Thursday, November 30, 2006

Get Thee Back to the Studio

The latest news on the long-awaited Katharine McPhee album is...well...await a bit longer.

Those of you who were hoping to add a little McPheever to your Christmas stocking stuffers are going to have to do it next year. Kat's album won't hit the streets until sometime in 2007. The label isn't exactly saying why, though in a recent interview, Kat strongly suggests it was her idea, saying she wanted to take time to record the right kind of album.

I'm not really sure how to react to that. First of all, rookie artists rarely have the power to boss around their labels, much less mega-moguls like Clive Davis. There's been speculation that there has been some dissatisfaction with the tracks she's already laid down, and some feel that Clive Davis may have ordered her back to the studio, much like he did with Ruben on his first release. Second, I have to question the wisdom behind any sort of delay, especially when there have already been two solid releases (three, if you count Ayla's) from this season. Already the release schedule on this year's Idols has been sort of helter skelter. This is the first year that I'm aware of where not one but two non-top-three contestants have been allowed a CD release ahead of the winner and runner-up, much less having those same albums published by 19 themselves. One could make the argument that one is not going to get just a whole lot better than the fabulous releases by Kellie Pickler and Chris Daughtry.

As for the sound of the new album, it looks to be headed away from classics and standards and headed more toward pop R&B. With people like Babyface, the Neptunes, and Danjahandz Hills, we can probably expect a pretty predictable, Christina Aguilera-esque offering. And while I'm hopeful, from the looks of things, this album may make Bo Bice's release of yesteryear look like a brain-trust in comparison.

Katharine also said that most of her lyrics will not be personal or related to her life. So, does this mean the album is going to be completely generic? Seriously, I'm not sure how you expect to own a song if you're not going to be willing to open yourself with it. She states ""I'm not going to write a song about 'Daddy, you really hurt me,' like, I'm not going to go into complete details of my personal life." That may or may not be a cheap shot at Kellie Pickler's album, which did contain a great deal of personal revelation, in particular about her mother and her imperfect life, which I might add, improved Kellie's album dramatically.

However, if the career doesn't work, Katharine has a back-up plan. "If I don't have a hit record then I'll try the record thing again and try the movie thing. And then [if those don't work] I'll just get knocked up and be a happy married woman."

Class, Katharine. Don't lose it.


P.S. Anthony Fedorov fans: Nelly called today.

UPDATE: American Idol 4 fans, listen up. Jaclyn Crum from Season 4 will be interviewing with me this weekend. Look for the interview, coming soon!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hungry for some American Idol 6 Spoilers?

If the answer is yes, then you might want to listen to Idol Waves Top 20 Countdown today. With the help of M.J. and Idol Maniac, I'll be playing you songs that were recorded by American Idol 6 contestants. As many of you know, the Hollywood auditions for the next season are now over, and the spies there have brought back word.

This according to M.J.:

* The contestants arrived Monday November 13.
* The girls sang acapella on Tuesday November 14th while the boys toured.
* There were 117 girls. They cut so many the first day, that they had to wake up 10 girls in the middle of the night to ask them to come back.
* There were only 56 guys.
* The guys sang acapella on Wednesday, November 15th.
* Group day was Thursday November 16th.
* On Friday November 17th, the remaining contestants--approximately 31 girls and 25 guys--sang solo with piano and 3 background vocals. They were split up into rooms that night.
* On Saturday November 18th and Sunday November 19th, contestants were interviewed, etc.
* Contestants were sent home on Sunday November 19th and Monday November 20th once the interview process was completed.

If you wanna get a head start on hearing who's talented, check out the show. I really enjoyed hearing them sing, and so will you. Again, it's on Idol Waves Radio at at 3 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Central Standard Time each Tuesday. The show will be archived and podcast for a week or so after that on my Myspace profile (which is currently autoplaying last week's show.)

Don't wait till January. Tune in and get the early scoop on Idol talent.

Also on this week's show:

Ace Young's new single, "Scattered," makes its chart debut. (I highly recommend purchasing this track from iTunes, by the way. Sales of this single will determine whether Ace can shop a new album or not, so Highrollers, y'all get to steppin'.)

Elliott Yamin and Big Planz debut on the chart with "The Storm."

It's a race between Anthony Fedorov and Daughtry as to who will be the highest chart climber!

And a special tribute to American Music Award winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Everybody Talkin' Bout Pac's Life

I picked up the new 2pac CD the other day. It came out on the same day as Daughtry, so it has suffered a little bit in terms of time spent in my CD changer. Still, it's an enjoyable CD.

Rap has always been one of my vices. I love the beat of the street, and I enjoy an intelligently crafted rhyme. There are a lot of rappers out there that I could take or leave. Most of these are rappers who put out CDs full of nothing but booty this, drugs that, bling bling the other, and a little sex sprinkled in, just to make sure that the track means absolutely nothing. Tupac Shakur was never like that. Oh sure he talked about all of the above at one time or another, but the vast majority of his work was incredibly cerebral and coming from a dark place in his soul. There was pain and hurt in his lyrics, and he probably spoke the truth more than any other rapper ever did.

Pac's critics like to point out his braggadocio, his glorification of violence, and his apparent misogyny when they dismiss him. But doing that is to just skim the surface. For every "Toss It Up," there was a "Dear Mama" and a "Brenda's Got a Baby," and for every "Hit 'Em Up," there was a "How Long Will They Mourn Me" and a "Teardrops and Closed Caskets." Whether the subject matter was comfortable or not, 2pac always talked about the truth of life in the ghetto and life as a black man. If you've never lived in it, you can't know. (I've lived in the ghetto, so I have a certain appreciation for it.) While I don't agree with him all the time, or even most of the time, I appreciate the way he presents his material and the clever way that he phrases it. I'm not a big fan of profanity or objectionable subject matter, but Pac rarely ever used it gratuitously or in a way that wasn't meant to paint a starkly realistic portrait of urban life on the West Side.

In any case, you have to respect the fact that the man can continue to release new CDs on the tenth anniversary of his death, with guest rappers that hadn't even been in the industry by the time he'd passed. A lot of people who have never had the chance to hear the SIXTEEN underground Makaveli tapes don't know where all this material comes from, but 2pac is one brother that spent a LOT of time in the studio before he died. I won't get into whether I think he's dead or not, but you have to admit, with such a body of work, he's definitely set for a good long while.

That being said, the last few CDs haven't been quite up to par with his earlier work. I still think he would have a hard time topping All Eyez on Me even if he was still alive. And with each album, the amount of unheard material decreases, so some of the more picked over stuff has been prominent on his later CDs. Granted, even Pac's weakest work was quite good, but still, you can only milk something so far.

So I approached Pac's Life with trepidation. But as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Pac's Life is perhaps one of the best of the posthumous albums. Nothing against Eminem, but the way he produced the last album sounded more like Em and less like Pac. Pac's Life goes back to a more West Coast sound. There's a bit of contemporization, but for the most part the sound hearkens back to a different era. There's almost no crunk here, just a solid beat to go with Pac's flows. The disc kicks into high gear right off with the remix of "Untouchable." And the title track, "Pac's Life," is extremely well done, both in the original mix and the remix with Snoop Dogg at the end.

