Category Archives: American Idol

Musical Wednesday: DeWyze & Bowersox, King & Taylor Duets, and a Ballin 6th Grader

This should be a recap of American Idol last night. But I’m not really going to do a recap until it comes down to the final two: Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. I put this prediction out there weeks/months ago. However, I didn’t know they were going to do duets this week on Idol.

Call it chance or call it timing. I was listening to the radio this weekend while gardening/planting for Moms and they were playing the entire concert of James Taylor and Carole King at the Troubadour (one of my favorite venues in LA, which ironically I went to less when I wasn’t living there than when I was). To you young bucks out there or the musically deficient readers of mine, you have to peep out both of these artists. Not musicians or songwriters, but artists. Individually they are masterful but together they exemplify, duet.  “Up On the Roof” was originally written by Carole King, popularized by The Drifters, but dominated by the duet of King and Taylor. The song reminds me of all the good times on my old rooftop in downtown Los Angeles.

Not at all to compare Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox to James Taylor and Carole King, but figured the last song was a good lead in to this video. I’m a sucker for musicals or movies based around music. Peep the “Who is the Penning Panda?” page and you’ll find a few of such movies. One of the movies based upon musicians is the movie Once. That movie gets me EVERY time for a number of reasons, some personal, but mostly for the story and the music. Keeping that in mind, you’ll understand the next part of this blog.

One of my dearest friends, Mags, lives in the Central Time Zone and she sent me a text before Idol aired West Coast time that read: “Oh God you’re going to have an orgasm when you watch a certain song on Idol tonight!”

This of course had me wondering as she knows me as well as anyone out there… I was out and about and didn’t get to see it “live,” but when I did finally get a chance to watch it on DVR I’d have to say… she was right. Not only were DeWyze and Bowersox paired up, but they sang one of my favorite duets of all time from the movie Once, “Falling Slowly.”

Let’s be honest there are really only two “stars” to come out of American Idol: Kelly Clarkson (probably because she was the first winner) and Carrie Underwood (mmmm, Carrie Underwood). Again not saying DeWyze or Bowersox will be as successful as either of those two, but I’m really vibing off both of them. If they can keep their heads on straight and find a good support team, they can do good things. And hopefully they pull off another duet in the future… best performance all season, hands down.

Speaking of people with musical skill. This was posted by a friend of mine and I can’t help but snag it and repost it. If you haven’t heard of Greyson Michael Chance yet, I have a feeling you will. At least virally online. This kid is amazing and to think he’s only 12. I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time before someone “discovers” him and signs this kid.

This is the video that my friend Jillian posted of Greyson covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at his school’s Edmond’s Sixth Grade Festival. Definitely check out his YouTube Channel that also features two of his original songs. A brilliant songwriter and musician, this kid if he can keep his nose clean (all puns intended) could be on the fast-track to stardom. I often have my qualms about the Internet, but it’s amazing how fast something like Greyson’s talent can spread. I mean if Greyson was on American Idol, he’d be getting all the teenie bopper texts (look at the girl’s reactions in the background). This kid is probably all-time dude when it comes to “7 in Heaven” at his middle school parties. Or in the words of my boy Sam, “They want to jump his bones.”

Hey Greyson, do you need an agent?

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American Idol: Bowersox won the contest tonight

So again I’ve had a busy week, but I have to make time for an American Idol post. For all intensive purposes, unless someone comes up with an amazing performance this could really be my last American Idol post. The contest is over. Also I won’t be writing one next week, as I’ll be chillin on a hammock in Puerto Vallarta.

The theme for tonight’s episode was “inspirational songs.”

Inspirational to my heart was Siobhan Magnus; again she looked amazing tonight. Despite Simon’s confusion of the “leaves” (actually butterflies) on her dress, she looked stunning (do I have an infatuation? Most likely). Unfortunately, her performance was not inspirational. I mean taking on “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey is tough for anyone. She may be in the bottom three tomorrow. I feel like she’s working more on her justification speech after her performances rather than her actual singing. Still love you and still think you’re right on for standing up for what you want to do.

The rest, for the lack of better description… BORING. I’m not even going to talk about them. The competition has come down to two contestants: Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. Lee is just ready to cut an album, I’m sure after doing his obligatory songs picked by producers he’ll be on point.

