Saturday, October 19, 2013

Best of the Week: 10/19/13

Quote of the Week: My father used to say that all the time, that and who does one have to orally gratify to get a drink around here? (Sheldon Cooper, PhD., The Big Bang Theory)

Song of the Week: Royals – Lorde (Revenge)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: The Lorde Backlash Begins: There is an old saying that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. In the age of the internet, there is also the inevitable backlash to anything that becomes too popular. I first downloaded Lorde’s Royals back in March; I was taken aback by the stark song and anti-commercialism by a teenaged foreigner. By the time the summer hit, Royal started popping up in a few summer jams playlists (including my own) and then became a fixture in the iTunes top ten. By September Lorde finally pushed her way past the cheesy pop singer she makes fun of in her song and landed at number one where she has pretty much had on lock for over a month except for when a new high profile song is released and displays her for a day or two.

And now the inevitable backlash has begun because in this day and age, you will always find a contrarian or million of them. First out the gate is some feminist blogger who claims Royals is racist with the title: Wow that Lorde song is racist. Wow, you are a moron. The writer claims that putting people with gold teeth, Cristal, and Maybachs means that Lorde is unfairly targeting wealthy rappers. How many black people drive around in their Maybach’s sipping Cristal through their gold teeth? Less than one percent? Anyone who thinks Lorde’s is racist because they think she is attacking black people in her song is vastly more racist.

What is worse is the writer goes on to say, “Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East?” Right in between the lines about gold teeth and Maybach is the line , “Blood stains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room.” Which is obviously directed at rock stars of the Caucasian variety. And I do not know many, if any rappers that have, “Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.” That sound more like the very white Richard Branson than Jay-Z. And the song is not even a complete take down of the rapper lifestyle because Lorde is driving Cadillac’s in her dreams. But most importantly, people with gold teeth need to be ridiculed and so does the writer of this article.

Preview Picture of the Week:

"Grave New World" Pertty Little Liars, Tuesday at 8:00 on ABC Family

Free Download of the Week: Expired Lover – Emily Kinney (Noise Trade): I had two takeaways from The Walking Dead this week, 1) why are the killing off all the guest stars I recognize and, 2) when did the other Greene sister get hot? Last season, the Greene sisters entertained the prison with some song and apparently the other Greene sister is an actual singer, get her first single off her upcoming album for free.

Deal of the Week: Vampires Sale: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Priest, and Underworld

New Album Release of the Week: Smoke and Mirrors - Brett Dennen

New DVD Release of the Week: Brave Enough: Live at the Variety

Video of the Week: The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations were announced this week headlined by Nirvana (for those that did the math and did not think they were eligible for another three years, the band released a single Love Buzz back in 1988). I was surprised to see Hall and Oates on the list because I would have assumed the greatest duo in rock and roll history would already be in there. This is the second time the Rock Hall is actually letting fans vote (before you start spamming the website, keep in mind the top five vote getters from the fan vote will go on the Fan’s Ballot which will be only one of over 600 ballots). In a measure of full disclosure, I voted for Hall and Oates, N.W.A., Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens, and The Replacements. Again, this is the first year Hall and Oates made the ballot even though they have been eligible for the past sixteen years. I have to wonder if it was their horrible eighties music videos like Adult Education that has kept them out of the Hall all these years.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Ravenswood, Tuesday at 9:00 on ABC Family: After creating a show based on another book written by the Pretty Little Liars failed, ABC Family is taking a more direct approach with a direct spin-off of their biggest show. Over the past season the Liars have taken a couple trips to creepy Ravenswood including the season finale which will also be the setting of its Halloween special. In the hour they have to explain when Caleb is just going to up and move to the town without warning. Supposedly there is a curse so maybe it will keep him from leaving and keep Hanna and the rest of Rosewood forget him. Unless they are going to continue their relationship on two different shows.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Around the Tubes: 10/18/13

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Life According to Sam, Treme, Nicole Atkins, Heroes of Cosplay, Beast of the Bering Sea, On the Menu, Modern Family, and Holidaze.

- This fall, noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recounts the full trajectory of African-American history in his groundbreaking new six-part series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. premiering Tuesdays, October 22, 29 – November 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2013, 8:00 on PBS (check local listings). Written and presented by Professor Gates, the six-hour series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Commencing with the origins of slavery in Africa, the series moves through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to the present — when America is led by a black president, yet remains a nation deeply divided by race. This Tuesday is The Black Atlantic which explores the truly global experiences that created the African-American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented “20-and-odd” slaves who arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on these shores. But the transatlantic slave trade would soon become a vast empire connecting three continents. Through stories of individuals caught in its web, like a 10-year-old girl named Priscilla who was transported from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in the mid-18th century, we trace the emergence of plantation slavery in the American South. The late 18th century saw a global explosion of freedom movements, and The Black Atlantic examines what that Era of Revolutions — American, French and Haitian — would mean for African Americans and for slavery in America.

