American Idol – Final Two

I typically think that by the time the AI finals roll around, it doesn’t really matter how the final two contestants sing. Most people who watch are settled firmly in one of two camps, and odds are they made up their minds about how they were going to vote as soon as the final two were announced.

So given all that, I started watching tonight’s show with the assumption that tonight’s performances weren’t going to do much to change the outcome. Scotty and Lauren were pretty even through the first two rounds – and afterwards I was feeling pretty confident about my prediction last week that Scotty was going to win the whole thing running away.

But.

The third round happened.

And what was so interesting about the third round – at least to me – is that Lauren clearly had the better song of the two. Plus, Scotty seemed to be struggling a little bit with the melody of his song…and by the time the third round was over, I really thought that Lauren out-sang him and might just win it after all.

THAT IS ONLY MY OPINION.

(Also, as a sidenote, I very much enjoyed how Lauren had to hold her dress like Loretta Lynn when she was walking back up the stairs after she sang to her mama.)

(I think that probably made Loretty proud.)

(If she happened to be watching, of course.)

So. What do y’all think? Who’s the winner?

Stay safe & hang in there, Texas / Oklahoma / Kansas / Arkansas / Missouri. Praying for y’all.

Us Will Keep This Between We

It’s no secret that I love “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on Food Network. And last night’s episode, I am happy to announce, marked the most enjoyable thirty minutes of culinary programming these eyes have ever witnessed: “The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Fried Chicken.”

Oh yes. It is true. For thirty minutes (well, 22), various and sundry food personalities discussed the best fried chicken they’ve ever eaten. I was tickled to see that Gus’ Fried Chicken in Memphis made the list (it is, in fact, divine), but I’ve never tried any of the other fried chcken selections.

So I think it’s safe to say that I’ve now solidified some new Fried Chicken Goals in my life. It’s right and good to be mindful of such things.

*****

At the beginning of every summer I start to get a sense of what our summer soundtrack is going to be, and if this past week is any indication, Summer 2011 is going to be all about NEEDTOBREATHE. I’ve listened to them for a few years – ever since we heard them open for Dave Barnes one night and I LITERALLY DIED (sorry. I miss Rachel Zoe.) – but for whatever reason, I can’t quit listening to them right now. Because, well, this:

And also this.

It would seem that this summer is going to be all about bluesy rock music and fried chicken. In other words: MY SOUTHERN HERITAGE.

*****

You can still enter to win a $100 Shutterfly.com gift card through the Sprite Tabs for Humanity giveaway.

*****

Last night I also watched the season premiere of The Bachelorette. I had no intention of committing to this new season because, well, Ashley – though adorable – has one of those voices that sort of makes me want to scale the nearest wall by clawing out chunks of sheetrock with my fingernails.

That is to say: there are some speaking voices that I enjoy more than hers.

I ended up watching, though, mainly because I just needed to make sure that I wasn’t missing out on a defining television moment. As it turned out, I need not have worried.

I don’t know that I’ll tune in again since we really need to hold on to as much sheetrock as we can in our house (not to mention that the festivities were a wee bit boring). However, I’m glad that I watched just so that I could 1) confirm with my own eyes that a man on a dating show elected to wear a mask for the duration of the first party and WAS REWARDED WITH A ROSE FOR HIS BEHAVIOR and 2) continue to marvel at the unique and creative ways that people completely butcher pronoun usage.

“That’s between her and I.”

“I really need to focus on Ashley and I’s relationship.”

“I hope him and her are really happy together.”

(I made up these examples since I did not in fact transcribe the episode.)

(But if nobody said these exact words last night, just be patient. The mangled pronoun train is a-rolllin’ down the Bachelorette tracks, and NONE OF US CAN STOP IT.)

Did any of y’all watch?

I would enjoy reading your thoughts and insight and wisdom.

Not to mention your stellar pronoun usage.

The end.

Okay. I Need To Talk About It.

No American Idol spoilers here. I don’t want to ruin the festivities for our West Coast friends.

But if anybody wants to chime in about what happened on Idol tonight, let’s talk in the comments.

I’ll be the first one there.

:-)

American Idol Top 3: I Have Some Thoughts

That’s a deeply original title I’ve got going on up there, now isn’t it?

Just reels you right in.

Anyway.

I just watched the Top 3 episode of American Idol, and I’m conflicted. Because while there were parts that I really enjoyed, there were parts that left me sort of shrugging my shoulders. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I think the reason dawned on me just a few seconds ago.

Stay with me. I’m going to get to my point eventually. Promise.