Though the competition in my eyes is down to two people (has been for a month now), there is one contestant who is BY FAR head (dreads and all) and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

I believe my years of American Idol fandom warrants this paragraph. The past few years of Idol has been sorely lacking on talent. It should be no surprise that Simon Cowell will be leaving the show after this year. There have been a few gems in the rough, but no real stars. Album sales are indicative enough (even though album sales by no means qualify talent). That being said, Crystal (apt for this analogy) Bowersox is a diamond.

Now you should know that Carrie Underwood pretty much makes me stop anything I’m doing. Keep that in mind with my next statement. Crystal Bowersox is on a whole other level, on the level of Carrie Underwood (for American Idol purposes). I might, might, even venture to say she is ahead of her. Every week she comes out almost mocking the rest of the contestants with her talent (though Lee can definitely hang, but just hasn’t climbed to the top of the Idol rock).

I’m going to post both Lee and Crystal’s performances. But I could really just post Crystal’s. I’m posting Lee’s because his song choice of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” was money. It’s one of my favorite songs. Lee gave his standard professional performance. But as far as it being “Inspiration Week,” it was about five steps behind Crystal’s performance of Curtis Mayfield’s CLASSIC “People Get Ready.”

I literally got goose bumps from Crystal’s performance. I didn’t even get goose bumps from Carrie Underwood’s performance of Heart’s “Alone” (it just made my heart melt). My boy Jack says she’s a “huge star,” and I agree. In a simple equation she’s Joss Stone + Janis Joplin + honest soul + an instrumentalist = huge star. I’ve been tentative to crown her Season 7’s winner, but after tonight the level she’s on, really it’s Crystal Bowersox and the rest of American Idol. The way she keeps it honest and real (helps that she’s a mom) will go a long way in this industry. Watch those tears at the end of the song as she hit the lyrics “you don’t need a ticket, you just need to thank the lord.” A genuine star that the industry needs.

Amendment to original post. Okay I can see one way that Lee DeWyze may sneak in the victory. But these song choices have to be timed perfectly to steal it. From the wonders of YouTube I found these two performances of the Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” Lee, my dude when you read this (because I know you do)… well this may be the only way you’ll win American Idol (just don’t do that dance before Sex on Fire, it would defeat the title of the song). Do work son… but the crown is already on MommaSox.

Shuffleboard, Glee, Killer Whales, American Idol… Guess, I’m no longer hibernating

So I wasn’t going to blog this week. I am in April hibernation (it’s not going very well). But two things happened yesterday that has forced me to write a blog: a weird interaction, Glee returns, and the compulsory American Idol review.

Bizarre Brother-Sister Relationship

First thing, first… Alyssa, you missed another semi-adventure, but they’ll only continue with Booger now in town.

Okay, so last night (like every week) was $2 Tuesday at my favorite local watering hole. Last week they put out a new shuffleboard table. For those of you who don’t know, the house I lived in during law school had a legit shuffleboard court in the backyard. By legit, I mean the one with the clay disks and shuffleboard cues. The type of shuffleboards you see on cruise boats.

Look I’m Asian, we have a knack for doing well in skilled games. Don’t hate, it’s just true. So naturally we hop on the shuffleboard table. My first partner was the hommie Justin, we ran our first two games. We decided to switch it up and I gained one of my best friends Booger as my new partner. We again ran legs. By running legs I mean we were playing against some dudes, about 7 points down. Boogs comes through with a 7 point round I followed it up with a 4 pointer by knocking my opponents puck off the 3 zone and leaving my puck in it’s place. Muscled up homeboy in his size small Hard Rock t-shirt was furious. Basically I have a secret spin to my table shuffleboard game, if you think you have skills meet me at a bar. I’ll bring the quarters, you bring your tissues.

The point of all of this happened when Justin and I were partners. We played against a big dude (by big, I mean beer belly big) wearing a polo shirt with some martial arts patch on it. He was on Justin’s side. On my side was this feisty little girl (by little, I mean her head came just above my elbow) wearing a shirt trying it’s best to expose her cleavage.

Mmm... Hayley

So we’re playing, she’s getting all feisty. She pops on Paramore in the juke box. I’m going to stop right here. Look I’m in love with Hayley Williams, even more than Siobhan Magnus (discussed below). No, but seriously my boy works for Fueled by Ramen and has her phone number. He’s discussed my obsession with her, that she actually finds hilarious (meaning he didn’t paint me as a creeper, props Slice). He also said that he’d give me her number. I just fear asking for it, because I know I’ll just call her and say, “What are you doing tomorrow? Nothing? Sweet let’s get married and make babies.” So you now know how I felt when Paramore came on.

