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Idol and standards weeks has previously delivered some great performances- Kelly Clarkson’s ” Stuff Like That There”, Fantasia’s ” Summertime” immediately come to mind.  But it’s a week that always worries me, because there might be a desire by the Idols in the effort for relevance to strip the melodies of classic, beautiful songs to sound newer.

The mentor tonight is Jamie Foxx, who can nail a standard like no one’s business ( I love his version of ” Georgia On My Mind”, while his R&B leaves me kinda cold despite his obvious musical gifts).

Kris begins the night with a lovely, tender version of ” The way You Look Tonight” ( one of my all time faves) that turned into a gentle swing at the end. I loved it, his voice was superb, and I felt it. The judges seemed pleasant but overall underwhelmed. Shove it up your asses.

Allison comes out with ” Someone To Watch Over Me”, which she kept simple. The attitude all came from her natural tone. It was amazing and worthy of high praise that she didn’t get. Bite me judges.

Matt did ” My Funny Valentine”, one of the hardest songs to sing of all time ( it’s another one of those songs that on the surface seems easy due to a simple sounding melody, but the song’s phrasing is incredibly difficult). It was fine, nothing spectacular, and I think he’s bottom two.

DWP- I just- I am pissed off about that. He sounded angry and snarling at points, and then he screamed the last quarter of the song, and he was praised to high heaven for it? Fuck them all. It was the worst performance of the night, not that ANYONE CARES!

Adam- I really like Adam personally. I do. I think he’s swell and there is an open invite to come party with me. But I didn’t like it. I’m sorry. I thought it was screamy at points,  a little wild vocally, although this was the first time in weeks he did an upbeat number that I watched without feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer force of personality he brings. But I just didn’t like it.  I didn’t hate it, but I do not think that is was the best of the night ( that goes, once again, to Kris).

This is an interesting season for me. I’m learning something about my music tastes, and it turns out I like theatrical artistry when they know when to let go and when to reign it in. Freddie Mercury was a master at this  , and I’m sorry, Adam is no where near Freddie level in balancing the theatrical and the artistry, although he shows promise in learning. I enjoy Kris’ controlled, singer songwriter vibe, but I always dug the folkie thing. And Allison- well, I love authentic rockers, since most are fakers to begin with. That voice is genuine. DWP and Matty are interchangeable with dozens of other artists. If Adam, Kris, or Allison wins this year, I consider it a victory that America really wants interesting artists in their musical landscape instead of the crap labels keep trying to feed them. But I am not at David Cook level passionate level for any of those three, and Adam keeps aggravating me with the overblown theatrics ( I’m also not a fan of Allison’s clothes or Kris’s monkey face).

Bottom two- should be Danny and Matt, will be Allison and Matt and Matt’s probably going home.

Fave of the night- again, it’s Kris. I love that song and I loved the fact he kept it simple and sang it well. Allison’s my second.

Adam is where he usually is for me, in the middle, sitting beside me on the fence, asking me what he could do to win me over.

Be up against Danny in the finals is the easiest way. Harder will be to show me that he can rock without the insanity.

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Quentin Tarantino, all-round pop culture geek, is this week’s mentor. I know some people have issues with this development, but I don’t. QT was a guest judge in season three ( he was a Fantasia fan), and every single one of his critiques were more spot on than any of the judges. In retrospect, he’s even more sane now while the judges are even more ridiculous.

Simon apologizes for last weeks overrun, which pissed of Fringe fans extremely ( I don’t blame them- it’s a good show, even if I don’t watch it often). Simon, ever the class act, blames the girls.

Allison tackles the legendary ” I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”, and Quentin points out her performance flaws. DC did this memorably last season, so I’m nervous for her ( it has a gigantic chorus). But she sounds so fantastic in the verse I immediately relax. She runs into pronunciation issues in the chorus, and there are a couple of bum notes in the bridge, but super solid. I hope cursed at first doesn’t apply this week. Simon finally tosses my girl some love. Yay!

Anoop to do ” Everything I Do ( I Do It For You)” and Adam to do ” Born To Be Wild”, I gather from Ryan’s throw away.

Quentin recs to Anoop to rough it up a bit, which I whole heartedly agree with ( the song is pap, let’s face it). He sounds really good, a few bum notes, but surprisingly strong vocally. He messes up the melody just enough to make it more interesting. He really is a great balladeer. The girls screamed through out. That’s what it’s about.

Adam takes on the huge classic ” Born To Be Wild”, which has always been popular on Canadian Idol ( Steppenwolf being a Canuck band and all).  I don’t like this vocal as much as ” Mad World” last week, and the arrangement seemed messy to me. The boy can sing, we have established that, but I strongly dislike it when he doesn’t control his vocals and goes all over the place. He doesn’t service the song that way, he distracts from it. This song is legendary and doesn’t need the embellishment.

Matt’s doing ” Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”. I hate that song. Matty, you are making it really tough for me to keep championing you. QT’s advice to enunciate is valid. Matt drops sounds when he sings, and gets a bit mushy mouthed. I still hate the song. But he did it just fine for what it is.But  the bridge fell apart, and was all over the place. Man, that bites.

RyRy didn’t give me a Danny clue. DWP is a mystery… I kinda want him to do something ridiculous, like ” The Trolley Song”, because, as we know, I HATE GOKEY. ” Endless Love”… ridiculous DWPing song, right? Gawd. I hate this song as well. I feel gross right now. Missing notes, DWP. Kill me now. Kill me now. Kill me now. Kill me now. Kill me now. Kill me now. Kill. Me. Now. Please.