- In 1998, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns learned that their two-year-old son, Sam, had progeria, a progressive aging disorder so rare that fewer than 250 children in the world had it at the time. Little was known about the disease, and all children with progeria died of heart attack or stroke at an average age of 13. Told there was no treatment or cure, they refused to accept that as the final verdict. Directed and produced by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (the Oscar®-winning Inocente), Life According to Sam chronicles one courageous family’s relentless pursuit of a treatment and a cure, even as his parents empower their son to enjoy his life to the fullest. Life According to Sam debuts Monday at 9:00, exclusively on HBO.

- Treme is returning to HBO for its forth and final season in December but you can check out the first teaser below:

- Psychedelic folk-rocker Nicole Atkins has announced a PledgeMusic campaign in support of her upcoming album, Slow Phaser. The New Jersey born Atkins is known for her big voice, introspective lyrics, expansive arrangements, and has drawn frequent comparisons to musical legends Roy Orbison and Nick Cave. Atkins chose PledgeMusic's direct-to-fan platform to share the record making experience with her fans. Pledge your support now at

- If you have been enjoying Heroes of Cosplay on Syfy, you are in luck because they have added an additional six episode to its first season. New episodes will air in 2014.

- Sharknado star Cassie Scerbo will return to Syfy to battle sea vampires in the new Original Movie Beast of the Bering Sea, premiering Saturday, November 9 at 9:00. In Beast of the Bering Sea, Scerbo and Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire) play a sister and brother team prospecting for gold, who accidentally disturb a colony of blood-sucking amphibious predators (sea vampires) in an underwater cave. Kevin Dobson (Knots Landing) co-stars in this production.

- TNT has greenlit the new series On the Menu (working title), television's first cooking show ever to give viewers the chance to taste the winning dish after every episode. The network has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which is slated to launch in 2014. What's the one thing missing in every cooking show on television? Viewers don't get to taste the food…until now. On the Menu is the first cooking competition show ever to give viewers at home the chance to taste the dishes they see on screen. Each episode of On the Menu will center on a different American food business – ranging from restaurant chains and stadium concession stands to amusement parks and cruise lines. Passionate home cooks, working in conjunction with professional chefs, will be challenged to create the business' next signature menu item. The winning dish will immediately go on the menu, giving viewers at home the chance to go try the dish the very next day.

- Need some more Modern Family? Check out this behinds the scenes video:

- It is never too early to plan your Christmas television watching itinerary, and this winter Jennie Garth (Beverly Hills, 90210) and Cameron Mathison (Dancing with the Stars) prove you can go home again, in the all new ABC Family original movie Holidaze, premiering Sunday, December 8 at 8:00. The movie airs as part of ABC Family’s annual 25 Days of Christmas programming event. Mary Kay Place (Big Love) also stars.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Let Me See Your Skeleton Well Before Your Life Is Done

Magpies and Dandlion - The Avett Brothers

Back in August, John Mayer dropped his second album in fifteen months. Paradise Valley pretty much sound like the cheerier B-side to Born and Raised. Something must be in the water supply on the folk-rock circuit because The Avett Brothers are back with Magpie and the Dandelion just thirteen months after the release of their last one. After recording the folk version of U2 album I and Love and You, the band reconvened with producer Rick Rubin to release their most mellow, traditional folk album The Carpenter and had enough material left over to release an entirely new album.

Much like the latest John Mayer album, Magpies and Dandelion definitely sound like it was recorded during The Carpenter session (probably because it was) but may even be mellower than its predecessor. One of the few upbeat tracks, which happen to be the best song, Another Is Waiting which harkens back to the group’s pre-Rubin days ware their sound was more raw and unrefined. Other than that, one of the few other upbeat tracks is the album opener Open Ended Life which featured a rare electric guitar. Do not worry Avett purists, it is a sign of a new direction and the song also features plenty of banjo and even a harmonica for good measure.

I do wish that Open Ended Letter was sign of a slight change in direction because most of the rest of the album just comes off as B-sides of songs off The Carpenter. Really. Magpies and Dandelion and The Carpenters is essentially just a double album just happened to be released a year apart. The album does deviate a few other times from the mellower side of folk, Morning Song soars like then anthemic songs from I and Love and You or the sweet vocals and acoustic guitar live track Sounds Like the Wheels (if you have never seen The Avett Brothers live or at the very least listen to one of their live albums, remedy that soon). Still, if The Avett Brothers release another album in just thirteen months, I will not be complaining.

Song to Download – Another Is Waiting

Magpies and Dandelion gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Everybody’s Thinking That They’ll All Be Delivered Save it in a Box Like Lost and Found

Lightning Bolt - Eminem

Two years ago, Pearl Jam celebrated their twentieth anniversary with a Cameron Crowe directed documentary and now the band is back after their longest layoff in between albums (four) with their tenth album, Lightning Bolt. While many of their peers from the alt-rock nineties are content with putting out albums for an excuse to hit the nostalgia circuit with new songs giving fans an excuse to go to the bathroom, Pearl Jam hit a career resurgent with their 2006 self titled album which was their best album since their early nineties output.