Turns out this feisty lil girl loves her just as much evidenced in her line, “I will have sex with Hayley.” Anyway she’s all bouncing around, getting all up in my biz. So the beer belly dude is about to shoot, she leans over and is pulling down her shirt screaming, “Shoot it here. Shoot it here fag.” I’m thinking, “Man these two have a bizarre relationship and I wouldn’t want to ever be in their house.”

Every time he shot she’d do the same thing (of course she did it for Justin also, but that’s besides the point). Midway trough the game we find out that Beer Belly and Elbow Height are brother and sister. The worst part is that Beer Belly was encouraging the antics of Elbow Height, it actually got worse. I’m a fan of awkward situations, but not at all of obnoxious drunks (yes sometimes I’m that guy, I’m usually not a fan afterwards).

When I found out they were brother and sister, I kinda got sick a lil bit. Between rounds they were getting awfully close to each other, seriously it was awful. I turn to Boogs and said, “Man if that was my sister, I’d tell her to put a jacket on.”

Anyway Elbow Height starts talking about her daughter to me. Then was all asking what I was doing later. Being the guy I am, I respond, “Not baby sitting.” She gets all bent out of shape, and pulls down her shirt, and goes “Even for these?” Being the guy I am, I actually held back. What I was going to say was, “Dude is your brother the father of your kid? And I’ve seen better.” Thankfully, Justin felt my flow and we ended the game in a blistering manner.

I was feeling a bit hung over this morning, but not from the $2 drinks… rather from that awkward ass scene with Big Belly and Elbow Height. I’d fear Elbow Height reading this blog and the fact that I may see her again at $2 Tuesday, but I’ve concluded she probably doesn’t know how to read.

Glee One-Liner

I actually just got into Glee a few weeks ago. I’ll thank a certain friend for making me watch the entire first half of the first season with them. It should be known that I’m a fan of singing, especially in shows and movies i.e. Amadeus, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and anytime Family Guy or Cartman breaks out into song. (Seriously click on those links, especially Cartman singing Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”).

So it shouldn’t surprise you that I think Glee is on point. Further it should not surprise you my favorite line from last night was (thanks to Maggie for reminding me):

“Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?”

Oh man that get’s me. And now I feel like I can repeat it without sounding homophobic. Dolphins are definitely not Killer Whales. For those who don’t know, the Panda will die by getting eaten by an Orca, quite possibly a pod of transient Orcas. Seriously, it’s in my prophecy along with a pool with a lion rock facade. You doubt me? What’s your prophecy?

American Idol Top 9 Redux

So the biggest news of this week for American Idol was the fact that last week Michael Lynche was saved by the judges. Rightfully so. That’s the bummer about this show, it’s really up to teenie bopper texters to vote for who remains. Before I get into my opinion of last night’s episode I’m going to put it out there, Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia will be the bottom two. Despite Andrew’s pre-Idol YouTube following, I just don’t think he’s grown and done enough.

What else can I say about Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox? Not my favorite performances, but both of them did a stand up job once again this week.

Siobhan Magnus, not your best and I fear you’re slipping a bit. But my babe has soul and I love it. You looked your hottest tonight, yes please with a cherry on top. And I hate cherries. She’s got the POWER vocals. Don’t back down Darlin. Though she did lay the best line by a contestant ever on American Idol, “I’m not just one kind of singer or one kind of vocalist. And if I can’t even label myself, I don’t think it’s even necessary to be labeled. I just love to sing.” If you know me and categorizations, I hate them. That’s it I’m flying down to LA to give her a proper hug. The Panda is in love. Siobhan = Bamboo.

Katie, you sassy little girl. Lovin it. I think of everyone she has the most potential. She has a Christina Aguilera attitude in her voice. Calm down folks, I don’t think she’s the next Christina Aguilera. I can only hope she can surround herself with the right people. I can see why my boy Jack is in love. I’m gonna take que from Maggie though, what is up with her outfits? Not that I’m a fashion guru in any sense, but I have some stylz (with a z). I smell good anyway, I bet she smells good. Playin. However hen she ages a year, I’ll give my true opinion. Jack, easy buddy.

Michael Lynche, not my favorite performance. But Big Mike proved he should’ve been saved last week. I wanna kick these teenie bopper text voters in the teeth. Too aggressive? Maybe, but damn. His vocals are silk. I enjoy the Marvin Gaye and Al green steez. Yet I still question where his niche is to sell records. Unlike Siobhan, he’s not unique enough. And I fear he may get lost in the money mongering label mix. He needs the Panda as his manager. Hit me up Big Mizzle.