I need to go bathe in Lysol. Followed by bleach.

Kris does the unimaginable- he picks something NEW and INTERESTING and INDIE!!!!!!!! He goes with  the Oscar winning love song ” Falling Slowly”. He decides against the guitar, and the vocal is imperfect, but so beautiful at the same time. I’m aching at the moment. Gorgeous. Love the chorus… stunning and emotionally perfect. Welcome back, Kris.

Randy is the biggest motherfucking moron in the history of mankind.

Is Lil singing ” The Rose”, or a different song from The Rose? The problem with ” The Rose” is that it is deceptive to sing. It’s a very simple melody, but it needs to be infused with a certain emotion or it’s a massive fail. I’ve seen good singers brought down by this song, and Lil isn’t that good a singer.

There is a difference in making a song your own, people, and destroying gorgeous melodies.  The Rose, a sad love song, is NOT a gospel song. Not even close. And I think it’s not pleasant to listen to at all. And her vocal isn’t strong enough to make me feel it helps her at all. FAIL! Not good, girl. Not good at all.

It’s still running over. They do all these modifications, and they STILL go over.

Top three: Allison, Kris, Anoop.

Bottom three- Danny, Lil, Matt.

Adam- confusing the hell of me.

Shut up, Fringe is supposed to be on!!!!!

See you tomorrow tonight for the elimination, folks.

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Frankie Avalon? Really? Although he is the Teen Angel. And Allison’s hair looks as though it was done buy Frenchie. Beauty School Dropout indeed. ” Venus”, fine, whatever.

That is the worst group sing ever.  Oh. My. God. Just awful.

That was also a really bad Ford vid.

Adam, Kris, and Anoop stand up, and the judges are allowed to give their Adam critiques ( praise from all). Adam is safe.

Anoop and Kris stand there waiting, and DI had Kris at the very bottom, but he ekes it out as Anoop is in the bottom three ( to be fair to Dial Idol, Adam was the only green button, and everyone else was deemed capable of being bottom three).

If I seem a little scattered, I’m pulling a double posting duty tonight, as I am desperately trying to save Chuck from cancellation. Just so you know. Anyone want to help? Go to NBC.com and watch Chuck episodes, write to NBC, sign the petitions, and generally make a ruckus. Before we all decide to start sending pineapples. ( Chuck fans will know…)

Flo Rida comes out to “sing” ” Right Round”. This song annoys me. Loved ” Low” though.

DWP is safe. Ugh.

Matt.  Safe ( oh, thank God.)

Scott. Bottom three ( rightfully so.)

Allison and Lil.  Allison is safe, and Lil heads to the silver stools of doom.

Kellie and her little girl voice comes back to the stage and I still am not a huge fan of the girl.But her clear confusion after her song means she’s still Kellie.

Lil is safe. Mean trick on Anoop, RyRy. Fucker.

Anoop and Scott stand there, bottom two, and… Scott has the lowest number of votes. Anoop is safe ( what is up with that?)

Truthfully, it was slightly better than last night, but he still couldn’t hit that high note.

It’s a split panel, Simon tells us. They are actually discussing it. And Simon pulls his veto power out and send Scott packing. That was the right choice, he went as far as he could.

See you next week, everybody.

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An Idol favorite indeed, RyRy with the buck teeth.

Danny does a version of  “Stand By Me” which is cheesy and stupid, just like DWP himself. I’m sorry, I don’t get the appeal. Why is he number one every week. Gwenny says it’s a different version of pimping the DW type of song. He wasn’t in key for half of it. And it’s terrible. Ugh. Somebody shut him up, he pisses me off so much.

The judges are apparently still do not want their jobs back, as Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon praised that shit. Please, cursed at first, be in effect.

Kris is charming in his interviews. He tackles a good song with Don Henley’s ” All She wants To Do Is Dance”. I think it’s a bit of risk, and it doesn’t quite work for me. He’s never off key during the song, but he lacks the dramatic flair Henley himself brought to the song.  It’s to dance-rock for him, frankly, he’s much more of a singer-songwriter folkie. But I like it soooo much more than DWP.  Kara’s assessment is right in it’s jazz funk exercise vein. Kris, you may be in trouble, darlin’. Simon and Randy were unnecessarily mean to the guy. Kris at least took it well.

Lil goes with Tina ( correct on artist I am!!!!), but instead of the more aggressive ” Better be Good to Me”, she goes with the overdone ” What’s Love Got to Do With It”. There are massive pitch issues through out the song, but it’s her best performance in weeks.  The judges are mean to her, and I’m feeling very protective.

A couple of weeks ago, the judges sneered at artistry ( albeit bad artistry), but now they’re complaining the singers aren’t being artistic enough. The judges are idiots and will be fired for the rest season if they continue the damn hypocrisy.

Anoop is going with ” True Colors”? Nononononono… that song is sacred to me. Cyndi Lauper’s voice is one of those singular voices that owns the songs she sings. Don’t do that to me, Anoop.

Anoop admits he’s a jackass a bit, and he’s excited about the Tarheels win last night (Booo…).  He needs to learn to enunciate better as he sings, but he actually sings it well, if some what samey.

Scott’s version of “It’s Over ” was horribly pitchy through out. And he’s on guitar!!!!!!! ( that seems odd to me). Not even liking it at all.