That continues with Lightning Bolt, the first couple songs that recall those first three albums. Getaway is just classic, straight ahead rock reminiscent of Last Exit. That is followed up by Mind Your Manners and the band has not been this agro since Spin the Black Circle. Lightning Bolt may be at its best when it has its more classic rock elements like on the title track which would have been in heavy rotation on AM Radio in the seventies as well as the first couple tracks.

It is not all retro for the band and they have clearly grown up over the last couple years. Sure the band has recorded a few ballads in their days, some with power behind them, but Sirens may be the band’s first traditionally sounding power balled they have ever recorded, complete with an “ah, oh” repeating ending. The song will certainly raise a few lighters when performed live in concert (for better or worse; it may take a couple weeks before I decide which side I fall down on). For a song more on the pure ballad side, Sleeping By Myself may be the sweetest song the group has ever done and sound like something that would sound less out of place on Eddie’s ukulele album than a Pearl Jam album.

The album does get a little interesting in the middle with Infallible, Pendulum, and the swinging Let the Records Play but they are not the big chances they took on Vs. or Vitology. Lightning Bolt ends with another uncharacteristic ballad Future Days that may have also been written during Vedder’s ukulele period, this time complete with strings. But it is another sweet and hopeful song that shows that the band is one of the few that actually ages well. If Pearl Jam continues on this path, it may be a while before they get to the album full of “bathroom“ songs phase of their career.

Song to Download – Future Days

Lightning Bolt gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 10/15/13

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Breakfast Can Wait – Prince

Apparently the internets are no longer over because Prince recently joined Twitter a couple months ago and just uploaded a music video to YouTube. Hopefully he ends up uploading his entire back catalogue. Seriously, just think about how many times you went to YouTube over the past eight years to watch Batdance only to find it was not there or the one that was is some crappy version probably taken from a VHS tape. The video for Breakfast can wait is a little disappointing because it does not feature Dave Chappelle, who is on the single cover. Instead we get some chick pretending to be Dave pretending to be Prince.

Survival – Eminem

When Eminem released Berzerk I called it his best song since Lose Yourself. Well Survival is his second best song since Lose Yourself. The video could have been done without the shameless video game footage.

PrimeTime – Janelle Monáe featuring Miguel

Janelle Monáe released this song last month, so by my math, I am guessing there is going to be a spike in the population next May. I am not sure if the robot strip club themed video helps or hurts.

Barenaked Ladies - Odds Are

Oh Barenaked Ladies, you sneaky Canadians, way to guarantee views by making a music video where you have to watch more than once, once to watch it, and another to read the scroll.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Voice Season 5 Blind Auditions Power Rankings

After a weak first episode, the second two hours of The Voice was filled with a few memorable Blind Auditions, but after that there were three more episodes of wondering where the wow moments were. Last season, I did not think any of the singers who have made it to the top six of season three. But this season is lacking so much talent; I think only one or two singers this season would have made the top eight last season. The two cycles a year is really starting to water down the talent pool. Mark Burnett may want to take a page out of his other show Survivor and start bringing back artists that should have made it further than they did, and not just the Blind Audition rejects like they have for the last couple seasons. Usually after each Blind Audition, I make a list of Contestants That Deserve a Second Shot, but other than Malford Milligan, even none of this season’s rejects really deserve another go around on the show. Hopefully there are more than usual amounts of breakout moments in the Battle (which is a rarely) and Knockout Rounds. Until then, here are the Power Rankings for the fifth season Blind Auditions.

Holly Henry, the best on The Voice this season
1. Holly Henry (Team Blake): When Holly popped up in a promo for this season, I pondered out loud to the internet, “Is it too soon to call the chick who sings The Scientist the winner of this season of The Voice?” After seeing the full ninety seconds audition, the answer is a resounding yes. The sweet coffee house female indie singers have done fairly well on the show, and usually dominate the iTunes chart each season (but usually ends up losing to someone the bored housewives will call in for but will never buy their music for) and Holly definitely fits that lineage. Either her or Preston had the best selling Blind Auditions song this season by a pretty sizable margin. But Holly actually actual power in her voice that none of her predecessors have had since Dia Frampton back in the first season. The way she delivered “nobody said it was easy” was just beautiful (and was the very reason they used it in the ad). And aside from her voice, I really like everything else about her. I really hope she gets a chance to play her instruments down the line. Plus Holly Henry is a very strong name, the kind that could be a love interest turned superhero in her own right in a comic book. She also looks like a younger, blonder Emma Stone and Holly even exudes the same awkward confidence that Emma has. It goes without saying Stone is one of the greatest living human beings currently walking the planet. My one worry is she went with Blake who just last season went straight country. I had to cringe when Blake talked about how well he has done with singer-songwriters in the past considering he railroaded Caroline Glaser off his team in the Battle Rounds last season. Here is hoping Blake keeps to his word that he is going to “mix things up this season” and helps her to the heights that Dia got in the first season. But where Dia came in second Holly could very well be the first of the coffee-house type singers that wins the whole thing.

