American Idol: Jimmy Iovine, Top Judge Right On All Counts

What can I say about American Idol while I’m still stove up from surgery and  can’t muster up much of a muster. One thing I can say – I agreed with Jimmy Iovine on all counts. Way to stick by your guns, my man, and tell it like it is.

As for the femme judges, Mariah Carey has toned it down dress-code wise the past couple of times, but last night Nicki Minaj looked like she was wearing a couple of hot cross buns with too much yeast piling out of a pan with a hole in it. It was more than ridiculous. Nuf said.

Candice Glover’s version of “Straight Up” didn’t do a thing for me, though her singing is never in question. Her last song “When You Believe” was a home run and probably garnered her the night. Her face and hair were beautiful. She looked great.

I love Candice, but Amber Holcomb is my favorite. There’s a compassion and inner humanity that comes through whatever she sings that makes her believable and viable, She is also gorgeous (except for her choice in lipsticks which I agree with Nicki needs a toning down), and I love her family, especially her father. I love to hear him talk, showing his humble yet deep-felt pride in his daughter. They also seem to be a struggling family with none of the upper middle class advantages many of the others seem to have.

What a difference a dress makes. This ensemble took at least 30 lbs off her profile and gave Kree a sleek, streamlined look. Kree Harrison is another favorite, but I still haven’t heard what I call knocking me out of my seat versions of anything. Maybe when she gets a recording contract — which she will — someone will teach her to sing for regular people rather than for famous judges. Jimmy and Keith want to hear feeling over “let me wow you with my singing prowess and ripples and loop de loops”. This season has felt more like being in a studio of voice lessons than just plain real singing that is visceral.

Case in point. The song “Without You” by Harry Nilsson, can never ever be recaptured in the way he sang it. Amber tried to sing it. Mariah is famous for it. But the true version can never be replicated. The music drags you down into echoing canyons of despair. His voice rises and falls from his frail helplessness to his all-encompassing screams of pain. Compare it if  you will. There is none.

Janelle Arthur is still clueless to the advice the judges are giving her, though she has the voice to go far. Like all the girls, she sings for the beauty of her voice, only she has less of it than the others.

Angie Miller came out with some surprising power and stage presence with Beyonce’s “Halo”, toning down the big laser-beam eyes that were more scary than not. I think that’s what helped when she played at the piano – the alien eyes weren’t looking out like something from the Twilight Zone. There’s no question she is beautiful, though probably she’s been told that a few too many times. And there’s no question she’s a singer to watch for. Her personally written song early on in the season had me on my feet and shouting. But it’s the only time I’ve really felt something warm and heartfelt from her. Close a few times, but never really there.

If American Idol makes it another season, I hope they quit playing games with who they think the public should vote for, and give us someone to believe in. I don’t know about you, but I want to hear these singers’ souls as well as their voices. Without the heart and soul, the singing is just “sound and fury, signifying nothing”. And no longer worth the watching or the listening.


16 thoughts on “American Idol: Jimmy Iovine, Top Judge Right On All Counts

  1. Yay! How nice to see you back. \o/ I’ve missed you. I hope your recovery is progressing well.

    Were you able to watch Idol last week? I thought Candice knocked it out of the park with both songs. But this week, I didn’t care at all for “Straight Up” last night and her second song was just OK, IMO.

    I agree about Amber and have never understood why she’s in the bottom so much. I have a feeling that will change this week.

    Janelle is adorable and a good performer, but not up to the level of the other girls vocally. Her second song was dreadful. She’s not going to win, but I hope Keith will help her get a career. I think she’d be a very appealing country star. She sure is purtty.

    I TOTALLY agree about how nice Kree looked in that black dress. She sounded great, too.

    I disagree completely with what Jimmy and the judges have said about Angie. I think she sings every song like she OWNS it and FEELS it. She was absolutely awesome at the piano last night. She’s still my favorite. I love her eyes, but then I like Elijah Wood’s over-sized huge blue eyes, too.

    Harry Nilsson’s “Without You” is one of my all-time favorite songs. He wrote it and no one else sings it like he does. I haven’t heard Mariah’s version, but I’m going to iTunes and listen to it as soon as I finish writing this.

    I read recently that people watch “The Voice” because of the judges. There is definitely truth in that. I like Shakira and Usher better thatn the judges they replaced, CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera. Shakira and Usher are a perfect fit with Adam Levine and Blake Shelton and the whole judging group is great fun to watch.

