Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Running Man: Not A Strong Novel Adaptation, But A Film With A Strong Message

I read Stephen King's novel The Running Man back in 2006, when I was just being introduced to his work. During that year, I completed The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Salem's Lot, and this novel. King wrote this novel as Richard Bachman back in 1982. Five years later, the movie about the same exact novel came out and featured Arnold Schwarzenegger (who is making his many appearances in the news and throughout the media lately), but a completely different story. However, it's only a film that doesn't succeed as a Stephen King novel adaptation. Other than that, it looks like a typical eighties film and is about the television industry.

In the Stephen King novel (in which we writes as Richard Bachman), Ben Richards has a wife and young daughter, the young daughter being sick. The only chance he has to make enough money to help them in participate in a game show called The Running Man, in which the object is to escape several hit men. Unfortunately, things are not what they seem. I felt it was an exciting novel while reading it.

When casting Arnold Schwarzenegger, it turns out that this was the opposite as to what the real character was. His name was still Ben Richards, but he was a officer who became a prisoner. His only way out of the sticky situation he was in was to join a team of contestants and participants in a game show called... The Running Man. The film has a feel that many eighties films do, I kind of got the same feel from The Goonies, only this film featured grown adults, corrupt individuals who made up the network, and a R-rating. In the novel, Dan Killian was just the producer. In the film, Damon Killian was the producer and the host, and to be quite honest, he was the best part of the film. He was played by Richard Dawson, who was most well known as the original host of the Family Feud. The object of the game is to escape villains in a video game style format. These villains (called "Stalkers") included Subzero, Buzzsaw, Fireball, Dynamo, and Captain Freedom. Their battles seemed to be fitting for a video game, which would make it much more fun to own The Running Man video game as oppose to the watch the battles.

What's worth watching in the movie is not necessarily the game itself, but the mechanics behind the game. The Running Man is ultimately the process of a corrupted game show and how the networks will do anything for rating, and thus, rake in some more money. The game becomes about the promotion of their products, such as The Running Man board game and how people bet on which stalker they think is going to take down the contestants. All in all, this is an attempt to attract viewers with an addictive game show that encourages participation and ultimately brainwashes those across the country. I felt that Dawson's role as Killain was the best part of the film. Dawson played a game show host that had a strong personality in front of the camera and drew the people into the show with his charm and excitement. When the cameras stopped rolling, he was strictly business and dirty business at that. I can just say this may have not been a very hard role for Dawson, but he did it like a professional.

Within recent years, people have began to peek behind the curtain as to what the food industry truly looks like. The Running Man brings a similar question to the table, what's truly behind the curtain of the television industry? What will be done in order to draw in viewers, ratings, and money? All you need is a good idea, a good plan, and strong contracts with many provisions. If for some reason information behind the curtain happens to leak out and it does away with what should be done (such as an alternation of merit), there would be a ton of chaos as to the industry in itself. Just listen to Killian's speech he gives about the television industry to Richards and then put these thoughts into your own words. That's the message this movie brings.

The Running Man may have been a much better film if it did more justice to the mechanics of the original novel. However, it does do its purpose in the television industry and how strong a role television would play in the future, and sometimes it becomes more and more visible. I am somebody who likes it when a film based off of the novel does the novel as much justice as it realistically can. While this movie doesn't hit that mark, I can still say it's worth a watch if you want to look at the role of television in our lives. If you see the message, be prepared to think long and hard.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Question & Answer Session

About two weeks ago, I gave you guys the opportunity to ask me questions that I would answer on this blog. I will do this every so often, like every month or two or so. For this session, I got in four questions that I will answer to the best of my ability. These are opinionated questions and so I will express my opinion, hence the nature of Caponomics.

So what is your opinion on Auto-tune?

I don't like it. Simply put, I am not a fan of the use of auto-tune. It is overused and it seems as if they feel that it puts more pizazz to the music and singing that we listen to. It doesn't. Stars such as Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Jamie Foxx, and several more stars have overdone auto-tune so much, that it begins to make it sound as if the music industry has become "Transformers: The Rise Of The Auto-Tune." I prefer a natural, good voice that doesn't need backing up by machines of any kind. That's what the music industry is and should be all about. If a voice isn't good enough, you have instruments to go along with the voice. It's the oldest trick in the book.

