Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Friday, June 18, 2010
Since the American Idol finals my, yours and probably everyone's mutual frenemy Murphy has been doing his best to implement his well-known and despised law as strictly as possible in my life.
But before I get into that I would just like to say that I was so on the money in calling Lee DeWyze as the winner of American Idol. When he sings, he sings with his soul and that carries a message even more so than someone with a brilliant voice but no emotion behind the words they sing. His version of REM's "Everybody hurts" had me in tears with the real artistic depth that he showed in his performance. And U2's "Beautiful day"! Wow! To quote my favourite character on How I Met Your Mother: "It was legen ... wait for it ... dary!!!" Just one (ok maybe two) comments. First, to the judges who complained that Lee did not show enough energy in his first song, I just want to ask ... what were you smoking because Simon and Garfunkel were certainly not doing a little happy dance while composing and performing "The Boxer". Listen to the words and just maybe you will get that it is a song with raw emotion and not an empty candy floss pop song. At least America had the common sense to pick up on that. Secondly, I must admit that Crystal's last song was amazing. It suited her voice and really allowed her to express herself in a manner that I did not see throughout the season. However, "Black Velvet" was not as good as the judges made it out to be (by no fault of Crystal I must add). As Simon Fullers choice, she interpreted as best she could, but she looked very uncomfortable throughout the whole performance. When I think "Black Velvet" I think sultry and seductive, and unfortunately those dimensions were sadly missing in Crystal's interpretation but at least she stayed true to herself, so I have to give her props. All in all I really enjoyed the final. But I was not prepared to ball my eyes out with Simon's farewell. Idol will just not be the same without him. Idol without Simon is kind of like a banana-split without the banana ... very dull as only vanilla ice cream can be.
In any case, moving on to frenemy nr 1 ... Murphy. I have no decided to do a bit of research on the legend/myth/crime against humanity that is Murphy's law and will blog about it as soon as I have come up with some decent answers, because I really want to know why the universe likes Murphy's law so much that it enforces it with such vigour on days that you really just need a break. So over the weeks it has range from little incidents like buying a latte with the last coffee money of the month just to let it drop before even the first sip (for a self confessed coffeeholic that is torture believe me) to someone opening their car door on my new car (which I will be paying off for the next five years) while I am standing in my lane at the red robot adhering to the rules of the road like a good little lemming with the dude (who apparently likes using middle lanes as bus stops to drop off people) staring at me like I did something wrong and driving off to avoid any sort of responsibility. Society has really evolved with responsibility, honesty and other ethical standards are fully embraced on a daily basis. (Note the sarcasm).
Eventually I must say that the tide turned and I am very grateful to the Big Man Upstairs for stepping in and kicking Murphy's uncooperative behind into next year, because only by an act of grace am I sitting here writing this blog once again. What you ask happened? Well, I work for the heart of Lalaland (lets not get technical so that I can avoid troubling questions from the powers that be at work) that shares certain regulatory ambitions with the mythical Murphy. So Monday (would it be any other day) comes and after a loooong meeting where a lot of people spoke for loooong periods of time without saying anything, myself and three friends decided to award ourselves with lunch and ventured out into the great city. Deciding on taking a short cut out of the supposedly heavily guarded building we took the lift down to the lower level parking lot. An unfamiliar face took the corner as we stepped out of the lift and made our way to the exit. He was walking at a quick pace and looked slightly tense holding on to the front of his jacket, but stranger people have been seen in and around the building so we walked towards him laughing and joking amongst ourselves with no apparent care in the world .... until .... the police came charging around the corner, guns in hand shouting at us to get away from the guy because he has a gun, at which time he pulled the gun and luckily bolted away from us further into the underground of the Lalaland support-staff building. Needless to say adrenalin kicked in an my feet took me as far and as fast away from the danger zone as possible, while the curious minds of the general public came running down the street towards the building regardless of the warnings of "man with a gun" being screamed from all side. My deductions: Life is short, so appreciate every moment. People are generally insane, but only the brave care to admit it. Really what sane person runs towards danger (with the exception of those officers devoted to society's protection.)
So that is that. I am alive, I am grateful and I am still just a little crazy (just enough to make life fun).
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
So I decided to watch the American Idol 2010 Semi-finals and showed my dedication by setting my alarm for 2 am South African time Wednesday morning 19 May. (And as my friend Alma already so aptly pointed out this morning I am crazy and should not complain about sleep deprivation because I brought this on myself. Noted. Agreed. Luckily not yet Certified and Committed.)