Everybody sang well tonight. There were no major flubs (save Haley’s spill at the front of the stage), but nothing blew me away. There was no MOMENT. No great big crowning achievement for anyone’s AI journey. I think Haley probably came closest with the Led Zeppelin song that she sang first (seriously. she WAILED.), but then she followed it up with a Fleetwood Mac song that nearly put me to sleep, and the Alanis Morissette song just felt too big for her, like she couldn’t fit in all the lyrics in the allotted time.

(However, I did have a bit of a Haley breakthrough when I realized that she reminds me a little bit of Fiona Apple.)

(And once that dawned on me, I felt like I finally had some sort of understanding about what kind of recording artist she’ll be.)

(So that was nice.)

Scotty did his Scotty thing. I give him credit for knowing his strengths, and he definitely played to those strengths tonight. He’s made big progress in terms of being more comfortable on the stage, more expressive when he sings – but he’s kept it between the country music ditches this whole season. At some point it would’ve been fun to hear him do a country version of something unexpected – sort of like Kris Allen’s acoustic version of “Heartless” a couple of years ago.

And listen – that Lauren. I could just hug her. When she walked out on the stage for her first song wearing those white cowboy boots and those white flower earrings, I couldn’t help but smile. She’s so bubbly and cute and talented – but she lacks confidence. It’s the biggest difference between her and Haley. They both have great voices, but Haley owns hers in a way that Lauren doesn’t yet. I think the reason why she didn’t wow me tonight is because even though she sounded good, she didn’t have authority on the stage. That’ll come with time. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that she’s got a big career in front of her.

So given all of that, my big a-ha moment tonight was this: the judges have been so much nicer and more pleasant this season, but they haven’t pushed the contestants as hard. And that’s the reason why we’ve sort of gotten the same thing from them week after week after week. On one hand I so appreciate the judges’ consistent encouragement – I’d rather listen to their kind words instead of Ryan bickering with Simon any day of the week – but if there’s a drawback to all the niceties, we saw it tonight. And I couldn’t help but wonder if Simon would have been able to do for Lauren what he did for Carrie Underwood. You know?

(And listen – I don’t take issue with the judges being kind. I’m just not sure that they’re getting the same results from the contestants that they would if they offered more constructive criticism and less validation. I’m also very aware that if I were in the position of being a judge, I would probably do nothing more than tell every single contestant that they’re ABSOLUTELY DARLIN’ and then I would offer them some sort of homemade cobbler or maybe even a casserole.)

(I tend to overcompensate when I’m worried about hurting somebody’s feelings.)

If I had to wager a guess, I’d say that Haley and Scotty will be the top two. I’d never have guessed that eight weeks ago, but Haley is confident. And that confidence has propelled her ahead of Lauren, I think.

I also think that Scotty will win the whole thing running away.

What did y’all think? Who are your top two?

American Idol – Top 5

So I’m admittedly a little bit off of my American Idol game. I didn’t see last week’s show because of the tornado coverage / news, and it was only yesterday that I spent about fifteen minutes on the YouTube watching everyone’s Top 6 performances (my favorite, surprisingly, was Haley’s version of “Beautiful”). I went back and forth about whether I should just let the rest of the season pass by without posting about it – after all, with Casey gone, I’m not nearly as invested in who wins – but I decided a few minutes ago that, for better or worse, I was gonna jump back on the AI train.

All aboard.

James Durbin – “Closer to the Edge” – Sometimes I feel like James has that Adam Lambert-ish tendency to fade away in the parts of a song where he’s not screaming. That was definitely true this time around. The beginning was a little rough, and I thought even the loud parts were pretty shrill and pitch-y. Not my favorite.

“Without You” – Listen. I have liked James all the way through this competition; it’s nearly impossible not to root for him. But I didn’t think he sounded so great on this song – it was sort of all over the place pitch-wise. Granted, he was emotional, and that was moving, but I think it would’ve been way better if he had been more consistent with the notes. Just sayin’.

Jacob Lusk – “No Air” – For some reason this sounded like it was in the wrong key to me. It was so high that I winced a little bit while he was singing. He was super sharp, and my ears did not enjoy it. The end.

“Love Hurts” – I didn’t expect to like it at all. But I actually thought the arrangement was pretty great (even though I still don’t like all that super-high business – those super-high notes get Jacob into trouble). The beginning and the end were nice, but the middle got away from him. All in all, though, it was leaps and bounds better than his first song. Just don’t know if it’ll be enough to keep him around another week.

Lauren Alaina – “Flat on the Floor” – I think this was Lauren’s best performance yet. She picked a difficult song, and she sang the FIRE out of it. It was also the first time I’ve seen her really take command of the stage; she was animated, but she wasn’t silly or manic. Fantastic.