Allison, I adore you. She tackles ” I Can’t Make You Love Me”, which I left off my list for two reasons- it’s been overdone, and I wasn’t sure she could pull of the maturity it requires. But her vocal was awesome, soooo much better than last week. I might buy this one on I Tunes ( for the record, this is one of my all time favorite songs).

Matt is next, and I’m worrying, as he is hit or miss.  He tackles Stevie Wonder’s ” Part Time Lover” ( shortlisted but discarded).  He’s all over the place vocally, and he’s crushing my soul.  ( For the record, this is one of my least favorite songs of all time). Not good, Matty, not good.

What were the judges listening to?

Adam is next. My friend Magicalbeck and I over on the BBAC boards have had long conversations about Adam. She’s a die hard fan who appreciates the flair of the dramatic he has, while I… don’t. I don’t mind drama, but he’s prone to overdoing it at times, and as someone who worships those who could barely eke out three chords on beat up Telecasters singing  about sniffing glue, I prefer my melodrama minimal. When Adam just sings, I love every minute of it ( ” Tracks Of My Tears” was so beautiful). I even liked ” Play that Funky Music” last week, even if it was more wacky, because wacky is fine as long as he maintains control over his voice and his stylistic choices. I must say, he has been learning quickly. Magicalbeck and I come at the Idol experience with loads of musical experience of our own  ( she in voice, me in classical piano and punk rock guitars). It makes for an interesting dialog about what constitutes good music and the subjectives of taste and style.

And Adam’s glorious version of  “Mad World” ( the Gary Jules version of the Tears For Fears Classic). I didn’t think he needed to go up in his register in the second verse like that, but it was up there with Allison for best of of night, even with the vocal shake on the last note ( truthfully, it was the first time I’ve heard him miss a note for weeks). He got a standing ovation from Simon on behalf of the judges.

Adam, Anoop, and Allison were the best of the night, everyone else was mediocre. I pick Scott, Kris, and  Danny as the worst, but I suspect Danny will be just hunky dory and poor Lil may work her way into the bottom three, with Scott heading home.

See ya tomorrow.

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Top Downloads turned out to encompass every Tunes list in the history of I Tunes. So… we got the music world on a string. What did our Idols come up with?

Anoop tackled Usher, and his ” Caught Up” was competent, but pitchy. He also lacked a certain swagger in the vocals. Simply too smooth for his own good. He is a masterful balladeer, for sure, but balladeers do not a career have anymore.

Megan, god bless her heart, tried to do Bob Marley’s ” Turn The Lights Down Low”. and failed. I really love Megan as a person, she looks like a blast. But that was horrible. Bob Marley verges on an untouchable artist ( not quite there). Very unhappy with that.

DWP came with Rascal Flatt’s ( I called the artist!!!!!). “What Hurts the Most” is a song about losing the love of your life. Yeah. Dead Wife PIMPER. And whatever the judges  are smoking needs to be banned of the planet. it may be good shit, but it’s causing them to lose their minds.

I felt gross after watching DWP sing, so I did a tequila shot in the thirty seconds Allison’s tape was rolling, and then stood stunned as she massacred ” Don’t Speak”. That was not pretty. I love her, but it really wasn’t that good. I hope the borderline positive  reviews the judges gave her singing will save her ass from the bottom. But after last week’s revelatory performance, such a let down.

Scott came out with a better haircut ( thank God), his piano, and some Billy Joel ( thank God). I knew he’d gravitate to Billy if he had the chance, and he would knock Billy out of the park. He sounded his best since the audition- confident, on key, and mellow. He knew this song backwards, and the piano was great.

Matt went with The Fray. I do not like the Fray. No. Matt needs to knock it out of the park, and he sounds off pitch immediately. On the electric piano this time, he got better vocally as the song continued, but  I’m disappointed. I really wanted him to take a real risk with Kings Of Leon or something bluesy soulful rocker style.

Lil had to go with Celine, didn’t she? Come on. That is the most ridiculous song choice ever. ” I Surrender”? It’s not even a decent Celine song “decent” and ” Celine” is an oxymoron). She has some pitchy moments. No, not feeling it. What the hell is wrong with Lil? She was awesome in her semi-final performance. This is getting to be a huge train wreck.

The judges crack pipes must have been in use during the commercial break.

Adam does Wild Cherry? He’s doing ” Play That Funky Music”? Are you KIDDING ME?????????? Adam, nonononono… I was just starting to like you. This is insane, dude. No. No. No.

But then the music starts. And it’s bass heavier, not so disco like, and a pretty interesting revision of a disco classic. He allows himself some shriely moments, but I kinda enjoyed it against my better, music cool judgement.  It’s at least new and interesting. Everyone else has been so safe.I guess I am coming around.

Did Kara just say Studio 57? Studio 54, you moron. 54.

Kris closes the night with ” Ain’t No Sunshine”. Perfect song choice for the folk dude.  He’s on piano, not breaking out the funky Bill Withers guitar licks. And I am really loving it. ” Ain’t No Sunshine” is one of my favorites songs of all time. He even does a bit of the funk on the break. Love it.

Top Three- Kris, Adam, and Scott.

Bottom three- Megan, Matt, and Danny, but I bet Danny’s safe and Anoop will be bottom three ( cursed at first).

Megan, I adore you, but it’s time to go home.

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After all, with B.C.’s status for weed capital on North America, it led to way too easy jokes by our host, funniest man alive Russell Peters.

