Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: aaron kelly

Aaron Kelly Sent Home; Casey James Escapes “A.I.” Elimination

Aaron-KellyAt the top of the “American Idol” elimination show of May 4, 2010, Harry Connick, Jr., said, “Music has to be truthful, to me, and that’s what this show is about.” Connick was the mentor this week, and he did a great job. He also sang “And I Love Her” on this night’s show, nattily attired in a black-on-black ensemble, after mugging for the cameras and saying, “It’s not about them, it’s about me.”  At one point, still horsing around, Connick said, “Try to keep it on me.” A funny guy. He also worked in a joke, saying, “It’s been a great honor to be a part of ‘American Idol’ and to work with the judges, with the exception of Ellen.”

Another amusing piece of film showed Connick chatting with young Aaron Kelly and asking him how he liked singing with a three-piece combo, including a clarinet, backing him. Aaron, of course, liked it and Connick said, “Well, don’t get used to it. I can afford it. Why? Because I’m extremely famous.”

Lady Gaga did one of her characteristic outrageous performances, with many half-dressed writhing male dancers in a sort of “Eve in the Garden of Eden” motif and then the top and bottom groups were announced, with Aaron Kelly and Mike Lynche the lowest vote-getters.

In light of the horrific performance turned in by Casey James on Tuesday night, it was surprising to see 17-year-old Aaron Kelly—a very likeable young performer who had done well on Tuesday night—be the one sent home this night. It was also surprising that Big Mike Lynche, who, arguably, performed better than anyone on Tuesday night (The judges were more sold on Lee DeWyze, but I would say it was very close.) was in the bottom two.

Having said that, I’ve been predicting that the good-looking Casey “had it all” as the package that “American Idol” likes to promote. Big Mike is…well…too big. Aaron was too young. Lee and Crystal remain the front-runners, and, apparently, my earlier predictions that Casey had the best chance of finishing in the Top Three was not that far off the mark.
But, for the record, based on his performance on Tuesday night, I still think that Mighty Casey struck out.

“Big Mike” Avoids Elimination with Judges’ “Save” on “American Idol” on April 7, 2010

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 on “American Idol” and the judges use(d) their one (and only one) save of the season to rescue Michael (“Big Mike”) Lynche from elimination.  The bottom three vote getters were announced as being Mike Lynche, Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia. The only one of that trio who was a surprise (to me, anyway) was Big Mike, who had sung “Eleanor Rigby” the previous night.

After performances by one of Kara’s new sings (Jason somebody who reminded of a younger Jamie Foxx), who gave a performance with a lot of technical amplification that ended with Kara crowing, “Jason only had 4 days to get this together and you just killed it,” and Simon saying, “Absolutely great. Well done!” the show moved on to David Archuleta, who played the piano and sang “Imagine.”

I was struck during David’s performance that he was always criticized during the “David(s)” season for singing with his eyes closed and, this time, he sang with his eyes closed, again. It apparently hasn’t hampered his career, which he said features writing and recording. David looked slightly older and his hair looked slightly less curly, as he riffed (“Brotherhood of man”) through “Imagine” and said, “I love Ellen.” He wore a black shirt, light pants and a white and black striped rep tie.

It was at this point that Ryan Seacrest gave Kiran the order to: “Dim the lights. Get to the results.” The bottom three, as noted above, were announced as being Andrew Garcia, Aaron Kelly and Michael Lynche.

After this, Rihanna came out in what looked like a black wet suit with beaded Joan Crawford shoulder pads going on stylistically (Patti LaBelle Space Age Suit Memories). The tight-fitting spandex garment left little to the imagination as Rihanna sang a new song from her forthcoming “Last Girl on Earth” tour, a number entitled “Rock Star 101” that had, as a lyric, “To be what you is you gotta’ be what you are,” (good to know that proper grammar is still alive in the land) and the repeated lyric, “Hey, Baby, I’m a rock star.” This reminded me of the post-divorce song of another current songstress (Pink?) who exulted in her status as a pop icon. Rihanna had a short multi-colored hairstyle and I wondered aloud if she was completely done with Chris Brown as she sang, “Big City, Bright Lights.”

One hundred and thirty-two million votes have been cast this season, and it came down to Big Mike having to sing for his salvation. His wife sobbing in the audience, he sang a falsetto song he had previously used in the competition, rather than “Eleanor Rigby,” which, according to Simon, was the reason he was in this position in the first place.

The judges were unanimous in “saving” the personal trainer, so next week 2 singers will be eliminated from the show at once.

Stay tuned!

“American Idol” of April 6, 2010: Andrew, Aaron, Siobhan: Will They Make Up the Bottom Three?

images4Tuesday, April 6th’s “American Idol” competition featured the songs of Lennon and McCartney, with the judges saying, in advance of the singing, “Certain songs shouldn’t be changed. But, overall, I’d like to hear something that is not exactly like the original.”

