Friday, March 25, 2011

American Idol: Top 11 Week (#1)

After being told that the themes were going to be much more flexible in order to satisfy the singers strengths, we find out that the top eleven week is Motown. The Motown industry, which was started by Berry Gordy in Detroit, was one of the best musical industry in the field of music. However, switching your intentions is a bit aggravating. However, I was pleased with how the Idols delivered.

Scotty McCreery was the performer who seemed to stand out the most. It wasn't because he had the best vocal performance of the night, but because he was able to take a Stevie Wonder song ("For Once In My Life") I've heard so many times and turn it into something good. Scotty has a voice that could be heard on country radio at the moment we speak. James Durbin continues to prove why he's my favorite in the competition, giving a fantastic performance of Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City." Watching Durbin perform every week is always very pleasing, especially seeing him close it out this week. Paul McDonald also contended for being one of the best performances, with his take on Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Tracks Of My Tears." However, I could attest with how Adam Lambert performed that song brilliantly back in season eight.

Stefano Langone gave the weakest performance of the group, singing Lionel Richie's "Hello," which was nowhere near David Cook's take on this song that would put him into the top twelve back in season seven. The performance did not do him any justice. I wasn't too thrilled with Haley Reinhart, Naima Adedapo, and Thia Megia. I do, however, give Thia credit for finally choosing an upbeat song as opposed to a ballad. Pia Toscano, on the other hand, needs to move around and do something that will strengthen her stage presence.

Something told me that what happened last night was what was going to happen last night. Casey Abrams gave a mediocre performance to Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," a song that's been WAY overdone on the show. His hair also didn't impress me, like it was soaked in too much gel. I do believe he should have made it onto tour, but I also believe that the save was going to be more useful in the later rounds in the competition. A lot of other possible upsets could very well happen into the competition. Casey did pick the right song to sing when giving the "performance of his life," as his audition was his best performance in the competition. However, the judges stopped him and immediately chose to save him. We'll have to see how many weeks he survives in the competition. Matt Girard was saved in the top seven two seasons back, and survived until the top five. Michael Lynche was saved in the top nine and made it in the top four. We'll have to wait and see how long Casey will be able to survive in the competition.

Next week's theme... the 1980's! Now we've got ourselves back on track with a flexible theme. The 80's gave us a ton of interesting music and featured a ton of new stars, as well as comebacks from older stars (Roy Orbison, who I feel should be featured as a theme night on the show, is a prime example). I was thinking they should back track, and do 70's, 60's, and 50's in the weeks to come. However, I'm hoping to hear some songs that are either new, have not been done often, or are songs that show we really belongs in the competition. We'll have to see how everything pans out on the top eleven... week two!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My American Idol 10 Predictions

Most people have already made their predictions at the top thirteen, right as the competition reached its turning point. I played things a bit differently, as I have played since season eight, when they switched things up and decided to blind side us with a top thirteen in the first place. This season's cast is really a good bunch, and I continue to believe that the men are better than the women. With that being said, it was very tough to pick against the men going early, thus the predictions may look a lot similar to the actual results from last season in means of which gender was given the boot when. Here are my picks...

#11- Haley Reinhart- Haley doesn't stand out on any end besides being the chip one. She hasn't discovered a path, and has sung Alicia Keys, LeAnn Rimes, and Whitney Houston, none of which hit the bullseye. While she is beginning to have a personality that people can remember (whether it's for the right reasons is up to them), Lauren seems to be the more lovable contestant with the innocent personality, and I can put my wagers that the "innocent vote" is going straight to Lauren. Haley has already had two trips to the bottom two (let alone the bottom three), and that'll cause her to fall short of going on tour.

#10- Naima Adedapo- I didn't necessarily agree with Naima being a wildcard choice, though I found her more believable a pick than Ashthon, who has already exited the competition. Her performance of "Umbrella" was okay, while her performance of "What's Love Got To Do With It" didn't hit any kind of mark whatsoever. She has established some kind of personality, and her height and dress choices kind of remind me of Big Bird from Sesame Street. She did reach the bottom three last week, so I feel there are weak vibes with the viewers. However, I think she's popular enough to make it into the top ten. She does have enough strong material to make it onto tour.