Of course, Nickelback opening the show with a song about strippers having things in their mouths was also a silly plan, as ” Be Somebody” is a far superior song. This opinion from someone who dislikes the band a great deal.

Peters took advantage of the increased interest in Bollywood by having dancers with him at the beginning, but let’s face facts, Peters is not a Bollywood dude, he’s a hip hop head, and he brought that to the floor. He was hilarious tonight.  Be proud, he’s Brampton’s favorite son.

Winners of the evening:

Songwriter- Dallas Green ( City and Colour)

Group- Nickelback

Rap Album- Kardinal Officiall

New Artist- Lights

Canadian Music Hall Of Fame-  Loverboy

Fan Choice- Nickelback

Artist- Sam Roberts

Album- Dark Horse ( Nickelback)

As for the performances-

Sam Robert’s ” Them Kids” was awesome.

But the two best performances of the night were City and Colour featuring Gord Downie, doing an amazing version of C&C’s  ” Sleeping Sickness”, and Great Big Sea featuring Hawksley Workman doing an awesome cover of Zeppelin’s ” Gallows Pole”.

Considering the weakness of the past year in Canadian music, it was a pleasant evening.

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Paul Newman, 83, actor and philanthropist. 09/26

David Foster Wallace, 46, author ( Infinite Jest). 09/12

Isaac Hayes, 65, singer, songwriter, actor. 08/10

Jerry Wexler, 91, music producer. 08/15

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, 89, author and Soviet dissident. 08/04

George Carlin, 71, comedian and actor. 06/22

Cyd Charisse, 86,  dancer and actress. 06/17

Tim Russert, 58, anchor of ” Meet the Press”. 06/13

Bo Diddley, 79, guitarist, one of the godfathers of Rock and Roll. 06/02

Yves Saint Laurent, 71, famed fashion designer. 06/01

Dick Martin, 86, comedian and host of ” Laugh-In” with partner Dan Rowan. 05/24

Sydney Pollack, 73, Oscar winning director and actor. 05/26

Robert Rauschenberg, 82, artist. 05/12

Eddy Arnold, 89, musician. 05/08

Charlton Heston, 84, actor and Conservative activist, President of the National Rifle Association. 04/05

Richard Widmark, 93, actor. 03/24

Paul Scofield, 86, Oscar Winning actor. 03/19

Arthur C. Clarke, 90, author ( 2001: A Space Odyessy). 03/19

William F. Buckley, 82, famed Conservative pundit. 02/27

Roy Scheider, 75, actor. 02/10

Heath Ledger, 28, Oscar nominated actor. 01/22

Suzanne Pleshette, 70, actress. 01/19

Van Johnson, 92, actor. 12/12

Bobby Fischer, 64, chess prodigy turned eccentric. 1/17

Steve Fossett, 64, billionaire adventurer. Declared dead on 2/15, though missing since September 2, 2007, and his remains were found September 2008.

Will Elder, 87, artist and satirical cartoonist ( MAD, Playboy). 5/17

Mildred Loving, 68.

This fascinating woman was a pregnant eighteen year old when she married Richard Loving in Washington D.C. The year was 1958, and they would have been like any other normal Virginia couple if the police hadn’t arrested them under arcane miscegenation laws. This black woman married to a white man would in 1963 ask the ACLU to take her and her husband’s case to the Supreme Court, where the Warren Bench overturned their convictions. The woman at the heart of Loving v. Virginia would toward the end of her life never give interviews, but would later release a statement supporting gay marriage, as she, better than most, understood that marriage is not always about children and religion, but always, always about human rights and love. 5/2

Levi Stubbs, 72, singer ( The Four Tops). 10/17

Harold Pinter, 78, playwright. 12/25

Eartha Kitt, 81, singer and actress and Catwoman. 12/25

Mark Felt, 95, Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal. 12/18

Bettie Page, 85, legendary pin up girl. 12/12

Odetta, 77, folk singer. 12/2

Miriam Makeba, 76, singer and anti-apartheid activist. 11/9

Michael Crichton, 66, author and co-creator of the TV series ER. 11/4

Studs Terkel, 96, journalist, author, and radio host. 10/31

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25. Constatines ” Hard Feelings”

Canadian art-punks bring us a grinding, hard charging about the difficulty of emotions.

24. Ne-Yo ” Closer”

Usher’s heir apparent delivers on a R&B-hip hop jam that is smoother than creamy peanut butter.

23. T.I. ” Whatever You Like”

He’s such a generous guy, over trippy hio hop beats and a surprisingly warm chorus.

22. Jordin Sparks f. Chris Brown ” No Air”

Gorgeous, soaring vocal gymnastics by two teen sensations as they sing about the importance of oxygen, but the devastation of love.

21. Kings Of Leon ” Sex On Fire”

Southern gothic melodrama, with ringing guitars, as the Followills literally set things a flame.

20. Kid Rock ” All Summer Long”

Someone had the courage to do what I always thought about- put ” sweet Home Alabama” and ” Werewolves of London” together and see how similar they are. Add lyrics about partying and booze and sex, you have a classic summer jam.

19. Vampire Weekend ” Oxford Comma”

Bouncy African beats mixed with lyrics about sex and punctuation. I’m not joking.

18. Flo Rida ” Low”

Inescapable spring jam about Apple Bottom jeans and Reeboks with the straps.

17. Adele ” Chasing Pavements”

Soulful ruminations about being torn between love or happiness.