There is always exceptions to the rule, and I feel that auto-tune was used well in Adam Lambert's "If I Had You." It was only used a few times and the majority of the song featured Adam Lambert actually singing the lyrics on his own. Plus he is a very talented artist. Aside from that, I could think of very few exceptions in which a machine that multiples your voice in order to create magic (the kind of magic I have no idea) is a good one at that.

What are your thoughts on Donald Trump?

My thoughts are very mixed. I have watched a few seasons of "The Apprentice," and thought they were pretty interesting to watch. However, it's not a reality show that I have to tune into every week. What we all know about Donald Trump is that he has a lot of money, he's a successful businessman, and he's got an ego. With that being said, he's the right person to run "The Apprentice," and he has a wide range of knowledge when it comes to business. As for "The Celebrity Apprentice," I thought the first season was a pretty interesting watch with a good group of contestants. After that, it became more about a group of celebrities and their dysfunctional chemistry and about how their personalities exploded and either made for heated boardrooms or heated confrontations in the hotel rooms. That's network TV though, drama of any kind makes for a good program.

Donald Trump also considered running for president, but has since decided against it. He has run before as a Reform candidate in 2000, since his views were not strictly Republican (or conservative). For 2012, while I wouldn't see him as the worst candidate, I can see many better candidates. Trump knows a lot about the fiscal conservatism and is supportive of it, so that would have been a plus on his side. However, while I'm not the biggest Obama supporter, asking him to show his birth certificate and making that his main issue seemed to be a little too much. My biggest concern has to do with the economy, jobs, money, and finances, not whether or not our president has a legit birth certificate. That happened to cause a lot of waves and when Obama showed his actual birth certificate, that just hurt Trump's agenda. We have many others candidates that may have a tough road ahead of them, but at least know what our priorities are in order to get the nation back into shape.

How does "The Voice" compare to "American Idol"?

The two are both singing competitions that bring in a ton of contestants eager to win the whole thing and impress the judges. However, after looking at what is featured in the competition, "The Voice" looks like it's similar to "The X-Factor," which is coming to America this fall. This is in the way that the judges as individuals play a crucial role in the competition.

As we know about American Idol, the judges decide who they want to send through, and narrow down the field until it becomes live and it's up to the American people to vote. On "The Voice," the audition is a "blind audition" in which the judges are facing away from the singers and if they're impressed by their voice, they press a button that turns their chair around. If one judge does this, they serve as the contestants mentor. If more than one does this, the contestant chooses who they want as a mentor. The judges then narrow down to who will make up the top group.

"The Voice" is something different as to what we have seen before. It strays away from most concepts and brings a feel like that of "The X-Factor." The panel of judges includes current stars such as Cee-Lo Green (originally of Gnarls Barkley), Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine (from Maroon 5), and Blake Shelton. This is a interesting panel that strays away from panels that have so often been overdone. Though American Idol has also done the same thing.

Which Idol from "American Idol 10" do you think will be the most successful?

I'm going to stick to who I picked as my top two, James Durbin and Scotty McCreery. Both are so unique in their genre (James with heavy metal and Scotty with country) that they can go really far and make names for themselves. James will be someone who can throw excellent concerts and create music that will worth blasting over and over again. Scotty will have his performances on country stations across America, attending several country specials, and maybe find a place in the Grand Ole Opry. This has been a strong cast of contestants, but these are the two I feel have the best chance at being the most successful. The others have a good chance at simply fading and becoming typical Idol alumni, like so many contestants have ended up doing.

I hope I was able to thoroughly answer your questions in the best way possible, and you can feel free to submit more questions if you have them. I'll be doing question and answer sessions every month or so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

American Idol: Finale

American Idol 10 has finally come to a close. Though this was the first season not to feature Simon Cowell, the show surely didn't lose its spark. This season truly had a wide range of talent with a diverse cast of finalists, making for an excellent season indeed. While Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler were far more laid back as judges, the talent was surely strong. As long as the show has good talent, then that alone should be enough for a good season.