Casey James can jam. Reminds me of Doyle Bramhall or Derek Trucks. And for all intensive purposes, those two sell records. I could get down with some Jack Daniels and Copenhagen and jam with him. I’m all about the blues rock, feelin it hommie. Just keep rockin it and swing that axe, you’re a musician dude. Stick to it and don’t forget it.

Aaron Kelly (my Moms’ favorite) has a good voice. The thing I dislike about the judge’s commentary to this date is that they judging him on his age. They want him to be like that lil bro-bag Justin Bieber. But seriously Aaron has a great voice. But if he is to succeed in this biz, he needs to believe in himself. He needs to believe that he has talent, unlike said Bieber. Hopefully that will come with age. Shit I know kids out of law school with no clue on who they are. Own it youngin.

I’ve said it before, but why is Tim Urban still on American Idol? Now my problem is magnified, last week’s performance was decent (I mean he did what he had to do for that particular Beatles song). This week, albeit nothing show stopping, but he came through again. Obviously he’s not near my top three Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Michael Lynche (in that order). But hey, during Elvis week all the contestants ran the risk of sounding like glorified karaoke singers, dude did all right. Not at all saying I’m a fan now.

Andrew Garcia, sorry my dude. Ask my friends, especially girls, I’m all about the cheeze. But for a second week in a row, that was excessively cheesy. You can get away with it with your song choice during Beatles week, but this week was not great. My dude, I’m one of those who was a follower of you on YouTube, but I believe your time has run out. If by chance you return next week, grab your acoustic and spill that soul brotha.

Thursday Thizzle Tacks

I definitely have some thoughts on my mind today… I’m going to talk about one of them, but I’m going to have to put it out there; one of the greatest annual sporting events has started today, A tradition unlike any other,” The Masters. All I’m saying is that yes I’m following Tiger Woods and 60-year-old Tom Watson is currently sitting atop of the leader board with a blistering 5-under 67. So, my mind is flooded with golf. But for you non-golf peeps, here are a few things to chew on. I hope you’re slightly hungry or are seeking a piece of gum.

I’m going to start off the post with the Beatles “Think For Yourself.” Expect many more Beatles videos in upcoming posts, American Idol Beatle week got me, and the fact that I said that I can name Beatles song for almost every occasion.

Earlier in the week, I found myself in a discussion over my friend Jillian’s statement: “People who are offended, choose to be offended.” I’m a firm believer in free-will. And I also believe your situation is whatever you make it out to be. So I agree with Jillian that an emotion/feeling/thought is a choice. Whether the choice is made by the heart or the mind, well that brings about the whole physiology v. human interaction/internal connection debate. I’m not going to get into that now. Whether the heart and the mind are separate? Well I say, “Don’t let your head cloud your heart, let your heart clear your mind.” That being said I believe there is a symbiotic relationship and the key to unlocking the potential of both, is to not let one override the other.

Jillian’s statement had interesting timing with a recent Burger King commercial. HAHA, yes three consecutive posts about commercials. But I have a thought that commercials provide a general pulse on society. The newest Burger King commercial to offend the “sensibilities” of society features The King running through an office building. He busts through a window, gives a befuddled-looking woman a sandwich and then is tackled by two white-uniformed medical peeps.  The King is called out by the medical peeps call him  “crazy” and “insane,” because he wants to give away his sandwich for the low, low price of $3.99! The Washington Post ran an article where mental health organizations got their undies all up in a bind. A part of the article reads:

“I was stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled,” says Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director for the Arlington-based National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation’s largest mental health advocacy organizations. He called the ad “blatantly offensive” and hopelessly retro in its depiction of mental illness, adding that the commercial could lead to further stigmatization, the primary barrier for individuals to seek out treatment. “We understand edgy,” Fitzpatrick says. “But this is beyond edgy. Way beyond.”

Are you kidding me here? Seriously? It’s a DAMN commercial, with a creepy mascot, who always has jokes. I don’t know what is up with society. And initially I had an opposing opinion to Jillian’s statement. But after I read a number of articles similar to that in the Washington Post, I’m siding more with Jillian’s sentiments. I’m trying to figure out when our society got all bent out of shape over some things. I get it, there are people with mental health problems. But do you honestly believe that Burger King was trying to offend those people?

This is starting to roll my dice.