16. Kanye West ” Love Lockdown”

Autotune works for the master, and he creates a song about loss and love that is for the ages.

15. Rihanna ” Take A Bow”

“Disturbia” got the glory, but this song about kicking his ass to the curb remains her strongest single.

14. Sam Roberts ” Them Kids”

More folk country rock from the Canadian master of the guitar, with a charming SIMS inspired video mixed with 50s nostalgia.  A song about the fact kids don’t dance to rock and roll anymore.

13.  P!nk ” Sober”

” So What” maybe the typical hard rocking kiss off we expect from her, but Pink’s second single from her album is a more mature, honest song about divorce, alcohol, and love.

12. Katy Perry ” I Kissed A Girl”

Bouncy fun about same sex experiments and old fashioned button pushing. Not as jaw dropping as Jill Sobule’s track of the same name, but this grimy flirty track is a delight.

11. Estelle f. Kanye West ” American Boy”

Soulful British song stylist asking for a trip to NYC. Girl knows her shit. Discofied brilliance.

10.  Ting Tings ” Shut Up And Let Me Go”

Duo of punk inspired dance artists sing about how you are never gonna hit this again.

9. City And Colour ” Waiting…”

Quiet acoustic jam about waiting for the end of everything. Depression sounds almost peaceful.

8. David Cook ” Bar ba Sol”

Grinding punk guitar stylings mixed with lyrics about regretting the night before, where alcohol and possibly blonde skanks played a role in humiliation. Did I just say that?

7.  Billy Talent f. Rise Against ” Turn Your Back”

Two of the modern punk bands of note dress us down for ignoring the ecological disasters looming in the near future.

6. Duffy ” Mercy”

Sixties style pop soul with a Dusty vibe, and a girl with a voice grittier than gravel.

5. Hedley ” Old School”

Jacob Hoggard reminisces about setting tires on fire and the days where little mattered except getting wasted behind the old school.

4. Coldplay ” Violet Hill”

” Viva La Vida” has gotten all the glory, but this first single remains their grittiest, gungiest track. And the lyrics are mysteriously baroque and the vocals soar.

3. Metro Station ” Shake It”

Eighties inspired dance rock. God, how I’ve missed this stuff. Vaguely reminds me of Flock of Seagulls and Loverboy. Weird, but wonderful. And frickin’ catchy.

2. R.E.M. ” I’m Gonna D.J.”

Alt rock fore fathers come back to form with raging guitars and a plan for the end of days. I wanna be at that party.

1. M.I.A. ” Paper Planes”

I want to thank Seth Rogan and David Gordon Green for allowing this song to explode after the trailer for Pineapple Express introduced it to the world. Clash inspired guns and cash registers mixed with trip hop beats and the idea of exceeding what your borders permit. Stunning.

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20. David Cook David Cook

The mysteries of life. Idol winner’s first albums as a rule are supposed to suck hardcore. Except if you’re Kelly and manage to sneak ” Low” on yours.
Or Carrie and you luck out with ” Before He Cheats”. But David C. managed to do something surprising- delivering a rather cohesive ( more shocking considering the group think writing) rock album that was among the best rock albums of the year. ” Bar Ba Sol” is simply one of the best rock songs of 2008 period, and ” Light On” has grown on me significantly over the last several weeks.

19. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago

I picked up this album simply because it has one of my daughter’s names in the title. I love it when I discover something in the process, though, of picking up crap stuff with my kids names on it. Spare acoustic tacks that feel like winter in Canada ( or Wisconsin, where it was recorded in a cabin), Justin Vernon’s elegant isolation remains bleak and unrelenting.

18. Ne Yo Year Of The Gentleman

I try to avoid flavor of the month hip hop soul stars. Couldn’t resist ” Closer”, though, and this album shows a maturing I didn’t expect.

17.  Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple

It’s not as accessible or fun as St. Elsewhere, but I deign for people to tell me this album isn’t going to be regarded as a classic in ten years time.  Cee-Lo remains one of the most underrated singers in music, and Danger Mouse is a musical genius.

16. Billy Talent 666

A Live album from the St. Catherines punk purists with a matching DVD. They are fantabulous live, and they hit all the right notes and sing the hits as well as fan faves. ” Devil In A Midnight Mass” still remains scorching.

15. MGMT Oracular Spectacular

Experimental yet somehow classic, the Brooklyn duo create magic on their second full length album, and believe me when I say we are all better off to just buy it. Influenced by New Order and space rock that would make Bowie proud, I recommend just listening to ” Kids” and reminding yourself of happier times.

14. Adele 19

Duffy had the big hit, Amy the big headlines, and Leona the big benefactor ( Simon Cowell), but Adele has the big voice, and her songs are not written by frickin’ Jesse McCartney. Simply stunning.

13 Rise Against Appeal To Reason

More punk purists, this time with an decidedly Marxist lean. They are passionate and surprisingly successful- this album debuted at 3 on te Billboard charts.  Political and rocking.

12. Lil Wayne Tha Carter III

He’s a wordsmith that would make Eminem smile, and his prolific bootlegs and internet releases make him a tad over exposed, but he is quickly becoming the MC to listne to. ” Lollipop” is hook filled fun.

11. Coldplay Viva La Vida

Their previous album was so controlled, I wished for some imperfect note to remove the museum like quality. This album is messier, sonically more diverse, baroque and the punkiest we’ll ever hear them. Lyrically as pretentious as ever, at least it rocks harder. Which is still not much, granted.