Now let's talk about the finale. The song choices included their favorite song of the season, a song chosen by an Idol of theirs (George Strait for Scotty and Carrie Underwood for Lauren), and the song that would be their first hit if they win the show. Scotty did best on his first performance, Lauren did narrowly better on her second, and Lauren did better on her third performance. The third performance from Lauren was an anthem to moms, thus it surely tugged at people's heartstrings, especially those who are moms. This meant that since Scotty did better throughout the majority of the season, that the grand results were going to be strictly even. I was thinking about casting my votes, but I liked both finalists equally. This meant whether I voted or not, my votes were going to offset and the only difference would be that more votes would be in play.

The final show was fairly entertaining. The performances included Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Tony Bennett, Judas Priest, Gladys Knight, Kirk Franklin, Jack Black, Beyonce, TLC, Lil' Jon, and Tom Jones singing with one or more of the Idols, and Lady Gaga, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and Bono and The Edge singing on their own. The finale, like always, was filled with its fair share of filler. As usually, Idol has to find a way to fill up two hours of time. They do this with performances, sound bits from the judges, a review of the worst contestants, and everything in between.

Congratulations to Scotty McCreery for being the winner of American Idol 10. Looking back, I saw that he was a clear front runner to win the entire competition. While the Hollywood week was a bit rough for him, though Hollywood week is a brutal week for just about anybody, he really shined during the live shows. He was able to find a way to take any song he sang and turn it into his own style. He showed that he could take Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and James Taylor songs and turn them into country ballads, and then kick it up another notch with songs by Elvis and The Coasters. He showed a ton of versatility when he needed to do it most. While Lauren Alaina had a strong final night, overall, Scotty deserved to win it all.

I may consider doing a list of my top ten performances throughout the season, but I'll to really think about that one. Otherwise, it was a great season and great to be able to break it down for you on my end. American Idol 11 will be something to surely look forward to.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

American Idol: Top 3 Week

After the elimination of James Durbin, American Idol needed a week to remember with those left competing. As with most top three weeks, one song was chosen by the contestant, one by the judges, and one by Jimmy Iovine. The latter has usually been chosen by people such as Clive Davis, the production in general, and in one season, randomly in a hat. In seasons eight and nine, it was ditched altogether. However, the final three showdown between Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, and Haley Reinhart was a final three showdown that really needed to prove its worth, and I felt they still did a good job on that end.

In round one, where the contestants picked their own song, Scotty picked a song from Lonestar, Lauren a song from Faith Hill, and Haley a Led Zeppelin song. Haley took the round, and I actually agree that her performance was the one I remembered most from that particular round. She went big and had her father playing guitar, which I found to be interesting. For round two, Scotty took the round, successfully performing Jimmy Iovine's song choice to the best of his ability. While I liked the choice of "Rhiannon," for Haley, the arrangement could have been much, much better. I enjoyed the acoustic version from Didi Benami from last season and that was a performance that showed strong potential that unfortunately went out quickly. The judges picks, I must say, were good picks indeed. The best were those by Scotty and Lauren, but it was Lauren's performance of Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance" that capped the round. I really did like Scotty's performance of Kenny Rogers' "She Believes In Me." These are both good songs and they were selected for the right contestants. In this season, the judges decided as a group, though I would have found it really interesting had the judges chose as individuals and what they would have chosen.

The results show, unlike most of them this season, was actually pretty decent. I found Il Volo, an Italian trio, to be quite an interesting group. I found their performance of "O Sole Mio" to be quite good. Much better than many of the other result show performances. Well I know that I'll remember Il Volo enough to listen to more of their music. Then the final three went home to their hometowns, which brought heavy emotions, especially for Lauren, who comes from an area that was hit with bad weather. It was a pretty sentimental moment to see her reaction and her meeting with a young boy who saved his family.