“Unchained Melody” – Parts of this were really pretty. Parts were sort of weird (all the runs and stuff seemed odd, almost like she was compensating for not being able to hold notes). I don’t think she put herself in any danger, though.

Scotty McCreery – “Gone” – Oh my word I loved it. It was fun just to hear him sing something more current, you know? I’m all for country classics – for George Jones and Glen Campbell and George Strait – but it’s great that Scotty can pull off a modern song that doesn’t start off with “BABYLOCKTHEMDOORS.” Well played.

“Always On My Mind” – It was fine. There’s nothing really negative I can say about it – but I was just a little bit bored.

Haley Reinhart – “You & I” – Haley has really started to grow on me in the last month or so (ever since that whole “Moanin'” duet with Casey). And while I thought she sounded great, I didn’t like this song at all. I just think that half the AI battle is picking a song that really engages the audience, and this one didn’t do that. Hopefully the second round will go better for her.

“The House of the Rising Sun” – I was totally surprised by how much I liked it. And I think it was probably her best solo performance so far. Definitely the best performance of the night. Very well done.

Best of the night – Lauren, Haley
Might need to be worried – Jacob
Biggest surprise of the night – Jennifer Lopez was dressed like someone who was going to the 1980 Golden Globe Awards in an offering from the Gunne Sax Collection. I think I actually had that same dress in light blue when I was in 4th grade. Bold choice, Mrs. JLo. Bold choice.

What did y’all think?

I’ve Made A Very Important Decision

I was 11 years old when Diana married Prince Charles. And make no mistake about it: I was completely fascinated by every single aspect of their wedding. My parents even let me stay up ALL NIGHT LONG so that I could watch the festivities live on ABC. We didn’t have a VCR at the time (clearly we must have been pilgrims), so I improvised: I recorded the entire ceremony by placing my portable cassette player next to the TV speaker.

Oh, 1981 technology. You were a precious little thing.

For years I held on to the green and white Radio Shack cassette tape with “The Royal Wedding” written on the label in my very best cursive handwriting. I bet I listened to Charles and Diana say their vows fifteen or twenty times in the weeks that followed the wedding, and I wished with everything in me that I could’ve been one of Diana’s flower girls.

Seriously. You have no idea.

When Prince William and Kate Middleton got engaged last year, I couldn’t help but remember the morning that I practically propped open my eyes with toothpicks so that I could catch a glimpse of Diana in her glass carriage while Joan Lunden and David Hartman discussed the intricacies of her wedding gown. I haven’t been nearly as obsessed this time around – in fact, a couple of weeks ago I actually had to consult Google to find out the wedding date – but will I be watching?

WELL OF COURSE I WILL.

Wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Now granted, I won’t be staying up all night for this royal wedding. MAMA LIKES TO REST. But thanks to the wonder of the DVR, I don’t have to miss a minute. Last night I set our DVR for approximately nine hours of wedding coverage (7 hours in the morning, then 2 more in a nighttime wrap-up special), so I should be sufficiently up-to-speed on All Things Windsor by sometime Saturday morning. I’m just as tickled as I can be.

I have to admit, though, that I ran into one little hitch when I was setting the DVR: choosing which network I wanted to watch. I hadn’t given the whole network thing a bit of thought, but when it came time to press “record,” I was overwhelmed by my network news choices. HOW TO DECIDE?

I tried to quickly run through the pros and cons of each network in my head. My inner dialogue went something like this:

CNN: I enjoy Anderson Cooper. Piers Morgan is British, so he’s sort of like an expert. CNN’s graphics are inoffensive. Could be a possibility.

FOXNews: Joan Lunden is doing commentary (seems like old times!). But I always feel like the FOX reporters are screaming at me. And the graphics are madness. I probably need coverage that’s a little more subdued.

CBS: I haven’t watched CBS News since approximately 1978. So there’s that.

ABC: I adore Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer. Plus, I watched Charles and Diana’s wedding on ABC. Barbara Walters is timeless. Definite frontrunner.

NBC: Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer seem so easy-going. Ann Curry always lends an air of calm to a broadcast. Al Roker is charming. Might be fun.

BBC: Love the idea of in-country coverage. But then somebody will say “lift” instead of “elevator” and I’ll feel like an outsider. Probably better in theory than reality.

So. What did I decide?

Well, in the end I went with ABC. Like I said on Twitter last night, it was a tough decision, but I feel good about it.

What about y’all? Will you be watching? Any special plans?

And by all means, if you share my gift for overthinking and have already decided which network you prefer for Royal Wedding coverage, please feel free to share.

My special brand of TV crazy loves company, you know.