The only complaint I might have is that 2pac typically only raps for one or two verses per song. There are a few reasons for this. The primary reason is that by only using one or two verses, they're able to conserve more of his work to be used later. Second, it often allows for the novelty of other rappers that Pac never worked with to rap with him on his record, fulfilling our "what if Pac had rapped with Ludacris" fantasies. Still, from time to time, it's easy to forget that you're listening to a 2pac record because you're not hearing him for stretches of time. On the other hand, this does allow for the completion of one of the album's major themes: paying tribute to Tupac on the 10th anniversary of his death.

This is a good record to have, but if you haven't heard 2pac before, go back and listen to Me Against the World and All Eyez on Me prior to picking up this record.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Heartfelt Gratitude

I was talking with my buddy John tonight, and we were wishing each other a happy Thanksgiving. "John," I said, "just remember what it was like a year ago. None of our lives were the same. We were all in different places. Just twelve short months and all our lives are completely different. We have a lot to be thankful for." He agreed, and we discussed it for a while before wishing each other a happy Thanksgiving.

I couldn't help but continue to think about it after I got off the phone, and I went and wrote down some of the things that I'm thankful for, and I thought I'd share them with you guys.

I'm thankful for a God that loves me. Even though I don't deserve it. His love and grace have washed over me more times than I could hope to have the right to claim. Without Him, I am nothing.

I'm thankful to still be alive. A couple years back I nearly wasn't. I was within a hair's breadth of meeting my maker, laying on an examining table, dehydrated to the point where an IV was nearly impossible, mostly blind, in pain, and about to stroke out. I am so thankful to God that I've been given a second chance, and I live each day knowing that it's borrowed time, and it almost wasn't mine.

I'm thankful for my family. I thought I didn't need them for a while. I figured them to be a thorn in my flesh, but instead they have been the wings on my heart.

I'm thankful for my father. He's the finest example of a man that I could ever have had the privilege of being both my mentor and my best friend. I'd pick no other to have my back, and I'd ask no other when I needed help. I am so thankful that he is still around and that I can take advantage of even the smallest portion of his wisdom and gracefulness. If fathers are the mirrors of God, then I'm sure that my Creator loves me and cares for me.

I'm thankful for my mother. She's never had anything but my best interest at heart, even when she scolds or fusses. She's a strong, steadfast woman whose greatest glory has always been in the service of others, most notably her children. Her name is Blessed, and she truly deserves the credit for any fraction of me that might be good. She's my other best friend and my beacon.

I'm thankful for my sisters. Tab is such an inspiration. She sees what she wants, and she goes for it, odds or consequences be hanged. Rach hasn't been around much, but I'm thankful that she's achieved the success she's been looking for, and I pray for days when she'll remember us and draw closer. Sarah is my star. I'm so thankful to have her back in one piece after so long. As long as we live, nobody else will be able to call me "Bubba" but her. I am so thankful for the closeness we've cultivated over the past year.

I'm thankful for all of my close friends. We've had our tough times, but J-Stock and I have hung through it together as friends who are closer than brothers. I'm also thankful that John is still with us, even though the beast they call cancer nearly stole him from us. I'm grateful that his life has gotten back on track. There are so many other dear friends from old that I am thankful for, but I am especially thankful for all the new friends I have made this year.

I'm thankful for a new life. I have gained so much perspective this year.

I'm thankful for being able to be creative. I still can't believe that there are thousands of people out there who want to read this stupid crap I write here and other places, and I can't believe that anyone, let alone nearly 10 thousand people, would want to download my Idol Waves shows. I am humbled by each and every letter I get from you, and you guys here at Musical Ramblings and Idol Waves have helped make unbearable days survivable. God bless each and every one of you, and thank you so much for your friendship.

I'm thankful to have a better job. What can I say? I'm blessed. I'm not rich, but I'm doing well for myself, which many people are not able to say. My prayers do go out to them. Hopefully my blessings can be turned around and used to bless others.

I'm thankful for music. What a horrible world this would be without a song in my heart and on my radio.

I could go on and on with the list, but it would eventually take up the whole day, and there'd be no time left for turkey.

God bless all of you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dear Nigel, Can Chris Be the Winner?


That's probably the only review I need to write when it comes to today's release, Daughtry. I wondered what it would be like when I bought the CD. Would it be a half-hearted pop-rock effort like Bo Bice's first? Or would it be a true-to-his-roots labor of love like Kellie Pickler's recent disc. I listened to the CD. Then I listened to it. And just for a change of pace, I listened to it again. Ladies and gentlemen, the verdict is in. It's a slam dunk. I love it. Call the American Idol votes back in, people, we have a new winner.

Seriously, after the fabulous albums that Daughtry and Kellie Pickler have released, Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks are going to have to REALLY knock it out of the park to be better. Taylor's CD is going to have to heal the sick and raise the dead before I call it better than Daughtry. I'm actually curious if this might be the year where both the second AND first place winners fall by the wayside. I certainly don't wish that on them, because they're both talented people. But they are going to have to really bring it home to beat the CDs that have already been released.

My thoughts about Daughtry's CD are pretty simple. It rocks from start to finish. There is not one track on it that I dislike. It's one loud wall of sound from the time your CD drawer closes to the time when the final track cuts. If I had to pick a couple of tracks that really stand out, I guess I'd say "It's Not Over" and "Over You" probably gave me the biggest kick in the head. "Home" is also pretty good. But honestly, I could love every single moment of this CD without hesitation.

Of course, the insufferable rock music snots are already poo-pooing it, which you should expect, because, well, they're insufferable snots. And their musical tastes are more valid than yours. And they're cooler than you, which is only slightly obscured by how much they were constantly made fun of in their youth and the length the stretch marks around their butt cheeks from having their underwear pulled up somewhere around their adam's apple by people who were, in fact, cool, and not insufferable music snots. If I've heard the word "overproduced" once today, I've heard it a million times. Of course there's no such thing, as quality is highly subjective, and what might be overdone to one might be underdone to another. What these people mean by overproduced is that the music has a lot of help from the people recording it, as opposed to just some unwashed, smelly hippie like themselves playing it in front of nobody on a broken Fender knock-off. Well, let me amend that: most music critics aren't actually capable of creating music themselves, so that should be some OTHER unwashed, smelly hippie playing with a broken Strat knock-off. These critics are by and large unhappy when something comes along that is actually commercially successful. They're the same people that helped Kurt Cobain commit suicide.

But the truth is this: the music is good, no matter how it was produced, and the lyrics are thoughtful. There's really no reason to compare him to Nickelback or Fuel, as many are doing, because while they're in the same genre, Daughtry has their own unique sound, and they're doing what they love to do, which is rock it and rock it hard. And they're cooler than the critics, which just drives them batty.