So with freshly brewed coffee to wake up the mind, I listened to what the judges had to say about each contestant, just to make sure that may favorite (Lee Dewyze) was still on track to win it. With the contestants each singing two songs (own choice and judges’ choice) Ryan Seacrest opened the show with his well-known and now-expected dramatic entrance.
First up was Casey James with a less than memorable performance. It was so unimpressive that I probably would not have remembered the name of the song if it didn’t describe the performance so accurately: "OK, It's Alright with Me". In fact it was so unimpressive that I am still wondering whether it actually had a chorus, because everything sounded the same … slow and boring. (If I didn’t have my coffee I would not have been awake to hear
Crystal Bowersox was up next and although she was good in her own unique way, her performance of "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge left me with a similar feeling of disappointment driving me to make yet another cup of coffee because next up was Lee and his performance was sure to be remarkable in contrast to his two fellow contestants.
And he did not disappoint. Singing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” he truly connected with the song. Ellen stated that he had grown from a lamb to a Giselle or something similarly springy (a very Ellen-like comment that you just got to love). Simon’s comment however was the one that set the scene for the rest of the show: “I don’t think you won round one. I think you crushed the other two.”
Ironically Kara was one of the judges to pick the next song for Casey. Now for those who have not been following Idols, Kara has been drooling over Casey since he first auditioned. As a result I constantly question her objectivity when it comes to arguably “the best guitar player the show has seen” as noted by Brian Mansfield in the
Randy: “We have someone else in it to win it right here.”
Ellen: “I couldn’t ask for more.”
Kara: “No instrument. Huge risk for you and I think it paid off."
Simon explained that he was initially somewhat perplexed by Ellen’s choice, but got it afterwards when he saw that it allowed
And then came Simon’s choice for Lee, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Simon explained that he decided on that song as he was of the view that “we will ever hear it like Lee is gonna do it.” And Simon was right as per usual. Listening to Lee’s version of this well-known hit I got chills and goosebumps. Words such as 'amazing' and 'angelic' (to sound very corny) sprung to mind without delving further into the alphabet. Simon's smile said it all. If Lee does not get a place in the final during the result show (at 3am South African time) I will be in a state of shock and will probably have myself certified and committed. Randy even proclaimed that “Lee through down the gauntlet” and that this performance was “Lee’s biggest moment on the show and in his career.” Yet, Lee was still his humble self and thanked Simon and the other of the judges for their comments:
Ellen: “That was just stunning.”
Kara: “Lee you are what this song is all about ... you are the heart of the season”.
Simon: “I am very proud of you ... You proven that you are a fantastic singer and great person.” (My favorite Idols moment ever!!! Simon showing is soft side.)
Monday, May 17, 2010
6am and listening to Lady Gaga on 5fm singing “Telephone”. It got me pondering the actual meaning of contemporary music, if any. Don’t get me wrong, I am still young enough to have adequate knowledge of Bieber Fever and alike, but I find myself drawn more to the older hits. I find myself rather listening to songs that tell a story, with lyrics to which the writer/composer actually gave some though and did not merely come up with by walking through the house identifying electrical devices to serenade. I am for example thinking of "Hotel California" by the Eagles and "Hazard" by Richard Marx. Songs with lyrics that actually touch your soul and does not merely equate to you head bopping to a meaningless beat …
Beat? That also got me thinking. There are few modern songs that actually have a proper melody if you take away the ode to the electrical appliance. All you hear is a beat. There is no melodic inspiration, nothing that moves you to be happy or sad, nothing serendipitous. Everything sounds more or less the same. If I must describe the current trend in one word it would be “homogenous”.
Perhaps I have an old soul, but I think Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky got it right with “The Flight of the Bumble Bee” and “Sugar Plum Fairy” respectively, because they painted a vivid picture with only the bare notes to such an extent that you could see the story without any need for lyrics.
I think I am going to call dibs on the toaster oven as the next big thing to sing about. I may just make my first million that way. How difficult can it be? I will at least be justified in using the word “Hot” more than 20 times in the chorus and end it of with “Oooooouch” in stead of the over-used “Ooooo”.
And for those who are still pondering why I am one of the few people that have not yet caught Bieber Fever (not denying that he can sing, but merely question what he chooses to sing), I think it is because I take the antidote on a daily basis: ¼ “Sweet Home Alabama” byLynyrd Skynyrd, ¼ “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams, ¼ “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones, and ¼ “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Shake well and let your soul soar to musical enlightenment …