Well, that was certainly the case with some of the front-running contestants, between the diggery doo player on Crystal Bowersox’s version of “Come Together” and the bagpipe player descending the stairs as Lee DeWyze finished the night, singing 9th, and performing “Hey, Jude.” Ellen commented that she liked the confidence that Lee showed, “even when that guy (the bagpipe player) got separated from his parade.” Simon, laughing, said, “I don’t know what you lot are drinking in the house.  You were doing great and then the bagpipe player walked down the stairs. It was like he showed up on the wrong show.”

I have to admit that Lee, one of my favorites, did not score points tonight for being on pitch (the word “bad” was particularly, well, bad) and the entire song sounded like it was about one note too high for him, pitch-wise. He seemed to be straining to hit the notes, to me, and Randy, who began the critique, said, “That guy was funny” (meaning the bagpipe player), before going on to say, “It was another hot one.” Ellen ultimately voiced her confidence in Lee, saying, “I thought it was a great job. I loved it.” Kara, at least, noted some pitch difficulties, saying, “Good, a few off-key notes, but I am still a fan.” Sadly, this night, Lee was not at his best, for me, but I still think his talent puts him through and that the ones who should be worrying are Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia, and…if the judges carry any weight…Siobhan Magnus.

I, personally, liked Siobhan’s rendition of “Across the Universe,” but Randy was right when he said, “It was a little sleepy for me.” Kara, too, said, “It was very restrained and polite. I am still a fan, but I am a little confused.” Simon asked Siobhan what she was connecting to when she sang the song, and Siobhan almost broke down in tears talking about her little sisters and not changing who she is. All agreed, in pre-performance comments, that Siobhan is “amazingly weird” and “unique.” Katie Stevens said, “Those notes she hits are ridiculous.” (echoing Kara’s usual comments). Randy commented, “Nobody screams artist more than you I love seein’ that from you.  I love the artistry in you.  Just follow it and go with it.” Ellen, too said, “Always honor who you are.  You march to a different drummer.  And you listened to us tell you to cool it on the high notes for a while.” Simon felt that Siobhan “came back from last week.  You are unpredictable.  Much, much, much better than last week.” Still, the remarks were less glowing for Siobhan than for most, she has been in the bottom 3 before, and only time will tell if America’s teen-aged voters liked her slow ballad.

The first singer of the night was Aaron Kelly.  He sang “The Long and Winding Road,” which Ellen called “a long and winding song.” The most germane comment was Kara’s. She said, “When it comes together for you, it works.  Every week feels like the same song from you.” I would agree with the second half of those remarks.   Only Simon called it completely like it was: “Very old-fashioned.  Very boring.  You’ve got to become young and relevant.” Therefore, my unscientific prediction is that, once again, the “A’s” have it and Aaron or Andrew may be in trouble, with Siobhan…who deserves to stay…potentially at risk.

Second performer of the night, Katie Stevens, wore a pink dress and a ponytail and sang “Let It Be.” The word “blossoming” seemed to be in evidence tonight, with Kara using it for Katie in saying, “You’re blossoming on that stage.  You’re confident.  You never looked better and you never sounded better.” It is true that, for once, Katie was not off-key. Simon said, “Tonight, however, you got it right,” but an argument soon broke out between Simon and the rest of the panel as to whether this performance showed that Katie had a country-and-western vibe. Simon said, “It felt as though you were singing it about somebody, rather than being robotic,” and, after that, the argument about the best vocal direction for Katie broke out.

Third up was Andrew Garcia, who, at least, sang an up-tempo song (“Can’t Buy Me Love”).  Randy felt his performance was “solid,” although he also called it “a little corny at times. It was OK. It was all right.”  Ellen said, “First of all, you can buy love,” but, after the joke that line got, went on to say, “I thought it was the perfect song choice, and I loved it.”  Kara said, “I wanted to love it,” which was a left-handed way of saying that she did not love it, but complimented Andrew on “the breakdown.” Simon said, “The problem for me was that you had the band in back of you. It was old-fashioned and, unfortunately, irrelevant.  You and the band, together, got this wrong tonight. Sorry.” Andrew countered, “I’m glad I had fun doing it,” and I’m glad he did, too, because it might be the last song he sings on “American Idol.”

Fourth performer of the night was Michael Lynche, who sang “Eleanor Rigby.” The vote was 3 who liked it and 1 (Simon) who felt his performance was “the sort of thing you see and hear in musicals.  I don’t think it made you contemporary at all.  It was over-the-top.  I’m confused now about what kind of artist you are.” The 3 others, however, were “lovin’ the fact that the points that did work were great. I love seeing the artist in you blossom (more blossoming comments)” from Randy, with Ellen commenting that the song was “ huge risk” and saying, “I thought that was incredible.” Kara said, “Those vocals were amazing.  That was fire.  Committed. You made that song commercial and relevant to this generation. Great job.” But, after that, Simon popped Kara’s cocoon bubble of praise with his put-downs. Still, Big Mike, who is from a Florida family of performers and had a brother who advanced fairly far in the competition in another season, should be safe.

