sorry to say it, but I feel that Jason and Brooke were the weakest of the night. Either of them could and should go.

Now go forth, quickly, to BooMama's. Because the Phantom of the Opera? He's there. Kidding. But all the best AI reviews can be found there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pet Peeves and Turn-Offs (Blog Stuff)

It started with BooMama, BigMama, & Rocks In My Dryer...asking their questions and getting some answers. I was surprised to read in the comments of their blogs that many blog readers are bothered by blogs with music. For me, it's never an issue...I just keep my sound muted and only turn it on when I want it on. I've really enjoyed having a playlist on my blog, and in fact, often open my blog just to enjoy the music! However, I do understand that not everyone shares my tastes, and many of you don't like being startled by blog music when you surf from blog to blog.

Then I read that Frugal Upstate is hosting this:

Of course, the month is halfway over, but it's never too late to build a better blog, right? So I've decided to set my Playlist to not begin automatically. For those of you who enjoy it, it's right there at the top of the blog. Just hit play and enjoy. For those of you who don't, I apologize for the nuisance it may have been, and hope you enjoy the sound of silence!

I'm planning a few other revamps this month. I will be changing my background and header again in the next week or so. I have a bit more work to do on my link to my recipe blog. And I'm working on several new posts as well as developing a regular posting schedule of some sort. So things? They are a-changing. Please stay tuned!

American Idol - 7 Left!

Hmmm...Mariah Carey night. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to this. I don't hate Mariah, but I've never been a huge fan. I think it sounds like a recipe for a lot of screeching and an opportunity for Syesha to tackle another diva song. On the other hand, it should be another great opportunity for David Cook to do something miraculous with an unusual arrangement. This should be interesting.

David Archuleta - Believe - This seems like a very chopped-up arrangement. It sounded to me like they made sure to leave in all the cool licks, even if it meant the song wouldn't make sense. He sang it quite well, and very sensitively, but I really didn't love the arrangement. Simon's right, this might actually go better for the men, since they won't automatically be compared to Mariah.

Carly Smithson - Can't Live - Wow...fabulous look tonight. Love the SLEEVES! Gorgeous color, nice to see her in a dress. Great look for her. I like the vulnerability, having her in front of the piano, singing softly at the start. WOW Carly, this is just what I've been waiting to hear from you. Hmm, Randy didn't like the first part, but I really did! I agree with Paula...the vocal restraint before the swell was just so nice. Simon says she was overthinking and holding back. I did hear that, so I agree with him on those points, but I feel it was so much better than what we've been seing from her.

Syesha Mercado - Vanishing - What a pretty lavender dress Syesha wore in the rehearsal. I thought it was great that Mariah made a point of helping Syesha to make the song her own. Pretty dress for the performance, too. The glittery hair is interesting. Now, I'm not familiar with the Mariah version of this song, so I don't know if she made it her own or not, but I thought it was very nice. The first "Oh---" lick seemed to have 1 or 2 notes that were off, but I really liked the 2nd lick. I really like Syesha, and I think she's got SO MUCH potential. A good performance.

Brooke White - Hero - I like her behind the piano. She looks really pretty tonight. I loved the bridge. I thought she had a few pitch issues, a nasal tone, and I thought she got ahead of herself a bit...rushing the last chorus. Nice, but she didn't shine like she did a few weeks ago. Randy didn't like the bridge...funny. I wish she wouldn't pout during the comments. Still like her, but didn't love this.

Kristy Lee Cook - Forever - I don't know this song. Another really pretty dress. I like the styling for the girls tonight. I like this country-fied rendition. This seems to suit Kristy. Very, very nice, Kristy! The glittery eyelashes bother me...they make me feel like I'm gonna get glitter in my eyes. Brian called this a "rope-a-dope" (can you tell he's a dittohead?)...the way she's stepped up her game all of the sudden these last few weeks. I thought she was great tonight. I wish she'd been able to start off this way...and maintain it.

David Cook - Always Be My Baby - This wasn't as "miraculous" as I was hoping for, but it was certainly an interesting take. I actually didn't love it like I did "Billie Jean", but I did like how different it was from the Mariah style...it was fresh and cool. Hmm...listening to the judges, maybe it was miraculous. I'm glad for him...because he is so talented and consistently good.

Jason Castro - I Don't Wanna Cry - I love how Mariah has helped the contestants to restyle/rewrite the tunes. This is a good, out-of-the-box choice for Jason. I really want Jason to get some coaching for breath control. He is such an interesting and sensitive singer, but he is so hampered by his breathing. That said, I really liked this performance tonight. Definitely a step forward for him. Simon doesn't know what a luau is? Poor Simon, he's so sheltered. But I agree with him. Not the best vocal of the night, but a very cool version, and very "Jason".

Surprisingly, I really liked Kristy and Carly tonight, but I think it's probably too little too late. I thought Simon was right when he said the guys won tonight. I liked David Cook and Jason Castro. David Archuleta sounded wonderful, but I didn't get the arrangement. On the whole, I liked Mariah night better than I thought I would. And it sounds like all of the singers are making great progress. Good for them. I still look for David or David to take it all. I'm off to set my VCR for tomorrow night...don't want to miss anything this week!