2. Cole Vosbury (Team Cee-Lo): Dude came on national television in 2013 and performed The Theme to the Jefferson’s on a singing competition. After the song ended, he really should have just said, “Let’s do this Cee-Lo.” Then drop the mic and walk off stage. This was the second coolest Blind Audition in the history of the series after Lindsey Pavao. I do not know how he tops this but if he goes home prematurely, please give him and his grandmother a reality show.

3. Caroline Pennell (Team Cee-Lo): It is hard to listen to her and not think of last season’s Caroline, Caroline Glaser, They both have sweet soothing, unique voices that could interpret anything. They both showed up to their Blind Audition looking like their raided their grandmother’s closet (Glaser then showed up to the Battle Rounds with a hippie chic makeover, so let’s see what changes are in store for Pennell). It was also extremely endearing how she was noticeably taken aback when the crowd started to cheer and then when the coaches turned around. That is nice for the Blind Auditions, but if she does not learn to keep that under control by the next round, it could be a quick exit. It is lucky she picked Cee-Lo because had she went with Blake she would have had to fight Holly for the quirky teen spot. I would like to see them both in the Live Show. But she did end up with compitition for that spot on Cee-Lo's team.

4. Austin Jenckes (Team Blake): He reminds me a southern version of Ryan Innes from last season (despite from actually being from Washington State). When you can mix a soulful voice with that southern grit that can be a powerful combination. Here is hoping he does not do some weird version of a Gavin DeGraw song in the Knockout Round like Ryan did last season.

Cole Vosbury of The Voice
5. Matthew Schuler (Team Christina): A rugby singing back dude who likes obscure Young the Giant songs. I’m in. Easily the most likeable guy this season so far. My only problem is that he is a bit of an over-singer and I am never a fan of the vocal gymnasts on the show. And being on Christina’s team is the worst place for that. Plus her teams in the first and third season were laughably bad and her one season where she had the strongest team ended up with the most boring finalist that year and another last place finish. Hopefully she does not mess this up. Or maybe she will and Matthew gets stolen by a better coach.

6. Preston Pohl (Team Adam): Just pure raw emotion, but I wonder if he can keep it up for ten weeks in a row if he makes it to the Live Rounds. Just last year, Midas Whale gave the most passionate performance of the Blind Auditions but ended up flaming out by the Knockout Rounds. I do hope at some point Cee-Lo has a chance to steal Preston because he will be better suited to finding songs that will fit him than Adam probably will.

7. Ray Boudreaux (Team Blake): A nice bluesy voice and being from New Orleans gives him a little extra spice you do not expect.

8. Juhi (Team Cee-Lo): A very fun performance but I still came away wanting a little more (which may be some experience, something that is hard to gain fast). Hopefully she busts out some Nirvana or Sublime later in the season if she makes it that far. It is weird to think Cee-Lo has two teenage girls. Blake, who turned around for both, usually has the teenage demographic cornered and Cee-Lo would be the last of the four judges you would expect to recruit young girls.

9. Will Champlin (Team Adam): If he does not sing Hard Habit to Break at some point in this season I will be very disappointed.

Caroline Pennell of The Voice
10. Lupe Carroll (Team Cee-Lo): The only aspect of his performance that was disappointing was that he did not bring out his wife to play cello with him. Maybe he is saving that for the Live Shows if he makes it that far.

11. Grey (Team Adam): With the unfortunate arm tattoo, country beginnings, and Kelly Clarkson song you have to think of Cassadee Pope. But she ended up going with Adam instead of Blake. Cee-Lo did hit it a little too much on the head calling her plain. That may have been the bland song selection, but with better choices in songs, she could end up being a second tier Cassadee which may very well be good enough to make it far this season.

12. Tamara Chauniece (Team Cee-Lo): Whenever an RnB singer comes from the church it shows because they have an extra passion which puts Tamara at the top of the best RnB singers this season.

13. Barry Black (Team Adam): The voice is the greatest instrument on the planet and really besides whistling, no one uses it for any other reason than singing. So Barry earns big points for busting out the vocal horn. It is too bad Cee-Lo did not turn around because that would be a much better fit then Adam who will probably use Barry as Battle Round fodder. If so, hopefully Cee-Lo uses his steal wisely. If not, he can also join the percussion section of a group on The Sing-Off.

14. Kat Robichaud (Team Cee-Lo): Right off the bat Cee-Lo got his rock chick ala Juliet Simms, who went to the finals with him two seasons ago. But I was never a fan of the whiskey soaked voices like Juliet’s and Kat is much more palatable. I do worry she will go too far over the top and with Cee-Lo as her coach that will undoubtedly happen.