Fifth performer was the always-reliable Crystal Bowersox, who sang, “Come together.” Randy called her singing, “Another solid performance” and added, “It definitely worked.”  Ellen said, “I loved the diggery do (Aborigine instrument).  The only thing I have to worry about each week is a new way to tell you how great you are.  An amazing job. I loved it.”  Kara said, “I think this is one of my favorite performances.  You were more accessible tonight.”  Simon said, “That’s a song that I could hear on the radio today.” After that, comments were about the playing of Ernie on the diggery do, when Randy said, with a laugh that he looked as though he were about ready to pass out.

The sixth performer this night was Tim Urban who sang “All My Lovin’.” Tim usually is panned by the critics, but voted on by his gallery of fans. Tonight, however he sang the song relatively straight and received praise from all the judges. Randy said, “You’re like in your own category.  I think that was a much better performance than the last couple of weeks.  A good Tim performance.” Simon would later take issue with this idea of a separate category for Tim Urban, calling it insulting to the other contestants. He said, “Taking everything into consideration, there were no gimmicks. The song suits your voice.  You take the criticism like a man.  This is a shortcut to fame and you’ve handled yourself really well.” Ellen said she felt that Tim’s version of “All My Lovin’” was “second best after the Jeff Buckley version of ‘Hallelujah.’” Kara said, “It’s best when you have a guitar in your hands. You’re to be commended for that.” So, for Tim, it was a good night, and he later said, “I wanted to pick a song that I knew fitted me.  I definitely had fun with it.”

Seventh performer on Tuesday was Casey James, who sang John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” The song had a C&W vibe with just a cello accompaniment. Randy called it “a sensitive vibe.  I was really impressed that you took that kind of risk.  I love that you did this.” Ellen said, “We just need to see more of that side (the quiet side) of you.”  Kara felt that Casey had shown his “vulnerability,” and praised him for “showing depth.”  “Towards the end, you showed that you really know where to take your voice.” Simon, after calling Casey “Goldilocks,” said “the best performance of the night, so far,” and called his improvement from the week before, “absolutely ginormous.”  “From the midway point, you put your stamp on it. I am very, very impressed with you tonight.” So, Casey, the cute, lean, guy with the rock star looks stays.

Eighth (out of 9) performing “Across the Universe” was Siobhan Magnus,” who did a good job, I thought, (unlike the judges’ assessment) and she was followed by Lee DeWyze, also one of my three favorites, who did not, in my opinion. It doesn’t really matter what I heard, because the performers at risk after Tuesday night are the “A’s” (Andrew and Aaron) the most, and, very possibly, Siobhan after the judges reamed her quiet rendition of a song. This seemed somewhat unfair, as all four of them have been telling her not to put the Big Showstopper Finish at the end of each week’s performance, so Siobhan sang a song, a la Streisand, and her reward? Potentially being among the lowest three, when she is arguably among the top three, talent-wise.

I’m still pulling for Crystal, Lee, Siobhan and Casey and any of the others can go home and I won’t care.

Boys’ Night on “American Idol” (3/10/2010): If Your Name Starts with the Letter “A”, Take Cover

american-idol-season-9-promo-picThe boys strutted their stuff on “American Idol” tonight, (Wednesday, March 10th), and, as usual, I’ll try to predict who’s in trouble and who is going to sail through tomorrow night. The fact that I’m so rarely correct shouldn’t stop you from reading this and feeling superior tomorrow night.

The show began with one of the front-running favorites, Lee DeWyze, singing “Fireflies” while clad in a blue/black/green Woodsmen-fell-that-tree plaid shirt.  The remarks were not Lee’s usual high ones, with Simon saying, “There was nothing to rave about. You are better than the version of the song you just did.” Randy didn’t much care for it, either, saying, “For me, it was a strange choice. But you made it work. You worked it out.” Randy also criticized some pitch problems and Ellen concurred but added, “I know a lot of people like you.” Kara was the most complimentary, saying, “You look confident. I think the song was a better song with your interpretation. A solid job.” So, is Lee in trouble? In one word, No.

Next up was Alex Lambert, who sang “Trouble.” If Alex weren’t such a cutie-pie, I’d say he was IN trouble. He has a nasal quality to his singing and Ellen, who has previously compared him to an unripe banana that needs to ripen, said, “Don’t become a cocky banana, because nobody likes that.’ The “vulnerability to be you…to let go” was discussed and Kara said, “That’s what we need from you,” while Simon added, “Relax and have a good time.” I think Alex is too cute to get sent home.