Be sure you stop by BooMama's for all the other AI bloggers' takes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Note to Self: Record Weds. Night American Idol!

Man! I can't believe I missed it...Again! I go to choir practice on Wednesday nights, so I generally miss American Idol. I'm sure many of you will think we're hopelessly out of date when I tell you that we don't have TIVO or a DVR. So when I want to record something, it involves a lengthy process of searching for a VHS tape that isn't too old or warped to tape over. Then I have to remember how to set the silly thing. And, well, American Idol on Wednesday's is generally just not a big deal. They rehash Tuesday, and they make a big deal about narrowing down the bottom 3, and then someone goes home. I can wait for the news at 10, or check the internet the next day, and save myself the VCR hassle, you know?

WELL. I have officially learned my lesson. Last week, I learned that I missed a kickin' version of "This Little Light of Mine" (Clark Brothers) and Dolly singin' about Jesus. That's just good TV, right there. Then today, I was reading Ocean Mommy's blog, and read this! It sounds like they had some CHURCH. UP. IN. THERE! Oh, I wish I'd seen it live! If you're a weiner like me, and missed out on it, do hop on over to Notes from the Soul and see video, 'K?

And, if you think of it, please remind me to tape AI next Wednesday!

Edited to add: Check out Frydaddy's (Travis Cottrell) thoughts on the subject. He shares an important perspective.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

American Idol - Top 8

Yikes...I just got home, and the show's already started. Sounds like they're doing songs that inspire them, as part of the "American Idol Gives Back" thing. This should allow them to make really personal choices, which is good. They need to choose songs that are meaningful, and inspirational, while still being appropriate for their voices. That will be interesting.

Michael Johns - ? - I missed Michael's performance. We ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen on the other side of town, and we didn't make it home in time. I couldn't tell much from the clip at the end. I may update this post with comments on his performance after I find the video on the internet.

Syesha Mercado - I Believe - I haven't heard the Fantasia version of this song...I didn't watch much of that season. I thought Syesha did a great job, though. She's a brave girl, taking on the giants, and I think she does try to make the song her own. However, if she's going to continue and rise above the crowd, she'll have to do a powerhouse song that hasn't been made famous by a powerhouse. I thought she connected with the song and with the audience, but she didn't elicit a powerful response...it lacked conviction. I think Syesha will go on to be a star, but I don't look for her to win this competition. She's so likeable and adorable, I hope we'll see more of her after American Idol.

Jason Castro - Somewhere Over the Rainbow - I don't like it when singers add "h's" in the middle of words where the notes should be slurred (lullabye-hi-hi-hi-hi, true-hu-hu). Didn't like that. I thought the ukulele was a cute touch, but this wasn't my favorite Jason effort. I think Jason is very original, but I'm surprised the judges liked it that much. And, cute as he is, his sweater looks kinda girly. Not diggin' that.

Kristy Lee Cook - Anyway - I liked what Kristy had to say about the song. It's almost autobiographical for her, and it reveals her convictions and a bit of her personality. She looks great tonight. This was a good song for her...a smart choice. The girl has talent, and so much potential. I'd love for her to work with a vocal coach, to listen to recordings of herself, and to work on strengthening her range and her ear. She's a good singer, but she can become an even better musician if she applies herself. I think this was her best performance, by far, but I don't think it will dwarf the giants of this competition. Nevertheless, I expect we'll see more of her, in the country genre, after this competition is over. Kellie Pickler didn't need to win to make it to Nashville, and I think Kristy Lee is more likeable than Kellie.

David Cook - Innocent - Brian says, "Hitler had a good heart at the end of the day?" He makes a good point. Weird jacket...sort of a straight jacket look. I don't know this song. Didn't love it. The walk out into the audience and the little hand gesture at the end were cool, though. I still think he's excellent, but I agree with Simon, this wasn't nearly as good as the last few weeks.

Carly Smithson - The Show Must Go On - I think her look tonight is good...sleeves would be nice, but I'm thinking that won't happen. I liked the first part, but the chorus seemed to have a few pitch problems on the licks. The song seemed to get away from her a little and she oversang. I'm not sure what was inspirational about the song. This girl has great pipes, but it seems like she doesn't have a strong sense of what will work for her. That will have to improve if she's going to stick around.

David Archuleta - Angels - Wow...didn't know little David played the piano! Still a great voice, and a sensitive and emotional performance, but he almost gets lost sitting behind the piano. I think he lost some of his stage presence. Randy's right, the runs at the end were excellent. This is one very gifted young man. He makes it seem so effortless. The lyrics are odd, some weird theology, but he communicated them well.

Brooke White - You've Got a Friend - That dress is kickin'. I love it! She looks beautiful tonight. Great song choice, too. Her voice sounds a little tired tonight, but this was still a very tender, sweet performance. I love this song. There was nothing terribly unique about this performance, but Brooke is unique in her gentleness.

