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: Siobhan Magnus

Siobhan Magnus, the “Quirky” One, Exits on “American Idol” on April 28, 2010

The elimination show of Wednesday, April 28, 2010, eliminated the only other female contestant still in the competition. This seems particularly odd, since, at the beginning of this year’s season of “American Idol,” the girls definitely seemed to be stronger than the boys. Siobhan Magnus was the voters’ victim this week, and the other two in the bottom three were Mike Lynche and, surprisingly, Casey James.

Siobhan has been one of the consistently most unusual contestants. Her singing style, her dress, her seeming indifference to Simon’s constant criticism of her final high notes—Siobhan just did not seem to care. She marched to a different drummer, and even her father said, in a quick video clip, that she was a very “different” girl. Simon said to her, early on, “You’re a funny little thing, aren’t you?” He was right, and it may have been this edginess that doomed Siobhan amongst mainstream America. After all, if you had to vote between a 17-year-old cutie who had just sung a hymn of praise to his Mom or for Siobhan, who hit a high note that made Simon say it “sounded as though someone were giving birth up there,” which would you pick?

I expressed concern for Big Mike and Siobhan in my Tuesday night comments, indicating that it was anybody’s guess who might go home on Wednesday. Unfortunately for the extremely talented tattooed lady, it was Siobhan of the big voice who bit the dust. Thirty-three million votes were cast, and Siobhan did not get enough of them.

The biggest surprise, to me, was that Casey James placed in the bottom three. He did his best job of the competition on Tuesday, and he seems to have the rock star persona and good looks that young girls would vote for. I was much more worried that Mike Lynche (who was already the lowest vote-getter on another night) would be sent home this time, with no judges’ “save” to rescue him.

The remaining contestants are Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, Casey James, Aaron Kelly and Mike Lynche, and that is the order I see them leaving in, more or less. It was gratifying that America did not penalize Crystal for her mediocre song choice, and Ellen DeGeneres, when asked, predicted that voters would forgive her the only “OK” choice she sang during country and western night.

Other performers on the show this night were Sons of Sylvia, who tour with Carrie Underwood and were introduced by her. The Sons of Sylvia (“Love Left to Lose”) were a group of dark-haired, think-faced, small, ferret-like young men, some with teased hair. Carrie Underwood has been touring with them since leaving “Idol” 5 years ago.

Also performing twice were Rascal Flatts, who performed solo once and then sang a song with Shakira, which seemed an odd pairing. The song Shakira sang and played harmonica on was her new one, “Gypsy.” She wore a long dress with a gold bodice and a long red skirt. Behind her, two shapely dancer/singers danced barefoot in form-fitting black dresses. Her advice for the “American Idol” contestants? “Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” (A presidential quote, she said).

Another performer this night with a big hit was Lady Antebellum singing their big hit ‘Need You Now.” They scored big on April 18 at the Country Music Awards

Notable quotes:  From Siobhan, before she delivered a spot-on rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “You Better Think:” “My baby sisters are my whole world.”(Odd, that. Siobhan’s of an age where you would think she would be thinking boyfriend or career or any of a number of other subjects as being “her whole world.”)  Randy said to her, as she exited the competition, “I think you have an amazing career in front of you. Do it!” Siobhan even hugged her nemesis, Simon, at the urging of Ryan Seacrest.

Some interesting bits in the show that didn’t involve singing were a behind-the-scenes tour of the recording studio where the new (and final) “Shrek” movie is being shot and the in-person appearances of two voices from that film series, Antonio Banderas and Cameron Diaz. (Ryan Seacrest has a small part in the latest film.)

Also, the obligatory commercial took the 6 remaining contestants into the woods and cast 5 of the 6 as vampires, with Big Mike Lynche their intended victim, who fends them off with a pizza that has “extra garlic.” The best vampire of the bunch was Siobhan, and now she’s gone.

Somehow, with that voice and her quirkiness, I think we’ll be hearing more from Siobhan Magnus in the years to come.

Next week, Aaron, Big Mike and Casey will be holding their breath, and I’m sure that neither Lee DeWyze nor Crystal Bowersox is feeling all that “safe.” The guest host next week for the songs of Sinatra is Harry Connick, Jr. With the remaining contestants, the best “fit” for Sinatra might be Lee DeWyze, but all will give his songs a shot.
Stay tuned for the final weeks of American Idol, with only 5 remaining contestants.

“American Idol” Performance Night of April 20, 2010

Alicia Keys was the mentor on Tuesday night’s “American Idol” performance night. With 12 Grammies, 30 million CDs sold and an award as Billboard’s Top Selling Artist of the Decade, this seemed an improvement over some previous weeks. She gave good advice to the 7 remaining contestants, including the information, “I really want to find a way to make them be part of something bigger than themselves.” This last comment was by way of leading into the “Idol Gives Back” program that is upcoming.