After Alex came Tim Urban, who is usually crucified by the judges. Tim sang the Jeff Buckley version of “Hallelujah” and Ellen went so far as to get out from behind the judges’ table, walk up, and give him a hug, while saying, “That was fantastic.” Randy said, “You walked in some pretty big shoes, and I think you did a pretty good job.” Kara commented, “I actually think you’re kind of in it now.” Simon then took responsibility for Tim’s sudden improvement saying,”I kind of feel responsible for you doing well, because I gave you confidence. It’s not the best version I’ve ever heard, but, for you, it was terrific.” In other words, it was a compliment along the lines of, “For a fat girl, you don’t sweat much,” hug or no hug.

Andrew Garcia was up next and, for the umpteenth time, he sang a female star’s song, this time Christina Aguilara’s “Genie in a Bottle.” Nobody really liked it. Simon said, “It was a little bit desperate. You’ve overthought it. You’re kind of still going backwards at the moment.” The backwards remark was from Andrew’s earlier version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” during Hollywood week, which is the only thing anyone wants to talk about with Andrew. I thought he was bad last week and his suit was worse. Ellen said, “The genie came out of the bottle too late.” Kara remarked, “You peaked so early. I couldn’t hear the melody.  It just wasn’t great, and I wanted it to be.” Randy commented on the fact that it was “pitchy” and “It made us feel like the whole song was only 3 notes.” Wave good-bye to Andy.

Casey James, another favorite of the judges…(or, at least, of Kara’s)…sang a Keith Urban song “You’ll Think of Me” and was criticized by Randy for having chosen a song that was “a little bit of a safe choice. I feel like you’ve got more of that edgy Stevie Ray Vaughn in you.” Ellen, however, said: “I thought it was great. I really liked it.” Kara commented, “This was better than last week. It was honest, definitely.”  Simon thought it was Casey’s second best performance, so far and said, “It made you sincere. You sounded great.” No way is Casey getting kicked off with his sex appeal, but his hair looked really scraggly/awful this night.

Aaron Kelly, who is only 16, came out and sang “I’m Already There,” a song about a father calling home and talking to his son, which Kara felt was pushing it, (for a sixteen-year-old.) Simon disagreed with Kara’s comment, calling it “complete rubbish,” and Randy advised, “The thing you should work on is your lower register.” In my opinion, Aaron should also work on his upper register, which was annoying in the extreme. When he sang the word “hotel,” he was flat and his attempts to sell the song by bobbing back and forth reminded me of the one-year-old, Elise, who does the same thing which her parents (my son and wife) have dubbed “The Dora Dance,” because she does it while watching “Dora the Explorer” on television. The video is posted on YouTube (Elise does the Dora Dance.) Ellen’s comments to Aaron were; “I love you. You’re 16. You have the confidence of someone 30 years old. I just didn’t think that was terrific.” Ellen was right, and I think Aaron’s song title (“I’m Already There”) sums up where he will be after tomorrow night: already back home.

Last, but certainly not least were Todrick Hall, singing “Somebody to Love” by Queen, which was refreshing after so many male singers sitting on stools singing quiet, desperate songs. Todrick did have on one of his odd outfits, which resembled nothing so much as a riding outfit with jodhpurs and a slash-zippered jacket and single glove. Simon even commented, of Todrick, “So you’re a Broadway singer” remarking, especially on the one glove. He said, “There were so many boring performances with people sitting on a stool playing a guitar. That performance may have saved you.” I certainly hope so. Randy commented, “Todrick is back. That was one of the best vocals.” Ellen liked the way Todrick made the song sound “like a Gospel song. Man, you’re great, and I commend you for doing that song.” Kara also commented “the singing was good.” Todrick should be able to hang on, unless America thinks Aaron is too cute to send home, but there is no comparison between the talent level of the inexperienced Aaron and the Broadway veteran Todrick, so do the right thing, America, and send Aaron home to grow up a bit and try out again another year.

All the judges were “wowed” by the final performer of the night, Michael “Big Daddy” Lynche, who sang “This Woman’s Work.” He was wearing a suit jacket with sneakers and blue jeans and began with a high falsetto. Randy: “Really? That was crazy.  Yo, Mike, that was hot!” Ellen: “You are the one to beat now.” Kara; “It’s amazing. It brought me to tears.” Simon: “This was so needed tonight. It was all so boring. You 100% nailed it. Best of the night and of all these lives shows so far.”

So, who’s going home? Should be Andrew and Aaron…. alphabetically, at least…with an outside chance that Todrick isn’t the favorite of the teeny-boppers of America who actually pick up the phone and vote.

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