I also understand that “bullying” is a big problem these days, or is it? Back in my playground days bullies ran rampant, but you stood up for yourself. You said, fuck it, avoided them or stepped up and got your shit rocked. Kids these days are going to grow up not knowing how to deal with people and situations that may just knock them on their ass, literally and figuratively. I don’t at all condone physical confrontation, but if you keep hiding from it, how will you ever learn to deal with it.? I can promise you, it will happen. The truth of the matter is that there are just some real fuck-ups in the world, and unless you plan on living in a cave the rest of your life you’ll run into them. I mean when the hell did vampires become all emo?

I think it’s pretty indicative of my generation. We’ve yet to face real hardships. Oh, the economy is bad. Fuck all that noise, shit was inflated to begin with. America has become an oasis of materiality. Yes, we may be in a “war,” but nothing like WWI or WWII. There has been no real “oil crisis,” I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of mile long lines back in the day.

For some reason we’ve all been caught up in this idealistic world. Don’t get me wrong, I want change, and I’m a dreamer. Actually I’m probably THE biggest dreamer. But I also understand that humans will always be humans. That somethings may be offensive or hurtful, but flip the coin, it could be comedic or truthful.

Why do people fear the truth so much? Why does my generation fear taking an honest look at themselves? Is it really that hard of a realization, that we’re not all perfect. No, we don’t live an a utopia. There is good in every person. But at the same time we all have our faults, fears, or dark parts. Our generation has become so accustomed to hiding all of that, burying it in pills, psychologists, relationships… When did it become hard to become your own light? When did it become “self-centered” to take care of yourself? If you feel like you have a fault, address it. Try to change it or accept it. But you need to take an honest look at it.

So my thoughts have been scattered… but if you’d like to talk in person about these issues, I’ll be glad to. This is kind of what happens when you’re watching The Masters and trying to write a blog, which turned deeper into thoughts than I expected.

Anyway, to have a more concise opinion on similar matters I am going to post an Esquire magazine article by a solid writer, Stephen Marche. If you haven’t read any of his “A Thousand Words About Our Culture” columns, it’s definitely worth checking out. So with that, I’ll leave it to a man who actually gets paid for his thoughts. Enjoy or hate it, at least you’re addressing something within yourself.

Why So Sad, Fellas?

Twenty-first-century men with money might just be the luckiest group in the history of the world, but a casual glance across pop culture would give the impression that they’re an oppressed underclass, barely able to find enough to eat. Everywhere you look, sheep are begging and baaing for your empathy and, if you can spare it, your sympathy, but a closer look reveals rough fur wimps, the ostentatiously meek, are inheriting the earth, with vulnerability becoming the definitive, and most profitable, affectation of our time.

Sweet! A new generation of wimpy kids.

How long can this massive, finely wrought bluff continue to stand? This month, the film version of a publishing sensation comes out – more than twenty-seven million copies of the book series in print – and its basic premise is this: “Being a kid can really stink.” I’m going to go way out on limb here and say that being a kid is actually terrific. I, for one, loved it. Hide-and-seek is a seriously underrated game. The Fruit Roll-Ups alone are worth the price of admission. At any rate, the promoters of the book are wrong to describe the wimpy kid as an “unlikely hero.” Robert Pattinson and Michael Cera have become the foremost leading men of their generation by becoming, respectively, the serious and comic aspects of the same projection of weakness. Pattinson’s face, geisha pale, reminds me of an elaborate piece of modernist pottery. Between performances as the feyest vampire of all time, he’s now starring in “Remember Me,” tortured-rebel claptrap of the most treacly variety. “I’m undecided,” his character says at one point. “About what?” his beloved asks. “Everything.” Sigh. Cera, the kind of actor who plays the same nonthreating character in every movie, can soon be seen in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” a nerd-meets-girl comedy based on a  graphic-novel series whose first volume is “Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.” I hope Cera has insurance on his shoulders, which look like a pair of upturned newborns’ bottoms. They’re they key to his appeal, the weedy equivalent of J.Lo’s ass. He epitomizes a new kind of flamboyance: If you don’t have it, flaunt it.

Rock ‘n’ roll, meanwhile, which began as a defiant howl or youth’s irrepressibility, has devolved into ever quieter, ever more solemn dirges. There has always been a niche of emo sensitivibots in the music scene, but now they have taken over the factory. And I don’t just mean John Mayer, who uses passive-aggressive moans to bed women way out of his league. (Sample lyric: “Excuse me, Mrs. Busybody/Could you pencil me in when you can?”) Or even Coldplay, the worst band ever to be the world’s biggest, who come off as feeble as they are boring. The best and most original musicians require wanness as a cover for their brilliant musical experimentations. If the Beatles wanted to hold your hand and the Rolling Stones wanted to burn your town, today’s rock starts want to suck your thumb.