In any case, ignore those idiots. These are good tunes. Chris had a hand in writing all these songs, with the exceptions of "Feels Like Tonight" and "What About Now," the latter of which was penned by Ben Moody, formerly of Evanescence. "Breakdown" was one that he did with his former band, Absent Element. The fact that a guy, who is as new to the business as Chris Daughtry, can pen these tunes is mind-blowing. Are they mainstream? Yeah. Will they rock your world? If you let them. Musically, the band is tight. I've rarely heard guitars sound this nice, and Paul Bushnell on bass just makes me want to cry tears of joy.

Chris' voice on this album is better than it ever was on Idol. He has help in the form of Howard Benson, who also produced the All-American Rejects and My Chemical Romance. On the mixer is Chris Lord-Alge who has worked with Green Day, B.B. King, No Doubt, Bad Religion, and many others. Extra special is a guest appearance on "What I Want" by Guns N' Roses guitar legend Slash.

All told, this album is quite solid. You will never hear me say this again, but I recommend purchasing the album through Wal-Mart, as their discs (and only theirs) contain two bonus tracks (an acoustic version of "Home" and "Crashed.") It's worth a buy, and it will be a mainstay in your car's disc changer.

What are you still reading for? Go get it!

Monday, November 20, 2006

On This Week's Idol Waves Top 20 Countdown

Tune in at Idol Waves (click here if that link doesn't work for you) Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 3 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Central Standard Time.

On this week's show:

New music from Visible From Space!

What music does A.I. 5's Becky O'Donohue enjoy?

Did Anthony Fedorov's fans votes cause him to be this week's highest chart jumper?

Teen Idols of 1989

The new single by Daughtry!

Simon Fuller gets his own Idol Flashback!

How did Temple Hill (the band formed by the Molfetta Twins from A.I. 4) rank this week?

And, what's currently in J.D.'s CD Player?

Tune in!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

I love midnight movies. In a city the size of Memphis, that's really the only time to go see a good flick. The crowds aren't so big, the audience is almost exclusively adult, there are no screaming kids, cell phones aren't ringing as much in the middle of the night... it's just a good experience.

This past Friday, I was not in any mood to sleep, so I caught the midnight showing of the new Will Ferrell film Stranger Than Fiction. I decided to go mainly because Will Ferrell was in it. I'd heard about it, but not a whole lot, but I knew that it was a story about a man whose life was suddenly being narrated, so I figured it would be a couple of hours of Will Ferrell goofiness, along the lines of Talladega Nights or Anchorman.

I was wrong. But this was a good thing.

Stranger Than Fiction turned out to be so much more than that. It catches you off guard, because at any moment you expect Will to just go completely batty and start running around in his underpants. Instead, it digs deep into your skin and makes you (gasp!) think.

I won't spoil the story too much for you, because you should really go out to see it for yourself. But here's the basic beginning of it: Will Ferrell plays a character by the name of Harold Crick, an obsessive-compulsive, workaholic IRS agent with absolutely no social skills or a life outside of his nice neat little pattern. He counts tiles on walls; he's just that compulsive. He almost borders on autism with his command of numbers. Anyway, Harold's life is completely structured and mapped out...that is until a voice that only he can hear starts literally narrating his life. As it turns out, the voice that is narrating his life is that of an author who is writing a novel about Harold, unaware that he is a real person and unaware that what she is writing is affecting his life.

I won't go into details, because I don't want to spoil anything. You need to see this film. But the ensuing journey of self-actualization and self-analysis that comes as Harold starts to understand his situation is extremely relevant to the way most of us live our lives. I'll admit, for the most part, my life is pretty well scripted. I left the theater wondering how I could change that. If you can leave this film without doing even the most cursory evaluation of whether or not you're living your life the way you should be, then you just weren't paying attention.

On the other hand, the story is not a complete drama-fest. There are a few times when the typical Will Ferrell peeks through. There are no underpants scenes. There are a few laughs, but the humor is played mainly for relief from dramatic tension. If you're going with the expectation of being made to belly laugh, you will leave unfulfilled. If, on the other hand, you want a movie that will make you think, this is the one to see.

The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman, both of whom are made to look like rank amateurs by Ferrell. Who knew he was such a good actor?

Long review made short, go see this movie. And when you see it, learn a little about yourself.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

News & Notes

Just thought I'd throw a few tidbits at you, fast and furious, since I wanna keep you up to speed!

FOR THOSE OF YOU LOOKING FOR THE LISA TUCKER INTERVIEW: Three options. (a.) Scroll down. (b.) Download it from here, or (c.) all of the above. (UPDATE: Switchpod is being fussy, and is down at the moment, so the mp3 archive is not available at the moment. I will have it up ASAP.)

SITE NEWS: I've just upgraded to "Blogger in Beta," which is an upgraded service for Blogger users. It has a few nifty tweaks, a couple of annoying faults, but other than that, it's been pretty decent. I love how publishing time is cut down to nearly nothing. On the other hand, though, it has completely screwed up my Atom feed, so if you subscribe to this blog via a newsreader, you should update to the RSS feed, which is at and if you don't know what a feed or newsreader is, don't worry about it.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: American Idol 5's Heather Cox celebrates her birthday today. She emailed me today and let me know that she's now signing with a new manager and that a couple of major record labels have expressed interest in signing her to a contract. Here's hoping!

IDOL INTERVIEW: I have been told by my sweet little friend Paris Bennett that she will be calling to do an interview this weekend. That now makes 8 of this year's Top 24 that have made appearances here on this site. (That's one third, for those of you trying to do the head math.) Princess P will talk to me a little bit about American Idol, the tour, and life after. I have also gotten word that a couple of others from other seasons are interested in interviewing, but I won't spoil that just yet.

MIKALAH GORDON: Mikalah's mom told me this week that Meek has been co-hosting a comedy festival at Caesar's Palace in Vegas this week. She also confirmed that Mikalah is going to be hosting American Idol Extra again this year, so we can look forward to seeing her more.

CONGRATULATIONS!: April Walsh landed a part in a TBS Humor Lab commercial. From April's blog: "The pay is fabulous and the exposure will, hopefully, be good. I know those commercials are funny and get tons of airtime. The only thing I don't completely know is what exactly I'll be doing. The audition was all about crazy laughs. Let's hope that, if that's the thing I gotta bring, I bring mass quantities."

WINTER FANTASIES: Will Makar will be headlining a Christmas show called "Winter Fantasies" at the Main Stage Theater - Montgomery Community College in The Woodlands, Texas. He'll be appearing with Jeni Lynn, Kaitlin Knippers and Anthony Glover. The production team for this show has credits including Disney, Broadway, and Vegas, so expect it to be dazzling. The show is two nights, December 9-10. Tickets are available at I really wish I could be there to see this show. Look for more on this show to come to this site later.

REMEMBER THE FIREMAN? The big guy who auditioned for A.I. dressed as a fireman is not so big anymore. Check out Jordan Southerland's Myspace blog to find out how he lost a tremendous amount of weight. He's looking lean and mean! He's also setting up an audition for Sony Music, so keep your fingers crossed!