So I wasn't blown away by anyone tonight, though David Archuleta's performance was my favorite of the night. And, surprisingly, I really liked Kristy Lee Cook tonight. I was ready for her to go this week, but I thought she actually showed Carly up. Usually by this point in the season, we're down to 3 stars and 5 that we're ready to see go. But this season, I see 4 or 5 stars, and several emerging stars who just need another year to mature as performers. And since Kristy Lee stepped it up this week, I'm not sure who we'll see go. Based on tonight's performances, I think Carly should go, but since Kristy hasn't been consistently strong, she may go. Brooke could also be in the bottom this week, I'm afraid.

Edited to add: I'm such a doofus. I forgot, AGAIN, to add a link to the AI Hostess Extraordinaire, BooMama. She offers a MUCH more entertaining take on the evening! Do stop by and pay her a visit!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

American Idol - Top Nine

Yeah! Dolly Parton is the mentor tonight. I must admit, right off the bat, that I have always loved her. She has such a sweet and gentle personality. She's a very smart and talented musician, singer, and songwriter. For these reasons, I think she'll be a great mentor. I'm looking forward to hearing what she offers. I think it will make for some interesting songs, too.

Brooke White - Jolene - Hmmm...I like country Brooke. She looks very natural and at ease, and this is a good choice for her. Different from her regular groove, yet not cheesy. I like the intensity she brought to the song. Simon didn't see emotion, but I disagree. I saw fierceness in her eyes, like she was fighting for her man. I liked it.

David Cook - Little Sparrow - I don't know this Dolly song. Good look tonight...the white shirt is a nice contrast to his usual look, and the haircut is sharp. I loved the very first line, and the fragility of it. His falsetto just reinforces that sense of fragility, making it a smart choice. David is my pick to win it all. I think he's smart and creative, and an excellent musician.

Ramielle Malubay - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind - She doesn't look very comfortable singing country...it seemed a little karaoke. She had some pitch issues, and seemed to get a little lost in the back beat. I'm sure this was a stretch for her but she looked like she had fun with it. I liked it better than the last few weeks, but I didn't love it. I agree with Simon, it was cute, but forgettable. I think Ramielle has great potential, but I seriously doubt she'll win this season. I hope she spends this next year really figuring out what she's about, what her musical style is, what her optimal range is. She needs to figure out her musical identity. Then she can choose songs from various genres that she understands how to sing and make her own. I think that's what she's lacking right now.

Jason Castro - Travelin' Through - I'd so love to hear Jason do this as a duet with Dolly, like he did in practice. Good for Jason! He found a way to be different this week. I like the increased intensity in his sound on this song. He picked up the tempo and energy. I still like the more melancholy Jason better (Hallelujah), but this proved he has some versatility.

Carly Smithson - Here You Come Again - I never knew that Dolly didn't write this! Learned something new tonight. I liked Carly's slower version. I believed her on this one. I felt she connected better than she has in many weeks. I didn't love her look tonight, but Brian thought she looked better. I'd like to see her in a hip, funky dress, and with a little less eye makeup...it almost obscures her gorgeous eyes. LOVED her long note. I like the smoky sound of her voice on this kind of song...right in the meat of her range. So good, Carly!

David Archuleta - Smoky Mountain Memories - What a beautiful, pure voice. He doesn't need American Idol...he is already a star. He is vocally sublime. This was a perfect song choice for him, and

Kristy Lee Cook - Coat of Many Colors - I LOVE this song. Kristy looks pretty tonight, but I actually preferred her leaner, hipper country look in her practice session. She sounded more confident and natural in the practice session, as well. She seemed a little stiff and old-fashioned sitting on the stage. I agree with Randy, country is definitely her genre, but Simon is also right...this was pleasant but forgettable. Last week was better for her, I think.

Syesha Mercado - I Will Always Love You - Syesha said she found an emotional connection - so important. She looks glamorous tonight. Didn't like the breath in al-ways. I think Dolly was right: she found a nice place between Dolly's and Whitney's versions, and made this one her very own. I liked the sweet smile before the big finish, LOVED the sustained note, and the sweet teary tenderness as she ended it. Nicely done, Syesha. I think this is one of her best performances.

Michael Johns - It's All Wrong, But It's All Right - What's with the cravat? Does anyone else think he looks like Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef? Maybe that's just me. OK...I thought this was pretty good. It was an interesting bluesy arrangement. I actually like him better as a blues singer than a rock singer. He seems to "get it" better than he does the rock stuff. I even liked it better than his Queen renditions.

HOT tonight: David Cook (of course), David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado, Michael Johns, & Carly Smithson.

Should Go: Kristy or Ramielle. Kristy has made great progress the last two weeks, but she's just not as strong and polished as some of the others. And though Ramielle has great potential, I believe she is out of her league this year. I like both of these girls, but it's time for them to go.

As always, let me remind you to visit Boomama and all the other armchair judges on her Mr. Linky! See you next week!