Writers, too, have never been more desperate to paint themselves as weaklings and victims. Every memoir is now suspect. Writers will claim to have gone to jail when they’re upstanding citizens. They’ll claim to be drunks when they’re clean. They’ll cry rape. They crave debasement in order that they may be more exalted. And that’s just the nonfiction. The thirty-something generation of American novelists has replaced Hemingway’s hypermasculinity – writing like it passed the time between rhinoceros shooting and threesomes with Italian whores – with poses of rapt loss. Jonathan Safran Foer tries his hardest to write like a precocious twelve-year-old girl. He takes breaks from his neutered novels to write defenses of vegetarianism. Dave Eggers pursues the most direct course, though: He just assumes the voice of victims – a Sudanese genocide survivor and an Arab immigrant caught in Katrina-addled New Orleans – and writes their stories as if he were them. His first screenplay was genuinely original in the purity of its ascetic violence, but he kind of pulled back the curtain on his own motivations: Art is his means of demonstrating contempt for the world and his moral and intellectual superiority to everyone in it.

Everybody understands, even those who won’t admit it, the basic psychological mechanism at work in the world today: By negating your power, you serve only to deepen it; restraint of surreptitious, more intense expression of the will to power. “The slave revolt in morals begins by rancor turning creative,” Nietzsche writes in “The Genealogy of Morals,” but what he failed to predict was the slave revolt in morals would actually lead to people pretending to be slaves. The luxuries of feigned weakness are many: muddying the waters of responsibility, permitting intellectual and moral laziness, like the roots of a tree through the privilege of their own experience for ever deeper sources of resentment. Glenn Beck is the political avatar of this aggressive ersatz vulnerability: He weeps like a baby to promote the destruction of his (or, if you believe him, America’s) enemies. Weakness sells, which is why I can’t really blame the fake-hurt men – they’re just hustling. I blame us for being suckered by all this mewing and for basking so cozily in the warm glow of virtue by association. It’s our fault that self-pity prospers where gratitude never would. As for these men, they won’t admit their own prosperity, lest it require they give of themselves. They won’t admit their own health, the beauty of the world, and their luck to be alive in it. They won’t give life itself the satisfaction.

Wondrous Wednesday

I kinda pinned myself into a corner and now must stick with the blog theme of the week… Days of the week. I have a sneaky suspicion this will turn into a music blog, seeing how it was American Idol night last night.

So I might as well drop my first music video of this post. Simon & Garfunkel’s “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.” If you’re looking for a Wednesday song, this is the one you should listen to. Though it was recorded in 1964, it still is a very relevant song.

Wednesday. Known as “Hump Day.”

Wednesday. The name of my endearing friend Alexis’ cat, affectionately nicknamed Dubs. RIP Wednesday, you’re the only cat that I can say that I miss our cuddle times.

Wednesday. My good friend (and best neighbor/cook) Alyssa had an on point thought about Wednesday last night (on a Tuesday), “Wednesday, half the week is over. It’s all downhill from there.” I cheers to that.

I’ve been fortunate lately to fall into great conversations with great people. I’m not ready to blog about such ideas, yet. But like one of those made for TV dramas, there was my obvious foreshadowing.

Instead, this is now my apparent weekly blog about American Idol.

John, Paul, Ringo, George - Musical Legends

Big week in the eyes of the Penning Panda. First it’s getting down to the nitty gritty of the top 9, it’s time for the cream to rise. Another reason why this was a big week, is because the contestants were to take on THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, The Beatles. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I think The Beatles are THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME. The contestants were asked to give their renditions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney written songs. John and Paul, saints? Well in name yes, but pretty much some of the best lyricists. Look, how many decades has it been and their songs are still relevant? As my dawg Randy Jackson would say, “Know what I’m sayin’ dude?”

Oh and the following paragraph there is a smattering of links to videos, I HIGHLY encourage you to click on em… there are some songs in here that you may not know about, but SHOULD. Picking a Lennon or McCartney song, the possibilities are endless. I have my favorites, sure. “Something” is the greatest love song of all time. “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” is just a solid jimmy jam. “In My Life” might be their best song (actually that’s a hard statement to make, but it is one of my favorites). The acoustic version of  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a masterpiece by George Harrison. The trio of “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/In the End” could exemplify my life on almost any day. Basically the fanatic I am, I could think of a Beatles song for ANY occasion. Pop music owes The Beatles. And the at times simplistic lyrics carry so much weight. Most people don’t know about their non-number 1s. But I can excuse it, there’s a reason they are number 1s. You don’t think The Beatles are current? Well if Rock Band isn’t current, then you could make that argument.