#9- Thia Megia- I like Thia. She has a powerful voice that not too many people have. She also has experience from being on America's Got Talent, and lost a judges vote to dancer Arcadian Broad. On the show, she had a really strong performance in the Top 24, but has since had okay performances. She hasn't established a personality at the moment, she's just the young, humble contestant of the season. People do like someone who's humble, as I happen to be one of them. I'm doing my best to imagine her on tour, but I just have to keep painting that picture in my head.

#8- Stefano Langone- Stefano was the best of the wildcard picks. The reason he didn't reach the original top ten was because the males who took part this season were just a powerhouse of talent. I would've even exchanged Jovani for Ashthon to be quite honest. As for Stefano, he has a really powerful voice. His performances the last two weeks proved why he should continue in the competition. He deserves to at least make it onto tour, but I don't know if he could, should, or would be able to do better than the other seven that I have listed as the list goes on.

#7- Paul McDonald- Paul's the most fun contestant this season. I like his voice and I like the way he moves while he sings. I think what he puts into his performances shows true passion to who he is as a performer and who he is as a person. While he has the endorsement from "Vote For The Worst," he is far from being the worst performer remaining. I don't think he'll be able to win the show, but I feel that he's got the voice for radio these days. He'll be really fun to watch on tour, and it surely wouldn't be the same without him.

#6- Lauren Alaina- Lauren has a ton of strengths that are keeping her and will continue to keep her in the competition. She has the southern charm and the innocence that includes modesty as well. While she reminds me more of Kellie Pickler than she does Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, Kellie became a memorable personality that took sixth place and had a decent career. I personally prefer Lauren over Kellie, though I am waiting for Lauren to give a performance that I won't forget. I don't see why that won't happen.

#5- Jacob Lusk- Jacob has a voice like I've never heard in the competition, and it's a good one indeed. He shows a passion that shows his true emotions for the songs that he chooses and sings. He also makes bold song choices, such as those from R. Kelly and Heart, which I tend to question at first. However, after hearing him, I begin to think otherwise. It would be a shock to not see him make it to at least midway in the competition or even have to be saved by the judges in order to come back into the competition. He's got a very interesting career up ahead of him.

#4- Casey Abrams- Casey has the most popular personality this season. People like him, his talent with various instruments, his soul, and his outgoing personality. He seems like the reincarnation of Taylor Hicks, but he has a lot going for him, such as his variety with extremely different instruments. All we have to hope is, will Casey have a career instead of become just plain forgettable? That'll be something we have to wait and see.

#3- Pia Toscano- Pia is the best female talent in the competition this season. Her performance of "I'll Stand By You" got the first standing ovation of the season and her voice continues to remain really strong. If she's able to go upbeat and wing it, she's going to have a really good run into the competition. Initially, she had been to many the front runner and pick to win it all. She is extremely talented and will surely go far into the competition, but there is a ton of talent and it's extremely hard to tell.

#2- Scotty McCreery- Scotty's got a charm and grace that attracts every woman, every country fan, every southerner, and every Idol fan. He's got a voice that could be heard on the radio right now, at the moment we speak. He's best with singing in a deep voice, but with last week's performance, he has shown that he could raise his voice a notch. If he continues to pick the right song choices and sing what he knows he could sing well, he'll have a good stay in the competition, a good time of tour, and a good career in country music.

#1- James Durbin- What a surprise, James is my pick to win it all. I haven't been proven otherwise why this isn't the pick, so I'm going to stick with it. Nobody from California has ever won the show, but I know James could change that. He's had flawless performances that have shown who he is as an artist. He can sing slow, he can sing fast, and he knocks each of his performances out of the ballpark. He's similar to Adam Lambert, only Adam was more of a showman, and James is more of a rocker. I really look forward to seeing him perform with Steven Tyler, while he becomes the person to beat in this competition.