Austin Jenkles of The Voice
15. Donna Allen (Team Adam): She has that strong voice that only comes with experience and she does have the spunk of the teenagers on the show. Not the best song selection, it is not the best idea to sing a song with only two lines on a show like this.

16. Monika Leigh (Team Blake): She had some probable in her low end (a new critique I learned this season), but when she went up it was solid. Plus I am down with any white chick who will bust out some BB King. If Blake keeps her in that sultry zone of her first performance, it should work in her favor.

17. Jonny Gray (Team Cee-Lo): A good voice and vibe about him, I do not think the song choice suited him very well. There is a flamboyance to Brandon Flowers voice and Jonny played too straight. With the right song he can be a contender with the right songs and with Cee-Lo as his coach he will either find the greatest songs for him, or pick songs that will bomb massively, there is really any middle ground with decisions Cee-Lo makes.

18. Matt Cermanski (Team Adam): To show just how low the talent level is this season, Matt did not make a team last season and deservedly so, he did not even make my list of Contestants That Deserve Another Shot, and he was only slightly better this season and was one of the better singers this season. Though I do not know why he broke out a guitar for Have a Little Faith in Me unless it was a shameless attempt to court the mom votes who love white guys with guitars. Which is a good strategy, The Swon Brothers inexplicably rode that wave to the finals last season.

19. Stephanie Anne Johnson (Team Christina): Maybe not the best song choice (and probably the wrong pick in coaches, I think Stephanie could have gone further with Cee-Lo) but there is definitely a lot there. I am really interesting in hearing sing more of a power ballad type song.

Matthew Schuler of The Voice
20. Jacquie Lee (Team Christina): This is the third straight season someone sang Back to Black and it is weird to think this is the first time a female sang it. It is just as weird to hear a sixteen year old girl sing a song with so much pathos. There was nothing bad to say about her performance but there really is nothing good to say. It was just a solid high school talent show performance. Like almost every other teenager that has tried out for their show, Jacquie probably should have waited until she had some more experience under her belt before trying out for the show. She probably could have gone further in a couple years than she will probably make it this season.

21. Destinee Quinn (Team Christina): She ranks very high on the likeability scale (which can go a long way on this show and helped Blake to three straight wins). Bonus points for the Alice Cooper shout-out. But I found her performance widely inconsistent and that is probably the very reason why Blake Shelton, who is very picky when it comes to country singers, did not turn around. But when she was good, she was great and if she can iron out her inconsistencies, she could be a contender in the Live Shows.

22. James Wolpert (Team Adam): Cool song selection but I was a bit surprised all four coaches turned around for him (I said that a lot this season). It probably does not help that this guy reminds me of the guy who was on Adam’s team the first season who name I cannot be bothered to remember or even look up.

23. Michael Lynch (Team Christina): A very fun performance even though it came across as a little wedding singer-y. But it is hard not to be down with a white Irish dude who sings in Spanish.

24. James Irwin (Team Adam): I was not a fan of the arrangement and I wonder if everyone would have turned around if they had waited until it started to get loud. It did not seem like Adam liked it and even made a strong critique about it and all the choaches looked stoned faced by the end of his performance nor really fought for him. For some reason James still went with him because he is “a rocker at heart.” Um, that is a bit of a stretch, rock guys would be better off going with Cee-Lo (think Jamar Rogers) or Blake (think Terry McDermott).

25. Olivia Henken (Team Christina): Another hot country chick that Blake did not turn for that ended up on Christina’s team so there will be an obvious Battle Round showdown with Destinee. Oops, Battle Pairings are out and oddly they are not going against each other. It will be interesting if either improve enough to get Blake to steal. But then again Cee-Lo may steal one of them to put them in “professional” positions.

26. Shawn Smith (Team Cee-Lo): Just a fun performance. Interesting enough, during Cee-Lo’s last season, he picked someone who sang a southern rock song with the last pick of the Blind Auditions and Cody Belew ended up making it a couple rounds into the Live Shows. Shawn could very well be Cee-Lo’s last minute dark horse again.

27. Josh Logan (Team Christina): He sounded like he was trying just way too hard to sound like Alex Clare but came up way short. When someone comes on the show and does a straight karaoke version, and not even a great karaoke version, I do not expect them to stick around very long.

28. Tessanne Chin (Team Adam): This reminded me a lot of Sasha Allen’s performance of the same song last season. There is why Amber Carrington crushed Sasha in the Battle. Sasha, like Tessanne, went 0 to 60 in about five second and stayed there through the whole performance, there is no artistry is being loud throughout an entire performance. She better learn dynamics quick or she could also lose to an underdog in the next round and there may not be anyone there to Steal her like Sasha.

29. Ashley DuBose (Team Adam): Like Tessanne before her, Ashley also closed out her episode singing a bland pop song and did not add anything special to it and then picked Adam. Adam took two powerhouse pop singers to the Live Shows last season, but Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill actually took risks with their song selections. And if America quickly got tired of them, I see America meeting Tessanne and Ashley with a resounding yawn one the voting starts. Luckily for them, the field is weaker this season, so I would not write either off completely.