First performer of the night was Casey James who sang Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” For a moment, I thought I was back on the campaign trail with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Casey wore a blue jacket, blue jeans and a white top. He played a mean guitar and had 3 soul sisters backing him up, but despite his proficient guitar licks, the judges were not kind. Simon said, “Zero emotion. No originality.  I actually thought it was a lazy song choice.” Randy said, “Every week we kind of see the same thing from you.  Give me something a little different.” Ellen pointed out that, at this level of the competition, the contestants have to be “great. Not good.” Kara said his performance was like some sort of “jam band” and didn’t “show us what makes you different.”

Second performer was Lee DeWyze, wearing a brown shirt and a black tie and the beginning of a scruffy goatee. He sang Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Boxer.” Prior to his performance, mentor Alicia Keys, working with a Lee who was wearing a sort of red snood (stocking cap) said, “If Lee can really bring people into that song, then he will make them feel something.” The judges’ verdict was unanimous in Lee’s favor, after he completed his performance.  Randy said, “It’s really about artists this year.  I think you’re going to have a big career.” Ellen said, “It was your best performance by far, I think.”  Kara commented on how Lee seemed “connected” to the material and that he had had “a moment” this night.

Third performer was the always-dubious Tim Urban. Simon called the difference between Lee’s performance, just before, and Tim’s song, “Staggeringly different,” calling Lee’s performance “Inspirational. Absolutely brilliant. Good for you” and saying, of Tim, “That may have been a step too high for you. Although you’ve improved, it’s a little big of a let-down.” When Tim sang the “oh oh oh oh” section (right before the lyric “Tonight’s the night the world begins”) he was off-key. Not a total shocker.  Randy said of Tim’s performance, “It just kind of laid there. It was just okay for me.”  Ellen called Tim the “soup of the day.” She commented that sometimes she liked the soup of the day and sometimes she didn’t. “Today,” said Ellen, “I didn’t like the soup.”  Kara said, of Tim’s singing, “It was not the best execution.  It wasn’t your best performance.”

Fourth performer this night was Aaron Kelly, who tried to power the ballad “I Believe I Can Fly.” Randy said, “You definitely have pure vocal talent.  Good job.”  Ellen said, “There was a brief time in the seventies that I thought I could fly,” getting a laugh.  Kara commenting on the rough opening portions of the song (which were all too obvious) said, “By the end, all right, you got there.”  Simon was, as usual, the most tactless and cruel, commenting, “If I had turned that one on on the radio, I would have turned it right off, because it wasn’t very good.” The thing that I have noticed about Aaron’s performances is this: he, like Siobhan, likes to have the Big Ending. It seems that he is always performing a Power Ballad with a Big Ending. I like young Aaron, and he certainly was and is better than Tim Urban, so I vote for sending Tim packing, not Aaron. Besides, I really liked his performance during Elvis week, even if the judges did not.

The fifth performer was the quirky Siobhan Magnus. Something has happened to the love affair between Siobhan and the judges. She is the new Whipping Girl of the remaining contestants, supplanting the far less vocally talented Tim Urban for the past few weeks. Siobhan was attired in a butterfly dress and rig (butterfly on shoulder, etc.) and Simon commented that he “found the leaves distracting,” which was funny, since the “leaves” weren’t leaves, at all, but butterflies. Randy said, “It was just okay for me, Babe.”  Ellen said, “I disagree.” Kara had a problem with the fact that her song was somewhat “dramatic” saying, “It’s mot a musical.” Simon agreed with Randy, calling Siobhan’s vocal stylings this night “old-fashioned.” He went on to say, “Too much happened too fast. A bit odd. A little all over the place.” I found this “a bit odd” comment to be “a bit odd,” since Siobhan has been “a bit odd” since Day One. I really liked Siobhan’s vocal stylings. She is extremely talented and her “quirkiness,” which the judges once loved, is now bringing her down. If only one person is going home, that person should be Tim Urban.

Sixth up this night was “Big Daddy” Mike Lynche.  He sang “Hero” on this night devoted to inspirational songs and was criticized for it by Simon, who pointed out that the song was used in the film “Spiderman.” Simon felt the song was “artificial” and ended by saying, “It kind of just didn’t quite gel for me.” Randy said he had been “a little worried” that the song might be too big for Mike’s voice, but ended up saying, “You held your own with it, Dog.”  Ellen said, “I thought you did a great job.”  Kara said it was “not my favorite performance.” Even though Simon did not like the song selection he did concede, before the Spiderman segue, that “I thought you sang it pretty well.”

images41The show saved the best for last, as Crystal Bowersox came out and sang without a guitar or a harmonica for the first time. Her rendition of “People Get Ready” not only moved her to tears at the end but also received the remark, “Standing O” from Randy, and, from Ellen, “You have never looked more beautiful.”  Kara said, “Thank you so much for taking a risk.” Simon has said, for weeks, that the competition is Crystal’s to lose. This night, she proved that, indeed, that might well be true.