As for the results, Haley Reinhart went home, which was what I thought was going to happen two months ago. Well, that's the way American Idol works sometimes. The final showdown will come down to Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, both are the country stars of this season, and they sure picked up a heavy southern vote to be together in the finale. When you come to think about it, it does seem like quite the pairing, and anyone of them could win it all. I'll be picking Scotty McCreery to win it all, because he is truly something that American Idol has yet to have in their champion. He seems like just the person to win it all and he's such a good performer who's fun to watch and see progress each week.

I'll be surely writing an article about the final result and will possibly have other "American Idol 10" material that looks back on such a good season that was filled with such good talent.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Than A TV Show: The Cancellation Of "America's Most Wanted"

When I read online today that "America's Most Wanted" was being cancelled and taken off of the FOX lineup, I was left with a bunch of question marks floating through my head. According to FOX, they felt that AMW was not making them enough money and thus it was time to put the show to rest. While it's not exactly being put to rest completely, because they are going to air four two-hour specials, it's still being removed from the lineup, and unnecessarily so. Saturday night has been dominated by the tandem of AMW and COPS, which features two episodes before AMW comes on. On most occasions, COPS and AMW are the only new material on the Saturday primetime lineup. Anything else is repeats, movies, specials, or something of that caliber. It's unfortunate that what may be the most consistently dominant lineup of recent day may very well be no more.

To me and most Americans, "America's Most Wanted" is more than a TV show, it's a public service in which we watch the show and gain awareness about the cruel people that may be lurking around in the area. AMW has featured several walks of cruel people who have been murderers, rapists, kidnappers, and everything in between. Through AMW, 1,151 of these terrible people have been found and brought to face justice. Behind the genius of AMW has been those who have participated in making a difference, those who have coordinated the show, and the man who has led the path since 1988, John Walsh. Walsh became inspired to track down criminals on the loose (aka. "Cowards") when his own son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered back in 1981. Before AMW, he was a key advocate in pushing the "National Center For Missing And Exploited Children" through Congress in 1984. For twenty-three years minus a month and a half, Walsh appeared on the televisions of millions of household across the country, and informed us of those people who committed cruel acts and were on the loose.

AMW saw its first cancellation in 1996, in favor of a few other fluffy sitcoms. This only lasted for a month and a half due to two reasons. One, the sitcoms weren't doing so well. Two, there was a revolt from several to bring AMW back onto television. The strongest being the government, several governors, and several authoritative figures. Any show that has this kind of impact would be impossible to see being taken off the air.

There's also a good chance that the same thing will happen this time around. At this point in time, I can hardly imagine another show that would fill in the 9 PM time slot on Saturday nights. I do not know how and in what way AMW will make it back onto air if it does, but I think there's a good chance and I have strong belief that it will. John Walsh has been extremely passionate about tracking down people who have committed cruel acts and need to face justice for thirty years and he should be given the platform to continue doing so. Cancelling AMW is not just cancelling a TV show, but is also cancelling a database in which the American people are able to have information about their surroundings and the dangers of these surroundings. I'm optimistic about the fact that the COPS and AMW tandem for Saturday nights will return.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Questions For Caponomics

I've submitted twenty-five submissions to "Caponomics," and now, I want to hear from you, the readers who follow my blog. I will answer questions you might have that you want me to answer. These could be questions about my previous submissions, questions about topics that I cover, questions about Caponomics in general, and anything else on your mind that you may want to be answered.

I will select the best questions to answer in a future submission. This submission will be written sometime after the American Idol finale, since I'm sure there will be several questions having to do my thoughts about the Idol finale. I will, however, take questions in other categories as well.

I look forward to answering your questions!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Excellent Reads: Richard Laymon's "Dark Mountain"

Twenty-five submissions on Blogspot is a pretty decent accomplishment. I've submitted twenty-three different Caponomics during my time as a column writer for my high school newsletter, and now that I submit whenever I feel like it and find the time to do so, we're up to twenty-five submissions since joining in March. I thought I would share another excellent read and probably the most recent read that kept me hooked to the book in awhile. This book is horror fiction legend Richard Laymon's terrifying and suspenseful camping horror novel, Dark Mountain. 