While my predictions are what should happen, it's up to America to vote for who they feel deserves to continue on the show. Vote for your favorites and enjoy the season, because it's a season worth enjoying!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Excellent Reads: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Being a reading fanatic, I love to seek out some nice and peaceful spare time and just read a book. With Caponomics, I was hoping to share some books that I've read and liked so much, that I believe you should read as well. While Poe's "Tell-Tale" is not a book, it is a short story, and you should seek it out and read it if you already haven't. You can find it in the majority of Poe's work collections and you can even find it online. These days, it's very simple to seek out well-known short stories like that online. It doesn't matter how you check it out, just check it out. I am going to warn you about some key spoilers in the upcoming paragraph, so read at your own discretion.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a tale of horror about an insane, psychopathic man (the narrator) who murders an old man with a scary looking eye. After doing so, he chops up the body and gives it a burial... by ripping up the floorboards and stuffing it in. The police come and investigate the area, and ask the man what is going on. The reason for the title comes from the beating heart that the man continues to hear under the floorboards, and whether it's truly beating or not, it causes the man to go over the deep end.

If you have read the previous paragraph, you will probably not be as shocked or surprised about what occurs in the story. However, it's still worth reading, because the way everything is explained and how the story leads up to the climax is something you shouldn't miss. The way in which everything is explained is something that cannot be included in a column like this. It's something that you're going to have to do on your own time. Even if this were more literary, the story is so good that quoting it would give less credit to it.

Edgar Allan Poe can be called a pioneer of horror fiction, or even the pioneer of horror fiction. He paved the path for those after him who made a name for themselves in this genre of writing. Like most of his work, "The Tell-Tale Heart" had some kind of inspiration on his life. A possible origin could have been a thought about the floorboards in Poe's bedroom. Back in the 1800's, people used to stuff their money under the floorboards. They would cut open a certain amount of space and stuff the money inside, and then make it so no one would have any thought of the floorboards serving that purpose. Poe probably had the thought of "what if we use the floorboards to stuff a human body" and that was the central idea that made way for one of the craziest works of fiction of all time. Whether or not it was his exact idea is unknown, but there's a strong chance that it's something very similar. You can visit his bedroom along with several other parts of his house by visiting the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Philadelphia, which is where he lived for a period of time in the 1840's.

I'm more of a novel reader, but short stories are an important part of literature. The positives of the art of short story writing is that it is a sample of what an author can do, kind of like an appetizer. If you like the short story well enough, you'll be attracted to read more from that author. Edgar Allan Poe's work was almost all short stories and poems, but it was still excellent. "The Tell-Tale Heart," in particular, is one of American Literature's most insane pieces of fiction. If you like to read, check this out! If you're into horror fiction, you have probably checked it out already. If you haven't, I don't know why you're still reading this, check this out! Now!

Friday, March 18, 2011

American Idol: Top 12 Week

This week, the top twelve contestants on American Idol sang songs from the year they were born. This means that the songs ranged from 1984 to 1995, which brought together some nice music. The song choices were a bit mixed, some of which were bold and new (like Casey Abrams picking Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and James Durbin singing Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You," and no, this isn't the "Friends" theme song we're talking about by The Rembrandts) and some of which were basically the same old thing (like Karen Rodriguez's "Love Will Lead You Back," Naima Adedapo's "What's Love Got To Do With It," and Jacob Lusk's "Alone"). Sometimes I don't necessarily put this on the contestants, but on the song selection, as it seems that the list is more limited than we believe. However, there were some deliveries that were made.

James Durbin, Pia Toscano, Scotty McCreery, and Jacob Lusk had the strongest performances of the week. I give Casey Abrams a ton of credit for being bold with his song selection. He didn't hit the bullseye, but he did give an interesting performance. Kurt Cobain is one of those singers that generally sings so jumbled that it's extremely difficult to duplicate. For instance, in "Breed," he makes "she said" sound like "cheese head."