    I agree about Nicki’s clothes….DREADFUL! But at least she’s making good comments these days. However, her God-awful voice makes my ears bleed. I think Mariah has turned out to be the worst choice for a judge this season. I’m so tired of her fluttering hands and her comments contribute nothing. Did you see her last week when she rambled on and on as though she couldn’t turn herself off? It was embarrassing. She needs an OFF button that self-activates at the 10-second mark.

  2. P.S. OK, I listened to Mariah’s version. I like it but I still Like Nilsson MUCH better.

    Nilsson recorded for RCA Records during the time I was working there. He was very tall, thin and quite shy and a VERY nice man. The album “Nilsson, Schmilsson” was recorded during that time and was a HUGE success and won a Grammy. “Without You” was one of the songs on this album. Unfortunately, his embezzling financilal manager cleaned him out and left him broke in his 40s. He had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and died in his 50s from heart failure. Such a waste of a great talent.

    Nilsson’s “Without You” was recorded in one take, a feat rarely achieved nowadays. I find the song absolutely gut-wrenching. The only other song that has ever affected me that way is Adam Lambert’s “If I Can’t Have You.”

    • Mike and I (Mike especially) was blown away by your story of how Harry Nilsson did that remarkable song in one take. MY GOSH! The raw emotion he put into it makes a person’s heart bleed. I loved hearing how you met him and those little personal things about him, but hated to hear about the finanacial betrayal by someone he trusted and his downward spiral. I agree. Such a waste of a wonderful and unparralled God-given talent. But that is an oft repeated story among those who rise to fame and fortune. It’s a two-sided coin.

      Strangely, when Mike and I began looking for that song weeks ago before it ever was a choice on American Idol, we thought (mainly me) that it was sung by the group Bread. I was so convinced it was Bread who sang it that both of us spent copious time on the net trying to find it. Bread was one of my all-time favorite groups. When all we could find was Mariah Carey and Harry Nilsson, I thought there was a universal conspiracy or I had lost my ever-lovin mind. I didn’t even recall the name Harry Nilsson, though Mike did. All I can say is there was a period of years in my life that I intentionally and with aforethought, try to remember to forget. So maybe Harry Nilsson fell through that black hole and only just surfaced. It had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol on my part, for I’ve never had anything to do with them. But people I loved did.

      Didn’t mean to come off so critical of Angie. I think she’s great when she “forgets” performing and is more natural. I love big eyes (even Elijah Woods) but when she’s performing she projects so intensely that the big eyes magnify a disturbing glow that is . . . well . . . disturbing. She did not do that with that last song she performed and she came off as an excellent and beautiful performer, and her eyes were an enhancement rather than a detraction. There are many things going for her when she sits at the piano. For one thing she’s more relaxed and in her element. And she doesn’t come across with that high school prom queen look Jimmy Iovine (and I) so want her to get away from. But, since of course when she gets out in the entertainment world she can’t always be at a piano, she’ll need to learn to perform sans keyboard. And I’m sure she will.

      You’ll be happy to know I can now sit up (I even sat on the porch about 20 minutes the other day before my energy eeked away, and went for a walk down the hill holding Mike’s arm dressed in a warm fluffy pink bathrobe against the cool wind, over loose pants and t-shirt. I was past carrying what I looked like. I just wanted some sunshine and outdoors. I can feel my energy returning daily. It will be three weeks tomorrow since the surgery and it feels more like three months. But I’ve still been ordered to take it easy up to six weeks. No Gold’s Gym or Tai Kwon Do till then (lol). Heck. I can’t even chop carrots right now, much less lift a weight or chop slap a formidable enemy. (Not that I ever could anyway).

      Anyway, since I’m just going on and on, I think I’ll stop now while I’m behind and get to work. Thanks for thinking of me and praying for me.

  3. Oh! I love the group Bread. I don’t recall that they ever recorded Nilsson’s “Without You,” but they did a song I adored titled “Lost Without Your Love.” Is that what you were thinking of? It is similar.

    I’m glad you and Mike enjoy my RCA Records stories. I have an endless supply. LOL

    I didn’t think you were being overly critical of Angie Miller. It’s definitely a subject that’s open for discussion. I agree she’s more relaxed and seems to forget she’s performing when at the piano, but you’re absolutely right that she has to become comfortable without it, too. Country stars singing with a guitar can get away with that, but you can’t sling a piano over your shoulder. I’m recording Idol as I write. I hope everyone does well tonight. Did you read the article about Idol yet that I sent in an email? I wonder if Mariah Carey saw it.

    Would love to have seen you walking down the hill with Mike in your “fluffy pink bathrobe.” :>) I’m so glad you’re up and about now. Keep up the good work.