VINTAGE LOVE LETTERS: Roxie Mae's new album Vintage Love Letters is now available for pre-order. I got my advanced copy (luv ya Rox!) and I have been enjoying it greatly. Look for me to write a bigger review in the coming days. Head on over to to sample a track or two, and while you're there, go ahead and pre-order. I'm told that all pre-orders come autographed! Be Roxie's friend at

CHRISTMAS CLASSICS: Bobby Bennett tells me that he is headlining another show at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret that he wants you to attend. It's December 17, 2006 at 7:30PM (doors open at 6:30). Tickets are available at or by calling 303-293-0075

ASHLEY MELNICK: I got a letter from Ashley, and she says she's currently in the Texas Teen Pageant. Best of luck, Ash. We should really hook Ashley and Will Makar up. Talk about a good lookin' couple! (Check out her smokin' hot voice at

BILLY FROM GOODBYE has a new demo out, or so Brooke Barrettsmith tells me. (She also told me she was sending me a Brooke and Leah CD, so we'll see.) But you should check out his single, "Fire," at

And that's it for News and Notes right now. Big shouts out to the folks at, KellieFans, and who have been showing me much love here and at Idol Waves. Y'all rock!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

American Talent: Lisa Tucker

(What you're hearing is Lisa's latest song, followed by my interview with her in audio format. Sorry if it made you jump! --J.D.)

When I first started doing Idol Interviews, there were a couple of Idols in particular that I really wanted to get hold of and sit down and talk to. Most of those you've read in past interviews. (And if you haven't, scroll down the sidebar to the right and go read them after you're done with this one.) But I've been wanting for months to have a chat with Lisa Tucker.

Lisa charged onto the Idol scene with an audition that I still, to this day, hold as my second favorite audition of all time. (Carrie Underwood's comes in first.) I got chill bumps as Lisa sang "I will be free." Throughout the competition, Lisa was charming, and just plain hard to dislike. While you might be aggravated at Paris' baby-talk or Kellie's malapropisms, there was absolutely nothing offensive about Lisa. In fact, there were a great deal of endearing qualities.

Lisa grabbed on and took the competition with both hands, and while she didn't emerge from the Top 12 victorious, she was already using her newfound fame to build on her career, landing a guest spot on The O.C. and making appearances elsewhere, to say nothing of the tour.

So let's get right down to it. Here's my conversation with Lisa. You can read it here, or listen along.

J.D.: What kind of things had you done, prior to your stint on American Idol?

Lisa: Well, before I was on Idol, I did "The Lion King," and I played young Nala. I had been on Star Search and Ed McMahon's Next Big Star, but American Idol was definitely the highlight so far.

J.D.: You were described, going into the contest as the best sixteen year old they'd ever heard. How much pressure was that?

Lisa: Well, hearing that, it definitely was pressure, y'know. Going into it, I was terrified of auditioning in front of Simon, and Randy, and Paula. And I was just worried about what they were gonna say to me. And after I heard that and walked out, I mean, I was wondering, ok it was great that I got great feedback, but at the same time now I'm nervous because I have all this added pressure on me for Hollywood week.

J.D.: Wow, that's gotta be crazy.

Lisa: Yeah, it really was.

J.D.: And as a kid, I mean, that's a lot of pressure. You're young, and you're new in the business.

Lisa: Definitely! I mean, I was only in my senior year of high school. Kids have to deal with enough pressure, and y'know, stuff to deal with and that was definitely a big add-on for us.

J.D.: As a minor, you were required by law to go to school while working on American Idol. Is that correct?

Lisa: That's right. We had... Paris and I had to wake up three hours earlier than everybody else and do our schooling before pretty much we'd run out and perform in front of millions of people.

J.D.: Wow, that had to be a lot of pressure, both emotionally and academically, too.

Lisa: It was.

J.D.: Can you tell me one of the craziest things you remember about your stint on Idol?

Lisa: (pauses) Ummm...let's see... We would get so excited after a show was over, y'know, because I mean, we were all so close! And we knew that the next day for a results show, somebody would be leaving. We were all so relieved after that day of performing, just because we were so nervous, so a lot of times we'd go out afterwards and go to dinner all together and just have fun.

J.D.: Anything really memorable stick out in your mind?

Lisa: Let's see, let's see... Um... nothing really that sticks out. It's been a while actually. We finished the tour about a month and a half ago, so the show actually kinda sorta started to become sort of a bore.

J.D.: Well, you know, this has always been sort of a hard question for various different Idols to answer. Don't worry, you're not the only way that couldn't think of an answer to it.

Lisa: (laughs)

J.D.: What would we be surprised, as viewers, to know about what goes on behind the scenes that maybe we don't see?

Lisa: That we're all actually pretty close. You know, of course it's a competition and everything, and we all knew that, but we all really got along this season. And we were just... I mean, me and Paris, at first, during Hollywood week, we weren't that great of friends. We didn't like each other that much, and we didn't really talk to each other, but as the show went on, we moved in together in the apartments, and we became like the best of friends.

J.D.: What about you and Pickler? How were you guys?

Lisa: Oh my gosh, I love Kellie! And I still talk to Kellie. She's gonna be coming out here pretty soon, and we're gonna go out. I just, I mean I really miss Kellie.

J.D.: You know we've really enjoyed her work around here, especially with her new album, it's just great.

Lisa: It's great. I bought it the day it came out, and I called her up and said "Kellie, it's great." We were on tour, and she would let us hear some songs, and stuff, and to hear it all on the album and go buy it in the store is just fantastic.

J.D.: I absolutely love it. It's a great album. Out of all the years that American Idol has been on TV, we've only seen one teenaged contestant place in the top two, and that's, of course, Diana DeGarmo. Why do you think that it's more difficult for a younger contestant like yourself to succeed on Idol.

Lisa: Y'know, you have to be really determined and really focused. Obviously, we have a lot to deal with, not only with the show, but we have to do schooling on top of that. A lot of times it's tough for young people to take the criticism. And some are not in a position to really go for it like others are. But, um, I don't really think it has that much to do with it, except for the fact that some adults are just more, y'know, connected with their talent so far, y'know, and more advanced, and have practiced more.

J.D.: How has life changed for you since the show?

Lisa: Wow, it's been crazy. I've been so busy. Y'know, I thought that after the show, ok I'm gonna get time to relax, and then maybe I'll go on the tour for three months, then I come back to relax. It hasn't been like that at all. I'm doing a sitcom on Nickelodeon right now, called Zoey 101, so I've been taping for that, and um, I've just featured on an album, Dionne Warwick's new album, My Friends and Me. And I did a duet with her on the album. I have definitely been writing a lot. So, just keeping busy.

J.D.: Have you had a lot of experience interacting with your fans? How have the fans been for you?

Lisa: Oh, great! Fantastic! And you know, just being back home and being among my local fans has been wonderful. Y'know, we got to go all over the country this summer and see all the amazing people that supported us, and they are truly dedicated fans. And being home, and going out to the mall and seeing local fans is just fantastic. I went to Disneyland, and y'know, those people are so great.

J.D.: You mentioned Dionne Warwick and Zoey 101. What other opportunities have opened up to you as a result of your being in this competition.