James found the right time and place to add his high note to his song, and on top of it, made a bold statement about singing with Steven Tyler at the finale. Pia has been given a lot of beef about not singing upbeat, but was able to do it this week. Now it's Thia Megia, who had a good performance this week, but sings in a similar tone, that should do something upbeat next week. Scotty did Travis Tritt this week and hit some pretty high notes and hit them well. While Jacob's performance wasn't as strong as the other defining performances of "Alone," like Carrie Underwood and Allison Iraheta, it was still a really good performance coming out of a male performer. "Alone," being sung by Heart, one of the strongest female groups of all time, was a really bold choice for Jacob. Remember, it was after Carrie sang "Alone" that Simon Cowell predicted that she was not only going to win, but also sell more records than any other Idol in history.

The ones that fell to the bottom in my mind were Naima Adedapo and Haley Reinhart. Naima's performance of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" fell completely flat, and didn't have the power or direction. This was Tina Turner's comeback song, probably her most well known with the exception of "Proud Mary." While Naima attempted to make it her own, it didn't deliver. Haley sang Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight," and it seemed as if there was more about her lipstick episode than there was about her performance.

It was nice to see Lee DeWyze back, and the Black Eyed Peas did somewhat better than at the Super Bowl halftime show, but to me, the results show is about results. Karen Rodriguez was the one with the lowest number of votes, and was not saved by the judges. I do agree with the decision of not saving her. While she performed "Hero" well, it wasn't worth saving her. The decision was not unanimous, and I'm putting a strong wager that it was Jennifer Lopez that wanted to save her. It's good that the decision to use to save is being saved for a dramatic upset that may occur sometimes later in the season. I do feel that Naima and Haley deserved to be shown the door before Karen, but I knew that Karen's time would be coming soon. I feel that Naima and Haley will be and should be the next two to go.

Next week, whomever survives goes on tour, so that should be a good thing. I'm looking to see what kind of performances the Idols will be performing, and I think most everyone else will too. However, finding out the top ten is going to be what's on most viewers minds.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stephen King's Upcoming Novel: 11/22/63

I was surfing the web and was curious as to what new projects Stephen King was working on. He is, after all, the king of modern day horror fiction (I realized the "king" pun, don't hold it against me). It turns out his next project is going to be a fascinating one indeed. It's a novel that involves the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There's a lot that could be done with that, and I'll surely be excited to read it.

When I first looked at the title "11/22/63," I was sure that it had something to do with the assassination of JFK. Whether it was a little or a lot, I didn't know for sure. So I decided to take a look and read the premise. The novel will be another long read and tell the story of somebody that will go back into time in order to stop the assassination. Going back into time, he enters a completely different generation, 1958 that is. One of the people he happens to meet is Lee Harvey Oswald. He also happens to meet a librarian who looks like she'll be set as the love interest.

While the generation is new for the protagonist in the novel, it's not new for Stephen King reads. Within the last year, I read "Hearts In Atlantis" and "It," both of which were set around this time period. Stephen King has done a really good job sending me as the reader back into this time period and experience the senses of this completely different time period. I'm really looking forward to reading his upcoming novel, because it's going to be about something extremely different. Given that it's about time travel and messing with the laws of physics, this novel is being given a science fiction categorization. This will be a different playground for King, but I'm sure that he'll be a cool kid in the park after this read.

I usually like to wait until a novel comes in paperback in order to buy it. To be quite honest, I'm pretty sure that I will buy this novel in hardcover. I'm a U.S. Presidential Buff and I like Stephen King's work and the two together will make a product that's worth reading. If Stephen King can make good reads from the Vietnam-era, then I feel he can surely make a good read about the JFK assassination.

The novel will be coming out on November 8, 2011, which means an eight month wait, but it'll be a wait worth waiting for. I'll be looking forward to reading this!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

American Idol: Top 13 Week

Watching "American Idol" this season, I've realized a few things...

1. The fact that the show can't go on without Simon Cowell is ludicrous. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have made great new additions to the show, joining returning judge Randy Jackson. We'll see Simon again on "The X-Factor" in the fall, and some more brutal honesty with Piers Morgan on "America's Got Talent."

2. The "Idol Boot Camp" round was a dramatic strain, but I'm glad that we're finally watching the shows that truly matter.