It was three months ago today that I started reading this novel. How I know is that it was Valentine's Day and also the tenth anniversary in which author Richard Laymon tragically died way too soon at the age of 54. On a happier note, it was also the novel that attracted a very special person into my life, as a question about what I was reading turned into a discussion about books and the rest was magic. This novel was so "edge of your seat" good that I finished it at a quick rate.

Now for the novel itself, it centers around two families going on a camping trip. The main reason is that the men of each houses (Scott and "Flash," who's real name is Arnold) are military buddies. Scott goes with his girlfriend, Karen, his teenage daughter, Julie, and his preteen son, Benny. As for Flash, he brings his wife, teenage son Nick, and twin daughters Rose and Heather. On the trip, Julie falls for Nick, Scott and Karen grow closer, and of course... havoc breaks loose. A monstrous man lives with his mother in the dark mountainous area of the camping grounds and is almost impossible to control. His mother makes an effort, but it just isn't enough. When the monstrous man is finally brought down by the crew, his mother puts a curse on the two families who went camping. They escape the area, but that doesn't mean they escape the curse. Benny is the only one who initially realizes that they've been cursed. It takes several instances back at home in order for each to realize that this curse has followed them home. Ultimately, a few select members who came on the original trip ultimately have to return in order to go head-on with the lady and break the curse once and for all.

Dark Mountain is as satisfying as a much deserved trip to Burger King. It's a very light read that isn't so much of a literary landmark, but it's a really exciting and suspenseful novel that could very well keep you awake if you allow it to. Not only is it suspenseful and surprising, but it also shows a sense of humor that allows the novel to show alternate emotion that makes the reader relaxed. It's an excellent strategy to relax the reader and then surprise him the next opportunity you get. It's like waiting a few seconds before putting the pedal to the metal, which Laymon does excellently.

I shall warn you that Dark Mountain is also graphic. Whether it be in the use of splatter-punk (blood and gore) or as in sexually graphic. There is sexually activity in this novel and other signs of nudity. There, you have been warned. This is, however, a hardcore horror fiction novel. This means that graphic description is surely expected in a novel like this. It's perfectly fine, because it's the readers responsibility to respond to the material. If you don't like graphic hardcore horror fiction, don't read this book, simple as that.

On the contrary, if this is your kind of novel, then Dark Mountain is the read for you. If you really want, you can wait until eleven at night to curl up into bed and make the room as dim as you can, but light enough to read the words, and enter a wild adventure. Since reading this novel, I have since stocked up my collection with some more Richard Laymon novels. He could very well be a guilty pleasure, only I don't feel guilty about reading his work. He's that good!

On the back of each of Laymon's paperback novels, Stephen King, who is the most well-known modern day horror fiction writer, states that "If you've missed Laymon, you've missed a treat." He's totally right, because Laymon's writing is a delight. This is a quote that I will never forget and I know at least one person knows why.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The First Debate Is Complete And Ron Paul Will Be Running For President

I watched the first Republican Primary Debate on May 5th, which was set for those candidates who have confirmed a run for president, formed exploratory committees, paid a $25,000 fee, or garnered at least 1% in five polls. Only five participated in this debate, including Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson. The debate covered topics from various fields, from foreign policy to social issues to the economy to the candidates that either didn't enter the race or didn't participate. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were among the front runners who didn't participate.

Herman Cain seemed to be the one who shined the most. On the speaking end, I agree with this. He answered his questions clearly and gave concrete details as to what he intends to do. I still liked Ron Paul's performance at the debate the most, as he returned to complete unfinished business from the 2008 campaign. All of his answers were followed by applause from the audience, which is great to see such a small name candidate from 2008 finally getting the recognition and respect he deserves. Gary Johnson, on the other end of the stage from Paul, expressed the best sense of humor. He was the least recognized of the candidates, thus received the least amount of speaking time. However, I do like his personality. His highlight question had to be what his reality show would be like if he had one, which had to do with the fact that Donald Trump had yet to throw his hat into the ring. Tim Pawlenty came off as a typical politician and Rick Santorum basically came off as being an old-fashioned and typical conservative. If I had to grade the performances in the debate, I would give Cain and Paul A-'s, Johnson a B+, and Pawlenty and Santorum C+'s. This debate was held by FOX News in South Carolina. The next debate will be on June 13th and will be held by CNN in New Hampshire.