10. Girl Talk Feed the Animals

Danger Mouse started the internet mash up, but Gregg Gillis perfected it. ” Set It Off” indeed. Brilliantly wacky.

9. Black Keys Attack and Release

Highly recommended to me by a good friend, I finally picked it up about three weeks ago and have been grooving ever since.  With Danger Mouse producing ( what, him agian?), the Akron duo create a world of spare, historical guitar noodling delta blues minimalism. And if that all seems to be contridictory, you’re right, but it works.

8. My Morning Jacket Evil Urges

Blow my mind, moutain men, why don’t you? The soul brothers of my beloved Flaming Lips, these guys mix a gorgeous falsetto, southern rock, space jams, and veiled political references . Why am I coming to them so frickin’ late? Someone? Anyone?

7. TV On The Radio Dear Science

Funk is awesome. Team it with apocolyptic lyrics and the general feeling of doom, you get this masterpiece of an album.

6.  Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend

I can see how people can hate this Ivy league, hyperliterate band with a fondness for Paul Simon’s Graceland and the solo work of Peter Gabriel ( who is namechecked in “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”). But I love the fact they can simply create gently African melodies while asking ” Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?” More fun that it should be.

5. Kings Of Leon Only By the Night

They are becoming one of my new faves, as they take the best of Skynyrd and add some U2 and becomebetter. They always seemed inauthentic in their southern gothic style, but this album launches them out of parody and into the forefront of the Southern rock revolution happening right now. My Morning Jacket has competition…

4. City and Colour Bring Me Your Love

Dallas Green’s solo side project is quickly eclipsing his day job in Alexisonfire. This album, a natural evolution from Sometimes acoustic heartbreaks, is by far the best Canadian album this year ( no one comes close- sorry, Nickelback). All those comparisons to Neil Young’s Harvest are justified.

3. Kanye West 808s and Heartbreaks

The man is broken. His mama died tragically and his fiancee dumped his ass. He has put the bravado aside and created an emotional, adult album with little hip hop braggacio. Stunning and suprising.

2. R.E.M. Accelerate

Whether it’s the hugley catchy vocal hook of ” Supernatural Superserious” or the quiet rage that seeps into ” Houston”, the end of days grandstanding of ” I’m Gonna DJ” or the dressing down given in ” Living Well Is The Best Revenge”, this album says two things. R.E.M. is not fine, and you know what, they still have it.

1. Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

It’s becoming clear to me Jenny Lewis can do no wrong. I adore Rilo Kiley, her day job band, but her solo work impresses the hell out of me. This album, simple, folksy, county, rock, psychedelic, often all at the same time, remains my favorite this year.

Worst of the year- Scarlett Johannsson Anywhere I Lay My Head

She can’t sing. Not in the charming way Tom Waits can’t sing. She lacks charm as a vocalist, and this album of Tom Waits covers offends the Tom Waits fan in me.

Biggest relief: GNR finally releases Chinese Democracy

Biggest disappointment: GNR’s Chinese Democracy. I’ll never be okay again. It made me cry. Not in a good way. Flashes of genius are overshadowed by an over produced mess.

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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ album and Radiohead’s album are both actually 2007 releases. I’ve decided to post my top ten list from 2007 as a reminder- as it’s written on Bitten By A Cougar ( Growlin’ To The Groove, y’all, since May 2008), so no yelling at me when they do not appear on the 2008 list. I never said which year end list they would appear on.

10. Patti Smith Twelve– a cover album from the queen of poetic punk, with tracks that are personal to her in one way or another, Patti Smith cemented her position as one of the great non- traditional singers ( which is a nice way of saying, crappy voice, but compelling). My version actually has thirteen song- as I have a bonus track of her singing ” Everybody Hurts” ( and WOW!), but included are covers from Hendrix through to Tears For Fears and Nirvana.

9. Radiohead In Rainbows– it’s not about the revolutionary album release that allowed fans to pay whatever they could or would. It’s not about the band’s reluctance to share Internet sales or the fact everyone also went out and bought it on CD as soon as it was available. It’s about ” Nude”, the longtime live favorite finally put on an album, or ” Jigsaw Falling Into Place”, or ” Bodysnatchers”, or ” House Of Cards”… the album is one of their best.

8. Tegan and Sara The Con– twin sisters from Calgary make pretty pop songs, with help from Matt Sharp, Jason McGerr, and Hunter Burgan. With jangly piano matched with dark lyrics about crumbling relationships, this album sounds like the most happy nervous breakdown in music since Brian Wilson.

7. Mika Life In Cartoon Motion– I think it may be clear I have a soft spot for dance pop i refuse to acknowledge. But from the moment I first heard the bass and piano lines that open ” Grace Kelly”, I was hooked on the classically inspired Mika’s new brand of clubland fun. This album is what I listen to when I’m doing housework or I just need to feel alive.

6. Amy Winehouse Back To Black– oh, the voice- perfect for neo jazz soul. But as we watch the train wreck that is Amy Winehouse on CNN, we might forget that underneath Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi’s exquisite production is a girl with an incredible voice. The sly ” You Know I’m No Good”, the mournful title track, and the horns and demons ” Rehab” all stick out, but then there is ” Tears Dry On Their Own”, with musical references to Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye, that remains my favorite song.

