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Articles: music

Page 1

How to Audition for American Idol
Thursday, 2011 July 28 - 10:29 pm
KaitlynThis is my beautiful, smart, funny, and talented cousin Kaitlyn. We're actually first cousins, though separated by two marriages and twenty years in age.

Kaitlyn went to school with last year's American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery. After seeing Scotty win, she decided she wanted to have a go at Idol herself. So, I promised I would take her to audition this year.

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Posted by Ken in: lifemusictelevision

Rip, Mix, Burn
Wednesday, 2010 December 29 - 2:22 pm
Back in 2001, I bought the original iPod, with 5GB of storage and the monochrome display and the mechanical wheel. It was a marvel of engineering at the time. I even took it running with me, though it was a bit bulky and heavy; it tended to pull my shorts down if I had it clipped to my waist.

Nine years and several generations of iPods later, I'm finally getting around to ripping all my CDs to iTunes.

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Posted by Ken in: lifemusic

American Idol Week 11: Finale
Tuesday, 2010 May 25 - 9:11 pm
It's the final competition, between Lee and Crystal. They each sing their favorite song from the season, then one chosen by the producer, then the always-bad pre-written single that the winner will record.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 10: Top 3
Tuesday, 2010 May 18 - 8:56 pm
Michael went home last week, as expected. Tonight: two songs from each contestant, one of their own choosing and one judges' choice.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 9: Top 4
Tuesday, 2010 May 11 - 8:56 pm
Aaron finally went home last week. Tonight: Jamie Foxx mentors the singers through movie songs. Also: duets.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 8: Top 5
Tuesday, 2010 May 4 - 9:05 pm
Siobhan went out last week; a small upset but not a shocker given her performance. This week's theme is Frank Sinatra, also known as "an invitation to butcher classics once again". Harry Connick Jr. is the mentor; he's even helping to write arrangements and playing along during the performances.

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Posted by Ken in: music

American Idol Week 7: Top 6
Tuesday, 2010 April 27 - 9:41 pm
It's Shania Twain week. Woo, uh, hoo. Tim finally went out last week. As it turns out, Tim had been the longest-running "VoteForTheWorst.com" contestant in history.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 6: Top 7
Tuesday, 2010 April 20 - 9:02 pm
Andrew and Katie went out last week. This week is "inspirational songs" week, ugh. Alicia Keys is the mentor. Tomorrow Bill Gates is supposed to make some kind of surprise appearance for Idol Gives Back.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 5: Top 9 Again
Tuesday, 2010 April 13 - 9:45 pm
Michael was the bottom vote-getter last week, but was saved by the judges. This week: Elvis. Adam Lambert is the mentor. The cast of "Glee" is in the audience.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 4: Top 9
Tuesday, 2010 April 6 - 9:55 pm
Didi went out last week. This week: Lennon and McCartney.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 3: Top 10
Wednesday, 2010 March 31 - 1:20 am
As predicted, Paige went out last week. No surprise. This week: Usher, mentoring for soul and R&B week.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 2: Top 11
Tuesday, 2010 March 23 - 10:14 pm
The theme is Billboard #1 Hits. Miley Cyrus is the mentor tonight. Huh. It's hard to imagine an adult taking advice from a 17-year-old kid who uses AutoTune when she performs, but whatever.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

American Idol Week 1: Top 12
Tuesday, 2010 March 16 - 10:53 pm
It's Rolling Stones night.

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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

It's That Time Again
Monday, 2010 March 15 - 11:03 pm
Well. You know the drill. American Idol is back, and I have to blog about it. I think this year I'll skip trying to give them scores and keep running averages and all that... that got to be too much of a hassle.

We're at the top 12, so here's my prediction on how each of the contestants will finish.

12. Tim Urban. It's easy to see why he didn't make the original cut. He's completely out of his element. He's got the Brady Bunch boy-next-door look, but his vocals are weak and he looks like a lost puppy on stage. He won't last long.

11. Katie Stevens. She has a lot of trouble staying on pitch, and she lacks confidence on stage. When the judges say she doesn't know what kind of singer she is, what they really mean is that she lacks credibility as an artist.