One week later, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have confirmed they will be running for president. I watched a portion of Ron Paul's announcement that he made in New Hampshire, and it seems like he's got a fire to win the presidency. Paul wants a smaller federal government, more devotion to the U.S. Constitution, and more rights for the states. When he entered the race in 2008, he received a morsel amount of percentage points and barely any recognition. He eventually gained recognition as the year went on, and finished in fourth place in the Republican primary, only behind John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. This time around, with his devotion to smaller government and a push on Libertarian views, Paul may have himself a better year than before. He is a founder of the current Tea Party movement, which made its mark in several ways during the 2010 elections.

Ron Paul may very well be the best candidate in the race and may very well hold this position by primary season. He has garnered a great deal of recognition and I very well hope that he continues to gain recognition. He has excellent plans that will surely help the country. I'll be looking forward to seeing Paul at more debates as the primary season rolls along and I really hope that he gains the support he deserves in order to make a good run at the presidency. He will surely be a different kind of president, a kind of president that we haven't had in a really long time. For him, he may go down a path that no president has gone down before, and it very well may be the best one.

American Idol: Top 4 Week

Then there were four. The four that have made it to this point of the competition include James Durbin, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, and Haley Reinhart. There were two themes this week, which unlike last week, did not coordinate with one another. The first theme was inspirational songs (more so "songs that inspire them" as oppose to the inspirational songs that "Idol Gives Back" featured) and the second was songs written by Leiber and Stoller, a musical team from the fifties and sixties. The mentor was Lady Gaga, who has nothing to do with music from the fifties and sixties or Leiber and Stoller's music.

The performances were fairly mixed, as Lauren Alaina did a good job on her first song and not as good on her second. Haley Reinhart, on the other hand, did better on her second song than her first. I do believe that the rise in breath in order to build suspense as suggested by Lady Gaga wasn't necessary. I feel that it was just a filler. It was still a good comeback like last week. Scotty McCreery did a good job on each of his performances, injecting the right mix of a typical country style Scotty performance for the first round and an upbeat Scotty performance for the second. As for James Durbin, I must say that he continues to be consistent. I'm was actually amazed by a "Don't Stop Believin'" performance that wasn't by Journey (for the record, I have heard this song performed several times, though I still like the song). Even better, when he did "Love Potion No. 9," he made that exciting as well, and that's a song I'm not such a fan of to begin with.

The results show was surely going to be an intense one. The top four week was when Chris Daughtry was eliminated back in season five. However, Daughtry would go on to have a better career than anybody in that season. To warm us up, we heard performances from Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias, Jordin Sparks, and Steven Tyler (Lady Gaga's was from a special and Steven Tyler's a video). Then, came the results, and they... were a punch in the gut.

James Durbin, who I believe was the most talented, consistent, and entertaining performer not only this season, but the most talented, consistent, and entertaining performer since Adam Lambert back in season eight, has been eliminated. This was the most shocking elimination since Daughtry's season five elimination. Week after week, I would look forward to seeing what James was going to do, what kind of arrangement he was going to have, and how was it going to turn out. Unfortunately, it won't be happening anymore, and it's unfortunate that it just about takes away from the excitement as to who will win it all. James is also the first finalist to have Tourette's and Asperger's, which surely contributed to his devotion and image for ideal performances. People with Asperger's are known for being able to excel in their field or fields of interest, and James is no exception. Speaking of which, I did not agree with the fact that they edited out the Asperger's part of his opening audition, and simply using the high-functioning Autism blurb of his statement. While Asperger's may be high-functioning Autism, it is still a title of its own and should remain a title of its own. While he described what it was, even if it's not described, people can easily take the extra time to look it up.