30. Timyra-Joi (Team Christina): She really should have gone Cee-Lo. With him, Timyra could have done something interesting, with Christina, she will just have her sing dated Whitney, Mariah covers until the voting public gets bored, which will probably happen after a week.

31. Lina Gaudenzi (Team Christina): As I complain all the time, it is not a good idea to perform song that was performed on the show before and done much better and Suzanna Choffel sang Landslide much better because Suzanne has a little extra to her voice. Lena started out as the sweeter version but in the middle started doing way too much to the song.

32. R. Anthony (Team Cee-Lo): Does this guy really want to go by "R."? For a guy who was in a gospel group, you would think he would want to distance himself from Mr. Kelly. But Mr. Anthony's audition ended a lot better than it started.

Even though one person wins, it is fun at this point to see who has the strongest team. So I gave a numerical value to ever contestant, one point for the person in last and forty-eight for number one (I did rank all 48 contestants but only listed 32 because that is the number that will advance to the Knockout Rounds and there really was not much to say about the bottom sixteen, half that were montage; I did listen to the iTunes previews of the montaged singers to properly rate them). And here is how each team stacked up:

Cee-Lo - 333
Adam – 329
Christina – 258
Blake – 256

So as it stands, Cee-Lo and Adam have a significant lead over Christina and Blake. The problem with Blake’s team is that it is very bottom heavy, but if he chooses wisely and trims his fat, it will look much better for him coming out of Battle Rounds because between Holly, Austin, and Ray, I think he can nab two finalist spots for the third straight year. Christina on the other hand will have to use her steals wisely because she only has one person in my top ten and three in the top twenty (and two are at nineteen and twenty).

But who cares what I think. Let us look at what the music buying public thinks about this season’s contestants. Here is how they rank on the iTunes charts at their highest point on the chart in parentheses (or the highest I saw it at) with artists still in the top 1500 as of Sunday evening in bold.

1. Preston Pohl (21)
2. Holly Henry (23)
3. Matthew Schuler (79)
4. James Wolpert (110)
5. Caroline Pennell (190)
6. Matt Cermanski (213)
7. Tessanne Chin (219)
8. Jonny Gray (265)
9. Ashley DuBose (286)
10. Austin Jenckes (298)
11. Will Champlin (319)
12. Ray Boudreaux (350)
13. Brandon Chase (352)
14. Lupe Carroll (374)
15. Michael Lynch (461)
16. Josh Logan (463)
17. James Irwin (477)
18. Grey (515)
19. Jacquie Lee (517)
20. E.G. Daily (523)
21. Monika Leigh (573)
22. Timyra-Joi (618)
23. Nic Hawk (631)
24. Destinee Quinn (639)
25. Brian Pounds (757)
26. R. Anthony (789)
27. Justin Chain (810)
28. Lina Gaudenzi (880)
29. Shawn Smith (908)
30. Sam Cerniglia (976)
31. Brianna Cuoco (991)
32. Olivia Henken (1008)
33. Barry Black (1033)
34. Cole Vosbury (1087)
35. Tamara Chauniece (1229)
36. Jacob Poole (1239)
37. Shelbie Z. (1313)
38. Juhi (1373)
39. Stephanie Anne Johnson (1366)

It should be noted that those top five are currently still the only ones still in the top 1500 and still in that order except James leapfrogged Michael. It also looks like the music buying public did not care for Cee-Lo’s team as much as I did (seriously, what is wrong with America that they do not want to own a countrified version of The Jefferson's Theme Song?); he only had three singers in the top twenty-five of this season with four who did not even make the top 1500. Most shockingly was Kat who probably got the best edit by producers on his team this season and seems to be a lock for the live shows. George and Cee-Lo’s two montaged contestants also failed to make the list. Blake’s two montages were the only ones not here along with one of Christina’s montage contestants, surprisingly her other one, Jacob just cracked the list. Adam did not have any of his team members montaged (Adam got the contestant that closed out the first four episodes and none of his picks were montaged; gee, I wonder who the producers want to win this season) but Donna Allen and Justin Blake failed to make the list. If you use the same formula that I used with to decide who had the strongest team using my power rankings, here are the strongest teams based on the iTunes charts.

Adam – 271
Blake – 203
Christina – 175
Cee-Lo – 131

Not surprisingly Adam has the strongest team with five of the top ten on iTunes with Cee-Lo far behind everyone else. Now it is prediction time. Presuming there will still be two steals in the Battle Rounds and one in the Knockout Rounds, which means each team will go into the Live Shows with five members. If you just count the first five members of each team on my power rankings, you will see who I hope makes the Live Shows, but here is who I predict will make the Live Shows. I am going to go ahead and pick five members from each team not taking into accounts steal mostly because Adam is the only one of these four to take a Steal to the Live Shows and I have a sinking suspicion that most, if not all the coaches will steal back someone they dumped in the Battle Rounds for their Knockout Round steal (though Christina, and looking at the iTunes charts Cee-Lo too should take a steal or three to the Live Shows). I rank each team from most to least confident they will make the Live Shows.