5. Alicia Keys As I Am– a child prodigy who skipped Columbia University for a record deal at J, she made a huge splash with her debut, only to keep the momentum up with her follow up. Nobody has strung three quality albums off a debut like that since… well, the Beatles. So as her third studio album hit the store, a lot of critics sharpened knives only to discover she just gets better ( at least, most of them. Some people just do not like her). First single ” No One” is still astonishing in it’s musical maturity, and ” Teenage Love Affair” is expert storytelling.

4. Foo Fighters Echos, Silence, Patience, and Grace– from the fierce guitars on opener ” The Pretender” and the more sunshine pop with death knell lyrics of ” Long Road To Ruin” ( which was teamed with one of the bands trademark hilarious videos), to the emo slamming ” Cheer Up Boys ( You’re Make Up Is Running)”, and the acoustic, mournful instrumental ” Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners”, the band is at top form. I love ” Home”, the album closer.

3. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand– seriously, this was not supposed to work. The Ultimate Cock Rock God mashed with the ultimate Bluegrass Queen? The gentle voice of a sweet girl mixing with the wild expense of the king of hard rock? But from the moment they start on ” Rich Woman” and nail songs from Sam Phillips, Gene Clark, The Everly Brothers ( huge hit ” Gone, Gone, Gone”), Townes Van Zandt, and Tom Waits, you realize that they are actually made for each other, and you enjoy the subtle mix of two music worlds.

2. The White Stripes Icky Thump– I am in awe of Jack White’s talent, and this album, stepped in British influence ( due to Jack’s marriage to model Karen Elson, who is from Northern England, where the album title hails from as a colloquialism), is amazing. It’s not the type I’ll listen to once a week ( I believe I’m in agreement with Robert Christgau on his assessment that it’s a grand monument, but I wouldn’t wan to settle there), but when I do pull it out and listen, I’m always amazed.

1. Arcade Fire Neon Bible– they wrote a song about Joe Simpson, named it ” ( Antichrist Television Blues)”. They threw into their hodge podge orchestra a hurdygurdy. They sing of cars, Americana, french fables, Haitian troubles, and escaping. They aim for grandiosity and achieve it. A magnificent album, one that has yet to leave my CD changer in eighteen months.

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Do you like movies? Do you love them with a passion  known as geektastically so? Do you want to listen to amazing music, and read amazing text? Then travel on to Internet Archive. I was perusing one day earlier this year and came across a lot of Keaton and Chaplin. No surprise they were there, as these movies, now nearing the century old mark, would seem to have lapsed into the public domain. The archive specializes in public domain ( and therefore, completely legal) media. I found there Salt of the Earth, the classic movie made by the Hollywood Ten ( specifically, Biberman), and while the quality sucks ass, it remains a vibrant and vital film.

How freakin’ amazing is that? Also there- Night Of the Living Dead, Reefer Madness, The 39 Steps, Shadow Of A Doubt… apparently, Patricia Hitchcock allowed the copyright to lapse on a few of her dad’s films… But go, and see if you can find a lost gem. I sure did.

(more…)

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davidc4

My undying devotion to the one known as SBF during American Idol is legendary. The punk rock chick in me is needing to know that rock still has a place in the pop culture universe, and AI is the music equivalent to the Psychic Friends. Rock indeed can sell in today’s market, even in the context of a popularity contest disguised as a talent show. That being said, AI this year was also awash with pure talent.

The typically quick turnaround ( 10 weeks) of our reigning champs debut means two things. One, it’s uneven. Two, it’s a good representation of what we shall expect in David Cook’s career. Overall, DC’s independent debut/ mini masterpiece Analog Heart, self written and self produced, is a better album. That doesn’t mean David Cook is a bad album. On the contrary, in the realm of Idol world, it’s freaking Abbey Road to Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway ( the Sgt. Pepper’s of this analogy) and Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts ( Let It Be). ( Chris Daughtry’s album would be Let It Bleed– similar, but not the same, regardless of what other hacks try to say). It also is one of the better rock records of the year. Take it from someone who is coming out of her GNR denial and realizing what crap that record is. DC is modern despite his throwback sound.

Songwriting by committee, though, rarely serves a rock album well. With names like Chris Cornell, Raine Maida, John Rzeznik, and Kevin Griffin, DC is working with some of the best, most melodic songwriters in the biz. The delicate ” Permanent” ( co-written with Maida and Maida’s wife, chanteuse Chantal Kreviazuk, and it has her fingerprints all over it) is the loveliest song on the album. the lead off single, ” Light On”, has grown on me significantly since my first review, and is now one of my favorite songs of the year, with it’s minor key intro and soaring chorus. ” Declaration” ( a.k.a. the other song played on SNL) is melodic and rocking. ” Bar-Ba-Sol”, the best track on the album, is blessed with an asymmetrical melody, grinding guitars, and a solo that peels the paint off the ceiling, teamed with an awesomely off-kilter vocal melody. ” A Daily AntheM”, a holdover from his solo writing, is the truest song, the one completely in his voice, and it’s connection on an emotional level with me is pretty amazing.

Not every track works for me. I know fans love ” Life On the Moon”, which is blessed with a great melody, but the lyrics buckle under the titular conceit.  DC’s usual hyper-literate lyrics are missing ( go check out Analog Heart for comparison sake- once a word nerd, always a word nerd, but clever and CLEVER play differently). ” Come Back To Me”- I have listened to that song a dozen times and I can’t remember much about it. It’s lost among stronger material. ” Mr. Sensitive” is too on the nose ( I like my rock songs with a little quirk in them). The inclusion of the truly now grating ” Time Of My Life” is certainly not DC’s fault, as I’m sure 19 Entertainment contracts stipulate the Idol will forever be saddled with that claptrap.