Okay then, we've got our final three. Those in the final three include Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart, and Scotty McCreery. At this point, Scotty is the only one that really grazed in James's league, grazing being the key word. I was looking forward to a James and Scotty finale that would deliver more excitement than any finale to date. However, James's elimination may have all came down to location. Since Scotty and Lauren are from the south, they are the ones in the hot spot of America, as the south has been known to deliver success on American Idol. As for Haley, I have trouble figuring out who her voting circles are. The fact that she outlasted James continues to surprise me, and she may very well make the finale if the south vote simply splits. I can only imagine what her homecoming is going to be like. I totally believe that the competition would be completely different had James made it to the final three (let alone the final two).

There will be three songs next week, one chosen by the contestants themselves, one chosen by Jimmy Iovine, and one chosen by the judges. I can only imagine the song choices that will be made, but I guess we'll just have to tune in to see.

Friday, May 6, 2011

American Idol: Top 5 Week

In a competition where five contestants remain, the competition is only getting more and more intense between those five that remain in the competition. The theme was "Songs From Now And Then," which originally meant songs from today and songs from the 1960's. It turns out that the bounds were much more laid back, because the songs were from the last few years (their time) and a much longer time period (around the time most of their parents were growing up). Time period or not, there's no denying that the performances were excellent in their own ways.

There were three key performers of the night, James Durbin, Scotty McCreery, and Haley Reinhart, the latter being mentioned for the first time in my "top list." She appears on the top list, because of her excellent rendition of "House Of The Rising Sun," which went together like burgers and fries. She had to make some kind of recovery from her Lady Gaga performance, and indeed she did. Scotty rocked his performance of "Gone," and it was great to see him perform "Always On My Mind," which has been done many of times, most famously by Elvis Presley and later Willie Nelson.

James, who has consistently been my favorite, had a pretty interesting week. His performance of "Closer To The Edge" was a typical "James Rocks It Again" performance, but his emotional performance of "Without You" was just "punch in the gut" emotional. James has been able to find an emotional connection with each of his performances, and "Without You," made famous by Harry Nilsson, did the trick. While the song is intended to be about and obviously about a breakup and/or being left, if you look deeper and deeper, the song could also be about death. When translating "No, I can't forget with evening, or your face as you were leaving, but I guess that's just the way the story goes," just think about these lyrics for a minute and then come up with a meaning. I can continue by giving you the lyrics to the entire song, but you could easily find them by clicking in "Without You Lyrics" and just to be safe, include Harry Nilsson's name. Anyway, the song could very well have an intended meaning and an unintended meaning. Also, the song was originally written and performed by Badfinger, and both writers committed suicide. Back to our main focus, James gave what was the most emotionally successful performance on American Idol in a long time.

The results show... you had Lady Antebellum, Jennifer Lopez (with her hit "On The Floor"), and the remaining Idol contestants taking a trip to Hell's Kitchen, where they cooked an omelet and participated in a taste test. Anyway, the bottom two was spot on. Lauren Alaina and Jacob Lusk were the two performers that did the least to make an impact on Wednesday's show. Lauren's performance of "Unchained Melody" could have been much more than it was, and ultimately it reminded me of the Leann Rimes performance, but fell short. It especially fell short with a lost opportunity with the high note. Still, it's very tough to match up to The Righteous Brothers originally, which happens to be one of the best song performances of all-time. As for Jacob, he came into the week being the one most likely to be eliminated, and that's exactly what happened. Jacob Lusk started out really strong, potential front runner material. However, fifth was as far as he went. I actually predicted that he would finish in fifth place, so there are no surprises on my end.

Next week's theme is music from Leiber and Stoller, who were a songwriting team back in the 1950's who wrote music for such singers as Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and The Coasters. It'll be a week to look forward to. I expect a few Elvis performances and a rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," but from whom I do not know just yet. At this point, Haley may very well outlast Lauren in the competition. Then again, this is a competition that all comes down to votes. This means that anyone has a chance at staying or going in the competition. We'll just have to wait and see how everything pans out.