    • Yes, I read the article clicking on your connection. Then I saw it on “Hollywood Tonight?” or some such – can’t remember the exact title. They set aside a pretty long portion of time for it. Of course, Idol denies it all, but it sounds too plausible to me.

      Yeah. If we’d had a video of me crimped over clutching Mike’s arm in my fluffy pink bathrobe and ugly brown sandals, we could have won something. Don’t know what. Might have made YouTube’s zillions. LOL

      Doing much better. But now that I no longer have the pain pills my arm is killing me. Those little suckers did double duty. But I’m glad I’m out of them. I can think better and stay awake longer. I’m into my three and a half weeks of my 4-6 week recuperation period. My last bad day was day before yesterday. Thought I was well enough to drive the car for tires and servicing about seven miles away. By the time we got home Mike had to practically carry me in the house and my energy plummeted. Also had stomach problems that day so something else may have contributed to my day in hell. But had a super GREAT day yesterday. Went to my GP doctor, to the library, and out to eat at Sal’s Italian in little bitty Springville, AL. Had great coffee, great pizza Chicago style, fresh baked garlic bread and excellent service by a really good looking young man with a great personality. Can’t beat that, gal. Ha. Of course, my Mike beats them all hands down.

      • I think the TV show you mean is “Entertainment Tonight.” I record it and “Access Hollywood” every night then look at what interests me during playback. By the time they cover the latest about Lindsay Lohan and the Kardashians, that doesn’t leave much. *insert major eyeroll here*

        Wow! Judging by that meal you had at Sal’s, I guess you don’t suffer from divirticulitis or Crohn’s disease. Hmm, so Mike’s a good cook?

      • Definitely an era of great songs. Nearly everything on my ipod is from this era. Exceptions are Adele, Maroon Five, John Mayer and a handful of others.

      • What an idiot I am!!! The first thing I was going to tell you was that Mike and I listened to Il Volo while we were out yesterday. Music always sounds better in the car and I always turn Il Volo up loud. They sound more mature (which they are), and those melodic melifluous voices just carried me away. I have to close my eyes and block out everything but that sound. And I swear those boys have to have their tongues loose on both ends to roll those Rs so rapturously. Thank you again and again for the gift. It was perfect. Haven’t heard Maroon Five (I don’t think). Will give them a try. Also, what’s your opinion of Black Velvet? I think they could have done an awesome video with that song. But it was mediocre at best. But love the song and the absolutely poetic lyrics.

  4. No, I”M the idiot…I left out Il Volo being on my iPod. D’uh! Of course they are on it! I’m listening to them right now on my iPod.

    I’m very glad you liked Il Volo’s new CD and it was my pleasure to send it to you. They sound much more mature now and, of course, they are. Piero will be 20 in June, Ignazio 19 in October and Gianluca turned 18 last February. I wonder what they’ll sound like in another five years. Even more awesome, probably.

    I love the rolled Rs, too. They do it so effortlessly and it’s HARD if you’re not a native speaker of Italian or Spanish. I know because I sang a lot of arias and art songs in Italian due to my being a music major.

    • Mike and I have tried to learn Spanish for years. We love the language, but without anyone really to speak it with, all you learn is phrases. I did well in Spanish in high school. My maestro was Senior Diaz (Cuban) who loved my accent and even asked if I had any Spanish ancestry. It was the vowel sounds I aced, not the r rolling. I could do a double, but not a triple. And my little granddaughter can roll that tongue like it has no end. She laughs at me when I try to do it.

      • I love languages. I had three years of Latin in high school and I think I was the only student who loved it. I also had two years of French. When I decided to be a voice major in college, I took a year each of German and Italian so I could sing in those languages and also a third year of French. After moving to NYC, I wished I’d studied Spanish as well. We had a little ditty we used to sing in Latin class. It went:

        Latin is a language dead,
        Dead as dead can be,
        First it killed the Romans,
        Now it’s killing me.

        All are dead who spoke it.
        All are dead who wrote it.
        All are dead who learned it,
        Blessed death, they’ve earned it.

        Latin may be a dead language, but its legacy lives on. Many English words have Latin roots and thanks to my Latin classes, I can ace all the “It Pays to Improve Your Word Power” quizzes in “Reader’s Digest.”

        Unless you’re a native Italian or Spanish speaker, rolling your Rs is VERY difficult. I’ve heard that children up to the ages of eight or ten can do all the sounds in most languages, but the abiliity diminishes with age. That explains why a child can become fluent in a second language within a year, but adults take MUCH longer.