Lisa: I'm definitely writing a lot of music and hoping that it's gonna be on my album.

J.D.: I've gotta know about The O.C. What was it like being on the set?

Lisa: (laughs) The O.C. was so much fun! And just being from Orange County made it that much better. Cause I watch the show, and it was just so weird that I was gonna be on it. And the cast was fantastic, Rachel Bilson was just so sweet.

J.D.: Do you think you'd like to pursue acting as a career, and if so, what kind of parts would you go for?

Lisa: Oh definitely! I love acting! Ever since I was in "The Lion King" when I was 12, I've always loved it. It would be difficult for me to choose between singing and acting. I would definitely like, I guess you would call it dramedies, I think they call them... a little funny and a little dramatic at the same time. Anything that really would come my way and that I could see myself connecting to.

J.D.: Where can your fans catch you next?

Lisa: Well the first episode of Zoey is on Christmas Eve. I mean, not Christmas Eve! New Year's Eve! So, that's the first episode.

J.D.: Have you got any concerts or singing coming up?

Lisa: Around the Christmas season, definitely. I haven't gotten my schedule yet, but definitely gonna be performing.

J.D.: You have to let us know so we can let everybody know.

Lisa: I will!

J.D.: Idol fans are really really rather rabid. I know that a lot of Anthony Fedorov's fans will fly across the country and see him. Some of Will Makar's fans have been doing the same thing. Definitely some Lisa Tucker fans are gonna be out there to see you!

Lisa: Yeah...

J.D.: So how have you grown from this experience, personally?

Lisa: Y'know, I've really learned that I just have to stay me and be me. Because in this business, even in the competition, people are pulling you every which way to be this way or that way, and you really just have to do what you're comfortable with. At the end of the day, it's what makes you feel good and what makes you happy, so I definitely learned that.

J.D.: There's a lot of pressure of instant fame on somebody maybe as young and impressionable as you or Paris?

Lisa: Yes!

J.D.: Well you've seen sort of how dog-eat-dog and cut-throat being in the entertainment industry can be through the voices of Simon Cowell...

Lisa: (laughs) oh of course...

J.D.: ... and various others. And y'know, some of the bloggers are not kind, y'know, some of the message board people... What makes you want to still pursue this, even though there's a lot of negativity out there?

Lisa: Y'know, for as long as I remember, I've always wanted to do this. I've always wanted to sing. I've wanted to be in this business. You kind of have to take everything that comes with it. I learned when I was 12 and started working in theatre that not everybody is as nice as they seem. You just have to stay focused and try not to be too influenced by the things around you. And I've learned that, and I've kept that I mind, so nothing is really gonna stop me.

J.D.: Tell me a little bit about Simon. I'm curious what your relationship with him was like off-screen.

Lisa: Well, we really don't get to see too much of the judges, besides y'know, the show and on camera. But I remember the night I got voted off, he said "you will definitely have a career in this business, so don't even worry about it." And y'know, when I'd see them at functions and Idol parties, he's really...he's really a nice guy.

J.D.: Let's switch gears here. Where do you find your musical inspiration?

Lisa: Wow. Um... I find it from a lot of things, y'know. If I'm writing a song, it kind of comes to me, and it's just really... all my songs are really genuine. And when I sing, I put myself in that position, and I read what the words are saying, and I definitely connect with them.

J.D.: Do you look up to anyone in particular musically?

Lisa: Well, I've always loved Whitney Houston's voice, y'know. Since I was a kid, I've been singing "I Have Nothing" and "I Will Always Love You." Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. Y'know, all the greats.

J.D.: When you're up on stage or in the recording booth with somebody like Dionne Warwick, what does it feel like to be next to a musical legend like that?

Lisa: It was soooo crazy. I mean, we recorded in the same studio that Stevie Wonder recorded in. And I was just like "this is so amazing." It was such a privilege and an honor to be on this album with her and to have an opportunity like this.

J.D.: Do you have any recordings of your own that maybe we as fans can purchase?

Lisa: Um... well, after the album. I'm working on mine right now, so, definitely soon!

J.D.: Any website that you might want to point your fans toward?

Lisa: Well is definitely a great one, and it has pretty much all the music that I performed on Idol and some songs that I wrote as well.

J.D.: Let's fast forward ten years in the life of Lisa Tucker. Where do you envision yourself?

Lisa: I definitely see myself singing. Y'know, I've always said since I was little that I wanna win a Grammy award. That has always been my dream, and hopefully I'll achieve that.

J.D.: Well, I know it's kind of hard to envision that far in the future when your life has changed so much in the past year!

Lisa: Exactly!

J.D.: Well, if you could sum up in just a little bit, what is the one lasting impact that you hope you have on the world around you?

Lisa: I've always said that I wanna be considered one of the greats. And I remember during Hollywood week of Idol, they were asking us "what do you want out of this?" I remember saying "I just want to be up there with the Mariahs and the Whitneys and the Celine Dions." I've always wanted to be considered a great singer and just really touch people with my music.

J.D.: Well, I personally think you're gonna do it, because I voted for you every single time.

Lisa: (laughs)

J.D.: You absolutely blew me away with your audition, and I really thought it was gonna happen for you on Idol, to be honest with you.

Lisa: Thank you.

J.D.: I guess we'll never know what you're like as the American Idol, but I think you're gonna go farther than that.

Lisa: Thank you so much.

J.D.: Before I let you go, what would you like to say, just as a personal message to all your fans out there.

Lisa: I just have to say thank you for all the support. And y'know, some people lose sight of the fans after this is all over, but really, none of us would be here without you guys. And I just wanna say thank you so much for all the support. And y'know, I owe everything that I achieve to you.

Thanks, Lisa, and we can't wait to see what's next!

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Idol Interview

Ladies and gentlemen, the Idol Interview has returned, only this time, you'll be able to hear it as well as read it.

Idol sweetheart, Lisa Tucker called in and spoke to me at length about her experience and her plans. She dishes about Idol, being on the set of The O.C., her new sitcom role, and her plans for the future.

You can catch the full interview by listening to my show on Idol Waves radio Tuesday at 3 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. The show will air then, and then I'll be bringing you the full text of the interview here in a couple of days. Listen in by going to and clicking on the "Play" icon. This will launch the Live365 player (or the player of your choice.) It's absolutely free to sign up, should you be prompted to do so. It's well worth your time, and I've had no spam email coming from them.

I hope you'll all tune in to hear some great music and to check out the interview!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

KISS me hello

I absolutely love when I get to discover music by complete accident. It's one thing when I seek out a song to download it. It's another when I just hear it out of the blue, get hit upside the head by how good it is, and then can't wait to buy it. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's great.

I had one of those moments last week. I was in Best Buy looking for a DVD that had just come out. If you've ever been in the Best Buy at Wolfchase in Memphis, you know that they play songs from new albums to let you know what's in stock (and hopefully to get you to buy the disc.) Anyway, this particular day, I was determined to go in and get right back out without spending any extra money. However, I heard a song start over the loudspeakers, and it just hit me a certain way. I just stood there listening for a while.