10. Paige Miles. Her biggest problem is a lack of charisma. Much like Katie, she seems nervous on stage and that hurts her vocals; it all seems like karaoke with her.

9. Aaron Kelly. He actually deserves to leave sooner than Katie, but he's what I call "grandma-friendly": young and harmless-looking. That's a big draw for the Idol demographic, so he'll stay around longer than he should.

8. Lacey Brown. I actually really want to like her, but I find it hard to. It seems like she's trying too hard to please the judges instead of expressing herself as an artist. In other words, it comes off a little phony. Last week's performance was good, but she's going to have to really work to draw people in.

7. Andrew Garcia. Andrew would have been a shoo-in for the top 3 if he could have kept doing things like his Paula Abdul cover. But as the judges said, he seems to have peaked too soon, and he's starting to seem like a one-trick pony. He has potential, but he's going to need to find a new gimmick.

6. Didi Benami. You know, she's pretty and she's likable, but her vocals aren't great. She's had several uneven performances. I think she's got the potential to improve, but I haven't been wowed so far. I think she'll hang around for a while based on her likability, but I can't see her winning.

5. Michael Lynch. Okay, his rendition of "This Woman's Work" was crazy good, and he's definitely an interesting character. I'm just not totally convinced he can keep things interesting from week to week. He's talented and likable, but I fear we'll get bored with him at some point.

4. Crystal Bowersox. She's unquestionably talented, but you get the feeling that she's just performing exactly what she's performed in coffee houses for the last ten years. She's all but admitted that she's selling out for the money. She carries an attitude that she's too good for this show, and I think that'll cost her eventually.

3. Casey James. Let's face it: he's here based on his looks. But he's inoffensive and he's not a bad singer. He'll coast through a long way before the voters eventually realize there's not much substance behind the face.

2. Siobhan Magnus. Yep, she's weird. It's almost like she's got Asperger's syndrome or something; she's seems so disconnected. But I think she clearly has the best voice out of everyone, and she deserves to be recognized for that.

1. Lee Dewyze. You might be thinking, "Wha?" He's not very flashy or memorable. But he sounds exactly like the kind of guys you hear on the radio nowadays. He's current and consistent; you won't hear him butchering some 1940s standard. It's his mainstream appeal that makes him the favorite right now.

Now, that isn't how I want things to play out. I'd love to see Lacey take a chance and end up flooring everyone with some breakout performance. I'd love to see Andrew find a new gimmick. It'd be great if Siobhan seemed more in touch with reality. And it'd be fantastic if Michael wowed us week after week with alternative music. But it's mainstream America that decides these things, and there's a limit as to how far contestants can stray from the tried and true formulas.

Top 12 competition starts tomorrow.
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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

Sing Off
Friday, 2009 December 18 - 2:31 pm
So, is anyone else watching "Sing Off" on NBC? It's like "Glee" meets "American Idol". In fact, it's so obviously a mash-up of those two shows, it almost makes you pity poor NBC for not having the ability to come up with any new ideas. Next year on NBC: We put eight high school glee clubs on a deserted island, where they must sing and dance for food and firewood! We'll call it "Lord of the Dance (and the Flies), Plus Eight". (Kate Gosselin hosts.)

I mean, "Sing Off" even features Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger playing the role of bubble-headed blabberer (a role made famous, of course, by Paula Abdul). And there's Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman, who gleefully throws around terms like "pitchy" and "make it your own" so often that you keep expecting him to call someone "dawg" at any minute. They've got an awkwardly metro host in Nick Lachey. If they'd only found a crotchety Brit to be the third judge instead of Ben Folds, they'd have duplicated the Idol formula precisely.

Oh, and did I mention that one of the groups sang an a capella version of "Don't Stop Believing"? They might as well have been wearing "Glee" t-shirts.

Now, all that being said, we're fans of the show. The groups are sincere, and the performances are fun to watch. We like the Beelzebubs, a bunch of college guys from Tufts, who seem to be the most inventive group of the contestants.