Adam: Tessanne, James W., Preston, Ashley, Will
Blake: Holly, Austin, Ray, Shelbie, Monika
Cee-Lo: Kat, Jonny, Caroline, Cole, Tamara
Christina: Matthew, Timyra, Olivia, Josh, Jacquie

And for an extremely too premature prediction of the finals (did anyone have Danielle, Michelle, and / or the Swon Brothers on the finals after the Blind Auditions last season? I had all three not making the Live Shows) I am guess it will be the same as the last two seasons with Blake having two finalists, Holly and Austin, with the token RnB coach Cee-Lo taking the other spot with Jonny rounding out the finals. Christina will lose all her team members first while Adam hates America for dumping his powerhouse singers before the finals.

Last season, you had to go through the Battle Round promo like a Zapruder film to figure out five battle pairings, but this season, the promo Monday and the lengthy preview Tuesday, you could tell all but two battle pairings and oddly both are on Blake’s team (E.G., Cilla, and Sam were the only ones that got zero Battle Round promo screen time while a single tight shot on Holly did not reveal who she is going against, though you could tell she was standing next to someone in an off-white sweater and in an online video about Cher, Cilla is shown hugging Cher in a similar looking sweater). They even revealed a bunch of what songs they are singing. Here are 22 of the 24 battle pairing (who I think will win is listed first).

Matt vs. James I. (Counting Stars)
Ashley vs. Justin (Just a Fool)
Gray vs. Nic (Domino)
James W. vs. Will (Radioactive)
Tessanne vs. Donna
Preston vs. Barry

Shelbie vs. Justin (Don't You Wanna Stay)
Ray vs. Monika (Some Kind of Wonderful)
Austin vs. Brian (To Love Somebody)
Emily vs. Brandon
Holly vs. Cilla (I think)
If I am right above, that leaves E.G. vs. and Sam

Kat vs. R. Anthony (I Don't Want to Miss a Thing)
Caroline vs. Anthony (As Long As You Love Me)
Johnny vs. Shawn (Refugee)
Cole vs. Lupe
Juhi vs. George
Tamara vs. Keaira

Matthew vs. Jacob (My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up))
Josh vs. Michael (Harder to Breathe)
Timya vs. Amber (Listen)
Olivia vs. Stephanie
Destinee vs. Lina
Jacqui vs. Brianna

They may have even tipped their cap as to two contestants that got stolen, there is someone who looks like a brunette chick who kind of looks like Briana (plus there is a shot of her sister Kaley losing her mind again in the promo) and a very fuzzy looking blond chick who I originally thought was Olivia when I first saw it but am unsure upon second (and tenth) examination who both who get stolen by Adam. But is Adam really going to use both of his steals on Christina rejects. Oddly both Blake and Cee-Lo try to steal one of hers on the Knockout Round.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 10/13/13

Once Upon a Time: That is the second time in as many episodes where someone who lived in the real world told someone stuck in fairytale land about how they are depicted in pop culture. At least they pointed out how absurd it is to have cast an Abercrombie model as Captain Hook when everyone knows him as an old dude with a bad perm. Neverland expands next week with the inclusion of Tinkerbell (those are some heavy wings to fill after Julia Roberts and Keira Knightley) which begs the question when will the Indians show up?
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Once Upon a Time on iTunes.

Homeland: Now there is the Carrie that was severely missing last season: off her meds and being driven crazy by her job. The crazier Carrie gets, the more entertaining the show is. At the end of season one I pondered how they would possibly let Carrie back into the CIA, but after having her committed, I am not sure what would be less likely, that the CIA would take her back after her escapade in the loony bin or if Carrie would be willing to go back after completely throwing her under the bus complete with an involuntary stay in a mental health facility. Granted I am sure they will be brought back together some how to track down Brody who was thankfully completely absent this week.

Revenge: If Aiden really wanted revenge on Emily, why not tell Victoria that she is really David Clarke’s daughter? That seems like the quickest way to bringer down, blow her cover. But we did get the first takedown of the season and I really cannot remember the last time she pulled out the red Sharpie. It created an interesting conundrum of whether to take down someone who clearly has repented.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Revenge on iTunes.

Masters of Sex: So who told Beau Bridges that the study moved to, um, copulation? If Dr. Haas did not do it like he says (not that I believe him) that would only leave the two, um copulating. Neither of which I would assume would admit to such a thing especially to their boss. But it is becoming pretty clear that Betty the prostitute is quickly becoming the break out star of the show, she always has a funny comment whenever she opens her mouth. I am sure there is a hooker joke in there somewhere, but I will just leave it be.