Now if it was me on American Idol, these would probably be the two Lennon/McCartney songs I’d choose from: “Oh! Darling” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” in Eddie Vedder fasion.

Now to the actual American Idol show. As I said I was already on the critical tip being Beatles week. Slightly nervous that they would ruin the songs, I was pleasantly impressed. For what it’s worth I believe that almost all of the contestants had their best weeks. I also had to raise my glass of beer (because I had one or four in my hand while watching) to the show in it’s entirety. I have to say it was one of the best all season.

Yes, yes, and yes I still love Siobhan Magnus. So basically these blogs are Siobhan infatuation posts, sorry. She chose to sing a song that SO MANY have butchered in the past. “Across the Universe” is one of those Beatles classics that you can’t do too much with it or else you’ll miss it’s essence. Siobhan’s high note has almost became her trademark, but this week she strategically placed it. I’d agree with Randy that it may be a bit sleepy, but technically I though it was an awesome rendition. I mentioned the high notes, but her falsetto was on point. One of her best performances this season? Probably not, but she kept it real… and for her to succeed in this industry that’s what she needs to continue to do. Oh and I love “amazingly weird.” Love it.

To the rest of the highlights. I’m not going to post Tim Urban’s “All My Loving”, but hey he sang within his range and kept it Beatles poppy. His ass still needs to go home, or go try out for Glee. He’ll probably stay, damn you teenie bopper texters.

Andrew Garcia gave a pretty good performance of “Can’t Buy Me Love“, a little cheezy, and that’s what you can fall into when you sing a Beatles song. I had high hopes for my dude, due to my YouTube following of him pre-Idol. All I’m gonna say is, stick to the acoustic my man.

Aaron Kelly’s “The Long and Winding Road” unfortunately followed the title of the song. This young buck can sing, no doubt. But it’s starting to become repetitive. He needs to come out swinging, loosen up, and connect with the songs. As it was a good rendition, it didn’t leap off at me. You need to find your “moment” son.

Michael Lynche is my dude. I thought his song choice of “Eleanor Rigby” was a good one. I’d agree with Simon that it had a bit of a musical flavor to it. But I mean with the strings and the meaning behind the song, that’s the essence, and Big Mike hit it. Here’s my thing, Big Mike will probably be in the top 3 when it’s all said and done along with Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. The difference between Big Mike and the other two, is that I really don’t know what kind of album he’d put out. He’s an entertaining dude and can sing well. But I have trouble seeing him sell many records. I could be wrong though, I gotta admit he’s been a pleasant surprise all season. For singing contest purposes he’s been solid every week.

I’ve always thought Casey James would be a good headliner to a rock band. He can definitely, definitely rock his axe. I applaud his song choice of “Jealous Guy“. It is one of those unknown songs that when you do hear it, realize that it could’ve been a hit for anyone other than the Beatles. Like I said Casey could be and probably will be a great frontman, but his acoustic flavor tonight was on point.

All season I’ve been pushing for Katie Stevens to break through. I dig her voice. I think her ceiling at age 17 is pretty damn high. But like Aaron Kelly they’ve been struggling to find the right song. I believe they are trying a wee bit too hard to compete with the more mature contestants who know themselves a bit better, and that only comes with age. My boy Jack said Katie Stevens’ performance of “Let it Be” was life-changing. Normally Jack and I are on the same page with music. First this is definitely a big song, like “Across the Universe” you can’t do too much with it. But what Katie did with it last night, was pretty awesome. THIS was the performance I was hoping for all season. Life changing? Jack there’s only been one life changing performance on Idol, Carrie Underwood’s rendition of Heart’s “Alone.” But if Katie can keep it up, she can be a dark horse. And like I said she has mad potential.

I’ve said this early on, Lee DeWyze could make an album right now. It would sell like chestnuts on a street in NYC during Christmas. The folky/rock tone of his voice is solid. The judges get on his case because he does not have confidence. I just think the dude is a cool customer and wants to perform the best he can. The recent weeks he has been doing just that. When I heard he was singing “Hey Jude” I thought he had the potential to kill it, and he did… but not in the deathly way, in a great way. Keep on keeping on my dude.