Person who should go home this week? Tim Urban.

“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.

March 16th “American Idol” Contestants Sing the Stones

All contestants performed the music of the Rolling Stones onstage on “American Idol” on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. As Ryan Seacrest said in his introduction, “The Rolling Stones are the most iconic group on the planet, period.” I would second that, having seen them, live, in concert, on 12 occasions over the years.

I worried that the crop of musicians that has advanced to the Final Twelve did not have the swagger necessary to pull off the Stones’ best songs. I was right to worry, but let’s start with the good.

Opening the show was Michael Lynche (“Big Daddy”). Michael had the swagger. All of the judges liked his rendition of “Miss You” except Simon, who said that, while he liked the singing (especially the falsetto), “The dancing was kind of corny, verging at times a tiny bit desperate.” Sorry, Michael, but I agree with Simon. I turned to my companion and commented that one particular movement Michael made during his dancing should be dubbed the “Doggy Doo Dance.” (It looked as though Michael had just stepped in…well, you get the idea…and was trying to shake it off his sneaker.) It wasn’t great. Kara thought Michael had “swagger, style and attitude” and Randy felt Michael had “slayed it,” while Ellen said, “What’s not to love about that??” In answer to Ellen’s question, what’s not to love about that was the Doggy Doo Dance, for which I have no film. (I did have video of the Dora the Explorer Dance in a previous review, but not this week.)

Siobhan Magnus, singing “Paint It Black” was amazing this night. She looked good, in a fey way, with a short strapless black cocktail dress paired with black boots. Simon called her rendition “The standout performance of the night,” and I would agree. She really screeched out that high note and Randy said, “That was hot!” while Ellen said she “Loved it” and that she “loved the look.”  Kara had the best critique, saying, “You rise above, like Snooky’s pouf.” (This remark an homage to the Jersey Shore’s Snooky, one assumes). Kara’s final word:  “The best interpretation tonight.” True.

Others who did not suck this night: Casey Jones, singing “It’s All Over Now” (It’s cool that Casey is from Cool, Texas), Lee DeWyze, who lacked intensity but did a decent job with “Beast of Burden,” Crystal Bowersox, with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (also lacking in intensity) and Aaron Kelly singing “Angie.” Once again, Simon gave Aaron a left-handed compliment, saying, “You haven’t got a big voice.  You chose absolutely 100% the right song. It was in tune, it was within your range.” Also, despite the judges’ lukewarm reception, for the first time I liked a song that Andrew Garcia sang, which was “Fade Away.” The judges were not as kind. Simon said, “I genuinely hope you survive another week.” This week, I concur.

Those whose performances had some major problems:

  • Katie Stevens (de rigueur) singing “Wild Horses.” (Bad dress. Pitchy. Never technically perfect. Simon disliked the second half of the arrangement. I have disliked every song Katie has sung, so far.)
  • Lacey Brown: Weird. Sleepy. “Some issues where you hit the notes right,” from Kara. Just the usual boring stuff from the redhead. (Lacey sang “Ruby Tuesday”).
  • Didi Benami: Simon:  “Solid, not brilliant.” Didi sang “Play With Fire.” It was dark and dreary. Lighten up. Do a fast song for a change.
  • Tim Urban: “Under My Thumb.” A reggae version of “Under My Thumb”? Really, Tim? (Just shoot me now, or provide me with earplugs.)
  • Paige Miller: Suffering from laryngitis. Sang “Honky Tonk Woman.” Considering her health issues, did okay. Needs to do better.

Crystal Bowersox Continues to Shine on Girls’ Night (3/09/10) on “American Idol”

images42The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It’s so tempting to use that clichéd division for Tuesday night’s Girls’ night on “American Idol,” but I’m not as cruel as Simon, so I’ve chosen The Good, The Bad and the Okay as my categories. To spare you a lot of reading, the shorthand version of my opinion is this:

The Good: Crystal Bowersox and Didi Benami.

The Bad: Katie Stevens and Paige Miles.

The Okay: Everybody else, which means Siobhan Magnus, Lacey Brown, Katelyn Epperly and Lily Scott.

March 3, Wednesday: Crystal Comes Charging Back on “American Idol”

“American Idol,” March 3, Wednesday, Girls’ night:

images4Best of the night: Crystal Bowersox, Siobhan Magnus, Lilly Scott, Katelyn Epperly.

Worst of the night:  Didi Benami, Haeley Vaughn, Katie Stevens.

Just okay:  Michelle DeLaMor, Lacey Brown, Paige Miles.

Prediction:  If Crystal stays healthy, the group mentioned above will be the last 4 girls standing.

I hope that everyone stays healthy!

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