I'm a big fan of 80's arena rock, and I unabashedly admit that I loved hair bands, cheesy metal ballads, and songs that would probably be used on various Rocky soundtracks. You know the kind... songs that talked about fighting, coming out victorious, winning it all...the kind of songs that the grunge era eschewed and nearly wiped out.

This song, however, was all about winning. "Live to win!" it screamed. "Till you die, till the light dies in your eyes, live to win, take it all, just keep fighting till you fall!" I loved it. I had to have it. The voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't peg which artist it was.

It turned out to be Paul Stanley. That explained a lot. Paul Stanley, for those of you who don't know, is the legendary frontman of KISS, a band that I've been a huge fan of for some time. He was the voice behind songs like "Forever," "Love Gun," and "Detroit Rock City."

I bought the CD on the spot. I rarely ever do that.

In the past, KISS members' solo projects have been a mixed bag for me. I sort of liked Ace Frehley's stuff and some of Gene Simmons' songs were okay, but this one by Paul is very awesome. I don't know if it's the fact that Paul's voice reminds me of older KISS favorites. A lot of it has to do with the fact that his style of music is classic and upbeat, but still gritty and raw at the same time. He mixes the gruff and grumbly with the glam and glitzy and it comes out in just the right mixture.

A couple of tidbits about the album: Paul's backing band is the house band that played for CBS's Rock Star (both years.) This is Paul's first solo album in 25 years.

I highly recommend purchasing the album, but if you need more convincing, you can listen to four tracks on his Myspace profile. (If having KISS on Myspace doesn't legitimize the site, then I don't know what would.) You can hear the songs "Live to Win," "Everytime I See You," "Wake Up Screaming," and one of my favorites "Lift."

Rock on!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Love This Game!

Softball season is winding down. I'm sort of sad about it, but we have a few more games before we quit for the winter. A couple of more mild days before the bats sit silent and the gloves go into the closet, where they will calmly await the next year. But for now, ahhh, what a wonderful game!

It seems like such a trivial thing to fall in love with, this game. But once you step onto the field, it takes you, seduces you, and makes you one with it.

I still contend that there's no more peaceful and happy place than a baseball or softball field. Anywhere that there's a diamond, four bases, a pitching rubber, a backstop and an outfield, there can be nothing wrong with the world. It's almost zen-like in its nature. It's a place of fun, a place of play, a place that I must believe attracts the good spirits that look for those sorts of places.

Yes, it's slow-pitch. Yes, it's open to anybody. But that doesn't lessen the intensity of it. The drive to win is still there in everyone on the field, even if later on we'll laugh and joke about how it's "just a game," knowing deep inside that it's much more than that.

When I step into the batter's box, it's always the same. Clear the mechanism. Everything surrounding me disappears. Tunnel vision sets in. I tap my bat on home plate as if to say "put it here, baby." The pitcher and I lock eyes, exchanging the looks that mortal combatants must share before engaging each other to the death. Will he put a nasty spin on the ball? Will he try to sneak one past me to the back part of the plate? Or will he serve me up a nice juicy fat beach ball for me to hop on and ride to Homerville? He comes set. My eyes go from his to the ball. The count is 2 and 1, but I forget that. All that matters now is the ball. Time slows, the ball approaches the plate, and it's just where I want it. I step into it and bring the bat around, connecting, the ping of the bat being the only reward I need. For the moment, I am the hero. For the moment, Derek Jeter or Sammy Sosa don't exist.

And it happens to everyone who steps onto the field. The guy from the checkout counter gets to make a diving catch. The youth minister gets to glove a line drive and turn two. The girl from Sonic gets to hit one into the outfield, scoring two. The game makes heroes out of us all.

Certainly it also defeats us from time to time, but we shake that off. We know that it has more in store for us than that.

It's a game. But!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And the CMA for Female Vocalist of the Year Goes to...

...our very own Carrie Underwood. I was certainly proud to see her do well.

Apparently Faith Hill was a little upset by it all, as you can see in the following video, which I will post here in honor of Carrie:

I doubt any further commentary on Miss Hill is needed. Obviously she thought she had it wrapped up.

Carrie won the Horizon award (breakout artist) and Female Vocalist of the Year. Somehow I knew all this would happen for her very early on in the fourth season of American Idol. Congratulations, Carrie, on your big win, and I look forward to hearing many more great things from you in the years to come!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Will Rap for Food...

According to the Daily Dish, professional tool Kevin Federline (or, as I like to call him, Special K) had to beg concert organizers not to cancel his show this past Saturday after only 300 fans showed up.

I find the attendance to be amazing. That he could amass 300 fans is beyond my comprehension.

Special K let everyone wait for three hours past the time the concert should've started. This, despite his statement saying that he didn't care about the number of the crowd, and that he would perform to however many people. He took the 300 fans that DID show up and made them wait three whole hours, essentially wrecking what relationship he might have had with them. His bright idea: maybe the others are just not here yet, so if I wait, my thousands of fans will show up.


Eventually, Federline performed, but only a half hour. That's right. People waited three hours for a half hour show. By the time he finished his abbreviated set, only 100 people remained. It is unclear how many of them stayed just to get the last boo in or to empty their salvo of rotten tomatoes.

Apparently, this is not an isolated incident. Many of the venues in his "debut tour" are cancelling due to dreadful ticket sales. Concerts that have already happened have featured more booing from the audience than rapping from the K-Fed. Indeed, the scuttlebutt around his album release is that only 1,000 units have been sold, which represents a HUGE loss.

So my question is this: Why do people keep paying this chump? Special K co-hosted a show on MuchMusic (Canada's version of MTV) today. Who books these gigs for him? Surely it can't be because he's a serious artist. More likely, it's because he's a complete and total train wreck, the kind that people can't help but watch. Granted, he's got BritBrit's millions behind him, and undoubtedly she's paying plenty of people off to let him chase his dream. But BritBrit also hasn't put out an album in three years, and if the history of other similar pop stars is any indicator, even if she did, sales would slip drastically from past releases. And with more kids popping out every day, Special K's piece of the pie is bound to be getting a bit slimmer.

This whole K-Fed thing really irks me, because I am in touch with SO many young and talented artists who are begging for a chance. People that don't sire children with random women, only to leave them to marry up the food chain, leaving a string of kids in the wake as he attempts to feed off the kibble that falls from the table of his current wife, who, at best, is a washed-up pop star. I'm friends with musicians who don't drive Ferraris while writing songs about their supposed clout and their riches that they technically didn't earn and their fame that they only got from being the world's worst trailer trash come to town.

It happens in both genders, too. We guys have Special Fed. You girls have Paris Hilton.

When do the talented kids get their chance? When do guys like Jordan Southerland, Erik Scott Smith, or Willie Will get to host a music show or have the opportunity for their music to be heard? When will Roxie Mae, Kelli Ann, or April Walsh get their chance? Each and every one of them deserve it more than the ones that the paparazzi currently worship.