It’s not a perfect album. It is, however, thoroughly enjoyable, well produced ( props to Rob Cavallo for not making it sound like it went through a digital blender, but like a rock record), and overall, considering this year in music, one of the better albums of the year.

Grade- B

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Do not forget that David Cook will appear on SNL this upcoming Saturday ( the 1st of November). Just a gentle reminder to all the gurls from BBAC land. Because I’m OCD that way.

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Roger Ebert is my hero.

If my massive collection of Italian neo realism wasn’t the first clue, or the fact that The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg is my favorite film the second clue, I am kind of almost a big a movie geek as my Dylan and Waits obsessed music collection will let me be. I watch way too many movies, a massive achievement when  you realize how much TV I watch in a week ( less surprising when you realize I sleep for four hours a night because I’m re-watching some Hitchcock film on TCM for the trillionth time- usually Strangers On A Train).  Ebert brought me to many films I never would have considered watching based on my first instinct, simply because as good as my instinct is, his is better. I have hated the movies he’s hated 99% of the time, and loved the ones he loves about 75% of the time ( the rest are mutually respectful WTF moments).

Ebert has won a Pulitzer for film criticism. I don’t know if film critics regularly win Pulitzers. I will never win a Pulitzer, and my writing doesn’t suck. Even if I were as great as Ebert with the turn of a phrase, I’d still be writing five line reviews for some cheap ass weekly somewhere. Why? Because I have an inability to keep my mouth shut about extraneous matters, and therefore, I ramble. Ebert doesn’t ramble. He’s precise. I love him because I envy that very thing.

Last week, Ebert deigned to post a review of a film called Tru Loved. The film automatically gets a point knocked off from my scale simply because I hate cutesy titles like that. So it currently sits at a A review, because I haven’t seen it.

Ebert saw it. Sorta.

He saw about eight minutes. Then he walked out.

He posted his review, which was pretty scathing. Then he dropped the news of his departure and apparently created a bit of a firestorm. The pro and anti Ebert factions came out in droves, but there were valid points mixed in between the arguments, Namely- if you are paid to review something, isn’t walking out poor taste and actually fraud?

Fraud may be taking it too far, but I see the point. If I’m paid to review a movie, I should sit through it or not write the review if I don’t make it, for whatever reason.

On the other hand, I’m against wasting my time. I’m against wasting other peoples time. If I think an album is so bad it should never be heard by the ears of humans, I’d say so, and I’d tell them exactly why, and where I stopped listening before I shoved the pencils in my ears. And I listen to the Butthole Surfers religiously, so you know it’d have to be heinous for me to refuse to even finish listening.

In the end, reading his review, I came to the conclusion that in fact, he was actually brave to do what he did. His trepidations and other thoughts can be found on his blog,

but I encourage to read the comments as well. He responds on ocassion, and they are so worth the read.

I’ve only once in my life refused to finish listening to an album. It was an album by The Clash, shockingly enough, and it was called Cut The Crap. I cried for an hour after the first track because I wanted to know what the hell happened to my favorite band.

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My world is a very complicated place, to say the least.

I am a David Cook fan. End of discussion. I think he’s one of the strongest talents to come out of the whole AI juggernaut and I’m a Kelly Clarkson girl from the get go. His pre-Idol album, Analog Heart, would have been on my top ten list of 2008 if it hadn’t been released years ago. I still might put it there if I can justify breaking my own rules. Anticipation on his upcoming major label debut is high, to say the least.

The first single, ” Light On”, was released this week. Like David Archuleta’s first single, ” Crush”, it was surprising. Archie’s didn’t suck, which shocked the hell out of me. DC’s also doesn’t suck, but that isn’t surprising. No, I was more shocked about how good it is considering he has those Idol folks trying to figure out how to get Max Martin to write a song for him.

No, Martin is no where to be found, but Chris Cornell is, and along with Brian Howes, helped write this future top of the chart single.  And the first thing I noticed about the music ( crucial- the music) is there is a vague familiarity to it. It’s very Cornell. There are surprising melodic choices, unexpected notes, half step key changes, and a gorgeous piano break with vocal after a rip roaring bridge that is hauntingly pretty before it launches into a rocking outro. Musically, you cannot deny it.

The lyrics are fine. Not as powerful as some of the lyrics on Analog Heart, but certainly not pablum. DC is still growing as a lyricist ( most rock stars write their best lyrics in their late twenties and their thirties), but he doesn’t resort to a lot of the cliches many his age use. But the lyrics in comparison of the music are weaker. But still better than say… the ridiculous lyrics to ” Don’t Call Me Baby” or Skye Sweetnam’s ” Human” which is a song I hate with a passion reserved for idiots.  And to the ladies out there about to tear my head off for admitting that I have a ( relatively) small issue with this song… please remember this- I love you all. Please, don’t hurt me. I’m being honest. The music is kick ass. The lyrics are good, but not life changing. Now, give me a ten minute head start and allow me to get on my plane to an undisclosed location.

This will be said, though- compare to the Magic Rainbow,” Light On” is freakin’ ” Stairway To Heaven” or ” A Day In The Life”. David will have a long career. Don’t fret.

Grade- B

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