Tag Archives: Heart

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.

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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.

Thus Spoke Penning Panda through Zarathustra

To get you in the mood I’m posting a song that I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately and possibly for the first time actually fits the post. So hopefully Mumford & Sons’ “Awake My Soul” will provide a good background as you read through this blog and get to know the Penning Panda a bit more.

Some of you have heard me talk about how I dig Friedrich Nietzsche’s writing. I’m sure some of you also have your minds racing and are judging me on that statement. But you can put your religious judgments about me aside; remember one of my heroes is Pope John Paul II. Ever since I met him in Kindergarten, everyone else I’ve met since is just a bonus (I’m grateful for you all though, through the good and bad). Keeping that in mind one of my favorite books is Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and a favorite quote from it is:

“One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.”

I’d say it was ironic that Nietzsche broke down insane in 1889 and later died from his insanity (if that’s even possible).  But understanding that quote and the life I’ve lead… I can see it.

With my logic, it should follow, that one of my created life mottos is:

Craziness is hard to find. But when you do find it, embrace it.

The motto makes life that much better when you embrace craziness, and at times it gives an understanding to what we may consider crazy moments.

To the actual point of this blog, the following passage/chapter from Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the one that resonates with me the most… and it could, or could not, help to explain a little bit more about me.

The Penning Panda Kixin it With Confucius at the Confucius Temple in Beijing. Yes, Nietzsche, Pope John Paul II, and Confucius all in the same posting... and this isn't even about religion.

The Stillest Hour

What happened to me, my friends?  You see me distracted, driven away, unwillingly obedient, prepared to go-alas, to go away from you.  Indeed, Zarathustra must return once more to his solitude; but this time the bear goes back to his cave without joy.  What happened to me?  Who ordered this?  Alas, my angry mistress wants it, she spoke to me; have I ever yet mentioned her name to you?  Yesterday, toward evening, there spoke to me my stillest hour; that is the name of my awesome mistress.  And thus it happened; for I must tell you everything lest your hearts harden against me for departing suddenly.

Do you know the fright of him who falls asleep?  He is frightened down to his very toes because the ground gives under him and the dream begins.  This I say to you as a parable.  Yesterday, in the stillest hour, the ground gave under me, the dream began.  The hand moved, the clock of my life drew a breath; never had I heard such stillness around me: my heart took fright.

Then it spoke to me without voice: “You know it, Zarathustra?”  And I cried with fright at this whispering, and the blood left my face; but I remained silent.

Then it spoke to me again without voice; “You know it, Zarathustra, but you do not say it!”  And at last I answered defiantly; “Yes, I know it, but I do not want to say it!”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “You do not want to, Zarathustra?  Is this really true?  Do not hide in your defiance.”  And I cried and trembled like a child and spoke: “Alas, I would like to, but how can I?  Let me off from this!  It is beyond my strength!”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you matter, Zarathustra?  Speak your word and break!”

And I answered: “Alas, is it my word? Who am I? I await the worthier one; I am not worthy even being broken by it.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you matter?  You are not yet humble enough for me.  Humility has the toughest hide.”  And I answered: “What has the hide of my humility not borne?  I dwell at the foot of my height.  How high are my peaks?  No one has told me yet.  But my valleys I know well.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “O Zarathustra, he who has to move mountains also moves valleys and hollows.”  And I answered: “As yet my words have not moved mountains, and what I said did not reach men.  Indeed, I have gone to men, but as yet I have not arrived.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you know of that? The dew falls on the grass when the night is most silent.”  And I answered: “They mocked me when I found and went my own way; and in truth my feet were trembling then.  And thus they spoke to me: ‘You have forgotten the way, now you have also forgotten how to walk.’”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What matters their mockery?  You are one who has forgotten how to obey; now you shall command.  Do you not know who is most needed by all?  He that commands great things.  To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.  This is what is most unforgivable in you; you have the power, and you do not want to rule.”  And I answered: “I lack the lion’s voice for commanding.”

Then it spoke to me again as a whisper: “It is the stillest words that bring on the storm.  Thoughts that come on doves’ feet guide the world.  O Zarathustra, you shall go as a shadow of that which must come: thus you will command and, commanding, lead the way.”  And I answered: “I am ashamed.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “You must yet become as a child and without shame.  The pride of youth is still upon you; you have become young late; but whoever would become as a child must overcome his youth too.”  And I reflected for a long time and trembled.  But at last I said what I had said at first: “I do not want to.”

Then laughter surrounded me.  Alas, how this laughter tore my entrails and slit open my heart!  And it spoke to me for the last time: “O Zarathustra, your fruit is ripe, but you are not ripe for your fruit.  Thus you must return to your solitude again; for you must yet become mellow.”  And again it laughed and fled; then it became still around me as with double stillness.  But I lay on the ground and sweat poured from my limbs.

Now you have heard all, and why I must return to my solitude.  Nothing have I kept from you, my friends.  But this too you have heard from me, who is still the most taciturn of all men–and wants to be.  Alas, my friends, I still could tell you something, I still could give you something.  Why do I not give it? Am I stingy?

But when Zarathustra had spoken these words he was overcome by the force of his pain and the nearness of his parting from his friends, and he wept loudly; and no one knew how to comfort him.  At night, however, he went away alone and left his friends.