Do me a favor. Next time you are tempted to pick up a People or Us Weekly or whatever tabloid you choose to read about these mindless celebs, stop. Get online on Myspace or CDBaby or google for unsigned artists and give these guys a try.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Traffic (or "Why Insurance Is So High In Memphis")

Several of you have asked recently how the car-shopping experience panned out. It was disastrous at first, but eventually I settled on what I wanted. It took a few days (and a couple of times angrily storming out of the sales office followed by a call later in the evening with the salesman, sounding for all the world like a lover scorned, begging me to return, promising me the world.) There was also the small matter of my trade-in car, and its annoying habit of ceasing all functions while in the midst of downtown traffic. Of course, it ran fine for the mechanic when I took it in, so that meant I had a limited window with which to dump the thing before having to pay somebody to come get it. On the up side, if it broke down for the dealer, I could truthfully say that I had had a mechanic inspect it and tell me there was nothing wrong with it.

I did finally settle on a low-mileage Sebring. It's pretty sharp. It's the same style (and same alloy wheels) as the one in the picture, except it's more of a blue.

There's a thing, though, about having a new vehicle. And that is that EVERYBODY ON THE FLIPPIN' ROAD is trying to TOTAL it. I could've run my tumble-turd Cavalier at 190 miles per hour through a red-light in downtown rush hour and nobody would've even come close! The police might have even cordoned off the street for me to do it. But now that I have a car that has not had the first payment made on it, people are parachuting out of the sky for opportunities to do damage to it.

Of course Memphis traffic is that way anyway. Never in your life will you ever encounter a bigger group of people on whom you will deeply desire to commit horrific acts of violence than when you are in our fair city. These are people you don't even know and likely won't ever meet again, but you will disparage their family heritage, call them all sorts of names, and just generally froth with hatred at their very existence.

I don't know this to be a fact, because I transferred my license from another state, but I've heard that if you get more than 2 questions RIGHT on the license exam, you fail. Oh wait, I actually did take a driving test once in this city. I'm fuzzy on why I had to, but I do clearly remember the examination. It was time for the road test. The license examiner came out to my car, which I had pulled up to the curb. She then instructed me to start my engine. I did. She then told me to get out of the car and gave me an A. For a road test. For driving a CAR. On public streets. If you have the motor skills of a TWO-YEAR OLD, and have just enough intelligence to know that turning the key starts the car, you too can have a driver's license.

Of course that should come as no surprise in a city where "merge" is considered a personal challenge and where "this lane turns right" means cut across three lanes of traffic to slide into the Wal-Mart on the left.

And while I'm talking about other drivers, what is it with the lead person at the stop-light? Why is it that they never know it's green? You would think that due to their physical location immediately in front of the green light that they would be the first to have their neural synapses fire off the message that YES, IN FACT, IT IS GREEN. But no. They want it to be more of a bluish color, I suppose, so they wait for a more aesthetically pleasant color to pop up. And then they get offended at the "wake up honk." They look up from their Game Boy, or their cross-stitch, or their bomb-defusing in a state of total and utter shock that never fails to NOT translate into movement. Rather, the inertia is so set in that they cannot immediately move until such a time as they are the ONLY person to get through the light prior to its return to red.

Of course the biggest culprit in all of this are the cell phones. I know, I know, people have written scads and scads about this already, but could you drivers PLEASE hang up and pay attention? (If you have a driver out there with this problem, could you at least text this blog to them?) There's nothing worse than having to swerve up onto the sidewalk to keep someone from demolishing your quarter panel than to look up after and see that they haven't even acknowledged your existence because they're too busy holding a hunk of plastic to their head and talking into it. The other night, my friend and I were out at 3 AM and saw someone talking on the phone in their car, which immediately begs the question, WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO AT THIS TIME OF NIGHT??? If all of us are on the phone at all times, who's left to get the calls?

And some of the WORST drivers I know always say this: "I don't have a problem driving while talking on the phone." Here's a helpful hint: YES YOU DO. My oldest sister, though I love her and would throw myself in front of a moving bus for her, is quite possibly the worst driver I've ever seen. Riding with her is only slightly less jarring than sitting in the washing machine and putting it on super-spin cycle. She's one of those drivers that push the gas and then the brake, gas, brake, gas, brake, until your Dramamine wears off and you have to go into the next convenience store for a Sprite and crackers after puking your guts out in the horrid public restrooms. And the turns she makes! I've experienced less G's on that thing at the county fair that spins you and makes you stick to the wall. Yet she constantly assures us that she's such a good driver. She told me that she had no problem driving while talking on the cell phone. I'm like YOU HAVE A PROBLEM DRIVING WITHOUT THE CELL PHONE!!! Much less when you're yakking away to your friend while trying to swerve across the turn you missed. (I won't get into the time when it iced and she drove seventy on a solid sheet of frozen interstate, and then complained that I was following her too slowly. Pardon me for having to break out of a sideways skid to keep up.)

And don't even get me started on rush hour. I got stuck in such a major mess the other morning on the way to work, that it raises my blood pressure just to think about it. I left on time, but traffic was so slow that I knew I'd be late, if I even made it to work at all, so I (briefly using my cell phone because I'm a hypocrite) called in to work to let them know. As I hung up the phone, I looked up, and I witnessed, I kid you not, a FARM TRACTOR rolling down the city street ahead. I work in a very affluent section of the city. There's not a farm for MILES. This is DOWNTOWN. There was no place for a farm tractor to be coming from or going to. Yet in RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC, someone had the bright idea of driving a FREAKING FARM TRACTOR down the middle of a city street and making a thousand P.O.'ed Memphians late for work. I saw that the guy was wearing earphones, no doubt to cancel out all the honking and swearing. I'm surprised he didn't wear a bullet-proof vest. But I figure, hey, if you're stupid enough to drive a tractor through morning rush hour in downtown, then you're probably not bright enough to protect yourself.

Anyway, all this ranting that I'm doing tonight came about because of an event that happened earlier at the video store. I came out of the store, DVDs in hand, ready to kick back for the night. I get to my car, and apparently while I was in the store, somebody had pulled what appeared to be a tank into the spot beside my car. I mean this thing was way too big to be called a truck. You could've housed immigrants in it. Shaq could drive it and not have his feet touch the pedals. Wilt Chamberlain could've taken ALL his mistresses home in this thing.

But it's not that I minded someone parking an entire subdivision next to my car. What I minded was that they parked it WAY over on my side of the line. Nicole Richie could not have gotten into my car. Of course, the first thing I'm thinking was "who drives a truck this big?" And the second thing I was thinking was "they better not have had a passenger who opened the door into my car."

Fortunately, from what I could tell, there were no scratches on my door. But there was still no entry to be gained. (My car's shifter is in the floor, and I'd like to someday have children, so no way was I going to try to shift over from the passenger side.) So I waited for about fifteen minutes, wondering who was going to come out and claim this behemoth and remove it from my perimeter. With each passing moment, I boiled and seethed and became about twenty tons of hopping mad.