3. For the fourth season in a row, the males are better than the females. The last time there were more females than males at a crucial point in the competition (excluding the top thirteen setup here), was the final seven of season seven. Otherwise, it was in season six where we last saw a domination by female contestants, and ultimately Jordin Sparks won the competition.

Now we're at the Top 13. The theme for this week was one like they haven't had before... songs from the Idols idol. This meant that the contestants sung songs from the artist they looked up to most. In my mind, the standouts this week were...

Casey Abrams- Casey is kind of like Taylor Hicks from season five, only he has a ton of talent. Not only does he sing, but he plays a variety of instruments. He sang Joe Cocker's "A Little Help From My Friends," which was the perfect fit for him. You would think that singing in your comfort zone plays as a disadvantage, because it gives you less of an opportunity to make the song your own. In this instance, like many others, Casey did a really good job. He showed soul and passion as he gave his take to the song. Unfortunately, he didn't attend the results show, due to a hospitalization. Hopefully, he makes a quick recovery.

Pia Toscano- Pia is the best female in the competition by a long shot. She belted out The Pretenders hit "I'll Stand By You," and while her take of Celine Dion (originally Eric Carmen)'s "All By Myself" wasn't as good as the previously mentioned performance, it still showed a strong vocal range. Pia's got a strong voice that can carry her into the competition for awhile.

Jacob Lusk- Jacob's voice is pretty distinct and different from most singers, but it's really good, and that's what matters most. I was surprised when he chose to sing R. Kelly, but was impressed when he did a good job performing "I Believe I Can Fly." His voice is just really strong, strong enough to belt out any song of his choosing.

Scotty McCreery- Scotty is the key male country singer of this season (Lauren Alaina is the female). I was originally unsure on how far Scotty was going to make it into the competition, but at this point, things are going right for him. His song choices the last two weeks showed the essence of today's good country music and his strengths as a country singer. This week, he sang Garth Brooks's "The River." I believe his music is worthy of playing on the radio today, and I know that he'll have music playing on the radio really soon.

And the absolute standout...

James Durbin- James is my favorite contestant this season. Just because he is my favorite doesn't mean he'll be the best performer each week (unless he does absolutely better than everyone else each week). This week, he did do the best job. He sang Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed," a song that I've heard plenty of times from one of the best performers in the music industry. James put his spin to the performance and knocked it out of the ballpark. If James keeps doing well, he will surely be the contestant that deserves to win the competition most.

For me, what I'm looking for in the results show is which contestant is heading home. However, results shows are almost always very fluffy. Given that this was idols week, the contestants sang the music of Michael Jackson. I don't know if I can consider Michael Jackson to be the idol on top, there are many others to choose from. The Diddy-Dirty Money performance was just a typical performance. As for Adam Lambert's performance of his anti-bullying song "Aftermath," I really enjoyed it. Adam Lambert's so good that he can give a different spin to his own songs. Last season, he performed "Whataya Want From Me" in a different style. This season, he performed "Aftermath" with acoustic backup.

I have no complaints about those in the bottom three, and I have especially no complaint that Ashthon Jones went home this week. I felt that her performance of Diana Ross's "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" did not withstand the field of the other talented performers. I wasn't surprised that she wasn't saved, because it'll probably be needed some time later in the season. However, all of the performers did have a good vocal effort. The talent this season seems to be really strong.

We'll just have to see what happens within the upcoming weeks. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting ride this season.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome To Caponomics

I am happy to find a brand new home for the column that I began writing in high school, continued writing on Facebook, and am now writing on I didn't know how to start, whether it be with a quote, an announcers welcome, or a stretched hello. I'm just going to welcome everybody to my new blog.

I have a lot of things planned for my blog. I'm going to discuss what ever happens to be flowing through my mind in my several categories of interest. For further information, check out the information to the side. I hope to be able to provide anyone who reads my work with a strong, clear opinion, and a view that tells you everything you need to hear about a specific subject. The tone of my writing is something going to be very serious, and sometimes it's going to be very light. Whatever I feel should be highlighted here will be highlighted here.

I hope you all enjoy!