NBC is slamming through the competition quickly (three two-hour episodes, and a finale next week), making this seem like more of a trial balloon than an ongoing series. I'm hoping that if they do decide to make this a recurring show, we'll get to see more of the early auditions and the elimination process.
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Posted by Ken in: musictelevision

Canonical Christmas Songs
Saturday, 2009 November 28 - 12:54 pm
One way for sure to know it's after Thanksgiving is that you can find radio stations on non-stop Christmas music mode. Around Raleigh, it's Mix 101.5.

I think I need to make a playlist of canonical Christmas songs. I don't mean just the Perry Como stuff, but the best version of each song, old or new. For example, for me, the best version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is the one by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. And I admit that I kind of like Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

I'll be running through my collection to find the best stuff, and I'll post it some time in the coming weeks. Feel free to offer suggestions. But no one had better suggest that treacly abomination "Christmas Shoes", which wins the award for Worst Christmas Song for the 13th year in a row.
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Posted by Ken in: music

Literal Version of "Take On Me"
Tuesday, 2008 October 7 - 1:39 pm
Via kottke: a-ha's "Take On Me", if the lyrics matched what's happening in the video:



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Posted by Ken in: funnyhahamusic

New-ish Music
Thursday, 2007 November 1 - 9:46 am
I'm really woefully out of the music scene these days. Thank God for Target commercials.

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Posted by Ken in: music

On The Radio
Thursday, 2006 May 18 - 2:22 am
Can it be? A radio station that's actually tolerable?

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Posted by Ken in: music

I'm Back
Thursday, 2005 July 14 - 11:40 pm
Nothing to make you appreciate an Internet connection like having to go without one for a while.

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Posted by Ken in: lifemusicsite-businesssports

This Week
Sunday, 2005 July 10 - 11:35 pm
Lots going on this week.

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Posted by Ken in: lifemusictheater

Saturday Recap
Sunday, 2005 June 5 - 5:57 pm
You know, there are a lot of cute women in Chapel Hill.

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Posted by Ken in: datinglifemusic

Concert: Vaughan Penn and Rebecca Lynne
Saturday, 2005 June 4 - 1:06 pm
Kicking off my live music weekend... Vaughan Penn at the Six String Cafe, with Rebecca Lynne.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Norah Jones - Feels Like Home
Monday, 2004 July 19 - 11:47 pm
Norah Jones' second album, "Feels Like Home", gives us a little more country and a little less blues.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
Sunday, 2004 July 11 - 12:30 pm
Avril's sophomore album seems safe and studio-sanctioned.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Alanis Morissette - So Called Chaos
Sunday, 2004 July 11 - 12:18 pm
Alanis' latest effort gives us more of the same; that's both good and bad.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Jem - Finally Woken
Wednesday, 2004 June 2 - 9:16 pm
I discovered Jem while poking around the iTunes music store. I liked the 30-second previews enough to buy the album.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Dido - Life for Rent
Monday, 2003 November 10 - 11:48 pm
This album grows on you, in a way that the first album didn't. Here's hoping radio stations don't ruin it with overplay.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Evanescence - Fallen
Monday, 2003 November 10 - 11:34 pm
The first time I heard the single "Bring Me to Life" from Evanescence, I was blown away. I did something I rarely do nowadays: I bought the album just for that song.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Concert: India.Arie
Monday, 2003 November 3 - 12:27 am
While she might want to avoid the "neo-soul" label, India.Arie is certainly the new voice of soul today.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Alanis Morissette - Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Wednesday, 2003 October 22 - 10:24 pm
I purchased this CD quite a while ago, but have only really listened to it in the last few weeks. I was surprised by what I found.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Eastmountainsouth
Wednesday, 2003 October 8 - 9:57 pm
This folk group combines pop, folk, country, Celtic, and bluegrass sounds with silky-smooth vocal harmonies, to make for a very compelling and listenable album.

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Album: Jewel - 0304
Friday, 2003 October 3 - 12:17 am
Jewel's newest CD brings more of a pop flavor

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews

Concert: Amy Fairchild
Saturday, 2003 September 20 - 12:13 am
Amy Fairchild gives a moving and entertaining performance at the Six String Cafe

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Posted by Ken in: musicreviews


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