Eventually, this teenage couple emerges from the store. It's a girl and a scruffy looking guy that looked like he could be the body double for Shaggy on Scooby-Doo. The guy takes one look at the situation and the look on my face and says, and I quote: "Huh. My bad."


"My bad?" That's all he had to say????? I stood silently, staring at my car, fuming, and doing my best to exude death rays from my upper torso. I said nothing, and neither did they, though I think the girl was in a bit of a hurry to get away. She, quite wisely, climbed in the driver's seat. Oh the fit I would've thrown if she'd tried to open the passenger door. Fighter jets would've had to be scrambled.

And off they went.

I'm going to pretend that one of the exploding cars in MI3 is theirs. If it's a white truck, so much the better.

So let me hear your rants about traffic. Make me feel normal!

Friday, November 03, 2006

What Happened to the Podcast?

Some of you have been wondering why there hasn't been a podcast on auto-play here in the last few days. There are a couple of reasons why it's not here on the main page.

(1.) People were getting annoyed that music started playing every time they opened the page, and it was distracting them from reading the posts.

(2.) It was annoying the crap out of me at work.

But it's not completely gone. Rather than having the Switchplayer here, I set it up on my Myspace profile. So if you'd like to hear the complete podcast, you can just click on over there.

For those of you who didn't know, my podcast is also the same audio as you hear on my show at Idol Waves. (You ARE listening, aren't you?) So if you miss that show, you can catch up with it there. And from time to time, I just might put in new material, just for you. We'll see how it goes.

On the other hand, if you'd rather download the podcast for your very own to keep forever and ever, you can elect to subscribe to it by entering into your podcast aggregator. I don't know which is the best program to use, but Google around, and you'll find some programs that will manage podcasts and download them for you.

This is all part of the effort to re-vamp the site and make things even better. Let me know if you guys have any other suggestions!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kellie Pickler: Small Town Girl - The Album Review You Had to Know I'd Do

If you've kept up with this site for the past year, you'll know that Kellie Pickler and I have sort of a history. It was a bad start. I was at the forefront of the Kellie-haters, calling her Icky Picky and screaming "Kick Pickler" to the top of my lungs.

And then she did it. I don't know quite how, but she used her little vixen magic. Despite all my harsh words, I finally picked Pickler. My public apology to her and her subsequent response are all a matter of record now.

However, I've reserved the last measure of judgment for the release of her new album. No matter how much I like Kellie personally, she is still going to have to prove something with her album. She is going to have to be good.

She's not good.

She's GREAT.

I've been enjoying her recent single "Red High Heels" quite a bit recently. It has been featured prominently on my weekly show on Idol Waves Radio and has been quite popular. (If you want to catch her single on the show, it airs at 3 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Central Standard Time each Tuesday. Her song was up to number 8 on the countdown this past week.) It's catchy, sassy, and just an overall good song. But could the rest of her album be any good?

You better believe it. She's a power-packed little ball of energy, our Kellie. No wonder then that 19 Entertainment chose to break with tradition this year and release her CD before the winner's CD release. (Typically, non-winners are contractually bound to hold off on releasing an album until the first and second place winners are on the market.) Kellie's is the first official 19 release this year. (Ayla Brown is the first actual release, but she's not in the 19 stable.)

For this review, I used the tried-and-true car stereo test. I had to keep driving a while, because once I got started there was no way I was leaving the car till the CD was over.

It would be easy to imagine Kellie coming out and doing a sort of Clay Aiken-esque disc, with watered-down country ballads and generic cover songs, but Small Town Girl is full of energy, and Kellie herself comes at you like a spitfire, railing on the irresponsible men in her life, celebrating her countryfied persona, and basically getting you on the dance floor for a good old fashioned hootenanny. For a girl who doesn't know the meaning of the word "ballsy," she most certainly is.

For me, the biggest moments on the whole album come smack dab in the middle, on the track "I Wonder." Kellie's tear-jerking ode to her absentee mother is quite a punch in the gut that left me wiping an un-masculine bit of moisture out of my eye. You can hear the hurt in her voice, and she perhaps has never put more heart and soul into any performance than she does in this song. If this isn't released as a single, then someone needs to be fired.

Even though this is the most powerful track on the album, the rest are no slouch jobs either. She ranges from being almost snarky on "Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind," to bleeding out some heartbreak on "Didn't You Know," to breathing nostalgia on "Small Town Girl," to having fun on "One of The Guys," and then back to being sentimental on "My Angel," a tribute to her grandmother. And I still love "Red High Heels."

In fact, I just love me some Kellie Pickler.

"But J.D., what about that nasal voice you kept harping on during Idol??" you ask. Well, to be honest, it's still there, but not as much, because she's obviously been doing work on her vocals. But I think a lot of what makes her voice sound thin is the fact that she's a fairly high soprano voice anyway. The truth is that once you listen to the album, you'll realize that even though she does go into head voice sometimes, she always has complete vocal control. (And honestly, whatever else is left is easily handled by the back-up singers.) Still, in her proper element, any shortcomings she might have just melt away. And she's loads better than she ever was on any of the Idol shows.

Long story short, go get this album. You can pick it up for the low low cost of $9.99 at Best Buy for a limited time, or you can click here to order it from Amazon. It's well worth owning.

Can I have my mid-life crisis to go, please?

It couldn't be more obvious that I'm turning 30 today. Parts are already falling off of me. I started noticing it last night after getting up from a legs-crossed sitting position when my knee took some serious coaxing to un-bend. And then, in the elementary class I teach on Wednesday nights, I actually asked one of the kids why they were putting their feet up and scuffing up my chairs, and I sounded EXACTLY like my then-ancient fourth grade music teacher. And this morning, on my 30th birthday, I am up at 4 AM with insomnia. After going to bed at NINE.

I have officially reached old fart-dom.

It's weird, because mentally I'm still 18. I don't feel much more mature than that. I still love hard rock and rap music. Every now and then, I still roll down my windows and blast my music at innocent passersby. I still buy every single version of Optimus Prime that Hasbro puts out. I still watch cartoons. I still like hitting on random girls with no intention of ever developing a relationship with them. I still spike my hair. I still dress up for Halloween (and yes, that's me in this year's costume above.)

Yet at the same time, I am absolutely exhausted by ten o'clock every night. Increasingly, my music collection consists of stuff that high schoolers of this day have never heard of. The last Optimus Prime that I bought had the label "Classic" on it. My favorite cartoon just celebrated it's 20th anniversary. And the random girls I hit on are more impressed by a paycheck than they are with how far I can throw a football. And for those of you who are waiting for me to say something about thinning hair, I still got all mine, and it's the original color. HA! Score one for me.

I find myself less concerned with what kind of knowledge I'll gain in the next few years than I am with how far down I can get my pantsize (I'm down 30 pounds and shrinking, thank you very much!) I'm more concerned with a 401K than I am with a vacation package.

Yet at the same time, I'm not done with life. There's a million more things that I feel I have left to do. And I intend on doing them all.

Thirty...such a weird age. Yet one that I shall grow from, God willing. If I have my way, the next decade will overshadow the previous one by a long country mile.

(psssst...yes, I'm back.)