Crystal Bowersox. She is my favorite in this competition. I seriously believe she has the best artistic talent that I may have ever seen on American Idol, and I watch A LOT of American Idol. People keep comparing her to Janis Joplin, a good comparison sure. But I think she has it a bit more together than Janis. She’s great on the guitar, knows when to tone it down, and seriously knows how to rock and bring it. Her style, whenever she finally records albums, is definitely an injection of soul/rock/honesty that contemporary music needs these days. That lead in applies to her version of “Come Together“. Crystal is a professional to the P. I love Siobhan, but Bowersox knocks my socks off.

Still Love Siobhan, but Damn Crystal Bowersox is POWER

Let’s be honest. I’m pretty much continuing these weekly blogs for my love of Siobhan Magnus. Unfortunately, I have to admit that tonight’s performance was not her best. Ugh, seeing the tears in her eyes the Panda just wanted to grab the private plane and give her a Proper Panda Hug. But, I’m hoping the teenie bopper fans recognize what she’s done as a whole so far this year and keep her around. I still love her.

My favorites remain the same, but I’m going to have to reorder the list: Crystal Bowersox (by far the best voice in the competition), Lee DeWyze (the best male vocals), Michael Lynche, Siobhan Magnus, and Aaron Kelly. I have sleeper bets on Andrew Garcia (he’s my dude) and Katie Stevens (she definitely has a voice, but really needs to find her song and connect with the audience). Why that Tim Urban dude is still in the competition, I really don’t know. Didi Benami has such a unique voice, but like Katie, she really needs to find the right song. Casey James, he’s definitely a concert performer… but doesn’t really bring anything new. I could see him jammin on a side-stage at SXSW.

So on to the videos for my peeps. The first is Crystal Bowersox’s rendition of Gladys Knight & The Pips “Midnight Train to Georgia”. She’s definitely a professional. Stepping up every week, but I’d have to say vocally this was her best performance.

I also have to give props to Lee DeWyze. I agree with the judges, it was by far his best performance… and once he learns how to connect with the crowd he could be a force. But with him and Crystal Bowersox, I can see them both making records right now and they would sell like heaters in Alaska. Here’s Lee’s jammin version of The Temptations’ “Treat Her Like a Lady”.

Finally… Andrew Garcia, my dude. He’s definitely been struggling since Hollywood Week. His cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” was simply butter. But finally, my dude, came through tonight and if he can keep picking the right songs and does like I know he can do he’ll be right back in it. I’m going to post his creative money “Straight Up” cover and his super sick acoustic rendition of Chris Brown’s “Forever”.

American Idol Crystal Bowersox = Money

I come from the camp where I’m just dying for good music these days. Screw auto-tune and everything else that falls in line with that (you know what kind of music I’m talking about). Don’t get me wrong, I get my dance on and you can find me bumpin my head to pop tunes. But I’m looking for music that stirs something within me.

I seek great instrument playing, melodic voices, and rhapsodic lyrics. It’s a high standard that I seek. I posted a blog about some new music that I’m digging on and to be honest, I’m not sure how many of those albums I will dig years from now.

This brings me to Crystal Bowersox on American Idol. She exemplifies what I’m looking for, straight up good instrumentalist and a genuine voice. Genuine music, why is it so hard to find? I have no idea… I blame money grubbing production companies and music listeners that just don’t appreciate good music. An interesting fact, is that although Janis Joplin performed Me and Bobby McGee it was actually written by Kris Kristofferson. Yea the Kris Kristofferson from the Blade Trilogy. Actually his bio is pretty interesting, check it out. And here is Crystal’s performance from tonight’s Idol. The sound is a bit off with the video, looks like it’s dubbed, but you just need to listen anyway. Enjoy.

Also if you’ve been reading my blog… you know my love for Siobhan Magnus. And yes I still love her. This wasn’t as good as Paint it Black last week… but man that note she blows at the end of her performance, gets me every time. She just keeps fitting my profile over and over again. Siobhan has this adorable nerdy quality about her, genuine. Love it. Here’s Siobhan singing Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.

And speaking of peeps that are just solid. A new Jimi Hendrix album has popped up. The posthumous Valleys of Neptune pumps out 12 previously unrecorded studio songs. His instrumental cover of Eric Clapton’s, one of my favorite musicians, Sunshine of Your Love is simply dope. Definitely check it out.

Penning Panda Out.