The Voice: Forget Kaley Cuoco, holy Neil McDonough sighting! That should squash the conspiracy theories that producers told the coaches to turn for Briana just because she had a famous sister (not to mention the son of the guy who brought Tijano music to America failed to turn a chair). And the dude was also the son of The Commodores drummer. Who knew the Commodores had a white drummer?

I wonder if the “Best of the Blind Audition” were just that or a preview of whom we can expect in the Live Shows. I would actually live with the twelve singers featured if that were the case although I was a bit surprised that Josh Logan and Nic Hawk were featured. I guess Christina does not have much else to spotlight, but it is hard to think Nic can make it two rounds with all the ringers currently on Adam's team. It does seem like there will be five singers per team this season because the show finally took my advice to add at least one Steal to the Knockout Rounds (last season would have been much more palatable if Ryan Innes, Midas Whale, Mary Miranda, and Luke Edgemon). Though I have a feeling most of the coaches will just end up stealing someone they just dumped in the Battle Rounds. My post-Battle Rounds Power Rankings are coming tomorrow and looking at the talent as a whole, this season may not be pretty. There really is only one person worth rooting for.

You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download songs performed this week with the widget at right.

The Blacklist: It is nice to see that Lizzie decide to look into her fiancée’s gun, so what exactly has that gun been used for to get it redacted by Homeland Security? And who was the dude with the apple? I am a little apprehensive that the questions are piling up without any answers. Red’s reasoning to why he picked Lizzie was a little muddling and does not quell any theories that he is really her father and really just stoked those flames.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.

Castle: Congratulation for those that guessed Kate would be back with the NYPD by the fourth episode (assuming she is welcomed back, but there will be no show if she is not; sorry dude who replaced her who’s name I did not bother to learn), I had it happening in this episode. Oh well. And if you are going to do a Saved by the Bell rip off, why not just get Screech and A.C. Slater to reprise their roles? I cannot image they are busy.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Castle on iTunes.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: It is becoming pretty clear what this show is missing, aside from the obvious better actors (can someone please show the token hot chick how to tell a joke), it really needs a Big Bad to battle. I am not sure if Joss Whedon created the idea of a Big Bad, but he certainly perfected it. I wonder if the scientist that Coulsen scarified will become one. He did look like the Silver Surfer when he reached out of the Gravitonium ball. Although I am not sure if a television show has a big enough to do the Silver Surfer (or something like it) very often.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: I have come to expect disturbing scenes on the show, and this one probably does not make the top ten most disturbing scenes in the show’s history, but the guard forcing Clay and Gemma to have sex in front of them was pretty disturbing. I put the over / under on number of episodes until somebody actually does kill those guards at three. I would have put it at one but they may have more pressing matters after their clubhouse went boom.
You can download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water: Wow. Calab had to have one of the ballsiest moves in Tribal Council history, definitely the ballsiest that did not involve an Immunity Idol. Dude just called his shot like Babe Ruth, obviously the girls quickly jumped on board and eventually Vytas (and almost Hayden) joined him to get rid of Not-Dante Culpepper. And it was the right move. Not-Dante’s reasoning to get rid of John was because his loved one was not on a tribe and then outright said at Tribal that it would be wise to vote out someone who is unattached in the game. At that point you have to turn on Not-Dante before he turns on you. And he had to do it right there while Ciera gave him the numbers, it would have been harder to after she was gone, even harder had Brad turned on him at that Tribal which Caleb could not be completely sure was the case. And Ciera still being in the game is amazing. She is the very reason her tribe lost three of their four challenges, two of which they had a sizeable lead in.
You can stream recent episodes on You can also download Survivor: Blood vs. Water on iTunes.

Ironside: There is nothing more awesomely cheesy than when detectives on cop shows have an epiphany almost completely out of nowhere. Ironside may have actually had the most absurd epiphany ever when his jump off mentioned Britney Spears which made him think of some missing girl from a decade ago in a Mandy Moore Christina Aguilera that looked like a witness who fled a crime scene. Wow. That is a humongous leap for a dude in a wheelchair. The show may only air one or two more episodes, but I am going to enjoy all of them. Hopefully there is more Casey Cartwright shoved dudes faces into pasta.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Ironside on iTunes.

The Big Bang Theory: How dare Amy besmirch the good name of Indiana Jones? I never cared for her inclusion on the show and now I am actively hating her.
You can stream recent episodes on You can also download The Big Bang Theory on iTunes.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Wow there were some glaring plot holes from the start that were even bigger than the rabbit’s portal. Since the Knave started out in Storybrooke, that means this Wonderland should adhere to the same rules. That means Wonderland should have been frozen in the time between Emma being born and until she showed up in Storybrooke which was about thirty years. Yet somehow young Alice traveled Wonderland sometime in the nineties and then again recently as a teenager. And wasn’t it already established that Regina’s mother was the Red Queen? And now with no explanation she is a hot young blond with an accent (I just brought up the whole Captain Hook / Abercrombie model thing). No wonder why ABC put the show on during its death slot.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Once Upon a Time in Wonderland on iTunes.