  5. P.S. I meant to post this in my last comment. The Il Volo boys had trouble with French and I can believe it. French is the most difficult of the languages I’ve studied because of the pronunciation (and all the grammar irregularities.) This is one of my favorite Il Volo videos. Ignazio’s French is the best, but all the boys are gifted in the language department. They speak quite fluent English and Spanish now, as well as Italian. I’m in awe of their talent.

    • I love that you love languages. So do I. I think you and I love words and music in any language and makes us sisters in heart. My dream the last few years of high school was to be a missionary to a Spanish-speaking country and my Cuban teacher said I had a flair for the language. My next door neighbors were my dad’s employers, my ride to church, and my introduction to missions. Jane, who is the older friend who fell in love with Il Volo after I “introduced” her to them, is the sister of a retired missionary to Vietnam (he and his wife were there during the Vietnam War and Tet Offensive as a missionaries and there is a book written about them). Jane is also the one who introduced me to literature – good literature (and also the other friend I told you was the only other person I knew with such a beautiful handwriting).

      But she also loaned me the book “Through Gates of Splendor” about the five missionaries who were killed in the Amazon in the fifties if I’m remembering right off the top of my head. It was a book that influenced me greatly. Of course, life went off course after high school so none of those early plans came about, but I still loved the Spanish language and found I had a gleam of a gift for all languages. Though I have sporatically tried to keep up in Spanish, there have been too many family responsibilities through the years to allow for any kind of reasonable discipline. I’ve also dallied with German and a little French, but there is no substitute for a formal education. But I still love languages and and thrilled you have been able to pick up on these through your music. Mike and I both love your stories.

      Loved the ditty about Latin, also. I am a self-educated person, except for those two years at the College of Charleston that bumped my writing and appreciation for it up several levels, so I also read ABOUT languages and the origin of languages. To me, it’s fascinating. I’ve even sometimes read portions of the dictionary just for fun, and when Mike and I married, I found out he did, too. (Boy what party animals we were LOL).

      And speaking of Latin, I love to hear it intoned in Catholic services. There is also a singer, John Michael Talbot, a monk who sings. After hearing him years ago I called him the troubadour of God till I found out someone had beat me to it. I just hate it when I’m not original. Ha. I found a youtube of one of my favorites for you to hear called Veni Sancte Spiritus. That’s the only line he sings in Latin, but his voice just takes me to a different place. And the words, like: “on our dryness pour thy dew”; and “melt the frozen, warm the chill”, are absolutely wonderful.

      Well, I’ll shut up for now. I feel like I’m writing a book instead of a comment.

      • The video is wonderful. What a gorgeous voice. I have a CD titled “Chant” that is entirely monks chanting. It’s incredibly relaxing and beautiful.

        It’s interesting that you wanted to be a missionary in a Spanish speaking country. And since you and Mike like my stories, I have another one for you. One of my first on-line friends was a woman named Kim, who lives in Des Moines. It’s a bit odd that we became such good friends because she’s an Evangelical Christian, Creationist and home-schooling mother of five. I am not particularly religious. She and seven others became good friends of mine via a Lord of the Rings forum in 2005. In 2006, I said I thought it was time we all met each other. They agreed so I started making plans for a get together. We chose Des Moines because it was centrally located and also because Kim couldn’t afford to fly to another city in the US.

        But I digress. Kim was born in Kansas, but as a baby movied with her parents to Peru, which is where she grew up. Her parents were missionaries there. Needless to say, she speaks perfect Spanish as well as English. When she was 16, she fell in love with another missionary child named Jeff. They eventually came to the US, graduated from college and married. I honestly don’t know of a more happily married couple. They have had more than their share of adversity. Their first child lived only 24 hours, the second required six surgeries during his first six years of life, and the third was a trwin who survived although his twin died in utero and was miscarried. Their three other children are all OK, but Kim suffered seven miscarriages and/or stilborn births in addition to her other six children. She’s one strong woman and in spite of all she and Jeff have gone through, their faith has never waived. Earlier this month, their eldest child married the daughter of their pastor.

        Your interest in the origins of languages reminds me of a TV show I saw back in the 1980s. It was called “The Story of English” and was a nine-part mini-series with Robert MacNeil of “The MacNeill-Lehrer Report” that aired on PBS. The full series is available on line.

        It was the most interesting film I’ve ever seen about the English language. I hadn’t thought about it for years until Candice Glover mentioned on Idol that they spoke “Geechee” (aka “Gullah”) on Saint Helena’s Island, where she grew up, located off the coast of SC. tI’s a mixture of Creole and English, thought to have been developed by traders. I’d never heard of these languages until I watched the PBS series. Candice spoke it briefly one night on Idol. Here’s a clip:


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